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"The different religions being lame attempts to represent under
various guises this one root-fact of the central universal life,
men have at all times clung to the religious creeds and rituals
and ceremonials as symbolising in some rude way the redemption
and fulfilment of their own most intimate natures--and this
whether consciously understanding the interpretations, or whether
(as most often) only doing so in an unconscious or quite
subconscious way."
                         The Drama of Love and Death, p. 96.






The subject of Religious Origins is a fascinating one, as
the great multitude of books upon it, published in late
years, tends to show. Indeed the great difficulty to-day
in dealing with the subject, lies in the very mass of the
material to hand--and that not only on account of the
labor involved in sorting the material, but because the
abundance itself of facts opens up temptation to a student
in this department of Anthropology (as happens also in
other branches of general Science) to rush in too hastily
with what seems a plausible theory. The more facts,
statistics, and so forth, there are available in any
investigation, the easier it is to pick out a considerable number
which will fit a given theory. The other facts being neglected
or ignored, the views put forward enjoy for a
time a great vogue. Then inevitably, and at a later time,
new or neglected facts alter the outlook, and a new perspective
is established.

There is also in these matters of Science (though many
scientific men would doubtless deny this) a great deal of
"Fashion". Such has been notoriously the case in Political
Economy, Medicine, Geology, and even in such definite
studies as Physics and Chemistry. In a comparatively recent
science, like that with which we are now concerned, one
would naturally expect variations. A hundred and fifty
years ago, and since the time of Rousseau, the "Noble
Savage" was extremely popular; and he lingers still in
the story books of our children. Then the reaction from
this extreme view set in, and of late years it has been
the popular cue (largely, it must be said, among "armchair"
travelers and explorers) to represent the religious
rites and customs of primitive folk as a senseless mass
of superstitions, and the early man as quite devoid of
decent feeling and intelligence. Again, when the study of
religious origins first began in modern times to be seriously
taken up--say in the earlier part of last century--
there was a great boom in Sungods. Every divinity in
the Pantheon was an impersonation of the Sun--unless
indeed (if feminine) of the Moon. Apollo was a sungod,
of course; Hercules was a sungod; Samson was a sungod;
Indra and Krishna, and even Christ, the same.
C. F. Dupuis in France (Origine de tous les Cultes, 1795),
F. Nork in Germany (Biblische Mythologie, 1842), Richard
Taylor in England (The Devil's Pulpit,[1] 1830), were among
the first in modern times to put forward this view. A little
later the PHALLIC explanation of everything came into
fashion. The deities were all polite names for the organs
and powers of procreation. R. P. Knight (Ancient Art
and Mythology, 1818) and Dr. Thomas Inman (Ancient
Faiths and Ancient Names, 1868) popularized this idea in
England; so did Nork in Germany. Then again there was
a period of what is sometimes called Euhemerism
--the theory that the gods and goddesses had actually once
been men and women, historical characters round whom
a halo of romance and remoteness had gathered. Later
still, a school has arisen which thinks little of sungods,
and pays more attention to Earth and Nature spirits,
to gnomes and demons and vegetation-sprites, and to the
processes of Magic by which these (so it was supposed)
could be enlisted in man's service if friendly, or exorcised
if hostile.

[1] This extraordinary book, though carelessly composed and
containing many unproven statements, was on the whole on the
right lines. But it raised a storm of opposition--the more so
because its author was a clergyman! He was ejected from the
ministry, of course, and was sent to prison twice.

It is easy to see of course that there is some truth in
ALL these explanations; but naturally each school for
the time being makes the most of its own contention. Mr.
J. M. Robertson (Pagan Christs and Christianity and
Mythology), who has done such fine work in this field,[1]
relies chiefly on the solar and astronomical origins, though
he does not altogether deny the others; Dr. Frazer, on
the other hand--whose great work, The Golden Bough, is
a monumental collection of primitive customs, and will
be an inexhaustible quarry for all future students--is
apparently very little concerned with theories about the Sun
and the stars, but concentrates his attention on the
collection of innumerable details[2] of rites, chiefly magical,
connected with food and vegetation. Still later writers, like
S. Reinach, Jane Harrison and E. A. Crowley, being mainly
occupied with customs of very primitive peoples, like
the Pelasgian Greeks or the Australian aborigines, have
confined themselves (necessarily) even more to Magic and

[1] If only he did not waste so much time, and so needlessly, in
slaughtering opponents!

[2] To such a degree, indeed, that sometimes the connecting clue
of the argument seems to be lost.

Meanwhile the Christian Church from these speculations
has kept itself severely apart--as of course representing a
unique and divine revelation little concerned or interested
in such heathenisms; and moreover (in this country
at any rate) has managed to persuade the general public
of its own divine uniqueness to such a degree that few
people, even nowadays, realize that it has sprung from just
the same root as Paganism, and that it shares by far the
most part of its doctrines and rites with the latter. Till
quite lately it was thought (in Britain) that only secularists
and unfashionable people took any interest in sungods; and
while it was true that learned professors might point to a
belief in Magic as one of the first sources of Religion, it
was easy in reply to say that this obviously had nothing to
do with Christianity! The Secularists, too, rather spoilt
their case by assuming, in their wrath against the Church,
that all priests since the beginning of the world have been
frauds and charlatans, and that all the rites of religion
were merely devil's devices invented by them for the
purpose of preying upon the superstitions of the ignorant,
to their own enrichment. They (the Secularists)
overleaped themselves by grossly exaggerating a thing that
no doubt is partially true.

Thus the subject of religious origins is somewhat complex,
and yields many aspects for consideration. It
is only, I think, by keeping a broad course and admitting
contributions to the truth from various sides, that valuable
results can be obtained. It is absurd to suppose
that in this or any other science neat systems can be found
which will cover all the facts. Nature and History do not
deal in such things, or supply them for a sop to Man's

It is clear that there have been three main lines, so far,
along which human speculation and study have run. One
connecting religious rites and observations with the movements
of the Sun and the planets in the sky, and leading to
the invention of and belief in Olympian and remote gods
dwelling in heaven and ruling the Earth from a distance;
the second connecting religion with the changes
of the season, on the Earth and with such practical things
as the growth of vegetation and food, and leading to or
mingled with a vague belief in earth-spirits and magical
methods of influencing such spirits; and the third connecting
religion with man's own body and the tremendous force
of sex residing in it--emblem of undying life and all
fertility and power. It is clear also--and all investigation
confirms it--that the second-mentioned phase of religion
arose on the whole BEFORE the first-mentioned--that is,
that men naturally thought about the very practical questions
of food and vegetation, and the magical or other
methods of encouraging the same, before they worried themselves
about the heavenly bodies and the laws of THEIR
movements, or about the sinister or favorable influences the
stars might exert. And again it is extremely probable that
the third-mentioned aspect--that which connected religion
with the procreative desires and phenomena of human
physiology--really came FIRST. These desires and physiological
phenomena must have loomed large on the primitive
mind long before the changes of the seasons or of the sky
had been at all definitely observed or considered. Thus we
find it probable that, in order to understand the sequence of
the actual and historical phases of religious worship, we must
approximately reverse the order above-given in which they
have been STUDIED, and conclude that in general the
Phallic cults came first, the cult of Magic and the propitiation
of earth-divinities and spirits came second, and
only last came the belief in definite God-figures residing
in heaven.

At the base of the whole process by which divinities and
demons were created, and rites for their propitiation and
placation established, lay Fear--fear stimulating the
imagination to fantastic activity. Primus in orbe deos
fecit Timor. And fear, as we shall see, only became a mental
stimulus at the time of, or after, the evolution
of self-consciousness. Before that time, in the period of
SIMPLE consciousness, when the human mind resembled
that of the animals, fear indeed existed, but its nature was
more that of a mechanical protective instinct. There
being no figure or image of SELF in the animal mind, there
were correspondingly no figures or images of beings who
might threaten or destroy that self. So it was that the
imaginative power of fear began with Self-consciousness, and
from that imaginative power was unrolled the whole panorama
of the gods and rites and creeds of Religion down the

The immense force and domination of Fear in the first
self-conscious stages of the human mind is a thing which
can hardly be exaggerated, and which is even difficult for
some of us moderns to realize. But naturally as soon
as Man began to think about himself--a frail phantom and
waif in the midst of tremendous forces of whose nature
and mode of operation he was entirely ignorant--he was
BESET with terrors; dangers loomed upon him on all sides.
Even to-day it is noticed by doctors that one of the chief
obstacles to the cure of illness among some black or native
races is sheer superstitious terror; and Thanatomania is the
recognized word for a state of mind ("obsession of
death") which will often cause a savage to perish from a
mere scratch hardly to be called a wound. The natural
defence against this state of mind was the creation of an
enormous number of taboos--such as we find among
all races and on every conceivable subject--and these taboos
constituted practically a great body of warnings which
regulated the lives and thoughts of the community, and
ultimately, after they had been weeded out and to some
degree simplified, hardened down into very stringent
Customs and Laws. Such taboos naturally in the beginning
tended to include the avoidance not only of acts which
might reasonably be considered dangerous, like touching a
corpse, but also things much more remote and fanciful
in their relation to danger, like merely looking at a mother-
in-law, or passing a lightning-struck tree; and (what is
especially to be noticed) they tended to include acts which
offered any special PLEASURE or temptation--like sex or
marriage or the enjoyment of a meal. Taboos surrounded
these things too, and the psychological connection is easy
to divine: but I shall deal with this general subject later.

It may be guessed that so complex a system of regulations
made life anything but easy to early peoples; but,
preposterous and unreasonable as some of the taboos were,
they undoubtedly had the effect of compelling the growth
of self-control. Fear does not seem a very worthy motive,
but in the beginning it curbed the violence of the purely
animal passions, and introduced order and restraint among
them. Simultaneously it became itself, through the gradual
increase of knowledge and observation, transmuted and
etherealized into something more like wonder and awe
and (when the gods rose above the horizon) into reverence.
Anyhow we seem to perceive that from the early beginnings
(in the Stone Age) of self-consciousness in Man there has been a
gradual development--from crass superstition,
senseless and accidental, to rudimentary observation,
and so to belief in Magic; thence to Animism
and personification of nature-powers in more or less human
form, as earth-divinities or sky-gods or embodiments of
the tribe; and to placation of these powers by rites like
Sacrifice and the Eucharist, which in their turn became
the foundation of Morality. Graphic representations made
for the encouragement of fertility--as on the walls of Bushmen's
rock-dwellings or the ceilings of the caverns of Altamira--
became the nurse of pictorial Art; observations of
plants or of the weather or the stars, carried on by tribal
medicine-men for purposes of witchcraft or prophecy, supplied
some of the material of Science; and humanity emerged
by faltering and hesitating steps on the borderland of those
finer perceptions and reasonings which are supposed to be
characteristic of Civilization.

The process of the evolution of religious rites and ceremonies
has in its main outlines been the same all over the
world, as the reader will presently see--and this whether
in connection with the numerous creeds of Paganism
or the supposedly unique case of Christianity; and now
the continuity and close intermixture of these great
streams can no longer be denied--nor IS it indeed denied
by those who have really studied the subject. It is
seen that religious evolution through the ages has been
practically One thing--that there has been in fact a World-
religion, though with various phases and branches.

And so in the present day a new problem arises, namely
how to account for the appearance of this great Phenomenon,
with its orderly phases of evolution, and its own spontaneous[1]
growths in all corners of the globe--this phenomenon
which has had such a strange sway over the
hearts of men, which has attracted them with so weird
a charm, which has drawn out their devotion, love and
tenderness, which has consoled them in sorrow and affliction,
and yet which has stained their history with such horrible
sacrifices and persecutions and cruelties. What has
been the instigating cause of it?

[1] For the question of spontaneity see chap. x and elsewhere.

The answer which I propose to this question, and which
is developed to some extent in the following chapters, is
a psychological one. It is that the phenomenon proceeds
from, and is a necessary accompaniment of, the growth of
human Consciousness itself--its growth, namely, through
the three great stages of its unfoldment. These stages
are (1) that of the simple or animal consciousness, (2) that
of SELF-consciousness, and (3) that of a third stage of
consciousness which has not as yet been effectively named, but
whose indications and precursive signs we here and there
perceive in the rites and prophecies and mysteries of
the early religions, and in the poetry and art and literature
generally of the later civilizations. Though I do not
expect or wish to catch Nature and History in the careful
net of a phrase, yet I think that in the sequence from
the above-mentioned first stage to the second, and then
again in the sequence from the second to the third,
there will be found a helpful explanation of the rites and
aspirations of human religion. It is this idea, illustrated
by details of ceremonial and so forth, which forms the main
thesis of the present book. In this sequence of growth,
Christianity enters as an episode, but no more than an episode.
It does not amount to a disruption or dislocation of evolution.
If it did, or if it stood as an unique or unclassifiable
phenomenon (as some of its votaries contend), this would
seem to be a misfortune--as it would obviously rob us of
at any rate one promise of progress in the future. And
the promise of something better than Paganism and better
than Christianity is very precious. It is surely time
that it should be fulfilled.

The tracing, therefore, of the part that human self-
consciousness has played, psychologically, in the evolution
of religion, runs like a thread through the following chapters,
and seeks illustration in a variety of details. The idea
has been repeated under different aspects; sometimes,
possibly, it has been repeated too often; but different aspects
in such a case do help, as in a stereoscope, to give
solidity to the thing seen. Though the worship of Sun-gods
and divine figures in the sky came comparatively late
in religious evolution, 1 have put this subject early in
the book (chapters ii and iii), partly because (as I have
already explained) it was the phase first studied in modern
times, and therefore is the one most familiar to present-
day readers, and partly because its astronomical data
give great definiteness and "proveability" to it, in rebuttal
to the common accusation that the whole study of religious
origins is too vague and uncertain to have much value.
Going backwards in Time, the two next chapters (iv and v)
deal with Totem-sacraments and Magic, perhaps the earliest
forms of religion. And these four lead on (in chapters vi
to xi) to the consideration of rites and creeds common to
Paganism and Christianity. XII and xiii deal especially
with the evolution of Christianity itself; xiv and xv explain
the inner Meaning of the whole process from the beginning;
and xvi and xvii look to the Future.

The appendix on the doctrines of the Upanishads may,
I hope, serve to give an idea, intimate even though inadequate,
of the third Stage--that which follows on the
stage of self-consciousness; and to portray the mental attitudes
which are characteristic of that stage. Here in this
third stage, it would seem, one comes upon the real FACTS of
the inner life--in contradistinction to the fancies and figments
of the second stage; and so one reaches the final point
of conjunction between Science and Religion.


To the ordinary public--notwithstanding the immense amount
of work which has of late been done on this subject--
the connection between Paganism and Christianity still seems
rather remote. Indeed the common notion is that Christianity
was really a miraculous interposition into and
dislocation of the old order of the world; and that the pagan
gods (as in Milton's Hymn on the Nativity) fled away in
dismay before the sign of the Cross, and at the sound
of the name of Jesus. Doubtless this was a view much
encouraged by the early Church itself--if only to enhance
its own authority and importance; yet, as is well known
to every student, it is quite misleading and contrary to
fact. The main Christian doctrines and festivals, besides
a great mass of affiliated legend and ceremonial, are really
quite directly derived from, and related to, preceding Nature
worships; and it has only been by a good deal of deliberate
mystification and falsification that this derivation has been
kept out of sight.

In these Nature-worships there may be discerned three
fairly independent streams of religious or quasi-religious
enthusiasm: (1) that connected with the phenomena of the
heavens, the movements of the Sun, planets and stars, and
the awe and wonderment they excited; (2) that connected
with the seasons and the very important matter of the
growth of vegetation and food on the Earth; and (3)
that connected with the mysteries of Sex and reproduction.
It is obvious that these three streams would mingle and
interfuse with each other a good deal; but as far as
they were separable the first would tend to create Solar heroes
and Sun-myths; the second Vegetation-gods and personifications
of Nature and the earth-life; while the third
would throw its glamour over the other two and contribute
to the projection of deities or demons worshipped
with all sorts of sexual and phallic rites. All three systems
of course have their special rites and times and ceremonies;
but, as, I say, the rites and ceremonies of one
system would rarely be found pure and unmixed with
those. belonging to the two others. The whole subject
is a very large one; but for reasons given in the Introduction
I shall in this and the following chapter--while not
ignoring phases (2) and (3)--lay most stress on phase (1)
of the question before us.

At the time of the life or recorded appearance of Jesus
of Nazareth, and for some centuries before, the Mediterranean
and neighboring world had been the scene of a
vast number of pagan creeds and rituals. There were
Temples without end dedicated to gods like Apollo or Dionysus
among the Greeks, Hercules among the Romans,
Mithra among the Persians, Adonis and Attis in Syria and
Phrygia, Osiris and Isis and Horus in Egypt, Baal and
Astarte among the Babylonians and Carthaginians, and so
forth. Societies, large or small, united believers and the
devout in the service or ceremonials connected with their
respective deities, and in the creeds which they confessed
concerning these deities. And an extraordinarily
interesting fact, for us, is that notwithstanding great
distances and racial differences between the adherents
of these various cults, as well as differences in the
details of their services, the general outlines of their creeds
and ceremonials were--if not identical--so markedly similar
as we find them.

I cannot of course go at length into these different cults,
but I may say roughly that of all or nearly all the deities
above-mentioned it was said and believed that:

(1) They were born on or very near our Christmas Day.

(2) They were born of a Virgin-Mother.

(3) And in a Cave or Underground Chamber.

(4) They led a life of toil for Mankind.

(5) And were called by the names of Light-bringer,
Healer, Mediator, Savior, Deliverer.

(6) They were however vanquished by the Powers of

(7) And descended into Hell or the Underworld.

(8) They rose again from the dead, and became the
pioneers of mankind to the Heavenly world.

(9) They founded Communions of Saints, and Churches
into which disciples were received by Baptism.

(10) And they were commemorated by Eucharistic

Let me give a few brief examples.

Mithra was born in a cave, and on the 25th December.[1]
He was born of a Virgin.[2] He traveled far and wide as
a teacher and illuminator of men. He slew the Bull
(symbol of the gross Earth which the sunlight fructifies).
His great festivals were the winter solstice and the Spring
equinox (Christmas and Easter). He had twelve companions
or disciples (the twelve months). He was buried
in a tomb, from which however he rose again; and his
resurrection was celebrated yearly with great rejoicings. He
was called Savior and Mediator, and sometimes figured as
a Lamb; and sacramental feasts in remembrance of him were
held by his followers. This legend is apparently partly
astronomical and partly vegetational; and the same may be said
of the following about Osiris.

[1] The birthfeast of Mithra was held in Rome on the 8th day
before the Kalends of January, being also the day of the
Circassian games, which were sacred to the Sun. (See F. Nork, Der
Mystagog, Leipzig.)

[2] This at any rate was reported by his later disciples (see
Robertson's Pagan Christs, p. 338).

Osiris was born (Plutarch tells us) on the 361st day of
the year, say the 27th December. He too, like Mithra and
Dionysus, was a great traveler. As King of Egypt he
taught men civil arts, and "tamed them by music and
gentleness, not by force of arms";[1] he was the discoverer
of corn and wine. But he was betrayed by Typhon, the
power of darkness, and slain and dismembered. "This happened,"
says Plutarch, "on the 17th of the month Athyr,
when the sun enters into the Scorpion" (the sign of the
Zodiac which indicates the oncoming of Winter). His body
was placed in a box, but afterwards, on the 19th, came again
to life, and, as in the cults of Mithra, Dionysus, Adonis and
others, so in the cult of Osiris, an image placed in a coffin
was brought out before the worshipers and saluted with
glad cries of "Osiris is risen."[1] "His sufferings, his death
and his resurrection were enacted year by year in a great
mystery-play at Abydos."[2]

[1] See Plutarch on Isis and Osiris.

[2] Ancient Art and Ritual, by Jane E. Harrison, chap. i.

The two following legends have more distinctly the character
of Vegetation myths.

Adonis or Tammuz, the Syrian god of vegetation, was
a very beautiful youth, born of a Virgin (Nature), and so
beautiful that Venus and Proserpine (the goddesses of the
Upper and Underworlds) both fell in love with him.
To reconcile their claims it was agreed that he should
spend half the year (summer) in the upper world, and the
winter half with Proserpine below. He was killed by a
boar (Typhon) in the autumn. And every year the maidens
"wept for Adonis" (see Ezekiel viii. 14). In the spring
a festival of his resurrection was held--the women set out
to seek him, and having found the supposed corpse
placed it (a wooden image) in a coffin or hollow tree, and
performed wild rites and lamentations, followed by even
wilder rejoicings over his supposed resurrection. At Aphaca
in the North of Syria, and halfway between Byblus and
Baalbec, there was a famous grove and temple of Astarte,
near which was a wild romantic gorge full of trees, the
birthplace of a certain river Adonis--the water rushing from
a Cavern, under lofty cliffs. Here (it was said) every year
the youth Adonis was again wounded to death, and the
river ran red with his blood,[1] while the scarlet anemone
bloomed among the cedars and walnuts.

[1] A discoloration caused by red earth washed by rain from the
mountains, and which has been observed by modern travelers. For
the whole story of Adonis and of Attis see Frazer's Golden Bough,
part iv.

The story of Attis is very similar. He was a fair young
shepherd or herdsman of Phrygia, beloved by Cybele (or
Demeter), the Mother of the gods. He was born of a Virgin
--Nana--who conceived by putting a ripe almond or
pomegranate in her bosom. He died, either killed by a
boar, the symbol of winter, like Adonis, or self-castrated
(like his own priests); and he bled to death at the foot of
a pine tree (the pine and pine-cone being symbols of fertility).
The sacrifice of his blood renewed the fertility of
the earth, and in the ritual celebration of his death and
resurrection his image was fastened to the trunk of a pine-
tree (compare the Crucifixion). But I shall return to this
legend presently. The worship of Attis became very widespread
and much honored, and was ultimately incorporated
with the established religion at Rome somewhere about the
commencement of our Era.

The following two legends (dealing with Hercules and
with Krishna) have rather more of the character of the
solar, and less of the vegetational myth about them. Both
heroes were regarded as great benefactors of humanity; but
the former more on the material plane, and the latter on the

Hercules or Heracles was, like other Sun-gods and benefactors of
mankind, a great Traveler. He was known in
many lands, and everywhere he was invoked as Saviour.
He was miraculously conceived from a divine Father; even
in the cradle he strangled two serpents sent to destroy him.
His many labors for the good of the world were ultimately
epitomized into twelve, symbolized by the signs of the Zodiac.
He slew the Nemxan Lion and the Hydra (offspring
of Typhon) and the Boar. He overcame the Cretan Bull,
and cleaned out the Stables of Augeas; he conquered Death
and, descending into Hades, brought Cerberus thence and
ascended into Heaven. On all sides he was followed by the
gratitude and the prayers of mortals.

As to Krishna, the Indian god, the points of agreement
with the general divine career indicated above are too salient
to be overlooked, and too numerous to be fully recorded.
He also was born of a Virgin (Devaki) and in a Cave,[1]
and his birth announced by a Star. It was sought to destroy
him, and for that purpose a massacre of infants was ordered.
Everywhere he performed miracles, raising the dead, healing
lepers, and the deaf and the blind, and championing the
poor and oppressed. He had a beloved disciple, Arjuna, (cf.
John) before whom he was transfigured.[2] His death is
differently related--as being shot by an arrow, or crucified on
a tree. He descended into hell; and rose again from the
dead, ascending into heaven in the sight of many people.
He will return at the last day to be the judge of the quick
and the dead.

[1] Cox's Myths of the Aryan Nations, p. 107.

[2] Bhagavat Gita, ch. xi.

Such are some of the legends concerning the pagan and
pre-Christian deities--only briefly sketched now, in order
that we may get something like a true perspective of the
whole subject; but to most of them, and more in detail,
I shall return as the argument proceeds.

What we chiefly notice so far are two points; on the
one hand the general similarity of these stories with that
of Jesus Christ; on the other their analogy with the yearly
phenomena of Nature as illustrated by the course of the
Sun in heaven and the changes of Vegetation on the earth.

(1) The similarity of these ancient pagan legends and
beliefs with Christian traditions was indeed so great that
it excited the attention and the undisguised wrath of the
early Christian fathers. They felt no doubt about the similarity,
but not knowing how to explain it fell back upon the
innocent theory that the Devil--in order to confound the
Christians--had, CENTURIES BEFORE, caused the pagans to
adopt certain beliefs and practices! (Very crafty, we
may say, of the Devil, but also very innocent of the
Fathers to believe it!) Justin Martyr for instance
describes[1] the institution of the Lord's Supper as narrated
in the Gospels, and then goes on to say: "Which the wicked
devils have IMITATED in the mysteries of Mithra, commanding
the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup
of water are placed with certain incantations in the
mystic rites of one who is being initiated you either know
or can learn." Tertullian also says[2] that "the devil by the
mysteries of his idols imitates even the main part of the
divine mysteries." . . . "He baptizes his worshippers in
water and makes them believe that this purifies them from
their crimes." . . . "Mithra sets his mark on the forehead
of his soldiers; he celebrates the oblation of bread;
he offers an image of the resurrection, and presents at once
the crown and the sword; he limits his chief priest to a
single marriage; he even has his virgins and ascetics."[3]
Cortez, too, it will be remembered complained that the Devil
had positively taught to the Mexicans the same things which
God had taught to Christendom.

[1] I Apol. c. 66.

[2] De Praescriptione Hereticorum, c. 40; De Bapt. c. 3; De
Corona, c. 15.

[3] For reference to both these examples see J. M. Robertson's
Pagan Christs, pp. 321, 322.

Justin Martyr again, in the Dialogue with Trypho says
that the Birth in the Stable was the prototype (!) of the
birth of Mithra in the Cave of Zoroastrianism; and boasts
that Christ was born when the Sun takes its birth in the
Augean Stable,[1] coming as a second Hercules to cleanse
a foul world; and St. Augustine says "we hold this
(Christmas) day holy, not like the pagans because of the
birth of the Sun, but because of the birth of him who made
it." There are plenty of other instances in the Early Fathers
of their indignant ascription of these similarities to the work
of devils; but we need not dwell over them. There is no
need for US to be indignant. On the contrary we can now
see that these animadversions of the Christian writers are
the evidence of how and to what extent in the spread of
Christianity over the world it had become fused with the
Pagan cults previously existing.

[1] The Zodiacal sign of Capricornus, iii.).

It was not till the year A.D. 530 or so--five centuries after
the supposed birth of Christ--that a Scythian Monk, Dionysius
Exiguus, an abbot and astronomer of Rome, was
commissioned to fix the day and the year of that birth.
A nice problem, considering the historical science of the
period! For year he assigned the date which we now adopt,[2]
and for day and month he adopted the 25th December
--a date which had been in popular use since about
350 B.C., and the very date, within a day or two, of the
supposed birth of the previous Sungods.[3] From that
fact alone we may fairly conclude that by the year 530
or earlier the existing Nature-worships had become largely
fused into Christianity. In fact the dates of the main
pagan religious festivals had by that time become so
popular that Christianity was OBLIGED to accommodate itself
to them.[1]

[1] As, for instance, the festival of John the Baptist in June
took the place of the pagan midsummer festival of water and
bathing; the Assumption of the Virgin in August the place of that
of Diana in the same month; and the festival of All Souls early
in November, that of the world-wide pagan feasts of the dead and
their ghosts at the same season.

[2] See Encycl. Brit. art. "Chronology."

[3] "There is however a difficulty in accepting the 25th December
as the real date of the Nativity, December being the height of
the rainy season in Judaea, when neither flocks nor shepherds
could have been at night in the fields of Bethlehem" (!). Encycl.
Brit. art. "Christmas Day." According to Hastings's
Encyclopaedia, art. "Christmas," "Usener says that the Feast of
the Nativity was held originally on the 6th January (the
Epiphany), but in 353-4 the Pope Liberius displaced
it to the 25th December . . . but there is no evidence of a
Feast of the Nativity taking place at all, before the fourth
century A.D." It was not till 534 A.D. that Christmas Day and
Epiphany were reckoned by the law-courts as dies non.

This brings us to the second point mentioned a few
pages back--the analogy between the Christian festivals
and the yearly phenomena of Nature in the Sun and the

Let us take Christmas Day first. Mithra, as we have
seen, was reported to have been born on the 25th December
(which in the Julian Calendar was reckoned as the day
of the Winter Solstice AND of the Nativity of the Sun);
Plutarch says (Isis and Osiris, c. 12) that Osiris was born
on the 361st day of the year, when a Voice rang out proclaiming
the Lord of All. Horus, he says, was born on the
362nd day. Apollo on the same.

Why was all this? Why did the Druids at Yule Tide
light roaring fires? Why was the cock supposed to crow all
Christmas Eve ("The bird of dawning singeth all night
long")? Why was Apollo born with only one hair (the
young Sun with only one feeble ray)? Why did Samson
(name derived from Shemesh, the sun) lose all his strength
when he lost his hair? Why were so many of these gods
--Mithra, Apollo, Krishna, Jesus, and others, born in
caves or underground chambers?[1] Why, at the Easter
Eve festival of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem is a light
brought from the grave and communicated to the candles
of thousands who wait outside, and who rush forth rejoicing
to carry the new glory over the world?[2] Why indeed?
except that older than all history and all written records
has been the fear and wonderment of the children of men
over the failure of the Sun's strength in Autumn--the decay
of their God; and the anxiety lest by any means he should
not revive or reappear?

[1] This same legend of gods (or idols) being born in caves has,
curiously enough, been reported from Mexico, Guatemala, the
Antilles, and other places in Central America. See C. F. P. von
Martius, Etknographie Amerika, etc. (Leipzig, 1867), vol. i, p.

[2] Compare the Aztec ceremonial of lighting a holy fire and
communicating it to the multitude from the wounded breast of a
human victim, celebrated every 52 years at the end of one cycle
and the beginning of another--the constellation of the Pleiades
being in the Zenith (Prescott's Conquest of Mexico, Bk. I, ch.

Think for a moment of a time far back when there were
absolutely NO Almanacs or Calendars, either nicely printed
or otherwise, when all that timid mortals could see was that
their great source of Light and Warmth was daily failing,
daily sinking lower in the sky. As everyone now knows
there are about three weeks at the fag end of the
year when the days are at their shortest and there is very
little change. What was happening? Evidently the god
had fallen upon evil times. Typhon, the prince of darkness,
had betrayed him; Delilah, the queen of Night, had
shorn his hair; the dreadful Boar had wounded him;
Hercules was struggling with Death itself; he had fallen
under the influence of those malign constellations--the
Serpent and the Scorpion. Would the god grow weaker
and weaker, and finally succumb, or would he conquer after
all? We can imagine the anxiety with which those early
men and women watched for the first indication of a lengthening
day; and the universal joy when the Priest (the representative
of primitive science) having made some simple
observations, announced from the Temple steps that the
day WAS lengthening--that the Sun was really born again
to a new and glorious career.[1]

[1] It was such things as these which doubtless gave the
its power.

Let us look at the elementary science of those days a
little closer. How without Almanacs or Calendars could
the day, or probable day, of the Sun's rebirth be fixed?
Go out next Christmas Evening, and at midnight you will
see the brightest of the fixed stars, Sirius, blazing in the
southern sky--not however due south from you, but somewhat
to the left of the Meridian line. Some three thousand
years ago (owing to the Precession of the Equinoxes) that
star at the winter solstice did not stand at midnight where
you now see it, but almost exactly ON the meridian line.
The coming of Sirius therefore to the meridian at midnight
became the sign and assurance of the Sun having reached
the very lowest point of his course, and therefore of having
arrived at the moment of his re-birth. Where then was
the Sun at that moment? Obviously in the underworld
beneath our feet. Whatever views the ancients may have
had about the shape of the earth, it was evident to the
mass of people that the Sungod, after illuminating the
world during the day, plunged down in the West, and
remained there during the hours of darkness in some cavern
under the earth. Here he rested and after bathing in the
great ocean renewed his garments before reappearing in the
East next morning.

But in this long night of his greatest winter weakness,
when all the world was hoping and praying for the renewal
of his strength, it is evident that the new birth would come
--if it came at all--at midnight. This then was the sacred
hour when in the underworld (the Stable or the Cave or
whatever it might be called) the child was born who was
destined to be the Savior of men. At that moment Sirius
stood on the southern meridian (and in more southern lands
than ours this would be more nearly overhead); and that
star--there is little doubt--is the Star in the East mentioned
in the Gospels.

To the right, as the supposed observer looks at Sirius on
the midnight of Christmas Eve, stands the magnificent
Orion, the mighty hunter. There are three stars in his belt
which, as is well known, lie in a straight line pointing to
Sirius. They are not so bright as Sirius, but they are
sufficiently bright to attract attention. A long tradition
gives them the name of the Three Kings. Dupuis[1] says:
"Orion a trois belles etoiles vers le milieu, qui sont de
seconde grandeur et posees en ligne droite, l'une pres de
l'autre, le peuple les appelle les trois rois. On donne aux
trois rois Magis les noms de Magalat, Galgalat, Saraim;
et Athos, Satos, Paratoras. Les Catholiques les appellent
Gaspard, Melchior, et Balthasar." The last-mentioned
group of names comes in the Catholic Calendar in connection
with the feast of the Epiphany (6th January); and
the name "Trois Rois" is commonly to-day given to these
stars by the French and Swiss peasants.

[1] Charles F. Dupuis (Origine de Tous les Cultes, Paris, 1822)
was one of the earliest modern writers on these subjects.

Immediately after Midnight then, on the 25th December,
the Beloved Son (or Sun-god) is born. If we go back in
thought to the period, some three thousand years ago, when
at that moment of the heavenly birth Sirius, coming from
the East, did actually stand on the Meridian, we shall
come into touch with another curious astronomical coincidence.
For at the same moment we shall see the Zodiacal
constellation of the Virgin in the act of rising, and becoming
visible in the East divided through the middle by the line
of the horizon.

The constellation Virgo is a Y-shaped group, of which ,
the star at the foot, is the well-known Spica, a star of
the first magnitude. The other principal stars,  at the
centre, and  and  at the extremities, are of the
second magnitude. The whole resembles more a cup than the human
figure; but when we remember the symbolic meaning
of the cup, that seems to be an obvious explanation of
the name Virgo, which the constellation has borne since
the earliest times. [The three stars ,  and ,
lie very nearly on the Ecliptic, that is, the Sun's path--a fact
to which we shall return presently.]

At the moment then when Sirius, the star from the East,
by coming to the Meridian at midnight signalled the Sun's
new birth, the Virgin was seen just rising on the Eastern
sky--the horizon line passing through her centre. And
many people think that this astronomical fact is the explanation
of the very widespread legend of the Virgin-birth. I
do not think that it is the sole explanation--for indeed in
all or nearly all these cases the acceptance of a myth seems
to depend not upon a single argument but upon the convergence
of a number of meanings and reasons in the same
symbol. But certainly the fact mentioned above is curious,
and its importance is accentuated by the following

In the Temple of Denderah in Egypt, and on the inside
of the dome, there is or WAS an elaborate circular representation
of the Northern hemisphere of the sky and the
Zodiac.[1] Here Virgo the constellation is represented, as
in our star-maps, by a woman with a spike of corn in her
hand (Spica). But on the margin close by there is an annotating
and explicatory figure--a figure of Isis with
the infant Horus in her arms, and quite resembling in style
the Christian Madonna and Child, except that she is
sitting and the child is on her knee. This seems to show
that--whatever other nations may have done in associating
Virgo with Demeter, Ceres, Diana[2] etc.--the Egyptians
made no doubt of the constellation's connection with Isis
and Horus. But it is well known as a matter of history
that the worship of Isis and Horus descended in the early
Christian centuries to Alexandria, where it took the form
of the worship of the Virgin Mary and the infant Savior,
and so passed into the European ceremonial. We have
therefore the Virgin Mary connected by linear succession and
descent with that remote Zodiacal cluster in the sky! Also
it may be mentioned that on the Arabian and Persian globes
of Abenezra and Abuazar a Virgin and Child are figured in
connection with the same constellation.[3]

[1] Carefully described and mapped by Dupuis, see op. cit.

[2] For the harvest-festival of Diana, the Virgin, and her
with the Virgin Mary, see The Golden Bough, vol. i, 14 and ii,

[3] See F. Nork, Der Mystagog (Leipzig, 1838).

A curious confirmation of the same astronomical connection
is afforded by the Roman Catholic Calendar. For if this be
consulted it will be found that the festival of the
Assumption of the Virgin is placed on the 15th August, while the
festival of the Birth of the Virgin is dated the 8th September. I
have already pointed out that the stars, ,  and  of Virgo are almost exactly on the Ecliptic, or
Sun's path through the sky; and a brief reference to the
Zodiacal signs and the star-maps will show that the Sun
each year enters the sign of Virgo about the first-mentioned
date, and leaves it about the second date. At the present
day the Zodiacal signs (owing to precession) have shifted
some distance from the constellations of the same name.
But at the time when the Zodiac was constituted and
these names were given, the first date obviously would
signalize the actual disappearance of the cluster Virgo
in the Sun's rays--i. e. the Assumption of the Virgin into
the glory of the God--while the second date would signalize
the reappearance of the constellation or the Birth of the
Virgin. The Church of Notre Dame at Paris is supposed
to be on the original site of a Temple of Isis; and it is said
(but I have not been able to verify this myself) that one of
the side entrances--that, namely, on the left in entering
from the North (cloister) side--is figured with the signs of
the Zodiac EXCEPT that the sign Virgo is replaced by the
figure of the Madonna and Child.

So strange is the scripture of the sky! Innumerable
legends and customs connect the rebirth of the Sun with
a Virgin parturition. Dr. J. G. Frazer in his Part IV of
The Golden Bough[1] says: "If we may trust the evidence
of an obscure scholiast the Greeks [in the worship of
Mithras at Rome] used to celebrate the birth of the luminary
by a midnight service, coming out of the inner
shrines and crying, 'The Virgin has brought forth! The light
is waxing!' (.)" In
Elie Reclus' little book Primitive Folk[2] it is said of the
Esquimaux that "On the longest night of the year two
angakout (priests), of whom one is disguised as a WOMAN,
go from hut to hut extinguishing all the lights, rekindling
them from a vestal flame, and crying out, 'From the new sun
cometh a new light!' "

[1] Book II, ch. vi.

[2] In the Contemporary Science Series, I. 92.

All this above-written on the Solar or Astronomical origins
of the myths does not of course imply that the Vegetational
origins must be denied or ignored. These latter
were doubtless the earliest, but there is no reason--
as said in the Introduction (ch. i)--why the two elements
should not to some extent have run side by side, or been
fused with each other. In fact it is quite clear that they
must have done so; and to separate them out too rigidly,
or treat them as antagonistic, is a mistake. The Cave or
Underworld in which the New Year is born is not only
the place of the Sun's winter retirement, but also the hidden
chamber beneath the Earth to which the dying Vegetation
goes, and from which it re-arises in Spring. The amours
of Adonis with Venus and Proserpine, the lovely goddesses
of the upper and under worlds, or of Attis with Cybele, the
blooming Earth-mother, are obvious vegetation-symbols; but
they do not exclude the interpretation that Adonis
(Adonai) may also figure as a Sun-god. The Zodiacal
constellations of Aries and Taurus (to which I shall return
presently) rule in heaven just when the Lamb and the Bull
are in evidence on the earth; and the yearly sacrifice of
those two animals and of the growing Corn for the good
of mankind runs parallel with the drama of the sky, as it
affects not only the said constellations but also Virgo (the
Earth-mother who bears the sheaf of corn in her hand).

I shall therefore continue (in the next chapter) to point
out these astronomical references--which are full of
significance and poetry; but with a recommendation at the
same time to the reader not to forget the poetry and significance
of the terrestrial interpretations.

Between Christmas Day and Easter there are several minor
festivals or holy days--such as the 28th December (the
Massacre of the Innocents), the 6th January (the
Epiphany), the 2nd February (Candlemas[1] Day), the
period of Lent (German Lenz, the Spring), the Annunciation of the
Blessed Virgin, and so forth--which have been
commonly celebrated in the pagan cults before Christianity,
and in which elements of Star and Nature worship
can be traced; but to dwell on all these would take too
long; so let us pass at once to the period of Easter itself.

[1] This festival of the Purification of the Virgin corresponds
with the old Roman festival of Juno Februata (i. e. purified)
which was held in the last month (February) of the Roman year,
and which included a candle procession of Ceres, searching for
Proserpine. (F. Nork, Der Mystagog.)


The Vernal Equinox has all over the ancient world, and
from the earliest times, been a period of rejoicing and of
festivals in honor of the Sungod. It is needless to labor
a point which is so well known. Everyone understands
and appreciates the joy of finding that the long darkness
is giving way, that the Sun is growing in strength, and
that the days are winning a victory over the nights. The
birds and flowers reappear, and the promise of Spring is
in the air. But it may be worth while to give an elementary
explanation of the ASTRONOMICAL meaning of this period,
because this is not always understood, and yet it is very
important in its bearing on the rites and creeds of the early
religions. The priests who were, as I have said, the early
students and inquirers, had worked out this astronomical
side, and in that way were able to fix dates and
to frame for the benefit of the populace myths and legends,
which were in a certain sense explanations of the order of
Nature, and a kind of "popular science."

The Equator, as everyone knows, is an imaginary line
or circle girdling the Earth half-way between the North
and South poles. If you imagine a transparent Earth with
a light at its very centre, and also imagine the SHADOW
of this equatorial line to be thrown on the vast concave
of the Sky, this shadow would in astronomical parlance
coincide with the Equator of the Sky--forming an imaginary
circle half-way between the North and South celestial poles.

The Equator, then, may be pictured as cutting across the
sky either by day or by night, and always at the same
elevation--that is, as seen from any one place. But the
Ecliptic (the other important great circle of the heavens)
can only be thought of as a line traversing the constellations
as they are seen at NIGHT. It is in fact the Sun's path
among the fixed stars. For (really owing to the Earth's
motion in its orbit) the Sun appears to move round
the heavens once a year--travelling, always to the left,
from constellation to constellation. The exact path of
the sun is called the Ecliptic; and the band of sky on either
side of the Ecliptic which may be supposed to include
the said constellations is called the Zodiac. How then--
it will of course be asked--seeing that the Sun and the Stars
can never be seen together--were the Priests ABLE to map
out the path of the former among the latter? Into that
question we need not go. Sufficient to say that they succeeded;
and their success--even with the very primitive instruments
they had--shows that their astronomical knowledge
and acuteness of reasoning were of no mean order.

To return to our Vernal Equinox. Let us suppose that
the Equator and Ecliptic of the sky, at the Spring season,
are represented by two lines Eq. and Ecl. crossing each
other at the point P. The Sun, represented by the small
circle, is moving slowly and in its annual course along the
Ecliptic to the left. When it reaches the point P (the
dotted circle) it stands on the Equator of the sky, and then
for a day or two, being neither North nor South, it
shines on the two terrestrial hemispheres alike, and day and
night are equal. BEFORE that time, when the sun is low
down in the heavens, night has the advantage, and the
days are short; AFTERWARDS, when the Sun has travelled more
to the left, the days triumph over the nights. It will be seen
then that this point P where the Sun's path crosses the Equator
is a very critical point. It is the astronomical location
of the triumph of the Sungod and of the arrival of Spring.

How was this location defined? Among what stars was
the Sun moving at that critical moment? (For of course
it was understood, or supposed, that the Sun was deeply
influenced by the constellation through which it was, or
appeared to be, moving.) It seems then that at the
period when these questions were occupying men's minds
--say about three thousand years ago--the point where
the Ecliptic crossed the Equator was, as a matter of
fact, in the region of the constellation Aries or the he-
Lamb. The triumph of the Sungod was therefore, and quite
naturally, ascribed to the influence of Aries. THE LAMB
an explanation sounds hazardous; but a thousand texts and
references confirm it; and it is only by the accumulation
of evidence in these cases that the student becomes convinced
of a theory's correctness. It must also be remembered
(what I have mentioned before) that these myths and legends
were commonly adopted not only for one strict reason but
because they represented in a general way the convergence of
various symbols and inferences.

Let me enumerate a few points with regard to the Vernal
Equinox. In the Bible the festival is called the Passover,
and its supposed institution by Moses is related in Exodus,
ch. xii. In every house a he-lamb was to be slain,
and its blood to be sprinkled on the doorposts of the
house. Then the Lord would pass over and not smite that
house. The Hebrew word is pasach, to pass.[1] The lamb
slain was called the Paschal Lamb. But what was that
lamb? Evidently not an earthly lamb--(though certainly
the earthly lambs on the hillsides WERE just then ready
to be killed and eaten)--but the heavenly Lamb, which
was slain or sacrificed when the Lord "passed over" the
equator and obliterated the constellation Aries. This was
the Lamb of God which was slain each year, and "Slain
since the foundation of the world." This period of the
Passover (about the 25th March) was to be[2] the beginning
of a new year. The sacrifice of the Lamb, and its blood,
were to be the promise of redemption. The door-frames of the
houses--symbols of the entrance into a new life--were
to be sprinkled with blood.[3] Later, the imagery of the
saving power of the blood of the Lamb became more
popular, more highly colored. (See St. Paul's epistles, and
the early Fathers.) And we have the expression "washed
in the blood of the Lamb" adopted into the Christian

[1] It is said that pasach sometimes means not so much to pass
over, as to hover over and so protect. Possibly both meanings
enter in here. See Isaiah xxxi. 5.

[2] See Exodus xii. i.

[3] It is even said (see The Golden Bough, vol. iii, 185) that
the doorways of houses and temples in Peru were at the Spring
festival daubed with blood of the first-born children--commuted
afterwards to the blood of the sacred animal, the Llama. And as
to Mexico, Sahagun, the great Spanish missionary, tells us that
it was a custom of the people there to "smear the outside of
their houses and doors with blood drawn from their own ears and
ankles, in order to propitiate the god of Harvest"
(Kingsborough's Mexican Antiquities, vol. vi, p. 235).

In order fully to understand this extraordinary expression
and its origin we must turn for a moment to the worship
both of Mithra, the Persian Sungod, and of Attis the Syrian
god, as throwing great light on the Christian cult and
ceremonies. It must be remembered that in the early centuries
of our era the Mithra-cult was spread over the whole Western
world. It has left many monuments of itself here
in Britain. At Rome the worship was extremely popular,
and it may almost be said to have been a matter
of chance whether Mithraism should overwhelm Christianity,
or whether the younger religion by adopting many of the
rites of the older one should establish itself (as it did) in
the face of the latter.

Now we have already mentioned that in the Mithra
cult the slaying of a Bull by the Sungod occupies the same
sort of place as the slaving of the Lamb in the Christian
cult. It took place at the Vernal Equinox and the blood
of the Bull acquired in men's minds a magic virtue.
Mithraism was a greatly older religion than Christianity;
but its genesis was similar. In fact, owing to the Precession
of the Equinoxes, the crossing-place of the Ecliptic and
Equator was different at the time of the establishment
of Mithra-worship from what it was in the Christian period;
and the Sun instead of standing in the He-lamb, or Aries,
at the Vernal Equinox stood, about two thousand years
earlier (as indicated by the dotted line in the diagram), in this
very constellation of the Bull.[1] The bull
therefore became the symbol of the triumphant God, and the
sacrifice of the bull a holy mystery. (Nor must we
overlook here the agricultural appropriateness of the bull as
the emblem of Spring-plowings and of service to man.)

[1] With regard to this point, see an article in the Nineteenth
Century for September 1900, by E. W. Maunder of the Greenwich
Observatory on "The Oldest Picture Book" (the Zodiac). Mr.
Maunder calculates that the Vernal Equinox was in the centre of
the Sign of the Bull 5,000 years ago. [It would therefore be in
the centre of Aries 2,845 years ago--allowing 2,155 years for the
time occupied in passing from one Sign to another.] At the
earlier period the Summer solstice was in the centre of Leo, the
Autumnal equinox in the centre of Scorpio, and the Winter
solstice in the centre of Aquarius--corresponding
roughly, Mr. Maunder points out, to the positions of the
four "Royal Stars," Aldebaran, Regulus, Antares and Fomalhaut.

The sacrifice of the Bull became the image of redemption.
In a certain well-known Mithra-sculpture or group, the Sungod
is represented as plunging his dagger into a bull, while
a scorpion, a serpent, and other animals are sucking the
latter's blood. From one point of view this may be taken as
symbolic of the Sun fertilizing the gross Earth by plunging
his rays into it and so drawing forth its blood for the
sustenance of all creatures; while from another more astronomical
aspect it symbolizes the conquest of the Sun over winter
in the moment of "passing over" the sign of the Bull, and the
depletion of the generative power of the Bull by the Scorpion
--which of course is the autumnal sign of the Zodiac and
herald of winter. One such Mithraic group was found at
Ostia, where there was a large subterranean Temple "to the
invincible god Mithras."

In the worship of Attis there were (as I have already indicated)
many points of resemblance to the Christian
cult. On the 22nd March (the Vernal Equinox) a pinetree
was cut in the woods and brought into the Temple of
Cybele. It was treated almost as a divinity, was decked
with violets, and the effigy of a young man tied to the stem
(cf. the Crucifixion). The 24th was called the "Day of
Blood"; the High Priest first drew blood from his own
arms; and then the others gashed and slashed themselves,
and spattered the altar and the sacred tree with blood; while
novices made themselves eunuchs "for the kingdom of
heaven's sake." The effigy was afterwards laid in a tomb.
But when night fell, says Dr. Frazer,[1] sorrow was turned to
joy. A light was brought, and the tomb was found to
be empty. The next day, the 25th, was the festival of
the Resurrection; and ended in carnival and license (the
Hilaria). Further, says Dr. Frazer, these mysteries "seem
to have included a sacramental meal and a baptism of

[1] See Adonis, Attis and Osiris, Part IV of The Golden Bough, by
J. G. Frazer, p. 229.

"In the baptism the devotee, crowned with gold and
wreathed with fillets, descended into a pit, the mouth of
which was covered with a wooden grating. A bull, adorned
with garlands of flowers, its forehead glittering with gold
leaf, was then driven on to the grating and there stabbed
to death with a consecrated spear. Its hot reeking blood
poured in torrents through the apertures, and was received
with devout eagerness by the worshiper on every part of
his person and garments, till he emerged from the pit,
drenched, dripping, and scarlet from head to foot, to
receive the homage, nay the adoration, of his fellows--as
one who had been born again to eternal life and had washed
away his sins in the blood of the bull."[1] And Frazer continuing
says: "That the bath of blood derived from slaughter
of the bull (tauro-bolium) was believed to regenerate
the devotee for eternity is proved by an inscription
found at Rome, which records that a certain Sextilius
Agesilaus Aedesius, who dedicated an altar to Attis and
the mother of the gods (Cybele) was taurobolio criobolio que
in aeternum renatus."[2] "In the procedure of the Taurobolia
and Criobolia," says Mr. J. M. Robertson,[3] "which
grew very popular in the Roman world, we have the literal
and original meaning of the phrase 'washed in the blood of
the lamb'[4]; the doctrine being that resurrection and eternal
life were secured by drenching or sprinkling with the
actual blood of a sacrificial bull or ram."[5] For the
POPULARITY of the rite we may quote Franz Cumont, who
says:--"Cette douche sacree (taurobolium) pareit avoir ete
administree en Cappadoce dans un grand nombre de sanctuaires, et
en particulier dans ceux de Ma la grande divinite
indigene, et dans ceux: de Anahita."

[1] See vol. i, pp. 334 ff.

[2] Adonis, Attis and Osiris, p. 229. References to Prudentius,
and to Firmicus Maternus, De errore 28. 8.

[3] That is, "By the slaughter of the bull and the slaughter of
the ram born again into eternity."

[4] Pagan Christs, p. 315.

[5] Mysteres de Mithra, Bruxelles, 1902, p. 153.

Whether Mr. Robertson is right in ascribing to the priests
(as he appears to do) so materialistic a view of the
potency of the actual blood is, I should say, doubtful. I
do not myself see that there is any reason for supposing that
the priests of Mithra or Attis regarded baptism by
blood very differently from the way in which the Christian
Church has generally regarded baptism by water--namely,
as a SYMBOL of some inner regeneration. There may certainly
have been a little more of the MAGICAL view and a little
less of the symbolic, in the older religions; but the
difference was probably on the whole more one of degree
than of essential disparity. But however that may be,
we cannot but be struck by the extraordinary analogy
between the tombstone inscriptions of that period "born
again into eternity by the blood of the Bull or the Ram,"
and the corresponding texts in our graveyards to-day.
F. Cumont in his elaborate work, Textes et Monuments relatifs
aux Mysteres de Mithra (2 vols., Brussels, 1899) gives
a great number of texts and epitaphs of the same character
as that above-quoted, and they are well worth studying
by those interested in the subject. Cumont, it may be
noted (vol. i, p. 305), thinks that the story of Mithra and
the slaying of the Bull must have originated among some
pastoral people to whom the bull was the source of all life.
The Bull in heaven--the symbol of the triumphant Sungod--
and the earthly bull, sacrificed for the good of humanity
were one and the same; the god, in fact, SACRIFICED HIMSELF
OR HIS REPRESENTATIVE. And Mithra was the hero who first
won this conception of divinity for mankind--though of
course it is in essence quite similar to the conception put
forward by the Christian Church.

As illustrating the belief that the Baptism by Blood was
accompanied by a real regeneration of the devotee, Frazer
quotes an ancient writer[1] who says that for some time after
the ceremony the fiction of a new birth was kept up
by dieting the devotee on MILK, like a new-born babe.
And it is interesting in that connection to find that even in
the present day a diet of ABSOLUTELY NOTHING BUT MILK for
six or eight weeks is by many doctors recommended as
the only means of getting rid of deep-seated illnesses
and enabling a patient's organism to make a completely new
start in life.

[1] Sallustius philosophus. See Adonis, Attis and Osiris, note,
p. 229.

"At Rome," he further says (p. 230), "the new birth and
the remission of sins by the shedding of bull's blood appear
to have been carried out above all at the sanctuary of the
Phrygian Goddess (Cybele) on the Vatican Hill, at or near
the spot where the great basilica of St. Peter's now stands;
for many inscriptions relating to the rites were found when
the church was being enlarged in 1608 or 1609. From
the Vatican as a centre," he continues, "this barbarous system
of superstition seems to have spread to other parts of
the Roman empire. Inscriptions found in Gaul and Germany
prove that provincial sanctuaries modelled their ritual on that
of the Vatican."

It would appear then that at Rome in the quiet early
days of the Christian Church, the rites and ceremonials
of Mithra and Cybele, probably much intermingled and
blended, were exceedingly popular. Both religions had been
recognized by the Roman State, and the Christians, persecuted
and despised as they were, found it hard to make any
headway against them--the more so perhaps because the
Christian doctrines appeared in many respects to be merely
faint replicas and copies of the older creeds. Robertson
maintains[1] that a he-lamb was sacrificed in the
Mithraic mysteries, and he quotes Porphyry as saying[2]
that "a place near the equinoctial circle was assigned to
Mithra as an appropriate seat; and on this account he
bears the sword of the Ram [Aries] which is a sign of Mars
[Ares]." Similarly among the early Christians, it is said,
a ram or lamb was sacrificed in the Paschal mystery.

[1] Pagan Christs, p. 336.

[2] De Antro, xxiv.

Many people think that the association of the Lamb-god
with the Cross arose from the fact that the constellation
Aries at that time WAS on the heavenly cross (the
crossways of the Ecliptic and Equator-see diagram, ch.
iii), and in the very place through which the Sungod
had to pass just before his final triumph. And it is
curious to find that Justin Martyr in his Dialogue with Trypho[1]
(a Jew) alludes to an old Jewish practice of roasting a Lamb on
spits arranged in the form of a Cross. "The lamb,"
he says, meaning apparently the Paschal lamb, "is roasted
and dressed up in the form of a cross. For one spit is transfixed
right through the lower parts up to the head, and one
across the back, to which are attached the legs [forelegs] of
the lamb."

[1] Ch. xl.

To-day in Morocco at the festival of Eid-el-Kebir, corresponding
to the Christian Easter, the Mohammedans sacrifice
a young ram and hurry it still bleeding to the precincts
of the Mosque, while at the same time every household slays
a lamb, as in the Biblical institution, for its family feast.

But it will perhaps be said, "You are going too fast and
proving too much. In the anxiety to show that the
Lamb-god and the sacrifice of the Lamb were honored
by the devotees of Mithra and Cybele in the Rome of the
Christian era, you are forgetting that the sacrifice of the
Bull and the baptism in bull's blood were the salient
features of the Persian and Phrygian ceremonials, some centuries
earlier. How can you reconcile the existence side
by side of divinities belonging to such different periods, or
ascribe them both to an astronomical origin?" The answer
is simple enough. As I have explained before, the Precession of
the Equinoxes caused the Sun, at its moment
of triumph over the powers of darkness, to stand at one period
in the constellation of the Bull, and at a period some
two thousand years later in the constellation of the Ram.
It was perfectly natural therefore that a change in the
sacred symbols should, in the course of time, take place;
yet perfectly natural also that these symbols, having once
been consecrated and adopted, should continue to be
honored and clung to long after the time of their astronomical
appropriateness had passed, and so to be found side by
side in later centuries. The devotee of Mithra or Attis
on the Vatican Hill at Rome in the year 200 A.D. probably
had as little notion or comprehension of the real origin of
the sacred Bull or Ram which he adored, as the Christian in
St. Peter's to-day has of the origin of the Lamb-god whose
vicegerent on earth is the Pope.

It is indeed easy to imagine that the change from the
worship of the Bull to the worship of the Lamb which
undoubtedly took place among various peoples as time
went on, was only a ritual change initiated by the priests
in order to put on record and harmonize with the astronomical
alteration. Anyhow it is curious that while Mithra
in the early times was specially associated with the bull,
his association with the lamb belonged more to the Roman
period. Somewhat the same happened in the case of Attis.
In the Bible we read of the indignation of Moses at the
setting up by the Israelites of a Golden Calf, AFTER the
sacrifice of the ram-lamb had been instituted--as if indeed
the rebellious people were returning to the earlier
cult of Apis which they ought to have left behind them in
Egypt. In Egypt itself, too, we find the worship of
Apis, as time went on, yielding place to that of the Ram-
headed god Amun, or Jupiter Ammon.[1] So that both
from the Bible and from Egyptian history we may conclude
that the worship of the Lamb or Ram succeeded to
the worship of the Bull.

[1] Tacitus (Hist. v. 4) speaks of ram-sacrifice by the Jews in
honor of Jupiter Ammon. See also Herodotus (ii. 42) on the same
in Egypt.

Finally it has been pointed out, and there may be some
real connection in the coincidence, that in the quite early
years of Christianity the FISH came in as an accepted symbol
of Jesus Christ. Considering that after the domination
of Taurus and Aries, the Fish (Pisces) comes next in succession
as the Zodiacal sign for the Vernal Equinox, and
is now the constellation in which the Sun stands at that
period, it seems not impossible that the astronomical change
has been the cause of the adoption of this new symbol.

Anyhow, and allowing for possible errors or exaggerations,
it becomes clear that the travels of the Sun through
the belt of constellations which forms the Zodiac must
have had, from earliest times, a profound influence on
the generation of religious myths and legends. To say
that it was the only influence would certainly be a mistake.
Other causes undoubtedly contributed. But it was a main
and important influence. The origins of the Zodiac are
obscure; we do not know with any certainty the reasons
why the various names were given to its component sections,
nor can we measure the exact antiquity of these names; but
--pre-supposing the names of the signs as once given--it
is not difficult to imagine the growth of legends connected
with the Sun's course among them.

Of all the ancient divinities perhaps Hercules is the one
whose role as a Sungod is most generally admitted. The
helper of gods and men, a mighty Traveller, and invoked
everywhere as the Saviour, his labors for the good of the
world became ultimately defined and systematized as
twelve and corresponding in number to the signs of the
Zodiac. It is true that this systematization only took place
at a late period, probably in Alexandria; also that the
identification of some of the Labors with the actual
signs as we have them at present is not always clear. But
considering the wide prevalence of the Hercules myth over
the ancient world and the very various astronomical systems
it must have been connected with in its origin, this lack of
exact correspondence is hardly to be wondered at.

The Labors of Hercules which chiefly interest us are:
(1) The capture of the Bull, (2) the slaughter of the Lion,
(3) the destruction of the Hydra, (4) of the Boar, (5) the
cleansing of the stables of Augeas, (6) the descent into
Hades and the taming of Cerberus. The first of these is
in line with the Mithraic conquest of the Bull; the Lion is
of course one of the most prominent constellations of the
Zodiac, and its conquest is obviously the work of a Saviour
of mankind; while the last four labors connect themselves
very naturally with the Solar conflict in winter against
the powers of darkness. The Boar (4) we have seen
already as the image of Typhon, the prince of darkness;
the Hydra (3) was said to be the offspring of Typhon;
the descent into Hades (6)--generally associated with
Hercules' struggle with and victory over Death--links
on to the descent of the Sun into the underworld, and its
long and doubtful strife with the forces of winter; and
the cleansing of the stables of Augeas (5) has the same
signification. It appears in fact that the stables of Augeas
was another name for the sign of Capricorn through which
the Sun passes at the Winter solstice[1]--the stable of course
being an underground chamber--and the myth was that
there, in this lowest tract and backwater of the Ecliptic
all the malarious and evil influences of the sky were collected,
and the Sungod came to wash them away (December was the
height of the rainy season in Judaea) and cleanse the year
towards its rebirth.

[1] See diagram of Zodiac.

It should not be forgotten too that even as a child in the
cradle Hercules slew two serpents sent for his destruction--
the serpent and the scorpion as autumnal constellations
figuring always as enemies of the Sungod--to which
may be compared the power given to his disciples by Jesus[1]
"to tread on serpents and scorpions." Hercules also as
a Sungod compares curiously with Samson (mentioned
above, ii), but we need not dwell on all the
elaborate analogies that have been traced[2] between these two

[1] Luke x. 19.

[2] See Doane's Bible Myths, ch. viii, (New York, 1882.)

The Jesus-story, it will now be seen, has a great number
of correspondences with the stories of former Sungods and
with the actual career of the Sun through the heavens--so
many indeed that they cannot well be attributed to
mere coincidence or even to the blasphemous wiles of the
Devil! Let us enumerate some of these. There are (1)
the birth from a Virgin mother; (2) the birth in a stable
(cave or underground chamber); and (3) on the 25th December
(just after the winter solstice). There is (4) the
Star in the East (Sirius) and (5) the arrival of the Magi
(the "Three Kings"); there is (6) the threatened Massacre
of the Innocents, and the consequent flight into a distant
country (told also of Krishna and other Sungods). There
are the Church festivals of (7) Candlemas (2nd February),
with processions of candles to symbolize the growing
light; of (8) Lent, or the arrival of Spring; of (9) Easter
Day (normally on the 25th March) to celebrate the crossing
of the Equator by the Sun; and (10) simultaneously the
outburst of lights at the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem. There
is (11) the Crucifixion and death of the Lamb-God, on Good
Friday, three days before Easter; there are (12) the
nailing to a tree, (13) the empty grave, (14) the glad
Resurrection (as in the cases of Osiris, Attis and others);
there are (15) the twelve disciples (the Zodiacal signs);
and (16) the betrayal by one of the twelve. Then later
there is (17) Midsummer Day, the 24th June, dedicated to
the Nativity of John the Baptist, and corresponding
to Christmas Day; there are the festivals of (18) the
Assumption of the Virgin (15th August) and of (19) the
Nativity of the Virgin (8th September), corresponding
to the movement of the god through Virgo; there is the conflict
of Christ and his disciples with the autumnal asterisms,
(20) the Serpent and the Scorpion; and finally
there is the curious fact that the Church (21) dedicates the
very day of the winter solstice (when any one may very
naturally doubt the rebirth of the Sun) to St. Thomas, who
doubted the truth of the Resurrection!

These are some of, and by no means all, the coincidences
in question. But they are sufficient, I think, to prove--
even allowing for possible margins of error--the truth
of our general contention. To go into the parallelism
of the careers of Krishna, the Indian Sungod, and Jesus
would take too long; because indeed the correspondence
is so extraordinarily close and elaborate.[1] I propose, however,
at the close of this chapter, to dwell now for a
moment on the Christian festival of the Eucharist, partly
on account of its connection with the derivation from
the astronomical rites and Nature-celebrations already
alluded to, and partly on account of the light which the festival
generally, whether Christian or Pagan, throws on the
origins of Religious Magic--a subject I shall have to deal
with in the next chapter.

[1] See Robertson's Christianity and Mythology, Part II, pp.
129-302; also Doane's Bible Myths, ch. xxviii, p. 278.

I have already (Ch. II) mentioned the Eucharistic
rite held in commemoration of Mithra, and the indignant
ascription of this by Justin Martyr to the wiles of the Devil.
Justin Martyr clearly had no doubt about the resemblance
of the Mithraic to the Christian ceremony. A Sacramental
meal, as mentioned a few pages back, seems
to have been held by the worshipers of Attis[1] in
commemoration of their god; and the 'mysteries' of the
Pagan cults generally appear to have included rites--
sometimes half-savage, sometimes more aesthetic--in which
a dismembered animal was eaten, or bread and wine (the
spirits of the Corn and the Vine) were consumed, as
representing the body of the god whom his devotees desired
to honor. But the best example of this practice is
afforded by the rites of Dionysus, to which I will devote
a few lines. Dionysus, like other Sun or Nature deities,
was born of a Virgin (Semele or Demeter) untainted by any
earthly husband; and born on the 25th. December. He was
nurtured in a Cave, and even at that early age was
identified with the Ram or Lamb, into whose form he was
for the time being changed. At times also he was worshiped
in the form of a Bull.[2] He travelled far and
wide; and brought the great gift of wine to mankind.[3]
He was called Liberator, and Saviour. His grave "was
shown at Delphi in the inmost shrine of the temple of Apollo.
Secret offerings were brought thither, while the women
who were celebrating the feast woke up the new-born
god. . . . Festivals of this kind in celebration of the
extinction and resurrection of the deity were held (by
women and girls only) amid the mountains at night,
every third year, about the time of the shortest day. The
rites, intended to express the excess of grief and joy at the
death and reappearance of the god, were wild even
to savagery, and the women who performed them were
hence known by the expressive names of Bacchae, Maenads,
and Thyiades. They wandered through woods and mountains,
their flying locks crowned with ivy or snakes, brandishing
wands and torches, to the hollow sounds of the drum,
or the shrill notes of the flute, with wild dances and
insane cries and jubilation.

[1] See Frazer's Golden Bough, Part IV, p. 229.

[2] The Golden Bough, Part II, Book II, p. 164.

[3] "I am the TRUE Vine," says the Jesus of the fourth gospel,
perhaps with an implicit and hostile reference to the cult of
Dionysus--in which Robertson suggests (Christianity and
Mythology, p. 357) there was a ritual miracle of turning water
into wine.

Oxen, goats, even fawns and roes from the forest were killed,
torn to pieces, and eaten raw. This in imitation of the
treatment of Dionysus by the Titans"[1]--who it was supposed
had torn the god in pieces when a child.

[1] See art. Dionysus. Dictionary of Classical Antiquities,
Nettleship and Sandys 3rd edn., London, 1898).

Dupuis, one of the earliest writers (at the beginning of
last century) on this subject, says, describing the mystic
rites of Dionysus[1]: "The sacred doors of the Temple in which
the initiation took place were opened only once a year, and
no stranger might ever enter. Night lent to these august
mysteries a veil which was forbidden to be drawn aside
--for whoever it might be.[2] It was the sole occasion
for the representation of the passion of Bacchus [Dionysus]
dead, descended into hell, and rearisen--in imitation
of the representation of the sufferings of Osiris which,
according to Herodotus, were commemorated at Sais in
Egypt. It was in that place that the partition took
place of the body of the god,[3] which was then eaten--
the ceremony, in fact, of which our Eucharist is only a
reflection; whereas in the mysteries of Bacchus actual raw
flesh was distributed, which each of those present had
to consume in commemoration of the death of Bacchus
dismembered by the Titans, and whose passion, in Chios
and Tenedos, was renewed each year by the sacrifice of a man
who represented the god.[4] Possibly it is this last fact which
made people believe that the Christians (whose hoc est corpus
meum and sharing of an Eucharistic meal were no more than
a shadow of a more ancient rite) did really sacrifice a child
and devour its limbs."

[1] See Charles F. Dupuis, "Traite des Mysteres," ch. i.

[2] Pausan, Corinth, ch. 37.

[3] Clem, Prot. Eur. Bacch.

[4] See Porphyry, De Abstinentia, lii, Section 56.

That Eucharistic rites were very very ancient is plain
from the Totem-sacraments of savages; and to this subject
we shall now turn.


Much has been written on the origin of the Totem-system
--the system, that is, of naming a tribe or a portion of a
tribe (say a CLAN) after some ANIMAL--or sometimes--also
after some plant or tree or Nature-element, like fire or
rain or thunder; but at best the subject is a difficult one
for us moderns to understand. A careful study has been
made of it by Salamon Reinach in his Cultes, Mythes et
Religions,[1] where he formulates his conclusions in twelve
statements or definitions; but even so--though his suggestions
are helpful--he throws very little light on the real
origin of the system.[2]

[1] See English translation of certain chapters (published by
David Nutt in 1912) entitled Cults, Myths and Religions, pp.
1-25. The French original is in three large volumes.

[2] The same may be said of the formulated statement of the
subject in Morris Jastrow's Handbooks of the History of Religion,
vol. iv.

There are three main difficulties. The first is to understand
why primitive Man should name his Tribe after an
animal or object of nature at all; the second, to understand
on what principle he selected the particular name (a lion, a
crocodile, a lady bird, a certain tree); the third, why he should
make of the said totem a divinity, and pay honor and worship
to it. It may be worth while to pause for a moment
over these.

(1) The fact that the Tribe was one of the early things
for which Man found it necessary to have a name is interesting,
because it shows how early the solidarity and psychological
actuality of the tribe was recognized; and as to the
selection of a name from some animal or concrete object of
Nature, that was inevitable, for the simple reason that there
was nothing else for the savage to choose from. Plainly to
call his tribe "The Wayfarers" or "The Pioneers" or the
"Pacifists" or the "Invincibles," or by any of the thousand
and one names which modern associations adopt,
would have been impossible, since such abstract terms had
little or no existence in his mind. And again to name it
after an animal was the most obvious thing to do, simply
because the animals were by far the most important
features or accompaniments of his own life. As I am
dealing in this book largely with certain psychological
conditions of human evolution, it has to be pointed out that
to primitive man the animal was the nearest and most closely
related of all objects. Being of the same order of consciousness
as himself, the animal appealed to him very
closely as his mate and equal. He made with regard
to it little or no distinction from himself. We see this very
clearly in the case of children, who of course represent the
savage mind, and who regard animals simply as their mates
and equals, and come quickly into rapport with them, not
differentiating themselves from them.

(2) As to the particular animal or other object selected
in order to give a name to the Tribe, this would no doubt
be largely accidental. Any unusual incident might superstitiously
precipitate a name. We can hardly imagine
the Tribe scratching its congregated head in the deliberate
effort to think out a suitable emblem for itself. That is
not the way in which nicknames are invented in a school
or anywhere else to-day. At the same time the heraldic
appeal of a certain object of nature, animate or inanimate,
would be deeply and widely felt. The strength of the lion,
the fleetness of the deer, the food-value of a bear, the
flight of a bird, the awful jaws of a crocodile, might easily
mesmerize a whole tribe. Reinach points out, with great
justice, that many tribes placed themselves under the
protection of animals which were supposed (rightly or
wrongly) to act as guides and augurs, foretelling the future.
"Diodorus," he says, "distinctly states that the hawk,
in Egypt, was venerated because it foretold the future."
[Birds generally act as weather-prophets.] "In Australia
and Samoa the kangaroo, the crow and the owl premonish
their fellow clansmen of events to come. At one time the
Samoan warriors went so far as to rear owls for their
prophetic qualities in war." [The jackal, or 'pathfinder'
--whose tracks sometimes lead to the remains of a food-
animal slain by a lion, and many birds and insects, have
a value of this kind.] "The use of animal totems for
purposes of augury is, in all likelihood, of great antiquity.
Men must soon have realized that the senses of animals
were acuter than their own; nor is it surprising that
they should have expected their totems--that is to say, their
natural allies--to forewarn them both of unsuspected
dangers and of those provisions of nature, WELLS especially,
which animals seem to scent by instinct."[1] And again,
beyond all this, I have little doubt that there are subconscious
affinities which unite certain tribes to certain animals
or plants, affinities whose origin we cannot now trace, though
they are very real--the same affinities that we recognize
as existing between individual PERSONS and certain
objects of nature. W. H. Hudson--himself in many
respects having this deep and primitive relation to nature--
speaks in a very interesting and autobiographical
volume[2] of the extraordinary fascination exercised upon
him as a boy, not only by a snake, but by certain trees,
and especially by a particular flowering-plant "not more
than a foot in height, with downy soft pale green leaves,
and clusters of reddish blossoms, something like valerian."
. . . "One of my sacred flowers," he calls it, and insists on
the "inexplicable attraction" which it had for him. In
various ways of this kind one can perceive how particular
totems came to be selected by particular peoples.

[1] See Reinach, Eng. trans., op. cit., pp. 20, 21.

[2] Far away and Long ago (1918) chs. xvi and xvii.

(3) As to the tendency to divinize these totems, this arises
no doubt partly out of question (2). The animal or
other object admired on account of its strength or swiftness,
or adopted as guardian of the tribe because of its keen
sight or prophetic quality, or infinitely prized on account
of its food-value, or felt for any other reason to have
a peculiar relation and affinity to the tribe, is by that
fact SET APART. It becomes taboo. It must not be
killed--except under necessity and by sanction of the whole
tribe--nor injured; and all dealings with it must be
fenced round with regulations. It is out of this taboo
or system of taboos that, according to Reinach, religion
arose. "I propose (he says) to define religion as: A
OUR FACULTIES."[1] Obviously this definition is gravely
deficient, simply because it is purely negative, and leaves
out of account the positive aspect of the subject. In
Man, the positive content of religion is the instinctive
sense--whether conscious or subconscious--of an inner unity
and continuity with the world around. This is the stuff
out of which religion is made. The scruples or taboos
which "impede the freedom" of this relation are the
negative forces which give outline and form to the relation.
These are the things which generate the RITES AND CEREMONIALS
of religion; and as far as Reinach means by religion MERELY
rites and ceremonies he is correct; but clearly he only covers
half the subject. The tendency to divinize the totem
is at least as much dependent on the positive sense
of unity with it, as on the negative scruples which limit
the relation in each particular case. But I shall return to
this subject presently, and more than once, with the view of
clarifying it. Just now it will be best to illustrate the nature
of Totems generally, and in some detail.

[1] See Orpheus by S. Reinach, p. 3.

As would be gathered from what I have just said, there
is found among all the more primitive peoples, and in all
parts of the world, an immense variety of totem-names.
The Dinkas, for instance, are a rather intelligent well-grown
people inhabiting the upper reaches of the Nile in the
vicinity of the great swamps. According to Dr. Seligman
their clans have for totems the lion, the elephant,
the crocodile, the hippopotamus, the fox, and the hyena,
as well as certain birds which infest and damage the
corn, some plants and trees, and such things as rain,
fire, etc. "Each clan speaks of its totem as its ancestor,
and refrains [as a rule] from injuring or eating it."[1] The
members of the Crocodile clan call themselves "brothers of
the crocodile." The tribes of Bechuana-land have a very
similar list of totem-names--the buffalo, the fish, the
porcupine, the wild vine, etc. They too have a Crocodile
clan, but they call the crocodile their FATHER! The
tribes of Australia much the same again, with the differences
suitable to their country; and the Red Indians of
North America the same. Garcilasso, della Vega, the
Spanish historian, son of an Inca princess by one of the
Spanish conquerors of Peru and author of the well-known
book Commentarias Reales, says in that book (i, 57), speaking
of the pre-Inca period, "An Indian (of Peru) was not
considered honorable unless he was descended from a fountain,
river or lake, or even from the sea, or from a wild
animal, as a bear, lion, tiger, eagle, or the bird they call
cuntur (condor), or some other bird of prey."[2] According
to Lewis Morgan, the North American Indians of various
tribes had for totems the wolf, bear, beaver, turtle, deer,
snipe, heron, hawk, crane, loon, turkey, muskrat; pike, catfish,
carp; buffalo, elk, reindeer, eagle, hare, rabbit, snake;
reed-grass, sand, rock, and tobacco-plant.

[1] See The Golden Bough, vol. iv, p. 31.

[2] See Andrew Lang, Custom and Myth, p. 104, also Myth, Ritual
and Religion, vol. i, pp. 71, 76, etc.

So we might go on rather indefinitely. I need hardly
say that in more modern and civilized life, relics of the totem
system are still to be found in the forms of the heraldic
creatures adopted for their crests by different families,
and in the bears, lions, eagles, the sun, moon and stars
and so forth, which still adorn the flags and are flaunted
as the insignia of the various nations. The names may
not have been ORIGINALLY adopted from any definite belief
in blood-relationship with the animal or other object
in question; but when, as Robertson says (Pagan Christs,
p. 104), a "savage learned that he was 'a Bear' and that
his father and grandfather and forefathers were so before
him, it was really impossible, after ages in which totem-
names thus passed current, that he should fail to assume that
his folk were DESCENDED from a bear."

As a rule, as may be imagined, the savage tribesman
will on no account EAT his tribal totem-animal. Such
would naturally be deemed a kind of sacrilege. Also it
must be remarked that some totems are hardly suitable for
eating. Yet it is important to observe that occasionally,
and guarding the ceremony with great precautions, it
has been an almost universal custom for the tribal elders
to call a feast at which an animal (either the totem or
some other) IS killed and commonly eaten--and this in order
that the tribesmen may absorb some virtue belonging to
it, and may confirm their identity with the tribe and with
each other. The eating of the bear or other animal, the
sprinkling with its blood, and the general ritual in which
the participants shared its flesh, or dressed and disguised
themselves in its skin, or otherwise identified themselves
with it, was to them a symbol of their community of life with
each other, and a means of their renewal and
salvation in the holy emblem. And this custom, as the reader
will perceive, became the origin of the Eucharists and Holy
Communions of the later religions.

Professor Robertson-Smith's celebrated Camel affords an
instance of this.[1] It appears that St. Nilus (fifth century)
has left a detailed account of the occasional sacrifice in
his time of a spotless white camel among the Arabs of the
Sinai region, which closely resembles a totemic communion-
feast. The uncooked blood and flesh of the animal had to
be entirely consumed by the faithful before daybreak. "The
slaughter of the victim, the sacramental drinking of the
blood, and devouring in wild haste of the pieces of still
quivering flesh, recall the details of the Dionysiac and
other festivals."[2] Robertson-Smith himself says:--"The
plain meaning is that the victim was devoured before
its life had left the still warm blood and flesh . . . and
that thus in the most literal way, all those who shared in
the ceremony absorbed part of the victim's life into
themselves. One sees how much more forcibly than
any ordinary meal such a rite expresses the establishment
or confirmation of a bond of common life between the
worshipers, and also, since the blood is shed upon the
altar itself, between the worshipers and their god. In this
sacrifice, then, the significant factors are two: the
conveyance of the living blood to the godhead, and the
absorption of the living flesh and blood into the flesh and
blood of the worshippers. Each of these is effected in the
simplest and most direct manner, so that the meaning of the
ritual is perfectly transparent."

[1] See his Religion of the Semites, p. 320.

[2] They also recall the rites of the Passover--though in this
latter the blood was no longer drunk, nor the flesh eaten raw.

It seems strange, of course, that men should eat their
totems; and it must not by any means be supposed that
this practice is (or was) universal; but it undoubtedly
obtains in some cases. As Miss Harrison says (Themis,
p. 123); "you do not as a rule eat your relations," and as a
rule the eating of a totem is tabu and forbidden, but
(Miss Harrison continues) "at certain times and under certain
restrictions a man not only may, but MUST, eat of
his totem, though only sparingly, as of a thing sacrosanct."
The ceremonial carried out in a communal way by the tribe
not only identifies the tribe with the totem (animal), but
is held, according to early magical ideas, and when the
animal is desired for food, to favor its manipulation.
The human tribe partakes of the mana or life-force of the
animal, and is strengthened; the animal tribe is sympathetically
renewed by the ceremonial and multiplies exceedingly.
The slaughter of the sacred animal and (often) the
simultaneous outpouring of human blood seals the compact
and confirms the magic. This is well illustrated
by a ceremony of the 'Emu' tribe referred to by Dr.

"In order to multiply Emus which are an important article
of food, the men of the Emu totem in the Arunta tribe proceed
as follows: They clear a small spot of level
ground, and opening veins in their arms they let the blood
stream out until the surface of the ground for a space of about
three square yards is soaked with it. When the blood
has dried and caked, it forms a hard and fairly impermeable
surface, on which they paint the sacred design
of the emu totem, especially the parts of the bird which
they like best to eat, namely, the fat and the eggs. Round
this painting the men sit and sing. Afterwards performers
wearing long head-dresses to represent the long neck and
small head of the emu, mimic the appearance of the bird
as it stands aimlessly peering about in all directions."[1]

[1] The Golden Bough i, 85--with reference to Spencer and
Gillen's Native Tribes of Central Australia, pp. 179, 189.

Thus blood sacrifice comes in; and--(whether this has
ever actually happened in the case of the Central Australians
I know not)--we can easily imagine a member of the Emu
tribe, and disguised as an actual emu, having been ceremonially
slaughtered as a firstfruits and promise of the expected
and prayed-for emu-crop; just as the same certainly
HAS happened in the case of men wearing beast-masks of Bulls or
Rams or Bears being sacrificed in propitiation
of Bull-gods, Ram-gods or Bear-gods or simply in pursuance
of some kind of magic to favor the multiplication of
these food-animals.

"In the light of totemistic ways of thinking we see plainly
enough the relation of man to food-animals. You need or
at least desire flesh food, yet you shrink from slaughtering
'your brother the ox'; you desire his mana, yet you respect
his tabu, for in you and him alike runs the common
life-blood. On your own individual responsibility you
would never kill him; but for the common weal, on great
occasions, and in a fashion conducted with scrupulous care, it
is expedient that he die for his people, and that they feast
upon his flesh."[1]

[1] Themis, p. 140.

In her little book Ancient Art and Ritual[1] Jane Harrison
describes the dedication of a holy Bull, as conducted in
Greece at Elis, and at Magnesia and other cities. "There
at the annual fair year by year the stewards of the city
bought a Bull 'the finest that could be got,' and at the
new moon of the month at the beginning of seed-time
[? April] they dedicated it for the city's welfare. . . . The
Bull was led in procession at the head of which went the
chief priest and priestess of the city. With them went a
herald and sacrificer, and two bands of youths and
maidens. So holy was the Bull that nothing unlucky
might come near him. The herald pronounced aloud a
prayer for 'the safety of the city and the land, and the
citizens, and the women and children, for peace and wealth,
and for the bringing forth of grain and all other fruits,
and of cattle.' All this longing for fertility, for food and
children, focuses round the holy Bull, whose holiness is
his strength and fruitfulness." The Bull is sacrificed.
The flesh is divided in solemn feast among those who take
part in the procession. "The holy flesh is not offered to
a god, it is eaten--to every man his portion--by each and
every citizen, that he may get his share of the strength of
the Bull, of the luck of the State." But at Athens the Bouphonia,
as it was called, was followed by a curious ceremony.
"The hide was stuffed with straw and sewed up, and
next the stuffed animal was set on its feet and yoked to
a plough as though it were ploughing. The Death is
followed by a Resurrection. Now this is all important.
We are accustomed to think of sacrifice as the death, the
giving up, the renouncing of something. But SACRIFICE
does not mean 'death' at all. It means MAKING HOLY,
sanctifying; and holiness was to primitive man just special
strength and life. What they wanted from the Bull was
just that special life and strength which all the year long
they had put into him, and nourished and fostered. That
life was in his blood. They could not eat that flesh nor
drink that blood unless they killed him. So he must
die. But it was not to give him up to the gods that they killed
him, not to 'sacrifice' him in our sense, but to have him,
keep him, eat him, live BY him and through him, by his

[1] Home University Library, p. 87.

We have already had to deal with instances of the
ceremonial eating of the sacred he-Lamb or Ram, immolated
in the Spring season of the year, and partaken of in a kind
of communal feast--not without reference (at any rate in
later times) to a supposed Lamb-god. Among the Ainos
in the North of Japan, as also among the Gilyaks in
Eastern Siberia, the Bear is the great food-animal, and
is worshipped as the supreme giver of health and strength.
There also a similar ritual of sacrifice occurs. A perfect
Bear is caught and caged. He is fed up and even
pampered to the day of his death. "Fish, brandy and
other delicacies are offered to him. Some of the people
prostrate themselves before him; his coming into a house
brings a blessing, and if he sniffs at the food that brings a
blessing too." Then he is led out and slain. A great feast
takes place, the flesh is divided, cupfuls of the blood are
drunk by the men; the tribe is united and strengthened, and
the Bear-god blesses the ceremony--the ideal Bear that has
given its life for the people.[1]

[1] See Art and Ritual, pp. 92-98; The Golden Bough, ii, 375
seq.; Themis, pp. 140, 141; etc.

That the eating of the flesh of an animal or a man conveys
to you some of the qualities, the life-force, the
mana, of that animal or man, is an idea which one often
meets with among primitive folk. Hence the common
tendency to eat enemy warriors slain in battle against
your tribe. By doing so you absorb some of their valor
and strength. Even the enemy scalps which an Apache
Indian might hang from his belt were something magical
to add to the Apache's power. As Gilbert Murray says,[1]
"you devoured the holy animal to get its mana, its swiftness,
its strength, its great endurance, just as the savage now
will eat his enemy's brain or heart or hands to get
some particular quality residing there." Even--as he explains
on the earlier page--mere CONTACT was often considered
sufficient--"we have holy pillars whose holiness consists
in the fact that they have been touched by the
blood of a bull." And in this connection we may note
that nearly all the Christian Churches have a great belief
in the virtue imparted by the mere 'laying on of hands.'

[1] Four Stages of Greek Religion, p. 36.

In quite a different connection--we read[1] that among the
Spartans a warrior-boy would often beg for the love of the
elder warrior whom he admired (i. e. the contact with
his body) in order to obtain in that way a portion of the
latter's courage and prowess. That through the mediation
of the lips one's spirit may be united to the spirit of another
person is an idea not unfamiliar to the modern mind; while
the exchange of blood, clothes, locks of hair, etc., by lovers
is a custom known all over the world.[2]

[1] Aelian VII, iii, 12:  . See also E. Bethe on "Die Dorische
Knabenliebe" in the Rheinisches Museum, vol. 26, iii, 461.

[2] See Crawley's Mystic Rose, pp. 238, 242.

To suppose that by eating another you absorb his or her
soul is somewhat naive certainly. Perhaps it IS more native,
more primitive. Yet there may be SOME truth even
in that idea. Certainly the food that one eats has a
psychological effect, and the flesh-eaters among the human
race have a different temperament as a rule from
the fruit and vegetable eaters, while among the animals
(though other causes may come in here) the Carnivora
are decidedly more cruel and less gentle than the Herbivora.

To return to the rites of Dionysus, Gilbert Murray, speaking
of Orphism--a great wave of religious reform which
swept over Greece and South Italy in the sixth century
B.C.--says:[1] "A curious relic of primitive superstition
and cruelty remained firmly imbedded in Orphism,
a doctrine irrational and unintelligible, and for that very
reason wrapped in the deepest and most sacred mystery: a belief
BY HIS BLOOD. It seems possible that the savage
Thracians, in the fury of their worship on the mountains,
when they were possessed by the god and became
'wild beasts,' actually tore with their teeth and hands
any hares, goats, fawns or the like that they came
across. . . . The Orphic congregations of later times, in
their most holy gatherings, solemnly partook of the blood
of a bull, which was by a mystery the blood of Dionysus-
Zagreus himself, the Bull of God, slain in sacrifice for the
purification of man."[2]

[1] See Notes to his translation of the Bacch of Euripides.

[2] For a description of this orgy see Theocritus, Idyll xxvi;
also for explanations of it, Lang's Myth, Ritual and Religion,
vol. ii, pp, 241-260, on Dionysus. The Encyclopdia Brit.,
article "Orpheus," says:--"Orpheus, in the manner of his death,
was considered to personate the god Dionysus, and was thus
representative of the god torn to pieces every year--a ceremony
enacted by the Bacchae in the earliest times with a human victim,
and afterwards with a bull, to represent the bull-formed god. A
distinct feature of this ritual was  (eating the
flesh of the victim raw), whereby the communicants imagined that
they consumed and assimilated the god represented by the victim,
and thus became filled with the divine ecstasy." Compare also the
Hindu doctrine of Praj )."--Cults of the Greek States,
vol. iii, p. 182.

If this spectacle amazes one to-day, what emotions must
it not have aroused in the breasts of the earlier folk, whose
outlook on the world was so much more direct than ours
--more 'animistic' if you like! What wonderment, what gratitude,
what deliverance from fear (of starvation), what certainty
that this being who had been ruthlessly cut down and
sacrificed last year for human food had indeed arisen
again as a savior of men, what readiness to make some
human sacrifice in return, both as an acknowledgment
of the debt, and as a gift of something which would no doubt
be graciously accepted!--(for was it not well known that
where blood had been spilt on the ground the future
crop was so much more generous?)--what readiness to
adopt some magic ritual likely to propitiate the unseen
power--even though the outline and form of the latter
were vague and uncertain in the extreme! Dr. Frazer,
speaking of the Egyptian Osiris as one out of many
corn-gods of the above character, says[1]: "The primitive
conception of him as the corn-god comes clearly out in
the festival of his death and resurrection, which was celebrated
the month of Athyr. That festival appears to have
been essentially a festival of sowing, which properly fell at
the time when the husbandman actually committed the seed
to the earth. On that occasion an effigy of the corn-god,
moulded of earth and corn, was buried with funeral rites
in the ground in order that, dying there, he might come to
life again with the new crops. The ceremony was in fact a
charm to ensure the growth of the corn by sympathetic
magic, and we may conjecture that as such it was practised
in a simple form by every Egyptian farmer on his fields long
before it was adopted and transfigured by the priests in
the stately ritual of the temple."[2]

[1] The Golden Bough, iv, p. 330.

[2] See ch. xv.

The magic in this case was of a gentle description; the
clay image of Osiris sprouting all over with the young green
blade was pathetically poetic; but, as has been suggested,
bloodthirsty ceremonies were also common enough. Human
sacrifices, it is said, had at one time been offered
at the grave of Osiris. We bear that the Indians in
Ecuador used to sacrifice men's hearts and pour out
human blood on their fields when they sowed them; the
Pawnee Indians used a human victim the same, allowing
his blood to drop on the seed-corn. It is said that
in Mexico girls were sacrificed, and that the Mexicans
would sometimes GRIND their (male) victim, like corn, between
two stones. ("I'll grind his bones to make me
bread.") Among the Khonds of East India--who were
particularly given to this kind of ritual--the very TEARS
of the sufferer were an incitement to more cruelties, for
tears of course were magic for Rain.[1]

[1] The Golden Bough, vol. vii, "The Corn-Spirit," pp. 236 sq.

And so on. We have referred to the Bull many times,
both in his astronomical aspect as pioneer of the Spring-
Sun, and in his more direct role as plougher of the fields, and
provider of food from his own body. "The tremendous mana
of the wild bull," says Gilbert Murray, "occupies almost
half the stage of pre-Olympic ritual."[1] Even to us there
is something mesmeric and overwhelming in the sense of
this animal's glory of strength and fury and sexual power.
No wonder the primitives worshiped him, or that they
devised rituals which should convey his power and vitality
by mere contact, or that in sacramental feasts
they ate his flesh and drank his blood as a magic symbol and
means of salvation.

[1] Four Stages, p. 34.


It is perhaps necessary, at the commencement of this chapter,
to say a, few more words about the nature and origin of
the belief in Magic. Magic represented on one side, and
clearly enough, the beginnings of Religion--i.e. the instinctive
sense of Man's inner continuity with the world
around him, TAKING SHAPE: a fanciful shape it is true, but
with very real reaction on his practical life and feelings.[1]
On the other side it represented the beginnings of Science.
It was his first attempt not merely to FEEL but to UNDERSTAND the
mystery of things.

[1] For an excellent account of the relation of Magic to Religion
see W. McDougall, Social Psychology (1908), pp. 317-320.

Inevitably these first efforts to understand were very
puerile, very superficial. As E. B. Tylor says[1] of primitive
folk in general, "they mistook an imaginary for a
real connection." And he instances the case of the inhabitants
of the City of Ephesus, who laid down a rope,
seven furlongs in length, from the City to the temple of
Artemis, in order to place the former under the protection
of the latter! WE should lay down a telephone wire, and
consider that we established a much more efficient connection;
but in the beginning, and quite naturally, men,
like children, rely on surface associations. Among the
Dyaks of Borneo[2] when the men are away fighting,
the WOMEN must use a sort of telepathic magic in order to
safeguard them--that is, they must themselves rise early
and keep awake all day (lest darkness and sleep should
give advantage to the enemy); they must not OIL their
hair (lest their husbands should make any SLIPS); they must
eat sparingly and put aside rice at every meal (so that
the men may not want for food). And so on. Similar
superstitions are common. But they gradually lead to
a little thought, and then to a little more, and so to
the discovery of actual and provable influences. Perhaps
one day the cord connecting the temple with Ephesus
was drawn TIGHT and it was found that messages could
be, by tapping, transmitted along it. That way lay the
discovery of a fact. In an age which worshiped fertility,
whether in mankind or animals, TWINS were ever
counted especially blest, and were credited with a magic
power. (The Constellation of the Twins was thought
peculiarly lucky.) Perhaps after a time it was discovered
that twins sometimes run in families, and in such cases really
do bring fertility with them. In cattle it is known nowadays
that there are more twins of the female sex than of the
male sex.[3]

[1] Primitive Culture, vol. i, p. 106.

[2] See The Golden Bough, i, 127.

[3] See Evolution of Sex, by Geddes and Thomson (1901), p. 41,

Observations of this kind were naturally made by the
ablest members of the tribe--who were in all probability
the medicine-men and wizards--and brought in consequence
power into their hands. The road to power in fact--and
especially was this the case in societies which had not
yet developed wealth and property--lay through Magic.
As far as magic represented early superstition land religion
it laid hold of the HEARTS of men--their hopes and
fears; as far as it represented science and the beginnings
of actual knowledge, it inspired their minds with a
sense of power, and gave form to their lives and customs.
We have no reason to suppose that the early magicians
and medicine-men were peculiarly wicked or bent on mere
self-aggrandizement--any more than we have to think
the same of the average country vicar or country doctor of
to-day. They were merely men a trifle wiser or more
instructed than their flocks. But though probably in most
cases their original intentions were decent enough, they
were not proof against the temptations which the possession
of power always brings, and as time went on they
became liable to trade more and more upon this power
for their own advancement. In the matter of Religion
the history of the Christian priesthood through the centuries
shows sufficiently to what misuse such power can
be put; and in the matter of Science it is a warning
to us of the dangers attending the formation of a scientific
priesthood, such as we see growing up around us to-day.
In both cases--whether Science or Religion--vanity, personal
ambition, lust of domination and a hundred other
vices, unless corrected by a real devotion to the public good,
may easily bring as many evils in their train as those they
profess to cure.

The Medicine-man, or Wizard, or Magician, or Priest, slowly
but necessarily gathered power into his hands, and there
is much evidence to show that in the case of many tribes
at any rate, it was HE who became ultimate chief and
leader and laid the foundations of Kingship. The Basileus
was always a sacred personality, and often united in himself
as head of the clan the offices of chief in warfare
and leader in priestly rites--like Agamemnon in Homer,
or Saul or David in the Bible. As a magician he had
influence over the fertility of the earth and, like the
blameless king in the Odyssey, under his sway
                    "the dark earth beareth in season
Barley and wheat, and the trees are laden with fruitage, and
 Yean unfailing the flocks, and the sea gives fish in

[1] Odyssey xix, 109 sq. Translation by H. B. Cotterill.

As a magician too he was trusted for success in warfare;
and Schoolcraft, in a passage quoted by Andrew Lang,[1] says
of the Dacotah Indians "the war-chief who leads the party
to war is always one of these medicine-men." This connection,
however, by which the magician is transformed into the
king has been abundantly studied, and need not be further
dwelt upon here.

And what of the transformation of the king into a god--
or of the Magician or Priest directly into the same?
Perhaps in order to appreciate this, one must make a
further digression.

For the early peoples there were, as it would appear, two
main objects in life: (1) to promote fertility in cattle
and crops, for food; and (2) to placate or ward off Death;
and it seemed very obvious--even before any distinct
figures of gods, or any idea of prayer, had arisen--to
attain these objects by magic ritual. The rites of Baptism,
of Initiation (or Confirmation) and the many ceremonies of
a Second Birth, which we associate with fully-formed religions,
did belong also to the age of Magic; and they all
implied a belief in some kind of re-incarnation--in a
life going forward continually and being renewed in birth
again and again. It is curious that we find such a belief
among the lowest savages even to-day. Dr. Frazer, speaking
of the Central Australian tribes, says the belief is firmly
rooted among them "that the human soul undergoes an
endless series of re-incarnations--the living men and
women of one generation being nothing but the spirits of their
ancestors come to life again, and destined themselves to
be reborn in the persons of their descendants. During
the interval between two re-incarnations the souls live
in their nanja spots, or local totem-centres, which are
always natural objects such as trees or rocks. Each totem-
clan has a number of such totem-centres scattered over
the country. There the souls of the dead men and
women of the totem, but no others, congregate, and are born
again in human form when a favorable opportunity presents

[1] Myth, Ritual and Religion, vol. i, p. 113.

[2] The Golden Bough, vol. i, p. 96.

And what the early people believed of the human spirit,
they believed of the corn-spirits and the tree and vegetation
spirits also. At the great Spring-ritual among the primitive
Greeks "the tribe and the growing earth were renovated
together: the earth arises afresh from her dead seeds,
the tribe from its dead ancestors." And the whole
process projects itself in the idea of a spirit of the year, who
"in the first stage is living, then dies with each year, and
thirdly rises again from the dead, raising the whole dead
world with him. The Greeks called him in this stage 'The
Third One' [Tritos Soter] or 'the Saviour'; and the renovation
ceremonies were accompanied by a casting-off of the
old year, the old garments, and everything that is polluted
by the infection of death."[1] Thus the multiplication
of the crops and the renovation of the tribe, and
at the same time the evasion and placation of death,
were all assured by similar rites and befitting ceremonial

[1] Gilbert Murray, Four Stages, p. 46.

[2] It is interesting to find, with regard to the renovation of
the tribe, that among the Central Australians the foreskins or
male members of those who died were deposited in the
above-mentioned nanja spots--the idea evidently being that like
the seeds of the corn the seeds of the human crop must be
carefully and ceremonially preserved for their re-incarnation.

In all these cases, and many others that I have not mentioned--
of the magical worship of Bulls and Bears and
Rams and Cats and Emus and Kangaroos, of Trees and
Snakes, of Sun and Moon and Stars, and the spirit of
the Corn in its yearly and miraculous resurrection out of
the ground--there is still the same idea or moving inspiration,
the sense mentioned in the foregoing chapter, the
feeling (hardly yet conscious of its own meaning) of
intimate relationship and unity with all this outer world,
the instinctive conviction that the world can be swayed
by the spirit of Man, if the man can only find the right ritual,
the right word, the right spell, wherewith to move it. An
aura of emotion surrounded everything--of terror, of tabu,
of fascination, of desire. The world, to these people,
was transparent with presences related to themselves;
and though hunger and sex may have been the dominant
and overwhelmingly practical needs of their life, yet their
outlook on the world was essentially poetic and imaginative.

Moreover it will be seen that in this age of magic and
the belief in spirits, though there was an intense sense of
every thing being alive, the gods, in the more modern
sense of the world, hardly existed[1]--that is, there was no
very clear vision, to these people, of supra-mundane beings,
sitting apart and ordaining the affairs of earth, as
it were from a distance. Doubtless this conception was
slowly evolving, but it was only incipient. For the time
being--though there might be orders and degrees of spirits
(and of gods)--every such being was only conceived of,
and could only be conceived of, as actually a part of
Nature, dwelling in and interlaced with some phenomenon
of Earth and Sky, and having no separate existence.

[1] For a discussion of the evolution of RELIGION out of MAGIC,
see Westermarck's Origin of Moral Ideas, ch. 47.

How was it then, it will be asked, that the belief in
separate and separable gods and goddesses--each with his
or her well-marked outline and character and function, like
the divinities of Greece, or of India, or of the Egyptian
or Christian religions, ultimately arose? To this question
Jane Harrison (in her Themis and other books) gives an
ingenious answer, which as it chimes in with my own speculations
(in the Art of Creation and elsewhere) I am inclined
to adopt. It is that the figures of the supranatural gods arose
from a process in the human mind similar
to that which the photographer adopts when by
photographing a number of faces on the same plate, and
so superposing their images on one another, he produces a
so-called "composite" photograph or image. Thus, in the
photographic sphere, the portraits of a lot of members of
the same family superposed upon one another may produce
a composite image or ideal of that family type,
or the portraits of a number of Aztecs or of a number of
Apache Indians the ideals respectively of the Aztec or of
the Apache types. And so in the mental sphere of each
member of a tribe the many images of the well-known Warriors
or Priests or wise and gracious Women of that
tribe did inevitably combine at last to composite figures
of gods and goddesses--on whom the enthusiasm and
adoration of the tribe was concentrated.[1] Miss Harrison
has ingeniously suggested how the leading figures in the magic
rituals of the past--being the figures on which all eyes
would be concentrated; and whose importance would be
imprinted on every mind--lent themselves to this process.
The suffering Victim, bound and scourged and crucified, recurring
year after year as the centre-figure of a thousand
ritual processions, would at last be dramatized and
idealized in the great race-consciousness into the form
of a Suffering God--a Jesus Christ or a Dionysus or
Osiris--dismembered or crucified for the salvation of
mankind. The Priest or Medicine-Man--or rather the
succession of Priests or Medicine-Men--whose figures
would recur again and again as leaders and ordainers of the
ceremonies, would be glorified at last into the composite-
image of a God in whom were concentrated all magic
powers. "Recent researches," says Gilbert Murray, "have
shown us in abundance the early Greek medicine-chiefs
making thunder and lightning and rain." Here is the
germ of a Zeus or a Jupiter. The particular medicine-man
may fail; that does not so much matter; he is only the individual
representative of the glorified and composite being
who exists in the mind of the tribe (just as a present-day
King may be unworthy, but is surrounded all the same by
the agelong glamour of Royalty). "The real ,
tremendous, infallible, is somewhere far away, hidden in
clouds perhaps, on the summit of some inaccessible mountain.
If the mountain is once climbed the god will
move to the upper sky. The medicine-chief meanwhile
stays on earth, still influential. He has some connection
with the great god more intimate than that of other
men . . . he knows the rules for approaching him and making
prayers to him."[2] Thus did the Medicine-man, or Priest,
or Magician (for these are but three names for
one figure) represent one step in the evolution of the

[1] See The Art of Creation, ch. viii, "The Gods as Apparitions
of the Race-Life."

[2] The Four Stages, p. 140.

And farther back still in the evolutionary process we may
trace (as in chapter iv above) the divinization or deification
of four-footed animals and birds and snakes and
trees and the like, from the personification of the collective
emotion of the tribe towards these creatures. For
people whose chief food was bear-meat, for instance, whose
totem was a bear, and who believed themselves descended
from an ursine ancestor, there would grow up in the
tribal mind an image surrounded by a halo of emotions--
emotions of hungry desire, of reverence, fear, gratitude
and so forth--an image of a divine Bear in whom
they lived and moved and had their being. For another
tribe or group in whose yearly ritual a Bull or a Lamb
or a Kangaroo played a leading part there would in the same
way spring tip the image of a holy bull, a divine lamb, or
a sacred kangaroo. Another group again might come to
worship a Serpent as its presiding genius, or a particular
kind of Tree, simply because these objects were and had
been for centuries prominent factors in its yearly and seasonal
Magic. As Reinach and others suggest, it was the Taboo
(bred by Fear) which by first forbidding contact with the
totem-animal or priest or magician-chief gradually invested
him with Awe and Divinity.

According to this theory the god--the full-grown god in
human shape, dwelling apart and beyond the earth--did
not come first, but was a late and more finished product
of evolution. He grew up by degrees and out of the preceding
animal-worships and totem-systems. And this
theory is much supported and corroborated by the fact that
in a vast number of early cults the gods are represented by
human figures with animal heads. The Egyptian religion
was full of such divinities--the jackal-headed Anubis,
the ram-headed Ammon, the bull-fronted Osiris, or
Muth, queen of darkness, clad in a vulture's skin; Minos
and the Minotaur in Crete; in Greece, Athena with an owl's
head, or Herakles masked in the hide and jaws of
a monstrous lion. What could be more obvious than that,
following on the tribal worship of any totem-animal, the priest
or medicine-man or actual king in leading the magic
ritual should don the skin and head of that animal, and
wear the same as a kind of mask--this partly in order to
appear to the people as the true representative of the totem,
and partly also in order to obtain from the skin the
magic virtues and mana of the beast, which he could
then duly impart to the crowd? Zeus, it must be remembered,
wears the aegis, or goat-skin--said to be the hide
of the goat Amaltheia who suckled him in his infancy; there
are a number of legends which connected the Arcadian
Artemis with the worship of the bear, Apollo with the wolf,
and so forth. And, most curious as showing similarity
of rites between the Old and New Worlds, there are
found plenty of examples of the wearing of beast-masks in
religious processions among the native tribes of both
North and South America. In the Atlas of Spix and
Martius (who travelled together in the Amazonian forests
about 1820) there is an understanding and characteristic
picture of the men (and some women) of the tribe of the
Tecunas moving in procession through the woods mostly
naked, except for wearing animal heads and masks--
the masks representing Cranes of various kinds, Ducks, the
Opossum, the Jaguar, the Parrot, etc., probably symbolic of
their respective clans.

By some such process as this, it may fairly be supposed,
the forms of the Gods were slowly exhaled from the actual
figures of men and women, of youths and girls, who year
after year took part in the ancient rituals. Just as the Queen
of the May or Father Christmas with us are idealized forms
derived from the many happy maidens or white-bearded
old men who took leading parts in the May or December
mummings and thus gained their apotheosis in our
literature and tradition--so doubtless Zeus with his thunderbolts
and arrows of lightning is the idealization into Heaven
of the Priestly rain-maker and storm-controller; Ares
the god of War, the similar idealization of the leading warrior
in the ritual war-dance preceding an attack on a neighboring
tribe; and Mercury of the foot-running Messenger
whose swiftness in those days (devoid of steam or electricity)
was so precious a tribal possession.

And here it must be remembered that this explanation of
the genesis of the gods only applies to the SHAPES and FIGURES
of the various deities. It does not apply to the genesis
of the widespread belief in spirits or a Great Spirit
generally; that, as I think will become clear, has quite another
source. Some people have jeered at the 'animistic' or
'anthropomorphic' tendency of primitive man in his
contemplation of the forces of Nature or his imaginations
of religion and the gods. With a kind of superior pity they
speak of "the poor Indian whose untutored mind sees
God in clouds and hears him in the wind." But I must confess
that to me the "poor Indian" seems on the whole
to show more good sense than his critics, and to have aimed
his rude arrows at the philosophic mark more successfully
than a vast number of his learned and scientific
successors. A consideration of what we have said above
would show that early people felt their unity with Nature
so deeply and intimately that--like the animals themselves--
they did not think consciously or theorize about it.
It was just their life to be--like the beasts of
the field and the trees of the forest--a part of the whole
flux of things, non-differentiated so to speak. What more
natural or indeed more logically correct than for them to
assume (when they first began to think or differentiate
themselves) that these other creatures, these birds, beasts
and plants, and even the sun and moon, were of the same
blood as themselves, their first cousins, so to speak, and
having the same interior nature? What more reasonable
(if indeed they credited THEMSELVES with having some kind
of soul or spirit) than to credit these other creatures with
a similar soul or spirit? Im Thurn, speaking of the Guiana
Indians, says that for them "the whole world swarms with
beings." Surely this could not be taken to indicate an untutored
mind--unless indeed a mind untutored in the nonsense
of the Schools--but rather a very directly perceptive
mind. And again what more reasonable (seeing that these
people themselves were in the animal stage of evolution)
than that they should pay great reverence to some ideal
animal--first cousin or ancestor--who played an important
part in their tribal existence, and make of this
animal a totem emblem and a symbol of their common life?

And, further still, what more natural than that when the
tribe passed to some degree beyond the animal stage and
began to realize a life more intelligent and emotional--more
specially human in fact--than that of the beasts of
the field, that it should then in its rituals and ceremonies
throw off the beast-mask and pay reverence to the interior
and more human spirit. Rising to a more enlightened consciousness
of its own intimate quality, and still deeply
penetrated with the sense of its kinship to external nature,
it would inevitably and perfectly logically credit the
latter with an inner life and intelligence, more distinctly
human than before. Its religion in fact would become MORE
'anthropomorphic' instead of less so; and one sees that this
is a process that is inevitable; and inevitable notwithstanding
a certain parenthesis in the process, due to obvious
elements in our 'Civilization' and to the temporary
and fallacious domination of a leaden-eyed so-called
'Science.' According to this view the true evolution of
Religion and Man's outlook on the world has proceeded
not by the denial by man of his unity with the world,
but by his seeing and understanding that unity more deeply.
And the more deeply he understands himself the more certainly
he will recognize in the external world a Being or
beings resembling himself.

W. H. Hudson--whose mind is certainly not of a quality
to be jeered at--speaks of Animism as "the projection
of ourselves into nature: the sense and apprehension of an
intelligence like our own, but more powerful, in all visible
things"; and continues, "old as I am this same primitive
faculty which manifested itself in my early boyhood,
still persists, and in those early years was so powerful
that I am almost afraid to say how deeply I was moved
by it."[1] Nor will it be quite forgotten that Shelley
once said:--

 The moveless pillar of a mountain's weight
 Is active living spirit. Every grain
 Is sentient both in unity and part,
 And the minutest atom comprehends
 A world of loves and hatreds.

[1] Far Away and Long Ago, ch. xiii, p. 225.

The tendency to animism and later to anthropomorphism
is I say inevitable, and perfectly logical. But the great
value of the work done by some of those investigators whom
I have quoted has been to show that among quite primitive
people (whose interior life and 'soul-sense' was only
very feeble) their projections of intelligence into Nature
were correspondingly feeble. The reflections of themselves
projected into the world beyond could not reach the stature of
eternal 'gods,' but were rather of the quality of ephemeral
phantoms and ghosts; and the ceremonials and creeds
of that period are consequently more properly described
as, Magic than as Religion. There have indeed
been great controversies as to whether there has or has
not been, in the course of religious evolution, a PRE-
animistic stage. Probably of course human evolution in
this matter must have been perfectly continuous from
stages presenting the very feeblest or an absolutely deficient
animistic sense to the very highest manifestations
of anthropomorphism; but as there is a good deal of
evidence to show that ANIMALS (notably dogs and horses)
see ghosts, the inquiry ought certainly to be enlarged so
far as to include the pre-human species. Anyhow it must
be remembered that the question is one of CONSCIOUSNESS--
that is, of how far and to what degree consciousness of self
has been developed in the animal or the primitive man
or the civilized man, and therefore how far and to what
degree the animal or human creature has credited the outside
world with a similar consciousness. It is not a question
of whether there IS an inner life and SUB-consciousness common
to all these creatures of the earth and sky, because
that, I take it, is a fact beyond question; they all emerge
or have emerged from the same matrix, and are rooted in
identity; but it is a question of how far they are AWARE of
this, and how far by separation (which is the genius of
evolution) each individual creature has become conscious
of the interior nature both of itself and of the other
creatures AND of the great whole which includes them all.

Finally, and to avoid misunderstanding, let me say that
Anthropomorphism, in man's conception of the gods, is
itself of course only a stage and destined to pass away.
In so far, that is, as the term indicates a belief in divine
beings corresponding to our PRESENT conception of ourselves
--that is as separate personalities having each a separate
and limited character and function, and animated by
the separatist motives of ambition, possession, power,
vainglory, superiority, patronage, self-greed, self-satisfaction,
etc.--in so far as anthropomorphism is the expression
of that kind of belief it is of course destined,
with the illusion from which it springs, to pass away. When
man arrives at the final consciousness in which the idea of
such a self, superior or inferior or in any way antagonistic
to others, ceases to operate, then he will return to
his first and primal condition, and will cease to need ANY
special religion or gods, knowing himself and all his fellows
to be divine and the origin and perfect fruition of all.


There is a passage in Richard Jefferies' imperishably
beautiful book The Story of my Heart--a passage well known
to all lovers of that prose-poet--in which he figures
himself standing "in front of the Royal Exchange
where the wide pavement reaches out like a promontory,"
and pondering on the vast crowd and the mystery
of life. "Is there any theory, philosophy, or creed," he says,
"is there any system of culture, any formulated method, able
to meet and satisfy each separate item of this agitated pool
of human life? By which they may be guided, by which
they may hope, by which look forward? Not a mere
illusion of the craving heart--something real, as real as
the solid walls of fact against which, like seaweed, they
are dashed; something to give each separate personality
sunshine and a flower in its own existence now; something
to shape this million-handed labor to an end and
outcome that will leave more sunshine and more flowers
to those who must succeed? Something real now, and
not in the spirit-land; in this hour now, as I stand and
the sun burns. . . . Full well aware that all has failed, yet,
side by side with the sadness of that knowledge, there
lives on in me an unquenchable belief, thought burning
like the sun, that there is yet something to be
found.... It must be dragged forth by the might of thought
from the immense forces of the universe."

In answer to this passage we may say "No,--a thousand
times No! there is no theory, philosophy, creed, system or
formulated method which will meet or ever satisfy the
demand of each separate item of the human whirlpool."
And happy are we to know there is no such thing!
How terrible if one of these bloodless 'systems' which strew
the history of religion and philosophy and the political
and social paths of human endeavor HAD been found
absolutely correct and universally applicable--so that every
human being would be compelled to pass through its
machine-like maw, every personality to be crushed under
its Juggernath wheels! No, thank Heaven! there is no
theory or creed or system; and yet there is something--
as Jefferies prophetically felt and with a great
longing desired--that CAN satisfy; and that, the root of
all religion, has been hinted at in the last chapter. It
is the CONSCIOUSNESS of the world-life burning, blazing, deep
down within us: it is the Soul's intuition of its roots in
Omnipresence and Eternity.

The gods and the creeds of the past, as shown in the
last chapter--whatever they may have been, animistic
or anthropomorphic or transcendental, whether grossly
brutish or serenely ideal and abstract--are essentially
projections of the human mind; and no doubt those who are
anxious to discredit the religious impulse generally will
catch at this, saying "Yes, they are mere forms and
phantoms of the mind, ephemeral dreams, projected on
the background of Nature, and having no real substance or
solid value. The history of Religion (they will say) is a
history of delusion and illusion; why waste time over
it? These divine grizzly Bears or Aesculapian Snakes, these
cat-faced Pashts, this Isis, queen of heaven, and Astarte
and Baal and Indra and Agni and Kali and Demeter
and the Virgin Mary and Apollo and Jesus Christ and
Satan and the Holy Ghost, are only shadows cast outwards
onto a screen; the constitution of the human mind makes
them all tend to be anthropomorphic; but that is all; they
each and all inevitably pass away. Why waste time over

And this is in a sense a perfectly fair way of looking at
the matter. These gods and creeds ARE only projections
of the human mind. But all the same it misses, does this
view, the essential fact. It misses the fact that there
is no shadow without a fire, that the very existence of
a shadow argues a light somewhere (though we may not
directly see it) as well as the existence of a solid form which
intercepts that light. Deep, deep in the human mind there is
that burning blazing light of the world-consciousness--
so deep indeed that the vast majority of individuals are
hardly aware of its existence. Their gaze turned outwards is
held and riveted by the gigantic figures and processions
passing across their sky; they are unaware that the
latter are only shadows--silhouettes of the forms inhabiting
their own minds.[1] The vast majority of people have
never observed their own minds; their own mental forms.
They have only observed the reflections cast by these.
Thus it may be said, in this matter, that there are three
degrees of reality. There are the mere shadows--the
least real and most evanescent; there are the actual
mental outlines of humanity (and of the individual), much
more real, but themselves also of course slowly changing;
and most real of all, and permanent, there is the light "which
lighteth every man that cometh into the world"--the
glorious light of the world-consciousness. Of this last it
may be said that it never changes. Every thing is
known to it--even the very IMPEDIMENTS to its shining.
But as it is from the impediments to the shining of a light
that shadows are cast, so we now may understand that
the things of this world and of humanity, though real in
their degree, have chiefly a kind of negative value; they
are opaquenesses, clouds, materialisms, ignorances, and the
inner light falling upon them gradually reveals their negative
character and gradually dissolves them away till they
are lost in the extreme and eternal Splendor. I think
Jefferies, when he asked that question with which I have
begun this chapter, was in some sense subconsciously,
if not quite consciously, aware of the answer. His frequent
references to the burning blazing sun throughout
The Story of the Heart seem to be an indication of his real
deep-down attitude of mind.

[1] See, in the same connection, Plato's allegory of the Cave,
Republic,Book vii.

The shadow-figures of the creeds and theogonies pass away
truly like ephemeral dreams; but to say that time spent
in their study is wasted, is a mistake, for they have
value as being indications of things much more real than
themselves, namely, of the stages of evolution of the human
mind. The fact that a certain god-figure, however grotesque
and queer, or a certain creed, however childish, cruel,
and illogical, held sway for a considerable time over
the hearts of men in any corner or continent of the world
is good evidence that it represented a real formative urge at
the time in the hearts of those good people, and a definite
stage in their evolution and the evolution of humanity. Certainly
it was destined to pass away, but it was a step, and
a necessary step in the great process; and certainly it
was opaque and brutish, but it is through the opaque
things of the world, and not through the transparent,
that we become aware of the light.

It may be worth while to give instances of how some early
rituals and creeds, in themselves apparently barbarous
or preposterous, were really the indications of important
moral and social conceptions evolving in the heart of
man. Let us take, first, the religious customs connected
with the ideas of Sacrifice and of Sin, of which such
innumerable examples are now to be found in the modern
books on Anthropology. If we assume, as I have done
more than once, that the earliest state of Man was one
in which he did not consciously separate himself from
the world, animate and inanimate, which surrounded him,
then (as I have also said) it was perfectly natural for
him to take some animal which bulked large on his horizon--
some food-animal for instance--and to pay respect to
it as the benefactor of his tribe, its far-back ancestor
and totem-symbol; or, seeing the boundless blessing of
the cornfields, to believe in some kind of spirit of the
corn (not exactly a god but rather a magical ghost) which,
reincarnated every year, sprang up to save mankind
from famine. But then no sooner had he done this than
he was bound to perceive that in cutting down the
corn or in eating his totem-bear or kangaroo he was slaying
his own best self and benefactor. In that instant the
consciousness of DISUNITY, the sense of sin in some undefined
yet no less disturbing and alarming form would come in.
If, before, his ritual magic had been concentrated on the
simple purpose of multiplying the animal or, vegetable
forms of his food, now in addition his magical endeavor
would be turned to averting the just wrath of the spirits
who animated these forms--just indeed, for the rudest savage
would perceive the wrong done and the probability of
its retribution. Clearly the wrong done could only be expiated
by an equivalent sacrifice of some kind on the part of
the man, or the tribe--that is by the offering to the totem-
animal or to the corn-spirit of some victim whom these
nature powers in their turn could feed upon and assimilate.
In this way the nature-powers would be appeased,
the sense of unity would be restored, and the first At-one-ment

It is hardly necessary to recite in any detail the cruel and
hideous sacrifices which have been perpetrated in this
sense all over the world, sometimes in appeasement of
a wrong committed or supposed to have been committed by the tribe
or some member of it, sometimes in placation
or for the averting of death, or defeat, or plague,
sometimes merely in fulfilment of some long-standing
custom of forgotten origin--the flayings and floggings and
burnings and crucifixions of victims without end, carried
out in all deliberation and solemnity of established ritual.
I have mentioned some cases connected with the sowing
of the corn. The Bible is full of such things, from
the intended sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham,
to the actual crucifixion of Jesus by the Jews. The first-
born sons were claimed by a god who called himself
"jealous" and were only to be redeemed by a substitute.[1]
Of the Canaanites it was said that "even their daughters
they have BURNT in the fire to their gods";[2] and of the
King of Moab, that when he saw his army in danger of
defeat, "he took his eldest son that should have reigned
in his stead and offered him for a burnt-offering on the
wall!"[3] Dr. Frazer[4] mentions the similar case of the
Carthaginians (about B.C. 300) sacrificing two hundred children
of good family as a propitiation to Baal and to
save their beloved city from the assaults of the Sicilian
tyrant Agathocles. And even so we hear that on that
occasion three hundred more young folk VOLUNTEERED to
die for the fatherland.

[1] Exodus xxxiv. 20.

[2] Deut. xii. 31.

[3] 2 Kings iii. 27.

[4] The Golden Bough, vol. "The Dying God," p. 167.

The awful sacrifices made by the Aztecs in Mexico to
their gods Huitzilopochtli, Texcatlipoca, and others are
described in much detail by Sahagun, the Spanish missionary
of the sixteenth century. The victims were mostly
prisoners of war or young children; they were numbered
by thousands. In one case Sahagun describes the huge Idol
or figure of the god as largely plated with gold and
holding his hands palm upward and in a downward
sloping position over a cauldron or furnace placed below. The
children, who had previously been borne in triumphal state
on litters over the crowd and decorated with every ornamental
device of feathers and flowers and wings, were
placed one by one on the vast hands and ROLLED DOWN into
the flames--as if the god were himself offering them.[1] As
the procession approached the temple, the members of
it wept and danced and sang, and here again the abundance
of tears was taken for a good augury of rain.[2]

[1] It is curious to find that exactly the same story (of the
sloping hands and the children rolled down into the flames) is
related concerning the above-mentioned Baal image at Carthage
(see Diodorus Siculus, xx. 14; also Baring Gould's Religious
Belief, vol. i, p. 375).

[2] "A los ninos que mataban, componianlos en muchos atavios para
llevarlos al sacrificio, y llevabos en unas literas sobre los
hombros, estas literas iban adornadas con plumages y con flores:
iban tanendo, cantando y bailando delante de ellos . . . Cuando
Ileviban los ninos a matar, si llevaban y echaban muchos
lagrimas, alegrabansi los que los llevaban porque tomaban
pronostico de que habian de tener muchas aguas en aquel ano."
Sahagun, Historia Nueva Espana, Bk. II, ch. i.

Bernal Diaz describes how he saw one of these monstrous
figures--that of Huitzilopochtli, the god of war, all inlaid
with gold and precious stones; and beside it were "braziers,
wherein burned the hearts of three Indians, torn
from their bodies that very day, and the smoke of them and
the savor of incense were the sacrifice."

Sahagun again (in Book II, ch. 5) gives a long account
of the sacrifice of a perfect youth at Easter-time--which
date Sabagun connects with the Christian festival of the
Resurrection. For a whole year the youth had been held
in honor and adored by the people as the very image of the
god (Tetzcatlipoca) to whom he was to be sacrificed. Every
luxury and fulfilment of his last wish (including such four
courtesans as he desired) had been granted him. At the last
and on the fatal day, leaving his companions and his worshipers
behind, be slowly ascended the Temple staircase; stripping
on each step the ornaments from his body; and breaking
and casting away his flutes and other musical
instruments; till, reaching the summit, he was stretched,
curved on his back, and belly upwards, over the altar
stone, while the priest with obsidian knife cut his breast
open and, snatching the heart out, held it up, yet beating,
as an offering to the Sun. In the meantime, and
while the heart still lived, his successor for the next year
was chosen.

In Book II, ch. 7 of the same work Sahagun describes the
similar offering of a woman to a goddess. In both cases
(he explains) of young man or young woman, the victims
were richly adorned in the guise of the god or
goddess to whom they were offered, and at the same time
great largesse of food was distributed to all who needed.
[Here we see the connection in the general mind between
the gift of food (by the gods) and the sacrifice of precious
blood (by the people).] More than once Sahagun mentions
that the victims in these Mexican ceremonials not infrequently
offered THEMSELVES as a voluntary sacrifice; and Prescott
says[1] that the offering of one's life to the gods was
"sometimes voluntarily embraced, as a most glorious death opening
a sure passage into Paradise."

[1] Conquest of Mexico, Bk. I, ch. 3.

Dr. Frazer describes[1] the far-back Babylonian festival
of the Sacaea in which "a prisoner, condemned to death, was
dressed in the king's robes, seated on the king's throne,
allowed to issue whatever commands he pleased, to eat, drink
and enjoy himself, and even to lie with the king's concubines."
But at the end of the five days he was stripped
of his royal robes, scourged, and hanged or impaled. It
is certainly astonishing to find customs so similar prevailing
among peoples so far removed in space and time
as the Aztecs of the sixteenth century A.D. and the Babylonians
perhaps of the sixteenth century B.C. But we know
that this subject of the yearly sacrifice of a victim
attired as a king or god is one that Dr. Frazer has especially
made his own, and for further information on it his classic
work should be consulted.

[1] Golden Bough, "The Dying God," p. 114. See also S. Reinach,
Cults, Myths and Religion, p. 94) on the martyrdom of St. Dasius.

Andrew Lang also, with regard to the Aztecs, quotes
largely from Sahagun, and summarizes his conclusions in
the following passage: "The general theory of worship was
the adoration of a deity, first by innumerable human
sacrifices, next by the special sacrifice of a MAN for the male
gods, of a WOMAN for each goddess.[1] The latter victims
were regarded as the living images or incarnations of the
divinities in, each case; for no system of worship carried
farther the identification of the god with the sacrifice
[? victim], and of both with the officiating priest. The
connection was emphasized by the priests wearing the
newly-flayed skins of the victims--just as in Greece, Egypt
and Assyria, the fawn-skin or bull-hide or goat-skin or fish-
skin of the victims is worn by the celebrants. Finally, an
image of the god was made out of paste, and this was divided
into morsels and eaten in a hideous sacrament by those
who communicated."[2]

[1] Compare the festival of Thargelia at Athens, originally
connected with the ripening of the crops. A procession was formed
and the first fruits of the year offered to Apollo, Artemis and
the Horae. It was an expiatory feast, to purify the State from
all guilt and avert the wrath of the god [the Sun]. A man and a
woman, as representing the male and female population, were led
about with a garland of figs [fertility] round their necks, to
the sound of flutes and singing. They were then scourged,
sacrificed, and their bodies burned by the seashore. (Nettleship
and Sandys.)

[2] A Lang, Myth, Ritual and Religion, vol. ii, p. 97.

Revolting as this whole picture is, it represents as we know
a mere thumbnail sketch of the awful practices of human
sacrifice all over the world. We hold up our hands
in horror at the thought of Huitzilopochtli dropping children
from his fingers into the flames, but we have to remember
that our own most Christian Saint Augustine was content
to describe unbaptized infants as crawling for ever about
the floor of Hell! What sort of god, we may ask, did
Augustine worship? The Being who could condemn children
to such a fate was certainly no better than the Mexican Idol.

And yet Augustine was a great and noble man, with some
by no means unworthy conceptions of the greatness of
his God. In the same way the Aztecs were in many
respects a refined and artistic people, and their religion was
not all superstition and bloodshed. Prescott says of
them[1] that they believed in a supreme Creator and Lord
"omnipresent, knowing all thoughts, giving all gifts, without
whom Man is as nothing--invisible, incorporeal, one God,
of perfect perfection and purity, under whose wings we
find repose and a sure defence." How can we reconcile
St. Augustine with his own devilish creed, or the
religious belief of the Aztecs with their unspeakable cruelties?
Perhaps we can only reconcile them by remembering
out of what deeps of barbarism and what nightmares
of haunting Fear, man has slowly emerged--and
is even now only slowly emerging; by remembering also
that the ancient ceremonies and rituals of Magic and
Fear remained on and were cultivated by the multitude in
each nation long after the bolder and nobler spirits had
attained to breathe a purer air; by remembering that
even to the present day in each individual the Old and the
New are for a long period thus intricately intertangled. It
is hard to believe that the practice of human and animal
sacrifice (with whatever revolting details) should have been
cultivated by nine-tenths of the human race over the globe
out of sheer perversity and without some reason which at
any rate to the perpetrators themselves appeared commanding
and convincing. To-day [1918] we are witnessing
in the Great European War a carnival of human slaughter
which in magnitude and barbarity eclipses in one stroke
all the accumulated ceremonial sacrifices of historical
ages; and when we ask the why and wherefore of this
horrid spectacle we are told, apparently in all sincerity, and
by both the parties engaged, of the noble objects and commanding
moralities which inspire and compel it. We can hardly,
in this last case, disbelieve altogether in the genuineness
of the plea, so why should we do so in the former
case? In both cases we perceive that underneath the
surface pretexts and moralities Fear is and was the
great urging and commanding force.

[1] Conquest of Mexico, Bk. I, ch. 3.

The truth is that Sin and Sacrifice represent--if you
once allow for the overwhelming sway of fear--perfectly
reasonable views of human conduct, adopted instinctively
by mankind since the earliest times. If in a moment of
danger or an access of selfish greed you deserted your
brother tribesman or took a mean advantage of him, you
'sinned' against him; and naturally you expiated the
sin by an equivalent sacrifice of some kind made to the
one you had wronged. Such an idea and such a practice
were the very foundation of social life and human morality,
and must have sprung up as soon as ever, in the course
of evolution, man became CAPABLE of differentiating himself
from his fellows and regarding his own conduct as that of
a 'separate self.' It was in the very conception of a
separate self that 'sin' and disunity first began; and it
was by 'sacrifice' that unity and harmony were restored,
appeasement and atonement effected.

But in those earliest times, as I have already indicated
more than once, man felt himself intimately related not
only to his brother tribesman, but to the animals and to
general Nature. It was not so much that he THOUGHT thus
as that he never thought OTHERWISE! He FELT subconsciously
that he was a part of all this outer world. And so he
adopted for his totems or presiding spirits every possible
animal, as we have seen, and all sorts of nature-phenomena,
such as rain and fire and water and clouds, and sun, moon and
stars--which WE consider quite senseless and inanimate.
Towards these apparently senseless things therefore he
felt the same compunction as I have described him feeling
towards his brother tribesmen. He could sin against
them too. He could sin against his totem-animal by
eating it; he could sin against his 'brother the ox' by consuming
its strength in the labor of the plough; he could
sin against the corn by cutting it down and grinding
it into flour, or against the precious and beautiful pine-
tree by laying his axe to its roots and converting it into
mere timber for his house. Further still, no doubt he
could sin against elemental nature. This might be more
difficult to be certain of, but when the signs of elemental
displeasure were not to be mistaken--when the rain withheld
itself for months, or the storms and lightning dealt death
and destruction, when the crops failed or evil plagues afflicted
mankind--then there could be little uncertainty that he had
sinned; and Fear, which had haunted him like a demon from
the first day when he became conscious of his separation
from his fellows and from Nature, stood over him and urged
to dreadful propitiations.

In all these cases some sacrifice in reparation was the obvious
thing. We have seen that to atone for the cutting-down
of the corn a human victim would often be
slaughtered. The corn-spirit clearly approved of this, for
wherever the blood and remains of the victim were
strewn the corn always sprang up more plentifully. The
tribe or human group made reparation thus to the corn; the
corn-spirit signified approval. The 'sin' was expiated and
harmony restored. Sometimes the sacrifice was voluntarily
offered by a tribesman; sometimes it was enforced, by lot
or otherwise; sometimes the victim was a slave, or a
captive enemy; sometimes even an animal. All that
did not so much matter. The main thing was that the
formal expiation had been carried out, and the wrath
of the spirits averted.

It is known that tribes whose chief food-animal was the
bear felt it necessary to kill and cat a bear occasionally;
but they could not do this without a sense of guilt, and some
fear of vengeance from the great Bear-spirit. So they
ate the slain bear at a communal feast in which the
tribesmen shared the guilt and celebrated their community
with their totem and with each other. And since they could
not make any reparation directly to the slain animal itself
AFTER its death, they made their reparation BEFORE, bringing
all sorts of presents and food to it for a long anterior period,
and paying every kind of worship and respect to it. The
same with the bull and the ox. At the festival of the Bouphonia,
in some of the cities of Greece as I have already
mentioned, the actual bull sacrificed was the handsomest
and most carefully nurtured that could be obtained; it
was crowned with flowers and led in procession with
every mark of reverence and worship. And when--as I
have already pointed out--at the great Spring festival, instead
of a bull or a goat or a ram, a HUMAN victim was immolated,
it was a custom (which can be traced very widely over the
world) to feed and indulge and honor the victim to
the last degree for a WHOLE YEAR before the final ceremony,
arraying him often as a king and placing a crown
upon his head, by way of acknowledgment of the noble
and necessary work he was doing for the general

What a touching and beautiful ceremony was that--belonging
especially to the North of Syria, and lands where
the pine is so beneficent and beloved a tree--the mourning
ceremony of the death and burial of Attis! when a
pine-tree, felled by the axe, was hollowed out, and in the hollow
an image (often itself carved out of pinewood) of the
young Attis was placed. Could any symbolism express more
tenderly the idea that the glorious youth--who represented
Spring, too soon slain by the rude tusk of Winter--
was himself the very human soul of the pine-tree?[1] At
some earlier period, no doubt, a real youth had been sacrificed
and his body bound within the pine; but now it was
deemed sufficient for the maidens to sing their wild songs
of lamentation; and for the priests and male enthusiasts
to cut and gash themselves with knives, or to sacrifice
(as they did) to the Earth-mother the precious blood offering
of their virile organs--symbols of fertility in return
for the promised and expected renewal of Nature and
the crops in the coming Spring. For the ceremony, as
we have already seen, did not end with death and lamentation,
but led on, perfectly naturally, after a day or
two to a festival of resurrection, when it was discovered--
just as in the case of Osiris--that the pine-tree coffin
was empty, and the immortal life had flown. How strange
the similarity and parallelism of all these things to the
story of Jesus in the Gospels--the sacrifice of a life
made in order to bring salvation to men and expiation of
sins, the crowning of the victim, and arraying in royal
attire, the scourging and the mockery, the binding or nailing to
a tree, the tears of Mary, and the resurrection and the empty
coffin!--or how not at all strange when we consider in what
numerous forms and among how many peoples, this same
parable and ritual had as a matter of fact been celebrated,
and how it had ultimately come down to bring
its message of redemption into a somewhat obscure Syrian
city, in the special shape with which we are familiar.

[1] See Julius Firmicus, who says (De Errore, c. 28): "in sacris
Phrygiis, quae Matris deum dicunt, per annos singulos arbor pinea
caeditur, et in media arbore simulacrum uvenis subligatur. In
Isiacis sacris de pinea arbore caeditur truncus; hujus trunci
media pars subtiliter excavatur, illis de segminibus factum
idolum Osiridis sepelitur. In Prosperpinae sacris caesa arbor in
effigiem virginis formaraque componitur, et cum intra civitatem
fuerit illata, quadraginta noctibus pIangitur, quadragesima vero
nocte comburitur."

Though the parable or legend in its special Christian form
bears with it the consciousness of the presence of beings
whom we may call gods, it is important to remember that in many
or most of its earlier forms, though it dealt in 'spirits'--the
spirit of the corn, or the spirit of the Spring,
or the spirits of the rain and the thunder, or the spirits
of totem-animals--it had not yet quite risen to the idea
of gods. It had not risen to the conception of eternal
deities sitting apart and governing the world in solemn
conclave--as from the slopes of Olympus or the recesses
of the Christian Heaven. It belonged, in fact, in its
inception, to the age of Magic. The creed of Sin and
Sacrifice, or of Guilt and Expiation--whatever we like to call
it--was evolved perfectly naturally out of the human mind
when brought face to face with Life and Nature) at
some early stage of its self-consciousness. It was essentially
the result of man's deep, original and instinctive
sense of solidarity with Nature, now denied and belied
and to some degree broken up by the growth and conscious
insistence of the self-regarding impulses. It was
the consciousness of disharmony and disunity, causing
men to feel all the more poignantly the desire and the
need of reconciliation. It was a realization of union
made clear by its very loss. It assumed of course,
in a subconscious way as I have already indicated, that the
external world was the HABITAT of a mind or minds similar
to man's own; but THAT being granted, it is evident
that the particular theories current in this or that place about
the nature of the world--the theories, as we should say,
of science or theology--did not alter the general outlines
of the creed; they only colored its details and gave
its ritual different dramatic settings. The mental attitudes,
for instance, of Abraham sacrificing the ram, or of the
Siberian angakout slaughtering a totem-bear, or of a modern
and pious Christian contemplating the Saviour on the Cross
are really almost exactly the same. I mention this because
in tracing the origins or the evolution of religions it is
important to distinguish clearly what is essential and
universal from that which is merely local and temporary.
Some people, no doubt, would be shocked at the comparisons
just made; but surely it is much more inspiriting and
encouraging to think that whatever progress HAS been
made in the religious outlook of the world has come about
through the gradual mental growth and consent of the peoples,
rather than through some unique and miraculous event
of a rather arbitrary and unexplained character--which
indeed might never be repeated, and concerning which
it would perhaps be impious to suggest that it SHOULD
be repeated.

The consciousness then of Sin (or of alienation from
the life of the whole), and of restoration or redemption
through Sacrifice, seems to have disclosed itself in the human
race in very far-back times, and to have symbolized itself
in some most ancient rituals; and if we are shocked
sometimes at the barbarities which accompanied those
rituals, yet we must allow that these barbarities show
how intensely the early people felt the solemnity and
importance of the whole matter; and we must allow too
that the barbarities did sear and burn themselves into
rude and ignorant minds with the sense of the NEED of
Sacrifice, and with a result perhaps which could not have
been compassed in any other way.

For after all we see now that sacrifice is of the very
essence of social life. "It is expedient that ONE man
should die for the people"; and not only that one man
should actually die, but (what is far more important) that
each man should be ready and WILLING to die in that
cause, when the occasion and the need arises. Taken
in its larger meanings and implications Sacrifice, as conceived
in the ancient world, was a perfectly reasonable
thing. It SHOULD pervade modern life more than it does.
All we have or enjoy flows from, or is implicated with, pain
and suffering in others, and--if there is any justice in
Nature or Humanity--it demands an equivalent readiness
to suffer on our part. If Christianity has any real
essence, that essence is perhaps expressed in some such
ritual or practice of Sacrifice, and we see that the dim
beginnings of this idea date from the far-back customs
of savages coming down from a time anterior to all recorded


We have suggested in the last chapter how the conceptions
of Sin and Sacrifice coming down to us from an extremely
remote past, and embodied among the various peoples
of the world sometimes in crude and bloodthirsty rites,
sometimes in symbols and rituals of a gentler and more
gracious character, descended at last into Christianity and
became a part of its creed and of the creed of the
modern world. On the whole perhaps we may trace a
slow amelioration in this process and may flatter ourselves
that the Christian centuries exhibit a more philosophical
understanding of what Sin is, and a more humane conception
of what Sacrifice SHOULD be, than the centuries
preceding. But I fear tht any very decided statement
or sweeping generalization to that effect would be--to
say the least--rash. Perhaps there IS a very slow amelioration;
but the briefest glance at the history of the Christian
churches--the horrible rancours and revenges of the
clergy and the sects against each other in the fourth
and fifth centuries A.D., the heresy-hunting crusades at
Beziers and other places and the massacres of the Albigenses
in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the witch-findings
and burnings of the sixteenth and seventeenth, the hideous
science-urged and bishop-blessed warfare of the twentieth
--horrors fully as great as any we can charge to the account
of the Aztecs or the Babylonians--must give us pause.
Nor must we forget that if there is by chance a substantial
amelioration in our modern outlook with regard to these
matters the same had begun already before the advent
of Christianity and can by no means be ascribed to any
miraculous influence of that religion. Abraham was
prompted to slay a ram as a substitute for his son, long
before the Christians were thought of; the rather savage
Artemis of the old Greek rites was (according to Pausanias)[1]
honored by the yearly sacrifice of a perfect boy and girl,
but later it was deemed sufficient to draw a knife across their
throats as a symbol, with the result of spilling only a
few drops of their blood, or to flog the boys (with the
same result) upon her altar. Among the Khonds in old
days many victims (meriahs) were sacrificed to the gods,
"but in time the man was replaced by a horse, the horse by
a bull, the bull by a ram, the ram by a kid, the kid
by fowls, and the fowls by many flowers."[2] At one time,
according to the Yajur-Veda, there was a festival at which
one hundred and twenty-five victims, men and women,
boys and girls, were sacrificed; "but reform supervened,
and now the victims were bound as before to the stake,
but afterwards amid litanies to the immolated (god)
Narayana, the sacrificing priest brandished a knife and
--severed the bonds of the captives."[3] At the Athenian festival
of the Thargelia, to which I referred in the last chapter,
it appears that the victims, in later times, instead of being
slain, were tossed from a height into the sea, and after
being rescued were then simply banished; while at Leucatas
a similar festival the fall of the victim was
graciously broken by tying feathers and even living birds to
his body.[4]

[1] vii. 19, and iii. 8, 16.

[2] Primitive Folk, by Elie Reclus (Contemp. Science Series), p.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Muller's Dorians Book II, ch. ii, par. 10.

With the lapse of time and the general progress of mankind, we
may, I think, perceive some such slow ameliorations
in the matter of the brutality and superstition of the old
religions. How far any later ameliorations were due to
the direct influence of Christianity might be a difficult
question; but what I think we can clearly see--and what
especially interests us here--is that in respect to its main
religious ideas, and the matter underlying them (exclusive
of the MANNER of their treatment, which necessarily has varied
among different peoples) Christianity is of one piece
with the earlier pagan creeds and is for the most part a
re-statement and renewed expression of world-wide doctrines
whose first genesis is lost in the haze of the past, beyond all
recorded history.

I have illustrated this view with regard to the doctrine of
Sin and Sacrifice. Let us take two or three other
illustrations. Let us take the doctrine of Re-birth or
Regeneration. The first few verses of St. John's Gospel are
occupied with the subject of salvation through rebirth or
regeneration. "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the
kingdom of God." . . . "Except a man be born of water
and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
Our Baptismal Service begins by saying that "forasmuch as all
men are conceived and born in sin; and that our Saviour Christ
saith, None can enter into the kingdom of God except he be
regenerate and born anew of water and the Holy Ghost"; therefore
it is desirable that this child should be baptized, "received
into Christ's Holy Church, and be made a lively member of the
same." That, is to say, there is one birth, after the
flesh, but a second birth is necessary, a birth after the
Spirit and into the Church of Christ. Our Confirmation
Service is simply a service repeating and confirming
these views, at an age (fourteen to sixteen or so) when the
boy or girl is capable of understanding what is being done.

But our Baptismal and Confirmation ceremonies combined
are clearly the exact correspondence and parallel
of the old pagan ceremonies of Initiation, which are or
have been observed in almost every primitive tribe over
the world. "The rite of the second birth," says Jane
Harrison,[1] "is widespread, universal, over half the savage
world. With the savage to be twice-born is the rule. By
his first birth he comes into the world; by his second he
is born into his tribe. At his first birth he belongs to his
mother and the women-folk; at his second he becomes
a full-fledged man and passes into the society of the
warriors of his tribe." . . . "These rites are very various,
but they all point to one moral, that the former things are
passed away and that the new-born man has entered upon
a new life. Simplest of all, and most instructive, is the
rite practised by the Kikuyu tribe of British East Africa,
who require that every boy, just before circumcision,
must be born again. The mother stands up with the boy
crouching at her feet; she pretends to go through all the
labour pains, and the boy on being reborn cries like a babe
and is washed."[2]

[1] Ancient Art and Ritual, p. 104.

[2] See also Themis, p. 21.

Let us pause for a moment. An Initiate is of course one
who "enters in." He enters into the Tribe; he enters into
the revelation of certain Mysteries; he becomes an associate
of a certain Totem, a certain God; a member
of a new Society, or Church--a church of Mithra, or Dionysus
or Christ. To do any of these things he must be
born again; be must die to the old life; he must pass
through ceremonials which symbolize the change. One
of these ceremonials is washing. As the new-born babe
is washed, so must the new-born initiate be washed; and
as by primitive man (and not without reason) BLOOD was
considered the most vital and regenerative of fluids, the
very elixir of life, so in earliest times it was common to
wash the initiate with blood. If the initiate had to be born
anew, it would seem reasonable to suppose that he must first
die. So, not unfrequently, he was wounded, or scourged,
and baptized with his own blood, or, in cases, one of
the candidates was really killed and his blood used
as a substitute for the blood of the others. No doubt
HUMAN sacrifice attended the earliest initiations. But later
it was sufficient to be half-drowned in the blood of a Bull as
in the Mithra cult,[1] or 'washed in the blood of the Lamb'
as in the Christian phraseology. Finally, with a growing
sense of decency and aesthetic perception among the
various peoples, washing with pure water came in the
initiation-ceremonies to take the place of blood; and our
baptismal service has reduced the ceremony to a mere
sprinkling with water.[2]

[1] See ch. iii.

[2] For the virtue supposed to reside in blood see Westermarck's
Moral Ideas, Ch. 46.

To continue the quotation from Miss Harrison: "More
often the new birth is stimulated, or imagined, as a death
and a resurrection, either of the boys themselves or of
some one else in their presence. Thus at initiation among
some tribes of South-east Australia, when the boys are
assembled an old man dressed in stringy bark-fibre lies
down in a grave. He is covered up lightly with sticks and
earth, and the grave is smoothed over. The buried man
holds in his hand a small bush which seems to be growing
from the ground, and other bushes are stuck in the
ground round about. The novices are then brought to the
edge of the grave and a song is sung. Gradually, as the
song goes on, the bush held by the buried man begins
to quiver. It moves more and more, and bit by bit the man
himself starts up from the grave."

Strange in our own Baptismal Service and just before the
actual christening we read these words, "Then shall the
Priest say: O merciful God, grant that old Adam in
this child may be so BURIED that the new man may
be raised up in him: grant that all carnal affections may
die in him, and that all things belonging to the Spirit may
live and grow in him!" Can we doubt that the Australian
medicine-man, standing at the graveside of the re-arisen old
black-fellow, pointed the same moral to the young initiates
as the priest does to-day to those assembled before
him in church--for indeed we know that among
savage tribes initiations have always been before all things
the occasions of moral and social teaching? Can we doubt
that he said, in substance if not in actual words: "As
this man has arisen from the grave, so you must also arise
from your old childish life of amusement and self-gratification
and, ENTER INTO the life of the tribe, the life of the
Spirit of the tribe." "In totemistic societies," to quote
Miss Harrison again, "and in the animal secret societies that
seem to grow out of them, the novice is born again
aS THE SACRED ANIMAL. Thus among the Carrier Indians[1]
when a man wants to become a Lulem or 'Bear,' however cold
the season he tears off his clothes, puts on a bear-skin
and dashes into the woods, where he will stay for three or
four days. Every night his fellow-villagers will go
out in search parties to find him. They cry out Yi!
Kelulem (come on, Bear), and he answers with angry growls.
Usually they fail to find him, but he comes back at last himself.
He is met, and conducted to the ceremonial lodge,
and there in company with the rest of the Bears dances
solemnly his first appearance. Disappearance and reappearance
is as common a rite in initiation as stimulated
killing and resurrection, and has the same object. Both
are rites of transition, of passing from one to another." In
the Christian ceremonies the boy or girl puts away
childish things and puts on the new man, but instead of
putting on a bear-skin he puts on Christ. There is not so
much difference as may appear on the surface. To be identified
with your Totem is to be identified with the
sacred being who watches over your tribe, who has given
his life for your tribe; it is to be born again, to be washed
not only with water but with the Holy Spirit of all your
fellows. To be baptized into Christ ought to mean to be
regenerated in the Holy Spirit of all humanity; and no
doubt in cases it does mean this, but too often unfortunately
it has only amounted to a pretence of religious sanction given
to the meanest and bitterest quarrels of the Churches and
the States.

[1] Golden Bough, Section 2, III, p. 438.

This idea of a New Birth at initiation explains the
prevalent pagan custom of subjecting the initiates to serious
ordeals, often painful and even dangerous. If one
is to be born again, obviously one must be ready to face
death; the one thing cannot be without the other. One
must be able to endure pain, like the Red Indian braves;
to go long periods fasting and without food or drink,
like the choupan among the Western Inoits--who, wanders
for whole nights over the ice-fields under the moon, scantily
clothed and braving the intense cold; to overcome the
very fear of death and danger, like the Australian novices
who, at first terrified by the sound of the bull-
roarer and threats of fire and the knife, learn finally
to cast their fears away.[1] By so doing one puts off
the old childish things, and qualifies oneself by firmness
and courage to become a worthy member of the society
into which one is called.[2] The rules of social life are taught
--the duty to one's tribe, and to oneself, truth-
speaking, defence of women and children, the care of cattle,
the meaning of sex and marriage, and even the mysteries of
such religious ideas and rudimentary science as the tribe
possesses. And by so doing one really enters into a new
life. Things of the spiritual world begin to dawn. Julius
Firmicus, in describing the mysteries of the resurrection of
Osiris,[3] says that when the worshipers had satiated themselves
with lamentations over the death of the god then
the priest would go round anointing them with oil and
whispering, "Be of good cheer, O Neophytes of the new-
arisen God, for to us too from our pains shall come

[1] According to accounts of the Wiradthuri tribe of Western
Australia, in their initiations, the lads were frightened by a
large fire being lighted near them, and hearing the awful sound
of the bull-roarers, while they were told that Dhuramoolan was
about to burn them; the legend being that Dhuramoolan, a powerful
being, whose voice sounded like thunder, would take the boys into
the bush and instruct them in all the laws, traditions and
customs of the community. So he pretended that he always killed
the boys, cut them up, and burnt them to ashes, after which he
moulded the ashes into human shape, and restored them to life as
new beings. (See R. H. Matthews, "The Wiradthuri tribes," Journal
Anthrop. Inst., vol. xxv, 1896, pp. 297 sq.)

[2] See Catlin's North-American Indians, vol. i, for initiations
and ordeals among the Mandans.

[3] De Errore, c. 22.


It would seem that at some very early time in the history
of tribal and priestly initiations an attempt was made to
impress upon the neophytes the existence and over-
shadowing presence of spiritual and ghostly beings. Perhaps
the pains endured in the various ordeals, the long fastings,
the silences in the depth of the forests or on the mountains
or among the ice-floes, helped to rouse the visionary faculty.
The developments of this faculty among the black and
colored peoples--East-Indian, Burmese, African, American-
Indian, etc.--are well known. Miss Alice Fletcher, who
lived among the Omaha Indians for thirty years, gives
a most interesting account[1] of the general philosophy of
that people and their rites of initiation. "The Omahas
regard all animate and inanimate forms, all phenomena,
as pervaded by a common life, which was continuous with
and similar to the will-power they were conscious of in
themselves. This mysterious power in all things they
called Wakonda, and through it all things were related
to man and to each other. In the idea of the continuity
of life a relation was maintained between the seen and
the unseen, the dead and the living, and also between
the fragment of anything and its entirety."[2] Thus an
Omaha novice might at any time seek to obtain Wakonda
by what was called THE RITE OF THE VISION. He would go out
alone, fast, chant incantations, and finally fall into a
trance (much resembling what in modern times has been called
COSMIC CONSCIOUSNESS) in which he would perceive the inner
relations of all things and the solidarity of the least object
with the rest of the universe.

[1] Summarized in Themis, pp. 68-71.

[2] A. C. Fletcher, The Significance of the Scalp-lock, Journal
of Anthropological Studies, xxvii (1897-8), p. 436.

Another rite in connection with initiation, and common all
over the pagan world--in Greece, America, Africa, Australia,
New Mexico, etc.--was the daubing of the novice all
over with clay or chalk or even dung, and then after a
while removing the same.[1] The novice must have looked
a sufficiently ugly and uncomfortable object in this state;
but later, when he was thoroughly WASHED, the ceremony
must have afforded a thrilling illustration of the idea of
a new birth, and one which would dwell in the minds of
the spectators. When the daubing was done as not infrequently
happened with white clay or gypsum, and the
ritual took place at night, it can easily be imagined
that the figures of young men and boys moving about in
the darkness would lend support to the idea that they
were spirits belonging to some intermediate world--who
had already passed through death and were now waiting
for their second birth on earth (or into the tribe) which
would be signalized by their thorough and ceremonial
washing. It will be remembered that Herodotus (viii)
gives a circumstantial account of how the Phocians in
a battle with the Thessalians smeared six hundred of their
bravest warriors with white clay so that, looking like
supernatural beings, and falling upon the Thessalians by
night, they terrified the latter and put them to instant

[1] See A. Lang's Myth, Ritual and Religion, i, 274 sq.

Such then--though only very scantily described--were some
of the rites of Initiation and Second Birth celebrated in the
old Pagan world. The subject is far too large for adequate
treatment within the present limits; but even so
we cannot but be struck by the appropriateness in many
cases of the teaching thus given to the young, the concreteness
of the illustrations, the effectiveness of the symbols
used, the dramatic character of the rites, the strong
enforcement of lessons on the nature and duties of the
life into which the candidates were about to enter. Christianity
followed on, and inherited these traditions, but
one feels that in its ceremonies of Baptism and Confirmation,
which of course correspond to the Pagan Initiations,
it falls short of the latter. Its ceremonies
(certainly as we have them to-day in Protestant countries)
are of a very milk-and-watery character; all allusion to
and teaching on the immensely important subject of Sex
is omitted, the details of social and industrial morality are
passed by, and instruction is limited to a few rather commonplace
lessons in general morality and religion.

It may be appropriate here, before leaving the subject of
the Second Birth, to inquire how it has come about that
this doctrine--so remote and metaphysical as it might
appear--has been taken up and embodied in their creeds
and rituals by quite PRIMITIVE people all over the world,
to such a degree indeed that it has ultimately been adopted
and built into the foundations of the latter and more
intellectual religions, like Hinduism, Mithraism, and the
Egyptian and Christian cults. I think the answer to
this question must be found in the now-familiar fact that
the earliest peoples felt themselves so much a part of
Nature and the animal and vegetable world around them
that (whenever they thought about these matters at all)
they never for a moment doubted that the things which
were happening all round them in the external world were
also happening within themselves. They saw the Sun,
overclouded and nigh to death in winter, come to its birth
again each year; they saw the Vegetation shoot forth
anew in spring--the revival of the spirit of the Earth;
the endless breeding of the Animals, the strange
transformations of Worms and Insects; the obviously new life
taken on by boys and girls at puberty; the same at a later
age when the novice was transformed into the medicine-
man--the choupan into the angakok among the Esquimaux,
the Dacotah youth into the wakan among the Red
Indians; and they felt in their sub-conscious way the
same everlasting forces of rebirth and transformation working
within themselves. In some of the Greek Mysteries
the newly admitted Initiates were fed for some time
after on milk only "as though we were being born
again." (See Sallustius, quoted by Gilbert Murray.) When
sub-conscious knowledge began to glimmer into direct
consciousness one of the first aspects (and no doubt one of
the truest) under which people saw life was just thus: as
a series of rebirths and transformations.[1] The most modern
science, I need hardly say, in biology as well as
in chemistry and the field of inorganic Nature, supports
that view. The savage in earliest times FELT the truth of
some things which we to-day are only beginning intellectually
to perceive and analyze.

[1] The fervent and widespread belief in animal metamorphoses
among early peoples is well known.

Christianity adopted and absorbed--as it was bound
to do--this world-wide doctrine of the second birth. Passing
over its physiological and biological applications, it
gave to it a fine spiritual significance--or rather it insisted
especially on its spiritual significance, which (as we have
seen) had been widely recognized before. Only--as I
suppose must happen with all local religions--it narrowed
the application and outlook of the doctrine down to a special
case--"As in Adam all die, so in CHRIST shall all be
made alive." The Universal Spirit which can give rebirth
and salvation to EVERY child of man to whom it
comes, was offered only under a very special form--that of
Jesus Christ.[1] In this respect it was no better than the
religions which preceded it. In some respects--that is,
where it was especially fanatical, blinkered, and hostile to
other sects--it was WORSE. But to those who perceive
that the Great Spirit may bring new birth and salvation
to some under the form of Osiris, equally well as to others
under the form of Jesus, or again to some under the form
of a Siberian totem-Bear equally as to others under the
form of Osiris, these questionings and narrowings fall
away as of no importance. We in this latter day can see
the main thing, namely that Christianity was and is just
one phase of a world-old religion, slowly perhaps expanding
its scope, but whose chief attitudes and orientations have been
the same through the centuries.

[1] The same happened with regard to another great Pagan doctrine
(to which I have just alluded), the doctrine of transformations
and metamorphoses; and whereas the pagans believed in these
things, as the common and possible heritage of EVERY man, the
Christians only allowed themselves to entertain the idea in the
special and unique instance of the Transfiguration of Christ.

Many other illustrations might be taken of the truth of
this view, but I will confine myself to two or three more.
There is the instance of the Eucharist and its exceedingly
widespread celebration (under very various forms) among
the pagans all over the world--as well as among Christians.
I have already said enough on this subject, and need not
delay over it. By partaking of the sacramental meal, even
in its wildest and crudest shapes, as in the mysteries
of Dionysus, one was identified with and united to the
god; in its milder and more spiritual aspects as in the Mithraic,
Egyptian, Hindu and Christian cults, one passed behind
the veil of maya and this ever-changing world, and entered
into the region of divine peace and power.[1]

[1] Baring Gould in his Orig. Relig. Belief, I. 401,
says:--"Among the ancient Hindus Soma was a chief deity; he is
called the Giver of Life and Health. . . . He became incarnate
among men, was taken by them and slain, and brayed in a mortar [a
god of corn and wine apparently]. But he rose in flame to heaven
to be 'the Benefactor of the World' and the 'Mediator between God
and Man!' Through communion with him in his sacrifice, man (who
partook of this god) has an assurance of immortality, for by that
sacrament he obtains union with his divinity."

Or again the doctrine of the Saviour. That also is one
on which I need not add much to what has been said already.
The number of pagan deities (mostly virgin-born and
done to death in some way or other in their efforts to
save mankind) is so great[1] as to be difficult to keep
account of. The god Krishna in India, the god Indra
in Nepaul and Thibet, spilt their blood for the salvation
of men; Buddha said, according to Max Muller,[2] "Let all
the sins that were in the world fall on me, that the world
may be delivered"; the Chinese Tien , the Holy One--"one
with God and existing with him from all eternity"--died
to save the world; the Egyptian Osiris was called Saviour,
so was Horus; so was the Persian Mithras; so was
the Greek Hercules who overcame Death though his body
was consumed in the burning garment of mortality, out of
which he rose into heaven. So also was the Phrygian
Attis called Saviour, and the Syrian Tammuz or Adonis
likewise--both of whom, as we have seen, were nailed
or tied to a tree, and afterwards rose again from their
biers, or coffins. Prometheus, the greatest and earliest
benefactor of the human race, was NAILED BY THE HANDS and
feet, and with arms extended, to the rocks of Mount
Caucasus. Bacchus or Dionysus, born of the virgin Semele
to be the Liberator of mankind (Dionysus Eleutherios
as he was called), was torn to pieces, not unlike Osiris. Even
in far Mexico Quetzalcoatl, the Saviour, was born of a virgin,
was tempted, and fasted forty days, was done to death, and
his second coming looked for so eagerly that (as is well known)
when Cortes appeared, the Mexicans, poor things, greeted
HIM as the returning god![3] In Peru and among the American
Indians, North and South of the Equator, similar legends
are, or were, to be found.

[1] See for a considerable list Doane's Bible Myths, ch. xx.

[2] Hist. Sanskrit Literature, p. 80.

[3] See Kingsborough, Mexican Antiquities, vol. vi.

Briefly sketched as all this is, it is enough to prove quite
abundantly that the doctrine of the Saviour is world-wide
and world-old, and that Christianity merely appropriated
the same and (as the other cults did) gave it a special
color. Probably the wide range of this doctrine would
have been far better and more generally known, had not the
Christian Church, all through, made the greatest of efforts
and taken the greatest precautions to extinguish and
snuff out all evidence of pagan claims on the subject.
There is much to show that the early Church took this
line with regard to pre-Christian saviours;[1] and in later times
the same policy is remarkably illustrated by the treatment
in the sixteenth century of the writings of Sahagun
the Spanish missionary--to whose work I have already referred.
Sahagun was a wonderfully broad-minded and
fine man who, while he did not conceal the barbarities
of the Aztec religion, was truthful enough to point out
redeeming traits in the manners and customs of the
people and some resemblances to Christian doctrine and
practice. This infuriated the bigoted Catholics of the
newly formed Mexican Church. They purloined the manuscripts
of Sahagun's Historia and scattered and hid them
about the country, and it was only after infinite labor
and an appeal to the Spanish Court that he got them
together again. Finally, at the age of eighty, having translated
them into Spanish (from the original Mexican) he
sent them in two big volumes home to Spain for safety;
but there almost immediately THEY DISAPPEARED, and could
not be found! It was only after TWO CENTURIES that they
ultimately turned up (1790) in a Convent at Tolosa in
Navarre. Lord Kingsborough published them in England
in 1830.

[1] See Tertullian's Apologia, c. 16; Ad Nationes, c. xii.

I have thus dwelt upon several of the main doctrines of
Christianity--namely, those of Sin and Sacrifice, the Eucharist,
the Saviour, the Second Birth, and Transfiguration--as
showing that they are by no means unique in
our religion, but were common to nearly all the religions
of the ancient world. The list might be much further extended,
but there is no need to delay over a subject which is
now very generally understood. I will, however, devote a
page or two to one instance, which I think is very remarkable,
and full of deep suggestion.

There is no doctrine in Christianity which is more
reverenced by the adherents of that religion, or held in higher
estimation, than that God sacrificed his only Son for the
salvation of the world; also that since the Son was not
only of like nature but of the SAME nature with the
Father, and equal to him as being the second Person of
the Divine Trinity, the sacrifice amounted to an immolation
of Himself for the good of mankind. The doctrine
is so mystical, so remote, and in a sense so absurd
and impossible, that it has been a favorite mark through
the centuries for the ridicule of the scoffers and enemies
of the Church; and here, it might easily be thought, is a
belief which--whether it be considered glorious or whether
contemptible--is at any rate unique, and peculiar to that

And yet the extraordinary fact is that a similar belief
ranges all through the ancient religions, and can be traced
back to the earliest times. The word host which is used
in the Catholic Mass for the bread and wine on the Altar,
supposed to be the transubstantiated body and blood of
Christ, is from the Latin Hostia which the dictionary
interprets as "an animal slain in sacrifice, a sin-offering." It
takes us far far back to the Totem stage of folk-life,
when the tribe, as I have already explained, crowned a
victim-bull or bear or other animal with flowers, and
honoring it with every offering of food and worship,
sacrificed the victim to the Totem spirit of the tribe, and
consumed it in an Eucharistic feast--the medicine-man
or priest who conducted the ritual wearing a skin of the
same beast as a sign that he represented the Totem-
divinity, taking part in the sacrifice of 'himself to himself.'
It reminds us of the Khonds of Bengal sacrificing their
meriahs crowned and decorated as gods and goddesses;
of the Aztecs doing the same; of Quetzalcoatl pricking
his elbows and fingers so as to draw blood, which he offered
on his own altar; or of Odin hanging by his own desire upon
a tree. "I know I was hanged upon a tree shaken by
the winds for nine long nights. I was transfixed by
a spear; I was moved to Odin, myself to myself." And
so on. The instances are endless. "I am the oblation,"
says the Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita,[1] "I am the
sacrifice, I the ancestral offering." "In the truly orthodox
conception of sacrifice," says Elie Reclus,[2] "the consecrated
offering, be it man, woman or virgin, lamb or
heifer, cock or dove, represents tHE DEITY HIMSELF. . . .
Brahma is the 'imperishable sacrifice'; Indra, Soma, Hari and
the other gods, became incarnate in animals to the
sole end that they might be immolated. Perusha, the
Universal Being, caused himself to be slain by the Immortals,
and from his substance were born the birds of the
air, wild and domestic animals, the offerings of butter
and curds. The world, declared the Rishis, is a series
of sacrifices disclosing other sacrifices. To stop them
would be to suspend the life of Nature. The god Siva, to
whom the Tipperahs of Bengal are supposed to have sacrificed
as many as a thousand human victims a year, said to the
Brahamins: 'It is I that am the actual offering; it is I that
you butcher upon my altars.' "

[1] Ch. ix, v. 16.

[2] Primitive Folk, ch. vi.

It was in allusion to this doctrine that R. W. Emerson,
paraphrasing the Katha-Upanishad, wrote that immortal verse
of his:-

     If the red slayer thinks he slays,
          Or the slain thinks he is slain,
     They know not well the subtle ways
          I take, and pass, and turn again.

I say it is an astonishing thing to think and realize that
this profound and mystic doctrine of the eternal sacrifice
of Himself, ordained by the Great Spirit for the creation
and salvation of the world--a doctrine which has attracted
and fascinated many of the great thinkers and nobler minds
of Europe, which has also inspired the religious teachings
of the Indian sages and to a less philosophical degree the
writings of the Christian Saints--should have been seized
in its general outline and essence by rude and primitive
people before the dawn of history, and embodied in their
rites and ceremonials. What is the explanation of this fact?

It is very puzzling. The whole subject is puzzling. The
world-wide adoption of similar creeds and rituals (and,
we may add, legends and fairy tales) among early peoples,
and in far-sundered places and times is so remarkable
that it has given the students of these subjects
'furiously to think'[1]--yet for the most part without great
success in the way of finding a solution. The supposition
that (1) the creed, rite or legend in question has
sprung up, so to speak, accidentally, in one place, and
then has travelled (owing to some inherent plausibility)
over the rest of the world, is of course one that commends
itself readily at first; but on closer examination the
practical difficulties it presents are certainly very great.
These include the migrations of customs and myths in quite
early ages of the earth across trackless oceans and continents,
and between races and peoples absolutely incapable
of understanding each other. And if to avoid
these difficulties it is assumed that the present human
race all proceeds from one original stock which radiating
from one centre--say in South-Eastern Asia[2]--overspread the
world, carrying its rites and customs with it, why, then we
are compelled to face the difficulty of supposing this radiation
to have taken place at an enormous time ago (the continents
being then all more or less conjoined) and at a period
when it is doubtful if any religious rites and customs
at all existed; not to mention the further difficulty of
supposing all the four or five hundred languages now existing
to be descended from one common source. The far
tradition of the Island of Atlantis seems to afford a possible
explanation of the community of rites and customs between
the Old and New World, and this without assuming
in any way that Atlantis (if it existed) was the
original and SOLE cradle of the human race.[3] Anyhow it
is clear that these origins of human culture must be of
extreme antiquity, and that it would not be wise to be
put off the track of the investigation of a possible common
source merely by that fact of antiquity.

[1] See A. Lang's Myth, Ritual and Religion, vol. ii.

[2] See Hastings, Encycl. Religion and Ethics, art. "Ethnology."

[3] E. J. Payne, History of the New World called America (vol. i,
p. 93) says: "It is certain that Europe and America once formed a
single continent," but inroads of the sea "left a vast island or
peninsula stretching from Iceland to the Azores--which gradually
disappeared." Also he speaks (i. 93) of the "Miocene Bridge"
between Siberia and the New World.

A second supposition, however, is (2) that the natural
psychological evolution of the human mind has in the various
times and climes led folk of the most diverse surroundings
and heredity--and perhaps even sprung from separate
anthropoid stocks--to develop their social and religious
ideas along the same general lines--and that even to the
extent of exhibiting at times a remarkable similarity in
minute details. This is a theory which commends itself
greatly to a deeper and more philosophical consideration;
but it brings us up point-blank against another
most difficult question (which we have already raised),
namely, how to account for extremely rude and primitive
peoples in the far past, and on the very borderland
of the animal life, having been SUSCEPTIBLE to the germs
of great religious ideas (such as we have mentioned) and
having been instinctively--though not of course by any process
of conscious reasoning--moved to express them in
symbols and rites and ceremonials, and (later no doubt)
in myths and legends, which satisfied their FEELINGS and
sense of fitness--though they may not have known WHY--
and afterwards were capable of being taken up and embodied
in the great philosophical religions.

This difficulty almost compels us to a view of human
knowledge which has found supporters among some able
thinkers--the view, namely, that a vast store of knowledge
is already contained in the subconscious mind of man
(and the animals) and only needs the provocation of outer
experience to bring it to the surface; and that in the second
stage of human psychology this process of crude and
piecemeal externalization is taking place, in preparation for
the final or third stage in which the knowledge will be
re-absorbed and become direct and intuitional on a high and
harmonious plane--something like the present intuition of
the animals as we perceive it on the animal plane. However
this general subject is one on which I shall touch
again, and I do not propose to dwell on it at any length now.

There is a third alternative theory (3)--a combination
of (1) and (2)--namely, that if one accepts (2) and the
idea that at any given stage of human development there
is a PREDISPOSITION to certain symbols and rites belonging to
that stage, then it is much more easy to accept theory (1)
as an important factor in the spread of such symbols
and rites; for clearly, then, the smallest germ of a custom
or practice, transported from one country or people
to another at the right time, would be sufficient to wake
the development or growth in question and stimulate it into
activity. It will be seen, therefore, that the important point
towards the solution of this whole puzzling question is the
discussion, of theory (2)--and to this theory, as illustrated
by the world-wide myth of the Golden Age, I will now turn.


The tradition of a "Golden Age" is widespread over the
world, and it is not necessary to go at any length into the
story of the Garden of Eden and the other legends which in
almost every country illustrate this tradition. Without
indulging in sentiment on the subject we may hold it not unlikely
that the tradition is justified by the remembrance,
among the people of every race, of a pre-civilization period
of comparative harmony and happiness when two things,
which to-day we perceive to be the prolific causes of discord
and misery, were absent or only weakly developed--namely,

[1] For a fuller working out of this, see Civilisation: its Cause
and Cure, by E. Carpenter, ch. i.

During the first century B.C. there was a great spread
of Messianic Ideas over the Roman world, and Virgil's
4th Eclogue, commonly called the Messianic Eclogue,
reflects very clearly this state of the public mind. The expected
babe in the poem was to be the son of Octavian (Augustus)
the first Roman emperor, and a messianic halo surrounded
it in Virgil's verse. Unfortunately it turned out to
be a GIRL! However there is little doubt that Virgil did--
in that very sad age of the world, an age of "misery
and massacre," and in common with thousands of others
--look for the coming of a great 'redeemer.' It was only
a few years earlier--about B.C. 70--that the great revolt
of the shamefully maltreated Roman slaves occurred,
and that in revenge six thousand prisoners from Spartacus'
army were nailed on crosses all the way from Rome to
Capua (150 miles). But long before this Hesiod had
recorded a past Golden Age when life had been gracious
in communal fraternity and joyful in peace, when human
beings and animals spoke the same language, when death
had followed on sleep, without old age or disease, and
after death men had moved as good daimones or genii over
the lands. Pindar, three hundred years after Hesiod, had
confirmed the existence of the Islands of the Blest, where
the good led a blameless, tearless, life. Plato the same,[1]
with further references to the fabled island of Atlantis;
the Egyptians believed in a former golden age under
the god R to which they looked back with regret and
envy; the Persians had a garden of Eden similar to
that of the Hebrews; the Greeks a garden of the Hesperides,
in which dwelt the serpent whose head was ultimately
crushed beneath the heel of Hercules; and so on.
The references to a supposed far-back state of peace and
happiness are indeed numerous.

[1] See arts. by Margaret Scholes, Socialist Review, Nov. and
Dec. 1912.

So much so that latterly, and partly to explain their prevalence,
a theory has been advanced which may be
worth while mentioning. It is called the "Theory of
intra-uterine Blessedness," and, remote as it may at first
appear, it certainly has some claim for attention. The
theory is that in the minds of mature people there still remain
certain vague memories of their pre-natal days in
the maternal womb--memories of a life which, though full
of growing vigor and vitality, was yet at that time
one of absolute harmony with the surroundings, and of
perfect peace and contentment, spent within the body of
the mother--the embryo indeed standing in the same 
relation to the mother as St. Paul says WE stand to God,
"IN whom we live and move and have our being"; and that
these vague memories of the intra-uterine life in the individual
are referred back by the mature mind to a past
age in the life of the RACE. Though it would not be easy
at present to positively confirm this theory, yet one may say
that it is neither improbable nor unworthy of consideration;
also that it bears a certain likeness to the former
ones about the Eden-gardens, etc. The well-known parallelism
of the Individual history with the Race-history,
the "recapitulation" by the embryo of the development of
the race, does in fact afford an additional argument for its
favorable reception.

These considerations, and what we have said so often in
the foregoing chapters about the unity of the Animals
(and Early Man) with Nature, and their instinctive and age-long
adjustment to the conditions of the world around them,
bring us up hard and fast against the following conclusions,
which I think we shall find difficult to avoid.

We all recognize the extraordinary grace and beauty,
in their different ways, of the (wild) animals; and not
only their beauty but the extreme fitness of their actions
and habits to their surroundings--their subtle and penetrating
Intelligence in fact. Only we do not generally use
the word "Intelligence." We use another word (Instinct)
--and rightly perhaps, because their actions are plainly not
the result of definite self-conscious reasoning, such as we use,
carried out by each individual; but are (as has been abundantly
proved by Samuel Butler and others) the systematic
expression of experiences gathered up and sorted
out and handed down from generation to generation in
the bosom of the race--an Intelligence in fact, or Insight,
of larger subtler scope than the other, and belonging
to the tribal or racial Being rather than to
the isolated individual--a super-consciousness in fact,
ramifying afar in space and time.

But if we allow (as we must) this unity and perfection
of nature, and this somewhat cosmic character of the
mind, to exist among the Animals, we can hardly refuse
to believe that there must have been a period when Man,
too, hardly as yet differentiated from them, did himself possess
these same qualities--perhaps even in greater degree than
the animals--of grace and beauty of body, perfection
of movement and action, instinctive perception and knowledge
(of course in limited spheres); and a period when
he possessed above all a sense of unity with his fellows
and with surrounding Nature which became the ground
of a common consciousness between himself and his tribe,
similar to that which Maeterlinck, in the case of the
Bees, calls the Spirit of the Hive.[1] It would be difficult,
nay impossible, to suppose that human beings on their
first appearance formed an entire exception in the process
of evolution, or that they were completely lacking
in the very graces and faculties which we so admire
in the animals--only of course we see that (LIKE the animals)
they would not be SELF-conscious in these matters, and what
perception they had of their relations to each other or to
the world around them would be largely inarticulate and
SUB-conscious--though none the less real for that.

[1] See The Life of the Bee by Maurice Maeterlinck; and for
numerous similar cases among other animals, P. Kropotkin's Mutual
Aid: a factor in Evolution.

Let us then grant this preliminary assumption--and it
clearly is not a large or hazardous one--and what follows?
It follows--since to-day discord is the rule, and
Man has certainly lost the grace, both physical and mental,
of the animals--that at some period a break must
have occurred in the evolution-process, a discontinuity--
similar perhaps to that which occurs in the life of a
child at the moment when it is born into the world. Humanity
took a new departure; but a departure which for the
moment was signalized as a LOSS--the loss of its former
harmony and self-adjustment. And the cause or accompaniment
of this change was the growth of Self-consciousness.
Into the general consciousness of the tribe (in relation
to its environment) which in fact had constituted the mentality
of the animals and of man up to this stage, there
now was intruded another kind of consciousness, a
consciousness centering round each little individual self
and concerned almost entirely with the interests of
the latter. Here was evidently a threat to the continuance
of the former happy conditions. It was like the appearance
of innumerable little ulcers in a human body--a
menace which if continued would inevitably lead to the
break-up of the body. It meant loss of tribal harmony and
nature-adjustment. It meant instead of unity a myriad
conflicting centres; it meant alienation from the spirit
of the tribe, the separation of man from man, discord,
recrimination, and the fatal unfolding of the sense of sin.
The process symbolized itself in the legend of the Fall. Man
ate of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Sometimes people wonder why knowledge of any kind
--and especially the knowledge of good and evil--should
have brought a curse. But the reason is obvious. Into,
the placid and harmonious life of the animal and human
tribes fulfilling their days in obedience to the slow evolutions
and age-long mandates of nature, Self-consciousness
broke with its inconvenient and impossible query:
"How do these arrangements suit ME? Are they good
for me, are they evil for me? I want to know. I
WILL KNOW!" Evidently knowledge (such knowledge as we
understand by the word) only began, and could only
begin, by queries relating to the little local self. There
was no other way for it to begin. Knowledge and self-
consciousness were born, as twins, together. Knowledge
therefore meant Sin[1]; for self-consciousness meant sin
(and it means sin to-day). Sin is Separation. That is
probably (though disputed) the etymology of the word--
that which sunders.[2] The essence of sin is one's separation
from the whole (the tribe or the god) of which one is a
part. And knowledge--which separates subject from object,
and in its inception is necessarily occupied with the
'good and evil' of the little local self, is the great engine
of this separation. [Mark! I say nothing AGAINST this association
of Self-consciousness with 'Sin' (so-called) and
'Knowledge' (so-called). The growth of all three together
is an absolutely necessary part of human evolution,
and to rail against it would be absurd. But we
may as well open our eyes and see the fact straight instead of
blinking it.] The culmination of the process and the
fulfilment of the 'curse' we may watch to-day in the
towering expansion of the self-conscious individualized
Intellect--science as the handmaid of human Greed devastating
the habitable world and destroying its unworthy
civilization. And the process must go on--necessarily
must go on--until Self-consciousness, ceasing its vain
quest (vain in both senses) for the separate domination
of life, surrenders itself back again into the arms
of the Mother-consciousness from which it originally sprang
--surrenders itself back, not to be merged in nonentity, but
to be affiliated in loving dependence on and harmony with the
cosmic life.

[1] Compare also other myths, like Cupid and Psyche, Lohengrin
etc., in which a fatal curiosity leads to tragedy.

[2] German Sunde, sin, and sonder, separated; Dutch zonde, sin;
Latin sons, guilty. Not unlikely that the German root Suhn,
expiation, is connected; Suhn-bock, a scape-goat.

All this I have dealt with in far more detail in Civilization:
its Cause and Cure, and in The Art of Creation; but I have
only repeated the outline of it as above, because some such
outline is necessary for the proper ordering and understanding
of the points which follow.

We are not concerned now with the ultimate effects of
the 'Fall' of Man or with the present-day fulfilment of
the Eden-curse. What we want to understand is how the
'Fall' into self-consciousness led to that great panorama
of Ritual and Religion which we have very briefly described
and summarized in the preceding chapters of
this book. We want for the present to fix our attention
on the COMMENCEMENT of that process by which man lapsed
away from his living community with Nature and his
fellows into the desert of discord and toil, while the angels
of the flaming sword closed the gates of Paradise behind him.

It is evident I think that in that 'golden' stage when man
was simply the crown and perfection of the animals--
and it is hardly possible to refuse the belief in such a
stage--he possessed in reality all the essentials of Religion.[1]
It is not necessary to sentimentalize over him; he was
probably raw and crude in his lusts of hunger and of sex;
he was certainly ignorant and superstitious; he loved
fighting with and persecuting 'enemies' (which things of
course all religions to-day--except perhaps the Buddhist
--love to do); he was dominated often by unreasoning Fear,
and was consequently cruel. Yet he was full of that
Faith which the animals have to such an admirable degree
--unhesitating faith in the inner promptings of his OWN
nature; he had the joy which comes of abounding vitality,
springing up like a fountain whose outlet is free and
unhindered; he rejoiced in an untroubled and unbroken
sense of unity with his Tribe, and in elaborate social and
friendly institutions within its borders; he had a marvelous
sense-acuteness towards Nature and a gift in that direction
verging towards "second-sight"; strengthened by a
conviction--which had never become CONSCIOUS because
it had never been QUESTIONED-- of his own personal relation
to the things outside him, the Earth, the Sky, the Vegetation,
the Animals. Of such a Man we get glimpses in
the far past--though indeed only glimpses, for the simple
reason that all our knowledge of him comes through civilized
channels; and wherever civilization has touched these
early peoples it has already withered and corrupted them,
even before it has had the sense to properly observe them.
It is sufficient, however, just to mention peoples like some
of the early Pacific Islanders, the Zulus and Kafirs of
South Africa, the Fans of the Congo Region (of whom
Winwood Reade[2] speaks so highly), some of the Malaysian
and Himalayan tribes, the primitive Chinese, and even the
evidence with regard to the neolithic peoples of Europe,[3]
in order to show what I mean.

[1] See S. Reinach, Cults, Myths, etc., introduction: "The
primitive life of humanity, in so far as it is not purely animal,
is religious. Religion is the parent stem which has thrown off,
one by one, art, agriculture, law, morality, politics, etc."

[2] Savage Africa, ch. xxxvii.

[3] See Kropotkin's Mutual Aid, ch. iii.

Perhaps one of the best ideas of the gulf of difference
between the semi-civilized and the quite primal man is given
by A. R. Wallace in his Life (Vol. i, p. 288): "A most
unexpected sensation of surprise and delight was my first
meeting and living with man in a state of nature with
absolute uncontaminated savages! This was on the
Uaupes river. . . . They were all going about their own work
or pleasure, which had nothing to do with the white men
or their ways; they walked with the free step of the
independent forest-dweller . . . original and self-sustaining
as the wild animals of the forests, absolutely independent
of civilization . . . living their own lives in their
own way, as they had done for countless generations
before America was discovered. Indeed the true denizen
of the Amazonian forests, like the forest itself, is unique and
not to be forgotten." Elsewhere[3] Wallace speaks of the
quiet, good-natured, inoffensive character of these
copper-colored peoples, and of their quickness of hand and
skill, and continues: "their figures are generally superb;
and I have never felt so much pleasure in gazing at the
finest statue as at these living illustrations of the beauty of
the human form."

[3] Travels on the Amazon (1853), ch. xvii.

Though some of the peoples just mentioned may be said
to belong to different grades or stages of human evolution
and physically some no doubt were far superior
to others, yet they mostly exhibit this simple grace of
the bodily and mental organism, as well as that closeness of
tribal solidarity of which I have spoken. The immense
antiquity, of the clan organization, as shown by investigations
into early marriage, points to the latter conclusion.
Travellers among Bushmen, Hottentots, Fuegians, Esquimaux,
Papuans and other peoples--peoples who have been
pushed aside into unfavorable areas by the invasion of more
warlike and better-equipped races, and who have suffered
physically in consequence--confirm this. Kropotkin, speaking
of the Hottentots, quotes the German author P. Kolben
who travelled among them in 1275 or so. "He
knew the Hottentots well and did not pass by their defects
in silence, but could not praise their tribal morality
highly enough. Their word is sacred, he wrote, they know
nothing of the corruption and faithless arts of Europe. They
live in great tranquillity and are seldom at war with their
neighbors, and are all kindness and goodwill to one 
another."[1] Kropotkin further says: "Let me remark that
when Kolben says 'they are certainly the most friendly,
the most liberal and the most benevolent people to one
another that ever appeared on the earth' he wrote a sentence
which has continually appeared since in the description
of savages. When first meeting with primitive races,
the Europeans usually make a caricature of their
life; but when an intelligent man has stayed among them
for a longer time he generally describes them as the
'kindest' or the 'gentlest' race on the earth. These
very same words have been applied to the Ostyaks, the
Samoyedes, the Eskimos, the Dyaks, the Aleuts, the
Papuans, and so on, by the highest authorities. I also
remember having read them applied to the Tunguses,
the Tchuktchis, the Sioux, and several others. The very
frequency of that high commendation already speaks volumes
in itself."[2]

[1] P. Kropotkin, Mutual Aid, p. 90. W. J. Solias also speaks in
terms of the highest praise of the Bushmen--"their energy,
patience, courage, loyalty, affection, good manners and artistic
sense" (Ancient Hunters, 1915, p. 425).

[2] Ibid, p. 91.

Many of the tribes, like the Aleuts, Eskimos, Dyaks,
Papuans, Fuegians, etc., are themselves in the Neolithic
stage of culture--though for the reason given above probably
degenerated physically from the standard of their
neolithic ancestors; and so the conclusion is forced upon
one that there must have been an IMMENSE PERIOD,[1] prior
to the first beginnings of 'civilization,' in which the
human tribes in general led a peaceful and friendly life
on the earth, comparatively little broken up by dissensions,
in close contact with Nature and in that degree of
sympathy with and understanding of the Animals which led to
the establishment of the Totem system. Though it would
be absurd to credit these tribes with any great degree
of comfort and well-being according to our modern
standards, yet we may well suppose that the memory of
this long period lingered on for generations and generations
and was ultimately idealized into the Golden Age,
in contrast to the succeeding period of everlasting warfare,
rancor and strife, which came in with the growth of Property
with its greeds and jealousies, and the accentuation of
Self-consciousness with all its vanities and

[1] See for estimates of periods ch. xiv; also, for the
peacefulness of these early peoples, Havelock Ellis on "The
Origin of War," where he says "We do not find the WEAPONS of
warfare or the WOUNDS of warfare among these Palaeolithic remains
. . . it was with civilization that the art of killing developed,
i. e. within the last 10,000 or 12,000 years when Neolithic men
(who became our ancestors) were just arriving."

I say that each tribe at this early stage of development
had within it the ESSENTIALS of what we call Religion--
namely a bedrock sense of its community with Nature, and of
the Common life among its members--a sense so intimate
and fundamental that it was hardly aware of itself (any
more than the fish is aware of the sea in which it lives),
but yet was really the matrix of tribal thought and the
spring of tribal action. It was this sense of unity which
was destined by the growth of SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS to come to light
and evidence in the shape of all manner of rituals and
ceremonials; and by the growth of the IMAGINATIVE INTELLECT to
embody itself in the figures and forms of all manner of deities.

Let us examine into this a little more closely. A lark
soaring in the eye of the sun, and singing rapt between
its "heaven and home" realizes no doubt in actual fact
all that those two words mean to us; yet its realization
is quite subconscious. It does not define its own experience:
it FEELS but it does not THINK. In order to come to
the stage of THINKING it would perhaps be necessary that
the lark should be exiled from the earth and the sky, and
confined in a cage. Early Man FELT the great truths and
realities of Life--often I believe more purely than we do
--but he could not give form to his experience. THAT
stage came when he began to lose touch with these realities;
and it showed itself in rites and ceremonials. The inbreak
of self-consciousness brought OUT the facts of his inner
life into ritualistic and afterwards into intellectual forms.

Let me give examples. For a long time the Tribe is
all in all; the individual is completely subject to the
'Spirit of the Hive'; he does not even THINK of contravening
it. Then the day comes when self-interest, as
apart from the Tribe, becomes sufficiently strong to drive
him against some tribal custom. He breaks the tabu;
he eats the forbidden apple; he sins against the tribe,
and is cast out. Suddenly he finds himself an exile,
lonely, condemned and deserted. A horrible sense of distress
seizes him--something of which he had no experience
before. He tries to think about it all, to understand the
situation, but is dazed and cannot arrive at any conclusion.
His one NECESSITY is Reconciliation, Atonement. He finds he
cannot LIVE outside of and alienated from his tribe. He
makes a Sacrifice, an offering to his fellows, as a seal of
sincerity--an offering of his own bodily suffering or precious
blood, or the blood of some food-animal, or some valuable
gift or other--if only he may be allowed to return. The
offering is accepted. The ritual is performed; and he
is received back. I have already spoken of this perfectly
natural evolution of the twin-ideas of Sin and Sacrifice,
so I need not enlarge upon the subject. But two things
we may note here: (1) that the ritual, being so concrete
(and often severe), graves itself on the minds of those
concerned, and expresses the feelings of the tribe, with
an intensity and sharpness of outline which no words
could rival, and (2) that such rituals may have, and probably
did, come into use even while language itself was in an infantile
condition and incapable of dealing with the psychological
situation except by symbols. They, the rituals,
were the first effort of the primitive mind to get beyond,
subconscious feeling and emerge into a world of forms
and definite thought.

Let us carry the particular instance, given above, a
stage farther, even to the confines of abstract Thought
and Philosophy. I have spoken of "The Spirit of the
Hive" as if the term were applicable to the Human as
well as to the Bee tribe. The individual bee obviously
has never THOUGHT about that 'Spirit,' nor mentally understood
what Maeterlinck means by it; and yet in terms
of actual experience it is an intense reality to the bee
(ordaining for instance on some fateful day the slaughter
of all the drones), controlling bee-movements and bee-
morality generally. The individual tribesman similarly
steeped in the age-long human life of his fellows has never
thought of the Tribe as an ordaining being or Spirit, separate
from himself--TILL that day when he is exiled and outcast
from it. THEN he sees himself and the tribe as two opposing
beings, himself of course an Intelligence or Spirit in his own
limited degree, the Tribe as a much greater Intelligence
or Spirit, standing against and over him. From that day
the conception of a god arises on him. It may be only
a totem-god--a divine Grizzly-Bear or what not--but still
a god or supernatural Presence, embodied in the life of
the tribe. This is what Sin has taught him.[1] This is
what Fear, founded on self-consciousness, has revealed to
him. The revelation may be true, or it may be fallacious (I
do not prejudge it); but there it is--the beginning of that
long series of human evolutions which we call Religion.

[1] It is to be noted, in that charming idyll of the Eden garden,
that it is only AFTER eating of the forbidden fruit that Adam and
Eve perceive the Lord God walking in the garden, and converse
with him (Genesis iii. 8).

[For when the human mind has reached that stage of
consciousness in which each man realizes his own 'self' as
a rational and consistent being, "looking before and
after," then, as I have said already, the mind projects
on the background of Nature similarly rational Presences
which we may call 'Gods'; and at that stage 'Religion'
begins. Before that, when the mind is quite unformed
and dream-like, and consists chiefly of broken and scattered
rays, and when distinct self-consciousness is hardly
yet developed, then the presences imagined in Nature are
merely flickering and intermittent phantoms, and their
propitiation and placation comes more properly under, the
head of 'Magic.']

So much for the genesis of the religious ideas of Sin
and Sacrifice, and the rites connected with these ideas--
their genesis through the in-break of self-consciousness
upon the corporate SUB-consciousness of the life of the
Community. But an exactly similar process may be observed
in the case of the other religious ideas.

I spoke of the doctrine of the SECOND BIRTH, and the rites
connected with it both in Paganism and in Christianity.
There is much to show that among quite primitive peoples
there is less of shrinking from death and more of certainty
about a continued life after death than we generally find
among more intellectual and civilized folk. It is, or has
been, quite, common among many tribes for the old and
decrepit, who are becoming a burden to their fellows,
to offer themselves for happy dispatch, and to take willing
part in the ceremonial preparations for their own extinction;
and this readiness is encouraged by their nave and
untroubled belief in a speedy transference to "happy
hunting-grounds" beyond the grave. The truth is that
when, as in such cases, the tribal life is very whole and
unbroken--each individual identifying himself completely with
the tribe--the idea of the individual's being dropped out
at death, and left behind by the tribe, hardly arises. The
individual is the tribe, has no other existence. The
tribe goes on, living a life which is eternal, and only
changes its hunting-grounds; and the individual, identified
with the tribe, feels in some subconscious way the same about

But when one member has broken faith with the tribe,
when he has sinned against it and become an outcast--
ah! then the terrors of death and extinction loom large
upon him. "The wages of sin is death." There comes
a period in the evolution of tribal life when the primitive
bonds are loosening, when the tendency towards SELF-will and
SELF-determination (so necessary of course in the long
run for the evolution of humanity) becomes a real danger
to the tribe, and a terror to the wise men and elders of the
community. It is seen that the children inherit this
tendency--even from their infancy. They are no longer
mere animals, easily herded; it seems that they are born
in sin--or at least in ignorance and neglect of their tribal
life and calling. The only cure is that they MUST BE BORN
AGAIN. They must deliberately and of set purpose be adopted
into the tribe, and be made to realize, even severely,
in their own persons what is happening. They must go
through the initiations necessary to impress this upon them.
Thus a whole series of solemn rites spring up, different
no doubt in every locality, but all having the same object
and purpose. [And one can understand how the
necessity of such initiations and second birth may easily
have been itself felt in every race, at some stage of
its evolution--and THAT quite as a spontaneous growth, and
independently of any contagion of example caught from
other races.]

The same may be said about the world-wide practice of
the Eucharist. No more effective method exists for
impressing on the members of a body their community
of life with each other, and causing them to forget their
jangling self-interests, than to hold a feast in common.
It is a method which has been honored in all ages as
well as to-day. But when the flesh partaken of at the feast
is that of the Totem--the guardian and presiding genius of
the tribe--or perhaps of one of its chief food-animals--
then clearly the feast takes on a holy and solemn character.
It becomes a sacrament of unity--of the unity of all with
the tribe, and with each other. Self-interests and self-
consciousness are for the time submerged, and the common
life asserts itself; but here again we see that a
custom like this would not come into being as a deliberate
rite UNTIL self-consciousness and the divisions consequent
thereon had grown to be an obvious evil. The herd-
animals (cows, sheep, and so forth) do not have Eucharists,
simply because they are sensible enough to feed along the
same pastures without quarrelling over the richest tufts
of grass.

When the flesh partaken of (either actually or symbolically)
is not that of a divinized animal, but the flesh
of a human-formed god--as in the mysteries of Dionysus
or Osiris or Christ--then we are led to suspect (and of course
this theory is widely held and supported) that the rites
date from a very far-back period when a human
being, as representative of the tribe, was actually slain,
dismembered and partly devoured; though as time went
on, the rite gradually became glossed over and mitigated
into a love-communion through the sharing of bread and wine.

It is curious anyhow that the dismemberment or division
into fragments of the body of a god (as in the case of Dionysus,
Osiris, Attis, Prajpati and others) should be so
frequent a tenet of the old religions, and so commonly associated
with a love-feast of reconciliation and resurrection.
It may be fairly interpreted as a symbol of Nature-dismemberment
in Winter and resurrection in Spring; but we must
also not forget that it may (and indeed must) have stood
as an allegory of TRIBAL dismemberment and reconciliation--
the tribe, conceived of as a divinity, having thus suffered
and died through the inbreak of sin and the self-motive, and
risen again into wholeness by the redemption of
love and sacrifice. Whatever view the rank and file of the
tribe may have taken of the matter, I think it is incontestable
that the more thoughtful regarded these rites as full of
mystic and spiritual meaning. It is of the nature, as
I have said before, of these early symbols and ceremonies
that they held so many meanings in solution; and it is
this fact which gave them a poetic or creative quality,
and their great hold upon the public mind.

I use the word "tribe" in many places here as a matter
of convenience; not forgetting however that in some
cases "clan" might be more appropriate, as referring to a
section of a tribe; or "people" or "folk" as referring
to unions of SEVERAL tribes. It is impossible of course to
follow out all the gradations of organization from tribal up
to national life; but it may be remembered that while
animal totems prevail as a rule in the earlier stages, human-
formed gods become more conspicuous in the later developments.
All through, the practice of the Eucharist goes
on, in varying forms adapting itself to the surrounding
conditions; and where in the later societies a religion
like Mithraism or Christianity includes people of very
various race, the Rite loses quite naturally its tribal
significance and becomes a celebration of allegiance to a
particular god--of unity within a special Church, in fact.
Ultimately it may become--as for a brief moment in the history of
the early Christians it seemed likely to do--a celebration of
allegiance to all Humanity, irrespective of race or creed
or color of skin or of mind: though unfortunately that day
seems still far distant and remains yet unrealized. It
must not be overlooked, however, that the religion of
the Persian Bb, first promulgated in 1845 to 1850--and
a subject I shall deal with presently--had as a matter of
fact this all embracing and universal scope.

To return to the Golden Age or Garden of Eden. Our
conclusion seems to be that there really was such a period
of comparative harmony in human life--to which later
generations were justified in looking back, and looking back
with regret. It corresponded in the psychology of human
Evolution to stage One. The second stage was
that of the Fall; and so one is inevitably led to the
conjecture and the hope that a third stage will redeem the
earth and its inhabitants to a condition of comparative


From the consideration of the world-wide belief in a past
Golden Age, and the world-wide practice of the Eucharist,
in the sense indicated in the last chapter, to that of the
equally widespread belief in a human-divine Saviour, is
a brief and easy step. Some thirty years ago, dealing
with this subject,[1] I wrote as follows:--"The true Self
of man consists in his organic relation with the whole body
of his fellows; and when the man abandons his true Self
he abandons also his true relation to his fellows. The
mass-Man must rule in each unit-man, else the unit-man
will drop off and die. But when the outer man tries to
separate himself from the inner, the unit-man from the
mass-Man, then the reign of individuality begins--a false
and impossible individuality of course, but the only means
of coming to the consciousness of the true individuality."
And further, "Thus this divinity in each creature, being
that which constitutes it and causes it to cohere together,
was conceived of as that creature's saviour, healer--healer
of wounds of body and wounds of heart--the Man within
the man, whom it was not only possible to know, but whom
to know and be united with was the alone salvation. This,
I take it, was the law of health--and of holiness--as
accepted at some elder time of human history, and by
us seen as through a glass darkly."

[1] See Civilisation: its Cause and Cure, ch. i.

I think it is impossible not to see--however much in our
pride of Civilization (!) we like to jeer at the pettinesses
of tribal life--that these elder people perceived as a matter
of fact and direct consciousness the redeeming presence
(within each unit-member of the group) of the larger life
to which he belonged. This larger life was a reality--
"a Presence to be felt and known"; and whether he
called it by the name of a Totem-animal, or by the name
of a Nature-divinity, or by the name of some gracious
human-limbed God--some Hercules, Mithra, Attis, Orpheus,
or what-not--or even by the great name of Humanity
itself, it was still in any case the Saviour, the living
incarnate Being by the realization of whose presence the little
mortal could be lifted out of exile and error and death and
suffering into splendor and life eternal.

It is impossible, I think, not to see that the myriad worship
of "Saviours" all over the world, from China to Peru,
can only be ascribed to the natural working of some such
law of human and tribal psychology--from earliest times
and in all races the same--springing up quite spontaneously
and independently, and (so far) unaffected by the mere
contagion of local tradition. To suppose that the Devil,
long before the advent of Christianity, put the idea into
the heads of all these earlier folk, is really to pay TOO great
a compliment both to the power and the ingenuity of his
Satanic Majesty--though the ingenuity with which the
early Church DID itself suppress all information about these
pre-Christian Saviours almost rivals that which it credited
to Satan! And on the other hand to suppose this marvellous
and universal consent of belief to have sprung
by mere contagion from one accidental source would seem
equally far-fetched and unlikely.

But almost more remarkable than the world-encircling
belief in human-divine Saviours is the equally widespread
legend of their birth from Virgin-mothers. There is hardly
a god--as we have already had occasion to see--whose
worship as a benefactor of mankind attained popularity
in any of the four continents, Europe, Asia, Africa and
America--who was not reported to have been born from a
Virgin, or at least from a mother who owed the Child
not to any earthly father, but to an impregnation from
Heaven. And this seems at first sight all the more
astonishing because the belief in the possibility of such
a thing is so entirely out of the line of our modern thought.
So that while it would seem not unnatural that such a legend
should have, sprung up spontaneously in some odd benighted
corner of the world, we find it very difficult to
understand how in that case it should have spread so rapidly
in every direction, or--if it did not spread--how we are
to account for its SPONTANEOUS appearance in all these
widely sundered regions.

I think here, and for the understanding of this problem,
we are thrown back upon a very early age of human
evolution--the age of Magic. Before any settled science
or philosophy or religion existed, there were still certain
Things--and consequently also certain Words--which had
a tremendous influence on the human mind, which in fact
affected it deeply. Such a word, for instance, is 'Thunder';
to hear thunder, to imitate it, even to mention it, are sure
ways of rousing superstitious attention and imagination.
Such another word is 'Serpent,' another 'Tree,' and so
forth. There is no one who is insensible to the reverberation
of these and other such words and images[1]; and
among them, standing prominently out, are the two
'Mother' and 'Virgin.' The word Mother touches the deepest
springs of human feeling. As the earliest word
learnt and clung to by the child, it twines itself with the
heart-strings of the man even to his latest day. Nor
must we forget that in a primitive state of society (the
Matriarchate) that influence was probably even greater
than now; for the father of the child being (often as not)
UNKNOWN the attachment to the mother was all the more
intense and undivided. The word Mother had a magic about
it which has remained even until to-day. But if that
word rooted itself deep in the heart of the Child, the
other word 'virgin' had an obvious magic for the full
grown and sexually mature Man--a magic which it, too,
has never lost.

[1] Nor is it difficult to see how out of the discreet use of
such words and images, combined with elementary forms like the
square, the triangle and the circle, and elementary numbers like
3, 4, 5, etc., quite a science, so to speak, of Magic arose.

There is ample evidence that one of the very earliest objects
of human worship was the Earth itself, conceived of
as the fertile Mother of all things. Gaia or Ge (the earth)
had temples and altars in almost all the cities of Greece.
Rhea or Cybele, sprung from the Earth, was "mother of
all the gods." Demeter ("earth mother") was honored
far and wide as the gracious patroness of the crops and
vegetation. Ceres, of course, the same. Maia in the Indian
mythology and Isis in the Egyptian are forms of Nature
and the Earth-spirit, represented as female; and so
forth. The Earth, in these ancient cults , was the mystic
source of all life, and to it, as a propitiation, life of all
kinds was sacrificed. [There are strange accounts of a huge
fire being made, with an altar to Cybele in the midst, and
of deer and fawns and wild animals, and birds and sheep and
corn and fruits being thrown pell-mell into the flames.[1]]
It was, in a way, the most natural, as it seems to have been
the earliest and most spontaneous of cults--the worship
of the Earth-mother, the all-producing eternal source of
life, and on account of her never-failing ever-renewed
fertility conceived of as an immortal Virgin.

[1] See Pausanias iv. 32. 6; and Lucian, De Syria Dea, 49.

But when the Saviour-legend sprang up--as indeed I
think it must have sprung up, in tribe after tribe and
people after people, independently--then, whether it
sprang from the divinization of some actual man who
showed the way of light and deliverance to his fellows
"sitting in darkness," or whether from the personification
of the tribe itself as a god, in either case the question of the
hero's parentage was bound to arise. If the 'saviour'
was plainly a personification of the tribe, it was obviously
impossible to suppose him the son of a mortal mother. In
that case--and if the tribe was generally traced in the
legends to some primeval Animal or Mountain or thing
of Nature--it was probably easy to think of him (the
saviour) as, born out of Nature's womb, descended perhaps
from that pure Virgin of the World who is the
Earth and Nature, who rules the skies at night, and stands
in the changing phases of the Moon, and is worshiped
(as we have seen) in the great constellation Virgo. If, on
the other hand, he was the divinization of some actual
man, more or less known either personally or by tradition to
his fellows, then in all probability the name of his mortal
mother would be recognized and accepted; but as to his
father, that side of parentage being, as we have said,
generally very uncertain, it would be easy to suppose some
heavenly Annunciation, the midnight visit of a God, and what
is usually termed a Virgin-birth.

There are two elements to be remembered here, as conspiring
to this conclusion. One is the condition of affairs
in a remote matriarchial period, when descent was reckoned
always through the maternal line, and the fatherhood
in each generation was obscure or unknown or
commonly left out of account; and the other is the
fact--so strange and difficult for us to realize--that among
some very primitive peoples, like the Australian aborigines,
the necessity for a woman to have intercourse with a
male, in order to bring about conception and child-birth,
was actually not recognized. Scientific observation had not
always got as far as that, and the matter was still under
the domain of Magic![1] A Virgin-Mother was therefore a
quite imaginable (not to say 'conceivable') thing; and indeed
a very beautiful and fascinating thing, combining
in one image the potent magic of two very wonderful
words. It does not seem impossible that considerations
of this kind led to the adoption of the doctrine or legend
of the virgin-mother and the heavenly father among so many
races and in so many localities--even without any contagion
of tradition among them.

[1] Probably the long period (nine months) elapsing between
cohabitation and childbirth confused early speculation on the
subject. Then clearly cohabitation was NOT always followed by
childbirth. And, more important still, the number of virgins of a
mature age in primitive societies was so very minute that the
fact of their childlessness attracted no attention--whereas in
OUR societies the sterility of the whole class is patent to

Anyhow, and as a matter of fact, the world-wide dissemination
of the legend is most remarkable. Zeus, Father
of the gods, visited Semele, it will be remembered, in the
form of a thunderstorm; and she gave birth to the great
saviour and deliverer Dionysus. Zeus, again, impregnated
Danae in a shower of gold; and the child was Perseus, who
slew the Gorgons (the powers of darkness) and saved
Andromeda (the human soul[1]). Devaki, the radiant Virgin
of the Hindu mythology, became the wife of the
god Vishnu and bore Krishna, the beloved hero and prototype
of Christ. With regard to Buddha St. Jerome
says[2] "It is handed down among the Gymnosophists, of India
that Buddha, the founder of their system, was brought forth
by a Virgin from her side." The Egyptian Isis, with
the child Horus, on her knee, was honored centuries
before the Christian era, and worshiped under the names
of "Our Lady," "Queen of Heaven," "Star of the Sea,"
"Mother of God," and so forth. Before her, Neith, the
Virgin of the World, whose figure bends from the sky over
the earthly plains and the children of men, was acclaimed
as mother of the great god Osiris. The saviour Mithra,
too, was born of a Virgin, as we have had occasion to
notice before; and on the Mithrais monuments the mother
suckling her child is a not uncommon figure.[3]

[1] For this interpretation of the word Andromeda see The Perfect
Way by Edward Maitland, preface to First Edition, 1881.

[2] Contra Jovian, Book I; and quoted by Rhys Davids in his

[3] See Doane's Bible Myths, p. 332, and Dupuis' Origins of
Religious Beliefs.

The old Teutonic goddess Hertha (the Earth) was a Virgin,
but was impregnated by the heavenly Spirit (the
Sky); and her image with a child in her arms was to
be seen in the sacred groves of Germany.[1] The Scandinavian
Frigga, in much the same way, being caught in the embraces
of Odin, the All-father, conceived and bore a son, the
blessed Balder, healer and saviour of mankind. Quetzalcoatl,
the (crucified) saviour of the Aztecs, was the son of
Chimalman, the Virgin Queen of Heaven.[2] Even the Chinese
had a mother-goddess and virgin with child in her arms[3];
and the ancient Etruscans the same.[4]

[1] R. P. Knight's Ancient Art and Mythology, p. 21.

[2] See Kingsborough's Mexican Antiquities, vol. vi, p. 176,
where it is said "an ambassador was sent from heaven on an
embassy to a Virgin of Tulan, called Chimalman . . . announcing
that it was the will of the God that she should conceive a son;
and having delivered her the message he rose and left the house;
and as soon as he had left it she conceived a son, without
connection with man, who was called Quetzalcoat], who they say is
the god of air." Further, it is explained that Quetzalcoatl
sacrificed himself, drawing forth his own blood with thorns; and
that the word Quetzalcoatlotopitzin means "our well-beloved son."

[3] Doane, p. 327.

[4] See Inman's Pagan and Christian Symbolism, p. 27.

Finally, we have the curiously large number of BLACK
virgin mothers who are or have been worshiped. Not
only cases like Devaki the Indian goddess, or Isis the
Egyptian, who would naturally appear black-skinned or
dark; but the large number of images and paintings of
the same kind, yet extant--especially in the Italian
churches--and passing for representations of Mary and
the infant Jesus. Such are the well-known image in the
chapel at Loretto, and images and paintings besides in
the churches at Genoa, Pisa, Padua, Munich and other
places. It is difficult not to regard these as very old Pagan
or pre-Christian relics which lingered on into Christian
times and were baptized anew--as indeed we know many
relics and images actually were--into the service of the
Church. "Great is Diana of the Ephesians"; and there is
I believe more than one black figure extant of this
Diana, who, though of course a virgin, is represented
with innumerable breasts[1]--not unlike some of the archaic
statues of Artemis and Isis. At Paris, far on into Christian
times there was, it is said, on the site of the present
Cathedral of Notre Dame, a Temple dedicated to 'our Lady'
Isis; and images belonging to the earlier shrine would
in all probability be preserved with altered name in the

[1] See illustration, p. 30, in Inman's Pagan and Christian

All this illustrates not only the wide diffusion of the doctrine
of the Virgin-mother, but its extreme antiquity.
The subject is obscure, and worthy of more consideration
than has yet been accorded it; and I do not feel able to
add anything to the tentative explanations given a page
or two back, except perhaps to suppose that the vision
of the Perfect Man hovered dimly over the mind of the
human race on its first emergence from the purely animal
stage; and that a quite natural speculation with
regard to such a being was that he would be born from a
Perfect Woman--who according to early ideas would
necessarily be the Virgin Earth itself, mother of all things.
Anyhow it was a wonderful Intuition, slumbering as it
would seem in the breast of early man, that the Great Earth
after giving birth to all living creatures would at last bring
forth a Child who should become the Saviour of the
human race.

There is of course the further theory, entertained by
some, that virgin-parturition--a kind of Parthenogenesis--
has as a matter of fact occasionally occurred among mortal
women, and even still does occur. I should be the last
to deny the POSSIBILITY of this (or of anything else in Nature),
but, seeing the immense difficulties in the way of PROOF of
any such asserted case, and the absence so far of any
thoroughly attested and verified instance, it would, I
think, be advisable to leave this theory out of account
at present.

But whether any of the EXPLANATIONS spoken of are right
or wrong, and whatever explanation we adopt, there remains
the FACT of the universality over the world of this legend--
affording another instance of the practical solidarity and
continuity of the Pagan Creeds with Christianity.


It is unnecessary to labor the conclusion of the last two
or three chapters, namely that Christianity grew out of the
former Pagan Creeds and is in its general outlook and
origins continuous and of one piece with them. I have
not attempted to bring together ALL the evidence in favor
of this contention, as such work would be too vast, but more
illustrations of its truth will doubtless occur to readers, or
will emerge as we proceed.

I think we may take it as proved (1) that from the earliest
ages, and before History, a great body of religious belief
and ritual--first appearing among very primitive and
unformed folk, whom we should call 'savages'--has come
slowly down, broadening and differentiating itself on the
way into a great variety of forms, but embodying always
certain main ideas which became in time the accepted
doctrines of the later Churches--the Indian, the
Egyptian, the Mithraic, the Christian, and so forth. What
these ideas in their general outline have been we can
perhaps best judge from our "Apostles' Creed," as it is
recited every Sunday in our churches.

"I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven
and earth: And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who
was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin
Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead
and buried. He descended into Hell; the third day he rose
again from the dead, He ascended into heaven, and
sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from
thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I
believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy Catholic Church;
the communion of Saints; the Forgiveness of sins; the
Resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen."

Here we have the All-Father and Creator, descending from
the Sky in the form of a spirit to impregnate the earthly
Virgin-mother, who thus gives birth to a Saviour-hero.
The latter is slain by the powers of Evil, is buried and
descends into the lower world, but arises again as God
into heaven and becomes the leader and judge of mankind.
We have the confirmation of the Church (or,
in earlier times, of the Tribe) by means of a Eucharist
or Communion which binds together all the members,
living or dead, and restores errant individuals through
the Sacrifice of the hero and the Forgiveness of their sins;
and we have the belief in a bodily Resurrection and continued
life of the members within the fold of the Church
(or Tribe), itself regarded as eternal.

One has only, instead of the word 'Jesus,' to read Dionysus
or Krishna or Hercules or Osiris or Attis, and instead
of 'Mary' to insert Semele or Devaki or Alcmene
or Neith or Nana, and for Pontius Pilate to use the name
of any terrestrial tyrant who comes into the corresponding
story, and lo! the creed fits in all particulars into the
rites and worship of a pagan god. I need not enlarge
upon a thesis which is self-evident from all that has gone
before. I do not say, of course, that ALL the religious
beliefs of Paganism are included and summarized in our
Apostles' Creed, for--as I shall have occasion to note in the
next chapter--I think some very important religious elements
are there OMITTED; but I do think that all the beliefs which
ARE summarized in the said creed had already been fully
represented and elaborately expressed in the non-Christian
religions and rituals of Paganism.

Further (2) I think we may safely say that there is no
certain proof that the body of beliefs just mentioned sprang
from any one particular centre far back and radiated thence
by dissemination and mental contagion over the rest of the
world; but the evidence rather shows that these beliefs
were, for the most part, the SPONTANEOUS outgrowths (in
various localities) of the human mind at certain stages of
its evolution; that they appeared, in the different races
and peoples, at different periods according to the degree
of evolution, and were largely independent of intercourse
and contagion, though of course, in cases, considerably
influenced by it; and that one great and all-important
occasion and provocative of these beliefs was actually
the RISE OF SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS--that is, the coming of the
mind to a more or less distinct awareness of itself and of its
own operation, and the consequent development and growth
of Individualism, and of the Self-centred attitude in human
thought and action.

In the third place (3) I think we may see--and this is the
special subject of the present chapter--that at a very early
period, when humanity was hardly capable of systematic
expression in what we call Philosophy or Science,
it could not well rise to an ordered and literary expression
of its beliefs, such as we find in the later religions and
the 'Churches' (Babylonian, Jewish, East Indian, Christian,
or what-not), and yet that it FELT these beliefs very intensely
and was urged, almost compelled, to their utterance in
some form or other. And so it came about that people
expressed themselves in a vast mass of ritual and myth--
customs, ceremonies, legends, stories--which on account
of their popular and concrete form were handed down
for generations, and some of which linger on still in the
midst of our modern civilization. These rituals and legends
were, many of them, absurd enough, rambling and childish
in character, and preposterous in conception, yet they gave
the expression needed; and some of them of course, as we
have seen, were full of meaning and suggestion.

A critical and commercial Civilization, such as ours,
in which (notwithstanding much TALK about Art) the artistic
sense is greatly lacking, or at any rate but little diffused,
does not as a rule understand that poetic RITES,
in the evolution of peoples, came naturally before anything
like ordered poems or philosophy or systematized VIEWS
about life and religion--such as WE love to wallow in!
Things were FELT before they were spoken. The loading
of diseases into disease-boats, of sins onto scape-goats, the
propitiation of the forces of nature by victims, human or
animal, sacrifices, ceremonies of re-birth, eucharistic feasts,
sexual communions, orgiastic celebrations of the common
life, and a host of other things--all SAID plainly enough what
was meant, but not in WORDS. Partly no doubt it was
that at some early time words were more difficult of
command and less flexible in use than actions (and at
all times are they not less expressive?). Partly it was
that mankind was in the child-stage. The Child delights
in ritual, in symbol, in expression through material objects
and actions:

 See, at his feet some little plan or chart,
 Some fragment from his dream of human life,
 Shaped by himself with newly learned art;
     A wedding or a festival,
     A mourning or a funeral;
          And this hath now his heart.

And primitive man in the child-stage felt a positive joy in
ritual celebrations, and indulged in expressions which we but
little understand; for these had then his heart.

One of the most pregnant of these expressions was DANCING.
Children dance instinctively. They dance with rage;
they dance with joy, with sheer vitality; they dance
with pain, or sometimes with savage glee at the suffering
of others; they delight in mimic combats, or in
animal plays and disguises. There are such things as
Courting-dances, when the mature male and female go
through a ritual together--not only in civilized ball-rooms
and the back-parlors of inns, but in the farmyards where
the rooster pays his addresses to the hen, or the yearling
bull to the cow--with quite recognized formalities; there
are elaborate ceremonials performed by the Australian
bower-birds and many other animals. All these things--
at any rate in children and animals--come before speech;
and anyhow we may say that LOVE-RITES, even in mature
and civilized man, hardly ADMIT of speech. Words only
vulgarize love and blunt its edge.

So Dance to the savage and the early man was not merely
an amusement or a gymnastic exercise (as the books
often try to make out), but it was also a serious
and intimate part of life, an expression of religion
and the relation of man to non-human Powers. Imagine
a young dancer--and the admitted age for ritual dancing
was commonly from about eighteen to thirty--coming
forward on the dancing-ground or platform for the
INVOCATION OF RAIN. We have unfortunately no kinematic
records, but it is not impossible or very difficult to imagine
the various gestures and movements which might be considered
appropriate to such a rite in different localities
or among different peoples. A modern student of Dalcroze
Eurhythmics would find the problem easy. After a time
a certain ritual dance (for rain) would become stereotyped
and generally adopted. Or imagine a young Greek leading an
invocation to Apollo to STAY SOME PLAGUE which was
ravaging the country. He might as well be accompanied
by a small body of co-dancers; but he would be the leader
and chief representative. Or it might be a WAR-DANCE--
as a more or less magical preparation for the raid or foray.
We are familiar enough with accounts of war-dances among
American Indians. C. O. Muller in his History and Antiquities
of the Doric Race[1] gives the following account of
the Pyrrhic dance among the Greeks, which was danced in
full armor:--"Plato says that it imitated all the
attitudes of defence, by avoiding a thrust or a cast, retreating,
springing up, and crouching-as also the opposite
movements of attack with arrows and lances, and also
of every kind of thrust. So strong was the attachment
to this dance at Sparta that, long after it had in the other
Greek states degenerated into a Bacchanalian revel, it was
still danced by the Spartans as a warlike exercise, and
boys of fifteen were instructed in it." Of the Hunting-
dance I have already given instances.[2] It always had
the character of Magic about it, by which the game or
quarry might presumably be influenced; and it can easily
be understood that if the Hunt was not successful the blame
might well be attributed to some neglect of the usual
ritual mimes or movements--no laughing matter for the
leader of the dance.

[1] Book IV, ch. 6, Section 7.

[2] See also Winwood Reade's Savage Africa, ch. xviii, in which
he speaks of the "gorilla dance," before hunting gorillas, as a
"religious festival."

Or there were dances belonging to the ceremonies of
Initiation--dances both by the initiators and the initiated. Jane
E. Harrison in Themis (p. 24) says, "Instruction among
savage peoples is always imparted in more or less mimetic
dances. At initiation you learn certain dances
which confer on you definite social status. When a man
is too old to dance, he hands over his dance to another
and a younger, and he then among some tribes ceases
to exist socially. . . . The dances taught to boys at
initiation are frequently if not always ARMED dances. These
are not necessarily warlike. The accoutrement of spear
and shield was in part decorative, in part a provision for
making the necessary hubbub." (Here Miss Harrison
reproduces a photograph of an Initiation dance among
the Akikuyu of British East Africa.) The Initiation-
dances blend insensibly and naturally with the Mystery
and Religion dances, for indeed initiation was for the most
part an instruction in the mysteries and social rites of
the Tribe. They were the expression of things which
would be hard even for us, and which for rude folk would
be impossible, to put into definite words. Hence arose
the expression--whose meaning has been much discussed
by the learned--"to dance out () a mystery."[1]
Lucian, in a much-quoted passage,[2] observes: "You cannot
find a single ancient mystery in which there is not dancing
. . . and this much all men know, that most people say of
the revealers of the mysteries that they 'dance them
out.' " Andrew Lang, commenting on this passage,[3]
continues: "Clement of Alexandria uses the same term when
speaking of his own 'appalling revelations.' So closely
connected are mysteries with dancing among savages that
when Mr. Orpen asked Qing, the Bushman hunter, about
some doctrines in which Qing was not initiated, he said:
'Only the initiated men of that dance know these things.'
To 'dance' this or that means to be acquainted with this
or that myth, which is represented in a dance or ballet d'action.
So widely distributed is the practice that Acosta in an
interesting passage mentions it as familiar to the people
of Peru before and after the Spanish conquest." [And
we may say that when the 'mysteries' are of a sexual nature
it can easily be understood that to 'dance them out'
is the only way of explaining them!]

[1] Meaning apparently either simply to represent, or, sometimes
to DIVULGE, a mystery.

[2] , Ch. xv. 277.

[3] Myth, Ritual and Religion, i, 272.

Thus we begin to appreciate the serious nature and the
importance of the dance among primitive folk. To dub
a youth "a good dancer" is to pay him a great compliment.
Among the well-known inscriptions on the rocks in the
island of Thera in the Aegean sea there are many which
record in deeply graven letters the friendship and devotion
to each other of Spartan warrior-comrades; it seems
strange at first to find how often such an epithet of
praise occurs as Bathycles DANCES WELL, Eumelos is a PERFECT
DANCER (). One hardly in general expects
one warrior to praise another for his dancing! But when
one realizes what is really meant--namely the fitness of
the loved comrade to lead in religious and magical rituals
--then indeed the compliment takes on a new complexion.
Religious dances, in dedication to a god, have of course been
honored in every country. Muller, in the work just
cited,[1] describes a lively dance called the hyporchema
which, accompanied by songs, was used in the worship
of Apollo. "In this, besides the chorus of singers who
usually danced around THE BLAZING ALTAR, several persons
were appointed to accompany the action of the poem
with an appropriate pantomimic display." It was probably
some similar dance which is recorded in Exodus,
ch. xxxii, when Aaron made the Israelites a golden Calf
(image of the Egyptian Apis). There was an altar and a
fire and burnt offerings for sacrifice, and the people dancing
around. Whether in the Apollo ritual the dancers were
naked I cannot say, but in the affair of the golden Calf
they evidently were, for it will be remembered that it
was just this which upset Moses' equanimity so badly--
"when he SAW THAT THE PEOPLE WERE NAKED"--and led to the
breaking of the two tables of stone and the slaughter of
some thousands of folk. It will be remembered also that David on
a sacrificial occasion danced naked before the Lord.[2]

[1] Book II, ch. viii, Section 14.

[2] 2 Sam. vi.

It may seem strange that dances in honor of a god should
be held naked; but there is abundant evidence that this
was frequently the case, and it leads to an interesting
speculation. Many of these rituals undoubtedly owed their
sanctity and solemnity to their extreme antiquity. They
came down in fact from very far back times when
the average man or woman--as in some of the Central
African tribes to-day--wore simply nothing at all; and
like all religious ceremonies they tended to preserve their
forms long after surrounding customs and conditions had
altered. Consequently nakedness lingered on in sacrificial
and other rites into periods when in ordinary life it
had come to be abandoned or thought indecent and shameful.
This comes out very clearly in both instances above--
quoted from the Bible. For in Exodus xxxii. 25 it is said
that "Aaron had made them (the dancers) naked UNTO THEIR
SHAME among their enemies (READ opponents)," and in 2
Sam. vi. 20 we are told that Michal came out and sarcastically
rebuked the "glorious king of Israel" for "shamelessly
uncovering himself, like a vain fellow" (for which
rebuke, I am sorry to say, David took a mean revenge
on Michal). In both cases evidently custom had so
far changed that to a considerable section of the population
these naked exhibitions had become indecent, though
as parts of an acknowledged ritual they were still retained
and supported by others. The same conclusion may be derived
from the commands recorded in Exodus xx. 26 and
xxviii. 42, that the priests be not "uncovered" before the
altar--commands which would hardly have been needed had
not the practice been in vogue.

Then there were dances (partly magical or religious) performed
at rustic and agricultural festivals, like the Epilenios,
celebrated in Greece at the gathering of the grapes.[1]
Of such a dance we get a glimpse in the Bible (Judges xxi.
20) when the elders advised the children of Benjamin to go
out and lie in wait in the vineyards, at the time of the
yearly feast; and "when the daughters of Shiloh come out
to dance in the dances, then come ye out of the vineyards
and catch you every man a wife from the daughters of
Shiloh"--a touching example apparently of early so-called
'marriage by capture'! Or there were dances, also partly
or originally religious, of a quite orgiastic and Bacchanalian
character, like the Bryallicha performed in Sparta by
men and women in hideous masks, or the Deimalea by
Sileni and Satyrs waltzing in a circle; or the Bibasis
carried out by both men and women--a quite gymnastic
exercise in which the performers took a special pride in striking
their own buttocks with their heels! or others wilder
still, which it would perhaps not be convenient to

[1] :  hymns sung over the winepress

We must see how important a part Dancing played in
that great panorama of Ritual and Religion (spoken of in
the last chapter) which, having originally been led up to
by the 'Fall of Man,' has ever since the dawn of history
gradually overspread the world with its strange procession
of demons and deities, and its symbolic representations
of human destiny. When it is remembered that ritual
dancing was the matrix out of which the Drama sprang,
and further that the drama in its inception (as still to-day
in India) was an affair of religion and was acted in, or in
connection with, the Temples, it becomes easier to understand
how all this mass of ceremonial sacrifices, expiations,
initiations, Sun and Nature festivals, eucharistic and orgiastic
communions and celebrations, mystery-plays, dramatic
representations, myths and legends, etc., which I have touched
upon in the preceding chapters--together with all the
emotions, the desires, the fears, the yearnings and the
wonderment which they represented--have practically sprung
from the same root: a root deep and necessary in the
psychology of Man. Presently I hope to show that they
will all practically converge again in the end to one
meaning, and prepare the way for one great Synthesis to
come--an evolution also necessary and inevitable in human

In that truly inspired Ode from which I quoted a few
pages back, occur those well-known words whose repetition
now will, on account of their beauty, I am sure be excused:--

 Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
 The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
     Hath had elsewhere its setting,
          And cometh from afar;
     Not in entire forgetfulness,
     And not in utter nakedness,
 But trailing clouds of glory do we come
     From God, who is our home:
 Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
 Shades of the prison-house begin to close
     Upon the growing Boy,
 But He beholds the light and whence it flows
     He sees it in his joy;
 The youth who daily farther from the east
     Must travel, still is Nature's Priest,
     And by the vision splendid
     Is on his way attended;
 At length the man perceives it die away
 And fade into the light of common day.

Wordsworth--though he had not the inestimable advantage
of a nineteenth-century education and the inheritance
of the Darwinian philosophy--does nevertheless put
the matter of the Genius of the Child in a way which
(with the alteration of a few conventional terms) we scientific
moderns are quite inclined to accept. We all admit now
that the Child does not come into the world with a mental
tabula rasa of entire forgetfulness but on the contrary
as the possessor of vast stores of sub-conscious memory, derived
from its ancestral inheritances; we all admit that a certain
grace and intuitive insight and even prophetic quality, in
the child-nature, are due to the harmonization of these racial
inheritances in the infant, even before it is born; and
that after birth the impact of the outer world serves
rather to break up and disintegrate this harmony than
to confirm and strengthen it. Some psychologists indeed
nowadays go so far as to maintain that the child is not
only 'Father of the man,' but superior to the man,[1] and
that Boyhood and Youth and Maturity are attained to not
by any addition but by a process of loss and subtraction.
It will be seen that the last ten lines of the above quotation
rather favor this view.

[1] Man in the course of his life falls away more and more from
the specifically HUMAN type of his early years, but the Ape in
the course of his short life goes very much farther along the
road of degradation and premature senility." (Man and Woman, by
Havelock Ellis, p. 24).

But my object in making the quotation was not to insist
on the truth of its application to the individual Child, but
rather to point out the remarkable way in which it illustrates
what I have said about the Childhood of the Race. In fact,
if the quotation be read over again with this interpretation
(which I do not say Wordsworth intended) that the 'birth'
spoken of is the birth or evolution of the distinctively self-
conscious Man from the Animals and the animal-natured,
unself-conscious human beings of a preceding age, then the
parable unfolds itself perfectly naturally and convincingly.
THAT birth certainly was sleep and a forgetting; the grace
and intuition and instinctive perfection of the animals
was lost. But the forgetfulness was not entire; the
memory lingered long of an age of harmony, of an Eden-
garden left behind. And trailing clouds of this remembrance
the first tribal men, on the edge of but not yet WITHIN the
civilization-period, appear in the dawn of History.

As I have said before, the period of the dawn of Self-
consciousness was also the period of the dawn of the practical
and inquiring Intellect; it was the period of the babyhood
of both; and so we perceive among these early people (as
we also do among children) that while in the main the heart
and the intuitions were right, the intellect was for
a long period futile and rambling to a degree. As soon as
the mind left the ancient bases of instinct and sub-conscious
racial experience it fell into a hopeless bog, out of which
it only slowly climbed by means of the painfully-gathered
stepping-stones of logic and what we call Science. "Heaven
lies about us in our infancy." Wordsworth perceived
that wonderful world of inner experience and glory out of
which the child emerges; and some even of us may perceive
that similar world in which the untampered animals STILL
dwell, and OUT of which self-regarding Man in the history
of the race was long ago driven. But a curse went with
the exile. As the Brain grew, the Heart withered. The
inherited instincts and racially accumulated wisdom, on
which the first men thrived and by means of which they
achieved a kind of temporary Paradise, were broken up;
delusions and disease and dissension set in. Cain turned
upon his brother and slew him; and the shades of the prison-
house began to close. The growing Boy, however, (by
whom we may understand the early tribes of Mankind)
had yet a radiance of Light and joy in his life; and the
Youth--though travelling daily farther from the East--still
remained Nature's priest, and by the vision splendid was on
his way attended: but

     At length the Man perceived it die away.
     And fade into the light of common day.

What a strangely apt picture in a few words (if we like to
take it so) of the long pilgrimage of the Human Race,
its early and pathetic clinging to the tradition of the Eden-
garden, its careless and vigorous boyhood, its meditative
youth, with consciousness of sin and endless expiatory
ritual in Nature's bosom, its fleeting visions of salvation, and
finally its complete disillusionment and despair in the world-
slaughter and unbelief of the twentieth century!

Leaving Wordsworth, however, and coming back to our
main line of thought, we may point out that while early
peoples were intellectually mere babies--with their endless
yarns about heroes on horseback leaping over wide rivers
or clouds of monks flying for hundreds of miles through the
air, and their utter failure to understand the general
concatenations of cause and effect--yet practically and in their
instinct of life and destiny they were, as I have already
said, by no means fools; certainly not such fools as many
of the arm-chair students of these things delight to represent
them. For just as, a few years ago, we modern civilizees
studying outlying nations, the Chinese for instance, rejoiced
(in our vanity) to pick out every quaint peculiarity and
absurdity and monstrosity of a supposed topsyturvydom, and
failed entirely to see the real picture of a great and eminently
sensible people; so in the case of primitive men we
have been, and even still are, far too prone to catalogue
their cruelties and obscenities and idiotic superstitions,
and to miss the sane and balanced setting of their actual lives.

Mr. R. R. Marett, who has a good practical acquaintance
with his subject, had in the Hibbert Journal for October 1918
an article on "The Primitive Medicine Man" in which he
shows that the latter is as a rule anything but a fool and
a knave--although like 'medicals' in all ages he hocuspocuses
his patients occasionally! He instances the medicine-
man's excellent management, in most cases, of childbirth,
or of wounds and fractures, or his primeval skill in trepanning
or trephining--all of which operations, he admits, may
be accompanied with grotesque and superstitious ceremonies,
yet show real perception and ability. We all
know--though I think the article does not mention the matter--
what a considerable list there is of drugs and herbs which
the modern art of healing owes to the ancient medicine-man,
and it may be again mentioned that one of the most up-to-
date treatments--the use of a prolonged and exclusive diet of
MILK as a means of giving the organism a new start in severe
cases--has really come down to us through the ages from
this early source.[1] The real medicine-man, Mr. Marett
says, is largely a 'faith-healer' and 'soul-doctor'; he believes
in his vocation, and undergoes much for the sake of
it: "The main point is to grasp that by his special
initiation and the rigid taboos which he practises--not
to speak of occasional remarkable gifts, say of trance and
ecstasy, which he may inherit by nature and have improved
by art--he HAS access to a wonder-working power. . . .
And the great need of primitive folk is for this healer of
souls." Our author further insists on the enormous play
and influence of Fear in the savage mind--a point we have
touched on already--and gives instances of Thanatomania,
or cases where, after a quite slight and superficial wound,
the patient becomes so depressed that he, quite needlessly,
persists in dying! Such cases, obviously, can only be countered
by Faith, or something (whatever it may be) which
restores courage, hope and energy to the mind. Nor need
I point out that the situation is exactly the same among
a vast number of 'patients' to-day. As to the value, in
his degree, of the medicine-man many modern observers and
students quite agree with the above.[2] Also as the present
chapter is on Ritual Dancing it may not be out of place
to call attention to the supposed healing of sick people in
Ceylon and other places by Devil-dancing--the enormous
output of energy and noise in the ritual possibly having the
effect of reanimating the patient (if it does not kill
him), or of expelling the disease from his organism.

[1] Milk ("fast-milk" or vrata) was, says Mr. Hewitt, the only
diet in the Soma-sacrifice. See Ruling Races of Prehistoric Times
(preface). The Soma itself was a fermented drink prepared with
ceremony from the milky and semen-like sap of certain plants, and
much used in sacrificial offerings. (See Monier-Williams.
Sanskrit Dictionary.)

[2] See Winwood Reade (Savage Africa), Salamon Reinach (Cults,
Myths and Religions), and others.

With regard to the practical intelligence of primitive
peoples, derived from their close contact with life and
nature, Bishop Colenso's experiences among the Zulus may
appropriately be remembered. When expounding the Bible
to these supposedly backward 'niggers' he was met at all
points by practical interrogations and arguments which he
was perfectly unable to answer--especially over the recorded
passage of the Red Sea by the Israelites in a single night.
From the statistics given in the Sacred Book these naughty
savages proved to him absolutely conclusively that the numbers
of fugitives were such that even supposing them
to have marched--men, women and children--FIVE ABREAST
and in close order, they would have formed a column 100
miles long, and this not including the baggage, sheep
and cattle! Of course the feat was absolutely impossible.
They could not have passed the Red Sea in a night or a
week of nights.

But the sequel is still more amusing and instructive.
Colenso, in his innocent sincerity, took the side of the Zulus,
and feeling sure the Church at home would be quite glad to
have its views with regard to the accuracy of Bible statistics
corrected, wrote a book embodying the amendments needed.
Modest as his criticisms were, they raised a STORM of protest
and angry denunciation, which even led to his deposition
for the time being from his bishopric! While at the same
time an avalanche of books to oppose his heresy poured
forth from the press. Lately I had the curiosity to look
through the British Museum catalogue and found that
in refutation of Colenso's Pentateuch Examined some 140
(a hundred and forty) volumes were at that time published!
To-day, I need hardly say, all these arm-chair critics and
their works have sunk into utter obscurity, but the arguments
of the Zulus and their Bishop still stand unmoved and immovable.

This is a case of searching intelligence shown by 'savages,'
an intelligence founded on intimate knowledge of the needs
of actual life. I think we may say that a, similarly instinctive
intelligence (sub-conscious if you like) has guided the tribes
of men on the whole in their long passage through the Red
Sea of the centuries, from those first days of which I
speak even down to the present age, and has in some strange,
even if fitful, way kept them along the path of that final
emancipation towards which Humanity is inevitably moving.


In the course of the last few chapters I have spoken more
than once of the solidarity and continuity of Christianity,
in its essential doctrines, with the Pagan rites. There is,
however, one notable exception to this statement. I refer
of course to Christianity's treatment of Sex. It is
certainly very remarkable that while the Pagan cults generally
made a great deal of all sorts of sex-rites, laid
much stress upon them, and introduced them in what
we consider an unblushing and shameless way into the
instincts connected with it. I say 'the Christian Church,'
on the whole took quite the opposite line--ignored sex,
condemned it, and did much despite to the perfectly natural
instincts connected with it. I say 'the Christian Church,'
because there is nothing to show that Jesus himself (if we
admit his figure as historical) adopted any such extreme
or doctrinaire attitude; and the quite early Christian teachers
(with the chief exception of Paul) do not exhibit this bias
to any great degree. In fact, as is well known, strong
currents of pagan usage and belief ran through the Christian
assemblies of the first three or four centuries. "The Christian
art of this period remained delightfully pagan. In the
catacombs we see the Saviour as a beardless youth, like a
young Greek god; sometimes represented, like Hermes the
guardian of the flocks, bearing a ram or lamb round
his neck; sometimes as Orpheus tuning his lute among
the wild animals."[1] The followers of Jesus were at times
even accused--whether rightly or wrongly I know not--
of celebrating sexual mysteries at their love-feasts. But
as the Church through the centuries grew in power and scope
--with its monks and their mutilations and asceticisms, and
its celibate clergy, and its absolute refusal to recognize the
sexual meaning of its own acclaimed symbols (like the
Cross, the three fingers of Benediction, the Fleur de Lys
and so forth)--it more and more consistently defined itself
as anti-sexual in its outlook, and stood out in that way in
marked contrast to the earlier Nature-religions.

[1] Angels' Wings, by E. Carpenter, p. 104.

It may be said of course that this anti-sexual tendency
can be traced in other of the pre-Christian Churches, especially
the later ones, like the Buddhist, the Egyptian,
and so forth; and this is perfectly true; but it would seem
that in many ways the Christian Church marked the culmination
of the tendency; and the fact that other cults participated
in the taboo makes us all the more ready and anxious
to inquire into its real cause.

To go into a disquisition on the Sex-rites of the various pre-
Christian religions would be 'a large order'--larger than
I could attempt to fill; but the general facts in this connection
are fairly patent. We know, of course, from the
Bible that the Syrians in Palestine were given to sexual
worships. There were erect images (phallic) and "groves"
(sexual symbols) on every high hill and under every green
tree;[1] and these same images and the rites connected
with them crept into the Jewish Temple and were popular
enough to maintain their footing there for a long period from
King Rehoboam onwards, notwithstanding the efforts of
Josiah[2] and other reformers to extirpate them. Moreover
there were girls and men (hierodouloi) regularly attached
during this period to the Jewish Temple as to the heathen
Temples, for the rendering of sexual services, which were
recognized in many cases as part of the ritual. Women
were persuaded that it was an honor and a privilege to be
fertilized by a 'holy man' (a priest or other man connected
with the rites), and children resulting from such
unions were often called "Children of God"--an appellation
which no doubt sometimes led to a legend of miraculous
birth! Girls who took their place as hierodouloi in the
Temple or Temple-precincts were expected to surrender
themselves to men-worshipers in the Temple, much in the
same way, probably, as Herodotus describes in the temple
of the Babylonian Venus Mylitta, where every native
woman, once in her life, was supposed to sit in the
Temple and have intercourse with some stranger.[3] Indeed
the Syrian and Jewish rites dated largely from Babylonia.
"The Hebrews entering Syria," says Richard Burton[4]
"found it religionized. by Assyria and Babylonia, when the
Accadian Ishtar had passed West, and had become Ashtoreth,
Ashtaroth, or Ashirah, the Anaitis of Armenia, the Phoenician
Astarte, and the Greek Aphrodite, the great Moon-
goddess who is queen of Heaven and Love." The word
translated "grove" as above, in our Bible, is in fact Asherah,
which connects it pretty clearly with the Babylonian Queen
of Heaven.

[1] 1 Kings xiv. 22-24.

[2] 2 Kings xxiii.

[3] See Herodotus i. 199; also a reference to this custom in the
apocryphal Baruch, vi. 42, 43.

[4] The Thousand Nights and a Night (1886 edn.), vol. x, p. 229.

In India again, in connection with the Hindu Temples and
their rites, we have exactly the same institution of girls
attached to the Temple service--the Nautch-girls--whose
functions in past times were certainly sexual, and whose
dances in honor of the god are, even down to the
present day, decidedly amatory in character. Then we
have the very numerous lingams (conventional representations
of the male organ) to be seen, scores and scores of
them, in the arcades and cloisters of the Hindu Temples--
to which women of all classes, especially those who wish to
become mothers, resort, anointing them copiously with
oil, and signalizing their respect and devotion to them in
a very practical way. As to the lingam as representing
the male organ, in some form or other--as upright stone
or pillar or obelisk or slender round tower--it occurs all
over the, world, notably in Ireland, and forms such a memorial
of the adoration paid by early folk to the great emblem
and instrument of human fertility, as cannot be mistaken.
The pillars set up by Solomon in front of his temple were
obviously from their names--Jachin and Boaz[1]--meant to
be emblems of this kind; and the fact that they were
crowned with pomegranates--the universally accepted symbol
of the female--confirms and clinches this interpretation.
The obelisks before the Egyptians' temples were
signs of the same character. The well-known T-shaped
cross was in use in pagan lands long before Christianity, as
a representation of the male member, and also at the same
time of the 'tree' on which the god (Attis or Adonis or Krishna
or whoever it might be) was crucified; and the same
symbol combined with the oval (or yoni) formed THE
Crux Ansata {Ankh} of the old Egyptian ritual--a figure which
is to-day sold in Cairo as a potent charm, and confessedly
indicates the conjunction of the two sexes in one
design.[2] MacLennan in The Fortnightly Review (Oct. 1869)
quotes with approval the words of Sanchoniathon, as saying
that "men first worship plants, next the heavenly bodies,
supposed to be animals, then 'pillars' (emblems of the
Procreator), and last, the anthropomorphic gods."

[1] "He shall establish" and "In it is strength" are in the Bible
the marginal interpretations of these two words.

[2] The connection between the production of fire by means of the
fire-drill and the generation of life by sex-intercourse is a
very obvious one, and lends itself to magical ideas. J. E. Hewitt
in his Ruling Races of Prehistoric Times (1894) says (vol. i, p.
8) that "Magha, the mother-goddess worshipped in Asia Minor, was
originally the socket-block from which fire was generated by the
fire-drill." Hence we have, he says, the Magi of Persia, and the
Maghadas of Indian History, also the word 'Magic."

It is not necessary to enlarge on this subject. The
facts of the connection of sexual rites with religious services
nearly everywhere in the early world are, as I say, sufficiently
patent to every inquirer. But it IS necessary to try
to understand the rationale of this connection. To dispatch
all such cases under the mere term "religious prostitution"
is no explanation. The term suggests, of
course, that the plea of religion was used simply as an
excuse and a cover for sexual familiarities; but though
this kind of explanation commends itself, no doubt, to
the modern man--whose religion is as commercial as his
sex-relationships are--and though in CASES no doubt it
was a true explanation--yet it is obvious that among people
who took religion seriously, as a matter of life and death
and who did not need hypocritical excuses or covers for
sex-relationships, it cannot be accepted as in general the
RIGHT explanation. No, the real explanation is--and I
will return to this presently--that sexual relationships are
so deep and intimate a part of human nature that from
the first it has been simply impossible to keep them OUT
of religion--it being of course the object of religion to bring
the whole human being into some intelligible relation with
the physical, moral, and if you like supernatural order of
the great world around him. Sex was felt from the first
to be part, and a foundational part, of the great order of the
world and of human nature; and therefore to separate
it from Religion was unthinkable and a kind of contradiction
in terms.[1]

[1] For further development of this subject see ch. xv.

If that is true--it will be asked--how was it that that
divorce DID take place--that the taboo did arise? How was
it that the Jews, under the influence of Josiah and the
Hebrew prophets, turned their faces away from sex and
strenuously opposed the Syrian cults? How was it that
this reaction extended into Christianity and became even
more definite in the Christian Church--that monks went
by thousands into the deserts of the Thebaid, and that
the early Fathers and Christian apologists could not find
terms foul enough to hurl at Woman as the symbol (to them)
of nothing but sex-corruption and delusion? How was it
that this contempt of the body and degradation of sex-
things went on far into the Middle Ages of Europe, and
ultimately created an organized system of hypocrisy, and
concealment and suppression of sex-instincts, which, acting
as cover to a vile commercial Prostitution and as a
breeding ground for horrible Disease, has lasted on even
to the edge of the present day?

This is a fair question, and one which demands an answer.
There must have been a reason, and a deep-rooted one, for
this remarkable reaction and volte-face which has characterized
Christianity, and, perhaps to a lesser degree, other
both earlier and later cults like those of the Buddhists, the
Egyptians, the Aztecs,[1] and so forth.

[1] For the Aztecs, see Acosta, vol. ii, p. 324 (London, 1604).

It may be said--and this is a fair answer on the SURFACE
of the problem--that the main reason WAS something in
the nature of a reaction. The excesses and corruptions of
sex in Syria had evidently become pretty bad, and that very
fact may have led to a pendulum-swing of the Jewish
Church in the opposite direction; and again in the same way
the general laxity of morals in the decay of the Roman empire
may have confirmed the Church of early Christendom in its
determination to keep along the great high road of asceticism.
The Christian followed on the Jewish and Egyptian Churches,
and in this way a great tradition of sexual continence and
anti-pagan morality came right down the centuries even into
modern times.

This seems so far a reasonable theory; but I think we
shall go farther and get nearer the heart of the problem if
we revert to the general clue which I have followed already
more than once--the clue of the necessary evolution of human
Consciousnss. In the first or animal stage of human
evolution, Sex was (as among the animals) a perfectly
necessary, instinctive and unself-conscious activity. It
was harmonious with itself, natural, and unproductive of
evil. But when the second stage set in, in which man
became preponderantly SELF-conscious, he inevitably set
about deflecting sex-activities to his own private pleasure
and advantage; he employed his budding intellect in
scheming the derailment of passion and desire from tribal
needs and, Nature's uses to the poor details of his own
gratification. If the first stage of harmonious sex-instinct
and activity may be held as characteristic of the Golden
Age, the second stage must be taken to represent the Fall
of man and his expulsion from Paradise in the Garden of
Eden story. The pleasure and glory of Sex having been
turned to self-purposes, Sex itself became the great Sin. A
sense of guilt overspread man's thoughts on the subject. "He
knew that he was naked," and he fled from the voice
and face of the Lord. From that moment one of
the main objects of his life (in its inner and newer activities)
came to be the DENIAL of Sex. Sex was conceived of as the
great Antagonist, the old Serpent lying ever in wait to
betray him; and there arrived a moment in the history
of every race, and of every representative religion, when
the sexual rites and ceremonies of the older time lost their
naive and quasi-innocent character and became afflicted with
a sense of guilt and indecency. This extraordinarily
interesting and dramatic moment in human evolution was
of course that in which self-consciousness grew powerful
enough to penetrate to the centre of human vitality, the
sanctumof man's inner life, his sexual instinct, and to deal
it a terrific blow--a blow from which it has never yet
recovered, and from which indeed it will not recover, until
the very nature of man's inner life is changed.

It may be said that it was very foolish of Man to
deny and to try to expel a perfectly natural and sensible
thing, a necessary and indispensable part of his own nature.
And that, as far as I can see, is perfectly true. But sometimes
it is unavoidable, it would seem, to do foolish things--
if only to convince oneself of one's own foolishness. On
the other hand, this policy on the part of Man was certainly
very wise--wiser than he knew--for in attempting to drive
out Sex (which of course he could not do) he entered into
a conflict which was bound to end in the expulsion of
SOMETHING; and that something was the domination, within
himself, of self-consciousness, the very thing which makes and
ever has made sex detestable. Man did not succeed in
driving the snake out of the Garden, but he drove himself
out, taking the real old serpent of self-greed and self-
gratification with him. When some day he returns to
Paradise this latter will have died in his bosom and
been cast away, but he will find the good Snake there as
of old, full of healing and friendliness, among the branches
of the Tree of Life.

Besides it is evident from other considerations that
this moment of the denial of sex HAD to come. When
one thinks of the enormous power of this passion, and its
age-long, hold upon the human race, one realizes that once
liberated from the instinctive bonds of nature, and backed
by a self-conscious and self-seeking human intelligence it was
on the way to become a fearful curse.

  A monstrous Eft was of old the Lord and Master of Earth;
  For him did his high sun flame, and his river billowing ran.

And this may have been all very well and appropriate in
the carboniferous Epoch, but WE in the end of Time have
no desire to fall under any such preposterous domination,
or to return to the primal swamps from which organic nature
has so slowly and painfully emerged.

I say it was the entry of self-consciousness into the sphere
of Sex, and the consequent use of the latter for private
ends, which poisoned this great race-power at its root.
For above all, Sex, as representing through Childbirth the
life of the Race (or of the Tribe, or, if you like,
of Humanity at large) should be sacred and guarded from
merely selfish aims, and therefore to use it only for such
aims is indeed a desecration. And even if--as some maintain
and I think rightly[1]--sex is not MERELY for child-birth
and physical procreation, but for mutual vitalizing and
invigoration, it still subserves union and not egotism; and to
use it egotistically is to commit the sin of Separation indeed.
It is to cast away and corrupt the very bond of life and
fellowship. The ancient peoples at any rate threw an illumination
of religious (that is, of communal and public) value over
sex-acts, and to a great extent made them into matters either of
Temple-ritual and the worship of the gods, or of communal and
pandemic celebration, as in the Saturnalia and other similar
festivals. We have certainly no right to regard these
celebrations--of either kind--as insincere. They were, at any
rate in their inception, genuinely religious or genuinely social
and festal; and from either point of view they were far better
than the secrecy of private indulgence which characterizes our
modern world in these matters. The thorough and shameless
commercialism of Sex has alas! been reserved for what is
called "Christian civilization," and with it (perhaps as
a necessary consequence) Prostitution and Syphilis have
grown into appalling evils, accompanied by a gigantic degradation
of social standards, and upgrowth of petty Philistinism
and niaiserie. Love, in fact, having in this modern
world-movement been denied, and its natural manifestations
affected with a sense of guilt and of sin, has really languished
and ceased to play its natural part in life; and a vast number
of people--both men and women, finding themselves
barred or derailed from the main object of existence,
have turned their energies to 'business' or 'money-making'
or 'social advancement' or something equally futile,
as the only poor substitute and pis aller open to them.

[1] See Havelock Ellis, The Objects of Marriage, a pamphlet
published by the "British Society for the Study of

Why (again we ask) did Christianity make this apparently
great mistake? And again we must reply: Perhaps the
mistake was not so great as it appears to be. Perhaps
this was another case of the necessity of learning by loss.
Love had to be denied, in the form of sex, in order that it
might thus the better learn its own true values and needs. Sex
had to be rejected, or defiled with the sense of guilt and self-
seeking, in order that having cast out its defilement it might
return one day, transformed in the embrace of love.
The whole process has had a deep and strange world-
significance. It has led to an immensely long period of
suppression--suppression of two great instincts--the physical
instinct of sex and the emotional instinct of love. Two
things which should naturally be conjoined have been
separated; and both have suffered. And we know from
the Freudian teachings what suppressions in the root-instincts
necessarily mean. We know that they inevitably
terminate in diseases and distortions of proper action,
either in the body or in the mind, or in both; and that
these evils can only be cured by the liberation of the said
instincts again to their proper expression and harmonious
functioning in the whole organism. No wonder then that,
with this agelong suppression (necessary in a sense though
it may have been) which marks the Christian dispensation,
there should have been associated endless Sickness and Crime
and sordid Poverty, the Crucifixion of animals in the
name of Science and of human workers in the name of
Wealth, and wars and horrors innumerable! Hercules
writhing in the Nessus-shirt or Prometheus nailed to the
rocks are only as figures of a toy miniature compared with
this vision of the great and divine Spirit of Man caught in the
clutches of those dread Diseases which through the centuries
have been eating into his very heart and vitals.

It would not be fair to pile on the Christian Church the
blame for all this. It had, no doubt, its part to play in the
whole great scheme, namely, to accentuate the self-motive; and it
played the part very thoroughly and successfully. For it must be
remembered (what I have again and again insisted on) that in the
pagan cults it was always the salvation of the CLAN, the TRIBE,
the people that was the main consideration; the advantage of the
individual took only a very secondary part. But in
Christendom--after the communal enthusiasms of apostolic days and
of the medieval and monastic brotherhoods and sisterhoods had
died down--religion occupied itself more and more with
each man or woman's INDIVIDUAL salvation, regardless of
what might happen to the community; till, with the rise
of Protestantism and Puritanism, this tendency reached
such an extreme that, as some one has said, each
man was absorbed in polishing up his own little soul in a
corner to himself, in entire disregard to the damnation which
might come to his neighbor. Religion, and Morality
too, under the commercial regime became, as was natural,
perfectly selfish. It was always: "Am _I_ saved? Am
_I_ doing the right thing? Am _I_ winning the favor of God
and man? Will my claims to salvation be allowed?
Did _I_ make a good bargain in allowing Jesus to be crucified
for me?" The poison of a diseased self-consciousness entered
into the whole human system.

As I say, one must not blame the Christians too much for
all this--partly because, AFTER the communal periods which
I have just mentioned, Christianity was evidently deeply
influenced by the rise of COMMERCIALISM, to which during
the last two centuries it has so carefully and piously
adapted itself; and partly because--if our view is anywhere
near right--this microbial injection of self-consciousness
was just the necessary work which (in conjunction with
commercialism) it HAD to perform. But though one does
not blame Christianity one cannot blind oneself to its defects
--the defects necessarily arising from the part it had to
play. When one compares a healthy Pagan ritual--say
of Apollo or Dionysus--including its rude and crude sacrifices
if you like, but also including its whole-hearted spontaneity
and dedication to the common life and welfare--with the
morbid self-introspection of the Christian and the eternally
recurring question "What shall I do to be saved?"--the
comparison is not favorable to the latter. There is (at
any rate in modern days) a mawkish milk-and-wateriness
about the Christian attitude, and also a painful self-
consciousness, which is not pleasant; and though Nietzsche's
blonde beast is a sufficiently disagreeable animal, one almost
thinks that it were better to be THAT than to go about with
one's head meekly hanging on one side, and talking always
of altruism and self-sacrifice, while in reality one's heart was
entirely occupied with the question of one's own salvation.
There is besides a lamentable want of grit and substance
about the Christian doctrines and ceremonials. Somehow
under the sex-taboo they became spiritualized and etherealized
out of all human use. Study the initiation-rites of any
savage tribe--with their strict discipline of the young
braves in fortitude, and the overcoming of pain and fear;
with their very detailed lessons in the arts of war and life
and the duties of the grown man to his tribe; and with
their quite practical instruction in matters of Sex; and then
read our little Baptismal and Confirmation services, which
ought to correspond thereto. How thin and attenuated and
weak the latter appear! Or compare the Holy Communion,
as celebrated in the sentimental atmosphere of
a Protestant Church, with an ancient Eucharistic feast of
real jollity and community of life under the acknowledged
presence of the god; or the Roman Catholic service of the
Mass, including its genuflexions and mock oblations and
droning ritual sing-song, with the actual sacrifice in early
days of an animal-god-victim on a blazing altar; and I think
my meaning will be clear. We do not want, of course,
to return to all the crudities and barbarities of the past; but
also we do not want to become attenuated and spiritualized
out of all mundane sense and recognition, and to live in an
otherworld Paradise void of application to earthly

The sex-taboo in Christianity was apparently, as I have
said, an effort of the human soul to wrest itself free from
the entanglement of physical lust--which lust, though normal
and appropriate and in a way gracious among the
animals, had through the domination of self-consciousness
become diseased and morbid or monstrous in Man. The
work thus done has probably been of the greatest value
to the human race; but, just as in other cases it has sometimes
happened that the effort to do a certain work has resulted
in the end in an unbalanced exaggeration so here. We
are beginning to see now the harmful side of the repression
of sex, and are tentatively finding our way back again to a
more pagan attitude. And as this return-movement is
taking place at a time when, from many obvious signs, the
self-conscious, grasping, commercial conception of life is
preparing to go on the wane, and the sense of solidarity to
re-establish itself, there is really good hope that our
return-journey may prove in some degree successful.

Man progresses generally, not both legs at once like a
sparrow, but by putting one leg forward first, and then
the other. There was this advantage in the Christian
taboo of sex that by discouraging the physical and sensual
side of love it did for the time being allow the spiritual
side to come forward. But, as I have just now indicated,
there is a limit to that process. We cannot always keep
one leg first in walking, and we do not want, in life, always
to put the spiritual first, nor always the material and sensual.
The two sides in the long run have to keep pace with each other.

And it may be that a great number of the very curious
and seemingly senseless taboos that we find among the primitive
peoples can be partly explained in this way: that is,
that by ruling out certain directions of activity they
enabled people to concentrate more effectually, for the time
being, on other directions. To primitive folk the great world,
whose ways are puzzling enough in all conscience to us,
must have been simply bewildering in its dangers and
complications. It was an amazement of Fear and Ignorance.
Thunderbolts might come at any moment out of the blue sky,
or a demon out of an old tree trunk, or a devastating
plague out of a bad smell--or apparently even out of nothing
at all! Under those circumstances it was perhaps wise,
wherever there was the smallest SUSPICION of danger or
ill-luck, to create a hard and fast TABOO--just as we tell
our children ON NO ACCOUNT to walk under a ladder (thereby
creating a superstition in their minds), partly because it
would take too long to explain all about the real dangers
of paint-pots and other things, and partly because for the
children themselves it seems simpler to have a fixed and
inviolable law than to argue over every case that occurs.
The priests and elders among early folk no doubt took the
line of FORBIDDAL of activities, as safer and simpler, even if
carried sometimes too far, than the opposite, of easy
permission and encouragement. Taboos multiplied--many of
them quite senseless--but perhaps in this perilous maze
of the world, of which I have spoken, it really WAS simpler
to cut out a large part of the labyrinth, as forbidden ground,
thus rendering it easier for the people to find their way in
those portions of the labyrinth which remained. If
you read in Deuteronomy (ch. xiv) the list of birds and
beasts and fishes permitted for food among the Israelites,
or tabooed, you will find the list on the whole reasonable,
but you will be struck by some curious exceptions (according
to our ideas), which are probably to be explained by the
necessity of making the rules simple enough to be comprehended
by everybody--even if they included the forbiddal of some quite
eatable animals.

At some early period, in Babylonia or Assyria, a very
stringent taboo on the Sabbath arose, which, taken up in turn
by the Jewish and Christian Churches, has ruled the
Western World for three thousand years or more, and still
survives in a quite senseless form among some of our rural
populations, who will see their corn rot in the fields rather
than save it on a Sunday.[1] It is quite likely that this taboo
in its first beginning was due not to any need of a weekly
rest-day (a need which could never be felt among nomad
savages, but would only occur in some kind of industrial
and stationary civilization), but to some superstitious fear,
connected with such things as the changes of the Moon,
and the probable ILL-LUCK of any enterprise undertaken on
the seventh day, or any day of Moon-change. It is probable,
however, that as time went on and Society became more
complex, the advantages of a weekly REST-DAY (or market-
day) became more obvious and that the priests and legislators
deliberately turned the taboo to a social use.[2] The
learned modern Ethnologists, however, will generally have
none of this latter idea. As a rule they delight in representing
early peoples as totally destitute of common sense
(which is supposed to be a monopoly of us moderns!);
and if the Sabbath-arrangement has had any value or use
they insist on ascribing this to pure accident, and not to
the application of any sane argument or reason.

[1] For other absurd Sunday taboos see Westermarck on The Moral
Ideas, vol. ii, p. 289.

[2] For a tracing of this taboo from useless superstition to
practical utility see Hastings's Encycl. Religion and Ethics,
art. "The Sabbath."

It is true indeed that a taboo--in order to be a proper
taboo--must not rest in the general mind on argument or
reason. It may have had good sense in the past or even
an underlying good sense in the present, but its foundation
must rest on something beyond. It must be an absolute
fiat--something of the nature of a Mystery[1] or of Religion
or Magic-and not to be disputed. This gives it its blood-
curdling quality. The rustic does not know what would
happen to him if he garnered his corn on Sunday, nor does
the diner-out in polite society know what would happen if
he spooned up his food with his knife--but they both
are stricken with a sort of paralysis at the very suggestion of
infringing these taboos.

[1] See Westermarck, Ibid., ii. 586.

Marriage-customs have always been a fertile field for the
generation of taboos. It seems doubtful whether anything
like absolute promiscuity ever prevailed among the human
race, but there is much to show that wide choice and
intercourse were common among primitive folk and that
the tendency of later marriage custom has been on the whole
to LIMIT this range of choice. At some early period the
forbiddal of marriage between those who bore the
same totem-name took place. Thus in Australia "no man of
the Emu stock might marry an Emu woman; no Blacksnake
might marry a Blacksnake woman, and so forth."[1] Among
the Kamilaroi and the Arunta of S. Australia the tribe was
divided into classes or clans, sometimes four, sometimes
eight, and a man of one particular clan was only marriageable
with a woman of another particular clan--say (1)
with (3) or (2) with (4), and so on.[2] Customs with a similar
tendency, but different in detail, seem to have prevailed
among native tribes in Central Africa and N. America.
And the regulations in all this matter have been so (apparently)
entirely arbitrary in the various cases that it would
almost appear as if the bar of kinship through the Totem
had been the EXCUSE, originating perhaps in some superstition,
but that the real and more abiding object was simply limitation.
And this perhaps was a wise line to take. A taboo
on promiscuity had to be created, and for this purpose any
current prejudice could be made use of.[3]

[1] Myth, Ritual and Religion, i, p. 66.

[2] See Spencer and Gillen, Native Tribes of Australia.

[3] The author of The Mystic Rose seems to take this view. See
p. 214 of that book.

With us moderns the whole matter has taken a different
complexion. When we consider the enormous amount of
suffering and disease, both of mind and body, arising from
the sex-suppression of which I have just spoken, especially
among women, we see that mere unreasoning taboos--which
possibly had their place and use in the past--can be
tolerated no longer. We are bound to turn the searchlight
of reason and science on a number of superstitions which
still linger in the dark and musty places of the Churches and
the Law courts. Modern inquiry has shown conclusively
not only the foundational importance of sex in the evolution
of each human being, but also the very great
VARIETY of spontaneous manifestations in different individuals
and the vital necessity that these should be recognized,
if society is ever to expand into a rational human
form. It is not my object here to sketch the future
of marriage and sex-relations generally--a subject
which is now being dealt with very effectively from many
sides; but only to insist on our using our good sense in the
whole matter, and refusing any longer to be bound by senseless

Something of the same kind may be said with regard to
Nakedness, which in modern Civilization has become the
object of a very serious and indeed harmful taboo; both
of speech and act. As someone has said, it became in the
end of the nineteenth century almost a crime to mention
by name any portion of the human body within a radius
of about twenty inches from its centre (!) and as a matter
of fact a few dress-reformers of that period were actually
brought into court and treated as criminals for going about
with legs bare up to the knees, and shoulders and chest
uncovered! Public follies such as these have been responsible
for much of the bodily and mental disease and
suppression just mentioned, and the sooner they are sent to
limbo the better. No sensible person would advocate
promiscuous nakedness any more than promiscuous sex-
relationship; nor is it likely that aged and deformed
people would at any time wish to expose themselves. But
surely there is enough good sense and appreciation of grace
and fitness in the average human mind for it to be able to
liberate the body from senseless concealment, and give it
its due expression. The Greeks of old, having on the
whole clean bodies, treated them with respect and distinction.
The young men appeared quite naked in the palaestra,
and even the girls of Sparta ran races publicly in
the same condition;[1] and some day when our bodies (and
minds too) have become clean we shall return to similar
institutions. But that will not be just yet. As long as
the defilement of this commercial civilization is on us we
shall prefer our dirt and concealment. The powers that
be will protest against change. Heinrich Scham, in his
charming little pamphlet Nackende Menschen,[2] describes the
consternation of the commercial people at such ideas:

" 'What will become of us,' cried the tailors, 'if you go

"And all the lot of them, hat, cravat, shirt, and shoemakers
joined in the chorus.

" 'AND WHERE SHALL I CARRY MY MONEY?' cried one who had
just been made a director."

[1] See Theocritus, Idyll xviii.

[2] Published at Leipzig about 1893.


Referring back to the existence of something resembling
a great World-religion which has come down the centuries,
continually expanding and branching in the process, we have
now to consider the genesis of that special brand or
branch of it which we call Christianity. Each religion or
cult, pagan or Christian, has had, as we have seen, a vast
amount in common with the general World-religion; yet each
has had its own special characteristics. What have been the
main characteristics of the Christian branch, as differentiating
it from the other branches?

We saw in the last chapter that a certain ascetic attitude
towards Sex was one of the most salient marks of the Christian
Church; and that whereas most of the pagan cults
(though occasionally favoring frightful austerities and
cruel sacrifices) did on the whole rejoice in pleasure and
the world of the senses, Christianity--following largely on
Judaism--displayed a tendency towards renunciation of
the world and the flesh, and a withdrawal into the inner and
more spiritual regions of the mind. The same tendency
may be traced in the Egyptian and Phrygian cults of that
period. It will be remembered how Juvenal (Sat. VI,
510-40) chaffs the priests of Cybele at Rome for making
themselves "eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake,"
or the rich Roman lady for plunging in the wintry Tiber
for a propitiation to Isis. No doubt among the later pagans
"the long intolerable tyranny of the senses over the soul"
had become a very serious matter. But Christianity represented
perhaps the most powerful reaction against this;
and this reaction had, as indicated in the last chapter, the
enormously valuable result that (for the time) it disentangled
love from sex and established Love, pure and undefiled, as
ruler of the world. "God is Love." But, as also indicated,
the divorce between the two elements of human nature,
carried to an extreme, led in time to a crippling of both
elements and the development of a certain morbidity and
self-consciousness which, it cannot be denied, is painfully
marked among some sections of Christians--especially those
of the altruistic and 'philanthropic' type.

Another characteristic of Christianity which is also very
fine in its way but has its limits of utility, has been its
insistence on "morality." Some modern writers indeed have
gone so far--forgetting, I suppose, the Stoics--as to
claim that Christianity's chief mark is its high morality,
and that the pagans generally were quite wanting in
the moral sense! This, of course, is a profound
mistake. I should say that, in the true sense of the
word, the early and tribal peoples have been much more
'moral' as a rule--that is, ready as individuals to pay
respect to the needs of the community--than the later and
more civilized societies. But the mistake arises from the
different interpretations of the word; for whereas all
the pagan religions insisted very strongly on the just-
mentioned kind of morality, which we should call CIVIC DUTY
TO ONE'S NEIGHBOR, the Christian made morality to consist
more especially in a mans DUTY TO GOD. It became
with them a private affair between a mans self and-God,
rather than a public affair; and thus led in the end to a
very obnoxious and quite pharisaic kind of morality, whose
chief inspiration was not the helping of one's fellow-man
but the saving of one's own soul.

There may perhaps be other salient points of differentiation
between Christianity and the preceding pagan religions; but
for the present we may recognize these two--(a) the tendency
towards a renunciation of the world, and the consequent
cultivation of a purely spiritual love and (b) the insistence on
a morality whose inspiration was a private sense of duty
to God rather than a public sense of duty to one's neighbor
and to society generally. It may be interesting to trace the
causes which led to this differentiation.

Three centuries before our era the conquests of Alexander
had had the effect of spreading the Greek thought and
culture over most of the known world. A vast number
of small bodies of worshipers of local deities, with their
various rituals and religious customs, had thus been broken up,
or at least brought into contact with each other and
partially modified and hellenized. The orbit of a more
general conception of life and religion was already being traced.
By the time of the founding of the first Christian Church
the immense conquests of Rome had greatly extended
and established the process. The Mediterranean had
become a great Roman lake. Merchant ships and routes
of traffic crossed it in all directions; tourists visited its
shores. The known world had become one. The numberless
peoples, tribes, nations, societies within the girdle of the
Empire, with their various languages, creeds, customs,
religions, philosophies, were profoundly influencing each
other.[1] A great fusion was taking place; and it was becoming
inevitable that the next great religious movement would have
a world-wide character.

[1] For an enlargement on this theme see Glover's Conflict of
Religions in the early Roman Empire; also S. J. Case, Evolution
of Early Christianity(University of Chicago, 1914). The Adonis
worship, for instance (a resurrection-cult), "was still thriving
in Syria and Cyprus when Paul preached there," and the worship of
Isis and Serapis had already reached then, Rome and Naples.

It was probable that this new religion would combine many
elements from the preceding rituals in one cult. In
connection with the fine temples and elaborate services of
Isis and Cybele and Mithra there was growing up a powerful
priesthood; Franz Cumont[1] speaks of "the learned priests
of the Asiatic cults" as building up, on the foundations
of old fetichism and superstition, a complete religious
philosophy--just as the Brahmins had built the monism
of the Vedanta on the "monstrous idolatries of Hinduism."
And it was likely that a similar process would evolve the
new religion expected. Toutain again calls attention to
the patronage accorded to all these cults by the Roman
Emperors, as favoring a new combination and synthesis:
--"Hadrien, Commode, Septime Severe, Julia Domna,
Elagabal, Alexandre Severe, en particulier ont contribue
personnellement a la popularite et au succes des cultes
qui se celebraient en l'honneur de Serapis et d'Isis, des
divinites syriennes et de Mithra."[2]

[1] See Cumont, Religions Orientales dans le Paganisme Romain
(Paris, 1906), p. 253.

[2] Cultes paiens dans l'Empire Romain (2 vols., 1911), vol. ii,
p. 263.

It was also probable that this new Religion would show
(as indicated in the last chapter) a reaction against mere
sex-indulgence; and, as regards its standard of Morality
generally, that, among so many conflicting peoples with
their various civic and local customs, it could not well
identify itself with any ONE of these but would evolve an
inner inspiration of its own which in its best form would
be love of the neighbor, regardless of the race, creed or
customs of the neighbor, and whose sanction would not
reside in any of the external authorities thus conflicting
with each other, but in the sense of the soul's direct
responsibility to God.

So much for what we might expect a priori as to the
influence of the surroundings on the general form of the
new Religion. And what about the kind of creed or creeds
which that religion would favor? Here again we must
see that the influence of the surroundings compelled a
certain result. Those doctrines which we have described
in the preceding chapters--doctrines of Sin and Sacrifice, a
Savior, the Eucharist, the Trinity, the Virgin-birth,
and so forth--were in their various forms seething, so to
speak, all around. It was impossible for any new religious
synthesis to escape them; all it could do would be to
appropriate them, and to give them perhaps a color of its
own. Thus it is into the midst of this germinating mass
that we must imagine the various pagan cults, like fertilizing
streams, descending. To trace all these streams would
of course be an impossible task; but it may be of use, as
an example of the process, to take the case of some particular
belief. Let us take the belief in the coming of a
Savior-god; and this will be the more suitable as it is a
belief which has in the past been commonly held to be
distinctive of Christianity. Of course we know now that
it is not in any sense distinctive, but that the long tradition
of the Savior comes down from the remotest times, and
perhaps from every country of the world.[1] The Messianic
prophecies of the Jews and the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah
emptied themselves into the Christian teachings, and infected
them to some degree with a Judaic tinge. The
"Messiah" means of course the Anointed One. The
Hebrew word occurs some 40 times in the Old Testament;
and each time in the Septuagint or Greek translation
(made mainly in the third century BEFORE our era) the word
is translated , or Christos, which again means
Anointed. Thus we see that the idea or the word "The
Christ" was in vogue in Alexandria as far back certainly
as 280 B.C., or nearly three centuries before Jesus. And what
the word "The Anointed" strictly speaking means, and from
what the expression is probably derived, will appear later.
In The Book of Enoch, written not later than B.C. 170,[2]
the Christ is spoken of as already existing in heaven,
and about to come as judge of all men, and is definitely
called "the Son of Man." The Book of Revelations is
FULL of passages from Enoch; so are the Epistles of Paul;
so too the Gospels. The Book of Enoch believes in a Golden
Age that is to come; it has Dantesque visions of Heaven
and Hell, and of Angels good and evil, and it speaks of a
"garden of Righteousness" with the "Tree of Wisdom" in its
midst. Everywhere, says Prof. Drews, in the first century
B.C., there was the longing for a coming Savior.

[1] Even to-day, the Arabian lands are always vibrating with
prophecies of a coming Mahdi.

[2] See Edition by R. H. Charles (1893).

But the Savior-god, as we also know, was a familiar figure
in Egypt. The great Osiris was the Savior of the world, both
in his life and death: in his life through the noble
works he wrought for the benefit of mankind, and in
his death through his betrayal by the powers of darkness
and his resurrection from the tomb and ascent into heaven.[1]
The Egyptian doctrines descended through Alexandria
into Christianity--and though they did not influence the
latter deeply until about 300 A.D., yet they then succeeded
in reaching the Christian Churches, giving a color to their
teachings with regard to the Savior, and persuading them to
accept and honor the Egyptian worship of Isis in the Christian
form of the Virgin Mary.

[1] See ch. ii.

Again, another great stream of influence descended from
Persia in the form of the cult of Mithra. Mithra, as we
have seen,[1] stood as a great Mediator between God and man.
With his baptisms and eucharists, and his twelve disciples,
and his birth in a cave, and so forth, he seemed to the
early Fathers an invention of the devil and a most dangerous
mockery on Christianity--and all the more so because his
worship was becoming so exceedingly popular. The cult
seems to have reached Rome about B.C. 70. It spread
far and wide through the Empire. It extended to Great
Britain, and numerous remains of Mithraic monuments
and sculptures in this country--at York, Chester and other
places--testify to its wide acceptance even here. At
Rome the vogue of Mithraism became so great that in
the third century A. D., it was quite doubtful[2] whether it
OR Christianity would triumph; the Emperor Aurelian in 273
founded a cult of the Invincible Sun in connection
with Mithraism;[3] and as St. Jerome tells us in his letters,[4]
the latter cult had at a later time to be suppressed in Rome
and Alexandria by PHYSICAL FORCE, so powerful was it.

[1] Ch. ii.

[2] See Cumont, op. cit., who says, p. 171:--"Jamais, pas meme a
1'epoque des invasions mussulmanes, l'Europe ne sembla plus pres
de devenir asiatique qu'au moment ou Diocletien reconnaissait
officiellement en Mithra, le protecteur de l'empire reconstitue."
See also Cumont's Mysteres de Mithra, preface. The Roman Army, in
fact, stuck to Mithra throughout, as against Christianity; and so
did the Roman nobility. (See S. Augustine's Confessions, Book
VIII, ch. 2.)

[3] Cumont indeed says that the identification of Mithra with the
Sun (the emblem of imperial power) formed one reason why
Mithraism was NOT persecuted at that time.

[4] Epist. cvii, ad Laetam. See Robertson's Pagan Christs, p.

Nor was force the only method employed. IMITATION is
not only the sincerest flattery, but it is often the most
subtle and effective way of defeating a rival. The priests
of the rising Christian Church were, like the priests of ALL
religions, not wanting in craft; and at this moment
when the question of a World-religion was in the balance, it
was an obvious policy for them to throw into their own scale
as many elements as possible of the popular Pagan cults.
Mithraism had been flourishing for 600 years; and it is, to
say the least, CURIOUS that the Mithraic doctrines and legends
which I have just mentioned should all have been
adopted (quite unintentionally of course!) into Christianity;
and still more so that some others from the same source,
like the legend of the Shepherds at the Nativity and the
doctrine of the Resurrection and Ascension, which are
NOT mentioned at all in the original draft of the earliest
Gospel (St. Mark), should have made their appearance, in
the Christian writings at a later time, when Mithraism
was making great forward strides. History shows that
as a Church progresses and expands it generally feels
compelled to enlarge and fortify its own foundations by inserting
material which was not there at first. I shall shortly
give another illustration of this; at present I will
merely point out that the Christian writers, as time
went on, not only introduced new doctrines, legends,
miracles and so forth--most of which we can trace to
antecedent pagan sources--but that they took especial pains
to destroy the pagan records and so obliterate the evidence
of their own dishonesty. We learn from Porphyry[1] that
there were several elaborate treatises setting forth the
religion of Mithra; and J. M. Robertson adds (Pagan
Christs, p. 325): "everyone of these has been destroyed by
the care of the Church, and it is remarkable that even the
treatise of Firmicus is mutilated at a passage (v.) where
he seems to be accusing Christians of following Mithraic
usages." While again Professor Murray says, "The polemic
literature of Christianity is loud and triumphant; the
books of the Pagans have been DESTROYED."[2]

[1] De Abstinentia, ii. 56; iv. 16.

[2] Four Stages, p. 180. We have probably an instance of this
destruction in the total disappearance of Celsus' lively attack
on Christianity (180 A.D.), of which, however, portions have been
fortunately preserved in Origen's rather prolix refutation of the

Returning to the doctrine of the Savior, I have already
in preceding chapters given so many instances of belief
in such a deity among the pagans--whether he be called
Krishna or Mithra or Osiris or Horus or Apollo or Hercules
--that it is not necessary to dwell on the subject any further
in order to persuade the reader that the doctrine was 'in the
air' at the time of the advent of Christianity. Even
Dionysus, then a prominent figure in the 'Mysteries,'
was called Eleutherios, The Deliverer. But it may be of
interest to trace the same doctrine among the PRE-CHRISTIAN
sects of Gnostics. The Gnostics, says Professor Murray,[1]
"are still commonly thought of as a body of CHRISTIAN
heretics. In reality there were Gnostic sects scattered over
the Hellenistic world BEFORE Christianity as well as after.
They must have been established in Antioch and probably
in Tarsus well before the days of Paul or Apollos. Their
Savior, like the Jewish Messiah, was established in men's
minds before the Savior of the Christians. 'If we look
close,' says Professor Bousset, 'the result emerges with
great clearness that the figure of the Redeemer as such did
not wait for Christianity to force its way into the religion
of Gnosis, but was already present there under various
forms.' "

[1] Four Stages, p. 143.

This Gnostic Redeemer, continues Professor Murray, "is
descended by a fairly clear genealogy from the 'Tritos
Soter' ('third Savior')[1] of early Greece, contaminated
with similar figures, like Attis and Adonis from Asia Minor,
Osiris from Egypt, and the special Jewish conception of the
Messiah of the Chosen people. He has various names, which
the name of Jesus or 'Christos,' 'the Anointed,' tends
gradually to supersede. Above all, he is in some
sense Man, or 'the second Man' or 'the Son of Man' . . .
He is the real, the ultimate, the perfect and eternal Man,
of whom all bodily men are feeble copies."[2]

[1] There seems to be some doubt about the exact meaning of this
expression. Even Zeus himself was sometimes called 'Soter,' and
at feasts, it is said, the THIRD goblet was always drunk in his

[2] See also The Gnostic Story of Jesus Christ, by Gilbert T.
Sadler (C. W. Daniel, 1919).

This passage brings vividly before the mind the process of
which I have spoken, namely, the fusion and mutual
interchange of ideas on the subject of the Savior during the
period anterior to our era. Also it exemplifies to us
through what an abstract sphere of Gnostic religious speculation
the doctrine had to travel before reaching its expression
in Christianity.[1] This exalted and high philosophical
conception passed on and came out again to some degree
in the Fourth Gospel and the Pauline Epistles (especially
I Cor. xv); but I need hardly say it was not maintained.
The enthusiasm of the little scattered Christian bodies--
with their communism of practice with regard to THIS
world and their intensity of faith with regard to the next
--began to wane in the second and third centuries A.D. As
the Church (with capital initial) grew, so was it less
and less occupied with real religious feeling, and more and
more with its battles against persecution from outside, and
its quarrels and dissensions concerning heresies within
its own borders. And when at the Council of Nicaea (325
A.D) it endeavored to establish an official creed, the
strife and bitterness only increased. "There is no wild
beast," said the Emperor Julian, "like an angry theologian."
Where the fourth Evangelist had preached the gospel of
Love, and Paul had announced redemption by an inner
and spiritual identification with Christ, "As in Adam all die,
so in Christ shall all be made alive"; and whereas some
at any rate of the Pagan cults had taught a glorious salvation
by the new birth of a divine being within each man:
"Be of good cheer, O initiates in the mystery of the liberated
god; For to you too out of all your labors and sorrows shall
come Liberation"--the Nicene creed had nothing to propound
except some extremely futile speculations about the
relation to each other of the Father and the Son, and
the relation of BOTH to the Holy Ghost, and of all THREE to
the Virgin Mary--speculations which only served for the renewal
of shameful strife and animosities--riots and bloodshed
and murder--within the Church, and the mockery of
the heathen without. And as far as it dealt with the crucifixion,
death and resurrection of the Lord it did not differ
from the score of preceding pagan creeds, except in the
thorough materialism and lack of poetry in statement
which it exhibits. After the Council of Nicaea, in fact, the
Judaic tinge in the doctrines of the Church becomes
more apparent, and more and more its Scheme of Salvation
through Christ takes the character of a rather sordid and
huckstering bargain by which Man gets the better of God
by persuading the latter to sacrifice his own Son for the
redemption of the world! With the exception of a few episodes
like the formation during the Middle Ages of the noble
brotherhoods and sisterhoods of Frairs and Nuns, dedicated
to the help and healing of suffering humanity,
and the appearance of a few real lovers of mankind (and the
animals) like St. Francis--(and these manifestations can
hardly be claimed by the Church, which pretty consistently
opposed them)--it may be said that after about the fourth
century the real spirit and light of early Christian enthusiasm
died away. The incursions of barbarian tribes from the
North and East, and later of Moors and Arabs from the South,
familiarized the European peoples with the ideas of bloodshed
and violence; gross and material conceptions of life
were in the ascendant; and a romantic and aspiring Christianity
gave place to a worldly and vulgar Churchianity.

[1] When travelling in India I found that the Gnanis or Wise Men
there quite commonly maintained that Jesus (judging from his
teaching) must have been initiated at some time in the esoteric
doctrines of the Vedanta.

I have in these two or three pages dealt only--and that
very briefly--with the entry of the pagan doctrine of the
Savior into the Christian field, showing its transformation
there and how Christianity could not well escape having
a doctrine of a Savior, or avoid giving a color of its own
to that doctrine. To follow out the same course with
other doctrines, like those which I have mentioned above,
would obviously be an endless task--which must be left to
each student or reader to pursue according to his opportunity
and capacity. It is clear anyhow, that all these
elements of the pagan religions--pouring down into the vast
reservoir, or rather whirlpool, of the Roman Empire, and
mixing among all these numerous brotherhoods, societies,
collegia, mystery-clubs, and groups which were at that time
looking out intently for some new revelation or inspiration--
did more or less automatically act and react upon
each other, and by the general conditions prevailing were
modified, till they ultimately combined and took united
shape in the movement which we call Christianity, but which
only--as I have said--narrowly escaped being called
Mithraism--so nearly related and closely allied were these
cults with each other.

At this point it will naturally be asked: "And where in
this scheme of the Genesis of Christianity is the chief
figure and accredited leader of the movement--namely
Jesus Christ himself--for to all appearance in the account
here given of the matter he is practically non-existent or
a negligible quantity?" And the question is a very pertinent
one, and very difficult to answer. "Where is the
founder of the Religion?"--or to put it in another form:
"Is it necessary to suppose a human and visible Founder
at all?" A few years ago such a mere question would
have been accounted rank blasphemy, and would only--
if passed over--have been ignored on account of its
supposed absurdity. To-day, however, owing to the enormous
amount of work which has been done of late on the
subject of Christian origins, the question takes on quite
a different complexion. And from Strauss onwards a
growingly influential and learned body of critics is inclined
to regard the whole story of the Gospels as LEGENDARY. Arthur
Drews, for instance, a professor at Karlsruhe, in his celebrated
book The Christ-Myth,[1] places David F. Strauss as
first in the myth field--though he allows that Dupuis in
L'origine de tous les cultes (1795) had given the clue to the
whole idea. He then mentions Bruno Bauer (1877) as
contending that Jesus was a pure invention of Mark's,
and John M. Robertson as having in his Christianity and
Mythology (1900) given the first thoroughly reasoned exposition
of the legendary theory; also Emilio Bossi in Italy, who
wrote Jesu Christo non e mai esistito, and similar authors
in Holland, Poland, and other countries, including W. Benjamin
Smith, the American author of The Pre-christian
Jesus (1906), and P. Jensen in Das Gilgamesch Epos in den
Welt-literatur (1906), who makes the Jesus-story a variant of
the Babylonian epic, 2000 B.C. A pretty strong list![2] "But,"
continues Drews, "ordinary historians still ignore all this."
Finally, he dismisses Jesus as "a figure swimming obscurely
in the mists of tradition." Nevertheless I need hardly
remark that, large and learned as the body of opinion
here represented is, a still larger (but less learned) body
fights desperately for the actual HISTORICITY of Jesus, and some
even still for the old view of him as a quite unique and
miraculous revelation of Godhood on earth.

[1] Die Christus-mythe: verbesserte und erweitezte Ausgabe, Jena,

[2] To which we may also add Schweitzer's Quest of the historical
Jesus (1910).

At first, no doubt, the LEGENDARY theory seems a little TOO
far-fetched. There is a fashion in all these things, and
it MAY be that there is a fashion even here. But when
you reflect how rapidly legends grow up even in these days of
exact Science and an omniscient Press; how the figure of
Shakespeare, dead only 300 years, is almost completely lost
in the mist of Time, and even the authenticity of his
works has become a subject of controversy; when you find
that William Tell, supposed to have lived some 300
years again before Shakespeare, and whose deeds in minutest
detail have been recited and honored all over Europe, is almost
certainly a pure invention, and never existed; when
you remember--as mentioned earlier in this book[1]--that
it was more than five hundred years after the supposed
birth of Jesus before any serious effort was made to establish
the date of that birth--and that then a purely mythical date
was chosen: the 25th December, the day of the SUN'S new
birth after the winter solstice, and the time of the supposed
birth of Apollo, Bacchus, and the other Sungods;
when, moreover, you think for a moment what the state
of historical criticism must have been, and the general standard
of credibility, 1,900 years ago, in a country like Syria,
and among an ignorant population, where any story circulating
from lip to lip was assured of credence if sufficiently
marvelous or imaginative;--why, then the legendary
theory does not seem so improbable. There is
no doubt that after the destruction of Jerusalem (in A.D.
70), little groups of believers in a redeeming 'Christ' were
formed there and in other places, just as there had certainly
existed, in the first century B.C., groups of Gnostics,
Therapeutae, Essenes and others whose teachings were very
SIMILAR to the Christian, and there was now a demand from
many of these groups for 'writings' and 'histories' which
should hearten and confirm the young and growing Churches.
The Gospels and Epistles, of which there are still extant a
great abundance, both apocryphal and canonical, met this
demand; but how far their records of the person of Jesus
of Nazareth are reliable history, or how far they are merely
imaginative pictures of the kind of man the Saviour might
be expected to be,[2] is a question which, as I have already
said, is a difficult one for skilled critics to answer, and one
on which I certainly have no intention of giving a positive
verdict. Personally I must say I think the 'legendary'
solution quite likely, and in some ways more satisfactory
than the opposite one--for the simple reason that it seems
much more encouraging to suppose that the story of Jesus,
(gracious and beautiful as it is) is a myth which gradually
formed itself in the conscience of mankind, and thus points
the way of humanity's future evolution, than to suppose
it to be the mere record of an unique and miraculous
interposition of Providence, which depended entirely on the
powers above, and could hardly be expected to occur again.

[1] Ch. II.

[2] One of Celsus' accusations against the Christians was that
their Gospels had been written "several times over" (see Origen,
Contra Celsum, ii. 26, 27).

However, the question is not what we desire, but what
we can prove to be the actual fact. And certainly the
difficulties in the way of regarding the Gospel story (or
stories, for there is not one consistent story) as TRUE are
enormous. If anyone will read, for instance, in the four Gospels,
the events of the night preceding the crucifixion and reckon the
time which they would necessarily have taken to enact--
the Last Supper, the agony in the Garden, the betrayal by
Judas, the haling before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin, and
then before Pilate in the Hall of judgment (though
courts for the trial of malefactors do not GENERALLY sit in
the middle of the night); then--in Luke--the interposed visit
to Herod, and the RETURN to Pilate; Pilate's speeches and
washing of hands before the crowd; then the scourging
and the mocking and the arraying of Jesus in purple robe
as a king; then the preparation of a Cross and the long and
painful journey to Golgotha; and finally the Crucifixion
at sunrise;--he will see--as has often been pointed out--
that the whole story is physically impossible. As a record
of actual events the story is impossible; but as a record
or series of notes derived from the witnessing of a "mystery-
play"--and such plays with VERY SIMILAR incidents were common
enough in antiquity in connection with cults of a dying
Savior, it very likely IS true (one can see the very dramatic
character of the incidents: the washing of hands, the
threefold denial by Peter, the purple robe and crown
of thorns, and so forth); and as such it is now accepted
by many well-qualified authorities.[1]

[1] Dr. Frazer in The Golden Bough (vol. ix, "The Scapegoat," p.
400) speaks of the frequency in antiquity of a Mystery-play
relating to a God-man who gives his life and blood for the
people; and he puts forward tentatively and by no means
dogmatically the following note:--"Such a drama, if we are right,
was the original story of Esther and Mordecai, or (to give their
older names) Ishtar and Marduk. It was played in Babylonia, and
from Babylonia the returning Captives brought it to Judaea, where
it was acted, rather as an historical than a mythical piece, by
players who, having to die in grim earnest on a cross or gallows,
were naturally drawn from the gaol rather than the green-room. A
chain of causes, which because we cannot follow them might--in
the loose language of common life--be called an accident,
determined that the part of the dying god in this annual play
should be thrust upon Jesus of Nazareth, whom the enemies he had
made in high places by his outspoken strictures were resolved to
put out of the way." See also vol. iv, "The Dying God," in the
same book.

There are many other difficulties. The raising of Lazarus,
already dead three days, the turning of water into wine
(a miracle attributed to Bacchus, of old), the feeding of
the five thousand, and others of the marvels are, to say
the least, not easy of digestion. The "Sermon on the
Mount" which, with the "Lord's Prayer" embedded in
it, forms the great and accepted repository of 'Christian'
teaching and piety, is well known to be a collection of sayings
from pre-christian writings, including the Psalms, Isaiah,
Ecclesiasticus, the Secrets of Enoch, the Shemonehesreh (a
book of Hebrew prayers), and others; and the fact that this
collection was really made AFTER the time of Jesus, and could
not have originated from him, is clear from the stress which
it lays on "persecutions" and "false prophets"--things which
were certainly not a source of trouble at the time
Jesus is supposed to be speaking, though they were at a
later time--as well as from the occurrence of the word
"Gentiles," which being here used apparently in contra-
distinction to "Christians" could not well be appropriate
at a time when no recognized Christian bodies as yet existed.

But the most remarkable point in this connection is the
absolute silence of the Gospel of Mark on the subject of
the Resurrection and Ascension--that is, of the ORIGINAL
Gospel, for it is now allowed on all hands that the twelve
verses Mark xvi. 9 to the end, are a later insertion. Considering
the nature of this event, astounding indeed, if
physically true, and unique in the history of the world,
it is strange that this Gospel--the earliest written of the
four Gospels, and nearest in time to the actual evidence--
makes no mention of it. The next Gospel in point of time
--that of Matthew--mentions the matter rather briefly
and timidly, and reports the story that the body had been
STOLEN from the sepulchre. Luke enlarges considerably and
gives a whole long chapter to the resurrection and ascension;
while the Fourth Gospel, written fully twenty years later
still--say about A. D. 120--gives two chapters and a GREAT

This increase of detail, however, as one gets farther
and farther from the actual event is just what one always
finds, as I have said before, in legendary traditions. A
very interesting example of this has lately come to light in
the case of the traditions concerning the life and
death of the Persian Bab. The Bab, as most of my readers
will know, was the Founder of a great religious movement
which now numbers (or numbered before the Great War)
some millions of adherents, chiefly Mahommedans, Christians,
Jews and Parsees. The period of his missionary
activity was from 1845 to 1850. His Gospel was singularly
like that of Jesus--a gospel of love to mankind--only (as
might be expected from the difference of date) with an
even wider and more deliberate inclusion of all classes,
creeds and races, sinners and saints; and the incidents
and entourage of his ministry were also singularly similar.
He was born at Shiraz in 1820, and growing up a promising
boy and youth, fell at the age Of 21 under the influence
of a certain Seyyid Kazim, leader of a heterodox sect, and
a kind of fore-runner or John the Baptist to the Bab. The
result was a period of mental trouble (like the "temptation
in the wilderness"), after which the youth returned
to Shiraz and at the age of twenty-five began his own mission.
His real name was Mirza Ali Muhammad, but he called
himself thenceforth The Bab, i.e. the Gate ("I am the Way");
and gradually there gathered round him disciples, drawn
by the fascination of his personality and the devotion
of his character. But with the rapid increase of his
following great jealousy and hatred were excited among the
Mullahs, the upholders of a fanatical and narrow-
minded Mahommedanism and quite corresponding to the
Scribes and Pharisees of the New Testament. By them
he was denounced to the Turkish Government. He was
arrested on a charge of causing political disturbance, and
was condemned to death. Among his disciples was one
favorite,[1] who was absolutely devoted to his Master and
refused to leave him at the last. So together they were
suspended over the city wall (at Tabriz) and simultaneously
shot. This was on the 8th July, 1850.

[1] Mirza Muhammad Ali; and one should note the similarity of
the two names.

In November 1850--or between that date and October 1851,
a book appeared, written by one of the Bb's earliest
and most enthusiastic disciples--a merchant of Kashan--
and giving in quite simple and unpretending form a record
of the above events. There is in it no account of miracles
or of great pretensions to godhood and the like. It is just
a plain history of the life and death of a beloved teacher. It
was cordially received and circulated far and wide; and
we have no reason for doubting its essential veracity. And
even if proved now to be inaccurate in one or two details, this
would not invalidate the moral of the rest of the story--which
is as follows:

After the death of the Bab a great persecution took place
(in 1852); there were many Babi martyrs, and for some
years the general followers were scattered. But in time
they gathered themselves together again; successors to the
original prophet were appointed--though not without
dissensions--and a Babi church, chiefly at Acca or Acre
in Syria, began to be formed. It was during this period
that a great number of legends grew up--legends of miraculous
babyhood and boyhood, legends of miracles performed
by the mature Bab, and so forth; and when the newly-
forming Church came to look into the matter it concluded
(quite naturally!) that such a simple history as I have outlined
above would never do for the foundation of its plans,
now grown somewhat ambitious. So a new Gospel
was framed, called the Tarikh-i-Jadid ("The new History"
or "The new Way"), embodying and including a lot of legendary
matter, and issued with the authority of "the
Church." This was in 1881-2; and comparing this with
the original record (called The point of Kaf) we get
a luminous view of the growth of fable in those thirty brief
years which had elapsed since the Bab's death. Meanwhile
it became very necessary of course to withdraw from circulation
as far as possible all copies of the original record,
lest they should give the lie to the later 'Gospel'; and
this apparently was done very effectively--so effectively
indeed that Professor Edward Browne (to whom the world
owes so much on account of his labors in connection with
Babism), after arduous search, came at one time to the
conclusion that the original was no longer extant. Most
fortunately, however, the well-known Comte de Gobineau
had in the course of his studies on Eastern Religions acquired
a copy of The point of Kaf; and this, after his death, was
found among his literary treasures and identified (as was most
fitting) by Professor Browne himself.

Such in brief is the history of the early Babi Church[1]
--a Church which has grown up and expanded greatly
within the memory of many yet living. Much might be written
about it, but the chief point at present is for us
to note the well-verified and interesting example it gives
of the rapid growth in Syria of a religious legend and the
reasons which contributed to this growth--and to be warned
how much more rapidly similar legends probably grew up
in the same land in the middle of the First Century, A.D.
The story of the Bab is also interesting to us because, while
this mass of legend was formed around it, there is no possible
doubt about the actual existence of a historical nucleus in the
person of Mirza Ali Muhammad.

[1] For literature, see Edward G. Browne's Traveller's Narrative
on the Episode of the Bab (1891), and his New History of the Bab
translated from the Persian of the Tarikh-i-Jadid (Cambridge,
1893). Also Sermons and Essays by Herbert Rix (Williams and
Norgate, 1907), pp. 295-325, "The Persian Bab."

On the whole, one is sometimes inclined to doubt whether
any great movement ever makes itself felt in the world, without
dating first from some powerful personality or
group of personalities, ROUND which the idealizing and myth-
making genius of mankind tends to crystallize. But one
must not even here be too certain. Something of the
Apostle Paul we know, and something of 'John' the
Evangelist and writer of the Epistle I John; and that the
'Christian' doctrines dated largely from the preaching and
teaching of these two we cannot doubt; but Paul
never saw Jesus (except "in the Spirit"), nor does he ever
mention the man personally, or any incident of his actual
life (the "crucified Christ" being always an ideal figure);
and 'John' who wrote the Gospel was certainly not the same
as the disciple who "lay in Jesus' bosom"--though
an intercalated verse, the last but one in the Gospel, asserts
the identity.[1]

[1] It is obvious, in fact, that the WHOLE of the last chapter of
St. John is a later insertion, and again that the two last verses
of that chapter are later than the chapter itself!

There may have been a historic Jesus--and if so, to get
a reliable outline of his life would indeed be a treasure;
but at present it would seem there is no sign of that. If
the historicity of Jesus, in any degree, could be proved,
it would give us reason for supposing--what I have personally
always been inclined to believe--that there was also a
historical nucleus for such personages as Osiris, Mithra,
Krishna, Hercules, Apollo and the rest. The question,
in fact, narrows itself down to this, Have there been in
the course of human evolution certain, so to speak, NODAL
points or periods at which the psychologic currents ran
together and condensed themselves for a new start; and
has each such node or point of condensation been marked
by the appearance of an actual and heroic man (or woman)
who supplied a necessary impetus for the new departure,
and gave his name to the resulting movement? OR is it sufficient
to suppose the automatic formation of such nodes or
starting-points without the intervention of any special
hero or genius, and to imagine that in each case the myth-
making tendency of mankind CREATED a legendary and
inspiring figure and worshiped the same for a long period
afterwards as a god?

As I have said before, this is a question which, interesting
as it is, is not really very important. The main thing being
that the prophetic and creative spirit of mankind HAS from
time to time evolved those figures as idealizations of its
"heart's desire" and placed a halo round their heads.
The long procession of them becomes a REAL piece of History
--the history of the evolution of the human heart, and of
human consciousness. But with the psychology of the whole
subject I shall deal in the next chapter.

I may here, however, dwell for a moment on two other
points which belong properly to this chapter. I have
already mentioned the great reliance placed by the advocates
of a unique 'revelation' on the high morality taught in the
Gospels and the New Testament generally. There is no
need of course to challenge that morality or to depreciate it
unduly; but the argument assumes that it is so greatly superior
to anything of the kind that had been taught before
that we are compelled to suppose something like
a revelation to explain its appearance--whereas of course
anyone familiar with the writings of antiquity, among the
Greeks or Romans or Egyptians or Hindus or later Jews,
knows perfectly well that the reported sayings of Jesus and
the Apostles may be paralleled abundantly from these sources.
I have illustrated this already from the Sermon on
the Mount. If anyone will glance at the Testament of
the Twelve Patriarchs--a Jewish book composed about
120 B. C.--he will see that it is full of moral precepts, and
especially precepts of love and forgiveness, so ardent and
so noble that it hardly suffers in any way when compared
with the New Testament teaching, and that consequently no
special miracle is required to explain the appearance of the

The twelve Patriarchs in question are the twelve sons of
Jacob, and the book consists of their supposed deathbed
scenes, in which each patriarch in turn recites his own
(more or less imaginary) life and deeds and gives pious
counsel to his children and successors. It is composed in
a fine and poetic style, and is full of lofty thought, remindful
in scores of passages of the Gospels--words and all--
the coincidences being too striking to be accidental. It
evidently had a deep influence on the authors of the Gospels,
as well as on St. Paul. It affirms a belief in the coming of
a Messiah, and in salvation for the Gentiles. The following
are some quotations from it:[1] Testament of Zebulun
(p. 116): "My children, I bid you keep the commands of
the Lord, and show mercy to your neighbours, and have
compassion towards all, not towards men only, but also
towards beasts." Dan (p. 127): "Love the Lord through all
your life, and one another with a true heart." Joseph
(p. 173): "I was sick, and the Lord visited me; in prison,
and my God showed favor unto me." Benjamin (p. 209):
"For as the sun is not defiled by shining on dung and mire,
but rather drieth up both and driveth away the evil
smell, so also the pure mind, encompassed by the defilements
of earth, rather cleanseth them and is not itself defiled."

[1] The references being to the Edition by R. H. Charles (1907).

I think these quotations are sufficient to prove the high
standard of this book, which was written in the Second Century
B. C., and FROM which the New Testament authors copiously

The other point has to do with my statement at the beginning
of this chapter that two of the main 'characteristics'
of Christianity were its insistence on (a) a tendency
towards renunciation of the world, and a consequent cultivation
of a purely spiritual love, and (b) on a morality
whose inspiration was a private sense of duty to God rather
than a public sense of duty to one's neighbor and to society
generally. I think, however, that the last-mentioned
characteristic ought to be viewed in relation to a third, namely,
(c) the extraordinarily DEMOCRATIC tendency of the new
Religion.[1] Celsus (A.D. 200) jeered at the early Christians
for their extreme democracy: "It is only the
simpletons, the ignoble, the senseless--slaves and womenfolk
and children--whom they wish to persuade [to join their
churches] or CAN persuade"--"wool-dressers and cobblers
and fullers, the most uneducated and vulgar persons," and
"whosoever is a sinner, or unintelligent or a fool, in
a word, whoever is god-forsaken (), him the
Kingdom of God will receive."[2] Thus Celsus, the accomplished,
clever, philosophic and withal humorous critic,
laughed at the new religionists, and prophesied their speedy
extinction. Nevertheless he was mistaken. There is little
doubt that just the inclusion of women and weaklings
and outcasts did contribute LARGELY to the spread of Christianity
(and Mithraism). It brought hope and a sense of
human dignity to the despised and rejected of the earth.
Of the immense numbers of lesser officials who carried on
the vast organization of the Roman Empire, most perhaps,
were taken from the ranks of the freedmen and quondam
slaves, drawn from a great variety of races and already
familiar with pagan cults of all kinds--Egyptian, Syrian,
Chaldean, Iranian, and so forth.[3] This fact helped to give
to Christianity--under the fine tolerance of the Empire--
its democratic character and also its willingness to accept
all. The rude and menial masses, who had hitherto been
almost beneath the notice of Greek and Roman culture,
flocked in; and though this was doubtless, as time went on,
a source of weakness to the Church, and a cause of dissension
and superstition, yet it was in the inevitable line of human
evolution, and had a psychological basis which I must now
endeavor to explain.

[1] It is important to note, however, that this same democratic
tendency was very marked in Mithraism. "Il est certain," says
Cumont, "qu'il a fait ses premieres conquetes dans les classes
inferieures de la societe et c'est l'a un fait considerable; le
mithracisme est reste longtemps la religion des humbles."
Mysteres de Mithra, p. 68.

[2] See Glover's Conflict of Religions in the early Roman Empire,
ch. viii.

[3] See Toutain, Cultes paiens, vol. ii, conclusion.


The general drift and meaning of the present book must now, I
think, from many hints scattered in the course of it, be growing
clear. But it will be well perhaps in this chapter,
at the risk of some repetition, to bring the whole argument
together. And the argument is that since the dawn
of humanity on the earth--many hundreds of thousands
or perhaps a million years ago--there has been a slow psychologic
evolution, a gradual development or refinement of
Consciousness, which at a certain stage has spontaneously
given birth in the human race to the phenomena of religious
belief and religious ritual--these phenomena (whether in
the race at large or in any branch of it) always following,
step by step, a certain order depending on the degrees
of psychologic evolution concerned; and that it is this
general fact which accounts for the strange similarities of
belief and ritual which have been observed all over the world
and in places far remote from each other, and which have been
briefly noted in the preceding chapters.

And the main stages of this psychologic evolution--those
at any rate with which we are here concerned--are Three:
the stage of Simple Consciousness, the stage of Self-
consciousness, and a third Stage which for want of a
better word we may term the stage of Universal Consciousness.
Of course these three stages may at some future
time be analyzed into lesser degrees, with useful result--
but at present I only desire to draw attention to them in
the rough, so to speak, to show that it is from them and
from their passage one into another that there has flowed
by a perfectly natural logic and concatenation the strange
panorama of humanity's religious evolution--its superstitions
and magic and sacrifices and dancings and ritual generally,
and later its incantations and prophecies, and services
of speech and verse, and paintings and forms of art
and figures of the gods. A wonderful Panorama indeed,
or poem of the Centuries, or, if you like, World-symphony
with three great leading motives!

And first we have the stage of Simple Consciousness. For
hundreds of centuries (we cannot doubt) Man possessed
a degree of consciousness not radically different from that
of the higher Animals, though probably more quick and
varied. He saw, he heard, he felt, he noted. He acted
or reacted, quickly or slowly, in response to these impressions.
But the consciousness of himSELF, as a being separate from
his impressions, as separate from his surroundings, had
not yet arisen or taken hold on him. He was an instinctive
part, of Nature. And in this respect he was very near to
the Animals. Self-consciousness in the animals, in a
germinal form is there, no doubt, but EMBEDDED, so to speak,
in the general world consciousness. It is on this account
that the animals have such a marvellously acute perception
and instinct, being embedded in Nature. And primitive
Man had the same. Also we must, as I have said before,
allow that man in that stage must have had the same sort
of grace and perfection of form and movement as we admire
in the (wild) animals now. It would be quite unreasonable
to suppose that he, the crown in the same sense of creation,
was from the beginning a lame and ill-made abortion. For
a long period the tribes of men, like the tribes of the higher
animals, must have been (on the whole, and allowing
for occasional privations and sufferings and conflicts) well
adapted to their surroundings and harmonious with the
earth and with each other. There must have been
a period resembling a Golden Age--some condition at any
rate which, compared with subsequent miseries, merited the
epithet 'golden.'

It was during this period apparently that the system of
Totems arose. The tribes felt their relationship to their
winged and fourfooted mates (including also other objects
of nature) so deeply and intensely that they adopted the
latter as their emblems. The pre-civilization Man fairly
worshipped, the animals and was proud to be called after
them. Of course we moderns find this strange. We, whose
conceptions of these beautiful creatures are mostly derived
from a broken-down cab-horse, or a melancholy
milk-rummaged cow in a sooty field, or a diseased and
despondent lion or eagle at the Zoo, have never even seen
or loved them and have only wondered with our true commercial
instinct what profit we could extract from them.
But they, the primitives, loved and admired the animals;
they domesticated many of them by the force of a natural
friendship,[1] and accorded them a kind of divinity. This
was the age of tribal solidarity and of a latent sense of
solidarity with Nature. And the point of it all is (with regard
to the subject we have in hand) that this was also
the age from which by a natural evolution the sense of
Religion came to mankind. If Religion in man is the sense
of ties binding his inner self to the powers of the universe
around him, then it is evident I think that primitive man
as I have described him possessed the REALITY of this sense
--though so far buried and subconscious that he was hardly
aware of it. It was only later, and with the coming of
the Second Stage, that this sense began to rise distinctly into

[1] See ch. iv. Tylor in his Primitive Culture (vol. i, p. 460,
edn. 1903) says: "The sense of an absolute psychical distinction
between man and beast, so prevalent in the civilized world, is
hardly to be found among the lower races."

Let us pass then to the Second Stage. There is a moment
in the evolution of a child--somewhere perhaps about the
age of three[1]--when the simple almost animal-like consciousness
of the babe is troubled by a new element--SELF-consciousness. The
change is so marked, so definite, that
(in the depth of the infant's eyes) you can almost SEE it take
place. So in the evolution of the human race there has
been a period--also marked and definite, though extending
intermittent over a vast interval of time--when on men in
general there dawned the consciousness of THEMSELVES,
of their own thoughts and actions. The old simple acceptance
of sensations and experiences gave place to REFLECTION.
The question arose: "How do these sensations and experiences
affect ME? What can _I_ do to modify them, to
encourage the pleasurable, to avoid or inhibit the painful,
and so on?" From that moment a new motive was added
to life. The mind revolved round a new centre. It began
to spin like a little eddy round its own axis. It studied
ITSELF first and became deeply concerned about its own
pleasures and pains, losing touch the while with the larger
life which once dominated it--the life of Nature, the life
of the Tribe. The old unity of the spirit, the old solidarity,
were broken up.

[1] See Bucke's Cosmic Consciousness (Philadelphia, 1901), pp. 1
and 39; also W. McDougall's Social Psychology (1908), p. 146--
where the same age is tentatively suggested.

I have touched on this subject before, but it is so important
that the reader must excuse repetition. There came an inevitable
severance, an inevitable period of strife. The
magic mirror of the soul, reflecting nature as heretofore
in calm and simple grace, was suddenly cracked across.
The new self-conscious man (not all at once but gradually)
became alienated from his tribe. He lapsed into strife
with his fellows. Ambition, vanity, greed, the love of
domination, the desire for property and possessions, set in.
The influences of fellowship and solidarity grew feebler.
He became alienated from his great Mother. His instincts
were less and less sure--and that in proportion as brain-
activity and self-regarding calculation took their place.
Love and mutual help were less compelling in proportion as
the demands of self-interest grew louder and more insistent.
Ultimately the crisis came. Cain murdered his brother
and became an outcast. The Garden of Eden and the
Golden Age closed their gates behind him. He entered
upon a period of suffering--a period of labor and toil and
sorrow such as he had never before known, and such
as the animals certainly have never known. And in that
distressful state, in that doleful valley of his long pilgrimage,
he still remains to-day.

Thus has the canker of self-consciousness done its work.
It would be foolish and useless to rail against the process,
or to blame any one for it. It had to be. Through this
dismal vale of self-seeking mankind had to pass--if only in
order at last to find the True Self which was (and still
remains) its goal. The pilgrimage will not last for ever.
Indeed there are signs that the recent Great War and the
following Events mark the lowest point of descent and the
beginning of the human soul's return to sanity and ascent
towards the heavenly Kingdom. No doubt Man will
arrive again SOME day at the grace, composure and leisurely
beauty of life which the animals realized long ago, though
he seems a precious long time about it; and when all this
nightmare of Greed and Vanity and Self-conceit and Cruelty
and Lust of oppression and domination, which marks the
present period, is past--and it WILL pass--then Humanity
will come again to its Golden Age and to that Paradise of
redemption and peace which has for so long been prophesied.

But we are dealing with the origins of Religion; and what
I want the reader to see is that it was just this breaking
up of the old psychologic unity and continuity of man with
his surroundings which led to the whole panorama of the
rituals and creeds. Man, centering round himself, necessarily
became an exile from the great Whole. He committed the
sin (if it was a sin) of Separation. Anyhow Nemesis was
swift. The sense of loneliness and the sense of guilt came
on him. The realization of himself as a separate conscious
being necessarily led to his attributing a similar consciousness
of some kind to the great Life around him. Action
and reaction are equal and opposite. Whatever he may have
felt before, it became clear to him now that beings
more or less like himself--though doubtless vaster and
more powerful--moved behind the veil of the visible world.
From that moment the belief in Magic and Demons and
Gods arose or slowly developed itself; and in the midst of
this turmoil of perilous and conflicting powers, he perceived
himself an alien and an exile, stricken with Fear, stricken
with the sense of Sin. If before, he had experienced
fear--in the kind of automatic way of self-preservation
in which the animals feel it--he now, with fevered self-
regard and excited imagination, experienced it in double or
treble degree. And if, before, he had been aware that
fortune and chance were not always friendly and propitious
to his designs, he now perceived or thought he perceived
in every adverse happening the deliberate persecution of the
powers, and an accusation of guilt directed against
him for some neglect or deficiency in his relation to them.
Hence by a perfectly logical and natural sequence there arose
the belief in other-world or supernatural powers, whether
purely fortuitous and magical or more distinctly rational
and personal; there arose the sense of Sin, or of
offence against these powers; there arose a complex
ritual of Expiation--whether by personal sacrifice and
suffering or by the sacrifice of victims. There arose too
a whole catalogue of ceremonies--ceremonies of Initiation,
by which the novice should learn to keep within the good
grace of the Powers, and under the blessing of his Tribe
and the protection of its Totem; ceremonies of Eucharistic
meals which should restore the lost sanctity of the common
life and remove the sense of guilt and isolation; ceremonies
of Marriage and rules and rites of sex-connection, fitted to
curb the terrific and demonic violence of passions which
else indeed might easily rend the community asunder.
And so on. It is easy to see that granted an early stage
of simple unreflecting nature-consciousness, and granting
this broken into and, after a time, shattered by the arrival
of SELF-consciousness there would necessarily follow in
spontaneous yet logical order a whole series of religious
institutions and beliefs, which phantasmal and unreal
as they may appear to us, were by no means unreal to our
ancestors. It is easy also to see that as the psychological
process was necessarily of similar general character in every
branch of the human race and all over the world, so the
religious evolutions--the creeds and rituals--took on much
the same complexion everywhere; and, though they differed
in details according to climate and other influences, ran
on such remarkably parallel lines as we have noted.

Finally, to make the whole matter clear, let me repeat
that this event, the inbreak of Self-consciousness, took
place, or BEGAN to take place, an enormous time ago, perhaps
in the beginning of the Neolithic Age. I dwell on the word
"began" because I think it is probable that in its beginnings,
and for a long period after, this newborn consciousness
had an infantile and very innocent character, quite different
from its later and more aggressive forms--just as we see
self-consciousness in a little child has a charm and a grace
which it loses later in a boastful or grasping boyhood and
manhood. So we may understand that though self-consciousness may
have begun to appear in the human race
at this very early time (and more or less contemporaneously
with the invention of very rude tools and unformed
language), there probably did elapse a very long period--
perhaps the whole of the Neolithic Age--before the evils
of this second stage of human evolution came to a head.
Max Muller has pointed out that among the words which
are common to the various branches of Aryan language, and
which therefore belong to the very early period before
the separation of these branches, there are not found the words
denoting war and conflict and the weapons and instruments
of strife--a fact which suggests a long continuance
of peaceful habit among mankind AFTER the first formation
and use of language.

That the birth of language and the birth of self-consciousness
were APPROXIMATELY simultaneous is a probable
theory, and one favored by many thinkers;[1] but the
slow beginnings of both must have been so very protracted
that it is perhaps useless to attempt any very exact
determination. Late researches seem to show that language
began in what might be called TRIBAL expressions of mood
and feeling (holophrases like "go-hunting-kill-bear") without
reference to individual personalities and relationships;
and that it was only at a later stage that words like "I"
and "Thou" came into use, and the holophrases broke up
into "parts of speech" and took on a definite grammatical
structure.[2] If true, these facts point clearly to a long
foreground of rude communal language, something like
though greatly superior to that of the animals, preceding
or preparing the evolution of Self-consciousness proper, in
the forms of "I" and "Thou" and the grammar of
personal actions and relations. "They show that the
plural and all other forms of number in grammar arise not by
multiplication of an original 'I,' but by selection and gradual
EXCLUSION from an original collective 'we.' "[3] According
to this view the birth of self-consciousness in the human
family, or in any particular race or section of the human
family, must have been equally slow and hesitating; and it
would be easy to imagine, as just said, that there may have
been a very long and 'golden' period at its beginning, before
the new consciousness took on its maturer and harsher

[1] Dr. Bucke (Cosmic Consciousness) insists on their
simultaneity, but places both events excessively far back, as we
should think, i.e. 200,000 or 300,000 years ago. Possibly he does
not differentiate sufficiently between the rude language of the
holophrase and the much later growth of formed and grammatical

[2] See A. E. Crawley's Idea of the Soul, ch. ii; Jane Harrison's
Themis, pp. 473-5; and E. J. Payne's History of the New World
called America, vol. ii, pp. 115 sq., where the beginning of
self-consciousness is associated with the break-up of the

[3] Themis, p. 471.

All estimates of the Time involved in these evolutions of
early man are notoriously most divergent and most difficult
to be sure of; but if we take 500,000 years ago for
the first appearance of veritable Man (homo primigenius),[2]
and (following Professor W. J. Sollas)[3] 30,000 or 40,000 years
ago for the first tool-using men (homo sapiens) of the
Chellean Age (palaeolithic), 15,000 for the rock-paintings
and inscriptions of the Aurignacian and Magdalenian
peoples, and 5,000 years ago for the first actual historical
records that have come down to us, we may
perhaps get something like a proportion between the different
periods. That is to say, half a million years for
the purely animal man in his different forms and grades of
evolution. Then somewhere towards the end of palaeolithic
or commencement of neolithic times Self-consciousness dimly
beginning and, after some 10,000 years of slow germination
and pre-historic culture, culminating in the actual historic
period and the dawn of civilization 40 or 50 centuries ago,
and to-day (we hope), reaching the climax which precedes
or foretells its abatement and transformation.

[2] Though Dr. Arthur Keith, Ancient Types of Man (1911), pp. 93
and 102, puts the figure at more like a million.

[3] See Ancient Hunters (1915); also Hastings's Encycl. art.
"Ethnology"; and Havelock Ellis, "The Origin of War," in The
Philosophy of Conflict and other Essays.

No doubt many geologists and anthropologists would favor
periods greatly LONGER than those here mentioned; but
possibly there would be some agreement as to the RATIO
to each other of the times concerned: that is, the said
authorities would probably allow for a VERY long animal-man[1]-
period corresponding to the first stage; for a much shorter
aggressively 'self conscious' period, corresponding to the
Second Stage--perhaps lasting only one thirtieth or
fiftieth of the time of the first period; and then--if
they looked forward at all to a third stage--would be inclined
for obvious reasons to attribute to that again a very extended

[1] I use the phrase 'animal-man' here, not with any flavor of
contempt or reprobation, as the dear Victorians would have used
it, but with a sense of genuine respect and admiration such as
one feels towards the animals themselves.

However, all this is very speculative. To return to the
difficulty about Language and the consideration of those early
times when words adequate to the expression of religious
or magical ideas simply did not exist, it is clear
that the only available, or at any rate the CHIEF means of
expression, in those times, must have consisted in gestures,
in attitudes, in ceremonial ACTIONS--in a more or less elaborate
ritual, in fact.[1] Such ideas as Adoration, Thanksgiving,
confession of Guilt, placation of Wrath, Expiation, Sacrifice,
Celebration of Community, sacramental Atonement, and
a score of others could at that time be expressed by appropriate
rites--and as a matter of fact are often so expressed
even now--MORE readily and directly than by language.
'Dancing'--when that word came to be invented--did
not mean a mere flinging about of the limbs in recreation,
but any expressive movements of the body which might be
used to convey the feelings of the dancer or of the audience
whom he represented. And so the 'religious dance' became
a most important part of ritual.

[1] See ch. ix and xi.

So much for the second stage of Consciousness. Let us
now pass on to the Third Stage. It is evident that the
process of disruption and dissolution--disruption both of
the human mind, and of society round about it, due to the
action of the Second Stage--could not go on indefinitely.
There are hundreds of thousands of people at the present
moment who are dying of mental or bodily disease--their
nervous systems broken down by troubles connected with excessive
self-consciousness--selfish fears and worries and
restlessness. Society at large is perishing both in industry
and in warfare through the domination in its organism of
the self-motives of greed and vanity and ambition. This
cannot go on for ever. Things must either continue in
the same strain, in which case it is evident that we are
approaching a crisis of utter dissolution, OR a new element
must enter in, a new inspiration of life, and we (as individuals)
and the society of which we form a part, must make a fresh
start. What is that new and necessary element of regeneration?

It is evident that it must be a new birth--the entry
into a further stage of consciousness which must supersede
the present one. Through some such crisis as we have spoken
of, through the extreme of suffering, the mind of
Man, AS AT PRESENT CONSTITUTED, has to die.[1] Self-consciousness
has to die, and be buried, and rise again in a new form.
Probably nothing but the extreme of suffering can bring
this about.[2] And what is this new form in which consciousness
has to rearise? Obviously, since the miseries of the
world during countless centuries have dated from that
fatal attempt to make the little personal SELF the centre of
effort and activity, and since that attempt has inevitably led
to disunity and discord and death, both within the mind itself
and within the body of society, there is nothing left but
the return to a Consciousness which shall have Unity as
its foundation-principle, and which shall proceed from the
direct SENSE AND PERCEPTION of such an unity throughout
creation. The simple mind of Early Man and the Animals
was of that character--a consciousness, so to speak, continuous
through nature, and though running to points of
illumination and foci of special activity in individuals, yet
at no point essentially broken or imprisoned in separate
compartments. (And it is this CONTINUITY of the primitive
mind which enables us, as I have already explained, to
understand the mysterious workings of instinct and intuition.)
To some such unity-consciousness we have to return;
but clearly it will be--it is not--of the simple inchoate
character of the First Stage, for it has been enriched,
deepened, and greatly extended by the experience of the
Second Stage. It is in fact, a new order of mentality--the
consciousness of the Third Stage.

[1] "The mind must be restrained in the heart till it comes to an
end," says the Maitrayana-Brahmana-Upanishad.

[2] One may remember in this connection the tapas of the Hindu
yogi, or the ordeals of initiates into the pagan Mysteries

In order to understand the operation and qualities of this
Third Consciousness, it may be of assistance just now
to consider in what more or less rudimentary way or ways
it figured in the pagan rituals and in Christianity. We have
seen the rude Siberyaks in North-Eastern Asia or
the 'Grizzly' tribes of North American Indians in the
neighborhood of Mount Shasta paying their respects and
adoration to a captive bear--at once the food-animal,
and the divinity of the Tribe. A tribesman had slain a
bear--and, be it said, had slain it not in a public hunt with
all due ceremonies observed, but privately for his own
satisfaction. He had committed, therefore, a sin theoretically
unpardonable; for had he not--to gratify his
personal desire for food--levelled a blow at the guardian
spirit of the Tribe? Had he not alienated himself from
his fellows by destroying its very symbol? There was
only one way by which he could regain the fellowship of
his companions. He must make amends by some public
sacrifice, and instead of retaining the flesh of the animal
for himself he must share it with the whole tribe (or clan)
in a common feast, while at the same time, tensest prayers
and thanks are offered to the animal for the gift of his body
for food. The Magic formula demanded nothing less than
this--else dread disaster would fall upon the man who sinned,
and upon the whole brotherhood. Here, and in a hundred
similar rites, we see the three phases of tribal psychology--
the first, in which the individual member simply remains
within the compass of the tribal mind, and only acts in
harmony with it; the second, in which the individual
steps outside and to gratify his personal SELF performs an
action which alienates him from his fellows; and the third,
in which, to make amends and to prove his sincerity, he
submits to some sacrifice, and by a common feast or some
such ceremony is received back again into the unity of the
fellowship. The body of the animal-divinity is consumed,
and the latter becomes, both in the spirit and in the flesh,
the Savior of the tribe.

In course of time, when the Totem or Guardian-spirit
is no longer merely an Animal, or animal-headed Genius,
but a quite human-formed Divinity, still the same general
outline of ideas is preserved--only with gathered intensity
owing to the specially human interest of the drama. The
Divinity who gives his life for his flock is no longer just
an ordinary Bull or Lamb, but Adonis or Osiris or Dionysus
or Jesus. He is betrayed by one of his own followers, and
suffers death, but rises again redeeming all with himself
in the one fellowship; and the corn and the wine and the
wild flesh which were his body, and which he gave for the
sustenance of mankind, are consumed in a holy supper
of reconciliation. It is always the return to unity which
is the ritual of Salvation, and of which the symbol is the
Eucharist--the second birth, the formation of "a new creature
when old things are passed away." For "Except a
man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God";
and "the first man is of the earth, earthly, but the second
man is the Lord from heaven." Like a strange refrain,
and from centuries before our era, comes down this belief
in a god who is imprisoned in each man, and whose liberation
is a new birth and the beginning of a new creature:
"Rejoice, ye initiates in the mystery of the liberated god"
--rejoice in the thought of the hero who died as a mortal
in the coffin, but rises again as Lord of all!

Who then was this "Christos" for whom the world
was waiting three centuries before our era (and indeed
centuries before that)? Who was this "thrice Savior"
whom the Greek Gnostics acclaimed? What was the
meaning of that "coming of the Son of Man" whom Daniel
beheld in vision among the clouds of heaven? or of the
"perfect man" who, Paul declared, should deliver us from
the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of
the children of God? What was this salvation which
time after time and times again the pagan deities promised
to their devotees, and which the Eleusinian and other
Mysteries represented in their religious dramas with such
convincing enthusiasm that even Pindar could say "Happy
is he who has seen them (the Mysteries) before he goes
beneath the hollow earth: that man knows the true end of
life and its source divine"; and concerning which Sophocles
and Aeschylus were equally enthusiastic?[1]

[1] See Farnell's Cults of the Greek States, vol. iii, p. 194;
also The Mysteries, Pagan and Christian, by S. Cheetham, D.D.
(London, 1897).

Can we doubt, in the light of all that we have already
said, what the answer to these questions is? As with
the first blossoming of self-consciousness in the human
mind came the dawn of an immense cycle of experience--
a cycle indeed of exile from Eden, of suffering and toil and
blind wanderings in the wilderness, yet a cycle absolutely
necessary and unavoidable--so now the redemption, the
return, the restoration has to come through another forward
step, in the same domain. Abandoning the quest and the
glorification of the separate isolated self we have to return
to the cosmic universal life. It is the blossoming indeed
of this 'new' life in the deeps of our minds which is salvation,
and which all the expressions which I have just cited have
indicated. It is this presence which all down the ages
has been hailed as Savior and Liberator: the daybreak of a
consciousness so much vaster, so much more glorious, than
all that has gone before that the little candle of the local self
is swallowed up in its rays. It is the return home, the
return into direct touch with Nature and Man--the liberation
from the long exile of separation, from the painful sense
of isolation and the odious nightmare of guilt and 'sin.' Can
we doubt that this new birth--this third stage of consciousness,
if we like to call it so--has to come, that it is indeed
not merely a pious hope or a tentative theory, but a FACT
testified to already by a cloud of witnesses in the past--
witnesses shining in their own easily recognizable and authentic
light, yet for the most part isolated from each other among
the arid and unfruitful wastes of Civilization, like glow-worms
in the dry grass of a summer night?

Since the first dim evolution of human self-consciousness
an immense period, as we have said--perhaps 30,000 years,
perhaps even more--has elapsed. Now, in the present
day this period is reaching its culmination, and though
it will not terminate immediately, its end is, so to speak,
in sight. Meanwhile, during all the historical age behind
us--say for the last 4,000 or 5,000 years--evidence has been
coming in (partly in the religious rites recorded, partly
in oracles, poems and prophetic literature) of the onset
of this further illumination--"the light which never was
on sea or land"--and the cloud of witnesses, scattered
at first, has in these later centuries become so evident and
so notable that we are tempted to believe in or to anticipate
a great and general new birth, as now not so very far off.[1]
[We should, however, do well to remember, in this connection,
that many a time already in the history the Millennium
has been prophesied, and yet not arrived punctual to date,
and to take to ourselves the words of 'Peter,' who somewhat
grievously disappointed at the long-delayed second coming
of the Lord Jesus in the clouds of heaven, wrote in his second
Epistle: "There shall come in the last days scoffers,
walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise
of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all
things continue as they were from the beginning of the

[1] For an amplification of all this theme, see Dr. Bucke's
remarkable and epoch-making book, Cosmic Consciousness (first
published at Philadelphia, 1901).

[2] 2 Peter iii. 4; written probably about A.D. 150.

I say that all through the historical age behind us there
has been evidence--even though scattered-- of salvation
and the return of the Cosmic life. Man has never been so
completely submerged in the bitter sea of self-centredness but
what he has occasionally been able to dash the spray from
his eyes and glimpse the sun and the glorious light of
heaven. From how far back we cannot say, but from an
immense antiquity come the beautiful myths which indicate

 Cinderella, the cinder-maiden, sits unbeknown in her earthly.
 Gibed and jeered at she bewails her lonely fate;
 Nevertheless youngest-born she surpasses her sisters and endues
     a garment of the sun and stars;
 From a tiny spark she ascends and irradiates the universe,
     and is wedded to the prince of heaven.

How lovely this vision of the little maiden sitting unbeknown
close to the Hearth-fire of the universe--herself
indeed just a little spark from it; despised and rejected;
rejected by the world, despised by her two elder sisters (the
body and the intellect); yet she, the soul, though latest-born,
by far the most beautiful of the three. And of
the Prince of Love who redeems and sets her free; and of her
wedding garment the glory and beauty of all nature and of
the heavens! The parables of Jesus are charming in their
way, but they hardly reach this height of inspiration.

Or the world-old myth of Eros and Psyche. How strange
that here again there are three sisters (the three stages of
human evolution), and the latest-born the most beautiful
of the three, and the jealousies and persecutions heaped on
the youngest by the others, and especially by Aphrodite the
goddess of mere sensual charm. And again the coming of
the unknown, the unseen Lover, on whom it is not permitted
for mortals to look; and the long, long tests and sufferings
and trials which Psyche has to undergo before Eros
may really take her to his arms and translate her to the
heights of heaven. Can we not imagine how when these
things were represented in the Mysteries the world flocked
to see them, and the poets indeed said, "Happy are
they that see and seeing can understand?" Can we not
understand how it was that the Amphictyonic decree of the
second century B.C. spoke of these same Mysteries as enforcing
the lesson that "the greatest of human blessings
is fellowship and mutual trust"?


Thus we come to a thing which we must not pass over,
because it throws great light on the meaning and interpretation
of all these rites and ceremonies of the great World-religion. I
mean the subject of the Ancient Mysteries. And to this I will
give a few pages.

These Mysteries were probably survivals of the oldest religious
rites of the Greek races, and in their earlier forms
consisted not so much in worship of the gods of Heaven
as of the divinities of Earth, and of Nature and Death. Crude,
no doubt, at first, they gradually became (especially in their
Eleusinian form) more refined and philosophical; the rites
were gradually thrown open, on certain conditions, not
only to men generally, but also to women, and even to slaves;
and in the end they influenced Christianity deeply.[1]

[1] See Edwin Hatch, D.D., The Influence of Greek Ideas and
Usages on the Christian Church (London, 1890), pp. 283-5.

There were apparently three forms of teaching made
use of in these rites: these were , things SAID;
, things SHOWN; and , things PERFORMED
or ACTED.[1] I have given already some instances
of things said-texts whispered for consolation in the
neophyte's car, and so forth; of the THIRD group, things
enacted, we have a fair amount of evidence. There were
ritual dramas or passion-plays, of which an important
one dealt with the descent of Kore or Proserpine into the
underworld, as in the Eleusinian representations,[2] and her
redemption and restoration to the upper world in Spring;
another with the sufferings of Psyche and her rescue by Eros,
as described by Apuleius[3]--himself an initiate in the cult
of Isis. There is a parody by Lucian, which tells
of the birth of Apollo, the marriage of Coronis, and the
coming of Aesculapius as Savior; there was the dying
and rising again of Dionysus (chief divinity of the Orphic
cult); and sometimes the mystery of the birth of Dionysus
as a holy child.[4] There was, every year at Eleusis, a
solemn and lengthy procession or pilgrimage made, symbolic
of the long pilgrimage of the human soul, its sufferings and

[1] Cheetham, op. cit., pp. 49-61 sq.

[2] See Farnell, op. cit., iii. 158 sq.

[3] See The Golden Ass.

[4] Farnell, ii, 177.

"Almost always," says Dr. Cheetham, "the suffering of a
god--suffering followed by triumph--seems to have been
the subject of the sacred drama." Then occasionally to
the Neophytes, after taking part in the pilgrimage, and
when their minds had been prepared by an ordeal of
darkness and fatigue and terrors, was accorded a revelation
of Paradise, and even a vision of Transfiguration--the form
of the Hierophant himself, or teacher of the Mysteries,
being seen half-lost in a blaze of light.[1] Finally, there
was the eating of food and drinking of barley-drink from
the sacred chest[2]--a kind of Communion or Eucharist.

[1] Ibid., 179 sq.

[2] Ibid., 186. Sacred chests, in which holy things were kept,
figure frequently in early rites and legends--as in the case of
the ark of the Jewish tabernacle, the ark or box carried in
celebrations of the mysteries of Bacchus (Theocritus, Idyll
xxvi), the legend of Pandora's box which contained the seeds of
all good and evil, the ark of Noah which saved all living
creatures from the flood, the Argo of the argonauts, the
moonshaped boat in which Isis floating over the waters gathered
together the severed limbs of Osiris, and so brought about his
resurrection, and the many chests or coffins out of which the
various gods (Adonis, Attis, Osiris, Jesus), having been
laid there in death, rose again for the redemption of the world.
They all evidently refer to the mystic womb of Nature and of
Woman, and are symbols of salvation and redemption (For a full
discussion of this subject, see The Great Law of religious
origins, by W. Williamson, ch. iv.)

Apuleius in The Golden Ass gives an interesting account
of his induction into the mysteries of Isis: how, bidding
farewell one evening to the general congregation outside, and
clothed in a new linen garment, he was handed by
the priest into the inner recesses of the temple itself; how
he "approached the confines of death, and having trod on
the threshold of Proserpine (the Underworld), returned
therefrom, being borne through all the elements. At
midnight I saw the sun shining with its brilliant light:
and I approached the presence of the Gods beneath and
the Gods above, and stood near and worshipped them."
During the night things happened which must not be
disclosed; but in the morning he came forth "consecrated
by being dressed in twelve stoles painted with the figures of
animals."[1] He ascended a pulpit in the midst of the Temple,
carrying in his right hand a burning torch, while a
chaplet encircled his head, from which palm-leaves projected
like rays of light. "Thus arrayed like the Sun, and
placed so as to resemble a statue, on a sudden the curtains
being drawn aside, I was exposed to the gaze of the multitude.
After this I celebrated the most joyful day of my
initiation, as my natal day [day of the New Birth]
and there was a joyous banquet and mirthful conversation."

[1] An allusion no doubt to the twelve signs of the Zodiac, the
pathway of the Sun, as well as to the practice of the ancient
priests of wearing the skins of totem-animals in sign of their

One can hardly refuse to recognize in this account the
description of some kind of ceremony which was supposed
to seal the illumination of a man and his new birth into
divinity--the animal origin, the circling of all experience,
the terrors of death, and the resurrection in the form of
the Sun, the symbol of all light and life. The very word
"illumination" carries the ideas of light and a new birth with
it. Reitzenstein in his very interesting book on the Greek
Mysteries[1] speaks over and over again of the illumination
() which was held to attend Initiation and
Salvation. The doctrine of Salvation indeed ()
was, as we have already seen, rife and widely current in
the Second Century B. C. It represented a real experience,
and the man who shared this experience became a 
 or divine man.[2] In the Orphic Tablets the
phrase "I am a child of earth and the starry heaven, but
my race is of heaven (alone)" occurs more than once.
In one of the longest of them the dead man is instructed
"after he has passed the waters (of Lethe) where the white
Cypress and the House of Hades are" to address these very
words to the guardians of the Lake of Memory while
he asks for a drink of cold water from that Lake. In
another the dead person himself is thus addressed: "Hail,
thou who hast endured the Suffering, such as indeed thou
hadst never suffered before; thou hast become god from
man!"[3] Ecstacy was the acme of the religious life; and,
what is especially interesting to us, Salvation or the divine
nature was open to all men--to all, that is, who should go
through the necessary stages of preparation for it.[4]

[1] Die hellenistischen Mysterien-Religionen, by R. Reitzenstein,
Leipzig, 1910.

[2] Reitzenstein, p. 12.

[3] These Tablets (so-called) are instructions to the dead as to
their passage into the other world, and have been found in the
tombs, in Italy and elsewhere, inscribed on very thin gold plates
and buried with the departed. See Manual of Greek Antiquities by
Percy Gardner and F. B. Jerome (1896); also Prolegomena to Greek
Religion by Jane E. Harrison (1908).

[4] Reitzenstein, pp. 15 and 18; also S. J. Case, Evolution of
Early Christianity, p. 301.

Reitzenstein contends (p. 26) that in the Mysteries,
transfiguration (), salvation (),
and new birth () were often conjoined. He says
(p. 31), that in the Egyptian Osiris-cult, the Initiate acquires
a nature "equal to God" (), the very same expression
as that used of Christ Jesus in Philippians ii. 6;
he mentions Apollonius of Tyana and Sergius Paulus as
instances of men who by their contemporaries were considered
to have attained this nature; and he quotes Akhnaton
(Pharaoh of Egypt in 1375 B.C.) as having said,
"Thou art in my heart; none other knows Thee, save thy
son Akhnaton; Thou hast initiated him into thy wisdom
and into thy power." He also quotes the words of Hermes
(Trismegistus)--"Come unto Me, even as children to their
mother's bosom: Thou art I, and I am Thou; what is thine
is mine, and what is mine is thine; for indeed I am
thine image ()," and refers to the dialogue between
Hermes and Tat, in which they speak of the great and mystic
New Birth and Union with the All--with all Elements, Plants
and Animals, Time and Space.

"The Mysteries," says Dr. Cheetham very candidly,
"influenced Christianity considerably and modified it in some
important respects"; and Dr. Hatch, as we have seen,
not only supports this general view, but follows it
out in detail.[1] He points out that the membership of the
Mystery-societies was very numerous in the earliest times,
A.D.; that their general aims were good, including a sense of
true religion, decent life, and brotherhood; that cleanness
from crime and confession were demanded from the neophyte; that
confession was followed by baptism () and
THAT by sacrifice; that the term 
(illumination) was adopted by the Christian Church as
the name for the new birth of baptism; that the Christian
usage of placing a seal on the forehead came from the same
source; that baptism itself after a time was called a mystery
(); that the sacred cakes and barley-drink of
the Mysteries became the milk and honey and bread and
wine of the first Christian Eucharists, and that the occasional
sacrifice of a lamb on the Christian altar ("whose mention
is often suppressed") probably originated in the same way.
Indeed, the conception of the communion-table AS an altar
and many other points of ritual gradually established themselves
from these sources as time went on.[2] It is hardly
necessary to say more in proof of the extent to which in
these ancient representations "things said" and "scenes
enacted" forestalled the doctrines and ceremonials of

[1] See Hatch, op. cit., pp. 290 sq.

[2] See Dionysus Areop. (end of fifth century), who describes the
Christian rites generally in Mystery language (Hatch, 296).

"But what of the second group above-mentioned, the
"things SHOWN"? It is not so easy naturally to get exact
information concerning these, but they seem to have been
specially holy objects, probably things connected with
very ancient rituals in the past--such as sacred stones,
old and rude images of the gods, magic nature-symbols, like
that half-disclosed ear of corn above-mentioned (Ch. V.). "In the
Temple of Isis at Philae," says Dr. Cheetham,
"the dead body of Osiris is represented with stalks
of corn springing from it, which a priest waters from
a vessel. An inscription says: 'This is the form of him
whom we may not name, Osiris of the Mysteries who sprang
from the returning waters' [the Nile]." Above all, no doubt,
there were images of the phallus and the vulva, the great
symbols of human fertility. We have seen (Ch. XII) that
the lingam and the yoni are, even down to to-day, commonly
retained and honored as holy objects in the S. Indian
Temples, and anointed with oil (some of them) for
a very practical reason. Sir J. G. Frazer, in his lately
published volumes on The Folk-lore of the Old Testament,
has a chapter (in vol. ii) on the very numerous sacred stones
of various shapes and sizes found or spoken of in Palestine
and other parts of the world. Though uncertain as to the
meaning of these stones he mentions that they are "frequently,
though not always, UPRIGHT." Anointing them with
oil, he assures us, "is a widespread practice, sometimes by
women who wish to obtain children." And he concludes
the chapter by saying: "The holy stone at Bethel was probably
one of those massive standing stones or rough pillars
which the Hebrews called masseboth, and which,
as we have seen, were regular adjuncts of Canaanite and
early Israelitish sanctuaries." We have already mentioned
the pillars Jachin and Boaz which stood before the Temple
of Solomon, and which had an acknowledged sexual significance;
and so it seems probable that a great number of
these holy stones had a similar meaning.[1] Following this
clue it would appear likely that the lingam thus anointed
and worshipped in the Temples of India and elsewhere IS the
original [2] adored by the human race from the very
beginning, and that at a later time, when the Priest
and the King, as objects of worship, took the place
of the Lingam, THEY also were anointed with the chrism of
fertility. That the exhibition of these emblems should be
part of the original 'Mystery'-rituals was perfectly
natural--especially because, as we have explained already[3]
old customs often continued on in a quite naive fashion
in the rituals, when they had come to be thought indecent
or improper by a later public opinion; and (we may say)
was perfectly in order, because there is plenty of evidence to
show that in SAVAGE initiations, of which the Mysteries were
the linear descendants, all these things WERE explained to
the novices, and their use actually taught.[4] No doubt also
there were some representations or dramatic incidents of
a fairly coarse character, as deriving from these ancient
sources.[5] It is, however, quaint to observe how the mere
mention of such things has caused an almost hysterical
commotion among the critics of the Mysteries--from the
day of the early Christians who (in order to belaud their
own religion) were never tired of abusing the Pagans, onward
to the present day when modern scholars either on
the one hand follow the early Christians in representing
the Mysteries as sinks of iniquity or on the other (knowing
this charge could not be substantiated except in the period
of their final decadence) take the line of ignoring the sexual
interest attaching to them as non-existent or at any rate
unworthy of attention. The good Archdeacon Cheetham,
for instance, while writing an interesting book on the Mysteries
passes by this side of the subject ALMOST as if it did
not exist; while the learned Dr. Farnell, overcome apparently
by the weight of his learning, and unable to confront
the alarming obstacle presented by these sexual rites and
aspects, hides himself behind the rather non-committal
remark (speaking of the Eleusinian rites) "we have no
right to imagine any part of this solemn ceremony as coarse
or obscene."[6] As Nature, however, has been known (quite
frequently) to be coarse or obscene, and as the initiators
of the Mysteries were probably neither 'good' nor 'learned,'
but were simply anxious to interpret Nature as best they
could, we cannot find fault with the latter for the way
they handled the problem, nor indeed well see how they could
have handled it better.

[1] F. Nork, Der Mystagog, mentions that the Roman Penates were
commonly anointed with oil. J. Stuart Hay, in his Life of
Elagabalus (1911), says that "Elagabal was worshipped under the
symbol of a great black stone or meteorite, in the shape of a
Phallus, which having fallen from the heavens represented a true
portion of the Godhead, much after the style of those black stone
images popularly venerated in Norway and other parts of Europe."

[2] J. E. Hewitt, in his Ruling Races of Pre-historic Times (p.
64), gives a long list of pre-historic races who worshipped the

[3] See Ch. XI.

[4] See Ernest Crawley's Mystic Rose, ch. xiii, pp. 310 and 313:
"In certain tribes of Central Africa both boys and girls after
initiation must as soon as possible have intercourse." Initiation
being not merely preliminary to, but often ACTUALLY marriage. The
same among Kaffirs, Congo tribes, Senegalese, etc. Also among the
Arunta of Australia.

[5] Professor Diederichs has said that "in much ancient ritual it
was thought that mystic communion with the deity could be
obtained through the semblance of sex-intercourse--as in the
Attis-Cybele worship, and the Isis-ritual." (Farnell.)
Reitzenstein says (op. cit., p. 20.) that the Initiates, like
some of the Christian Nuns at a later time, believed
in union with God through receiving the seed.

[6] Farnell, op. cit., iii. 176. Messrs. Gardner and Jevons, in
their Manual of Greek Antiquities, above-quoted, compare the
Eleusinian Mysteries favorably with some of the others, like the
Arcadian, the Troezenian, the Aeginaean, and the very primitive
Samothracian: saying (p. 278) that of the last-mentioned "we know
little, but safely conjecture that in them the ideas of sex and
procreation dominated EVEN MORE than in those of Eleusis."

After all it is pretty clear that the early peoples saw
in Sex the great cohesive force which kept (we will not say
Humanity but at any rate) the Tribe together, and sustained
the race. In the stage of simple Consciousness this
must have been one of the first things that the budding intellect
perceived. Sex became one of the earliest divinities,
and there is abundant evidence that its organs and processes
generally were invested with a religious sense of awe and
sanctity. It was in fact the symbol (or rather the actuality)
of the permanent undying life of the race, and as such was
sacred to the uses of the race. Whatever taboos may have,
among different peoples, guarded its operations, it was not
essentially a thing to be concealed, or ashamed of. Rather
the contrary. For instance the early Christian writer,
Hippolytus, Bishop of Pontus (A.D. 200), in his Refutation
of all Heresies, Book V, says that the Samothracian Mysteries,
just mentioned, celebrate Adam as the primal or archetypal
Man eternal in the heavens; and he then continues:
"Habitually there stand in the temple of the
Samothracians two images of naked men having both hands
stretched aloft towards heaven, and their pudenda turned
upwards, as is also the case with the statue of Mercury
on Mt. Cyllene. And the aforesaid images are figures of
the primal man, and of that spiritual one that is born again,
in every respect of the same substance with that [first]

This extract from Hippolytus occurs in the long discourse
in which he 'exposes' the heresy of the so-called Naassene
doctrines and mysteries. But the whole discourse should be
read by those who wish to understand the Gnostic philosophy
of the period contemporary with and anterior to the
birth of Christianity. A translation of the discourse, carefully
analyzed and annotated, is given in G. R. S. Mead's
Thrice-greatest Hermes[1] (vol. i); and Mead himself, speaking
of it, says (p. 141): "The claim of these Gnostics was
practically that the good news of the Christ [the Christos]
was the consummation of the inner doctrine of the Mystery-
institutions of all the nations; the end of them all being
the revelation of the Mystery of Man." Further, he explains
that the Soul, in these doctrines, was regarded as synonymous
with the Cause of All; and that its loves were twain--of
Aphrodite (or Life), and of Persephone (or Death and the
other world). Also that Attis, abandoning his sex in the
worship of the Mother-Goddess (Dea Syria), ascends to
Heaven--a new man, Male-female, and the origin of all
things: the hidden Mystery being the Phallus itself,
erected as Hermes in all roads and boundaries and temples,
the Conductor and Reconductor of Souls.

[1] Reitzenstein, op. cit., quotes the discourse largely. The
Thrice-greatest Hermes may also be consulted for a translation of
Plutarch's Isis and Osiris.

All this may sound strange, but one may fairly say that
it represented in its degree, and in that first 'unfallen' stage
of human thought and psychology, a true conception of the
cosmic Life, and indeed a conception quite sensible and
admirable, until, of course, the Second Stage brought
corruption. No sooner was this great force of the cosmic
life diverted from its true uses of Generation and
Regeneration[1] and appropriated by the individual to his own
private pleasure--no sooner was its religious character as a
tribal service[2], (often rendered within the Temple precincts)
lost sight of or degraded into a commercial transaction--than
every kind of evil fell upon mankind. Corruptio optimi
pessima. It must be remembered too that simultaneous
with this sexual disruption occurred the disruption of
other human relations; and we cease to be surprised that
disease and selfish passions, greed, jealousy, slander, cruelty,
and wholesale murder, raged--and have raged ever since.

[1] For the special meaning of these two terms, see The Drama of
Love and Death, by E. Carpenter, pp. 59-61.

[2] Ernest Crawley in The Mystic Rose challenges this
identification of Religion with tribal interests; yet his
arguments are not very convincing. On p. 5 he admits that "there
is a religious meaning inherent in the primitive conception and
practice of ALL human relations"; and a large part of his ch. xii
is taken up in showing that even such institutions as the
Saturnalia were religious in confirming the sense of social union
and leading to 'extended identity.'

But for the human soul--whatever its fate, and whatever
the dangers and disasters that threaten it--there is always
redemption waiting. As we saw in the last chapter, this
corruption of Sex led (quite naturally) to its denial and
rejection; and its denial led to the differentiation from it of
Love. Humanity gained by the enthronement And deification
of Love, pure and undefiled, and (for the time
being) exalted beyond this mortal world, and free from all
earthly contracts. But again in the end, the divorce thus
introduced between the physical and the spiritual led to
the crippling of both. Love relegated, so to speak, to
heaven as a purely philanthropical, pious and 'spiritual'
affair, became exceedingly DULL; and sex, remaining on
earth, but deserted by the redeeming presence, fell into mere
"carnal curiosity and wretchedness of unclean living."
Obviously for the human race there remains nothing, in
the final event, but the reconciliation of the physical
and the spiritual, and after many sufferings, the reunion of
Eros and Psyche.

There is still, however, much to be said about the Third
State of Consciousness. Let us examine into it a little
more closely. Clearly, since it is a new state, and not
merely an extension of a former one, one cannot arrive at it
by argument derived from the Second state, for all conscious
Thought such as we habitually use simply keeps
us IN the Second state. No animal or quite primitive man
could possibly understand what we mean by Self-consciousness
till he had experienced it. Mere argument would not
enlighten him. And so no one in the Second state can quite
realize the Third state till he has experienced it. Still,
explanations may help us to perceive in what direction to look,
and to recognize in some of our experiences an approach to
the condition sought.

Evidently it is a mental condition in some respects more
similar to the first than to the second stage. The second
stage of human psychologic evolution is an aberration,
a divorce, a parenthesis. With its culmination and dismissal
the mind passes back into the simple state of union
with the Whole. (The state of Ekagrata in the Hindu philosophy:
one-pointedness, singleness of mind.) And the consciousness
of the Whole, and of things past and things to
come and things far around--which consciousness had
been shut out by the concentration on the local self--begins
to return again. This is not to say, of course, that the
excursus in the second stage has been a loss and a defect.
On the contrary, it means that the Return is a bringing of
all that has been gained during the period of exile (all sorts
of mental and technical knowledge and skill, emotional
developments, finesse and adaptability of mind) BACK into harmony
with the Whole. It means ultimately a great gain.
The Man, perfected, comes back to a vastly extended
harmony. He enters again into a real understanding and
confidential relationship with his physical body and with
the body of the society in which he dwells--from both
of which he has been sadly divorced; and he takes up
again the broken thread of the Cosmic Life.

Everyone has noticed the extraordinary consent sometimes
observable among the members of an animal community--
how a flock of 500 birds (e. g. starlings) will suddenly change
its direction of flight--the light on the wings shifting
INSTANTANEOUSLY, as if the impulse to veer came to all at the
same identical moment; or how bees will swarm or otherwise
act with one accord, or migrating creatures (lemmings,
deer, gossamer spiders, winged ants) the same. Whatever
explanation of these facts we favor--whether the possession
of swifter and finer means of external communication than
we can perceive, or whether a common and inner sensitivity
to the genius of the Tribe (the "Spirit of the Hive") or
to the promptings of great Nature around--in any case these
facts of animal life appear to throw light on the possibilities
of an accord and consent among the members of emaciated
humanity, such as we dream of now, and seem to bid us have
good hope for the future.

It is here, perhaps, that the ancient worship of the Lingam
comes in. The word itself is apparently connected with
our word 'link,' and has originally the same meaning.[1]
It is the link between the generations. Beginning with the
worship of the physical Race-life, the course of psychologic
evolution has been first to the worship of the Tribe
(or of the Totem which represents the tribe); then to the
worship of the human-formed God of the tribe--the God
who dies and rises again eternally, as the tribe passes on
eternal--though its members perpetually perish; then to
the conception of an undying Savior, and the realization
and distinct experience of some kind of Super-consciousness
which does certainly reside, more or less hidden, in the
deeps of the mind, and has been waiting through the
ages for its disclosure and recognition. Then again to the
recognition that in the sacrifices, the Slayer and the Slain
are one--the strange and profoundly mystic perception
that the God and the Victim are in essence the same--the
dedication of 'Himself to Himself'[2] and simultaneously
with this the interpretation of the Eucharist as meaning,
even for the individual, the participation in Eternal Life--
the continuing life of the Tribe, or ultimately of Humanity.[3]
The Tribal order rises to Humanity; love ascends from the
lingam to yogam, from physical union alone to the union
with the Whole--which of course includes physical and all
other kinds of union. No wonder that the good St. Paul,
witnessing that extraordinary whirlpool of beliefs and practices,
new and old, there in the first century A.D.--the unabashed
adoration of sex side by side with the transcendental
devotions of the Vedic sages and the Gnostics--became
somewhat confused himself and even a little violent, scolding
his disciples (I Cor. x. 21) for their undiscriminating
acceptance, as it seemed to him, of things utterly alien and
antagonistic. "Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord and
the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table
and the table of devils."

[1] See Sanskrit Dictionary.

[2] See Ch. VIII.

[3] There are many indications in literature--in prophetic or
poetic form--of this awareness and distinct conviction of an
eternal life, reached through love and an inner sense of union
with others and with humanity at large; indications which bear
the mark of absolute genuineness and sincerity of feeling. See,
for instance, Whitman's poem, "To the Garden the World" (Leaves
of Grass, complete edition, p. 79). But an eternal life of the
third order; not, thank heaven! an eternity of the meddling and
muddling self-conscious Intellect!

Every careful reader has noticed the confusedness of
Paul's mind and arguments. Even taking only those
Epistles (Galatians, Romans and Corinthians) which the
critics assign to his pen, the thing is observable--and some
learned Germans even speak of TWO Pauls.[1] But also the
thing is quite natural. There can be little doubt that
Paul of Tarsus, a Jew brought up in the strictest sect of
the Pharisees, did at some time fall deeply under the influence
of Greek thought, and quite possibly became an initiate
in the Mysteries. It would be difficult otherwise to account
for his constant use of the Mystery-language. Reitzenstein
says (p. 59): "The hellenistic religious literature MUST have
been read by him; he uses its terms, and is saturated with
its thoughts (see Rom. vi. 1-14." And this conjoined with
his Jewish experience gave him creative power. "A great deal
in his sentiment and thought may have REMAINED Jewish, but to his
Hellenism he was indebted for his love of freedom and his firm
belief in his apostleship." He adopts  terms (like ,
 and )[2] which were in use among the
hellenistic sects of the time; and he writes, as in Romans vi. 4,
5, about being "buried" with Christ or "planted" in the likeness
of his death, in words which might well have been used (with
change of the name) by a follower of Attis or Osiris after
witnessing the corresponding 'mysteries'; certainly the allusion
to these ancient deities would have been understood by every
religionist of that day. These few points are sufficient
to acentuate{sic} the two elements in Paul, the Jewish and the
Greek, and to explain (so far) the seeming confusion
in his utterances. Further it is interesting to note--as
showing the pagan influences in the N. T. writings--the
degree to which the Epistle to Philemon (ascribed to Paul)
is FULL--short as it is--of expressions like PRISONER of the
Lord, FELLOW SOLDIER, CAPTIVE or BONDMAN,[3] which were so
common at the time as to be almost a cant in Mithraism and
the allied cults. In I Peter ii. 2[4], we have the verse "As
newborn babes, desire ye the sincere MILK of the word, that
ye may grow thereby." And again we may say that
no one in that day could mistake the reference herein
contained to old initiation ceremonies and the new birth (as
described in Chapter VIII above), for indeed milk was
the well-known diet of the novice in the Isis mysteries, as
well as On some savage tribes) of the Medicine-man when
practising his calling.

[1] "Die Mysterien-anschauungen, die bei Paulus im Hintergrunde
stehen, drangen sich in dem sogenarmten Deuteropaulinismus
machtig vor" (Reitzenstein).

[2] Remindful of our Three Stages: the Animal, the
Self-conscious, and the Cosmic.

[3] .

[4] See also I Cor. iii. 2.

And here too Democracy comes in--strangely foreboded
from the first in all this matter.[1] Not only does
the Third Stage bring illumination, intuitive understanding
of processes in Nature and Humanity, sympathy with the
animals, artistic capacity, and so forth, but it necessarily
brings a new Order of Society. A preposterous--one may
almost say a hideous--social Age is surely drawing to its end,
The debacle we are witnessing to-day all over Europe (including
the, British Islands), the break-up of old institutions,
the generally materialistic outlook on life, the coming to the
surface of huge masses of diseased and fatuous populations,
the scum and dregs created by the past order, all point to
the End of a Dispensation. Protestantism and Commercialism,
in the two fields of religion and daily life
have, as I have indicated before, been occupied in concentrating
the mind of each man solely on his OWN welfare,
the salvation of his OWN soul or body. These two forces
have therefore been disruptive to the last degree; they mark
the culmination of the Self-conscious Age--a culmination in
War, Greed, Materialism, and the general principle of Devil-
take-the-hindmost--and the clearing of the ground for the
new order which is to come. So there is hope for
the human race. Its evolution is not all a mere formless
craze and jumble. There is an inner necessity by which
Humanity unfolds from one degree or plane of consciousness
to another. And if there has been a great 'Fall' or Lapse
into conflict and disease and 'sin' and misery, occupying
the major part of the Historical period hitherto, we see that
this period is only brief, so to speak, in comparison
with the whole curve of growth and expansion. We see also
that, as I have said before, the belief in a state of salvation
or deliverance has in the past ages never left itself quite
without a witness in the creeds and rituals and poems
and prophecies of mankind. Art, in some form or other,
as an activity or inspiration dating not from the conscious
Intellect, but from deeper regions of sub-conscious feeling
and intuition, has continually come to us as a message from
and an evidence of the Third stage or state, and as a promise
of its more complete realization under other conditions.

 Through the long night-time where the Nations wander
     From Eden past to Paradise to be,
 Art's sacred flowers, like fair stars shining yonder,
     Alone illumine Life's obscurity.

 O gracious Artists, out of your deep hearts
     'Tis some great Sun, I doubt, by men unguessed,
 Whose rays come struggling thus, in slender darts,
     To shadow what Is, till Time shall manifest.

[1] See the germs of Democracy in the yoga teaching of the
Hindus, and in the Upanishads, the Bhagavat Gita, and other

With the Cosmic stage comes also necessarily the rehabilitation
of the WHOLE of Society in one fellowship (the
true Democracy). Not the rule or domination of one
class or caste--as of the Intellectual, the Pious, the Commercial
or the Military--but the fusion or at least consentaneous
organization of ALL (as in the corresponding functions
of the human Body). Class rule has been the mark of that
second period of human evolution, and has inevitably
given birth during that period to wars and self-agrandizements
of classes and sections, and their consequent greeds
and tyrannies over other classes and sections. It is not
found in the primitive human tribes and societies, and
will not be found in the final forms of human association.
The liberated and emancipated Man passes unconstrained and
unconstraining through all grades and planes of human fellowship,
equal and undisturbed, and never leaving his true
home and abiding place in the heart of all. Equally
necessarily with the rehabilitation of Society as an entirety
will follow the rehabilitation of the entire physical body IN
each member of Society. We have spoken already of Nakedness:
its meaning and likely extent of adoption (Ch. XII). The idea
that the head and the hands are the only seemly and presentable
members of the organism, and that the other members are unworthy
and indecent, is obviously as onesided and lopsided as
that which honors certain classes in the commonwealth
and despises others. Why should the head brag of its
ascendancy and domination, and the heart be smothered
up and hidden? It will only be a life far more in the
open air than that which we lead at present, which will restore
the balance and ultimately bring us back to sanity and health.


We have dealt with the Genesis of Christianity; we now
come to the Exodus. For that Christianity can CONTINUE
to hold the field of Religion in the Western World is neither
probable nor desirable. It is true, as I have remarked already,
that there is a certain trouble about defining what we mean
by "Christianity" similar to that about the word "Civilization."
If we select out of the great mass of doctrines and
rites favored by the various Christian Churches just those
which commend themselves to the most modern and humane
and rational human mind and choose to call that resulting
(but rather small) body of belief and practice 'Christianity'
we are, of course, entitled to do so, and to hope (as we do
hope) that this residuum will survive and go forward into
the future. But this sort of proceeding is hardly fair and
certainly not logical. It enables Christianity to pose as
an angel of light while at the same time keeping discreetly
out of sight all its own abominations and deeds of darkness.
The Church--which began its career by destroying, distorting
and denying the pagan sources from which it sprang;
whose bishops and other ecclesiastics assassinated each
other in their theological rancour "of wild beasts," which
encouraged the wicked folly of the Crusades--especially
the Children's Crusades--and the shameful murders of
the Manicheans, the Albigenses, and the Huguenots; which
burned at the stake thousands and thousands of poor
'witches' and 'heretics'; which has hardly ever spoken a
generous word in favor or defence of the animals; which
in modern times has supported vivisection as against the
latter, Capitalism and Commercialism as against the poorer
classes of mankind; and whose priests in the forms of its
various sects, Greek or Catholic, Lutheran or Protestant,
have in these last days rushed forth to urge the nations to
slaughter each other with every diabolical device of Science,
and to glorify the war-cry of Patriotism in defiance of the
principle of universal Brotherhood--such a Church can hardly
claim to have established the angelic character of its
mission among mankind! And if it be said--as it often
IS SAID: "Oh! but you must go back to the genuine article,
and the Church's real origin and one foundation in the
person and teaching of Jesus Christ," then indeed you
come back to the point which this book, as above, enforces:
namely, that as to the person of Jesus, there is
no CERTAINTY at all that he ever existed; and as to the teaching
credited to him, it is certain that that comes down from a
period long anterior to 'Christianity' and is part of what
may justly be called a very ancient World-religion. So, as
in the case of 'Civilization,' we are compelled to see that
it is useless to apply the word to some ideal state of affairs
or doctrine (an ideal by no means the same in all people's
minds, or in all localities and times), but that the only
reasonable thing to do is to apply it in each case to a
HISTORICAL PERIOD. In the case of Christianity the historical
period has lasted nearly 2,000 years, and, as I say, we can
hardly expect or wish that it should last much longer.

The very thorough and careful investigation of religious
origins which has been made during late years by a great
number of students and observers undoubtedly tends to show
that there has been something like a great World-religion
coming down the centuries from the remotest times and
gradually expanding and branching as it has come--that
is to say that the similarity (in ESSENCE though not always
in external detail) between the creeds and rituals of widely
sundered tribes and peoples is so great as to justify the view
--advanced in the present volume--that these creeds and
rituals are the necessary outgrowths of human psychology,
slowly evolving, and that consequently they have a common
origin and in their various forms a common expression. Of
this great World-religion, so coming down, Christianity
is undoubtedly a branch, and an important branch. But
there have been important branches before; and while
it may be true that Christianity emphasizes some points
which may have been overlooked or neglected in the Vedic
teachings or in Buddhism, or in the Persian and Egyptian
and Syrian cults, or in Mahommedanism, and so forth, it is also
equally true that Christianity has itself overlooked or neglected
valuable points in these religions. It has, in fact, the defects
of its qualities. If the World-religion is like a great tree, one
cannot expect or desire that all its branches should be directed
towards the same point of the compass.

Reinach, whose studies of religious origins are always
interesting and characterized by a certain Gallic grace
and nettete, though with a somewhat Jewish non-perception
of the mystic element in life, defines Religion as a combination
of animism and scruples. This is good in a way, because
it gives the two aspects of the subject: the inner,
animism, consisting of the sense of contact with more or
less intelligent beings moving in Nature; and the outer,
consisting in scruples or taboos. The one aspect shows
the feeling which INSPIRES religion, the other, the checks and
limitations which DEFINE it and give birth to ritual. But
like most anthropologists he (Reinach) is a little TOO
patronizing towards the "poor Indian with untutored
mind." He is sorry for people so foolish as to be animistic
in their outlook, and he is always careful to point out that
the scruples and taboos were quite senseless in their origin,
though occasionally (by accident) they turned out useful.
Yet--as I have said before--Animism is a perfectly sensible,
logical and NECESSARY attitude of the human mind. It is
a necessary attribute of man's psychical nature, by which
he projects into the great World around him the image
of his own mind. When that mind is in a very primitive,
inchoate, and fragmentary condition, the images so projected
are those of fragmentary intelligences ('spirits,'
gnomes, etc.--the age of magic); when the mind rises
to distinct consciousness of itself the reflections of it are
anthropomorphic 'gods'; when finally it reaches the
universal or cosmic state it perceives the presence of
a universal Being behind all phenomena--which Being is
indeed itself--"Himself to Himself." If you like you
may call the whole process by the name of Animism. It
is perfectly sensible throughout. The only proviso is
that you should also be sensible, and distinguish the different
stages in the process.

Jane Harrison makes considerable efforts to show that Religion
is primarily a reflection of the SOCIAL Conscience (see
Themis, pp. 482-92)--that is, that the sense in Man
of a "Power that makes for righteousness" outside (and
also inside) him is derived from his feeling of continuity
with the Tribe and his instinctive obedience to its
behests, confirmed by ages of collective habit and experience.
He cannot in fact sever the navel-string which connects
him with his tribal Mother, even though he
desires to do so. And no doubt this view of the origin
of Religion is perfectly correct. But it must be pointed
out that it does not by any means exclude the view that
religion derives also from an Animism by which man recognizes
in general Nature his foster-mother and feels himself
in closest touch with HER. Which may have come first, the
Social affiliation or the Nature affiliation, I leave to
the professors to determine. The term Animism may,
as far as I can see, be quite well applied to the social
affiliation, for the latter is evidently only a case in which
the individual projects his own degree of consciousness
into the human group around him instead of into the
animals or the trees, but it is a case of which the justice
is so obvious that the modern man can intellectually seize
and understand it, and consequently he does not tar it with
the 'animistic' brush.

And Miss Harrison, it must be noticed, does, in other passages
of the same book (see Themis, pp. 68, 69), admit
that Religion has its origin not only from unity with the
Tribe but from the sense of affiliation to Nature--the
sense of "a world of unseen power lying behind the visible
universe, a world which is the sphere, as will be seen, of
magical activity and the medium of mysticism. The
mystical element, the oneness and continuousness comes
out very clearly in the notion of Wakonda among the Sioux
Indians. . . . The Omahas regarded all animate and inanimate
forms, all phenomena, as pervaded by a common
life, which was continuous and similar to the will-power
they were conscious of in themselves. This mysterious
power in all things they called Wakonda, and through
it all things were related to man, and to each other. In the
idea of the continuity of life, a relation was maintained between
the seen and the unseen, the dead and the living, and
also between the fragment of anything and its entirety." Thus
our general position is confirmed, that Religion in
its origin has been INSPIRED by a deep instinctive conviction
or actual sense of continuity with a being or beings in the
world around, while it has derived its FORM and ritual by
slow degrees from a vast number of taboos, generated in
the first instance chiefly by superstitious fears, but gradually
with the growth of reason and observation becoming
simplified and rationalized into forms of use. On the one
side there has been the positive impulse--of mere animal
Desire and the animal urge of self-expression; on the
other there has been the negative force of Fear based
on ignorance--the latter continually carving, moulding and
shaping the former. According to this an organized study and
classification of taboos might yield some interesting results;
because indeed it would throw light on the earliest forms of
both religion and science. It would be seen that some taboos,
like those of CONTACT (say with a menstruous woman,
or a mother-in-law, or a lightning-struck tree) had an obvious
basis of observation, justifiable but very crude; while
others, like the taboo against harming an enemy who
had contracted blood-friendship with one of your own
tribe, or against giving decent burial to a murderer, were
equally rough and rude expressions or indications of the growing
moral sentiment of mankind. All the same there would
be left, in any case, a large residuum of taboos which could
only be judged as senseless, and the mere rubbish of the
savage mind.

So much for the first origins of the World-religion;
and I think enough has been said in the various chapters
of this book to show that the same general process has obtained
throughout. Man, like the animals, began with
this deep, subconscious sense of unity with surrounding
Nature. When this became (in Man) fairly conscious, it led
to Magic and Totemism. More conscious, and it branched,
on the one hand, into figures of Gods and definite forms
of Creeds, on the other into elaborate Scientific Theories--
the latter based on a strong INTELLECTUAL belief in Unity, but
fervently denying any 'anthropomorphic' or 'animistic'
SENSE of that unity. Finally, it seems that we are
now on the edge of a further stage when the theories
and the creeds, scientific and religious, are on the verge of
collapsing, but in such a way as to leave the sense and the
perception of Unity--the real content of the whole
process--not only undestroyed, but immensely heightened
and illuminated. Meanwhile the taboos--of which there
remain some still, both religious and scientific--
have been gradually breaking up and merging themselves into a
reasonable and humane order of life and philosophy.

I have said that out of this World-religion Christianity
really sprang. It is evident that the time has arrived when
it must either acknowledge its source and frankly endeavor
to affiliate itself to the same, or failing that must
perish. In the first case it will probably have to change its
name; in the second the question of its name 'will interest
it no more.'

With regard to the first of these alternatives, I might venture--
though with indifference--to make a few suggestions.
Why should we not have--instead of a Holy
Roman Church--a Holy HUMAN Church, rehabilitating the
ancient symbols and rituals, a Christianity (if you still
desire to call it so) frankly and gladly acknowledging
its own sources? This seems a reasonable and even feasible
proposition. If such a church wished to celebrate a Mass
or Communion or Eucharist it would have a great variety
of rites and customs of that kind to select from; those that
were not appropriate for use in our times or were connected
with the worship of strange gods need not be rejected or
condemned, but could still be commented on and explained
as approaches to the same idea--the idea of dedication
to the Common Life, and of reinvigoration in the partaking
of it. If the Church wished to celebrate the Crucifixion
or betrayal of its Founder, a hundred instances of such
celebrations would be to hand, and still the thought that
has underlain such celebrations since the beginning of the
world could easily be disentangled and presented in concrete
form anew. In the light of such teaching expressions
like "I know that my Redeemer liveth" would be traced
to their origin, and men would understand that notwithstanding
the mass of rubbish, cant and humbug which has
collected round them they really do mean something and
represent the age-long instinct of Humanity feeling its way
towards a more extended revelation, a new order of being,
a third stage of consciousness and illumination. In such a
Church or religious organization EVERY quality of human nature
would have to be represented, every practice and
custom allowed for and its place accorded--the magical
and astronomical meanings, the rites connected with sun-worship,
or with sex, or with the worship of animals; the
consecration of corn and wine and other products of the
ground, initiations, sacrifices, and so forth--all (if indeed it
claimed to be a World-religion) would have to be represented
and recognized. For they all have their long human origin
and descent in and through the pagan creeds, and they all
have penetrated into and become embodied to some degree
in Christianity. Christianity therefore, as I say, must either
now come frankly forward and, acknowledging its parentage from
the great Order of the past, seek to rehabilitate THAT and carry
mankind one step forward in the path of evolution--or else it
must perish. There is no other alternative.[1]

[1] Comte in founding his philosophy of Positivism seems to have
had in view some such Holy Human Church, but he succeeded in
making it all so profoundly dull that it never flourished, The
seed of Life was not in it.

Let me give an instance of how a fragment of ancient
ritual which has survived from the far Past and is still
celebrated, but with little intelligence or understanding, in
the Catholic Church of to-day, might be adopted in such
a Church as I have spoken of, interpreted, and made eloquent
of meaning to modern humanity. When I was in Ceylon
nearly 30 years ago I was fortunate enough to witness a
night-festival in a Hindu Temple--the great festival of
Taipusam, which takes place every year in January. Of
course, it was full moon, and great was the blowing up of
trumpets in the huge courtyard of the Temple. The
moon shone down above from among the fronds of tall coco-palms,
on a dense crowd of native worshipers--men and
a few women--the men for the most part clad in little
more than a loin-cloth, the women picturesque in their colored
saris and jewelled ear and nose rings. The images of
Siva and two other gods were carried in procession round
and round the temple--three or four times; nautch girls
danced before the images, musicians, blowing horns and huge
shells, or piping on flageolets or beating tom-toms, accompanied
them. The crowd carrying torches or high crates with
flaming coco-nuts, walked or rather danced along on each
side, elated and excited with the sense of the present
divinity, yet pleasantly free from any abject awe. The whole
thing indeed reminded one of some bas-relief of a Bacchanalian
procession carved on a Greek sarcophagus--and
especially so in its hilarity and suggestion of friendly
intimacy with the god. There were singing of hymns and
the floating of the chief actors on a raft round a sacred
lake. And then came the final Act. Siva, or his image, very
weighty and borne on the shoulders of strong men, was carried
into the first chamber or hall of the Temple and
placed on an altar with a curtain hanging in front. The
crowd followed with a rush; and then there was more music,
recital of hymns, and reading from sacred books.
From where we stood we could see the rite which was performed
behind the curtain. Two five-branched candlesticks
were lighted; and the manner of their lighting was
as follows. Each branch ended in a little cup, and in the
cups five pieces of camphor were placed, all approximately
equal in size. After offerings had been made, of fruit,
flowers and sandalwood, the five camphors in each candlestick
were lighted. As the camphor flames burned out the music
became more wild and exciting, and then at the moment of
their extinction the curtains were drawn aside and the
congregation outside suddenly beheld the god revealed
and in a blaze of light. This burning of camphor was,
like other things in the service, emblematic. The five
lights represent the five senses. Just as camphor consumes
itself and leaves no residue behind, so should the five senses,
being offered to the god, consume themselves and disappear.
When this is done, that happens in the soul which was now
figured in the ritual--the God is revealed in the
inner light.[1]

[1] For a more detailed account of this Temple-festival, see
Adam's Peak to Elephanta by E. Carpenter, ch. vii.

We are familiar with this parting or rending of the veil.
We hear of it in the Jewish Temple, and in the Greek and
Egyptian Mysteries. It had a mystically religious, and also
obviously sexual, signification. It occurs here and there in
the Roman Catholic ritual. In Spain, some ancient
Catholic ceremonials are kept up with a brilliance and
splendor hardly found elsewhere in Europe. In the
Cathedral, at Seville the service of the Passion, carried
out on Good Friday with great solemnity and accompanied
with fine music, culminates on the Saturday morning--i.e.
in the interval between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection--
in a spectacle similar to that described in Ceylon.
A rich velvet-black curtain hangs before the High Altar. At
the appropriate moment and as the very emotional strains
of voices and instruments reach their climax in the "Gloria
in Excelsis," the curtain with a sudden burst of sound
(thunder and the ringing of all the bells) is rent asunder,
and the crucified Jesus is seen hanging there revealed in a
halo of glory.

There is also held at Seville Cathedral and before the
High Altar every year, the very curious Dance of the Seises
(sixes), performed now by 16 instead of (as of old) by 12
boys, quaintly dressed. It seems to be a survival of
some very ancient ritual, probably astronomical, in which
the two sets of six represent the signs of the Zodiac, and
is celebrated during the festivals of Corpus Christi, the
Immaculate Conception, and the Carnival.

Numerous instances might of course be adduced of how
a Church aspiring to be a real Church of Humanity might
adopt and re-create the rituals of the past in the light of
a modern inspiration. Indeed the difficulty would be to
limit the process, for EVERY ancient ritual, we can now
see, has had a meaning and a message, and it would be a
real joy to disentangle these and to expose the profound
solidarity of humanity and aspiration from the very dawn
of civilization down to the present day. Nor would
it be necessary to imagine any Act of Uniformity or dead
level of ceremonial in the matter. Different groups might
concentrate on different phases of religious thought and
practice. The only necessity would be that they should
approach the subject with a real love of Humanity in
their hearts and a real desire to come into touch with the deep
inner life and mystic growing-pains of the souls of men and
women in all ages. In this direction M. Loisy has done
noble and excellent work; but the dead weight and selfish
blinkerdom of the Catholic organization has hampered him
to that degree that he has been unable to get justice done
to his liberalizing designs--or, perhaps, even to reveal
the full extent of them. And the same difficulty will
remain. On the one hand no spiritual movement which
does not take up the attitude of a World-religion has now
in this age, any chance of success; on the other, all the
existing Churches--whether Roman Catholic, or Greek, or
Protestant or Secularist--whether Christian or Jewish or
Persian or Hindu--will in all probability adopt the same
blind and blinkered and selfish attitude as that described
above, and so disqualify themselves for the great role of
world-wide emancipation, which some religion at some time
will certainly have to play. It is the same difficulty which
is looming large in modern World-politics, where the local
selfishness and vainglorious "patriotisms" of the Nations are
sadly impeding and obstructing the development of that
sense of Internationalism and Brotherhood which is the
clearly indicated form of the future, and which alone can
give each nation deliverance from fear, and a promise of
growth, and the confident assurance of power.

I say that Christianity must either frankly adopt this generous
attitude and confess itself a branch of the great
World-religion, anxious only to do honor to its source--
or else it must perish and pass away. There is no other
alternative. The hour of its Exodus has come. It may be,
of course, that neither the Christian Church nor any
branch of it, nor any other religious organization, will
step into the gap. It may be--but I do not think this is
likely--that the time of rites and ceremonies and formal
creeds is PAST, and churches of any kind will be no more
needed in the world: not likely, I say, because of the still far
backwardness of the human masses, and their considerable
dependence yet on laws and forms and rituals. Still, if it
should prove that that age of dependence IS really approaching
its end, that would surely be a matter for congratulation.
It would mean that mankind was moving into a knowledge
of the REALITY which has underlain these outer shows--that
it was coming into the Third stage of its Consciousness.
Having found this there would be no need for it to dwell
any longer in the land of superstitions and formulae. It
would have come to the place of which these latter are only
the outlying indications.

It may, therefore, happen--and this quite independently
of the growth of a World-cult such as I have described, though
by no means in antagonism to it--that a religious philosophy
or Theosophy might develop and spread, similar to
the Gnonam of the Hindus or the Gnomsis of the pre-Christian
sects, which would become, first among individuals and
afterwards among large bodies over the world, the religion
of--or perhaps one should say the religious approach to the
Third State. Books like the Upanishads of the Vedic
seers, and the Bhagavat Gita, though garbled and obscured
by priestly interferences and mystifications, do undoubtedly
represent and give expression to the highest
utterance of religious experience to be found anywhere
in the world. They are indeed the manuals of human
entrance into the cosmic state. But as I say, and as has
happened in the case of other sacred books, a vast deal of
rubbish has accreted round their essential teachings,
and has to be cleared away. To go into a serious explication
of the meaning of these books would be far too large an
affair, and would be foreign to the purpose of the present
volume; but I have in the Appendix below inserted two papers,
(on "Rest" and "The Nature of the Self") containing the
substance of lectures given on the above books. These papers
or lectures are couched in the very simplest language,
free from Sanskrit terms and the usual 'jargon of the
Schools,' and may, I hope, even on that account be of
use in familiarizing readers who are not specially
STUDENTS with the ideas and mental attitudes of the cosmic
state. Non-differentiation (Advaita[1]) is the root attitude of
the mind inculcated.

[1] The word means "not-two-ness." Here we see a great subtlety
of definition. It is not to be "one" with others that is urged,
but to be "not two."

We have seen that there has been an age of non-differentiation
in the Past-non-differentiation from other members
of the Tribe, from the Animals, from Nature and the Spirit
or Spirits of nature; why should there not arise a similar
sense of non-differentiation in the FUTURE--similar but more
extended more intelligent? Certainly this WILL arrive, in
its own appointed time. There will be a surpassing of the
bounds of separation and division. There will be a surpassing
of all Taboos. We have seen the use and function of Taboos
in the early stages of Evolution and how progress and growth
have been very much a matter of their gradual extinction
and assimilation into the general body of rational thought
and feeling. Unreasoning and idiotic taboos still linger, but
they grow weaker. A new Morality will come which will
shake itself free from them. The sense of kinship with the
animals (as in the old rituals)[1] will be restored; the sense
of kinship with all the races of mankind will grow and
become consolidated; the sense of the defilement and impurity
of the human body will (with the adoption of a
generally clean and wholesome life) pass away; and the body
itself will come to be regarded more as a collection of shrines
in which the gods may be worshiped and less as a mere
organ of trivial self-gratifications;[2] there will be no form
of Nature, or of human life or of the lesser creatures, which
will be barred from the approach of Man or from the
intimate and penetrating invasion of his spirit; and as in
certain ceremonies and after honorable toils and labors a
citizen is sometimes received into the community of his own
city, so the emancipated human being on the completion of
his long long pilgrimage on Earth will be presented with
the Freedom of the Universe.

[1] The record of the Roman Catholic Church has been sadly
Callous and inhuman in this matter of the animals.

[2] See The Art of Creation, by E. Carpenter.


In conclusion there does not seem much to say, except to
accentuate certain points which may still appear doubtful
or capable of being understood.

The fact that the main argument of this volume is along
the lines of psychological evolution will no doubt commend
it to some, while on the other hand it will discredit
the book to others whose eyes, being fixed on purely MATERIAL
causes, can see no impetus in History except through these.
But it must be remembered that there is not the least reason
for SEPARATING the two factors. The fact that psychologically
man has evolved from simple consciousness to
self-consciousness, and is now in process of evolution
towards another and more extended kind of consciousness,
does not in the least bar the simultaneous appearance
and influence of material evolution. It is clear indeed
that the two must largely go together, acting and reacting
on each other. Whatever the physical conditions of the animal
brain may be which connect themselves with simple (unreflected
and unreflecting) consciousness, it is evident that
these conditions--in animals and primitive man--lasted
for an enormous period, before the distinct consciousness
of the individual and separate SELF arose. This second
order of consciousness seems to have germinated at
or about the same period as the discovery of the use
of Tools (tools of stone, copper, bronze, &c.), the adoption
of picture-writing and the use of reflective words (like "I"
and "Thou"); and it led on to the appreciation of gold and
of iron with their ornamental and practical values, the
accumulation of Property, the establishment of slavery
of various kinds, the subjection of Women, the encouragement
of luxury and self-indulgence, the growth of crowded
cities and the endless conflicts and wars so resulting. We
can see plainly that the incoming of the self-motive exercised
a direct stimulus on the pursuit of these material objects
and adaptations; and that the material adaptations in their
turn did largely accentuate the self-motive; but to insist
that the real explanation of the whole process is only to
be found along one channel--the material OR the psychical
--is clearly quite unnecessary. Those who understand
that all matter is conscious in some degree, and that all
consciousness has a material form of some kind, will be the
first to admit this.

The same remarks apply to the Third Stage. We can see
that in modern times the huge and unlimited powers of
production by machinery, united with a growing tendency
towards intelligent Birth-control, are preparing the way
for an age of Communism and communal Plenty which
will inevitably be associated (partly as cause and partly as
effect) with a new general phase of consciousness, involving
the mitigation of the struggle for existence, the growth
of intuitional and psychical perception, the spread of amity
and solidarity, the disappearance of War, and the realization
(in degree) of the Cosmic life.

Perhaps the greatest difficulty or stumbling-block to
the general acceptance of the belief in a third (or 'Golden-
Age') phase of human evolution is the obstinate and obdurate
pre-judgment that the passing of Humanity out of the Second
stage can only mean the entire ABANDONMENT OF SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS;
and this people say--and quite rightly --is both impossible and
undesirable. Throughout the preceding chapters I have striven,
wherever feasible, to counter this misunderstanding--but I have
little hope of success. The DETERMINATION of the world to
misunderstand or misinterpret anything a little new or unfamiliar
is a thing which perhaps only an author can duly appreciate.
But while it is clear that self-consciousness originally came
into being through a process of alienation and exile and fear
which marked it with the Cain-like brand of loneliness
and apartness, it is equally clear that to think of that
apartness as an absolute and permanent separation is an
illusion, since no being can really continue to live divorced
from the source of its life. For a period in evolution the
SELF took on this illusive form in consciousness, as of an
ignis fatuus--the form of a being sundered from all other
beings, atomic, lonely, without refuge, surrounded by dangers
and struggling, for itself alone and for its own salvation
in the midst of a hostile environment. Perhaps some
such terrible imagination was necessary at first, as it
were to start Humanity on its new path. But it had
its compensation, for the sufferings and tortures, mental and
bodily, the privations, persecutions, accusations, hatreds,
the wars and conflicts--so endured by millions of
individuals and whole races--have at length stamped upon
the human mind a sense of individual responsibility which
otherwise perhaps would never have emerged, and whose
mark can now be effaced; ultimately, too, these things
have searched our inner nature to its very depths and exposed
its bed-rock foundation. They have convinced us
that this idea of ultimate separation is an illusion, and
that in truth we are all indefeasible and indestructible
parts of one great Unity in which "we live and move and
have our being." That being so, it is clear that there remains
in the end a self-consciousness which need by no means be
abandoned, which indeed only comes to its true fruition and
understanding when it recognizes its affiliation with the
Whole, and glories in an individuality which is an
expression both of itself AND of the whole. The human
child at its mother's knee probably comes first to know it
HAS a 'self' on some fateful day when having wandered
afar it goes lost among alien houses and streets or in the
trackless fields. That appalling experience--the sense of
danger, of fear, of loneliness--is never forgotten; it stamps
some new sense of Being upon the childish mind, but that
sense, instead of being destroyed, becomes all the prouder
and more radiant in the hour of return to the mother's arms.
The return, the salvation, for which humanity looks, is
the return of the little individual self to harmony and union
with the great Self of the universe, but by no means its
extinction or abandonment--rather the finding of its own true
nature as never before.

There is another thing which may be said here: namely,
that the disentanglement, as above, of three main stages of
psychological evolution as great formative influences in the
history of mankind, does not by any means preclude
the establishment of lesser stages within the boundaries
of these. In all probability subdivisions of all the three
will come in time to be recognized and allowed for. To take
the Second stage only, it MAY appear that Self-consciousness
in its first development is characterized by an accentuation
of Timidity; in its second development by a more deliberate
pursuit of sensual Pleasure (lust, food, drink, &c.); in its
third by the pursuit of mental gratifications (vanities,
ambitions, enslavement of others); in its fourth by the pursuit
of Property, as a means of attaining these objects;
in its fifth by the access of enmities, jealousies, wars and so
forth, consequent on all these things; and so on. I have no
intention at present of following out this line of thought,
but only wish to suggest its feasibility and the degree to
which it may throw light on the social evolutions of the Past.[1]

[1] For an analysis of the nature of Self-consciousness see vol.
iii, p. 375 sq. of the three ponderous tomes by Wilhelm
Wundt--Grund-zuge der Physiologischen Psychologie--in which amid
an enormous mass of verbiage occasional gleams of useful
suggestion are to be found.

As a kind of rude general philosophy we may say that
there are only two main factors in life, namely, Love and
Ignorance. And of these we may also say that the two are
not in the same plane: one is positive and substantial,
the other is negative and merely illusory. It may be thought
at first that Fear and Hatred and Cruelty, and the like, are
very positive things, but in the end we see that they
are due merely to ABSENCE of perception, to dulness
of understanding. Or we may put the statement in a rather
less crude form, and say that there are only two factors
in life: (1) the sense of Unity with others (and with Nature)
--which covers Love, Faith, Courage, Truth, and so forth,
and (2) Non-perception of the same--which covers Enmity,
Fear, Hatred, Self-pity, Cruelty, Jealousy, Meanness and an
endless similar list. The present world which we see
around us, with its idiotic wars, its senseless jealousies of
nations and classes, its fears and greeds and vanities and
its futile endeavors--as of people struggling in a swamp--
to find one's own salvation by treading others underfoot,
is a negative phenomenon. Ignorance, non-perception, are
at the root of it. But it is the blessed virtue of Ignorance
and of non-perception that they inevitably-if only slowly
and painfully--dESTROY THEMSELVES. All experience serves
to dissipate them. The world, as it is, carries' the doom
of its own transformation in its bosom; and in proportion as
that which is negative disappears the positive element must
establish itself more and more.

So we come back to that with which we began,[1] to Fear
bred by Ignorance. From that source has sprung the long
catalogue of follies, cruelties and sufferings which mark
the records of the human race since the dawn of history;
and to the overcoming of this Fear we perforce must look
for our future deliverance, and for the discovery, even in
the midst of this world, of our true Home. The time is
coming when the positive constructive element must dominate.
It is inevitable that Man must ever build a state of
society around him after the pattern and image of his own
interior state. The whole futile and idiotic structure of
commerce and industry in which we are now imprisoned
springs from that falsehood of individualistic self-seeking
which marks the second stage of human evolution. That
stage is already tottering to its fall, destroyed by the very
flood of egotistic passions and interests, of vanities, greeds,
and cruelties, all warring with each other, which are the sure
outcome and culmination of its operation. With the restoration
of the sentiment of the Common Life, and the gradual
growth of a mental attitude corresponding, there will emerge
from the flood something like a solid earth--something on
which it will be possible to build with good hope for
the future. Schemes of reconstruction are well enough
in their way, but if there is no ground of REAL HUMAN
SOLIDARITY beneath, of what avail are they?

[1] See Introduction, Ch. I.

An industrial system which is no real industrial order, but
only (on the part of the employers) a devil's device for
securing private profit under the guise of public utility,
and (on the part of the employed) a dismal and poor-spirited
renunciation--for the sake of a bare living--of all real
interest in life and work: such a 'system' must infallibly
pass away. It cannot in the nature of things be permanent.
The first condition of social happiness and prosperity must
be the sense of the Common Life. This sense, which
instinctively underlay the whole Tribal order of the far past--
which first came to consciousness in the worship of a thousand
pagan divinities, and in the rituals of countless sacrifices,
initiations, redemptions, love-feasts and communions, which
inspired the dreams of the Golden Age, and flashed out for
a time in the Communism of the early Christians and in
their adorations of the risen Savior--must in the end be
the creative condition of a new order: it must provide
the material of which the Golden City waits to be built.
The long travail of the World-religion will not have been
in vain, which assures this consummation. What the signs
and conditions of any general advance into this new order
of life and consciousness will be, we know not. It may be
that as to individuals the revelation of a new vision
often comes quite suddenly, and GENERALLY perhaps after a
period of great suffering, so to society at large a similar
revelation will arrive--like "the lightning which cometh out
of the East and shineth even unto the West"--with unexpected
swiftness. On the other hand it would perhaps
be wise not to count too much on any such sudden transformation.
When we look abroad (and at home) in this
year of grace and hoped-for peace, 1919, and see the spirits
of rancour and revenge, the fears, the selfish blindness and
the ignorance, which still hold in their paralyzing grasp huge
classes and coteries in every country in the world, we
see that the second stage of human development is
by no means yet at its full term, and that, as in some vast
chrysalis, for the liberation of the creature within still more
and more terrible struggles MAY be necessary. We
can only pray that such may not be the case. Anyhow, if
we have followed the argument of this book we can hardly
doubt that the destruction (which is going on everywhere)
of the outer form of the present society marks the first
stage of man's final liberation; and that, sooner or later, and
in its own good time, that further 'divine event' will surely
be realized.

Nor need we fear that Humanity, when it has once entered
into the great Deliverance, will be again overpowered
by evil. From Knowledge back to Ignorance there
is no complete return. The nations that have come
to enlightenment need entertain no dread of those others
(however hostile they appear) who are still plunging darkly
in the troubled waters of self-greed. The dastardly Fears
which inspire all brutishness and cruelty of warfare--whether
of White against White or it may be of White against
Yellow or Black--may be dismissed for good and
all by that blest race which once shall have gained the shore
--since from the very nature of the case those who are on
dry land can fear nothing and need fear nothing from the
unfortunates who are yet tossing in the welter and turmoil
of the waves.

Dr. Frazer, in the conclusion of his great work The Golden
Bough,[1] bids farewell to his readers with the following
words: "The laws of Nature are merely hypotheses
devised to explain that ever-shifting phantasmagoria of
thought which we dignify with the high-sounding names of
the World and the Universe. In the last analysis magic,
religion and science are nothing but theories [of thought];
and as Science has supplanted its predecessors so it may
hereafter itself be superseded by some more perfect hypothesis,
perhaps by some perfectly different way of looking at
phenomena--of registering the shadows on the screen--of
which we in this generation can form no idea." I imagine
Dr. Frazer is right in thinking that "a way of looking
at phenomena" different from the way of Science, may some
day prevail. But I think this change will come, not so
much by the growth of Science itself or the extension
of its 'hypotheses,' as by a growth and expansion of the
human HEART and a change in its psychology and powers of
perception. Perhaps some of the preceding chapters
will help to show how much the outlook of humanity on
the world has been guided through the centuries by the
slow evolution of its inner consciousness. Gradually, out
of an infinite mass of folly and delusion, the human soul
has in this way disentangled itself, and will in the future
disentangle itself, to emerge at length in the light of true
FREEDOM. All the taboos, the insane terrors, the fatuous
forbiddals of this and that (with their consequent heart-
searchings and distress) may perhaps have been in their
way necessary, in order to rivet and define the meaning
and the understanding of that word. To-day these taboos
and terrors still linger, many of them, in the form of
conventions of morality, uneasy strivings of conscience, doubts
and desperations of religion; but ultimately Man will emerge
from all these things, FREE--familiar, that is, with them all,
making use of all, allowing generously for the values of
all, but hampered and bound by NONE. He will realize the
inner meaning of the creeds and rituals of the ancient religions,
and will hail with joy the fulfilment of their far
prophecy down the ages--finding after all the long-expected
Saviour of the world within his own breast, and Paradise
in the disclosure there of the everlasting peace of the soul.

[1] See "Balder," vol. ii, pp. 306, 307. ("Farewell to Nemi.")







To some, in the present whirlpool of life and affairs it may
seem almost an absurdity to talk about Rest. For long enough
now rest has seemed a thing far off and unattainable. With
the posts knocking at our doors ten or twelve times a day, with
telegrams arriving every hour, and the telephone bell constantly
ringing; with motors rushing wildly about the streets, and
aeroplanes whizzing overhead, with work speeded up in every
direction, and the drive in the workshops becoming more
intolerable every day; with the pace of the walkers and the
pace of the talkers from hour to hour insanely increasing--
what room, it may well be asked, is there for Rest? And now
the issues of war, redoubling the urgency of all questions, are
on us.

The problem is obviously a serious one. So urgent is it that
I think one may safely say the amount of insanity due to the
pressure of daily life is increasing; nursing-homes have sprung
up for the special purpose of treating such cases; and doctors
are starting special courses of tuition in the art--now becoming
very important--of systematically doing nothing! And yet
it is difficult to see the outcome of it all. The clock of what
is called Progress is not easily turned backward. We should
not very readily agree nowadays to the abolition of telegrams
or to a regulation compelling express trains to stop at every
station! We can't ALL go to Nursing Homes, or afford to enjoy
a winter's rest-cure in Egypt. And, if not, is the speeding-up
process to go on indefinitely, incapable of being checked, and
destined ultimately to land civilization in the mad-house?

It is, I say, a serious and an urgent problem. And it is, I
think, forcing a certain answer on us--which I will now endeavor
to explain.

If we cannot turn back and reverse this fatal onrush of modern
life (and it is evident that we cannot do so in any very brief
time--though of course ultimately we might succeed) then I
think there are clearly only two alternatives left--either to go
forward to general dislocation and madness, or--to learn to
rest even in the very midst of the hurry and the scurry.

To explain what I mean, let me use an illustration. The
typhoons and cyclones of the China Seas are some of the most
formidable storms that ships can encounter. Their paths in
the past have been strewn with wrecks and disaster. But
now with increased knowledge much of their danger has been
averted. It is known that they are CIRCULAR in character, and
that though the wind on their outskirts often reaches a speed of
100 miles an hour, in the centre of the storm there is a space of
complete calm--not a calm of the SEA certainly, but a complete
absence of wind. The skilled navigator, if he cannot escape
the storm, steers right into the heart of it, and rests there.
Even in the midst of the clatter he finds a place of quiet where
he can trim his sails and adjust his future course. He knows
too from his position in what direction at every point around
him the wind is moving and where it will strike him when at
last his ship emerges from the charmed circle.

Is it not possible, we may ask, that in the very midst of the
cyclone of daily life we may find a similar resting-place? If
we can, our case is by no means hopeless. If we cannot, then
indeed there is danger.

Looking back in History we seem to see that in old times
people took life much more leisurely than they do now. The
elder generations gave more scope in their customs and their
religions for contentment and peace of mind. We associate
a certain quietism and passivity with the thought of the
Eastern peoples. But as civilization traveled Westward external
activity and the pace of life increased--less and less time was
left for meditation and repose--till with the rise of Western
Europe and America, the dominant note of life seems to have
simply become one of feverish and ceaseless activity--of activity
merely for the sake of activity, without any clear idea of its
own purpose or object.

Such a prospect does not at first seem very hopeful; but
on second thoughts we see that we are not forced to draw any
very pessimistic conclusion from it. The direction of human
evolution need not remain always the same. The movement,
in fact, of civilization from East to West has now clearly
completed itself. The globe has been circled, and we cannot go
any FARTHER to the West without coming round to the East again.
It is a commonplace to say that our psychology, our philosophy
and our religious sense are already taking on an Eastern color;
nor is it difficult to imagine that with the end of the present
dispensation a new era may perfectly naturally arrive in which
the St. Vitus' dance of money-making and ambition will cease
to be the chief end of existence.

In the history of nations as in the history of individuals there
are periods when the formative ideals of life (through some
hidden influence) change; and the mode of life and evolution
in consequence changes also. I remember when I was a boy
wishing--like many other boys--to go to sea. I wanted to
join the Navy. It was not, I am sure, that I was so very anxious
to defend my country. No, there was a much simpler and more
prosaic motive than that. The ships of those days with their
complex rigging suggested a perfect paradise of CLIMBING, and
I know that it was the thought of THAT which influenced me.
To be able to climb indefinitely among those ropes and spars!
How delightful! Of course I knew perfectly well that I should
not always have free access to the rigging; but then--some
day, no doubt, I should be an Admiral, and who then could
prevent me? I remember seeing myself in my mind's eye,
with cocked hat on my head and spy-glass under my arm,
roaming at my own sweet will up aloft, regardless of the
remonstrances which might reach me from below! Such was my
childish ideal. But a time came--needless to say--when I
conceived a different idea of the object of life.

It is said that John Tyndall, whose lectures on Science were
so much sought after in their time, being on one occasion in
New York was accosted after his discourse by a very successful
American business man, who urged him to devote his scientific
knowledge and ability to commercial pursuits, promising that
if he did so, he, Tyndall, would easily make "a big pile."
Tyndall very calmly replied, "Well, I myself thought of that
once, but I soon abandoned the idea, having come to the
conclusion that I had NO TIME TO WASTE IN MAKING MONEY." The
man of dollars nearly sank into the ground. Such a conception
of life had never entered his head before. But to Tyndall no
doubt it was obvious that if he chained himself to the commercial
ideal all the joy and glory of his days would be gone.

We sometimes hear of the awful doom of some of the Russian
convicts in the quarries and mines of Siberia, who are (or were)
chained permanently to their wheelbarrows. It is difficult to
imagine a more dreadful fate: the despair, the disgust, the
deadly loathing of the accursed thing from which there is no
escape day or night--which is the companion not only of the
prisoner's work but of his hours of rest--with which he has to
sleep, to feed, to take his recreation if he has any, and to
fulfil all the offices of nature. Could anything be more
crushing? And yet, and yet . . . is it not true that we, most of
us, in our various ways are chained to our wheelbarrows--is it
not too often true that to these beggarly things we have for the
most part chained OURSELVES?

Let me be understood. Of course we all have (or ought to
have) our work to do. We have our living to get, our families
to support, our trade, our art, our profession to pursue. In
that sense no doubt we are tied; but I take it that these things
are like the wheelbarrow which a man uses while he is at work.
It may irk him at times, but he sticks to it with a good heart,
and with a certain joy because it is the instrument of a noble
purpose. That is all right. But to be chained to it, not to
be able to leave it when the work of the day is done--that is
indeed an ignoble slavery. I would say, then, take care that
even with these things, these necessary arts of life, you
preserve your independence, that even if to some degree they may
confine your body they do not enslave your mind.

For it is the freedom of the mind which counts. We are
all no doubt caught in the toils of the earth-life. One man is
largely dominated by sensual indulgence, another by ambition,
another by the pursuit of money. Well, these things are all
right in themselves. Without the pleasures of the senses we
should be dull mokes indeed; without ambition much of the
zest and enterprise of life would be gone; gold, in the present
order of affairs, is a very useful servant. These things are
right enough--but to be CHAINED to them, to be unable to think
of anything else--what a fate! The subject reminds one of
a not uncommon spectacle. It is a glorious day; the sun is
bright, small white clouds float in the transparent blue--a day
when you linger perforce on the road to enjoy the sence. But
suddenly here comes a man painfully running all hot and dusty
and mopping his head, and with no eye, clearly, for anything
around him. What is the matter? He is absorbed by one idea.
He is running to catch a train! And one cannot help wondering
what EXCEEDINGLY important business it must be for which all this
glory and beauty is sacrificed, and passed by as if it did not

Further we must remember that in our foolishness we very
commonly chain ourselves, not only to things like sense-
pleasures and ambitions which are on the edge, so to speak,
of being vices; but also to other things which are accounted
virtues, and which as far as I can see are just as bad, if we
once become enslaved to them. I have known people who were so
exceedingly 'spiritual' and 'good' that one really felt quite
depressed in their company; I have known others whose sense
of duty, dear things, was so strong that they seemed quite
unable to REST, or even to allow their friends to rest; and I
have wondered whether, after all, worriting about one's duty
might not be as bad--as deteriorating to oneself, as distressing
to one's friends--as sinning a good solid sin. No, in this
respect virtues MAY be no better than vices; and to be chained to
a wheelbarrow made of alabaster is no way preferable to being
chained to one of wood. To sacrifice the immortal freedom
of the mind in order to become a prey to self-regarding cares
and anxieties, self-estimating virtues and vices, self-chaining
duties and indulgences, is a mistake. And I warn you, it is
quite useless. For the destiny of Freedom is ultimately upon
every one, and if refusing it for a time you heap your life
persistently upon one object--however blameless in itself that
object may be--Beware! For one day--and when you least
expect it--the gods will send a thunderbolt upon you. One
day the thing for which you have toiled and spent laborious
days and sleepless nights will lie broken before you--your
reputation will be ruined, your ambition will be dashed, your
savings of years will be lost--and for the moment you will be
inclined to think that your life has been in vain. But presently
you will wake up and find that something quite different has
happened. You will find that the thunderbolt which you
thought was your ruin has been your salvation--that it has
broken the chain which bound you to your wheelbarrow, and
that you are free!

I think you will now see what I mean by Rest. Rest is
the loosing of the chains which bind us to the whirligig of the
world, it is the passing into the centre of the Cyclone; it is
the Stilling of Thought. For (with regard to this last) it is
Thought, it is the Attachment of the Mind, which binds us
to outer things. The outer things themselves are all right.
It is only through our thoughts that they make slaves of us.
Obtain power over your thoughts and you are free. You can
then use the outer things or dismiss them at your pleasure.

There is nothing new of course in all this. It has been known
for ages; and is part of the ancient philosophy of the world.

In the Katha Upanishad you will find these words (Max
Muller's translation): "As rainwater that has fallen on a
mountain ridge runs down on all sides, thus does he who sees
a difference between qualities run after them on all sides."
This is the figure of the man who does NOT rest. And it is a
powerful likeness. The thunder shower descends on the mountain
top; torrents of water pour down the crags in every
direction. Imagine the state of mind of a man--however
thirsty he may be--who endeavors to pursue and intercept
all these streams!

But then the Upanishad goes on: "As pure water poured
into pure water remains the same, thus, O Gautama, is the Self
of a thinker who knows." What a perfect image of rest!
Imagine a cistern before you with transparent glass sides and
filled with pure water. And then imagine some one comes
with a phial, also of pure water, and pours the contents gently
into the cistern. What will happen? Almost nothing. The
pure water will glide into the pure water--"remaining the
same." There will be no dislocation, no discoloration (as
might happen if MUDDY water were poured in); there will be
only perfect harmony.

I imagine here that the meaning is something like this. The
cistern is the great Reservoir of the Universe which contains
the pure and perfect Spirit of all life. Each one of us, and
every mortal creature, represents a drop from that reservoir--
a drop indeed which is also pure and perfect (though the phial
in which it is contained may not always be so). When we,
each of us, descend into the world and meet the great Ocean
of Life which dwells there behind all mortal forms, it is like
the little phial being poured into the great reservoir. If the
tiny canful which is our selves is pure and unsoiled, then when
it meets the world it will blend with the Spirit which informs
the world perfectly harmoniously, without distress or
dislocation. It will pass through and be at one with it. How can
one describe such a state of affairs? You will have the key
to every person that you meet, because indeed you are conscious
that the real essence of that person is the same as your
own. You will have the solution of every event which happens.
For every event is (and is felt to be) the touch of the great
Spirit on yours. Can any description of Rest be more perfect
than that? Pure water poured into pure water. . . . There
is no need to hurry, for everything will come in its good
time. There is no need to leave your place, for all you desire
is close at hand.

Here is another verse (from the Vagasaneyi-Samhita Upanishad)
embodying the same idea: "And he who beholds all
beings in the Self, and the Self in all beings, he never turns
away from It. When, to a man who understands, the Self
has become all things, what sorrow, what trouble, can there
be to him--having once beheld that Unity?"--What trouble,
what sorrow, indeed, when the universe has become transparent
with the presences of all we love, held firm in the One
enfolding Presence?

But it will be said: "Our minds are NOT pure and transparent.
More often they are muddy and soiled--soiled, if not
in their real essence, yet by reason of the mortal phial in which
they are contained." And that alas! is true. If you pour
a phial of muddy water into that reservoir which we described
--what will you see? You will see a queer and ugly cloud
formed. And to how many of us, in our dealings with the world,
does life take on just such a form--of a queer and ugly cloud?

Now not so very long after those Upanishads were written
there lived in China that great Teacher, Lao-tze; and he too
had considered these things. And he wrote--in the Tao-Teh-
King--"Who is there who can make muddy water clear?"
The question sounds like a conundrum. For a moment one
hesitates to answer it. Lao-tze, however, has an answer ready.
He says: "But if you LEAVE IT ALONE it will become clear of
itself." That muddy water of the mind, muddied by all the foolish
little thoughts which like a sediment infest it--but if you leave
it alone it will become clear of itself. Sometimes walking along
the common road after a shower you have seen pools of water
lying here and there, dirty and unsightly with the mud stirred
up by the hoofs of men and animals. And then returning
some hours afterwards along the same road--in the evening
and after the cessation of traffic--you have looked again, and
lo! each pool has cleared itself to a perfect calm, and has
become a lovely mirror reflecting the trees and the clouds and
the sunset and the stars.

So this mirror of the mind. Leave it alone. Let the ugly
sediment of tiresome thoughts and anxieties, and of fussing
over one's self-importances and duties, settle down--and
presently you will look on it, and see something there which you
never knew or imagined before--something more beautiful
than you ever yet beheld--a reflection of the real and eternal
world such is only given to the mind that rests.

Do not recklessly spill the waters of your mind in this direction
and in that, lest you become like a spring lost and dissipated in
the desert.

But draw them together into a little compass, and hold them
still, so still;

And let them become clear, so clear--so limpid, so mirror-like;

At last the mountains and the sky shall glass themselves in
peaceful beauty,

And the antelope shall descend to drink, and the lion to quench
his thirst,

And Love himself shall come and bend over, and catch his own
likeness in you.[1]

[1] Towards Democracy, p. 373.

Yes, there is this priceless thing within us, but hoofing along
the roads in the mud we fail to find it; there is this region of
calm, but the cyclone of the world raging around guards us
from entering it. Perhaps it is best so--best that the access
to it should not be made too easy. One day, some time ago,
in the course of conversation with Rabindranath Tagore in
London, I asked him what impressed him most in visiting the
great city. He said, "The restless incessant movement of
everybody." I said, "Yes, they seem as if they were all rushing
about looking for something." He replied, "It is because
each person does not know of the great treasure he has within


How then are we to reach this treasure and make it our own?
How are we to attain to this Stilling of the Mind, which is the
secret of all power and possession? The thing is difficult, no
doubt; yet as I tried to show at the outset of this discourse,
we Moderns MUST reach it; we have got to attain to it--for
the penalty of failure is and must be widespread Madness.

The power to still the mind--to be ABLE, mark you, when
you want, to enter into the region of Rest, and to dismiss or
command your Thoughts--is a condition of Health; it is a
condition of all Power and Energy. For all health, whether
of mind or body, resides in one's relation to the central Life
within. If one cannot get into touch with THAT, then the life-
forces cannot flow down into the organism. Most, perhaps all,
disease arises from the disturbance of this connection. All mere
hurry, all mere running after external things (as of the man
after the water-streams on the mountain-top), inevitably breaks
it. Let a pond be allowed calmly under the influence of frost
to crystallize, and most beautiful flowers and spears of ice will
be formed, but keep stirring the water all the time with a
stick or a pole and nothing will result but an ugly brash of
half-frozen stuff. The condition of the exercise of power and
energy is that it should proceed from a center of Rest within
one. So convinced am I of this, that whenever I find myself
hurrying over my work, I pause and say, "Now you are not
producing anything good!" and I generally find that that is true.
It is curious, but I think very noticeable, that the places where
people hurry most--as for instance the City of London or Wall
Street, New York--are just the places where the work being
done is of LEAST importance (being mostly money-gambling);
whereas if you go and look at a ploughman ploughing--doing
perhaps the most important of human work--you find all his
movements most deliberate and leisurely, as if indeed he had
infinite time at command; the truth being that in dealing
(like a ploughman) with the earth and the horses and the weather
and the things of Nature generally you can no more hurry than
Nature herself hurries.

Following this line of thought it might seem that one would
arrive at a hopeless paradox. If it be true that the less one
hurries the better the work resulting, then it might seem that
by sitting still and merely twirling one's thumbs one would
arrive at the very greatest activity and efficiency! And indeed
(if understood aright) there is a truth even in this, which--like
the other points I have mentioned--has been known and taught
long ages ago. Says that humorous old sage, Lao-tze, whom
I have already quoted: "By non-action there is nothing that
cannot be done." At first this sounds like mere foolery or
worse; but afterwards thinking on it one sees there is a meaning
hidden. There is a secret by which Nature and the powers
of the universal life will do all for you. The Bhagavat Gita
also says, "He who discovers inaction in action and action in
inaction is wise among mortals."

It is worth while dwelling for a moment on these texts. We
are all--as I said earlier on--involved in work belonging to
our place and station; we are tied to some degree in the bonds
of action. But that fact need not imprison our inner minds.
While acting even with keenness and energy along the external
and necessary path before us, it is perfectly possible to hold
the mind free and untied--so that the RESULT of our action (which
of course is not ours to command) shall remain indifferent and
incapable of unduly affecting us. Similarly, when it is our part
to remain externally INACTIVE, we may discover that underneath
this apparent inaction we may be taking part in the currents of a
deeper life which are moving on to a definite end, to an end or
object which in a sense is ours and in a sense is NOT ours.

The lighthouse beam flies over land and sea with incredible
velocity, and you think the light itself must be in swiftest
movement; but when you climb up thither you find the lamp
absolutely stationary. It is only the reflection that is moving.
The rider on horseback may gallop to and fro wherever he will,
but it is hard to say that HE is acting. The horse guided by
the slightest indication of the man's will performs an the action
that is needed. If we can get into right touch with the immense,
the incalculable powers of Nature, is there anything which
we may not be able to do?" If a man worship the Self only
as his true state," says the Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad, "his
work cannot fail, for whatever he desires, that he obtains from
the Self." What a wonderful saying, and how infallibly true!
For obviously if you succeed in identifying your true being with
the great Self of the universe, then whatever you desire the
great Self will also desire, and therefore every power of Nature
will be at your service and will conspire to fulfil your need.

There are marvelous things here "well wrapped up"--
difficult to describe, yet not impossible to experience. And
they all depend upon that power of stilling Thought, that
ability to pass unharmed and undismayed through the grinning
legions of the lower mind into the very heart of Paradise.

The question inevitably arises, How can this power be
obtained? And there is only one answer--the same answer
which has to be given for the attainment of ANY power or
faculty. There is no royal road. The only way is (however
imperfectly) to DO the thing in question, to practice it. If you
would learn to play cricket, the only way is to play cricket;
if you would be able to speak a language, the only way is to
speak it. If you would learn to swim, the only way is to practice
swimming. Or would you wish to be like the man who when
his companions were bathing and bidding him come and join
them, said: "Yes, I am longing to join you, but I am not going to
be such a fool as to go into the water TILL I KNOW HOW TO SWIM!"

There is nothing but practice. If you want to obtain that
priceless power of commanding Thought--of using it or dismissing
it (for the two things go together) at will--there is no
way but practice. And the practice consists in two exercises:
(a) that of concentration--in holding the thought steadily for
a time on one subject, or point of a subject; and (b) that of
effacement--in effacing any given thought from the mind, and
determining NOT to entertain it for such and such a time. Both
these exercises are difficult. Failure in practicing them is
certain --and may even extend over years. But the power equally
certainly grows WITH practice. And ultimately there may come
a time when the learner is not only able to efface from his mind
any given thought (however importunate), but may even
succeed in effacing, during short periods, ALL thought of any
kind. When this stage is reached, the veil of illusion which
surrounds all mortal things is pierced, and the entrance to the
Paradise of Rest (and of universal power and knowledge) is found.

Of indirect or auxiliary methods of reaching this great
conclusion, there are more than one. I think of life in the open
air, if not absolutely necessary, at least most important. The
gods--though sometimes out of compassion they visit the
interiors of houses--are not fond of such places and the evil
effluvium they find there, and avoid them as much as they can.
It is not merely a question of breathing oxygen instead of
carbonic acid. There is a presence and an influence in Nature
and the Open which expands the mind and causes brigand
cares and worries to drop off--whereas in confined places foolish
and futile thoughts of all kinds swarm like microbes and cloud
and conceal the soul. Experto Crede. It is only necessary to
try this experiment in order to prove its truth.

Another thing which corresponds in some degree to living
physically in the open air, is the living mentally and
emotionally in the atmosphere of love. A large charity of mind,
which refuses absolutely to shut itself in little secluded places
of prejudice, bigotry and contempt for others, and which attains
to a great and universal sympathy, helps, most obviously, to
open the way to that region of calm and freedom of which we
have spoken, while conversely all petty enmity, meanness and
spite, conspire to imprison the soul and make its deliverance
more difficult.

It is not necessary to labor these points. As we said, the
way to attain is to sincerely TRY to attain, to consistently
PRACTICE attainment. Whoever does this will find that the way
will open out by degrees, as of one emerging from a vast and
gloomy forest, till out of darkness the path becomes clear. For
whomsoever really TRIES there is no failure; for every effort in
that region is success, and every onward push, however small, and
however little result it may show, is really a move forward,
and one step nearer the light.


The true nature of the Self is a matter by no means easy to
compass. We have all probably at some time or other attempted
to fathom the deeps of personality, and been baffled. Some
people say they can quite distinctly remember a moment in
early childhood, about the age of THREE (though the exact period
is of course only approximate) when self-consciousness--the
awareness of being a little separate Self--first dawned in the
mind. It was generally at some moment of childish tension--
alone perhaps in a garden, or lost from the mother's protecting
hand--that this happened; and it was the beginning of a whole
range of new experience. Before some such period there is
in childhood strictly speaking no distinct self-consciousness.
As Tennyson says (In Memoriam xliv):

 The baby new to earth and sky,
     What time his tender palm is prest
     Against the circle of the breast,
 Hath never thought that "This is I."

It has consciousness truly, but no distinctive
self-consciousness. It is this absence or deficiency which
explains many things which at first sight seem obscure in the
psychology of children and of animals. The baby (it has often
been noticed) experiences little or no sense of FEAR. It does not
know enough to be afraid; it has never formed any image of
itself, as of a thing which might be injured. It may shrink from
actual pain or discomfort, but it does not LOOK FORWARD--which is
of the essence of fear--to pain in the future. Fear and
self-consciousness are closely interlinked. Similarly with
animals, we often wonder how a horse or a cow can endure to stand
out in a field all night, exposed to cold and rain, in the
lethargic patient way that they exhibit. It is not that they do
not FEEL the discomfort, but it is that they do not envisage
THEMSELVES as enduring this pain and suffering for all those
coming hours; and as we know with ourselves that nine-tenths of
our miseries really consist in looking forward to future
miseries, so we understand that the absence or at any rate slight
prevalence of self-consciousness in animals enables them to
endure forms of distress which would drive us mad.

In time then the babe arrives at self-consciousness; and,
as one might expect, the growing boy or girl often becomes
intensely aware of Self. His or her self-consciousness is crude,
no doubt, but it has very little misgiving. If the question
of the nature of the Self is propounded to the boy as a problem
he has no difficulty in solving it. He says "I know well enough
who I am: I am the boy with red hair what gave Jimmy Brown such a
jolly good licking last Monday week." He knows well enough--or
thinks he knows--who he is. And at a later age, though his
definition may change and he may describe himself chiefly as a
good cricketer or successful in certain examinations,
his method is practically the same. He fixes his mind on a
certain bundle of qualities and capacities which he is supposed
to possess, and calls that bundle Himself. And in a more
elaborate way we most of us, I imagine, do the same.

Presently, however, with more careful thought, we begin to see
difficulties in this view. I see that directly I think of myself 
as a certain bundle of qualities--and for that matter it is
of no account whether the qualities are good or bad, or in what
sort of charming confusion they are mixed--I see at once that
I am merely looking at a bundle of qualities: and that the
real "I," the Self, is not that bundle, but is the being
INSPECTING the same--something beyond and behind, as it were. So
I now concentrate my thoughts upon that inner Something, in
order to find out what it really is. I imagine perhaps an inner
being, of 'astral' or ethereal nature, and possessing a new range
of much finer and more subtle qualities than the body--a being
inhabiting the body and perceiving through its senses, but
quite capable of surviving the tenement in which it dwells and
I think of that as the Self. But no sooner have I taken
this step than I perceive that I am committing the same mistake
as before. I am only contemplating a new image or picture,
and "I" still remain beyond and behind that which I contemplate.
No sooner do I turn my attention on the subjective
being than it becomes OBJECTIVE, and the real subject retires
into the background. And so on indefinitely. I am baffled;
and unable to say positively what the Self is.

Meanwhile there are people who look upon the foregoing
speculations about an interior Self as merely unpractical. Being
perhaps of a more materialistic type of mind they fix their
attention on the body. Frankly they try to define the Self
by the body and all that is connected therewith--that is by
the mental as well as corporeal qualities which exhibit
themselves in that connection; and they say, "At any rate the
Self--whatever it may be--is in some way limited by the body;
each person studies the interest of his body and of the feelings,
emotions and mentality directly associated with it, and you
cannot get beyond that; it isn't in human nature to do so.
The Self is limited by this corporeal phenomenon and doubtless
it perishes when the body perishes." But here again the
conclusion, though specious at first, soon appears to be quite
inadequate. For though it is possibly true that a man, if left
alone in a Robinson Crusoe life on a desert island, might
ultimately subside into a mere gratification of his corporeal
needs and of those mental needs which were directly concerned
with the body, yet we know that such a case would by no means be
representative. On the contrary we know that vast numbers of
people spend their lives in considering other people, and often
so far as to sacrifice their own bodily and mental comfort and
well-being. The mother spends her life thinking almost day
and night about her babe and the other children--spending
all her thoughts and efforts on them. You may call her selfish
if you will, but her selfishness clearly extends beyond her
personal body and mind, and extends to the personalities of her
children around her; her "body"--if you insist on your definition
--must be held to include the bodies of all her children.
And again, the husband who is toiling for the support of the
family, he is thinking and working and toiling and suffering
for a 'self' which includes his wife and children. Do you
mean that the whole family is his "body"? Or a man belongs
to some society, to a church or to a social league of some kind,
and his activities are largely ruled by the interests of this
larger group. Or he sacrifices his life--as many have been doing
of late--with extraordinary bravery and heroism for the sake
of the nation to which he belongs. Must we say then that
the whole nation is really a part of the man's body? Or again,
he gives his life and goes to the stake for his religion. Whether
his religion is right or wrong does not matter, the point is that
there is that in him which can carry him far beyond his local
self and the ordinary instincts of his physical organism, to
dedicate his life and powers to a something of far wider
circumference and scope.

Thus in the FIRST of these two examples of a search for the
nature of the Self we are led INWARDS from point to point, into
interior and ever subtler regions of our being, and still in the
end are baffled; while in the SECOND we are carried outwards
into an ever wider and wider circumference in our quest of
the Ego, and still feel that we have failed to reach its ultimate
nature. We are driven in fact by these two arguments to the
conclusion that that which we are seeking is indeed something
very vast--something far extending around, yet also buried
deep in the hidden recesses of our minds. How far, how deep,
we do not know. We can only say that as far as the indications
point the true self is profounder and more far-reaching than
anything we have yet fathomed.

In the ordinary commonplace life we shrink to ordinary
commonplace selves, but it is one of the blessings of great
experiences, even though they are tragic or painful, that they
throw us out into that enormously greater self to which we
belong. Sometimes, in moments of inspiration, of intense
enthusiasm, of revelation, such as a man feels in the midst of
a battle, in moments of love and dedication to another person,
and in moments of religious ecstasy, an immense world is
opened up to the astonished gaze of the inner man, who sees
disclosed a self stretched far beyond anything he had ever
imagined. We have all had experiences more or less of that
kind. I have known quite a few people, and most of you have
known some, who at some time, even if only once in their lives,
have experienced such an extraordinary lifting of the veil, an
opening out of the back of their minds as it were, and have
had such a vision of the world, that they have never afterwards
forgotten it. They have seen into the heart of creation, and
have perceived their union with the rest of mankind. They
have had glimpses of a strange immortality belonging to them,
a glimpse of their belonging to a far greater being than they
have ever imagined. Just once--and a man has never forgotten
it, and even if it has not recurred it has colored all
the rest of his life.

Now, this subject has been thought about--since the beginning
of the world, I was going to say--but it has been thought
about since the beginnings of history. Some three thousand
years ago certain groups of--I hardly like to call them
philosophers --but, let us say, people who were meditating and
thinking upon these problems, were in the habit of locating
themselves in the forests of Northern India; and schools arose
there. In the case of each school some teacher went into the
woods and collected groups of disciples around him, who lived
there in his company and listened to his words. Such schools were
formed in very considerable numbers, and the doctrines of
these teachers were gathered together, generally by their
disciples, in notes, which notes were brought together into
little pamphlets or tracts, forming the books which are called
the 'Upanishads' of the Indian sages. They contain some
extraordinary words of wisdom, some of which I want to bring
before you. The conclusions arrived at were not so much what we
should call philosophy in the modern sense. They were not so
much the result of the analysis of the mind and the following
out of concatenations of strict argument; but they were flashes
of intuition and experience, and all through the 'Upanishads'
you find these extraordinary flashes embedded in the midst
of a great deal of what we should call a rather rubbishy kind
of argument, and a good deal of merely conventional Brahmanical
talk of those days. But the people who wrote and spoke thus
had an intuition into the heart of things which I make bold to
say very few people in modern life have. These 'Upanisihads,'
however various their subject, practically agree on one point
--in the definition of the "self." They agree in saying: that
the self of each man is continuous with and in a sense identical
with the Self of the universe. Now that seems an extraordinary
conclusion, and one which almost staggers the modern mind
to conceive of. But that is the conclusion, that is the thread
which runs all through the 'Upanishads'--the identity of the
self of each individual with the self of every other individual
throughout mankind, and even with the selves of the animals
and other creatures.

Those who have read the Khandogya Upanishad remember
how in that treatise the father instructs his son Svetakeitu on
this very subject--pointing him out in succession the objects
of Nature and on each occasion exhorting him to realize his
identity with the very essence of the object--"Tat twam asi,
THAT thou art." He calls Svetaketu's attention to a tree. What
is the ESSENCE of the tree? When they have rejected the external
characteristics--the leaves, the branches, etc.--and agreed
that the SAP is the essence, then the father says, "TAT TWAM ASI
--THAT thou art." He gives his son a crystal of salt, and asks
him what is the essence of that. The son is puzzled. Clearly
neither the form nor the transparent quality are essential. The
father says, "Put the crystal in water." Then when it is melted
he says, "Where is the crystal?" The son replies, "I do not
know." "Dip your finger in the bowl," says the father, "and
taste." Then Svetaketu dips here and there, and everywhere
there is a salt flavor. They agree that THAT is the essence of
salt; and the father says again, "TAt twam asi." I am of course
neither defending nor criticizing the scientific attitude here
adopted. I am only pointing out that this psychological
identification of the observer with the object observed runs
through the Upanishads, and is I think worthy of the deepest

In the 'Bhagavat Gita,' which is a later book, the author
speaks of "him whose soul is purified, whose self is the Self
of all creatures." A phrase like that challenges opposition.
It is so bold, so sweeping, and so immense, that we hesitate to
give our adhesion to what it implies. But what does it mean
--"whose soul is purified"? I believe that it means this, that
with most of us our souls are anything but clean or purified,
they are by no means transparent, so that all the time
we are continually deceiving ourselves and making clouds
between us and others. We are all the time grasping things
from other people, and, if not in words, are mentally boasting
ourselves against others, trying to think of our own superiority
to the rest of the people around us. Sometimes we try to run
our neighbors down a little, just to show that they are not
quite equal to our level. We try to snatch from others some
things which belong to them, or take credit to ourselves for
things to which we are not fairly entitled. But all the time we
are acting so it is perfectly obvious that we are weaving veils
between ourselves and others. You cannot have dealings with
another person in a purely truthful way, and be continually
trying to cheat that person out of money, or out of his good
name and reputation. If you are doing that, however much
in the background you may be doing it, you are not looking
the person fairly in the face--there is a cloud between you all
the time. So long as your soul is not purified from all these
really absurd and ridiculous little desires and superiorities and
self-satisfactions, which make up so much of our lives, just
so long as that happens you do not and you cannot see the
truth. But when it happens to a person, as it does happen
in times of great and deep and bitter experience; when it
happens that all these trumpery little objects of life are swept
away; then occasionally, with astonishment, the soul sees that.
It is also the soul of the others around. Even if it does not
become aware of an absolute identity, it perceives that there is
a deep relationship and communion between itself and others, and
it comes to understand how it may really be true that to him
whose soul is purified the self is literally the Self of all

Ordinary men and those who go on more intellectual and less
intuitional lines will say that these ideas are really contrary
to human nature and to nature generally. Yet I think that those
people who say this in the name of Science are extremely
unscientific, because a very superficial glance at nature reveals
that the very same thing is taking place throughout nature.
Consider the madrepores, corallines, or sponges. You find, for
instance, that constantly the little self of the coralline or
sponge is functioning at the end of a stem and casting forth its
tentacles into the water to gain food and to breathe the air out
of the water. That little animalcule there, which is living in
that way, imagines no doubt that it is working all for itself,
and yet it is united down the stem at whose extremity it stands,
with the life of the whole madrepore or sponge to which it
belongs. There is the common life of the whole and the individual
life of each, and while the little creature at the end of the
stem is thinking (if it is conscious at all) that its whole
energies are absorbed in its own maintenance, it really is
feeding the common life through the stem to which it belongs, and
in its turn it is being fed by that common life.

You have only to look at an ordinary tree to see the same
thing going on. Each little leaf on a tree may very naturally
have sufficient consciousness to believe that it is an entirely
separate being maintaining itself in the sunlight and the air,
withering away and dying when the winter comes on--and there is
an end of it. It probably does not realize that all the time it
is being supported by the sap which flows from the trunk of the
tree, and that in its turn it is feeding the tree, too--that its
self is the self of the whole tree. If the leaf could really
understand itself, it would see that its self was deeply,
intimately connected, practically one with the life of the whole
tree. Therefore, I say that this Indian view is not unscientific.
On the contrary, I am sure that it is thoroughly scientific.

Let us take another passage, out of the 'Svetasvatara Upanishad,'
which, speaking of the self says: "He is the one God, hidden in
all creatures, all pervading, the self within all, watching
over all works, shadowing all creatures, the witness, the
perceiver, the only one free from qualities."

And now we can return to the point where we left the argument
at the beginning of this discourse. We said, you remember,
that the Self is certainly no mere bundle of qualities--that
the very nature of the mind forbids us thinking that. For
however fine and subtle any quality or group of qualities may
be, we are irresistibly compelled by the nature of the mind
itself to look for the Self, not in any quality or qualities, but
in the being that PERCEIVES those qualities. The passage I have
just quoted says that being is "The one God, hidden in all
creatures, all pervading, the self within all . . . the witness,
the perceiver, the only one free from qualities." And the more
you think about it the clearer I think you will see that this
passage is correct--that there can be only ONE witness, ONE
perceiver, and that is the one God hidden in all creatures,
"Sarva Sakshi," the Universal Witness.

Have you ever had that curious feeling, not uncommon,
especially in moments of vivid experience and emotion, that
there was at the back of your mind a witness, watching everything
that was going on, yet too deep for your ordinary thought
to grasp? Has it not occurred to you--in a moment say of
great danger when the mind was agitated to the last degree by
fears and anxieties--suddenly to become perfectly calm and
collected, to realize that NOTHING can harm you, that you are
identified with some great and universal being lifted far over
this mortal world and unaffected by its storms? Is it not
obvious that the real Self MUST be something of this nature,
a being perceiving all, but itself remaining unperceived? For
indeed if it were perceived it would fall under the head of some
definable quality, and so becoming the object of thought would
cease to be the subject, would cease to be the Self.

The witness is and must be "free from qualities." For
since it is capable of perceiving ALL qualities it must obviously
not be itself imprisoned or tied in any quality--it must either
be entirely without quality, or if it have the potentiality of
quality in it, it must have the potentiality of EVERY quality;
but in either case it cannot be in bondage to any
quality, and in either case it would appear that there can
be only ONE such ultimate Witness in the universe. For if
there were two or more such Witnesses, then we should be
compelled to suppose them distinguished from one another by
something, and that something could only be a difference of
qualities, which would be contrary to our conclusion that such
a Witness cannot be in bondage to any quality.

There is then I take it--as the text in question says--only
one Witness, one Self, throughout the universe. It is hidden
in all living things, men and animals and plants; it pervades
all creation. In every thing that has consciousness it is
the Self; it watches over all operations, it overshadows all
creatures, it moves in the depths of our hearts, the perceiver,
the only being that is cognizant of all and yet free from all.

Once you really appropriate this truth, and assimilate it in
the depths of your mind, a vast change (you can easily imagine)
will take place within you. The whole world will be transformed,
and every thought and act of which you are capable
will take on a different color and complexion. Indeed the
revolution will be so vast that it would be quite impossible for
me within the limits of this discourse to describe it. I will,
however, occupy the rest of my time in dealing with some points
and conclusions, and some mental changes which will flow
perfectly naturally from this axiomatic change taking place
at the very root of life.

"Free from qualities." We generally pride ourselves a
little on our qualities. Some of us think a great deal of our
good qualities, and some of us are rather ashamed of our bad
ones! I would say: "Do not trouble very much about all
that. What good qualities you have--well you may be quite
sure they do not really amount to much; and what bad
qualities, you may be sure they are not very important! Do
not make too much fuss about either. Do you see? The
thing is that you, you yourself, are not ANY of your qualities--
you are the being that perceives them. The thing to see to is
that they should not confuse you, bamboozle you, and hide you
from the knowledge of yourself--that they should not be erected
into a screen, to hide you from others, or the others from you.
If you cease from running after qualities, then after a little
time your soul will become purified, and you will KNOW that your
self is the Self of all creatures; and when you can feel that you
will know that the other things do not much matter.

Sometimes people are so awfully good that their very goodness
hides them from other people. They really cannot be
on a level with others, and they feel that the others are far
below them. Consequently their 'selves' are blinded or hidden
by their 'goodness.' It is a sad end to come to! And sometimes
it happens that very 'bad' people--just because they are so
bad--do not erect any screens or veils between themselves
and others. Indeed they are only too glad if others will
recognize them, or if they may be allowed to recognize others.
And so, after all, they come nearer the truth than the very good

"The Self is free from qualities." That thing which is so
deep, which belongs to all, it either--as I have already said--
has ALL qualities, or it has none. You, to whom I am speaking
now, your qualities, good and bad, are all mine. I am perfectly
willing to accept them. They are all right enough and in
place--if one can only find the places for them. But I know
that in most cases they have got so confused and mixed up that
they cause great conflict and pain in the souls that harbor
them. If you attain to knowing yourself to be other than and
separate from the qualities, then you will pass below and beyond
them all. You will be able to accept ALL your qualities and
harmonize them, and your soul will be at peace. You will be free
from the domination of qualities then because you will know that
among all the multitudes of them there are none of any

If you should happen some day to reach that state of mind
in connection with which this revelation comes, then you will
find the experience a most extraordinary one. You will become
conscious that there is no barrier in your path; that the way
is open in all directions; that all men and women belong to
you, are part of you. You will feel that there is a great open
immense world around, which you had never suspected before,
which belongs to you, and the riches of which are all yours,
waiting for you. It may, of course, take centuries and thousands
of years to realize this thoroughly, but there it is. You are
just at the threshold, peeping in at the door. What did
Shakespeare say? "To thine own self be true, and it must follow
as the night the day, thou can'st not then be false to any
man." What a profound bit of philosophy in three lines!
I doubt if anywhere the basis of all human life has been
expressed more perfectly and tersely.

One of the Upanishads (the Maitrayana-Brahmana) says:
"The happiness belonging to a mind, which through deep
inwardness[1] (or understanding) has been washed clean and has
entered into the Self, is a thing beyond the power of words to
describe: it can only be perceived by an inner faculty." Observe
the conviction, the intensity with which this joy, this happiness
is described, which comes to those whose minds have been washed
clean (from all the silly trumpery sediment of self-thought) and
have become transparent, so that the great universal
Being residing there in the depths can be perceived.
What sorrow indeed, what, grief, can come to such an one who
has seen this vision? It is truly a thing beyond the power of
words to describe: it can only be PERCEIVED--and that by an
inner faculty. The external apparatus of thought is of no use.
Argument is of no use. But experience and direct perception
are possible; and probably all the experiences of life and of
mankind through the ages are gradually deepening our powers
of perception to that point where the vision will at last rise
upon the inward eye.

[1] The word in the Max Muller translation is "meditation." But
that is, I think, a somewhat misleading word. It suggests to most
people the turning inward of the THINKING faculty to grope and
delve in the interior of the mind. This is just what should NOT
be done. Meditation in the proper sense should mean the inward
deepening of FEELING and consciousness till the region of the
universal self is reached; but THOUGHT should not interfere
there. That should be turned on outward things to mould them into
expression of the inner consciousness.

Another text, from the Brihad-Aranyaka Upanishad (which
I have already quoted in the paper on "Rest"), says: "If a
man worship the Self only as his true state, his work cannot
fail, for whatever he desires, that he obtains from the Self."
Is that not magnificent? If you truly realize your identity
and union with the great Self who inspires and informs the
world, then obviously whatever you desire the great Self win
desire, and the whole world will conspire to bring it to you.
"He maketh the winds his angels, and the flaming fires his
ministers." [I need not say that I am not asking you to try
and identify yourself with the great Self universal IN ORDER to
get riches, "opulence," and other things of that kind which
you desire; because in that quest you will probably not succeed.
The Great Self is not such a fool as to be taken in in that way.
It may be true--and it is true--that if ye seek FIRST the Kingdom
of Heaven all these things shall be added unto you; but
you must seek it first, not second.]

Here is a passage from Towards Democracy: "As space spreads
everywhere, and all things move and change within it, but it
moves not nor changes,

"So I am the space within the soul, of which the space without
is but the similitude and mental image;

"Comest thou to inhabit me, thou hast the entrance to all
life--death shall no longer divide thee from whom thou

"I am the Sun that shines upon all creatures from within--
gazest thou upon me, thou shalt be filled with joy eternal."

Yes, this great sun is there, always shining, but most of the
time it is hidden from us by the clouds of which I have spoken,
and we fail to see it. We complain of being out in the cold;
and in the cold, for the time being, no doubt we are; but our
return to the warmth and the light has now become possible.

Thus at last the Ego, the mortal immortal self--disclosed at
first in darkness and fear and ignorance in the growing babe
--FINDS ITS TRUE IDENTITY. For a long period it is baffled in
trying to understand what it is. It goes through a vast
experience. It is tormented by the sense of separation and
alienation--alienation from other people, and persecution by all
the great powers and forces of the universe; and it is pursued by
a sense of its own doom. Its doom truly is irrevocable. The hour
of fulfilment approaches, the veil lifts, and the soul beholds at

We are accustomed to think of the external world around us
as a nasty tiresome old thing of which all we can say for certain
is that it works by a "law of cussedness"--so that, whichever
way we want to go, that way seems always barred, and
we only bump against blind walls without making any progress.
But that uncomfortable state of affairs arises from ourselves.
Once we have passed a certain barrier, which at present looks
so frowning and impossible, but which fades into nothing
immediately we have passed it--once we have found the open
secret of identity--then the way is indeed open in every

The world in which we live--the world into which we are
tumbled as children at the first onset of self-consciousness--
denies this great fact of unity. It is a world in which the
principle of separation rules. Instead of a common life and
union with each other, the contrary principle (especially in the
later civilizations) has been the one recognized--and to such
an extent that always there prevails the obsession of separation,
and the conviction that each person is an isolated unit. The
whole of our modern society has been founded on this delusive
idea, WHICH IS FALSE. You go into the markets, and every man's
hand is against the others--that is the ruling principle. You
go into the Law Courts where justice is, or should be,
administered, and you find that the principle which denies unity
is the one that prevails. The criminal (whose actions have really
been determined by the society around him) is cast out,
disacknowledged, and condemned to further isolation in a prison
cell. 'Property' again is the principle which rules and
determines our modern civilization--namely that which is proper
to, or can be appropriated by, each person, as AGAINST the

In the moral world the doom of separation comes to us in the
shape of the sense of sin. For sin is separation. Sin is actually
(and that is its only real meaning) the separation from others,
and the non-acknowledgment of unity. And so it has come
about that during all this civilization-period the sense of sin
has ruled and ranged to such an extraordinary degree. Society
has been built on a false base, not true to fact or life--and
has had a dim uneasy consciousness of its falseness. Meanwhile
at the heart of it all--and within all the frantic external
strife and warfare--there is all the time this real great life
brooding. The kingdom of Heaven, as we said before, is still

The word Democracy indicates something of the kind--the
rule of the Demos, that is of the common life. The coming of
that will transform, not only our Markets and our Law Courts
and our sense of Property, and other institutions, into something
really great and glorious instead of the dismal masses of
rubbish which they at present are; but it will transform our
sense of Morality.

Our Morality at present consists in the idea of self-goodness
--one of the most pernicious and disgusting ideas which has
ever infested the human brain. If any one should follow and
assimilate what I have just said about the true nature of the
Self he will realize that it will never again be possible for him
to congratulate himself on his own goodness or morality or
superiority; for the moment he does so he will separate himself
from the universal life, and proclaim the sin of his own
separation. I agree that this conclusion is for some people a
most sad and disheartening one--but it cannot be helped!
A man may truly be 'good' and 'moral' in some real sense;
but only on the condition that he is not aware of it. He can
only BE good when not thinking about the matter; to be conscious
of one's own goodness is already to have fallen!

We began by thinking of the self as just a little local self;
then we extended it to the family, the cause, the nation--ever
to a larger and vaster being. At last there comes a time when
we recognize--or see that we SHALL have to recognize--an inner
Equality between ourselves and all others; not of course an
external equality--for that would be absurd and impossible
--but an inner and profound and universal Equality. And so
we come again to the mystic root-conception of Democracy.

And now it will be said: "But after all this talk you have
not defined the Self, or given us any intellectual outline of
what you mean by the word." No--and I do not intend to. If
I could, by any sort of copybook definition, describe and show
the boundaries of myself, I should obviously lose all interest
in the subject. Nothing more dull could be imagined. I may
be able to define and describe fairly exhaustively this inkpot
on the table; but for you or for me to give the limits and
boundaries of ourselves is, I am glad to say, impossible. That
does not, however, mean that we cannot FEEL and be CONSCIOUS
of ourselves, and of our relations to other selves, and to the
great Whole. On the contrary I think it is clear that the more
vividly we feel our organic unity with the whole, the less shall
we be able to separate off the local self and enclose it within
any definition. I take it that we can and do become ever more
vividly conscious of our true Self, but that the mental statement
of it always does and probably always will lie beyond us. All
life and all our action and experience consist in the gradual
manifestation of that which is within us--of our inner being.
In that sense--and reading its handwriting on the outer world
--we come to know the soul's true nature more and more
intimately; we enter into the mind of that great artist who
beholds himself in his own creation.

Pagan & Christian Creeds:
Their Origin and Meaning