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in from modern Christian missionary teaching, or otherwise by contact with foreign religions. It is often difficult to distinguish from these the true local gods, animistic figures of native meaning and origin. Among the following polytheistic systems, examples may be found of such combinations, with the complex theological problems they suggest. Among the Australians, above the swarming souls, nature-spirits, demons, there stand out mythic figures of higher divinity; Nguk-wonga, the Spirit of the Waters; Biam, who gives ceremonial songs and causes disease, and is perhaps the same as Baiame the creator; Nambajandi and Warrugura, lords of heaven and the nether world. In South America, if we look into the theology of the Manaos (whose name is well known in the famous legend of El Dorado and the golden city of Manoa), we see Mauari and Saraua, who may be called the Good and Evil Spirit, and beside the latter the two Gamainhas, Spirits of the Waters and the Forest. In North America the description of a solemn Algonquin sacrifice introduces a list of twelve dominant manitus or gods; first the Great Manitu in heaven, then the Sun, Moon, Earth, Fire, Water, the House-god, the Indian corn, and the four Windsor Cardinal Points. The Polynesian's crowd of manes, and the lower ranks of deities of earth, sea, and air, stand below the great gods of Peace and War, Oro and Tane the national deities of Tahiti and Huahine, Raitubu the Sky-producer, Hina who aided in the work of forming the world, her father Taaroa, the uncreate Creator who dwells in Heaven. Among the Land Dayaks of Borneo, the commonalty of spirits consists of the souls of the departed, and of such beings as dwell in the noble old forests on the tops of lofty hills, or such as hover about villages and devour the stores of rice; above these are Tapa, creator and preserver of man,
Eyre, ‘Australia,' vol. ii. p. 362; Oldfield in ‘Tr. Eth. Soc.' vol. iii. p. 228 ; Lang, 'Queensland,' p. 444.
Martius, 'Ethnog. Amer.' vol. i. p. 583. • Loskiel, 'Ind. of N. America,' part i. p. 43. 4 Ellis, ‘Polyn. Res.' vol. i. p. 322.
and Iang, who taught the Dayaks their religion, Jirong, whose function is the birth and death of men, and Tenabi, who made, and still causes to flourish, the earth and all things therein save the human race. In West Africa, an example may be taken from the theology of the Slave Coast, a systematic scheme of all nature as moved and quickened by spirits, kindly or hostile to mankind. These spirits dwell in field and wood, mountain and valley; they live in air and water; multitudes of them have been human souls, such ghosts hover about the graves and near the living, and have influence with the under-gods, whom they worship; among these 'edrõ' are the patron-deities of men and families and tribes; through these subordinate beings works the highest god, Mawu. The missionary who describes this negro hierarchy quite simply sees in it Satan and his Angels. In Asia, the Samoyed's little spirits that are bound to his little fetishes, and the little elves of wood and stream, have greater beings above them, the Forest-Spirit, the River-Spirit, the Sun and Moon, the Evil Spirit and the Good Spirit above all.3 The countless host of the local gods of the Khonds pervade the world, rule the functions of nature, and control the life of men, and these have their chiefs; above them rank the deified souls of men who have become tutelary gods of tribes; above these are the six great gods, the Raingod, the goddess of Firstfruits, the god of Increase, the god of Hunting, the iron god of War, the god of Boundaries, with which group stands also the Judge of the Dead, and above all other gods, the Sun-god and Creator Boora Pennu, and his wife the mighty Earth-goddess, Tari Pennu.“ The Spanish conquerors found in Mexico a complex and systematic hierarchy of spiritual beings; numberless were the little deities who had their worship in house and lane,
1 St. John, “Far East,' vol. i. p. 180.
2 J. B. Schlegel, 'Schlüssel zur Ewe Sprache,' p. xii. ; compare Bowen, Yoruba Lang.' in ‘Smithsonian Contrib.' vol. i. p. xvi.
3 Samoiedia, in Pinkerton, vol. i. p. 531. 4 Macpherson, p. 84, &c.
grove and it, and from these the worshipper could pass to go rowers or of pulque, of hunters and goldsmiths, ang o the great deities of the nation and the world, the swhich the mythologist knows so well, Centeotl th32" -goddess, Tlaloc the Water-god, Huitzilopochtli ti i god, Mictlanteuctli the Lord of Hades, Tonatiuh and li the Sun and Moon. Thus, starting from the the.' savage tribes, the student arrives at the polytheis archies of the Aryan nations. In ancient Greece cloud-compelling Heaven-god reigns over such deiti he god of War and the goddess of Love, the Sun-g! he Moon-goddess, the Fire-god and the ruler of the world, the Winds and Rivers, the nymphs of wood 1 ll and forest.2
In modern India, Brahma-Vishnu-S in pre-eminent over a series of divinities, heterog- and often obscure in nature, but among whom stand ni? clear meaning and purpose such figures as Indra of weaven and Sûrya of the Sun, Agni of the Fire, Pavana of the Winds and Varuna of the Waters, Yama lord of the Under-world, Kâma god of Love and Kârttikeya of War, Panchânana who gives epilepsy and Manasâ who preserves from snake bites, the divine Rivers, and below these the ranks of nymphs, elves, demons, ministering spirits of heaven and earth-Gandharvas, Apsaras, Siddhas, Asuras, Bhûtas, Râkshasas.3
The systematic comparison of polytheistic religions has been of late years worked with admirable results. These have been due to the adoption of comparatively exact methods, as where the ancient Aryan deities of the Veda have been brought into connexion with those of the Homeric poems, in some cases as clearly as where we Englishmen can study in the Scandinavian Edda the old gods of our own race, whose names stand in local names on the map of England, and serve as counters to reckon our days of the
week. Yet it need scarcely be said that to compare in full
. detail the deities even of closely connected nations, and à fortiori those of tribes not united in language and history, is still a difficult and unsatisfactory task. The old-fashioned identifications of the gods and heroes of different nations admitted most illusory evidence. Some had little more ground than similar-sounding names, as when the Hindu Brahma and Prajâpati were discovered to be the Hebrew Abraham and Japhet, and when even Sir William Jones identified Woden with Buddha. With not much more stringency, it is still often taken as matter of course that the Keltic Beal, whose bealtines correspond with a whole class of bonfire-customs among several branches of the Aryan race, is the Bel or the Baal of the Seniitic cultus. Unfortunately, classical scholarship at the Renaissance started the subject on an unsound footing, by accepting the Greek deities with the mystified shapes and perverted names they had assumed in Latin literature. That there was a partial soundness in such comparisons, as in identifying Zeus and Jupiter, Hestia and Vesta, made the plan all the more misleading when Kronos came to figure as Saturn, Poseidon as Neptune, Athene as Minerva. To judge by example of the possible results of comparative theology worked on such principles, Thoth being identified with Hermes, Hermes with Mercury, and Mercury with Woden, there comes to pass the absurd transition from the Egyptian ibis-headed divine scribe of the gods, to the Teutonic heaven-dwelling driver of the raging tempest. It is not in this loose fashion that the mental processes are to be sought out, which led nations to arrange so similarly and yet so diversely their array of deities.
A twofold perplexity besets the soberest investigator on this ground, caused by the modification of deities by development at home and adoption from abroad. Even among the lower races, gods of long traditional legend and worship acquire a mixed and complex personality. The mythologist who seeks to ascertain the precise definition of the Red
Indian Michabu in his various characters of Heaven-god and Water-god, Creator of the Earth and first ancestor of Man, or who examines the personality of the Polynesian Maui in his relation to Sun, lord of Heaven or Hades, first Man, and South Sea Island hero, will sympathize with the Semitic or Aryan student bewildered among the heterogeneous attributes of Baal and Astarte, Herakles and Athene. Sir William Jones scarcely overstated the perplexity of the problem in the following remarkable forecast delivered more than a century ago, in the first anniversary discourse before the Asiatic Society of Bengal, at a time when glimpses of the relation of the Hindu to the Greek Pantheon were opening into a new broad view of comparative theology in his mind. We must not be surprised,' he says, 'at finding, on a close examination, that the characters of all the Pagan deities, male and female, melt into each other and at last into one or two; for it seems a well-founded opinion, that the whole crowd of gods and goddesses in ancient Rome, and modern Váránes [Benares] mean only the powers of nature, and principally those of the Sun, expressed in a variety of ways and by a multitude of fanciful names.' As to the travelling of gods from country to country, and the changes they are apt to suffer on the road, we may judge by examples of what has happened within our knowledge. It is not merely that one nation borrows a god from another with its proper figure and attributes and rites, as where in Rome the worshipper of the Sun might take his choice whether he would adore in the temple of the Greek Apollo, the Egyptian Osiris, the Persian Mithra, or the Syrian Elagabalus. The intercourse of races can produce quainter results than this. Any Orientalist will appreciate the wonderful hotchpot of Hindu and Arabic language and religion in the following details, noted down among rude tribes of the Malay Peninsula. We hear of Jin Bumi the Earth-god (Arabic jin = demon, Sanskrit bhûmi = earth); incense is burnt to Jewajewa (Sanskrit dewa = god) who intercedes with Pirman the