« PreviousContinue »
able. Thus also, among the North American Indians, the native religion was modified under the influence of ideas borrowed from the white men, and there arose a full dualistic scheme, of which Loskiel, a Moravian missionary conversant especially with Algonquin and Iroquois tribes, gives the following suggestive particulars, dating from 1794. “ They (the Indians) seem to have had no idea of the Deril, as the Prince of Darkness, before the Europeans came into the country. They consider him now as a very powerful spirit, but unable to do good, and therefore call him The Eril One. Thus they now believe in two Beings, the one supremely good, and the other altogether evil. To the former they ascribe all good, and to the latter all evil. About thirty years ago, a great change took place in the religious opinions of the Indians. Some preachers of their own nation pretended to have received revelations from above, to have travelled into heaven, and conversed with God. They gave different accounts of their exploits on the journey, but all agreed in this, that no one could enter into heaven without great danger; for the road, say they, runs close by the gates of hell. There the Devil lies in ambush, and snatches at every one who is going to God. Now those who have passed by this dangerous place unhurt, come first to the Son of God, and through him to God himself, from whom they pretend to have received a commandment, to instruct the Indians in the way to heaven. By these preachers the Indians were informed that heaven was the dwelling of God, and hell that of the Devil. Some of their preachers confessed that they had not reached the dwelling of God, but had however approached near enough to hear the cocks crow, and to see the smoke of the chimneys in heaven, &c., &c.”
Such unequivocal proofs that savage tribes can adopt and work into the midst of their native beliefs the European doctrine of the Good and Evil Spirit, must induce us to criticize keenly all recorded accounts of the religion of un
1 Loskiel, 'Indians in North America,' part i. p. 34.
cultured tribes, lest we should mistake the confused reflexion of Christendom for the indigenous theology of Australia or Canada. It is the more needful to bring this state of things into the clearest light, in order that the religion of the lower tribes may be placed in its proper relation to the religion of the higher nations. Genuine savage faiths do in fact bring to our view what seem to be rudimentary forms of ideas which underlie dualistic theological schemes among higher nations. It is certain that even among rude savage hordes, native thought has already turned toward the deep problem of good and evil. Their crude though earnest speculation has already tried to solve the great mystery which still resists the efforts of moralists and theologians. But as in general the animistic doctrine of the lower races is not yet an ethical institution, but a philosophy of man and nature, so savage dualism is not yet a theory of abstract moral principles, but a theory of pleasure or pain, profit or loss, affecting the individual man, his family, or at the utmost stretch, his people. This narrow and rudimentary distinction between good and evil was not unfairly stated by the savage who explained that if anybody took away his wife, that would be bad, but if he himself took someone's else, that would be good. Now by the savage or barbarian mind, the spiritual beings which by their personal action account for the events of life and the operations of nature, are apt to be regarded as kindly or hostile, sometimes or always, like the human beings on whose type they are so obviously modelled. In such a case, we may well judge by the safe analogy of disembodied human souls, and it appears that these are habitually regarded as sometimes friends and sometimes foes of the living. Nothing could be more conclusive in this respect than an account of the three days' battle between two factions of Zulu ghosts for the life of a man and wife whom the one spiritual party desired to destroy and the other to save; the defending spirits prevailed, dug up the bewitched charm-bags which had been buried to cause sympathetic disease, and fung these objects
into the midst of the assembly of the people watching in silence, just as the spirits now fling real flowers at a tablerapping séance. For spirits less closely belonging to the definition of ghosts, we may take Rochefort's remark in the 17th century as to the two sorts of spirits, good and bad, recognized by the Caribs of the West Indies. This writer declares that their good spirits or divinities are in fact so many demons who seduce them and keep them enchained in their damnable servitude; but nevertheless, he says, the people themselves do distinguish them from their evil spirits. Nor can we pronounce this distinction of theirs unreasonable, learning from other authorities that it was the office of some of these spirits to attend men as familiar genii, and of others to inflict diseases. After the numerous details which have incidentally been cited in the present volumes, it will be needless to offer farther proof that spiritual beings are really conceived by savages and barbarians as ranged in antagonistic ranks as good and evil, i.e., friendly and hostile to themselves. The interesting inquiry on which it is here desirable to collect evidence, is this: how far are the docrines of the higher nations anticipated in. principle among the lower tribes, in the assignment of the conduct of the universe to two mighty hostile beings, in whom the contending powers of good and evil are personified, the Good Deity and the Evil Deity, each the head and ruler of a spiritual host like-minded? The true answer seems to be that savage belief displays to us primitive conceptions which, developed in systematic form and attached to ethical meaning, have their place in religious systems of which the Zoroastrian is the type.
First, when in district after district two special deities with special native names are contrasted in native religion as the Good and Evil Deity, it is in many cases easier to explain these beings as native at least in origin, than to suppose that foreign intercourse should have exerted the consistent and far-reaching influence needed to introduce them. Second, when the deities in question are actually polytheistic gods, such as Sun, Moon, Heaven, Earth, considered as of good or evil, i.e., favourable or unfavourable aspect, this looks like native developnient, not innovation derived from a foreign religion ignoring such divinities. Third, when it is held that the Good Deity is remote and otiose, but the Evil Deity present and active, and worship is therefore directed especially to the propitiation of the hostile principle, we have here a conception which appears native in the lower culture, rather than derived from the higher culture to which it is unfamiliar and even hateful. Now Dualism, as prevailing among the lower races, will be seen in a considerable degree to assert its originality by satisfying one or more of these conditions.
i Callaway, “Rel. of Amazulu,' p. 348. * Rochefort, 'Iles Antilles,' p. 416. See J. G. Müller, p. 207.
There have been recorded among the Indians of North America a group of mythic beliefs, which display the fundamental idea of dualism in the very act of germinating in savage religion. Yet the examination of these myths leads us first to destructive criticism of a picturesque but not ancient member of the series. An ethnologist, asked to point out the most striking savage dualistic legend of the world, would be likely to name the celebrated Iroquois myth of the Twin Brethren. The current version of this legend is that set down in 1825 by the Christian chief of the Tus. caroras, David Cusick, as the belief of his people. Among the ancients, he relates, there were two worlds, the lower world in darkness and possessed by monsters, the upper world inhabited by mankind. A woman near her travail sank from this upper region to the dark world below. She alighted on a Tortoise, prepared to receive her with a little earth on his back, which Tortoise became an island. The celestial mother bore twin sons into the dark world, and died. The Tortoise increased to a great island, and the twins grew up. One was of gentle disposition, and was called Enigorio, the Good Mind; the other was of insolent character, and was named Enigonhahetgea, the Bad Mind
(or Brinton's translations, Ugly Spirit and Beautiful Spirit, may be more accurate). The Good Mind, not contented to remain in darkness, wished to create a great light; the Bad Mind desired that the world should remain in its natural state. The Good Mind took his dead mother's head and made it the sun, and of a remnant of her body he made the moon. These were to give light to the day and to the night. Also he created many spots of light, now stars : these were to regulate the days, nights, seasons, years. Where the light came upon the dark world, the monsters were displeased, and hid themselves in the depths, lest man should find them. The Good Mind continued the creation, formed many creeks and rivers on the Great Island, created small and great beasts to inhabit the forests, and fishes to inhabit the waters. When he had made the universe, he doubted concerning beings to possess the Great Island. He formed two images of the dust of the ground in his own likeness, male and female, and by breathing into their nostrils gave them living souls, and named them Ea-gwe-howe, that is "real people;” and he gave the Great Island all the animals of game for their maintenance; he appointed thunder to water the earth by frequent rains; the island became fruitful, and vegetation afforded to the animals subsistence. The Bad Mind went throughout the island and made high mountains and waterfalls and great steeps, and created repciles injurious to mankind; but the Good Mind restored the island to its former condition. The Bad Mind made two clay images in the form of man, but while he was giving them existence they became apes; and so on. The Good Mind accomplished the works of creation, notwithstanding the imaginations of the Bad Mind were continually evil; thus he attempted to enclose all the animals of game in the earth away from mankind, but his brother set them free, and traces of them were made on the rocks near the cave where they were shut in. At last the brethren came to single combat for the mastery of the universe. The Good Mind falsely persuaded the Bad Mind that whipping with