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    Default The God-Idea of the Ancients


    The God-Idea of the Ancients (or Sex in Religion)

    By Eliza Burt Gamble

    Preface

    Much of the material for this volume was collected during the time that I was preparing for the press the Evolution of Woman, or while searching for data bearing on the subject of sex-specialization. While preparing that book for publication, it was my intention to include within it this branch of my investigation, but wishing to obtain certain facts relative to the foundations of religious belief and worship which were not accessible at that time, and knowing that considerable labor and patience would be required in securing these facts, I decided to publish the first part of the work, withholding for the time being that portion of it pertaining especially to the development of the God-idea.

    As mankind construct their own gods, or as the prevailing ideas of the unknowable reflect the inner consciousness of human beings, a trustworthy history of the growth of religions must correspond to the processes involved in the mental, moral, and social development of the individual and the nation.

    By means of data brought forward in these later times relative to the growth of the God-idea, it is observed that an independent chain of evidence has been produced in support of the facts recently set forth bearing upon the development of the two diverging lines of sexual demarcation. In other words, it has been found that sex is the fundamental fact not only in the operations of Nature but in the construction of a god.

    In the Evolution of Woman it has been shown that the peculiar inheritance of the two sexes, female and male, is the result of the bias given to these separate lines of development during the earliest periods of sex-differentiation; and, as this division of labor was a necessary step in the evolutionary processes, the rate of progress depended largely on the subsequent adjustment of these two primary elements or forces. A comprehensive study of prehistoric records shows that in an earlier age of existence upon the earth, at a time when woman’s influence was in the ascendancy over that of man, human energy was directed by the altruistic characters which originated in and have been transmitted through the female; but after the decline of woman’s power, all human institutions, customs, forms, and habits of thought are seen to reflect the egoistic qualities acquired by the male.

    Nowhere is the influence of sex more plainly manifested than in the formulation of religious conceptions and creeds. With the rise of male power and dominion, and the corresponding repression of the natural female instincts, the principles which originally constituted the God-idea gradually gave place to a Deity better suited to the peculiar bias which had been given to the male organism. An anthropomorphic god like that of the Jews–a god whose chief attributes are power and virile might–could have had its origin only under a system of masculine rule.

    Religion is especially liable to reflect the vagaries and weaknesses of human nature; and, as the forms and habits of thought connected with worship take a firmer hold on the mental constitution than do those belonging to any other department of human experience, religious conceptions should be subjected to frequent and careful examination in order to perceive, if possible, the extent to which we are holding on to ideas which are unsuited to existing conditions.

    In an age when every branch of inquiry is being subjected to reasonable criticism, it would seem that the origin and growth of religion should be investigated from beneath the surface, and that all the facts bearing upon it should be brought forward as a contribution to our fund of general information. As well might we hope to gain a complete knowledge of human history by studying only the present aspect of society, as to expect to reach reasonable conclusions respecting the prevailing God-idea by investigating the various creeds and dogmas of existing faiths.

    The object of this volume is not only to furnish a brief outline of religious growth, but to show the effect which each of the two forces, female and male, has had on the development of our present God- idea, which investigation serves to accentuate the conclusions arrived at in the Evolution of Woman relative to the inheritance of each of the two lines of sexual demarcation.

    E.B.G.

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    Default The God-Idea of the Ancients - Introduction


    The God-Idea of the Ancients (or Sex in Religion)

    By Eliza Burt Gamble

    Introduction

    Through a study of the primitive god-idea as manifested in monumental records in various parts of the world; through scientific investigation into the early religious conceptions of mankind as expressed by symbols which appear in the architecture and decorations of sacred edifices and shrines; by means of a careful examination of ancient holy objects and places still extant in every quarter of the globe, and through the study of antique art, it is not unlikely that a line of investigation has been marked out whereby a tolerably correct knowledge of the processes involved in our present religious systems may be obtained. The numberless figures and sacred emblems which appear carved in imperishable stone in the earliest cave temples; the huge towers, monoliths, and rocking stones found in nearly every country of the globe, and which are known to be closely connected with primitive belief and worship, and the records found on tablets which are being unearthed in various parts of the world, are, with the unravelling of extinct tongues, proving an almost inexhaustible source for obtaining information bearing upon the early history of the human race, and, together, furnish indisputable evidence of the origin, development, and unity of religious faiths.

    By comparing the languages used by the earlier races to express their religious conceptions; by observing the similarity in the mythoses and sacred appellations among all tribe and nations, an through the discovery of the fact that the legends extant in the various countries of the globe are identical, or have the same foundation, it is probable that a clue has already been obtained whereby an outline of the religious history of the human family from a period even as remote as the “first dispersion,” or from a time when one race comprehended the entire population of the globe, maybe traced. Humboldt in his Researches observes: “In every part of the globe, on the ridge of the Cordilleras as well as in the Isle of Samothrace, in the Aegean Sea, fragments of primitive languages are preserved in religious rites.”

    Regarding the identity of the fundamental ideas contained in the various systems of religion, both past and present, Hargrave Jennings, in referring to a parallel drawn by Sir William Jones, between the deities of Meru and Olympus, observes:

    “All our speculations tend to the same conclusions. One day it is a discovery of cinerary vases, the next, it is etymological research; yet again it is ethnological investigation, and the day after, it is the publication of unsuspected tales from the Norse; but all go to heap up proof of our consanguinity with the peoples of history–and of an original general belief, we might add.”

    That the religious systems of India and Egypt were originally the same, there can be at the present time no reasonable doubt. The fact noted by various writers, of the British Sepoys, who, on their overland route from India, upon beholding the ruins of Dendera, prostrated themselves before the remains of the ancient temples and offered adoration to them, proves the identity of Indian and Egyptian deities. These foreign devotees, being asked to explain the reason of their strange conduct declared that they “saw sculptured before them the gods of their country.”

    Upon the subject of the identity of Eastern religions, Wilford remarks that one and the same code both of theology and of fabulous history, has been received through a range or belt about forty degrees broad across the old continent, in a southeast and northwest direction from the eastern shores of the Malaga peninsula to the western extremity of the British Isles, that, through this immense range the same religious notions reappear in various places under various modifications, as might be expected; and that there is not a greater difference between the tenets and worship of the Hindoos and the Greeks than exists between the churches of Home and Geneva.

    Concerning the universality of certain religious beliefs and opinions, Faber, commenting upon the above statement of Wilford, observes that, immense as is this territorial range, it is by far too limited to include the entire phenomenon, that the observation

    “applies with equal propriety to the entire habitable globe; for the arbitrary rites and opinions of every pagan nation bear so close a resemblance to each other, that such a coincidence can only have been produced by their having had a common origin. Barbarism itself has not been able to efface the strong primeval impression. Vestiges of the ancient general system may be traced in the recently discovered islands in the Pacific Ocean; and, when the American world was first opened to the hardy adventurers of Europe, its inhabitants from north to south venerated, with kindred ceremonies and kindred notions, the gods of Egypt and Hindostan, of Greece and Italy, of Phoenicia and Britain."1

    “Though each religion has its own peculiar growth, the seed from which they spring is everywhere the same."2

    The question as to whether the identity of conception and the similarity in detail observed in religious rites, ceremonies, and symbols in the various countries of the globe are due to the universal law of unity which governs human development, or whether, through the dispersion of one original people, the early conceptions of a Deity were spread broadcast over the entire earth, is perhaps not settled; yet, from the facts which have been brought forward during the last century, the latter theory seems altogether probable, such divergence in religious ideas as is observed among the various peoples of the earth being attributable to variations in temperament caused by changed conditions of life. In other words, the divergence in the course of religious development has doubtless been due to environment.

    In an attempt to understand the history of the growth of the god-idea, the fact should be borne in mind that, from the earliest conception of a creative force in the animal and vegetable world to the latest development in theological speculation, there has never been what might consistently be termed a new religion. On the contrary, religion like everything else is subject to the law of growth; therefore the faiths of to-day are the legitimate result, or outcome, of the primary idea of a Deity developed in accordance with the laws governing the peculiar instincts which have been in the ascendancy during the life of mankind on the earth.

    The erroneous impression which under a belief in the unknown has come to prevail, namely, that the moral law is the result of religion; or, in other words, that the human conscience is in some manner dependent on supernaturalism for its origin and maintenance, is, with a better and clearer understanding of the past history of the development of the human race, being gradually dispelled. On one point we may reasonably rest assured that the knowledge of right and wrong and our sense of justice and right-living have been developed quite independently of all religious beliefs. The moral law embodied in the golden rule is not an outgrowth of mysticism, or of man’s notions of the unknowable; but, on the contrary, is the result of experience, and was formulated in response to a recognized law of human necessity,–a law which involves the fundamental principle of progress. The history of human development shows conclusively that mankind GREW into the recognition of the moral law, that through sympathy, or a desire for the welfare of others,–a character which had its root in maternal affection,–conscience and the moral sense were evolved.

    While the moral law and the conscience may not be accounted as in any sense the result of man’s ideas concerning the unknowable, neither can the errors and weaknesses developed in human nature be regarded as the result of religion. Although the sexual excesses which during three or four thousand years were practiced as sacred rites, and treated as part and parcel of religion in various parts of the world, have had the effect to stimulate and strengthen the animal nature in man, yet these rites may not be accounted as the primary cause of the supremacy of the lower nature over the higher faculties. On the contrary, the impulse which has been termed religion, with all the vagaries which its history presents, is to be regarded more as an effect than as a cause. The stage of a nation’s development regulates its religion. Man creates his own gods; they are powerless to change him.

    As written history records only those events in human experience which belong to a comparatively recent period of man’s existence, and as the primitive conceptions of a Deity lie buried beneath ages of corruption, glimpses of the earlier faiths of mankind, as has already been stated, must be looked for in the traditions, monuments, and languages of extinct races.

    In reviewing this matter we shall doubtless observe the fact that if the stage of a nation’s growth is indicated by its religious conceptions, and if remnants of religious beliefs are everywhere present in the languages, traditions, and monuments of the past through a careful study of these subjects we may expect to gain a tolerably correct understanding not alone of the growth of the god-idea but of the stage of development reached by the nations which existed prior to the beginning of the historic age. We shall be enabled also to perceive whether or not the course of human development during the intervening ages has been continuous, or whether, for some cause hitherto unexplained, true progress throughout a portion of this time has been arrested, thus producing a backward movement, or degeneracy.

    If we would unravel the mysteries involved in present religious faiths, we should begin not by attempting to analyze or explain any existing system or systems of belief and worship. Such a course is likely to end not only in confusion and in a subsequent denial of the existence of the religious nature in mankind, but is liable, also, to create an aversion for and a distrust of the entire subject of religious experience. In view of this fact it would appear to be not only useless but exceedingly unwise to spend one’s time in attempting to gain a knowledge of this subject simply by studying the later developments in its history.

    If we are really desirous of obtaining information regarding present religious phenomena, it is plain that we should adopt the scientific method and turn our attention to the remote past, where, by careful and systematic investigation, we are enabled to perceive the earliest conception of a creative force and the fundamental basis of all religious systems, from which may be traced the gradual development of the god-idea.
    1 Pagan Idolatry, book i., ch. i.
    2 Max Muller, Origin and Growth of Religion, p. 48.

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    Default Chapter I. Sex the Foundation of the God-Idea


    The God-Idea of the Ancients (or Sex in Religion)

    By Eliza Burt Gamble

    Chapter I. Sex the Foundation of the God-Idea

    In the study of primitive religion, the analogy existing between the growth of the god-idea and the development of the human race, and especially of the two sex-principles, is everywhere clearly apparent.

    “Religion is to be found alone with its justification and explanation in the relations of the sexes. There and therein only."3

    As the conception of a deity originated in sex, or in the creative agencies female and male which animate Nature, we may reasonably expect to find, in the history of the development of the two sex-principles and in the notions entertained concerning them throughout past ages, a tolerably correct account of the growth of the god-idea. We shall perceive that during an earlier age of human existence, not only were the reproductive powers throughout Nature, and especially in human beings and in animals, venerated as the Creator, but we shall find also that the prevailing ideas relative to the importance of either sex in the office of reproduction decided the sex of this universal creative force. We shall observe also that the ideas of a god have always corresponded with the current opinions regarding the importance of either sex in human society. In other words, so long as female power and influence were in the ascendency, the creative force was regarded as embodying the principles of the female nature; later, however, when woman’s power waned, and the supremacy of man was gained, the god-idea began gradually to assume the male characters and attributes.

    Through scientific research the fact has been observed that, for ages after life appeared on the earth, the male had no separate existence; that the two sex-principles, the sperm and the germ, were contained within one and the same individual. Through the processes of differentiation, however, these elements became detached, and with the separation of the male from the female, the reproductive functions were henceforth confided to two separate individuals.

    As originally, throughout Nature, the female was the visible organic unit within whom was contained the exclusive creative power, and as throughout the earlier ages of life on the earth she comprehended the male, it is not perhaps singular that, even after the appearance of mankind on the earth, the greater importance of the mother element in human society should have been recognized; nor, as the power to bring forth coupled with perceptive wisdom originally constituted the Creator, that the god-idea should have been female instead of male.

    From the facts to be observed in relation to this subject, it is altogether probable that for ages the generating principle throughout Nature was venerated as female; but with that increase of knowledge which was the result of observation and experience, juster or more correct ideas came to prevail, and subsequently the great fructifying energy throughout the universe came to be regarded as a dual indivisible force–female and male. This force, or agency, constituted one God, which, as woman’s functions in those ages were accounted of more importance than those of man, was oftener worshipped under the form of a female figure.

    Neith, Minerva, Athene, and Cybele, the most important deities of their respective countries, were adored as Perceptive Wisdom, or Light, while Ceres and others represented Fertility. With the incoming of male dominion and supremacy, however, we observe the desire to annul the importance of the female and to enthrone one all-powerful male god whose chief attributes were power and might.

    Notwithstanding the efforts which during the historic period have been put forward to magnify the importance of the male both in human affairs and in the god-idea, still, no one, I think, can study the mythologies and traditions of the nations of antiquity without being impressed with the prominence given to the female element, and the deeper the study the stronger will this impression grow.

    During a certain stage of human development, religion was but a recognition of and a reliance upon the vivifying or fructifying forces throughout Nature, and in the earlier ages of man’s career, worship consisted for the most part in the celebration of festivals at stated seasons of the year, notably during seed-time and harvest, to commemorate the benefits derived from the grain field and vineyard.

    Doubtless the first deified object was Gaia, the Earth. As within the bosom of the earth was supposed to reside the fructifying, life-giving power, and as from it were received all the bounties of life, it was female. It was the Universal Mother, and to her as to no other divinity worshipped by mankind, was offered a spontaneity of devotion and a willing acknowledgment of dependence. Thus far in the history of mankind no temples dedicated to an undefined and undefinable God had been raised. The children of Mother Earth met in the open air, without the precincts of any man-made shrine, and under the aerial canopy of heaven, acknowledged the bounties of the great Deity and their dependence upon her gifts. She was a beneficent and all-wise God, a tender and loving parent–a mother, who demanded no bleeding sacrifice to reconcile her to her children. The ceremonies observed at these festive seasons consisted for the most part in merry-making and in general thanksgiving, in which the gratitude of the worshippers found expression in song and dance, and in invocations to their Deity for a return or continuance of her gifts.

    Subsequently, through the awe and reverence inspired by the mysteries involved in birth and life, the adoration of the creative principles in vegetable existence became supplemented by the worship of the creative functions in human beings and in animals. The earth, including the power inherent in it by which the continuity of existence is maintained, and by which new forms are continuously called into life, embodied the idea of God; and, as this inner force was regarded as inherent in matter, or as a manifestation of it, in process of time earth and the heavens, body and spirit, came to be worshipped under the form of a mother and her child, this figure being the highest expression of a Creator which the human mind was able to conceive. Not only did this emblem represent fertility, or the fecundating energies of Nature, but with the power to create were combined or correlated all the mental qualities and attributes of the two sexes. In fact the whole universe was contained in the Mother idea–the child, which was sometimes female, sometimes male, being a scion or offshoot from the eternal or universal unit.

    Underlying all ancient mythologies may be observed the idea that the earth, from which all things proceed, is female. Even in the mythology of the Finns, Lapps, and Esths, Mother Earth is the divinity adored. Tylor calls attention to the same idea in the mythology of England,

    “from the days when the Anglo-Saxon called upon the Earth, ’Hal wes thu folde fira modor’ (Hail, thou Earth, men’s mother), to the time when mediaeval Englishmen made a riddle of her asking ’Who is Adam’s mother?’ and poetry continued what mythology was letting fall, when Milton’s Archangel promised Adam a life to last

    ’. . . till like ripe fruit thou drop
    Into thy Mother’s lap.’ “
    4

    In the old religion the sky was the husband of the earth and the earth was mother of all the gods.5 In the traditions of past ages the fact is clearly perceived that there was a time when the mother was not only the one recognized parent on earth, but that the female principle was worshipped as the more important creative force throughout Nature.

    Doubtless the worship of the female energy prevailed under the matriarchal system, and was practised at a time when women were the recognized heads of families and when they were regarded as the more important factors in human society. The fact has been shown in a previous work that after women began to leave their homes at marriage, and after property, especially land, had fallen under the supervision and control of men, the latter, as they manipulated all the necessaries of life and the means of supplying them, began to regard themselves as superior beings, and later, to claim that as a factor in reproduction, or creation, the male was the more important. With this change the ideas of a Deity also began to undergo a modification. The dual principle necessary to creation, and which had hitherto been worshipped as an indivisible unity, began gradually to separate into its individual elements, the male representing spirit, the moving or forming force in the generative processes, the female being matter–the instrument through which spirit works. Spirit which is eternal had produced matter which is destructible. The fact will be observed that this doctrine prevails to a greater or less extent in the theologies of the present time.

    A little observation and reflection will show us that during this change in the ideas relative to a creative principle, or God, descent and the rights of succession which had hitherto been reckoned through the mother were changed from the female to the male line, the father having in the meantime become the only recognized parent. In the Eumenides of Aeschylus, the plea of Orestes in extenuation of his crime is that he is not of kin to his mother. Euripides, also, puts into the mouth of Apollo the same physiological notion, that she who bears the child is only its nurse. The Hindoo Code of Menu, which, however, since its earliest conception, has undergone numberless mutilations to suit the purposes of the priests, declares that “the mother is but the field which brings forth the plant according to whatsoever seed is sown.”

    Although, through the accumulation of property in masses and the capture of women for wives, men had succeeded in gaining the ascendancy, and although the doctrine had been propounded that the father is the only parent, thereby reversing the established manner of reckoning descent, still, as we shall hereafter observe, thousands of years were required to eliminate the female element from the god-idea.

    We must not lose sight of the fact that human society was first organized and held together by means of the gens, at the head of which was a woman. The several members of this organization were but parts of one body cemented together by the pure principle of maternity, the chief duty of these members being to defend and protect each other if needs be with their life blood. The fact has been observed, in an earlier work, that only through the gens was the organization of society possible. Without it mankind could have accomplished nothing toward its own advancement.

    Thus, throughout the earlier ages of human existence, at a time when mankind lived nearer to Nature and before individual wealth and the stimulation of evil passions had engendered superstition, selfishness, and distrust, the maternal element constituted not only the binding and preserving principle in human society, but, together with the power to bring forth, constituted also the god-idea, which idea, as has already been observed, at a certain stage in the history of the race was portrayed by a female figure with a child in her arms.

    From all sources of information at hand are to be derived evidences of the fact that the earliest religion of which we have any account was pure Nature-worship, that whatever at any given time might have been the object adored, whether it were the earth, a tree, water, or the sun, it was simply as an emblem of the great energizing agency in Nature. The moving or forming force in the universe constituted the god-idea. The figure of a mother with her child signified not only the power to bring forth, but Perceptive Wisdom, or Light, as well.

    As through a study of Comparative Ethnology, or through an investigation into the customs, traditions, and mythoses of extant races in the various stages of development, have been discovered the beginnings of the religious idea and the mental qualities which among primitive races prompted worship, so, also, through extinct tongues and the symbolism used in religious rites and ceremonies, many of the processes have been unearthed whereby the original and beautiful conceptions of the Deity, and the worship inspired by the operations of Nature, and especially the creative functions in human beings gradually became obscured by the grossest ideas and the vilest practices. The symbols which appear in connection with early religious rites and ceremonies, and under which are veiled the conceptions of a still earlier and purer age, when compared with subsequently developed notions relative to the same objects, indicate plainly the change which has been wrought in the original ideas relative to the creative functions, and furnish an index to the direction which human development, or growth, has taken.

    As the human race constructs its own gods, and as by the conceptions involved in the deities worshipped at any given time in the history of mankind we are able to form a correct estimate of the character, temperament, and aspirations of the worshippers, so the history of the gods of the race, as revealed to us through the means of symbols, monumental records, and the investigation of extinct tongues, proves that from a stage of Nature worship and a pure and rational conception of the creative forces in the universe, mankind, in course of time, degenerated into mere devotees of sensual pleasure. With the corruption of human nature and the decline of mental power which followed the supremacy of the animal instincts, the earlier abstract idea of God was gradually lost sight of, and man himself in the form of a potentate or ruler, together with the various emblems of virility, came to be worshipped as the Creator. From adorers of an abstract creative principle, mankind had lapsed into worshippers of the symbols under which this principle had been veiled.

    Although at certain stages in the history of the human race the evils, which as a result of the supremacy of the ruder elements developed in mankind had befallen the race were lamented and bewailed, they could not be suppressed. Man had become a lost and ruined creature. The golden age had passed away.
    3 Hargrave Jennings, Phallicism.
    4 Primitive Culture, vol. i., p. 295.
    5 Max Muller, Origin and Growth of Religion, p. 279.

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    Default Chapter II. Tree, Plant, and Fruit Worship


    The God-Idea of the Ancients (or Sex in Religion)

    By Eliza Burt Gamble

    Chapter II. Tree, Plant, and Fruit Worship

    When mankind first began to perceive the fact of an all-pervading agency throughout Nature, by or through which everything is produced, and when they began to speculate on the origin of life and the final cause and destiny of things, it is not in the least remarkable that various objects and elements, such as fire, air, water, trees, etc., should in their turn have been venerated as in some special manner embodying the divine essence. Neither is it surprising although this universal agency was regarded as one, or as a dual entity, they should have recognized its manifold expressions or manifestations.

    To primitive man, the visible sources whence proceeded his daily sustenance doubtless constituted the first objects of his regard and adoration. Hence, in addition to the homage paid to the earth, in due course of time would be added the worship of trees, upon which the early race was directly dependent for food. At a time when the art of agriculture had not been attained, all such trees as yielded their fruit for the support of the human race, and which afforded to mankind pleasant beverages or cooling shade, would come to be regarded as embodying the universal beneficent principle–the great creating and preserving agency of Nature, and therefore as proper objects of veneration.

    According to the Phoenician theogony, “the first gods which were worshipped by oblations and sacrifices were the fruits of the earth, on which they and their descendants lived as their forefathers had done.”

    Although, after the art of agriculture had been developed, mankind was gradually relieved from its past dependence on the tree as a means of support, it nevertheless continued to be regarded with veneration as an emblem of creative power or of productive energy.

    Among the traditions and monuments of nearly every country of the globe are to be found traces of a sacred tree–a Tree of Life. In various countries there appear two traditional trees, the one typical of the continuation of physical life, the other representing spiritual life, or the life of the soul. After the age of pure Nature-worship had passed, however, and serpent, fire, and phallic faiths had been introduced, the original signification of the tree, like that of all other religious emblems, became considerably changed. Through its energies, or life-giving properties, existence had long been maintained, and for this reason, as has already been observed, it became an object of veneration; but, after the reproductive power in man had risen to the dignity of a supreme God, the tree, to the masses of the people, became a symbol of the physical, life-giving energy in mortals and in animals. In other words, it became a phallic emblem representing the continuation of existence, or the power to reproduce or continue life on the earth. As a religious symbol it became the traditional Tree of Life.

    The tree, like nearly every other object in nature, was and still is, in various parts of the world, either female or male, and all ideas connected with it are sacred and closely interwoven with sex.

    The extent to which trees have been venerated in past ages seems to be little understood, and there are doubtless few persons, at the present time, who would willingly believe that all along the religious stream, from its source to its latest developed branches, are to be observed traces of this ancient worship, which, in its earliest stages, was simply a recognition of Nature’s bounties.

    Barlow, in his work on Symbolism, says that “the most generally received symbol of life is a tree–as also the most appropriate.”

    Again the same writer observes: “Besides the monumental evidence thus furnished of a sacred tree, or Tree of Life, there is an historical and traditional evidence of the same thing, found in the early literature of various nations, in the customs, and popular usages."6 As tree- and sun-worship, or the adoration of Nature’s processes, finally became interwoven with phallic faiths, its history can be understood only after these later developments in the religious stream have been examined, or after the true significance of the serpent as a religious emblem, and the various ideas connected with the traditional Tree of Life, have been exposed.

    The palm, the pine, the oak, the banian, or bo, and many other species of trees, have, at different times, and by various nations, been invested with divine honors; but, in oriental countries, by far the most sacred among them is the Ficus Religiosa, or the holy bo tree of India. Something of the true significance of the traditional Tree of Life may be observed in the ideas connected with the worship of this emblem. The fig, when planted with the palm, as it frequently is in the East, near temples and holy shrines, is regarded as a peculiarly sacred object. When entwining the palm, which is male, it is always female; from their embrace Kalpia, or passion, is developed. This union causes the continuation of existence and the “revolutions of time.” The whole constitutes the Tree of Life.

    In Ceylon, there stands at the present time a tree which we are told is still worshipped by every follower of Buddha. It is a sacred bo, or Ficus Religiosa, which stands adjacent to an ancient holy shrine known as the Brazen Monastery, now in ruins. Of this tree Forlong remarks:

    “Though now amidst ruins and wild forests, and although having stood thus in solitary desolation for some 1500 years, yet there it still grows, and is worshipped and deeply revered by more millions of our race than any other god, prophet, or idol, which the world has ever seen."7

    This tree is sacred to Sakyu Mooni, is 2200 years old, and is said to be a slip from a tree planted by Bood Gaya, one of the three former Buddhas who, like Sakyu Mooni, visited Ceylon. Under the parent of this tree the great prophet reposed after he had attained perfect rest, or after he had overcome the flesh and become Buddha. It was under a bo tree that Mai, Queen of Heaven, brought him forth, and, in fact, very many of the most important incidents of his life are closely connected with this sacred emblem.

    In an allusion to the bo tree of Ceylon, a slip of which is said to have been carried from India to that island by a certain priestess in the year 307 B.C., Forlong observes:

    “This wonderful idol has furnished shoots to half Asia, and every shoot is trained as much as possible like the parent, and like it, also, enclosed and tended. Men watch and listen for signs and sounds from this holy tree just as the priests of Dodona did beneath their rustling oaks, and, as many people, even of these somewhat sceptical days, still do, beneath the pulpits of their pope, priest, or other oracle."8

    The sacred Ficus is worshipped in India and in many of the Polynesian islands.

    Regarding the palm, Inman assures us that it is emblematical of the active male energy, or the continuation of existence.9

    Within the legends underlying the Jewish religion, it will be remembered that the tree appears mysteriously connected with the beginning of life and is interwoven with the first ideas of human action and experience. The literal sense, however, of the allegory in Genesis concerning the woman, the tree, and the serpent, and its meaning as generally accepted by laymen and the uneducated among the priesthood, has little in common with its true significance as understood by the initiated.

    In Vedic times, the home tree was worshipped as a god, and to the exhilarating properties in its juice was ascribed that subtle quality which was regarded as the life-giving, or creative, energy supposed to reside in heat, and which was closely connected with passion or procreative energy. This quality was their Bacchus, Dionysos, or god-idea–the creator not alone of physical existence, but of good and evil as well. It was the Destroyer, yet the Regenerator, of life.

    Of the Zoroastrian home, or sacred tree, which by the Persians was worshipped for thousands of years, Layard remarks: “The plant or its product was called the mystical body of God, the living water or food of eternal life, when duly consecrated and administered according to Zoroastrian rites.” It has been suggested, and not without reason, that to this idea of the ancients, respecting the sacred character of the properties of the home juice, may be traced the “origin of the celebration of Jewish holy or paschal suppers and other eucharistic rites.”

    Although by the ancients water was sometimes regarded as the original principle, later, wine, or the intoxicating quality within it, came to constitute the god-idea. It was spirit, while water was matter; hence, in the sacraments, water and wine were commingled, wine representing the essence or blood of God; water, at the same time, standing for the people. Cyprian, the bishop martyr, while contending for the use of wine in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, makes use of the following argument:

    “The Holy Spirit also is not silent in the Psalms on the sacrament of this thing, when He makes mention of the Lord’s Cup, and says ’Thy intoxicating cup how excellent it is!’ Now the cup which intoxicates is assuredly mingled with wine, for water cannot intoxicate anybody. And the Cup of the Lord in such wise inebriates, as Noe also was intoxicated drinking wine in Genesis. . . . For because Christ bore us all, in that he also bore our sins, we see that in the water is understood the people, but in the wine is showed the blood of Christ. . . . Thus, therefore, in consecrating the Cup of the Lord, water alone cannot be offered, even as wine alone cannot be offered. For if anyone offer wine only, the blood of Christ is dissociated from us; but if the water be alone, the people are dissociated from Christ."10

    The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, at which wine is mysteriously converted into the essence of Deity, or into the blood of Christ, is without doubt a relic of the idea once entertained regarding the homa tree. Certain writers entertain the opinion that from the use of the sacred homa juice have arisen various religious practices and rites, such for instance as offering oblations to the gods, anointing holy stones, and pouring wine on sacred hills, also the custom of pledging oaths over glasses of wine.

    The May pole, a decidedly phallic emblem, whose festivals until a very recent time were celebrated in England by the old as well as the young, was usually if not always sprinkled with wine. From the accounts which we have of this sacred emblem and its festival, it seems that no royal edict nor priestly denunciation was sufficient to expel it from the country.

    According to Dr. Stevenson, the festival of Holi or the worship of Holika Devata, in the island of Ceylon, “has a close resemblance to the English festival of the May-pole, which originated in a religious ceremony or festival of the Cushites (called Phoenicians) who anciently occupied Western Europe."11

    The ash is the Scandinavian Tree of Life, and, like the sacred trees of all nations, is emblematical of the continuation of existence. This tree has a triple root, which peculiarity doubtless accounts for its sacred character. It is both female and male, and is said to be regarded as a “sort of Logos or Wisdom.” It is the first emanation from the Deity, and yet a Trinity in Unity. To insult or injure this tree was sacrilege, to cut it down was an offense punishable with death.

    In the old Egyptian and Zoroastrian story, appear the descriptions of two Trees of Life, also a Tree of Knowledge. In the accounts given of these trees, the Ficus, the female Tree of Life, represents the life of the soul, while the palm, the male Tree of Life, is that which gives physical life, which also is the true significance of the word “lord.” When, however, either of these trees stood alone, or unaccompanied by its counterpart, by it both of the creative principles were understood. By these ideas is suggested the thought which among a certain school of psychologists of the present century seems to be gaining ground, namely: that man is a dual entity, or, in other words, that he has a subjective mind and an objective self, which so long as this life endures must co-operate or work together.

    In the following descriptions of Egyptian emblems, will be perceived some of the changes which finally took place relative to the idea of sex in the god-idea.

    In the museum of Egyptian antiquities in Berlin is a sepulchral tablet representing the Tree of Life. This emblem figures the trunk of a tree, from the top of which emerges the bust of a woman–Netpe. She is the goddess of heavenly existence, and is administering to the deceased the water and the bread of life, the latter of which is represented by a substance in the form of cakes or rolls. The time at which this tablet was found is not known, but it is supposed to belong to the period of the XIXth dynasty, or about the time of Rameses II., 1400 years B.C.

    There is also in the Berlin museum another representation of the Egyptian Tree of Life, in which the trunk has given place to the entire body of a woman. This, also, is Netpe, who is still spiritual wisdom or the maternal principle. We are informed by Forlong that Diana was worshipped by the Amazons under a sacred tree.12 From this symbol the tree, which grew first into the figure of a divine woman, and later assumed the form of a divine man, arose the emblem of the cross.

    On the Nineveh tablets is pictured a Tree of Life which is surrounded by winged spirits, bearing in their hands the pine cone, a symbol indicating life, and which is said to have the same significance as the crux-ansata, or cross, among the Egyptians.

    In later ages, the Tree of Life, i. e., the divine man, or cross, or both together, furnish immortal food to those who lay hold upon them, exactly in the same manner as did Netpe, the goddess of wisdom, or spiritual life, in former times. According to the testimony of Barlow, this is the subject “most frequently symbolized on early Christian sepulchral tablets and monuments."13 Christ’s body was the “bread of life,” and his blood was the “wine from the Tree of Life,” of which to partake was life eternal. The cross, as in earlier religions, represented completeness of life. The jambu tree, the Buddhist god-tree, is in the shape of a cross.14

    Among the Kelti a tall oak was not only a symbol of the Deity, but it was Jupiter himself, while the earth from which it sprang was the Great Mother. Throughout Europe, in all ages, the oak has received divine honors. The fact that under its branches Jew, Pagan, and Christian alike swore their most solemn oaths, shows that its veneration was not confined to any particular nation or locality.

    The sacredness of the oak among the Druids is well attested by all writers who have dealt with this interesting people. In Rome its branches formed the badge of victory worn by conquering heroes, this emblem being the highest mark of distinction which could be conferred upon them.

    Forlong assures us that the oak was even more worshipped at the West than was the sacred Ficus at the East. Like it, the wood of the oak must be used

    “to call down the sacred fire from Heaven and gladden in the yule (Suiel or Seul) log of Christmas-tide even Christian fires, as well as annually renew with fire direct from Ba-al, on Beltine day, the sacred flame on every public and private hearth, and this from the temples of Meroe on the Nile, to the farthest icy forests and mountains of the Sklavonian."15

    Among the Druids, the mistletoe was also sacred especially when entwining the oak. Together they represented the Tree of Life, or the two generating agencies throughout Nature. Of the species of it which grows on the oak, Borlaise says that they deified the mistletoe and were not to look upon it but in the most devout and reverential manner: “When the end of the year approached, they marched with great solemnity to gather the mistletoe of the oak in order to present it to Jupiter, inviting all the world to assist in the ceremony."16

    According to the Latin writer Pliny, the “Druids have nothing more sacred than the mistletoe and the tree on which it grows, provided it be an oak.” This plant, which is called All Heal, although sought after with the greatest religious ardor, is seldom found, but should the people who go forth at Christmas time in large numbers succeed in finding it they immediately set about preparing feasts under the tree upon which it grows; at the same time, in the most solemn manner, two white bulls are brought forth to be sacrificed. After the feast has been prepared and the sacrifice made ready, the priest ascends the tree and with a golden pruning-knife cuts the sacred branches of the mistletoe, dropping them into a white cloth prepared for the occasion. The bulls are then sacrificed and a prayer offered that “God would render his own gift prosperous to those on whom he has bestowed it.” They believed that administered in a potion it would impart fecundity to any barren animal, and that it was a remedy against all kinds of poison. The branches of the mistletoe were then distributed among the faithful, each cherishing the token as the most sacred emblem of his faith. It is thought that the Christmas tree is a remnant of this custom.

    Although the Christbaum of the Germans, the Yggdrasill of the Scandinavians, and the Christmas tree of the English speaking nations are still regarded as belonging exclusively to Christianity, their birthplace was the far East, and their origin long anterior to our present era. This subject will be referred to later in these pages. The palm, which in course of time became the most sacred tree of Egypt, is said to have put forth a shoot every month during the year. At Christmas tide, or at the winter solstice, a branch from this tree was used as a symbol of the renewal of time or of the birth of the New Year.

    On the Zodiac of Dendera, preserved in the National Library at Paris, are two trees, the one representing the East, or India and China, the other, the West, or Egypt. The former of these trees is putting forth a pair of leaves and is topped by the emblems of Siva, emblems which indicate the fructifying powers of Nature, whilst the Egyptian sacred tree, which is surmounted by the ostrich plume, the emblem of truth, is indicative of Light, Intelligence, or the life of the soul. In a discourse delivered by Dr. Stukeley in 1760, attention was directed to the grove of Abraham as “that famous oak grove of Beersheba, planted by the illustrious prophet and first Druid–Abraham; and from whom our celebrated British Druids came, who were of the same patriarchal reformed religion, and brought the use of sacred groves to Britain."17

    The fact has been ascertained that in Arabia, in very ancient times, there was a goddess named Azra who was worshipped under the form of a tree called Samurch, and that in Yemen tree-worship still prevails. To the date is ascribed divine honors. This tree is said to have its regular priests, services, rites, and festivals, and is as zealously worshipped as are the gods of any other country. We are not informed as to whether the Jewish Tree of Life was borrowed from the Chaldeans or the Egyptians, but, as the significance is the same in all countries, it is of little consequence which furnished a copy for the writer in Genesis.

    In Dr. Inman’s Ancient Faiths, is a drawing from the original, by Colonel Coombs, of the “Temptation,” or of the ancient tree-and-serpent myth in Genesis. This drawing, in which it is observed that the Jewish idea of woman as tempter is reversed, was copied from the inner walls of a cave in Southern India. The picture is said to be a faithful representation of the version of the story as accepted in the East.

    Of the myrtle, Payne Knight says that it “was a symbol both of Venus and Neptune, the male and female personifications of the productive powers of the waters, which appear to have been occasionally employed in the same sense as the fig and fig leaf.”

    The same writer refers to the fact that instead of beads, wreaths of foliage, generally of laurel, olive, myrtle, ivy, or oak, appear upon coins; sometimes encircling the symbolical figures, and sometimes as chaplets on their heads. According to Strabo, each of these is sacred to some particular personification of the Deity, and “significant of some particular attribute, and in general, all evergreens were Dionysiac plants, that is, symbols of the generative power, signifying perpetuity of youth and vigor.” The crowns of laurel, olive, etc., with which the victors in the Roman triumphs and Grecian games were honored, were emblems of immortality, and not merely transitory marks of occasional distinction.18

    The tree and serpent, according to Ferguson, are symbolized in all religious systems which the world has ever known. The two together are typical of the processes of reproduction or generation. They also symbolize good and evil and the cause which underlies the decline of virtue.

    Among the numberless fruits which from time to time have been regarded as divine emblems, the principal are perhaps the fig, the pomegranate, the mandrake, the almond, and the olive. The peculiarly sacred character which we find attached to the fig ceases to be a mystery so soon as we remember that the organs of generation, male and female, had, in process of time, come to be objects of worship and that the fig was the emblem of the latter.

    A basket of this fruit is said to have been the most acceptable offering to the god Bacchus, and therefore, by his devotees, was regarded as the most sacred symbol. The favorite material for phallic devices was the wood of the sacred fig, for it was by rubbing together pieces of it that holy fire was supposed to be drawn from heaven. By holy fire, however, was meant not so much the natural visible element which was kindled, as that subtle substance contained in fire or heat which was supposed to contain the life principle, and which was sent in response to the cravings of pious devotees for procreative energy, which blessing, among various peoples, notably the Jews, was indicative of special divine favor.

    By pagans, Jews, and Christians, the pomegranate has long been regarded as a sacred emblem. It is a symbol of reproductive energy. Representations of it were embroidered on the Ephod, and Solomon’s Temple is reported as having been literally covered with decorations, in which, among the devices noticed, this particular fruit appears the most conspicuous. Its significance, as revealed by Inman and other writers, is too gross to be set forth in these pages.

    Among the most sacred plants or flowers were the lotus and the fleur de lis, both of which were venerated because of some real or fancied organic sexual peculiarity. The lotus is adored as the female principle throughout Nature, or as the “womb of all creation,” and is sacred throughout oriental countries. It is said to be androgynous or hermaphrodite–hence its peculiarly sacred character.

    It has long been thought that this lily is produced without the aid of the male pollen, hence it would seem to be an appropriate emblem for that ancient sect which worshipped the female as the more important creative energy.

    Of the lotus, Inman remarks: “Amongst fourteen kinds of food and flowers presented to the Sanskrit God Anata, the lotus only is indispensable.” This emblem, as we have seen, was the symbol of the Great Mother, and we are assured that it was “little less sacred than the Queen of Heaven herself.”

    Regarding the lotus and its universal significance as a religious emblem, Payne Knight says:

    “The lotus is the Nelumbo of Linnaeus. This plant grows in the water, and amongst its broad leaves puts forth a flower, in the center of which is formed the seed vessel, shaped like a bell or inverted cone, and punctured on the top with little cavities or cells, in which the seeds grow. The orifices of these cells being too small to let the seeds drop out when ripe, they shoot forth into new plants, in the places where they were formed, the bulb of the vessel serving as a matrix to nourish them until they acquire such a degree of magnitude as to burst it open and release themselves, after which, like other aquatic weeds, they take root wherever the current deposits them. This plant, therefore, being thus productive of itself, and vegetating from its own matrix, without being fostered in the earth, was naturally adopted as the symbol of the productive power of the waters, upon which the creative spirit of the Creator operated in giving life and vegetation to matter. We accordingly find it employed in every part of the Northern hemisphere, where the symbolical religion improperly called idolatry does or did prevail. The sacred images of the Tartars, Japanese, and Indians are almost all placed upon it, of which numerous instances occur in the publication of Kaempfer, Sonnerat, etc: The Brama of India is represented sitting upon a lotus throne, and the figures upon the Isaic table hold the stem of this plant, surmounted by the seed vessel in one hand, and the cross representing the male organs in the other: thus signifying the universal power, both active and passive, attributed to that goddess."19

    The lotus is the most sacred and the most significant symbol connected with the sacred mysteries of the East. Upon this subject, Maurice observes that there is no plant which has received such a degree of honor as has the lotus. It was the consecrated symbol of the Great Mother who had brought forth the fecundative energies, female and male. Not only throughout the Northern hemisphere was it everywhere held in profound veneration, but among the modern Egyptians it is still worshipped as symbolical of the Great First Cause. The lotus was the emblem venerated in the solemn celebration of the Mysteries of Eleusis in Greece and the Phiditia in Carthage.

    In referring to the degree of homage paid to the lotus by the ancients, Higgins says: “And we shall find in the sequel that it still continues to receive the respect, if not the adoration, of a great part of the Christian world, unconscious, perhaps, of the original reason of their conduct.” It is a significant fact that in nearly all the sacred paintings of the Christians in the galleries throughout Europe, especially those of the Annunciation, a lily is always to be observed. In later ages as the original significance of the lotus was lost, any lily came to be substituted. Godfrey Higgins is sure that although the priests of the Romish Church are at the present time ignorant of the true meaning of the lotus, or lily, “it is, like many other very odd things, probably understood at the Vatican, or the Crypt of St. Peter’s."20

    Of the lotus of the Hindoos Nimrod says:

    “The lotus is a well-known allegory, of which the expanse calyx represents the ships of the gods floating on the surface of the water, and the erect flower arising out of it, the mast thereof . . . but as the ship was Isis or Magna Mater, the female principle, and the mast in it the male deity, these parts of the flower came to have certain other significations, which seem to have been as well known at Samosata as at Benares."21

    In other words it was a phallic emblem and represented the creative processes throughout Nature. Susa, the name of the capital of the Cushites, or ancient Ethiopians, meant “the City of Lilies.” In India the lotus frequently appears among phallic devices in place of the sacred Yoni. From the foregoing pages the fact will be observed that the God of the ancients embodied the two creative agencies throughout the universe, but as nothing could exist without a mother, the great Om who was the indivisible God and the Creator of the sun was the mother of these two principles, while the Tree of Life was the original life-giving energy upon the earth, represented in the creation myths of the first man Adam, and the first woman Eve or Adama.

    Throughout the ages, this force, or creative agency has been symbolized in various ways, many of which have been noted in the foregoing pages. We have observed that notwithstanding the fact that the supremacy of the male had been established, the sacred Yoni and the lotus were still reverenced as symbols of the most exalted God. Finally, when the masculine energy began to be worshipped as the more important agency in reproduction, the female, although still necessary to complete the god-idea, was veiled.

    Among the sect known as Lingaites, those who adored the male creative power, Man, Phallus, and Creator in religious symbolism signified one and the same thing in the minds of the people. Each represented a Tree of Life, the beginning and end of all things.

    Tree-worship was condemned by the councils of Tours, Nantes, and Auxerre, and in the XIth century it was forbidden in England by the laws of Canute, but these edicts seem to have had little effect. In referring to this subject, Barlow says: “In the XVIIIth century it existed in Livonia, and traces of it may still be found in the British Isles."22 The vast area over which tree- and plant-worship once extended, and the tenacity with which it still clings to the human race, indicate the hold which, at an earlier age in the history of mankind, it had taken upon the religious feelings of mankind.

    So closely has this worship become entwined with that of serpent and phallic faiths, that it is impossible to consider it, even in a brief manner, without anticipating these later developments; yet linked with earth- and sun-worship, it doubtless prevailed for many ages absolutely unconnected with the grosser ideas with which it subsequently became associated.
    6 Essays on Symbolism, p. 84.
    7 Rivers of Life, vol. i., p. 35.
    8 Rivers of Life, vol. i., p, 36.
    9 Ancient Faiths Embodied in Ancient Names, vol. ii., p. 448.
    10 Epistles of Cyprian, vol. i., pp. 215-217.
    11 Quoted by Baldwin, Prehistoric Nations, p. 223.
    12 Rivers of Life, vol. i., p. 70.
    13 Essays on Symbolism, p. 74.
    14 Wilford, Asiatic Researches.
    15 Faiths of Man in All Lands, vol. i., p. 68.
    16 Borlaise.
    17 Barlow, Symbolism, p. 98.
    18 Payne Knight, Symbolism of Ancient Art. We are informed that this book was never sold, but only given away. Although a copy of it was formerly in the British Museum, care was taken by the trustees to keep it out of the catalogues.
    19 Symbolism of Ancient Art.
    20 Anacalypsis, book vii., ch. xi.
    21 Quoted in Anacalypsis.
    22 Essays on Symbolism, p. 118.

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    Default Chapter III. Sun-Worship--Female and Male Energies in the Sun - PartI


    The God-Idea of the Ancients (or Sex in Religion)

    By Eliza Burt Gamble

    Chapter III. Sun-Worship--Female and Male Energies in the Sun

    “When we inquire into the worship of nations in the earliest periods to which we have access by writing or tradition, we find that the adoration of one God, without temples or images, universally prevailed."23

    Underlying all the ancient religions of which we have any account, may be observed the great energizing force throughout Nature recognized and reverenced as the Deity. This force embraces not only the creative energies in human beings, in animals, and in plants, but in the earlier ages of human history it included also Wisdom, or Law–that “power by which all things are discriminated or defined and held in their proper places.” The most renowned writers who have dealt with this subject agree in the conclusion that, during thousands of years among all the nations of the earth, only one God was worshipped. This God was Light and Life, both of which proceeded from the sun, or more properly speaking were symbolized by the sun.

    In Egyptian hymns the Creator is invoked as the being who “dwells concealed in the sun"; and Greek writers speak of this luminary as the “generator and nourisher of all things, the ruler of the world.” It is thought, however, that neither of these nations worshipped the corporeal sun. It was the “centre or body from which the pervading spirit, the original producer of order, fertility, and organization, continued to emanate to preserve the mighty structure which it had formed.”

    It is evident that at an early age, both in Egypt and in India, spiritualized conceptions of sun-worship had already been formed.

    We have seen that Netpe, the Goddess of Light, or Heavenly Wisdom, conferred spiritual life on all who would accept it. The Great Mother of the Gods in India was not only the source whence all blessings flow, but she was the Beginning and the End of all things.

    Of “Aditi, the boundless, the yonder, the beyond all and everything,” Max Muller says that in later times she “may have become identified with the sky, also with the earth, but originally she was far beyond the sky and the earth."24 The same writer quotes the following, also from a hymn of the Rig-Veda:

    “O Mitra and Varuna, you mount your chariot which, at the dawning of the dawn is golden-colored and has iron poles at the setting of the sun; from thence you see Aditi and Diti–that is, what is yonder and what is here, what is infinite and what is finite, what is mortal and what is immortal."25

    Aditi is the Great She that Is, the Everlasting. Muller refers to the fact that another Hindoo poet “speaks of the dawn as the face of Aditi; thus indicating that Aditi is here not the dawn itself, but something beyond the dawn.” This Goddess, who is designated as the “Oldest,” is implored “not only to drive away darkness and enemies that lurk in the dark, but likewise to deliver man from any sin which he may have committed.” “May Aditi by day protect our cattle, may she, who never deceives, protect us from evil.”

    In the Egyptian as in the Indian and Hebrew religions, the two generating principles throughout Nature represent the Infinite, the Holy of Holies, the Elohim or Aleim–the Ieue. Within the records of the earliest religions of Ethiopia or Arabia, Chaldea, Assyria, and Babylonia, is revealed the same monad principle in the Deity. This monad conception, or dual unity, this God of Light and Life, or of Wisdom and generative force, is the same source whence all mythologies have sprung, and, as has been stated, among all peoples the fact is observed that the religious idea has followed substantially the same course of development, or growth. Within the sacred writings of the Hindoos there is but one Almighty Power, usually denominated as Brahm or Brahme– Om or Aum. This word in India was regarded with the same degree of veneration as was the sacred Ieue of the Jews. In later ages, the fact is being proved that this God, into whom all the deities worshipped at a certain period in human history resolve themselves, is the sun, or if not the actual corporeal sun, then the supreme agency within it which was acknowledged as the great creative or life-force– that dual principle which by the early races was recognized as Elohim, Om, Ormuzd, etc., and from which the productive power in human beings, in plants, and in animals was thought to emanate.

    Prior to the development of either tree or phallic worship, the sun as an emblem of the Deity had doubtless become the principal object of veneration. Ages would probably elapse before primitive man would observe that all life is dependent on the warmth of the sun’s rays, or before from experience he would perceive the fact that to its agency as well as to that of the earth he was indebted both for food and the power of motion. However, as soon as this knowledge had been gained, the great orb of day would assume the most prominent place among the objects of his regard and adoration. That such has been the case, that the sun, either as the actual Creator, or as an emblem of the great energizing force in Nature, has been worshipped by every nation of the globe, there is no lack of evidence to prove; neither do we lack proof to establish the fact that, since the adoption of the sun as a divine object, or perhaps I should say as the emblem of Wisdom and creative power, it has never been wholly eliminated from the god-idea of mankind.

    Bryant produces numberless etymological proofs to establish the fact that all the early names of the Deity were derived or compounded from some word which originally meant the sun.

    Max Muller says that Surya was the sun as shining in the sky. Savitri was the sun as bringing light and life. Vishnu was the sun as striding with three steps across the sky, etc.

    Inman, whose etymological researches have given him considerable prominence as a Sanskrit and Hebrew scholar, says that Ra, Ilos, Helos, Bil, Baal, Al, Allah, and Elohim were names given to the sun as representative of the Creator.

    We are assured by Godfrey Higgins that Brahme is the sun the same as Surya. Brahma sprang from the navel of Brahme. Faber in his Pagan Idolatry says that all the gods of the ancients “melt insensibly into one, they are all equally the sun.” The word Apollo signifies the author or generator of Light. In the Rig Veda, Surya, the sun, is called Aditya. “Truly, Surya, thou art great; truly Aditya, thou art great.”

    Selden observes that whether the gods be called Osiris, or Omphis, or Nilus, or any other name, they all center in the sun.

    According to Diodorus Siculus, it was the belief of the ancients that Dionysos, Osiris, Serapis, Pan, Jupiter and Pluto were all one. They were, the sun.

    Max Muller says that a very low race in India named the Santhals call the sun Chandro, which means “bright.” These people declared to the missionaries who settled among them, that Chandro had created the world; and when told that it would be absurd to say that the sun had created the world, they replied: “We do not mean the visible Chandro, but an invisible one.”

    Not only did Dionysos, and all the rest of the gods who in later ages came to be regarded as men, represent the sun, but after the separation of the male and female elements in the originally indivisible God, Maut or Minerva, Demeter, Ceres, Isis, Juno, and others less important in the pagan world were also the sun, or, in other words, they represented the female power throughout the universe which was supposed to reside in the sun.

    In most groups of Babylonian and Assyrian divine emblems, there occur two distinct representations of the sun, “one being figured with four rays or divisions within the orb, and the other, with eight.” According to George Rawlinson, these figures represent a distinction between the male and female powers residing within the sun, the quartered disk signifying the male energy, and the eight-rayed orb appearing as the emblem of the female!26

    During an earlier age of human history, prior to the dissensions which arose over the relative importance of the sexes in reproduction, and at a time when a mother and her child represented the Deity, the sun was worshiped as the female Jove. Everything in the universe was a part of this great God. At that time there had been no division in the god-idea. The Creator constituted a dual but indivisible unity. Dionysos formerly represented this God, as did also Om, Jove, Mithras, and others. Jove was the “Great Virgin” whence everything proceeds.

    “Jove first exists, whose thunders roll above,
    Jove last, Jove midmost, all proceeds from Jove;
    Female is Jove, Immortal Jove is male;
    Jove the broad Earth, the heavens irradiate pale.
    Jove is the boundless Spirit, Jove the Fire,
    That warms the world with feeling and desire.”


    In a former work the fact has been mentioned that the first clue obtained by Herr Bachofen, author of Das Mutterrecht, to a former condition of society under which gynaecocracy, or the social and political pre-eminence of women, prevailed, was the importance attached to the female principle in the Deity in all ancient mythologies.

    According to the testimony of various writers, Om, although comprehending both elements of the Deity, was nevertheless female in signification. Sir William Jones observes that Om means oracle–matrix or womb.27 Upon this subject Godfrey Higgins, quoting from Drummond, remarks:

    “The word Om or Am in the Hebrew not only signifies might, strength, power, firmness, solidity, truth, but it means also Mother, as in Genesis ii., 24, and Love, whence the Latin Amo, Mamma. If the word be taken to mean strength, then Amon will mean (the first syllable being in regimine) the temple of the strength of the generative or creative power, or the temple of the mighty procreative power. If the word Am means Mother, then a still more recondite idea will be implied, viz.: the mother generative power, or the maternal generative power: perhaps the Urania of Persia or the Venus Aphrodite of Crete and Greece, or the Jupiter Genetrix of the masculine and feminine gender, or the Brahme Mai of India, or the Alma Venus of Lucretius. And the City of On or Heliopolis will be the City of the sun, or City of the procreative powers of nature of which the sun was always an emblem.”

    According to Prof. W. R. Smith, Om means uniting or binding, a fact which is explained by the early significance of the mother element in early society. The name of the great Deity Om or Aum scarcely passes the lips of its worshippers, and when it is pronounced is always reverently whispered. Regarding the mystic word Om, we are told that it is the name given to Delphi, and that “Delphi has the meaning of the female organs of generation called in India the Os Minxoe.”

    Although the great God of India was female and male, yet we are assured by Forlong that the female energy Maya, Queen of Heaven, even at the present time is more heard of than the male principle.

    According to Bryant, the worship of Ham is the most ancient as well as the most universal of any in the world. This writer remarks that Ham, instead of representing an individual, is but a Greek corruption of Om or Aum, the great androgynous God of India, a God which is identical in significance with Aleim, Vesta, and all the other representatives of the early dual, universal power. “In the old language God was called Al, Ale, Alue, and Aleim, more frequently Aleim than any other name.” According to the testimony of Higgins, Aleim denotes the feminine plural. The heathen divinities Ashtaroth and Beelzebub were both called Aleim, Ashtaroth being simply Astarte adorned with the horns of a ram. Ishtar not unfrequently appears with the horns of a cow. We are informed by Inman that whenever a goddess is observed with horns–emblems which by the way always indicate masculine power–it is to denote the fact that she is androgynous, or that within her is embodied the complete Deity–the dual reproductive energy throughout Nature. The “figure becomes the emblem of divinity and power."28

    Mithras–the Savior, the great Persian Deity which was worshipped as the “Preserver,” was both female and male. Among the representations of this divinity which appear in the Townley collection in the British Museum, is one in which it is figured in its female character, in the act of killing the bull. The Divinity Baal was both female and male. The God of the Jews in an early stage of their career was called Baal. The oriental Ormuzd was also dual or androgynous.

    Orpheus teaches that the divine nature is both female and male. According to Proclus, Jupiter was an immortal maid, “the Queen of Heaven, and Mother of the Gods.” All things were contained within the womb of Jupiter. This Virgin within whom was embodied the male principle “gave light and life to Eve.” She was the life-giving, energizing power in Nature, and was identical with Aleim, Om, Astarte, and others. The Goddess Esta, or Vesta, or Hestia, whom Plato calls the “soul of the body of the universe," is believed by Beverly and others to be the Self-Existent, the Great “She that Is” of the Hindoos, whose significance is identical with the Cushite or Phoenician Deity, Aleim.

    According to Marco Polo, the Chinese had but one supreme God of whom they had no image, and to whom they prayed for only two things–"a sound mind in a sound body.” They had, however, a lesser god–probably the same as the “Lord” (masculine) of the Jews, to whom they petitioned for rain, fair weather, and all the minor accessories of existence. Upon the walls of the houses of the Chinese is a tablet to which they pay their devotion. On this tablet is the name of the “high, celestial, and supreme God.” The principal word which this tablet contains is “Tien.” Of this Chinese Deity Barlow says: “The Chinese recognize in Tienhow, the Queen of Heaven nursing her infant son. Connected with this figure is a lotus bud, symbol of the new birth.

    Originally in Chaldea and in Egypt, only one supreme God was worshipped. This Deity was figured by a mother and her child, as was the great Chinese God. It comprehended the universe and all the attributes of the Deity. It was worshipped thousands of years prior to the birth of Mary, the Mother of Christ, and representations of it are still extant, not only in oriental lands, but in many countries of Europe. Within the oldest temples of Egypt are still to be observed sacred apartments which contain the “Holy of Holies,” and to which, in past ages, none might gain access but priests and priestesses of the highest order. Within these apartments are pictured the mysteries of birth, together with the symbols of generation emblems of procreation.

    On the banks of the river Nile are observed the ruins of the temple of Philae, which structure, it is said, represents the most ancient style of architecture. Within these ruins is to be seen an inner chamber in which are depicted the birth scenes of the child god Horus, and, indeed, everywhere among the monuments and ruins of Egypt, is plainly visible the fact that the creative power and functions in human beings, in animals, and in vegetable life, together with Wisdom, once constituted the god-idea.

    Between the ruins of the palace of Amunoph III. and the Nile are two colossal statues, each hewn from a single block of stone. These figures, although in a sitting posture, are sixty feet high. It is thought that they once formed the entrance to an avenue of similar figures leading up to the palace. It has been supposed that the most northern statue represents Ammon, and that its companion piece is his Mother. It is now believed by many writers, however, that these figures do not represent two persons at all, but that in a remote age of the world’s history they were worshipped as the two great principles, female and male, which animate Nature. The fact has been observed that Am or Om was originally a female Deity, within whom was contained the male principle; when, however, through the changes wrought in the relative positions of the sexes, the male element in the Divinity adored came to be represented as a man instead of as a child, he was Ammon. He was the sun, yet notwithstanding the fact that he had drawn to himself the powers of the sun, he was still, himself, only a production of or emanation from the female Deity Om, Mother of the Gods and Queen of Heaven. She it was who had created or brought forth the sun.

    There is a tradition which asserts that every morning a melodious sound is emitted from the first named of these two colossal figures as he salutes his rosy-fingered Mother whom he acknowledges as the source of all Light and Wisdom. The bodies are described as being “without motion, the faces without expression, the eyes looking straight forward, yet a certain grand simplicity occasions them to be universally admired.”

    The Goddess Disa or Isa of the North, as delineated on the sacred drums of the Laplanders, was accompanied by a child similar to the Horus of the Egyptians.29 It is observed also that the ancient Muscovites worshipped a sacred group composed of a mother and her children, probably a representation of the Egyptian Isis and her offspring, or at least of the once universal idea of the Deity.

    The following is from Payne Knight:

    “A female Pantheitic figure in silver, with the borders of the drapery plated with gold, and the whole finished in a manner surpassing almost anything extant, was among the things found at Macon on the Saone, in the year 1764, and published by Caylus. It represents Cybele, the universal mother, with the mural crown on her head, and the wings of pervasion growing from her shoulders, mixing the productive elements of heat and moisture by making a libation upon the flames of an altar. On each side of her head is one of the Discouri, signifying the alternate influence of the diurnal and nocturnal Sun; and, upon a crescent supported by the tips of her wings, are the seven planets, each signified by a bust of its presiding deity resting upon a globe, and placed in the order of the days of the week named after them.

    In her left hand she holds two cornucopiae, to signify the result of her operation on the two hemispheres of the Earth; and upon them are the busts of Apollo and Diana, the presiding deities of these hemispheres, with a golden disk, intersected by two transverse lines, such as is observed on other pieces of ancient art, and such as the barbarians of the North employed to represent the solar year, divided into four parts, at the back of each."
    30

    It was doubtless at a time when woman constituted the head of the gens, and when the feminine element in the sun, in human beings, and in Nature generally was regarded as the more important, that Latona and her son Apollo were worshipped together. Latona, Apollo, and Diana constituted the triune God. The last two were the female and male energies, the former being the source whence they sprang. As soon as one is divested of a belief in the popular but erroneous opinion that the gods of the early Egyptians and Greeks were deified heroes of former ages, he is prepared to perceive the fact that, although to the uninitiated these gods appear numberless, in reality they all represent the same idea, namely: the dual, moving force in Nature, together with Light or Wisdom.

    We have seen that when among the nations of antiquity civilization had reached its height, the god-idea was represented by the figure of a woman with her child; subsequently, however, as these nations began to decline, the creative energy comprehended simply physical life, or the power to reproduce, and was represented by various emblems which will be noticed farther on in this work. In still later ages, after male reproductive power had become God, and when, through superstition and sensuality, the masses of the people had descended to the rank of slaves, monarchs, representing themselves to their ignorant subjects as the source of all blessings, even of life itself, appropriated the titles of the sun, and claimed for themselves the adoration which had formerly belonged to it. From this fact has doubtless arisen the opinion so tenaciously upheld in recent times, that the gods of the ancients were only deified heroes of former times.

    If, during the earlier ages of human existence, all the gods resolved themselves into the sun, and if Light and Life, or Wisdom and the power to reproduce and sustain life, constituted the Deity, then of course God or the sun would be female or male, or both, according to the prevailing belief in the comparative creative and sustaining forces of the sexes.

    From what appears in the foregoing pages the fact has doubtless been perceived that the worship of a Virgin and Child does not, as is usually supposed, belong exclusively to the Romish Christian Church, but, on the contrary, that it constitutes the most remote idea of a Creator extant. As has been hinted, there is little doubt that the earliest worship of the woman and child was much simpler than was that which came to prevail in later ages, at a time when every religious conception was closely veiled beneath a mixture of astrology and mythology. After the planets came to be regarded as active agencies in reproduction, and powerful in directing all mundane affairs, the Virgin of the Sphere while she represented Nature was also the constellation which appeared above the horizon at the winter solstice, or at the time when the sun had reached its lowest point and had begun to return. At this time, the 25th of December, and just as the days began to lengthen, this Virgin gave birth to the Sun-God. It is said that he issued forth from her side, hence the legend that Gotama Buddha was produced from the side of Maya, and also the story believed by the Gnostics and other Christian sects that Jesus was taken from the side of Mary.31
    23 Godfrey Higgins, Celtic Druids.
    24 Origin and Growth of Religion, p. 221.
    25 Ibid.
    26 Essay x.
    27 See Anacalypsis, book iii., ch. ii.
    28 Ancient Faiths Embodied in Ancient Names, vol. i., p. 311.
    29 Jennings, Phallicism.
    30 Symbolism of Ancient Art.
    31 The fact will doubtless be remembered that a similar belief was entertained concerning the birth of Julius Caesar.

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    Default Chapter III. Sun-Worship--Female and Male Energies in the Sun - PartII


    The God-Idea of the Ancients (or Sex in Religion)

    By Eliza Burt Gamble

    Chapter III. Sun-Worship--Female and Male Energies in the Sun

    Within the churches and in the streets of many cities of Germany are to be observed figures of this traditional Virgin. She is standing, one foot upon a crescent and the other on a serpent’s head, in the mouth of which is the sprig of an apple tree on which is an apple. The tail of the serpent is wound about a globe which is partially enveloped in clouds. On one arm of the Virgin is the Child, and in the hand of the other arm she carries the sacred lotus. Her head is encircled with a halo of light similar to the rays of the sun.

    One is frequently disposed to query: Do the initiated in the Romish Church regard these images as legitimate representations of Mary, the wife of Joseph and Mother of Christ, or are they aware of their true significance? Certainly the various accessories attached to this figure betray its ancient origin and reveal its identity with the Egyptian, Chaldean, and Phoenician Virgin of the Sphere.

    The fact has already been observed that in the original representation of the “Temptation” in the cave temple of India, it is not the woman but the man who is the tempter, and a singular peculiarity observed in connection with this ancient female Deity is that it is SHE and NOT HER SEED who is trampling on the serpent, thus proving that originally woman and not man was worshipped as the Savior. Another significant feature noticed in connection with this subject is that the oldest figures which represent this Goddess are black, thus proving that she must have belonged to a dark skinned race.

    This image, although black, or dark skinned, had long hair, hence not a negress. The most ancient statue of Ceres was black, and Pausanias says that at a place called Melangea in Arcadia there was a black Venus. In the Netherlands only a few years ago, was a church dedicated to a black goddess. The Virgin of the Sphere who treads on the head of the serpent represents universal womanhood. She is the Virgin of the first book of Genesis and mother of all the Earth. She represents not only creative power but Perceptive Wisdom. Although this Goddess is usually seen with the lotus in her hand, she sometimes carries ripe corn or wheat.

    The mother of Gotama Buddha was called Mai or Maya, after the month in which the Earth is arrayed in her most beautiful attire.

    Maya is the parent of universal Nature. According to Davis, the mother of Mercury “is the universal genius of Nature which discriminated all things according to their various kinds of species,” the same as was Muth of Egypt. Mai is said to mean “one who begins to illuminate.” She was in fact the mother of the sun whence everything proceeds. She was matter, within which was concealed spirit.

    In the representations of Montfaucon appears the Goddess Isis sitting on the lotus. Her head, upon which is a globe, is surrounded by a radiant circle which evidently represents the sun. On the reverse side is Ieu, the word “which is the usual way of the ecclesiastical authors reading the Hebrew word Jehovah.” Referring to this from Montfaucon, Godfrey Higgins observes: “Here Isis, whose veil no mortal shall ever draw aside, the celestial Virgin of the Sphere, is seated on the self-generating sacred lotus and is called Ieu or Jove."32 She has also the mystic number 608 which stands for the Deity. Her breasts show plainly that it is a female representation, although connected with the figure appears the male emblem to indicate that within her are contained both elements, or that the universe is embodied within the female.

    Higgins thinks there is no subject on which more mistakes have been made than on that of the Goddess Isis, both by ancients and moderns. He calls attention to the inconsistency of calling her the moon when in many countries the moon is masculine. He is quite positive that if Isis is the moon, Ceres, Proserpine, Venus, and all the other female gods were the same, which in view of the facts everywhere at hand cannot be true. It is true, however, that “the planet called the moon was dedicated to her in judicial astrology, the same as a planet was dedicated to Venus or Mars. But Venus and Mars were not these planets themselves, though these planets were sacred to them."33 Higgins then calls attention to her temple at Sais in Egypt, and to the inscription which declares that “she comprehends all that is and was and is to be,” that she is “parent of the sun,” and he justly concludes that Isis can not be the moon.

    Apuleius makes Isis say:

    “I am the parent of all things, the sovereign of the elements, the primary progeny of time, the most exalted of the deities, the first of the heavenly gods and goddesses, whose single deity the whole world venerates in many forms, with various rites and various names. The Egyptians worship me with proper ceremonies and call me by my true name, Queen Isis.”

    Isis, we are told, is called Myrionymus, or goddess with 10,000 names. She is the Persian Mithra, which is the same as Buddha, Minerva, Venus, and all the rest.

    Faber admits that the female principle was formerly regarded as the Soul of the World. He says:

    “Isis was the same as Neith or Minerva; hence the inscription at Sais was likewise applied to that goddess. Athenagoras informs us that Neith or the Athene of the Greeks was supposed to be Wisdom passing and diffusing itself through all things. Hence it is manifest that she was thought to be the Soul of the World; for such is precisely the character sustained by that mythological personage."34

    The same writer says further:

    “Ovid gives a similar character to Venus. He represents her as moderating the whole world; as giving laws to Heaven, Earth, and Ocean, as the common parent both of gods and men, and as the productive cause both of corn and trees. She is celebrated in the same manner by Lucretius, who ascribes to her that identical attribute of universality which the Hindoos give to their Goddess Isi or Devi."35

    It seems to be the general belief of all writers whose object is to disclose rather than conceal the ancient mysteries, that until a comparatively recent time the moon was never worshipped as Isis. Until the origin and meaning of the ancient religion had been forgotten, and the ideas underlying the worship of Nature had been lost, the moon was never regarded as representing the female principle.

    When man began to regard himself as the only important factor in procreation, and when the sun became masculine and heat or passion constituted the god-idea, the moon was called Isis. The moon represented the absence of heat, it therefore contained little of the recognized god-element. It was, perhaps, under the circumstances, a fitting emblem for woman.

    In the sacred writings of the Hindoos there is an account of the moon, Soma, having been changed into a female called Chandra, “the white or silvery one.”

    While speaking of the moon, Kalisch says: “The whole ritual of the Phoenician Goddess Astarte with whom that Queen of Heaven is identical, and who was the goddess of fertility seems to have been transferred to her."36

    To such an extent, in the earlier ages of the world had the female been regarded as the Creator, that in many countries where her worship subsequently became identified with that of the moon, Luna was adored as the producer of the sun. According to the Babylonian creation tablets, the moon was the most important heavenly body. In later ages, the gender of the sun and the moon seems to be exceedingly variable. The Achts of Vancouver’s Island worship sun and moon–the sun as female, the moon as male.37 In some of the countries of Africa the moon is adored as female and sun-worship is unknown. Among various peoples the sun and the moon are regarded as husband and wife, and among others as brother and sister. In some countries, both are female. I can find no instance in which both are male. Hindoos and Aztecs alike, at one time, said that Luna was male and often that the sun was female.

    The fact that among the Persians the moon as well as the sun was at a certain period regarded as a source of procreative energy and as influencing the generative processes, is shown by various passages in the Avestas. In the Khordah Avesta, praise is offered to “the Moon which contains the seed of cattle, to the only begotten Bull, to the Bull of many kinds.”

    Perhaps the most widely diffused and universally adored representation of the ancient female Deity in Egypt was the Virgin Neit or Neith, the Athene of the Greeks and the Minerva of the Romans. Her name signifies “I came from myself.” This Deity represents not only creative power, but abstract intelligence, Wisdom or Light. Her temple at Sais was the largest in Egypt. It was open at the top and bore the following inscription: “I am all that was and is and is to be; no mortal has lifted up my veil, and the fruit which I brought forth was the sun.” She was called also Muth, the universal mother. Kings were especially honored in the title “Son of Neith.”

    To express the idea that the female energy in the Deity comprehended not alone the power to bring forth, but that it involved all the natural powers, attributes, and possibilities of human nature, it was portrayed by a pure Virgin who was also a mother. According to Herodotus, the worship of Minerva was indigenous in Lybia, whence it travelled to Egypt and was carried from thence to Greece. Among the remnants of Egyptian mythology, the figure of a mother and child is everywhere observed. It is thought by various writers that the worship of the black virgin and child found its way to Italy from Egypt.

    The change noted in the growth of the religious idea by which the male principle assumes the more important position in the Deity may, by a close investigation of the facts at hand, be easily traced, and, as has before been expressed, this change will be found to correspond with that which in an earlier age of the world took place in the relative positions of the sexes. In all the earliest representations of the Deity, the fact is observed that within the mother element is contained the divinity adored, while the male appears as a child and dependent on the ministrations of the female for existence and support. Gradually, however, as the importance of man begins to be recognized in human affairs, we find that the male energy in the Deity, instead of appearing as a child in the arms of its mother, is represented as a man, and that he is of equal importance with the woman; later he is identical with the sun, the woman, although still a necessary factor in the god-idea, being concealed or absorbed within the male. It is no longer woman who is to bruise the serpent’s head, but the seed of the woman, or the son. He is Bacchus in Greece, Adonis in Syria, Christna in India. He is indeed the new sun which is born on the 25th of December, or at the time when the solar orb has reached its lowest position and begins to ascend. It is not perhaps necessary to add that he is also the Christ of Bethlehem, the son of the Virgin.

    Nowhere, perhaps, is the growing importance of the male in the god-idea more clearly traced than in the history of the Arabians. Among this people are still to be found certain remnants of the matriarchal age–an age in which women were the recognized heads of families and the eponymous leaders of the gentes or clans. Concerning the worship of a man and woman as god by the early Arabians, Prof. Robertson Smith remarks:

    “Except the comparatively modern Isaf and Naila in the sanctuary at Mecca where there are traditions of Syrian influence, I am not aware that the Arabs had pairs of gods represented as man and wife. In the time of Mohammed the female deities, such as Al-lat, were regarded as daughters of the supreme male God. But the older conception as we see from a Nabataean inscription in De Vogue, page 119, is that Al-lat is mother of the gods. At Petra the mother-goddess and her son were worshipped together, and there are sufficient traces of the same thing elsewhere to lead us to regard this as having been the general rule when a god and goddess were worshipped in one sanctuary."38

    As the worship of the black virgin and child is connected with the earliest religion of which we may catch a glimpse, the exact locality in which it first appeared must be somewhat a matter of conjecture, but that this idea constituted the Deity among the Ethiopian or early Cushite race, the people who doubtless carried civilization to Egypt, India, and Chaldea, is quite probable.

    If we bear in mind the fact that the gods of the ancients represented principles and powers, we shall not be surprised to find that Muth, Neith, or Isis, who was creator of the sun, was also the first emanation from the sun. Minerva is Wisdom–the Logos, the Word. She is Perception, Light, etc. At a later stage in the history of religion, all emanations from the Deity are males who are “Saviors.”

    That the office of the male as a creative agency is dependent on the female, is a fact so patent that for ages the mother principle could not be eliminated from the conception of a Deity, and the homage paid to Athene or Minerva, even after women had become only sexual slaves and household tools, shows the extent to which the idea of female supremacy in Nature and in the Deity had taken root.

    Notwithstanding the efforts which during numberless ages were made to dethrone the female principle in the god-idea, the Great Mother, under some one of her various appellations, continued, down to a late period in the history of the human race, to claim the homage and adoration of a large portion of the inhabitants of the globe. And so difficult was it, even after the male element had declared itself supreme, to conceive of a creative force independently of the female principle, that oftentimes, during the earlier ages of their attempted separation, great confusion and obscurity are observed in determining the positions of male deities. Zeus who in later times came to be worshipped as male was formerly represented as “the great dyke, the terrible virgin who breathes out on crime, anger, and death.” Grote refers to numerous writers as authority for the statement that Dionysos, who usually appears in Greece as masculine, and who was doubtless the Jehovah of the Jews, was indigenous in Thrace, Phrygia, and Lydia as the Great Mother Cybele. He was identical with Bacchus, who although represented on various coins as a “bearded venerable figure” appears with the limbs, features, and character of a beautiful young woman. Sometimes this Deity is portrayed with sprouting horns, and again with a crown of ivy. The Phrygian Attis and the Syrian Adonis, as represented in monuments of ancient art, are androgynous personifications of the same attributes. According to the testimony of the geographer Dionysius, the worship of Bacchus was formerly carried on in the British Islands in exactly the same manner as it had been in an earlier age in Thrace and on the banks of the Ganges.

    In referring to the Idean Zeus in Crete, to Demeter at Eleusis, to the Cabairi in Samothrace, and Dionysos at Delphi and Thebes, Grote observes: “That they were all to a great degree analogous, is shown by the way in which they necessarily run together and become confused in the minds of various authors.”

    Concerning Sadi, Sadim, or Shaddai, Higgins remarks:

    “Parkhurst tells us it means all-bountiful–the pourer forth of blessings; among the Heathen, the Dea Multimammia; in fact the Diana of Ephesus, the Urania of Persia, the Jove of Greece, called by Orpheus the Mother of the Gods, each male as well as female–the Venus Aphrodite; in short, the genial powers of Nature.”

    To which Higgins adds: “And I maintain that it means the figure which is often found in collections of ancient statues, most beautifully executed, and called the Hermaphrodite.”

    As in the old language there was no neuter gender, the gods must always appear either as female or male. For apparent reasons, in all the translations, through the pronouns and adjectives used, the more important ancient deities have all been made to appear as males.

    By at least two ancient writers Jupiter is called the Mother of the Gods. In reference to a certain Greek appellation, Bryant observes that it is a masculine name for a feminine deity–a name which is said to be a corruption of Mai, the Hindoo Queen of Heaven.

    In process of time, as the world became more and more masculinized, so important did it become that the male should occupy the more exalted place in the Deity, that even the Great Mother of the Gods, as we have seen, is represented as male.

    The androgynous or plural form of the ancient Phoenician God Aleim, the Creator referred to in the opening chapter of Genesis, is clearly apparent. This God, speaking to his counterpart, Wisdom, the female energy, says: “Let us make man in our own image, in our own likeness,” and accordingly males and females are produced. By those whose duty it has been in the past to prove that the Deity here represented is composed only of the masculine attributes, we are given to understand that God was really “speaking to himself,” and that in his divine cogitations excessive modesty dictated the “polite form of speech"; he did not, therefore, say exactly what he meant, or at least did not mean precisely what he said. We have to bear in mind, however, that as man had not at that time been created, if there were no female element present, this excess of politeness on the part of the “Lord” was wholly lost. Surely, in a matter involving such an enormous stretch of power as the creation of man independently of the female energy, we would scarcely expect to find the high and mighty male potentate which was subsequently worshipped as the Lord of the Israelites laying aside his usual “I the Lord," simply out of deference to the animals.

    In Christian countries, during the past eighteen hundred years, the greatest care has been exercised to conceal the fact that sun-worship underlies all forms of religion, and under Protestant Christianity no pains has been spared in eliminating the female element from the god-idea; hence the ignorance which prevails at the present time in relation to the fact that the Creator once comprehended the forces of Nature, which by an older race were worshipped as female.
    32 Anacalypsis, book v., ch. iv.
    33 Anacalypsis, book vi., ch. ii.
    34 Pagan Idolatry, book i., p. 170.
    35 Ibid.
    36 Historical and Critical Commentary of the Old Testament.
    37 Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol. ii., p. 272.
    38 Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia, ch. vi., p. 179.

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    Default Chapter IV. The Dual God of the Ancients a Trinity Also


    The God-Idea of the Ancients (or Sex in Religion)

    By Eliza Burt Gamble

    Chapter IV. The Dual God of the Ancients a Trinity Also

    Although the God of the most ancient people was a dual Unity, in later ages it came to be worshipped as a Trinity. When mankind began to speculate on the origin of the life principle, they came to worship their Deity in its three capacities as Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer or Regenerator, each of which was female and male. We have observed that, according to Higgins, when this Trinity was spoken of collectively, it was called after the feminine plural.

    By the various writers who have dealt with this subject during the last century, much surprise has been manifested over the fact that for untold ages the people of the earth have worshipped a Trinity. Forster, in his Sketches of Hindoo Mythology, says: “One circumstance which forcibly struck my attention was the Hindoo belief of a Trinity.”

    Maurice, in his Indian Antiquities, observes that the idea of three persons in the Deity was diffused amongst all the nations of the earth, in regions as distant as Japan and Peru, that it was memorially acknowledged throughout the whole extent of Egypt and India, “flourishing with equal vigor amidst the snowy mountains of Thibet, and the vast deserts of Siberia.” The idea of a Trinity is supposed to have been first elaborated on the banks of the Indus, whence it was carried to the Greek and Latin nations. Astrologically the triune Deity of the ancients portrayed the processes of Nature.

    This recondite doctrine as understood by the very ancient people which originated it, involved a knowledge of Nature far too deep to be appreciated or understood by their degenerate descendants, except perhaps by a few philosophers and scholars who imbibed it in a modified form from original sources in the far East.

    After the establishment of the Trinity, the creative energy, which had formerly been represented by a mother and child, came to be figured by the mother, father, and the life derived therefrom. Sometimes the Trinity took the form of the two creative forces, female and male, and the Great Mother.

    Whenever the two creative principles were considered separately, there always appeared stationed over or above them, as their Creator, an indivisible unity. This Creator was the “Beyond," the “most High God"–Om or Aleim. It was the Mother of the Gods in whom were contained all the elements of the Deity. Among the representations of the god-idea which are to be observed on the monuments and in the temples of Egypt appear triads, each of which is composed of a woman stationed between a male figure and that of a child. She is depicted as the Light of the sun, or Wisdom, while the male is manifested as the Heat of the orb of day. She is crowned and always bears the male symbol of life– the crux-ansata.

    Later, it is observed that the worship of Light has in a measure given place to the adoration of Heat, in other words Light is no longer adored as essence of the Deity, Heat or Passion having become the most important element in creative power.

    After the ancient worship of the Virgin and Child had become somewhat changed or modified so as to better accommodate itself to the growing importance of the male, the most exalted conception of the Deity in Egypt seems to have been that of a trinity composed of Mout the Mother, Ammon the Father, and Chons the Infant Life derived from the other two. Mout is identical with Neith, but she has become the wife as well as the mother of Ammon. Directly below this conception of the Deity is a triad representing less exalted attributes, or lower degrees of wisdom, under the appellations of Sate, Kneph, and the child Anouk; and thus downward, through the varying spheres of celestial light and life involved in their theogony are observed the divine creative energies represented under the figures of Mother, Father, and the Life proceeding therefrom, until, finally, when the earth is reached, Isis, Osiris, and Horus appear as the representation of the creative forces in human beings, and therefore as the embodiment of the divine in the human.

    The Deity invoked in all the earlier inscriptions is a triad, and we are assured that in Babylonia, where Beltis is associated with Belus, “no god appears without a goddess.”

    The supreme Deity of Assyria was Asshur, who was worshipped sometimes as female, sometimes as male. This God doubtless represents the dual or triple creative principle observed in all the earlier forms of worship. Asshur had no distinct temple, but as her position was at the head of the Pantheon, all the shrines throughout Assyria were supposed to have been open to her worship.

    According to Bunsen, in the Sidonian Tyrian district, there were originally three great gods, at the head of which appears Astarte–a woman who represents pure reason or intelligence; then follows Zeus, Demarius, and Adorus. Without doubt this triad represents a monad Deity similar in character to the one observed in Egypt and other countries.

    In the minds of all well-informed persons, there is no longer any doubt that in Abraham’s time the Canaanites worshipped the same gods as did the Persians and all the other nations about them– namely, Elohim, the dual or triune creative force in Nature. As the Sun was the source whence proceeded all light and life as well as reproductive or generative power, it had become the object of adoration, and as the emblem of the Deity, it was worshipped by all the nations of the earth in its three capacities as Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer or Regenerator each female and male.

    Melchizedek, who was a priest of the most high God, blessed Abraham, who was a worshipper of the same Deity. On this subject Dr. Shuckford says:

    “It is evident that Abraham and his descendants worshipped not only the true and living God, but they invoked him in the name of the Lord, and they worshipped the Lord whose name they invoked, so that two persons were the object of their worship, God and this Lord: and the Scriptures have distinguished these two persons from one another by this circumstance, that God no man hath seen at any time nor can see but the Lord whom Abraham and his descendants worshipped was the person who appeared to them.”

    We are told that when chap. xxi., verse 33, of Genesis is correctly translated, Abraham is represented as having invoked Jehovah, the everlasting God.

    In the Hebrew name Yod-He-Vau (Jehovah), was set forth the triune character of the Creator; in other words, this name “comprehended the essential perfections of the great God,” and was used in their Scriptures as a “kind of summary or revelation of the attributes of the Deity.”

    Although Abraham, while in Egypt, was the worshipper of idols, we are assured that “the peculiar privilege vouchsafed to him lay in the revelation of God’s holy name, Yod-He-Vau. There is indeed much evidence going to prove that the people represented by Abraham understood the earlier conception of a Deity, and that while the great universal principle whose name it was sacrilege to pronounce was still acknowledged, there was another God (the Lord), the same as in China, whose worship they were beginning to adopt. “And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,
    So that I come again to my Father’s house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God.”


    He then declared that the pillar or stone which he had set up, and which was the emblem of male procreative energy, should be God’s house.

    As at the time represented by Jacob there was evidently little or no spirituality among the Israelites, this Lord whom they worshipped was simply a life-giver in the most material or practical sense.

    The reproductive energy in man had become deified. It had, in other words, come to possess all the attributes of a god, or of a powerful man, which in reality was the same thing. It is this god personified which is represented as appearing to Abraham and talking with him face to face. With this same god Jacob wrestled, while the real God–the dual or triune principle, the Jehovah or Iav, no man could behold and live.

    To conceal the fact that the God of Abraham originally consisted of a dual or triple unity, and that the Deity was identical in significance with that of contemporary peoples, the priests have, as usual, had recourse to a trick to deceive the ignorant or uninitiated. In reference to this subject Godfrey Higgins says:

    “In the second book of Genesis the creation is described not to have been made by Aleim, or the Aleim, but by a God of a double name Ieue Aleim; which the priests have translated Lord God. By using the word Lord, their object evidently is to conceal from their readers several difficulties which afterward arise respecting the names of God and this word, and which show clearly that the books of the Pentateuch are the writings of different persons."39

    Upon this subject Bishop Colenso observes:

    “And it is especially to be noted that when the Elohistic passages are all extracted and copied one after another, they form a complete, connected narrative; from which we infer that these must have composed the original story, and that the other passages were afterwards inserted by another writer, who wished to enlarge or supplement the primary record. And he seems to have used the compound Jehovah Aleim in the first portion of his work in order to impress upon the reader that Jehovah, of whom he goes on to speak in the later portions, is the same Great Being who is called simply Elohim by the older writer, and notably in the first account of the creation."40

    We are informed by Bunsen that El, or Elohim, comprehends the true significance of the Deity among all the Aramaic or Canaanitish races, El representing the abstract principle taken collectively, Elohim pertaining to the separate elements as Creator, Preserver, and Regenerator. Each of these Canaanitish races had inherited these ideas from their fathers, and, although they had become grossly idolatrous, “Moses knew, and educated Israelites remained a long time conscious, that they used them not merely in their real but in their most ancient sense."41 Maurice and other writers call attention to the fact that Moses himself uses this word Elohim with verbs and adjectives in the plural. That the God worshipped by the more ancient peoples, namely Aleim, or Elohim, the same who said, “Let us make man in our image,” was not the Lord adored at a later age by the Jews, is a fact which at the present time seems to be clearly proven; that it constituted, however, the dual or triune unity venerated by all the nations on the globe of which we have any record, appears to be well established.

    We have seen that although the two sex-principles which underlie Nature constituted the Creator, the ancients thought of it only as one and indivisible. This indivisible aspect was the sacred Iav, the Holy of Holies. When it was contemplated in its individual aspect it was Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer, each of which was female and male.

    The difficulty of the ancients in establishing a First Cause seems to have been exactly the same as is ours at the present time. When we say there must have been a God who created all things, the question at once arises, Who created God? According to their theories, nothing could be brought forth without the interaction of two creative principles, female and male; yet everything, even these principles, must proceed from an indivisible energy–an energy which, as the idea of the sex functions became more and more clearly defined, could not be contemplated except in its dual aspect. So soon, therefore, as the Great First Cause was separated into its elements, a still higher power was immediately stationed above it as its Creator. This Creator was designated as female. It was the Mother idea Even gods could not be produced without a mother.

    In referring to the doctrines contained in the Geeta, one of the sacred writings of the Hindoos, Faber observes:

    “In the single character of Brahm, all the three offices of Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva are united. He is at once the Creator, the Preserver, and the Destroyer. He is the primeval Hermaphrodite, or the Great Father and the Great Mother blended together in one person.”

    The fact that a trinity in unity, representing the female and male energies symbolized by the organs of generation, formerly constituted the Deity throughout Asia is acknowledged by all those who have examined either the literature or monumental records of oriental countries. The Rev. Mr. Maurice bears testimony to the character of Eastern religious ideas in the following language:

    “Whoever will read the Geeta with attention, will perceive in that small tract the outlines of all the various systems of theology in Asia. The curious and ancient doctrine of the Creator being both male and female, mentioned on a preceding page, to be designated in Indian temples by a very indecent exhibition of the masculine and feminine organs of generation in union, occurs in the following passage: ’I am the Father and Mother of this world; I plant myself upon my own nature and create again and again this assemblage of beings; I am generation and dissolution, the place where all things are deposited, and the inexhaustible seed of all Nature. I am the beginning, the middle, and the end of all things.’ 42

    According to Sir W. Jones, the Brahme, Vishnu, and Siva coalesce to form the mystic Om, which means the essence of life or divine fire. In the Bhagavat Geeta the supreme God speaks thus concerning itself: “I am the holy one worthy to be known"; and immediately adds: “I am the mystic [trilateral] figure Om; the Reig, the Yagush, and the Saman Vedas.” It is a unity and still a trinity. This Om or Aum stands for the Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer or Regenerator, and represents the threefold aspect of the force within the sun. The doctrine maintained throughout the Geeta is not only that the great life-force represents a trinity in unity, but that it is both female and male. On this subject Maurice, in his Indian Antiquities, says:

    “This notion of three persons in the Deity was diffused amongst all the nations of the earth, established at once in regions so distant as Japan and Peru, immemorially acknowledged throughout the whole extent of Egypt and India, and flourishing with equal vigor amidst the snowy mountains of Thibet, and the vast deserts of Siberia.”

    We have observed that the idea of a trinity as conceived by the so-called ancients, although at all times founded on the same conception, viz., that of the reproductive powers of Nature and especially of mankind, differed in expression according to its application. Although in human beings this triune creative idea was expressed by the mother, father, and child, as set forth in the temples and on the monuments of Egypt, when applied directly to the sun and the planets, it appears as the Creator, Preserver, and Regenerator or Destroyer.

    Destruction, or the absence of the sun’s heat, represented by winter, was necessary to life, and therefore the Destroyer was also the Regenerator and equally with the Creator and Preserver constituted a beneficent factor in the god-idea. In fact as this third element really embodied the substance of the other two, it finally became the supreme God, little afterward being heard about the Creator and Preserver. The Regenerator or Destroyer was of course the sun, which in winter died away and rose again in the spring-time as a beneficent Savior or renewer of life. The principle involved in these processes represented Fertility, Life, reproductive energy. As applied to mortals, it comprehended the power to create combined with perceptive Wisdom or Knowledge.

    This idea, portrayed as it was by a mother and her child, linked woman with the stars. It produced the “Virgin of the Sphere," Queen of Heaven, “Isiac Controller of the Zodiac,” at the same time that it made her the mother of all mankind.

    Every year this Virgin of the Sphere as she appeared above the horizon at the winter solstice gave birth to the sun. Astronomically this new sun was the Regenerator, by which all Nature was renewed. Mythologically, after the higher truths contained in these doctrines were lost, it came to be the Savior, the Son of the Virgin, the seed of the woman, which was to bruise the serpent’s head.

    That the religion of an ancient race comprehended a knowledge of the evolutionary processes of Nature may not be doubted. The myths still extant, and even the oldest Assyrian inscriptions which have been deciphered, reveal the fact that the seeds of the visible universe were hidden in the “great deep"–that animal creation sprang from the earth and the sea through the influence of the sun’s rays.

    It is now known that the philosophy of an older race involved a belief in the Eternity of Matter. The abstruse doctrine of Reincarnation and the Renewal of Worlds seems to have formed the basis of their philosophy. According to these speculations, a portion of the earth was destroyed or resolved into its primary elements every six hundred years, while at the end of each Kalpia, or great Cycle of several thousand years, the entire earth was renovated or absorbed into the two fecundating principles of the universe. These two indivisible forces represented by Vishnu rested in the water, or brooded on the face of the deep. When stirred by love for each other they again became active, and from the germs of a former world, which had been absorbed by themselves, created again the earth and everything upon it. In other words, “the earth sprang from the navel of Vishnu or Brahme.” According to the Buddhists of Ceylon, the universe has perished ten different times, and each time has been renewed by the operations of Nature, or by the preservation of germs from a former world. In their mythology these germs are represented by a parent and a triplicated offspring. It is perhaps unnecessary to add that this monad trinity is the Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer with their great parent, the Mother of the Gods, which in process of time came to be regarded as male. According to Wilford, Hindoo chronology presents fourteen different periods, six of which have already elapsed; we are in the seventh, which began with the flood. Each of these periods is called a Manwantara, the presiding genius or Deity of which is a Menu. At the close of each dynasty a total destruction of the world takes place, everything being destroyed except the ruler, or Menu, who “escapes in a boat.” Each new world is an exact counterpart of the one destroyed, and each Menu is a representation of all preceding ones. Thus the history of one dynasty serves for all the rest. This doctrine of a triplicated Deity appearing at the beginning of a new creation may be traced in nearly every country of the globe. Among the Buddhists of China, Fo is mysteriously multiplied into three persons in the same manner as is Fo-hi, who is evidently Noah. Among the Hindoos is observed the triad Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva springing from the monad Brahm or Brahme. This triad appears on the earth at the beginning of each Manwantara in the human form of Menu and his three sons. We are assured that among the Tartars evident traces are found of a similar God, who is seated on the lotus. It is also figured on a Siberian medal in the imperial collection at St. Petersburg. The Jakuthi Tartars, who are said to be the most numerous people of Siberia, worship a triplicated Deity under the three denominations of Artugon and Schugo-tangon and Tangara. Faber tells us that this Tartar God is the same even in appellation with the Tanga-tanga of the Peruvians, who, like other tribes of America, seem plainly to have crossed over from the North-eastern extremity of Siberia. Upon this subject the same writer remarks thus:

    “Agreeably to the mystical notion so familiar to the Hindoos, that the self-triplicated Great Father yet remained but one in essence, the Peruvians supposed their Tanga-tanga to be one in three, and three in one: and in consequence of the union of hero worship with the astronomical and material systems of idolatry they venerated the sun and the air, each under three images and three names. The same opinions equally prevailed throughout the nations which lie to the west of Hindostan. Thus the Persians had their Ormuzd, Mithras, and Ahriman: or, as the matter was sometimes represented, their self-triplicating Mithras. The Syrians had their Monimus, Aziz, and Ares. The Egyptians had their Emeph, Eicton, and Phtha. The Greeks and Romans had their Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto; three in number, though one in essence, and all springing from Cronus, a fourth, yet older God. The Canaanites had their Baal-Spalisha or self-triplicated Baal. The Goths had their Odin, Vile, and Ve, who are described as the three sons of Bura, the offspring of the mysterious cow, and the Celts had their three bulls, venerated as the living symbols of the triple Hu or Menu. To the same class we must ascribe the triads of the Orphic and Pythagorean and Platonic schools; each of which must again be identified with the imperial triad of the old Chaldaic or Babylonian philosophy."43

    The history of the catastrophe known as the deluge, which, it is claimed, took place either in Armenia, at Cashgar, or at some other place in the East, is observed, in later ages, to furnish a covering beneath which have been veiled the mythical doctrines of the priests. Of the catastrophes which from time to time have visited our planet, and of the belief which has come to be entertained by ecclesiastics that the earth will be destroyed by fire, Celsus writes:

    “The belief has spread among them, from a misunderstanding of the accounts of these occurrences, that after lengthened cycles of time, and the returns and conjunctions of planets, conflagrations, and floods are wont to happen, and because after the last flood, which took place in the time of Deucalion, the lapse of time, agreeably to the vicissitude of all things, requires a conflagration; and this made them give utterance to the erroneous opinion that God will descend, bringing fire like a torturer."44

    The mythologies of all nations are largely founded upon the “religious history” of a flood. The doctrine of a triplicated God saved from destruction by a storm-tossed ark which rested on some local mountain answering to Ararat, and which was filled with the natural elements of reproduction, is found amongst the traditions of every country of the globe. In Egypt, the destructive agency drives the God into the ark–or into the fish’s belly, where he is obliged to remain until the flood subsides. In other words, at the time of the destruction of the world, the creative agency is forced within the womb of Nature, there to remain until it again comes forth to recreate the world; nor does the symbolism end here, for this God–the sun, or the reproductive power within it, which every year is put to death by the cold of winter, must for a season remain lifeless, but, at the proper time, will come forth with healing in his wings. This God must issue forth to life through female Nature.

    The god-man, Noah, who appears under one appellation or another in all extant mythologies, was slain, or shut up in a box, ark, or chest in which he or his seed was preserved from the ravages of a mighty flood, or from destruction by the calamity which had befallen the rest of mankind. In one sense he represents a Savior, in another sense he is the saved, for he is the seed of a former world and is born again from a boat, a symbol which always represents the female energy. Sometimes he is shut up in a wooden cow, from which he issues forth to new life. Again this storm tossed mariner is born from a cave, or the door of a rocky cavern, within which he had been preserved from some terrible catastrophe, caused either by water or fire.

    Sir W. Jones, Faber, Higgins, and many others who have investigated this subject are confident that the Noah of Genesis is identical with Menu, the law-giver of India, and that both are Adam, a man who appears with his three sons at the end of each cycle, or six hundred years, to renovate the world. In the six hundred and first year of Noah’s life, in the first month, on the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from the earth. The drying of the waters, and the beginning anew just at the close of the six hundred years, are thought to refer to the end of the cycle of the Neros. A year of Menu or Buddha had expired and a new dynasty or Mamwantara was to begin.

    Regarding this trinity, Faber remarks:

    “Brahm then at the head of the Indian triad is Menu at the head of his three sons. But that by the first Menu we are to understand Adam, is evident, both from the remarkable circumstance of himself and his consort bearing the titles of Adima and Iva, and from the no less remarkable tradition that one of his three sons was murdered by his brother at a sacrifice. Hence it will follow, that Brahm at the head of the Indian triad is Adam at the head of his three sons, Cain, Abel, and Seth. Each Menu with his triple offspring is only the reappearance of a former Menu with his triple offspring; for, in every such manifestation at the commencement of each Mamwantara, the Hindoo Trimurti, or triad, becomes incarnate, by transmigrating from the human bodies occupied during a former incarnation; Brahm or the Unity appearing as the paternal Menu of a new age, while the triad, Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, is exhibited in the person of his three sons. . . . But the ark-preserved Menu–Satyavrata and his three sons are certainly Noah and his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japhet.”

    Hesiod teaches that, after the flood, Chaos, Night, and black Erebus first appeared.45 At this time, when there was no Earth, no Heaven, and no Air, an egg floated on the face of the deep, which, being parted, brought forth Love, or Cupid. Out of Chaos this God created or formed all things. Now Cupid is the same as the Greek Phanes, and Phanes is Noah, the egg being the ark or female principle from which he was produced. The Greek God Phanes is the same as the Egyptian Osiris, who was driven into the ark by the “wind that blasts,” or by the evil principle.

    “As Cupid is indifferently said to have been produced from an egg at a time when the whole world was in disorder, and from the womb of the marine goddess Venus, the egg and the womb of that goddess must denote the same thing. Accordingly we shall find that, on the one hand, Venus is immediately connected with the symbolical egg; and, on the other hand, that she is identical with Derceto and Isis, and is declared to be that general receptacle out of which all the hero-gods were produced. Now there can be little doubt in what sense we are to understand this expression, when we are told that the peculiar symbol of Isis was a ship; and when we learn that the form assumed at the period of the deluge, by the Indian Isi or Bhavani, who is clearly the same as the Egyptian Isis, was the ship Argha, in which her consort Siva floated securely on the surface of the ocean. Venus, therefore, or the Great Mother, the parent of Cupid from whom all mankind descended, must be the Ark: consequently, the egg, with which she is connected, must be the Ark also. Aristophanes informs us that the egg out of which Love was born, was produced by Night in the bosom of Erebus. But the Goddess Night, as we learn from the Orphic poet, was the very same person as Venus; and he celebrates her as the parent of the Universe, and as the general mother both of the hero-gods and of man. The egg therefore produced by Night was produced by Venus: but Venus and the egg meant the same thing: even that vast floating machine, which was esteemed an epitome of the world, and from which was born that Deity who is also literally said to have been set afloat in an ark. Sometimes the order of production was inverted; and, instead of the egg being produced by Night or Venus, Venus herself was fabled to have been produced from the egg. There is a remarkable legend of this sort which ascribes Venus and her egg to the age of Typhon and Osiris, in other words, to the age in which Noah was compelled by the deluge to enter into the ark."46

    The Preserver of the Persians, who is seated on a rainbow in front of their rock temples, is Mithras, who is identical with Noah. Sometimes this ancient mariner is represented as riding on the back of a fish, and again as floating in a boat. The God of Hindostan, like the classical Dionysos, was enclosed in an ark and driven into the sea. According to the Gothic traditions as recorded in the Eddas, there once existed a beautiful world, which was destroyed by fire. Another was created, which, with all its inhabitants save a giant and his three sons, who were saved in a ship, were destroyed by water. With this triad, which originally sprang from a mysterious cow, the new world began. This new world, which represents the present system, will in time be devoured by flames; but another earth will arise from the ocean,–an earth far more beautiful than this, upon which all kinds of grain and delicious fruits will grow without cultivation. Veda and Vile will be there, for the conflagration will have been powerless to destroy them. While the flames are devouring all things, two human beings, a female and a male, will be concealed under a hill, where they will feed upon dew, and will propagate so abundantly that the earth will soon be peopled with a new race of beings. During the catastrophe, the sun will be devoured by a wolf, but before her death she will give birth to a daughter as resplendent as herself, who will go in the same path formerly trodden by her mother.

    The doctrines of the Gothic philosophers, as they appear in the Eddas, concerning the eternity of matter, the renewal or succession of worlds, and reincarnation are the same as those taught by Pythagoras, the Stoics, and other Greek schools of thought.

    Brahme or Vishnu, resting on the bottom of the sea–a goddess who was symbolized by the self-generating lotus–was in later ages the mysterious Cow of the Goths.

    After the natural truths concealed beneath their religious symbolism were wholly forgotten, and human nature through the over-stimulation of the animal instincts had become corrupted, Adam and Eve, names which doubtless for ages represented the two fecundating principles throughout Nature, with their sons, Cain, Abel, and Seth, comprehended the god-idea. The fact has been observed that just six hundred years from the creation of Adam, or at the close of the cycle, Noah appears with his three sons to save or perpetuate the race.

    It is now believed that this account of Noah and his three sons is an allegory beneath which are concealed the religious doctrines, or perhaps I should say, the philosophical speculations of an older race. The God of the ancients was identified with the life of man individually and with that of mankind collectively. As men die each day, and as every day men are born, this Deity is said to die and to be renewed each day; and as he is the sun, or the incarnation of the sun, the rising and setting of this luminary depict the constantly dying and regenerating God of Nature, the same as do the changing seasons. A similar idea reappears in their system of the renewal of worlds and reincarnation.

    Regarding the doctrine of the eternity of matter held by the ancients, Origen mentions a belief of the Egyptians that the

    “world or its substance was never produced, but that it has existed from all eternity. Neither is there any such thing as death. Those who perish about us every day are simply changed, either they take on other forms or are removed to some other place. God cannot be destroyed, and as all things are parts of the Deity everything lives and has always lived, seeming death being simply change. Remnants of these doctrines are found in every portion of the globe; among the Mexicans of the west as well as among the rude mountaineers of the Burman Empire.”

    While contemplating the philosophical speculations of an ancient race Bailly gave expression to the belief, that a “profoundly learned race of people existed previous to the formation of any of our systems.” The wiser among the Greek philosophers, those who, it is believed, borrowed their philosophical doctrines from the East, declare that “there is no production of anything which was not before; no new substance made which did not really pre-exist.” Equally with matter was spirit indestructible. “Our soul,” says Plato, “was somewhere, before it came to exist in this present form; whence it appears to be immortal. . . . Who knows whether that which is demonstrated living, be not indeed rather dying, and whether that which is styled dying be not rather living?”

    To one who has given attention to the various legends relative to the destruction of the world by a flood, and a storm-tossed mariner saved in an ark or boat, it is plain that they all have the same significance, all are but different versions of the same myth, which in an early age was used to conceal the philosophical doctrines of an ancient people.

    That the early historic nations understood little concerning the origin and true meaning of the legends which they had inherited from an older race is quite evident. The ignorance of the Greeks regarding the significance of these legends is shown by the following: When Solon, wishing to acquaint himself with the history of the oldest times, inquired of an Egyptian priest concerning the time of the flood, and the age of Deucalion or Phroneous or Noah, this functionary replied:

    “O Solon, Solon, you Greeks are always children, nor is there an old man among you! Having no ancient traditions nor any acquaintance with chronology, you are as yet in a state of intellectual infancy. The true origin of such mutilated fables as you possess is this. There have been and shall again be in the course of many revolving ages, numerous destructions of the human race; the greatest of them by fire and water, but others in an almost endless succession of shorter intervals."47

    We have observed that the symbol of the universe was an egg. The egg was also the symbol of the earth and of the ark, which meant universal womanhood. From the mundane egg the triplicated Deity sprang. There can be little doubt at the present time that Adam, Noah, Menu, Osiris, and Dionysos all represent the fructifying power of the sun. In process of time they each came to figure as male reproductive energy, and during certain periods of the earth’s history they have each in turn been worshipped as the Deity. That not only the ark was female, but that the god element or reproductive principle within the ark was both female and male, is a fact which has been lost sight of during the historic period, or during those ages of the world in which the attempt has been made to prove Nature motherless.

    All the germs and living creatures which were within the ark, and which were to reanimate the earth, were in pairs, females and males; and, besides, the Dove (female), the emblem of peace, was also present. Even Noah himself was produced from an egg, which, as we have seen, is the symbol of Venus, or universal womanhood. In after ages the female principle was not mentioned, but, on the contrary, was concealed beneath convenient symbols; and as the philosophical ideas underlying natural religion were lost or forgotten, and mankind had become too ignorant to perceive that a dual force, female and male which was also a Trinity, pervades Nature, the notion came gradually to prevail that the creative agency, which is spirit, is altogether male. Hence the formulation of the inconceivable doctrine of a Trinity composed of a Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
    39 Anacalypsis, book ii., ch, i.
    40 Lectures on the Pentateuch and the Moabite Stone, p. 7.
    41 Bunsen, History of Egypt, vol. iv., p. 421.
    42 Maurice, Indian Antiquities, vol. iv., p. 705.
    43 Faber, Pagan Idolatry, book vi., ch. ii., p. 470.
    44 Origen against Celsus, book iv., ch. xi.
    45 The Theogony.
    46 Origin of Pagan Idolatry, book i., ch. iv.
    47 Quoted by Plato; also by Clement of Alexandria.

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    Default Chapter V. Separation of the Female and Male Elements in the Deity


    The God-Idea of the Ancients (or Sex in Religion)

    By Eliza Burt Gamble

    Chapter V. Separation of the Female and Male Elements in the Deity

    Glimpses of antiquity as far back as human ken can reach reveal the fact that in early ages of human society the physiological question of sex was a theme of the utmost importance, while various proofs are at hand showing that throughout the past the question of the relative importance of the female and male elements in procreation has been a fruitful source of religious contention and strife. These struggles, which from time to time involved the entire habitable globe, were of long duration, subsiding only after the adherents of the one sex or the other had gained sufficient ascendancy over the opposite party to successfully erect its altars and compel the worship of its own peculiar gods, which worship usually included a large share of the temporal power. Only since the male sex has gained sufficient influence to control not only human action, but human thought as well, have these contentions subsided.48

    That religious wars have not been confined to more modern times, and that among an early race the attempt to exalt the male principle met with obstinate resistance which involved mankind in a conflict, the violence of which has never been exceeded, are facts which seem altogether probable. Indeed, there is much evidence going to show that the cause of the original dispersion of a primitive race was the contention which arose respecting their religious faith or regarding the physiological question of the relative importance of the sexes in the function of reproduction; and that the general war indicated in the Puranas, which began in India and extended over the entire habitable globe, and which was celebrated by the poets as “the basis of Grecian mythology,” originated in this conflict over the precedence of one or the other of the sex-principles contained in the Deity. Although there are no records of these wars in extant history, accounts of them are still preserved in the traditions and religious monuments of oriental countries. In Egypt, in India, and to a greater or less extent in other Eastern countries, these physiological contests have been disguised under a veil of allegory, the true significance of which it is no longer difficult to understand. With the light which more recent investigation has thrown upon the subject of the separation of the original sex-elements contained in the Deity, the significance of the following legend in the Servarasa is at once apparent.

    When Parvati (Devi) was united in marriage to Mahadeva (Siva), the divine pair had once a dispute on the comparative influence of the sexes in producing animated beings, and each resolved by mutual agreement to create a new race of men. The race produced by Mahadeva were very numerous, and devoted themselves exclusively to the worship of the male Deity, but their intellects were dull, their bodies feeble, their limbs distorted, and their complexions of many different hues. Parvati had at the same time created a multitude of human beings, who adored the female power only, and were well shaped, with sweet aspects and fine complexions. A furious contest ensued between the two nations, and the Lingajas, or adorers of the male principle, were defeated in battle, but Mahadeva, enraged against the Yonigas (the worshippers of the female element), would have destroyed them with the fire of his eye if Parvati had not interposed and appeased him, but he would spare them only on condition that they should instantly leave the country with a promise to see it no more, and from the Yoni, which they adored as the sole cause of their existence, they were named Yavanas.

    The fact has been noticed in a previous work49 that, according to Wilford, the Greeks were the descendants of the Yavanas of India, and that when the Ionians emigrated they adopted the name to distinguish themselves as adorers of the female, in opposition to a strong sect of male worshippers which had been driven from the mother country. We are taught by the Puranas that they settled partly on the borders of Varaha-Dwip, or Europe, where they became the progenitors of the Greeks; and partly in the two Dwipas of Cusha, Asiatic and African. In the Asiatic Cusha-Dwip they supported themselves by violence and rapine. Parvati, however, or their tutelary goddess, Yoni, always protected them; and at length, in the fine country which they occupied, they became a flourishing nation.50 Wilford relates that there is a sect of Hindoos who, attempting to reconcile the two systems, declare in their allegorical style that “Parvati and Mahadeva found their concurrence essential to the perfection of their offspring, and that Vishnu, at the request of the goddess, effected a reconciliation between them."51

    The people who were dominant in Asia long before the rise of the late Assyrian monarchy, are said to be those whom scriptural writers represent as Cushim, and the Hindoos as Cushas. They were the descendants of Cush, or Cuth, and were believed to have been the architects of the Tower of Babel. Epiphanius, Eusebius, and others assert that at the time of the building of this tower there existed two rival beliefs, the one demonstrated as Scuthism, the other as Ionism, or Hellenism, the latter of which embodied the worship of the Great Mother, or the female element, which was worshipped in the shape of the mystic “Iona or Dove.” The Scuths, on the other hand, believed in the pre-eminence of a Great Father, or, perhaps I should say, in a Deity composed of a triad containing the elements of a male parent. Upon this subject the learned Faber remarks: “I am much mistaken if some dissension on these points did not prevail at Babel itself; and I think there is reason for believing that the altercation between the rival sects aided the confusion of languages in producing the dispersion."52

    Those who believed in the superiority of the male in the processes of reproduction, adored the male element in the Deity, while those who held that the female is the more important, worshipped the female energy throughout Nature under one or another of its symbols, sometimes as a woman with her child and sometimes as a dove, but oftener as an ark, box, or chest.

    It is evident from the sacred writings of the Hindoos that in India, during a period of several thousand years, there existed various sects, those who worshipped the male as the only creative force, others who adored the female as the origin of life, and those who paid homage to both, as alike important in the office of reproduction.

    It would seem that the fierce wars which had devastated the land had ceased prior to the beginning of the Tower of Babel. According to the testimony of Moses, the Lord himself declared “Behold the people is one.” This unanimity of belief, as is plainly shown, was of short duration, for the Tower arose “upright and defiant,” not, however, as an emblem of the primeval dual or triune God in which the female energy was predominant, but as a symbol of male creative power. It was the type of virility which in the subsequent history of religion was to assume the position of the “one only and true God.”

    It is not improbable that idolatry began with the Tower of Babel.

    Indeed it has been confidently asserted by certain writers that the earliest idols set up as emblems of the Deity, or as expressions of the peculiar worship of the Lingajas, were obelisks, columns, or towers, the first of which we have any account being the Tower of Babel, erected probably at Nipur in Chaldea. Until a comparatively recent time, the actual significance of this monument seems to have been little understood. Later research, however, points to the fact that it was a phallic device erected in opposition to a religion which recognized the female element throughout Nature as God. The length of time which the adherents of these two doctrines had contended for the mastery is not known, but through the deciphered monuments of ancient nations, by facts gathered from their sacred writings, and by the general voice of tradition, it has been ascertained with a considerable degree of certainty that this great upheaval of society was the culmination of a dispute which had long been waged between two contending powers, and which finally resulted in a separation of the people, and in the final success, for the time being, of the sect which refused longer to recognize the superior importance of the female in the god-idea.

    At what time in the history of mankind the Tower of Babel was erected has not been ascertained, but the great antiquity of Chaldea is no longer questioned. Sir Henry Rawlinson, in the Royal Geographical Journal says:

    “When Chaldea was first colonized, or at any rate when the seat of empire was first established there, the emporium of trade seems to have been at Ur of the Chaldees, which is now 150 miles from the sea, the Persian Gulf having retired nearly that distance before the sediment brought down by the Euphrates and Tigris.”

    To which Baldwin adds:

    “A little reflection on the vast period of time required to effect geological changes so great as this will enable us to see to what a remote age in the deeps of antiquity we must go to find the beginning of civilization in the Mesopotamian Valley."53

    Although at the time of the building of the Tower of Babel the worship of a Deity in which the male principle was pre-eminent had not become universal, still the facts seem to indicate that the doctrine of male superiority which for ages had been steadily advancing had at length gained the ascendancy over the older religion. The new faith and worship had corrupted the old, and through the conditions which had been imposed upon women, and the consequent stimulation of the lower nature in man, even the adherents of the older faith were losing sight of those higher principles which in preceding ages they had adored as God.

    We have seen that in every country upon the earth there is a tradition recounting the ravages of a flood. Whether or not this legend is to be traced to an actual calamity by which a large portion of Asia was inundated, is not for a certainty known; but the fact that there was a deluge of contention and strife, surpassing anything perhaps which the world has ever witnessed, seems altogether probable.

    Not long after the catastrophe designated as the flood, emblems of the Deity, representations of the male and female elements, appear in profusion. Babylon, at which place was erected the Tower of Belus, and Memphis, which contained the Pyramids, were among the first cities which were built. As the tower typified the Deity worshipped by those who claimed superiority for the male, so the pyramids symbolized the creative agency and peculiar qualities of the female, or of the dual Deity which was worshipped as female.

    Although the grosser elements in human nature were rapidly assuming a more intensely aggressive attitude, and although the higher principles involved in an earlier religion were in a measure forgotten, it is evident that at this time humanity had not become wholly sensualized, and that the lower propensities and appetites had not assumed dominion over the reasoning faculties.

    The Great Mother Cybele, who is represented by the Sphinx, had doubtless been adored as a pure abstraction, her worship being that of the universal female principle in Nature. She is pictured as the “Eldest Daughter of the Mythologies,” and as “The Great First Cause.” She represented the past and the future. She was the source whence all that was and is had proceeded.

    In its earliest representations, the Sphinx is figured with the head of a woman and the body of a lion. By various writers it is stated that the Sphinxes which were brought as spoils from Asia, the very cradle of religion, were thus represented. The lion, which symbolizes royal power and intellectual strength, is always attached to the chariot of Cybele. The Sphinx is supposed to typify not only Cybele, but the great androgynous God of Africa as well. However, as Cybele and Muth portrayed the same idea, namely, female power and wisdom, we are not surprised that they should have been worshipped under the same emblem. Neither is it remarkable, when we recall the fact that the female was supposed to comprehend both sexes, that in certain instances a beard appears as an accompanying feature of the Sphinx. We are told that the fourth avatar of Vishnu was a Sphinx, but a further search into the history of this Deity reveals the fact that her ninth avatar is Brahm (masculine). The female principle has at length succumbed to the predominance of male power, and Vishnu herself has become transformed into a male God.

    Although the rites connected with the worship of Cybele were phallic they were absolutely pure. In an allusion to this worship, Hargrave Jennings admits that the “spirituality to which women in that age of the world were observed to be more liable than men was peculiarly adverse to all sensual indulgence, and especially that of the sexes.”

    Although the creative principle was adored under its representatives, the Yoni and the Lingham, still the principal object seems to have been, when administering the rites pertaining to the worship of Cybele, to ignore sex and the usual sex distinctions; hence we find that, in order to assume an androgynous appearance, the priestesses of this Goddess officiated in the costumes of males, while priests appeared in the dress peculiar to females. However, that the sensuous element was to a certain extent already assuming dominion over the higher nature, and that priests were regarded as being incapable of self-control, is observed in the fact that in the later ages of female worship one of the principal requirements of a priest of Cybele was castration.

    It is the opinion of Grote that the story which appears in the Hesiodic Theogony, of the castration of Saturn and Uranus by their sons with sickles forged by the mother, was borrowed from the Phrygians, or from the worship of the Great Mother.

    In India, the strictest chastity was prescribed to the priests of Siva, a God which was worshipped as the Destroyer or Regenerator, and which in its earlier conception was the same as the Great Mother Cybele. These priests were frequently obliged to officiate in a nude state, and during the ceremony should it appear that the symbols with which they came in contact had appealed to other than their highest emotions, they were immediately stoned by the people.54

    The identity of the religions of India and Egypt has been noted in an earlier portion of this work. Wilford, in his dissertations upon Egypt and the Nile, says that in a conversation which he had with some learned Brahmins, upon describing to them the form and peculiarities of the Great Pyramid, they told him that “it was a temple appropriated to the worship of Padma Devi.” The true Coptic name of these edifices is Pire Honc, which signifies a sunbeam. Padma Devi means the lotus, or the Deity of generation.

    It is thought by many writers that these gigantic structures were erected by the Cushite conquerors of Egypt, who invaded and civilized the country, as emblems of the female Deity whom they worshipped. Certainly the magnitude of these monuments and the ingenuity displayed in their construction indicate the intelligence of their builders and the exalted character of the Deity adored. The Great Pyramid is in the form of a square, each side of whose base is seven hundred and fifty-five feet, and covers an area of nearly fourteen acres. An able writer in describing the pyramids says that the first thing which impresses one is the uniform precision and systematic design apparent in their architecture. They all have their sides accurately adapted to the four cardinal points.

    “In six of them which have been opened, the principal passage preserves the same inclination of 26 degrees to the horizon, being directed toward the polar star. . . . Their obliquity being so adjusted as to make the north side coincide with the obliquity of the sun’s rays at the summer’s solstice, has, combined with the former particulars, led some to suppose they were solely intended for astronomical uses; and certainly, if not altogether true, it bespeaks, at all events, an intimate acquaintance with astronomical rules, as well as a due regard to the principles of geometry. Others have fancied them intended for sepulchres; and as the Egyptians, taught by their ancient Chaldean victors, connected astronomy with their funereal and religious ceremonies, they seem in this to be not far astray, if we but extend the application to their sacred bulls and other animals, and not merely to their kings, as Herodotus would have us suppose."55

    According to the testimony of Inman, the pyramid is an emblem of the Trinity–three in one. The triangle typifies the flame of sacred fire emerging from the holy lamp. With its base upwards it typifies the Delta, or the door through which all come into the world. With its apex uppermost, it is an emblem of the phallic triad. The union of these triangles typifies the male and female principles uniting with each other, thus producing a new figure, a star, while each retains its own identity.56

    Thus the primary significance of the pyramid was religious, and in its peculiar architectural construction was manifested the prevailing conception of the Deity worshipped; namely, the fructifying energies in the sun. We are informed that “all nations have at one time or another passed through violent stages of pyrolatry, a word which reminds us that fire and phallic cult flourished around the pyramids. . . . Every town in Greece had a Pyrtano."57

    As not alone the sun but the stars also had come to be venerated as agencies in reproduction, the worship of these objects was, as we have seen, closely interwoven with that of the generative processes throughout Nature. The attempt to solve the great problem of the origin of life on the earth led these people to contemplate with the profoundest reverence all the visible objects which were believed to affect human destiny. Hence both the pyramid and the tower served a double purpose, first, as emblems of the Deity worshipped, and, second, as monuments for the study of the heavenly bodies with which their religious ideas were so intimately connected.

    While comparing the early emblems which prefigure the primitive elements in the god-idea, Hargrave Jennings observes:

    “In the conveyance of certain ideas to those who contemplate it, the pyramid boasts of prouder significance, and impresses with a hint of still more impenetrable mystery. We seem to gather dim supernatural ideas of the mighty Mother of Nature . . . that almost two-sexed entity, without a name–She of the Veil which is never to be lifted, perhaps not even by the angels, for their knowledge is limited. In short, this tremendous abstraction, Cybele, Ideae, Mater, Isiac controller of the Zodiacs, whatever she may be, has her representative in the half-buried Sphinx even to our own day, watching the stars although nearly swallowed up in the engulphing sands."58

    From the time when the two religious elements began to separate in the minds of the people, the prophets, seers, and priestesses of the old religion, those who continued to worship the Virgin and Child, had prophesied that a mortal woman, a virgin, would, independently of the male principle, bring forth a child, the fulfilment of which prophecy would vindicate the ancient faith and forever settle the dispute relative to the superiority of the female in the office of reproduction. Thus would the woman “bruise the serpent’s head.” In process of time not only Yonigas, but Lingajas as well, came to accept the doctrine of the incarnation of the sun in the bodies of earthly virgins. By Lingaites, however, it was the seed of the woman and not the woman herself who was to conquer evil. Finally, with the increasing importance of the male in human society, it is observed that a reconciliation has been effected between the female worshippers and those of the male. Athene herself has acquiesced in the doctrine of male superiority.

    Thalat, the great Chaldean Deity, who presided over Chaos prior to the existence of organized matter, is finally transformed into a male God. The Hindoo Vishnu, who as she slept on the bottom of the sea brought forth all creation, has changed her sex. Brahm, the Creator, is male, and appears as a triplicated Deity in the form of three sons within whom is contained the essence of a Great Father, the female creative principle being closely veiled.

    Hence we see that the God of the ancients, the universal dual force which resides in the sun and which creates all things, is no longer worshipped under the figure of a mother and her child. Although the female principle is still a necessary factor in the creative processes, and although it is capable of producing gods, the mother element possesses none of the essentials which constitute a Deity. In other words, woman is not a Creator. From the father is derived the soul of the child, while from the mother, or from matter, the body is formed. Hence the prevalence at a certain stage of human history of divine fathers and earthly mothers; for instance, Alexander of Macedon, Julius Caesar, and later the mythical Christ who superseded Jesus, the Judean philosopher and teacher of mankind.

    Henceforth, caves, wells, cows, boxes and chests, arks, etc., stand for or symbolize the female power. We are given to understand, however, that for ages these symbols were as holy as the God himself, and among many peoples even more revered and worshipped.

    We have seen that the ancients knew that matter and force were alike indestructible. According to their doctrine all Nature proceeded from the sun. Hence the power back of the sun, which they worshipped as the Destroyer or Regenerator, or, in other words, as the mother of the sun, was the Great Aum or Om, the Aleim or Elohim, who was the indivisible God. The creative agency which proceeded from the sun was both male and female, yet one in essence. Later, the male appeared as spirit, the female as matter. Spirit was something above and independent of Nature.

    It had indeed created matter from nothing. The fact will be remembered that man claimed supremacy over woman on the ground that the male is spirit, while the female is only matter; in other words, that she was simply a covering for the soul, which is divine.

    Thus was the god-idea divorced from Nature, and a masculine principle, outside and independent of matter, set up as a personal potentate or ruler over the universe.

    The logic by which the great female principle in the Deity has been eliminated, and the subterfuges which have been and still are employed to construct and sustain a Creator who of himself is powerless to create, is as amusing as it is suggestive, and forcibly recalls to mind la couvade, in which, among certain tribes, the father, assuming all the duties of procreation, goes to bed when a child is born.59

    All mythologies prove conclusively that ages elapsed before human beings were rash enough, or sufficiently blinded by falsehood and superstition, to attempt to construct a creative force unaided by the female principle. Just here it may not be out of place to refer to the fact that in the attempt to divorce God from Nature have arisen all the superstitions and senseless religious theories with which, since the earliest ages of metaphysical speculation, the human mind has been crowded.

    To this separation of the two original elements in the Deity, and the consequent exaltation of one of the factors in the creative processes, is to be traced the beginning of our present false, unnatural, and unphilosophical masculine system of religion–a system under which a father appears as the sole parent of the universe.

    The fact is tolerably well understood that mysticism and the accumulation of superstitious ideas are the result of the over-stimulation of the lower animal instincts. When the agencies which had hitherto held the lower nature in check became inoperative–when man began to regard himself as a Creator and therefore as the superior of woman–he had reached a point at which he was largely controlled by supernatural or mystical influences.

    The fact is observed that in course of time the governmental powers are no longer in the hands of the people; the masses have become enslaved. Their rulers are priests–deified tyrants who are unable to maintain their authority except through the ignorance and credulity of the masses. Hence one is not surprised to find that the change which took place at a certain stage of human growth in respect to the manner of reckoning descent was instigated and enforced by religion. Apollo had declared that woman is but the nurse to her own offspring. Neither is it remarkable at this stage in the human career, as women had lost their position as heads of families, and as they were no longer recognized as of kin to their children, that man should have attempted to lessen the importance of the female element in the god-idea.

    Wherever in the history of the human race we observe a change in the relations of the sexes involving greater or more oppressive restrictions on the natural rights of women, such change, whether it assume a legal, social, or religious form, will, if traced to its source, always be found deeply rooted in the wiles of priestcraft. Since the decay of the earliest form of religion, namely, Nature-worship, the gods have never been found ranged on the side of women.

    Later investigations are proving that the primitive idea of a Deity had its foundation in actual physical facts and experiences; and, as the maternal principle constituted the most important as well as the most obvious of the facts which entered into the conception of a Creator, and as it was the only natural bond capable of binding human society together, so long as reason was not wholly clouded by superstition and warped by sensuality, it could not be eliminated. In other words, a Creator in which the more essential element of creative force was wanting, was contrary to all human experience and observation. Indeed nothing could be plainer than that the deified male principle could of itself create nothing, and that it was dependent for its very existence on the female element.

    By this attempt to construct a masculine Deity, absurdities were presented to the human judgment and understanding which for ages could not be overcome, and by it contradictions were necessitated which could not be reconciled with human reason and with the ideas of Nature which had hitherto been held by mankind. It was not, therefore, until reason had been suspended in all matters pertaining to religion, and blind faith in the machinations of priestcraft had been established, that a male God was set up as the sole Creator of the universe.

    When women, who had become the legitimate plunder not only of individuals but of bands of warriors whose avowed object was the capture of women for wives, had degenerated into mere tools or instruments for the gratification and pleasure of men, Perceptive Wisdom or Light, and Maternal Affection the Preserver of the race, gradually became eliminated from the god-idea of mankind. Passion became God. It was the Creator in the narrowest and most restricted sense.

    Although in an age of pure Nature-worship the ideas connected with reproduction, like those related to all other natural functions, were wholly unconnected with impurity either of thought or deed, still when an age arrived in which all checks to human passion had been withdrawn, and the lower propensities had gained dominion over the higher faculties, the influence of fertility or passion-worship on human development or growth may in a degree be imagined.

    The fact must be borne in mind that curing the later ages of passion-worship the creative processes and the reproductive organs were deified, not as an expression or symbol of the operations of Nature, but as a means to the stimulation of the lower animal instincts in man.

    With religion bestialized and its management regulated wholly with an idea to the gratification of man’s sensuous desires, religious temples, under the supervision of the priesthood, became brothels, in which were openly practiced as part and parcel of religious rites and ceremonies the most wanton profligacy and the most shameless self-abandonment. The worship of Aphrodite or Venus, and also that of Bacchus, originally consisted in homage paid to the reproductive principles contained in the earth, water, and sun, but, as is well known, this pure and beautiful worship, in later times, and especially after it was carried to Greece, became synonymous with the grossest practices and the most lawless disregard of human decency.

    With the light which in these later ages science and ethnological research are throwing upon the physiological and religious disputes of the ancients, the correctness of the primitive doctrines elaborated under purer conditions at an age when human beings lived nearer to Nature is being proved–namely, that matter like spirit is eternal and indestructible, and therefore that the one is as difficult of comprehension as the other, and that Nature, instead of being separated from spirit, is filled with it and can not be divorced from it; also that the female is the original organic unit of creation, without which nothing is or can be created.

    48 At the present time, through causes which are not difficult to understand, the question of the relative importance of the two sexes is again assuming a degree of importance indicative of the changes which are taking place in human thought, and for the reason that we are just witnessing the dawn of an intellectual age, the problems to be solved will admit of no answers other than those based upon a scientific foundation.
    49 See The Evolution of Women, p. 303.
    50 Asiatic Researches, vol. iii., pp. 125-132.
    51 Asiatic Researches, “Egypt and the Nile,” vol. iii., pp. 361-363.
    52 Pagan Idolatry, book vi., ch. ii.
    53 Prehistoric Nations, p. 191.
    54 Sonnerat, Voyage aux Indes, i., 311.
    55 The Round Towers of Ireland, p. 159.
    56 Ancient Faiths, vol. i., p. 145.
    57 Forlong, Rivers of Life, or Faiths of Man in All Lands, vol. i., p. 325.
    58 Phallicism, p. 25.
    59 The Evolution of Woman, p. 127.

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    Default Chapter VI. Civilization of an Ancient Race - PartI


    The God-Idea of the Ancients (or Sex in Religion)

    By Eliza Burt Gamble

    Chapter VI. Civilization of an Ancient Race

    The profound doctrines of abstractions or emanations; of the absorption of the individual soul into the divine ether or essence; of the renewal of worlds and reincarnation, were doubtless elaborated after the separation, in the human mind, of Spirit from matter, but before mankind had lost the power to reason abstractly.

    Although Pythagoras understood and believed these doctrines, he did not, as is well known, receive them from his degenerate countrymen, but, on the contrary, imbibed them from private sources among the orientals, where fragments of their remarkable learning were still extant. He said that religion consists in knowing the truth and doing good, and his ideas show the grandeur and beauty of the earlier conception of a Deity. He declared that there is only one God who is not, “as some are apt to imagine, seated above the world, beyond the orb of the universe," but that this great power is diffused throughout Nature. It is “the reason, the life, and the motion of all things.”

    Plato believed that human beings are possessed of two souls, the one mortal, which perishes with the body, the other immortal, which continues to exist either in a state of happiness or misery; that the righteous soul, freed from the limitations of matter, returns at death to the source whence it came, and that the wicked, after having been detained for a while in a place prepared for their reception, are sent back to earth to reanimate other bodies.

    Aristotle held the opinion that the souls of human beings are sparks from the divine flame, while Zeno, the founder of the Stoic philosophy, taught that spirit acting upon matter produced the elements and the earth. There is plenty of evidence going to show that the early Fathers in the Christian church believed in the doctrines of reincarnation and the renewal of worlds. Neither is there any doubt but that this philosophy came from the East, where it originated. It is thought that the ancient philosophers who elaborated these doctrines were unable to account for the existence of evil without a belief in the immortality of the soul. Spirit was eternal, as was also matter.

    A soul, upon leaving the body, in course of time found its way back to earth, surrounded by conditions suited to its stage of growth. Here it must reap all the consequences of its former life. It must also during its stay on earth make the conditions for its next appearance upon an earthly plane. So soon as through a succession of births and deaths it had perfected itself, it entered into a state of Nirvana. It was absorbed into the great Universal Soul. Nothing is ever lost.

    “Many a house of life
    Hath held me–seeking ever Him who wrought
    These prisons of the senses, sorrow fraught;
    Sore was my ceaseless strife!
    But now,
    Thou builder of this tabernacle–Thou!
    I know Thee.
    Never shalt Thou build again
    These walls of pain,
    Nor raise the roof-tree of deceits, nor lay
    Fresh rafters on the clay;
    Broken Thy house is, and the ridge-pole split!
    Delusion fashioned it!
    Safe pass I thence–deliverance to obtain."
    60

    Regarding the opinions of the ancients on the subject of the eternity of matter, Higgins, in his learned work on Celtic Druids, says:

    “The eternity of matter is a well known tenet of the Pythagoreans, and whether right or wrong there can be no doubt that it was the doctrine of the oriental school, whence Pythagoras drew his learning. It was a principle taken or mistaken from, or found amongst, the debris of that mighty mass of learning and science of a former period, of which, on looking back as far as human ken can reach, the most learned men have thought that they could see a faint glimmering. Indeed, I think I may say something more than a faint glimmering. For all the really valuable moral and philosophical doctrines we possess, Dutens has shown to have existed there.”

    From what is known relative to the speculations of an ancient race, the fact is observed that creation was but a re-formation of matter. Wisdom, or Minerva, formed the earth and the planets; she did not create the heavens and the earth, as did the later Jewish God.

    Of the seven principles of the universe, matter was the first, and of the seven principles of man, the physical body was the earliest. Through evolutionary processes, or through cyclic periods involving millions of years, mind was developed, and in course of time spirit was finally manifested.

    Mai, the Mother of Gotama Buddha, was simply matter, or illusion, from which its higher manifestation, mind or spirit, was emerging. She was also the mother of Mercury. A clearer knowledge of the philosophical doctrines which were elaborated at a time when Nature-worship was beginning to decay, reveals the fact that the god-idea comprehended a profound knowledge of Nature and her laws; that while this people did not pretend to account for the existence of matter, they recognized a force operating through it whose laws were unchanged and unchanging.

    With these facts relative to the intelligence of an older race before us, the question naturally arises: What was the degree of civilization attained at a time when the Deity worshipped was an abstract principle involving the actual creative processes throughout Nature? and, notwithstanding our prejudices, we are constrained to acknowledge that these earlier conceptions are scarcely compatible with the barbarism which we have been taught to regard as the condition of all the peoples which existed prior to the first Greek Olympiad. On the contrary, the origin of the philosophical opinions entertained by the most ancient oriental philosophers, and which must have arisen out of a profound knowledge or appreciation of Nature and her operations, point to a race far superior to any of those peoples which appear in early historic times. Regarding these opinions, Godfrey Higgins remarks:

    “From their philosophical truth and universal reception I am strongly inclined to refer them to the authors of the Neros, or to that enlightened race, supposed by Bailly to have formerly existed, and to have been saved from a great catastrophe on the Himalaya Mountains. This is confirmed by an observation which the reader will make in the sequel, that these doctrines have been, like all the other doctrines of antiquity, gradually corrupted–incarnated, if I may be permitted to compose a word for the occasion.”

    Of this cycle, Bailly says: “No person could have invented the Neros who had not arrived at much greater perfection in astronomy than we know was the state of the most ancient Assyrians, Egyptians, and Greeks.”

    Toward the close of the eighteenth century the celebrated astronomer, Bailly, published a work entitled The History of Ancient Astronomy, in which he endeavored to prove that a nation possessed of profound wisdom and great genius, and of an antiquity far superior to the Hindoos or Egyptians, “inhabited the country to the north of India, or about fifty degrees north latitude.” This writer has shown that “the most celebrated astronomical observations and inventions, from their peculiar character, could have taken place only in these latitudes, and that arts and improvements gradually travelled thence to the equator.”

    A colony of Brahmins settled near the Imans, and in Northern Thibet, where in ancient times they established celebrated colleges, particularly at Nagraent and Cashmere. In these institutions the treasures of Sanskrit literature were supposed to be deposited. The Rev. Mr. Maurice was informed that an immemorial tradition prevailed at Benares that all the learning of India came from a country situated in forty degrees of northern latitude. Other writers are of the opinion that civilization proceeded from Arabia; that the old Cushite race carried commerce, letters, and laws to all the nations of the East. Which of these theories is true, if either, may not with certainty be proved at present; yet that in the far distant past a race of people existed whose achievements exceeded those of any of the historic nations may not be doubted.

    That the length of the year was calculated with greater exactness by an ancient and forgotten people than it was by early historic nations is proved by the cycle of the Neros. This cycle, which was formed of 7.421 lunar revolutions of 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 3 seconds, or 219,146 days and a half, was equal to 600 solar years of 365 days, 5 hours, 51 minutes, and 36 seconds, which time varies less than three minutes from the present observations of the year’s length. The length of the year as calculated by the Egyptians and other early historic nations was 360 days, which fact would seem to indicate that a science of astronomy had been developed in an earlier age which by the most ancient peoples of whom we have any historic records has been lost or forgotten. It has been said that if this cycle of the Neros “were correct to the second, if on the first of January at noon a new moon took place, it would take place again in exactly 600 years at the same moment of the day, and under all the same circumstances."61

    The Varaha Calpa has the famous cycle of 4,320,000,000 years for its duration. This system makes the Cali Yug begin 3098 years B.C. A dodecan consisted of 5 days, and 72 dodecans formed a natural year of 360 days. According to the earlier calculations, 360 solar diurnal revolutions constituted a natural year. The doctrine of the ancients concerning these cycles is thus set forth by Godfrey Higgins:

    “The sun, or rather that higher principle of which the sun was the emblem or the shekinah, was considered to be incarnated every six hundred years. Whilst the sun was in Taurus, the different incarnations, under whatever names they might go, were all considered but as incarnations of Buddha or Taurus. When he got into Aries, they were in like manner considered but as incarnations of Cristna or Aries, and even Buddha and Cristna were originally considered the same, and had a thousand names in common, constantly repeated in their litanies–a striking proof of identity of origin. Of these Zodiacal divisions the Hindoos formed another period, which consisted of ten ages or Calpas or Yugs, which they considered the duration of the world, at the end of which a general renovation of all things would take place. They also reckoned ten Neroses to form a period, each of them keeping a certain relative location to the other, and together to form a cycle. To effect this they doubled the precessional period for one sign– viz: 2160 years–thus making 4320, which was a tenth of 43,200, a year of the sun, analogous to the 360 natural days, and produced in the same manner, by multiplying the day of 600 by the dodecans 72 = 43,200. They then formed another great year of 432,000 by again multiplying it by 10, which they called a Cali Yug, which was measurable both by the number 2160, the years the equinox preceded in a sign, and by the number 600. They then had the following scheme:
    altogether 10 Ages, making a Maha Yug or Great Age. These were all equimultiples of the Cycle of the Neros 600, and of 2160, the twelfth part of the equinoctial precessional Cycle, and in all formed ten ages of 432,000 years each."62

    The two great religious festivals of the ancients occurred the one in the spring, at Easter, when all Nature was renewed, the other in the autumn, after the earth had yielded her bounties and the fruits were garnered in. It was at these gatherings that the Great Mother Earth received the devout adoration of all her children.

    It is supposed that the Neros, or cycle of 600, is closely connected with this worship, and that it was invented to regulate the season for these festivals. In process of time it was discovered that this cycle no longer answered, that the festival which had originally fallen on the first of May now occurred on the first of April. This, we are told,

    “led ultimately to the discovery that the equinox preceded about 2160 years in each sign or 25,920 years in the 12 signs, and this induced them to try if they could not form a cycle of the two. On examination, they found that the 600 would not commensurate the 2160 years in a sign, or any number of sums of 2160 less than ten, but that it would with ten, or that in ten times 2160, or in 21,600 years, the two cycles would agree; yet this artificial cycle would not be enough to include the cycle of 25,920. They, therefore, took two of the periods of 21,600, or 43,200; and, multiplying both by ten–viz: 600 X 10 = 6000, and 43,200 X 10 = 432,000–they formed a period with which the 600-year period and the 6000-year period would terminate and form a cycle. Every 432,000 years the three periods would commence anew; thus the three formed a year or cycle, 72 times 6000 making 432,000, and 720 times 600 making 432,000."63

    To form a great year, which would include all the cyclical motions of the sun and moon, and perhaps of the planets, they multiplied 432,000 by ten; thus they had ten periods answering to ten signs. Concerning these cycles Godfrey Higgins observes:

    “Persons of narrow minds will be astonished at such monstrous cycles; but it is very certain that no period could properly be called the great year unless it embraced in its cycle every periodical movement or apparent aberration. But their vulgar wonder will perhaps cease when they are told that La Place has proved that, if the periodical aberrations of the moon be correctly calculated, the great year must be extended to a greater length even than 4,320,000 years of the Maha Yug of the Hindoos, and certainly no period can be called a year of our planetary system which does not take in all the periodical motions of the planetary bodies.”

    It is thought that as soon as these ancient astronomers perceived that the equinoxes preceded, they would at once attempt to determine the rate of precession in a given time; the precession, however, in one year was so small that they were obliged to extend their observations over immense periods. Jones informs us that the Hindoos first supposed that the precession took place at the rate of 60 years in a degree, or 1800 in a Zodiacal sign, and of 21,600 in a revolution of the entire circle. They afterwards came to think that the precession was at the rate of 60 years and a fraction of a year, and thus that the precession for a sign was in 1824 years, and for the circle in 21,888 years. Subsequently they discovered, or thought they had discovered, the Soli-Lunar period of 608 years, hence they attempted to make the two go together. Both, however, proved to be erroneous.

    In referring to the fact that among the ancient Romans existed the story of the twelve vultures and the twelve ages of 120 years each, Higgins remarks:

    “This arose from the following cause: They came from the East before the supposition that the precession took place a degree in about 60 years, and 1824 years in a sign had been discovered to be erroneous; and as they supposed the Neros made a correct cycle in 608 years, and believed the precessional cycle to be completed in 21,888, they of course made their ages into twelve. As both numbers were erroneous, they would not long answer their intended purpose, and their meaning was soon lost, though the sacred periods of twelve ages and of 608 remained.”

    According to Hipparchus and Ptolemy, the equinoxes preceded at the rate of a degree in 100 years, or 36,000 hundred years in 360 degrees. This constituted a great year, at the end of which the regeneration of all things takes place. This is thought to be a remnant of the most ancient Hindoo speculations, and not the result of observation among the Greeks. Some time after the arrival of the sun in Aries,

    “at the vernal equinox, the Indians probably discovered their mistake, in giving about 60 years to a degree; that they ought to give 50” to a year, about 72 years to a degree, and about 2160 years to a sign; and that the Luni-Solar cycle, called the Neros, did not require 608 years, but 600 years only, to complete its period. Hence arose the more perfect Neros.”

    It is thought by various writers that the knowledge of the ancient Hindoos regarding the movements of the sun and moon in their cycles of nineteen and six hundred years–the Metonic cycle, and the Neros–proves that long before the birth of Hipparchus the length of the year was known with a degree of exactitude which that astronomer had not the means of determining. It is positively asserted by astronomers that at least twelve hundred years were required, “during which time the observations must have been taken with the greatest care and regularly recorded,” to arrive at the knowledge necessary for the invention of the Neros, and that such observations would have been impossible without the aid of the telescope.

    On the subject of the great learning of an ancient race, Sir W. Drummond says:

    “The fact, however, is certain, that at some remote period there were mathematicians and astronomers who knew that the sun is in the centre of the planetary system, and that the earth, itself a planet, revolves round the central fire;–who calculated, or like ourselves attempted to calculate, the return of comets, and who knew that these bodies move in elliptic orbits, immensely elongated, having the sun in one of their foci;–who indicated the number of the solar years contained in the great cycle, by multiplying a period (variously called in the Zend, the Sanscrit, and the Chinese ven, van, and phen) of 180 years by another period of 144 years;–who reckoned the sun’s distance from the earth at 800,000,000 of Olympic stadia; and who must, therefore, have taken the parallax of that luminary by a method, not only much more perfect than that said to be invented by Hipparchus, but little inferior in exactness to that now in use among the moderns;–who could scarcely have made a mere guess when they fixed the moon’s distance from its primary planet at fifty-nine semi-diameters of the earth;–who had measured the circumference of our globe with so much exactness that their calculation only differed by a few feet from that made by our modern geometricians; –who held that the moon and the other planets were worlds like our own, and that the moon was diversified by mountains and valleys and seas;–who asserted that there was yet a planet which revolved round the sun, beyond the orbit of Saturn;–who reckoned the planets to be sixteen in number; –and who reckoned the length of the tropical year within three minutes of the true time; nor, indeed, were they wrong at all, if a tradition mentioned by Plutarch be correct."64

    Bailly, Sir W. Jones, Higgins, and Ledwich, as well as many modern writers, agree in the conclusion that the Indians, the Egyptians, the Assyrians, and the Chinese were simply the depositaries, not the inventors, of science. The spirit of inquiry which in later times is directing attention to the almost buried past is revealing the fact that not merely the germs whence our present civilization has been developed descended to us from the dim ages of antiquity, but that a great number of the actual benefits which go to make up our present state of material progress have come to us from prehistoric times. The art of writing, of navigation (including the use of the compass), the working of metals, astronomy, the telescope, gunpowder, mathematics, democracy, building, weaving, dyeing, and many of the appliances of civilized life, have been appropriated by later ages with no acknowledgment of the source whence they were derived. When Pythagoras exhibited to the Greeks some beautiful specimens of ancient architecture which he had brought from Egypt and Babylon, they simply claimed them as their own, giving no credit to the people who originated them; and subsequent ages, copying their example, have refused to acknowledge that anything of value had been achieved prior to the first Greek Olympiad.

    When Philip of Macedon opened the gold mines of Thrace, a country in which it will be remembered the worship of the Great Mother Cybele was indigenous, he found that they had been previously worked “at great expense and with great ingenuity by a people well versed in mechanics, of whom no monuments whatever are extant.”

    The decorations on the breasts of some of the oldest mummies show that the early Egyptians understood the art of making glass. It is now known that the lens as a magnifying instrument was in use among them. Attention has been drawn to the fact that the astronomical observations of the ancients would have been impossible without the aid of the telescope. Diodorus Siculus says there was an island west of the Celtae in which the Druids brought the sun and moon near them. An instrument has recently been found in the sands of the Nile, the construction of which shows plainly that 6000 years ago the Egyptians were acquainted with our modern ideas of the science of astronomy.

    William Huntington, who has travelled widely in India, Borneo, the Malay Peninsula, and Egypt, says:

    “I think, on the whole, the most interesting experience I ever had was in an ancient city on the Nile in Egypt. . . . When I was there a year ago, and men were digging among the ruined temples, some curious things were brought to light, and these I regard as the strangest things seen in all my wanderings. In an old tomb was found a curious iron and glass object, which on investigation proved to be a photographic camera. It was not such a camera as is used now, or has been since our photography was invented, but something analogous to it, showing that the art which we thought we had discovered was really known 6000 years ago.”

    The same writer states that a plow constructed on the modern plan was also found. “It was not of steel but of iron, and it had the same shape, the same form of point and bend of mold board as we have now.”

    It is reported that the dark continent possesses means of communication entirely unknown to Europe. Upon this subject a correspondent to the New York Tribune writes:

    “When Khartoum fell in 1885 I was in Egypt, and I well remember that the Arabs settled in the neighborhood of the pyramids knew all about it, as well as about Gen. Gordon’s death, days and days before the news reached Cairo by telegraph from the Soudanese frontier. Yet Khartoum is thousands of miles distant from Cairo and the telegraph wires from the frontier were monopolized by the government.”

    The same correspondent observes that these Arabs told him, months previously, of the defeat of the Egyptian army under Baker Pasha at Tokar–that they not only gave him the news, but several particulars concerning the matter, two full days before intelligence was received from the Red Sea coast. In answer to the suggestion that such information might have been conveyed by means of signal fires, this writer says that such fires would have attracted the attention of the English and native scouts, and that the whole country is unpropitious to such methods; besides, no system of signal fires, no matter how elaborate, could have conveyed the news so quickly and in such detail. The whole matter is summed up as follows:

    “The Arabs, therefore, have, manifestly, some other means of rapid communication at their command. One is inclined to the presumption that they, like the learned Pundits of Northern India, have a knowledge of the forces of Nature that are yet hidden from our most eminent scientists.”

    Can it be that the Arabs are acquainted with the very recently discovered scientific principle, that it is possible to transmit telegraphic communications without wires, and simply by means of magnetic currents in earth and water?

    Nor is this remarkable skill confined to the “barbarians of the Old World.” A correspondent from the far West to the New York Press wrote that long before the news of the Custer massacre reached Fort Abraham Lincoln the Sioux had communicated it to their brethren. The scouts in Crook’s column to the south knew of it almost immediately, as did those with Gibbon farther northwest. The same writer says that several years ago a naval lieutenant ran short of provisions. He pushed on to a settlement as rapidly as possible and upon arriving there found that the inhabitants had provided for his coming and had a bounteous store awaiting him. The people in the village were of a different tribe from those whose domain he had passed, and so far as could be learned were not in communication with them.

    The earliest accounts which we have of Egypt and Chaldea reveal the fact that at a very remote period they were old and powerful civilizations, that they had a settled government, a pure and philosophical religion, and a profound knowledge of science and art; yet, notwithstanding the great antiquity of these civilizations, that of the people which created them must have been infinitely more remote.

    The earliest historic nations recognized the greatness of these ancient people and the extent of their dominion. In the oldest geographical writings of the Sanskrit people, the ancient Ethiopia, or land of Cush of Greek and Hebrew antiquity, is clearly described. Stephanus of Byzantium, who is said to represent the opinions of the most ancient Greeks, says: “Ethiopia was the first established country on the earth, and the Ethiopians were the first who introduced the worship of the Gods and who established laws."65

    Heeren in his researches says:

    “From the remotest times to the present, the Ethiopians have been one of the most celebrated, and yet the most mysterious of nations. In the earliest traditions of nearly all the more civilized nations of antiquity, the name of this distant people is found. The annals of the Egyptian priests are full of them, and the nations of inner Asia, on the Euphrates and Tigris, have interwoven the fictions of the Ethiopians with their traditions of the wars and conquests of their heroes; and, at a period equally remote, they glimmer in Greek mythology. When the Greeks scarcely knew Italy and Sicily by name, the Ethiopians were celebrated in the verses of their poets, and when the faint gleam of tradition and fable gives way to the clear light of history, the lustre of the Ethiopians is not diminished.”

    Homer says of them that they were a “divided people dwelling at the ends of the earth toward the setting and the rising Sun.” Although it is possible at the present time to discover very many of the facts bearing upon the civilization of this ancient people, it is impossible in the present condition of human knowledge to discover when civilized life began on the earth. Whether the ancient Arabians or Ethiopians who belonged to the old Cushite race, and who are believed by many to be the most ancient people of whom we have any trace, were the first colonizers, or whether they were preceded by a still older civilization, history and tradition are alike silent; yet the fact seems to be tolerably well authenticated that this enlightened race, now nearly extinct, carried civilization to Chaldea more than seven thousand years B.C., that it colonized Egypt, engrafted its own institutions in India, colonized Phoenicia, and by its maritime and commercial enterprise, introduced civilized conditions into every quarter of the globe. Even in Peru, in Mexico, in Central America, and in the United States are evidences of the old Cushite religion and enterprise.

    Baldwin, commenting on the greatness of this remarkable people, says that early in the period of its colonizing enterprise, commercial greatness, and extensive empire, it established colonies in the valleys of the Nile and the Euphrates, which in later ages became Barbary, Egypt, and Chaldea. The ancient Cushite nation occupied Arabia and other extensive regions of Africa, India, and Western Asia to the Mediterranean. While remarking upon the vastness and antiquity of this old Cushite race, Rawlinson says that they founded most of the towns of Western Asia. The vast commercial system which formed a connecting link between the various countries of the globe, was created by this people, the great manufacturing skill and unrivalled maritime activity of the Phoenicians which extended down to the time of the Hellenes and the Romans having been a result of the irgenius. It was doubtless during the supremacy of the ancient Cushite race that a knowledge of astronomy was developed and that the arts of life were carried to a high degree of perfection. However, through the peculiar influences which were brought to bear upon human experience, this knowledge, which was bequeathed to their descendants or to the nations which they had created, was subsequently lost or practically obscured, only fragments of it having been preserved from the general ruin.

    Within these fragments have been preserved in India certain evidences of a profound knowledge of Nature, or of the at present unknown forces in the universe, a demonstration of which, in our own time, would probably be looked upon as a miraculous interposition of supernatural agencies.

    Regarding the refinements and luxuries of this ancient people, Diodorus Siculus declares that they flowed in streams of gold and silver, that “the porticoes of their temples were overlaid with gold, and that the adornments of their buildings were in some parts of silver and gold, and in others of ivory and precious stones, and other things of great value.”

    From various observations, it is plain that the Etrurians represented a stage of civilization far in advance of the Pelasgians who founded Rome –a race which, although superior in numbers, arms, and influence, were, when compared with this more ancient people, little better than barbarians.66
    60 Edwin Arnold, The light of Asia.
    61 Godfrey Higgins, Celtic Druids, ch. ii., sec. 14.
    62 Anacalypsis, vol. i., p. 232.
    63 Higgins, Anacalypsis, p. 235.
    64 Drummond, On the Zodiacs, p. 36.
    65 Quoted by John D. Baldwin, Prehistoric Nations, p. 62.
    66 It is thought that as early as the nineteenth century B.C. the Pelasgians or Pelargians went to Aenonia, or Ionia. It was a detachment of this people which, according to Herodotus, captured a number of Athenian women on the coast of Africa, lived with them as wives, and raised families by them, but, “because they differed in manners from themselves,” they murdered them, which act was attended by a “dreadful pestilence.” It is the opinion of certain writers that these women were of a different religious faith from their captors, and that so intense and bitter was the feeling upon the comparative importance of the sex functions in pro-creation, that their husbands, unable to change their views, put an end to their existence.

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    Default Chapter VI. Civilization of an Ancient Race - PartII


    The God-Idea of the Ancients (or Sex in Religion)

    By Eliza Burt Gamble

    Chapter VI. Civilization of an Ancient Race

    Nothing, perhaps, proclaims the degree of civilization attained by the ancient Etrurians more plainly than the exquisite perfection which is observed in the specimens of art found in their tumuli. Within the tombs of Etruscans buried long prior to the foundation of Rome, or the birth of the fine arts in Greece, have been found unmistakable evidence of the advanced condition of this people. The exquisite coloring and grouping of the figures on their elegant vases, one of which, on exhibition in the British Museum, portrays the birth of Minerva, or Wisdom, show the delicacy of their taste, the purity of their conceptions, and their true artistic skill.

    Among their mechanical arts, a few specimens of which have been preserved, is the potter’s wheel, an invention which, so far as its utility is concerned, is declared to be absolutely perfect–the most complete of all the instruments of the world. “It never has been improved and admits of no improvement.” In fact all that may be gathered concerning the ancient Etrurians, a people who by the most able writers upon this subject is believed to have been one of the first to leave the Asiatic hive, is in perfect accord with the facts already set forth regarding that mighty nation, perhaps of upper Asia, who carried the study of astronomy to a degree of perfection never again reached until after the discovery of the Copernican system, who invented the Neros and the Metonic Cycle, who colonized Egypt and Chaldea, and who carried civilization to the remotest ends of the earth.

    The philosophy of the Etrurians corresponds with that of the most ancient Hindoo system, and displays a degree of wisdom unparalleled by any of the peoples belonging to the early historic ages. According to their cosmogony, the evolutionary or creative processes involved twelve vast periods of time. At the end of the first period appeared the planets and the earth, in the second the firmament was made, in the third the waters were brought forth, in the fourth the sun, moon, and stars were placed in the heavens, in the fifth living creatures appeared on the earth, and in the sixth man was produced. These six periods comprehended one-half the duration of the cycle. After six more periods had elapsed, or after the lapse of the entire cycle of twelve periods, all creation was dissolved or drawn to the source of all life. Subsequently a new creation was brought forth under which the same order of events will take place. The involution of life, or its return to the great source whence it sprang, did not, however, involve the destruction of matter. The seeds of returning life were preserved in an ark or boat–the female principle, within which all things are contained. This indrawing of life constituted “the night of Brahme.” It was represented by Vishnu sleeping on the bottom of the sea.

    From the facts adduced in relation to the Etrurians we are not surprised to find that their religion was that of the ancient Nature worshippers, and that a mother with her child stood for their god-idea. In referring to the religion of this people, and to the great antiquity of the worship of the Virgin and Child, Higgins remarks: “Amongst the Gauls, more than a hundred years before the Christian era, in the district of Chartres, a festival was celebrated in honor of the Virgin,” and in the year 1747, a mithraic monument was found “on which is exhibited a female nursing an infant–the Goddess of the year nursing the God day.” To which he adds: “The Protestant ought to recollect that his mode of keeping Christmas Day is only a small part of the old festival as it yet exists amongst the followers of the Romish Church. Theirs is the remnant of the old Etruscan worship of the virgin and child.” As a proof of the above, Higgins cites Gorius’s Tuscan Antiquities, where may be seen the figure of an old Goddess with her child in her arms, the inscription being in Etruscan characters. “No doubt the Romish Church would have claimed her for a Madonna, but most unluckily she has her name, Nurtia, in Etruscan letters, on her arm, after the Etruscan practice.”

    From the monuments of Etruria the fact is observed that descent and the rights of succession were traced in the female line, a condition of society which indicates the high position which must have been occupied by the women of that country.

    In Oman is said to exist a fragment of the government of the old Ethiopian or Cushite race. If this is true, then we may be able to perceive at the present time something of the character of the political institutions of this ancient nation. As no people remains stationary, and as degeneracy has been the rule with surrounding countries, we may not expect to find among the people of Oman a true representation of ancient conditions, yet, as has been observed, we may still be able to note some of the facts relative to the organization of society and their governmental institutions.

    In a description furnished by Palgrave, Oman is termed a kingdom, yet it is plain from the observations of this writer that the existing form of government is that of a confederacy of nations under a democratical system, identical with that developed during the later status of barbarism. This writer himself admits that Oman is less a kingdom than an aggregation of municipalities, and that each of these municipalities or towns has a separate existence and is controlled by its own local chief; but that all are joined together in one confederacy, and subjected to the leadership of a grand chief whom the writer is pleased to term “the crown,” but why, as is evident from the description given, bears no resemblance to a modern monarch. The chiefs who direct the councils of the municipalities are limited in their powers by “the traditional immunities of the vassals,” the decision of all criminal cases and the administration of justice being in the hands of the local judges. In the descriptions given of their governmental proceedings, it is stated that the whole course of law is considered apart from the jurisdiction of the sovereign, who has no power to either change or annul the enactments of the people.

    Here, it is observed, exists almost the identical form of government which was in use among the early historic nations, before governments came to be founded on wealth, or on a territorial basis67; or, in other words, before the monied and aristocratic classes had drawn to themselves all the powers which had formerly belonged to the people.

    We must bear in mind the fact that under these earlier democratical institutions, the term “people” included not only men but women, and as the grand chief, the local rulers, and the judges held their positions by virtue of their descent from, or relationship to, some real or traditional leader of the gens, who during all the earlier ages was a woman, we may believe that the power of women to depose their political leaders so soon as their conduct became obnoxious to them was absolute and unquestioned.

    Doubtless, as we have seen, the government of Oman has undergone a considerable degree of modification since the days of Cushite splendor and supremacy; that, like all other nations which have come in contact with the Aryan and Semitic races, the tendency has been toward monarchial government; nevertheless, with its practically free institutions, representing as they do, in a measure, the political system of the grandest and oldest civilizations of which we have any knowledge, it furnishes an illustration of the degree of progress possible under gentile organization, at the same time that it points to the source whence has proceeded the fierce democratic spirit observed among succeeding nations, notably the Greeks.

    Modern writers agree in ascribing to the Touaricks, a people inhabiting the Desert of Sahara, a considerable degree of civilization. We are informed that in the Sahara, which, by the way, is far less a barren waste than we have been taught to suppose it, “the Touaricks have towns, cities, and an excellent condition of agriculture"; that with them fruit is cultivated with great success and skill. Their method of political organization is democratic and similar in construction and administration to the old Cushite municipalities. Baldwin, quoting from Richardson, says: “Ghat, like all the Touarick countries, is a republic; all the people govern. The woman of the Touaricks is not the woman of the Moors and Mussulmans generally. She has here great liberty, and takes an active part in the affairs and transactions of life."68

    One who is disposed to search for it, will find no lack of evidence going to prove that in an earlier age of the world, prior to the written records of extant history, the human race had attained to a stage of civilization equal in all and superior in many respects to that of the present time.

    That this remarkable stage of progress, the actual extent of which has not yet been fully realized, was attained during a period of pure Nature-worship, or while the earth and the sun were venerated as emblems of the great creative energy throughout the universe, is a proposition which, when viewed by the light of more recently acquired facts, is perfectly reasonable, and exactly what might be expected.

    That this high stage of civilization was reached while women were the recognized heads of families and of the gentes, and at a time when Perceptive Wisdom, or the female energy in the Deity, was worshipped as the supreme God, is a fact which in time will be proved beyond a doubt. Indeed, had not the judgment of man become warped by prejudice, and his reason clogged by superstition and sensuality, the fact so plainly apparent in all ancient mythologies, that in the early god-idea two principles were contained, the female being in the ascendancy, would long ere this have been acknowledged, and our present religious systems, which are but outgrowths from these mythologies, would, with the partial return of civilized conditions, have been so modified or changed as to embrace some of the fundamental truths which formed the basis of early religion.

    Regarding the religion of the ancient race which we have been considering, we are told that they worshipped a dual Deity, under the appellations of Ashtaroth and Baal, and that this God “comprehended the generative or reproductive powers in human beings and in the sun, together with Wisdom or Light.” In other words, they adored the great moving force throughout Nature, a force which they venerated as the Great Mother.

    Before the Zend and Sanskrit branches of the Aryan race had separated, their religion was doubtless that given them by their Cushite civilizers. The worship of the sun and the planets, with which were inextricably interwoven the fructifying agencies in Nature, explains their devotion to the study of the heavenly bodies and their advanced knowledge of astronomy. The types of regeneration or reproduction which they venerated were symbols of abstract principles, and, from facts connected with their religious ceremonies as practiced by their immediate successors, and from the pure significance attached to their emblems, we are justified in the conclusion before referred to, that the sensuous element, which became so prominent in later religious developments, constituted no part of their worship.

    The number of ages during which the most primitive religion, namely, that of pure Nature-worship, prevailed among the inhabitants of the earth may not be conjectured, and the exact length of time during which earth and sun adoration unalloyed by serpent and phallic faiths remained is not known. It is probable, however, that its duration is to be measured by that of the supremacy of the altruistic or mother element in human affairs, and that the gradual engrafting of the later-developed sensuous faiths upon their earlier god-idea, marks the change from female to male supremacy.

    We have observed that whenever a remnant of the civilization of the ancient Cushites appears, exactly as might be expected, women hold an exalted position in human affairs, at the same time that the female principle constitutes the essential element in the Deity.

    Of the ancient Persians who received their religion and their civilization from this older race Malcolm observes:

    “The great respect in which the female sex was held was, no doubt, the principal cause of the progress they made in civilization. . . . It would appear that in former days the women of Persia had an assigned and honorable place in society; and we must conclude that an equal rank with the male creation, which is secured to them by the ordinances of Zoroaster, existed long before the time of that reformer, who paid too great attention to the habits and prejudices of his countrymen to have made any serious alteration in so important an usage. We are told by Quintus Curtius, that Alexander would not sit in the presence of Sisygambis, till told to do so by that matron, because it is not the custom in Persia for sons to sit in the presence of their mothers. There can be no stronger proof than this anecdote affords, of the great respect in which the female sex were held in that country, at the time of this invasion."69

    No one I think can study the sacred books of the Persians without observing the emphasis which is there placed on purity of character and right living. Indeed, within no extant writings is the antithesis between good and evil more strongly marked, at the same time that their hatred of idolatry is clearly apparent. The same is observed in the early writings of the Hindoos. Within the Vedas, although they have been corrupted by later writers, may still be traced a purity of thought and life which is not apparent in the writings of later ages. Not long ago I was informed by a learned native of India that the original writing of the Vedas was largely the work of women.

    That the early conceptions of a Deity in which women constituted the central and supreme figure were in Egypt correlated with the exercise of great temporal power, may not, in view of the facts at hand, longer be doubted. By means of records revealed on ancient monuments, we are informed that in the age of Amunoph I. a considerable degree of sovereign power in Egypt was exercised by a woman, Amesnofre-are, who had shared the throne with Ames. She occupied it also with Amunoph, and, notwithstanding the statement of Herodotus, that women did not serve in the capacity of priests, this Queen is represented as pouring out libations to Amon, an office which was doubtless the highest connected with the priesthood.

    Less than forty years later, it is observed that another woman, Amun-nou-het, shared the throne with Thotmes I. and II. and that “she appears to have enjoyed far greater consideration than either of them.” Not alone are monuments raised in her name, but she appears dressed as a man, and “alone presenting offerings to the gods.” So important a personage was she that she is believed by many to be the princess who conquered the country, perhaps even Semiramis herself. Her title was the “Shining Sun."70

    As these women doubtless belonged to the old Arabian, Ethiopian, or Cushite race, the people who had brought civilization to Egypt, we are not surprised to find them holding positions which were connected with the highest civil and religious offices. The Labyrinth, in the country of the Nile, is described by ancient writers as containing three thousand chambers. Strabo says of it that the enclosure contained as many palaces as there formerly were homes, and that there the priests and priestesses of each department were wont to congregate to discuss difficult and important questions of law.

    According to the Greeks, the Egyptian God Osiris corresponds to their Jupiter; and Sate, the companion of Kneph, is identical with Juno. It is quite evident, however, that the Greeks understood little of the true significance of the gods which they had borrowed, or which they had inherited from older nations. It would seem that as a people their conceit prevented them from acknowledging the dignity even of their gods, hence, they endowed them with the attributes best suited to their own depraved taste or pleasure, and then worshipped them as beings like themselves.

    It has been observed of the Egyptians that they were wont to ridicule the Greeks for regarding their gods as actual beings, while in reality “they were only the representations of the attributes and principles of Nature.” Unlike the religions which succeeded it, Egyptian mythology, as understood by the learned, was essentially philosophical, and dealt with abstractions and principles rather than with personalities.

    Notwithstanding the importance which in process of time came to be claimed by males, and the consequent stimulation which was given to the animal tendencies, it is evident, from certain historical and undeniable proofs in connection with this subject, that although woman’s power in Egypt, as in all other countries, gradually became weakened, the effect of her influence on manners and social customs was never wholly extinguished.

    Regarding the existence of polygamy, it has been said that the high position occupied in ancient Egypt by the mother of the family, the mistress of the household, is absolutely irreconcilable with the existence of polygamy as a general practice, or of such an institution as the harem. Although the plurality of wives does not appear to have been contrary to law, it “certainly was unusual,” and although Egyptian kings frequently had many wives, “they followed foreign rather than native custom."71

    Herodotus says of the women of Egypt: “They attend the markets and trade while the men sit at home at the loom"72; and Diodorus informs us that in Egypt “women control the men.”

    Were we in possession of no direct historical evidence to prove that down to a late period in the history of Egypt women had not lost their prestige, sufficient evidence would be found in the fact that, notwithstanding the growing tendency of mankind in all the nations of the globe to suppress the female instincts and to reject, conceal, or belittle the woman element in the Deity, still Isis, the gracious mother, retained a prominent place in the god-idea of that country.

    I am not unmindful of the remarks which a reference to a past age of intellectual and moral greatness will call forth; indeed, I can almost hear some devotee of the present time remark: “So we are asked to regard as a sober fact the existence in the past of a golden age; also to believe that man was created pure and holy, and that he has since fallen from his high estate; in other words, we are to have faith in the ancient tradition of the ’fall of man.’” If by the fall of man we are to understand that a great and universal people, who in a remote age of the world’s history had reached a high stage of civilization, gradually passed out of human existence, and that a lower race, which was incapable of attaining to their estate, and which, by the over- stimulation of the lower propensities, sank into a state of barbarism, in which the original sublime conceptions of a Deity were obscured and the great learning of the past was lost, I can see no reason to disbelieve it, especially as all the facts, both of tradition and history, bearing upon this subject unite in proclaiming its truth.

    After stating that in Chaldea has been found rather the debris of science than the elements of it, Bailly asks:

    “When you see a house built of old capitals, columns, and other fragments of beautiful architecture, do you not conclude that a fine building has once existed? . . . If the human mind can ever flatter itself with having been successful in discovering the truth, it is when many facts, and these facts of different kinds, unite in producing the same results.”

    That the descendants of a once mighty nation lapsed into barbarism, forgetting the profound knowledge of the sciences possessed by their ancestors, is a fact too well attested at the present time to be doubted by those who have taken the pains to acquaint themselves with the evidence at hand.

    Regarding the manner in which this ancient civilization was reached, or concerning the way in which it was achieved, history and tradition are alike silent, although it is believed that the present methods of investigation will, at least in a measure, unravel the mystery. At present we only know that, as far in the remote past as human ken can reach, evidences of a high stage of civilization exist which it must have required thousands upon thousands of years to accomplish.
    67 See The Evolution of Woman, p. 238.
    68 Prehistoric Nations, p. 341.
    69 See History of Persia.
    70 Rawlinson, History of Herodotus, app., book ii., ch. viii.
    71 Renouf, Religion of Ancient Egypt, p. 81.
    72 Book ii., ch. xxxv.

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