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Home > > The Making of Religion > American Creators: Ahone. Ti-ra-wà. Nà-pi. Pachacamac. Tui Laga. Taa-Roa

Andrew Lang

American Creators: Ahone. Ti-ra-wà. Nà-pi. Pachacamac. Tui Laga. Taa-Roa

The Making of Religion: Chapter XIV (1900)

Published on: Saturday 6 January 2007

Keywords :

Andrew Lang, ’Ahone. Ti-ra-wà. Nà-pi. Pachacamac. Tui Laga. Taa-Roa’, The Making of Religion, (Chapter XIV), Longmans, Green, and C°, London, New York and Bombay, 1900, pp. 130-253.


In this chapter it is my object to set certain American Creators beside the African beings whom we have been examining. We shall range from Hurons to Pawnees and Blackfeet, and end with Pachacamac, the supreme being of the old Inca civilisation, with Tui Laga and Taa-roa. It will be seen that the Hurons have been accidentally deprived of their benevolent Creator by a bibliographical accident, while that Creator corresponds very well with the Peruvian Pachucamac, often regarded as a mere philosophical abstraction. The Pawnees will show us a Creator involved in a sacrificial ritual, which is not common, while the Blackfeet present a Creator who is not envisaged as a spirit at all, and, on our theory, represents a very early stage of the theistic conception.

To continue the argument from analogy against Major Ellis’s theory of the European origin of Nyankupon, it seems desirable first to produce a parallel to his case, and to that of his blood-stained subordinate deity, Bobowissi, from a quarter where European influence is absolutely out of the question. Virginia was first permanently colonised by Englishmen in 1607, and the ’Historie of Travaile into Virginia,’ by William Strachey, Gent., first Secretary of the Colony, dates from the earliest years (1612-1616). It will hardly be suggested, then, that the natives had already adopted our Supreme Being, especially as Strachey says that the native priests strenuously opposed the Christian God. Strachey found a house-inhabiting, agricultural, and settled population, under chiefs, one of whom, Powhattan, was a kind of Bretwalda. The temples contained the dried bodies of the weroances, or aristocracy, beside which was their Okeus, or Oki, an image ’ill favouredly carved,’ all black dressed, ’who doth them all the harm they suffer. He is propitiated by sacrifices of their own children’ (probably an error) ’and of strangers.’

Mr. Tylor quotes a description of this Oki, or Okeus, with his idol and bloody rites, from Smith’s ’History of Virginia’ (1632) [1]. The two books, Strachey’s and Smith’s, are here slightly varying copies of one original. But, after censuring Smith’s (and Strachey’s) hasty theory that Okeus is ’no other than a devil,’ Mr. Tylor did not find in Smith what follows in Strachey. Okeus has human sacrifices, like Bobowissi, ’whilst the great God (the priests tell them) who governes all the world, and makes the son to shine, creatyng the moone and starrs his companyons … they calling (sic) Ahone. The good and peaceable God requires no such dutyes, nor needs to be sacrificed unto, for he intendeth all good unto them,’ Okeus, on the contrary, ’looking into all men’s accions, and examining the same according to the severe scheme of justice, punisheth them.... Such is the misery and thraldome under which Sathan hath bound these wretched miscreants.’

As if, in Mr. Strachey’s own creed, Satan does not punish, in hell, the offences of men against God!

Here, then, in addition to a devil (or rather a divine police magistrate), and general fetishism and nature worship, we find that the untutored Virginian is equipped with a merciful Creator, without idol, temple, or sacrifice, as needing nought of ours. It is by the merest accident, the use of Smith’s book (1632) instead of Strachey’s book (1612), that Mr. Tylor is unaware of these essential facts [2].

Dr. Brinton, like Mr. Tylor, cites Smith for the nefarious or severe Okeus, and omits any mention of Ahone, the benevolent Creator. [3] Now, Strachey’s evidence is early (1612), is that of a well-educated man, fond of airing his Greek, and not prejudiced in favour of these worshippers of ’Sathan.’ In Virginia he found the unpropitiated loving Supreme Being, beside a subordinate, like Nyankupon beside Bobowissi in Africa.

Each highest deity, in Virginia or on the Gold Coast, is more or less eclipsed in popular esteem by nascent polytheism and nature worship. This is precisely what we should expect to find, if Ahone, the Creator, were earlier in evolution, while Okeus and the rest were of the usual greedy class of animistic corruptible deities, useful to priests. This could not be understood while Ahone was left out of the statement. [4]

Probably Mr. Strachey’s narrative justifies, by analogy, our suspicion of Major Ellis’s theory that the African Supreme Being is of European origin. The purpose in the Ahone-Okeus creed is clear. God (Ahone) is omnipotent and good, yet calamities beset mankind. How are these to be explained? Clearly as penalties for men’s sins, inflicted, not by Ahone, but by his lieutenant, Okeus. But that magistrate can be, and is, appeased by sacrifices, which it would be impious, or, at all events, useless, to offer to the Supreme Being, Ahone. It is a logical creed, but how was the Supreme Being evolved out of the ghost of a ’people-devouring king’ like Powhattan? The facts, very fairly attested, do not fit the anthropological theory. It is to be remarked that Strachey’s Ahone is a much less mythological conception than that which, on very good evidence, he attributes to the Indians of the Patowemeck River. Their Creator is spoken of as ’a godly Hare,’ who receives their souls into Paradise, whence they are reborn on earth again, as in Plato’s myth. They also regard the four winds as four Gods. How the god took the mythological form of a hare is diversely explained. [5]

Meanwhile the Ahone-Okeus creed corresponds to the Nyankupon-Bobowissi creed. The American faith is certainly not borrowed from Europe, so it is less likely that the African creed is borrowed.

As illustrations of the general theory here presented, we may now take two tribal religions among the North American Indians. The first is that of the equestrian Pawnees, who, thirty years ago, were dwelling on the Loup Fork in Nebraska. The buffaloes have since been destroyed, the lands seized, and the Pawnees driven into a ’Reservation,’ where they are, or lately were, cheated and oppressed in the usual way. They were originally known to Europeans in four hordes, the fourth being the Skidi or Wolf Pawnees. They seem to have come into Kansas and Nebraska, at a date relatively remote, from Mexico, and are allied with the Lipans and Tonkaways of that region. The Tonkaways are a tribe who, in a sacred mystery, are admonished to ’live like the wolves,’ in exactly the same way as were the Hirpi (wolf tribe), of Mount Soracte, who practised the feat of walking unhurt through fire. [6] The Tonkaways regard the Pawnees, who also have a wolf tribe, as a long-separated branch of their race. If, then, they are of Mexican origin, we might expect to find traces of Aztec ritual among the Pawnees.

Long after they obtained better weapons they used flint-headed arrows for slaying the only two beasts which it was lawful to sacrifice, the deer and the buffalo. They have long been a hunting and also an agricultural people. The corn was given to them originally by the Ruler: their god, Ti-ra-wà, ’the Spirit Father.’ They offer the sacrifice of a deer with peculiar solemnity, and are a very prayerful people. The priest ’held a relation to the Pawnees and their deity not unlike that occupied by Moses to Jehovah and the Israelites.’ A feature in ritual is the sacred bundles of unknown contents, brought from the original home in Mexico. The Pawnees were created by Ti-ra-w·. They believe in a happy future life, while the wicked die, and there is an end of them. They cite their dreams of the dead as an argument for a life beyond the tomb. ’We see ourselves living with Ti-ra-wà!’ An evil earlier race, which knew not Ti-ra-wà, was destroyed by him in the Deluge; evidence is found in large fossil bones, and it would be an interesting inquiry whether such fossils are always found where the story of a ’sin-flood’ occurs. If so, fossils must be universally diffused.

As is common, the future life is attested, not only by dreams, but in the experience of men who ’have died’ and come back to life, like Secret Pipe Chief, who told the story to Mr. Grinnell. These visions in a state of apparent death are not peculiar to savages, and, no doubt, have had much effect on beliefs about the next world. [7] Ghosts are rarely seen, but auditory hallucinations, as of a voice giving good advice in time of peril, are regarded as the speech of ghosts. The beasts are also friendly, as fellow children with men of Ti-ra-wà. To the Morning Star the Skidi or Wolf Pawnees offered on rare occasions a captive man. The ceremony was not unlike that of the Aztecs, though less cruel. Curiously enough, the slayer of the captive had instantly to make a mock flight, as in the Attic Bouphonia. This, however, was a rite paid to the Morning Star, not to Ti-ra-wà, ’the power above that moves the universe and controls all things.’ Sacrifice to Ti-ra-wà was made on rare and solemn occasions out of his two chief gifts, deer and buffalo. ’Through corn, deer, buffalo, and the sacred bundles, we worship Ti-ra-wà.’

The flesh was burned in the fire, while prayers were made with great earnestness. In the old Skidi rite the women told the fattened captive what they desired to gain from the Ruler. It is occasionally said that the human sacrifice was made to Ti-ra-wà himself. The sacrificer not only fled, but fasted and mourned. It is possible that, as among the Aztecs, the victim was regarded as also an embodiment of the God, but this is not certain, the rite having long been disused. Mr. Grinnell got the description from a very old Skidi. There was also a festival of thanks to Ti-ra-wà for corn. During a sacred dance and hymn the corn is held up to the Ruler by a woman. Corn is ritually called ’The Mother,’ as in Peru. [8] ’We are like seed, and we worship through the Corn.’

Disease is caused by evil spirits, and many American soldiers were healed by Pawnee doctors, though their hurts had refused to yield to the treatment of the United States Army Surgeons. [9]

The miracles wrought by Pawnee medicine men, under the eyes of Major North, far surpass what is told of Indian jugglery. But this was forty years ago, and it is probably too late to learn anything of these astounding performances of naked men on the hard floor of a lodge. ’Major North told me’ (Mr. Grinnell) ’that he saw with his own eyes the doctors make the corn grow,’ the doctor not manipulating the plant, as in the Mango trick, but standing apart and singing. Mr. Grinnell says: ’I have never found any one who could even suggest an explanation.’

This art places great power in the hands of the doctors, who exhibit many other prodigies. It is notable that in this religion we hear nothing of ancestor-worship; all that is stated as to ghosts has been reported. We find the cult of an all-powerful being, in whose ritual sacrifice is the only feature that suggests ghost-worship. The popular tales and historical reminiscences of the last generation entirely bear out by their allusions Mr. Grinnell’s account of the Pawnee faith, in which the ethical element chiefly consists in a sense of dependence on and touching gratitude to Ti-ra-wà, as shown in fervent prayer. Theft he abhors, he applauds valour, he punishes the wicked by annihilation, the good dwell with him in his heavenly home. He is addressed as A-ti-us ta-kaw-a, ’Our father in all places.’

It is not so easy to see how this Being was developed out of ancestor-worship, of which we find no traces among Pawnees. For ancestor-worship among the Sioux, it is usual to quote a remark of one Prescott, an interpreter: ’Sometimes an Indian will say, "Wah negh on she wan da," which means, "Spirits of the dead have mercy on me." Then they will add what they want. That is about the amount of an Indian’s prayer.’ [10] Obviously, when we compare Mr. Grinnell’s account of Pawnee religion, based on his own observations, and those of Major North, and Mr. Dunbar, who has written on the language of the tribe, we are on much safer ground, than when we follow a contemptuous, half-educated European.

The religion of the Blackfoot Indians appears to be a ruder form of the Pawnee faith. Whether the differences arise from tribal character, or from decadence, or because the Blackfoot belief is in an earlier and more backward condition than that of the Pawnees, it is not easy to be certain. As in China, there exists a difficulty in deciding whether the Supreme Being is identical with the great nature-god; in China the Heaven, among the Blackfeet the Sun; or is prior to him in conception, or has been, later, substituted for him, or placed beside him. The Blackfoot mythology is low, crude, and, except in tales of Creation, is derisive. As in Australia, there is a specific difference of tone between mythology and religion.

The Blackfoot country runs east from the summit of the Rocky Mountains, to the mouth of the Yellowstone river on the Missouri, then west to the Yellowstone sources, across the Rocky Mountains to the Beaverhead, thence to their summit.

As to spirits, the Blackfeet believe in, or at least tell stories of, ghosts, which conduct themselves much as in our old-fashioned ghost stories. They haunt people in a rather sportive and irresponsible way. The souls or shadows of respectable persons go to the bleak country called the Sand Hills, where they live in a dull, monotonous kind of Sheol. The shades of the wicked are ’earth-bound’ and mischievous, especially ghosts of men slain in battle. They cause paralysis and madness, but dread interiors of lodges; they only ’tap on the lodge-skins.’ Like many Indian tribes, the Blackfeet have the Eurydice legend. A man grieving for his dead wife finds his way to Hades, is pitied by the dead, and allowed to carry the woman back with him, under certain ritual prohibitions, one of which he unhappily infringes. The range of this deeply touching story among the Red Men, and its close resemblance to the tale of Orpheus, is one of the most curious facts in mythology. Mr. Grinnell’s friend Young Bear, when lost with his wife in a fog, heard a Voice, ’It is well. Go on, you are going right.’ ’The top of my head seemed to lift up. It seemed as if a lot of needles were running into it.... This must have been a ghost.’ As the wife also heard the Voice it was probably human, not hallucinatory.

Animals receive the usual amount of friendly respect from the Blackfeet. They have also an inchoate polytheism, ’Above Persons, Ground Persons, and Under Water Persons.’ Of the first, Thunder is most important, and is worshipped. There is the Cold Maker, a white figure on a white horse, the Wind, and so on.

The Creator is Nà-pi, Old Man; Dr. Brinton thinks he is a personification of Light, but Mr. Grinnell reckons it absurd to attribute so abstract a conception to the Blackfeet. Nà-pi is simply a primal Being, an Immortal Man, [11] who was before Death came into the world, concerning which one of the usual tales of the Origin of Death is told. ’All things that he had made understood him when he spoke to them—birds, animals, and people,’ as in the first chapters of Genesis. With N‡-pi, Creation worked on the lines of adaptation to environment. He put the bighorn on the prairie. There it was awkward, so he set it on rocky places, where it skipped about with ease. The antelope fell on the rocks, so he removed it to the level prairie. Nà-pi created man and woman, out of clay, but the folly of the woman introduced Death. Nà-pi, as a Prometheus, gave fire, and taught the forest arts. He inculcated the duty of prayer; his will should be done by emissaries in the shape of animals. Then he went to other peoples. The misfortunes of the Indians arise from disobedience to his laws.

Chiefs were elective, for conduct, courage, and charity.

Though weapons and utensils were buried with the dead, or exposed on platforms, and though great men were left to sleep in their lodges, henceforth never to be entered by the living, there is no trace known to me of continued ancestor-worship. As many Blackfeet change their names yearly, ancestral names are not likely to become those of gods.

The Sun is by many believed to have taken the previous place of Nà-pi in religion; or perhaps Nà-pi is the Sun. However, he is still separately addressed in prayer. The Sun receives presents of furs and so forth; a finger, when the prayer is for life, has been offered to him. Fetishism probably shows itself in gifts to a great rock. There is daily prayer, both to the Sun and to Nà-pi. Women institute Medicine Lodges, praying, ’Pity me, Sun. You have seen my life. You know that I am pure.’ ’We look on the Medicine Lodge woman as you white people do on the Roman Catholic Sisters.’ Being ’virtuous in deed, serious, and clean-minded,’ the Medical Lodge woman is in spiritual rapport with Nà-pi and the Sun. To this extent, at least, Blackfoot religion is an ethical influence.

The creed seems to be a nascent polytheism, subordinate to Nà-pi as supreme Maker, and to the personified Sun. As Blackfoot ghosts are ’vaporous, ineffectual’ for good, there seems to be nothing like ancestor worship.

These two cults and beliefs, Pawnee and Blackfoot, may be regarded as fairly well authenticated examples of un-Christianised American religion among races on the borderland of agriculture and the chase. It would be difficult to maintain that ghost-worship or ancestor-worship is a potent factor in the evolution of the deathless Ti-ra-w· or the immortal Creator Nà-pi, who has nothing of the spirit about him, especially as ghosts are not worshipped. [12]

Let us now look at the Supreme Being of a civilised American people. There are few more interesting accounts of religion than Garcilasso de la Vega’s description of faith in Peru. Garcilasso was of Inca parentage on the spindle side; he was born in 1540, and his book, taken from the traditions of an uncle, and aided by the fragmentary collections of Father Blas Valera, was published in 1609. In Garcilasso’s theory the original people of Peru, Totemists and worshippers of hills and streams, Earth and Sea, were converted to Sun worship by the first Inca, a child of the Sun. Even the new religion included ancestor-worship and other superstitions. But behind Sun worship was the faith in a Being who ’advanced the Sun so far above all the stars of heaven.’ [13] This Being was Pachacamac, ’the sustainer of the world.’ The question then arises, Is Pachacamac a form of the same creative being whom we find among the lowest savages; or is he the result of philosophical reflection? The latter was the opinion of Garcilasso. ’The Incas and their Amautas’ (learned class) ’were philosophers.’ [14]

’Pacha,’ he says, = universe, and ’cama’ = soul. Pachacamac, then, is Anima Mundi. ’They did not even take the name of Pachacamac into their mouths,’ or but seldom and reverently, as the Australians will not, in religious matters, mention Darumulun. Pachacamac had no temple, ’but they worshipped him in their hearts.’ That he was the Creator appears in an earlier writer, cited by Garcilasso, Agustin de Zarate (ii. ch. 5). Garcilasso, after denying the existence of temples to Pachacamac, mentions one, but only one. He insists, at length, and with much logic, that He whom, as a Christian, he worships, is in Quichua styled Pachacamac. Moreover, the one temple to Pachacamac was not built by an Inca, but by a race which, having heard of the Inca god, borrowed his name, without understanding his nature, that of a Being who dwells not in temples made with hands (ii. 186). In the temple this people, the Yuncas, offered even human sacrifices. By the Incas to Pachacamac no sacrifice was offered (ii. 189). This negative custom they also imposed upon the Yuncas, and they removed idols from the Yunca temple of Pachacamac (ii. 190). Yunca superstitions, however, infested the temple, and a Voice gave oracles therein. [15] The Yuncas also had a talking idol, which the Inca, in accordance with a religious treaty, occasionally consulted.

While Pachacamac, without temple or rite, was reckoned the Creator, we must understand that Sun-worship and ancestor-worship were the practical elements of the Inca cult. This appears to have been distasteful to the Inca Huayna Ccapac, for at a Sun feast he gazed hard on the Sun, was remonstrated with by a priest, and replied that the restless Sun ’must have another Lord more powerful than himself.’ [16]

This remark could not have been necessary if Pachacamac were really an article of living and universal belief. Perhaps we are to understand that this Inca, like his father, who seems to have been the original author of the saying, meant to sneer at the elaborate worship bestowed on the Sun, while Pachacamac was neglected, as far as ritual went.

In Garcilasso’s book we have to allow for his desire to justify the creed of his maternal ancestors. His criticism of Spanish versions is acute, and he often appeals to his knowledge of Quichua, and to the direct traditions received by him from his uncle. Against his theory of Pachacamac as a result of philosophical thought, it may be urged that similar conceptions, or nearly similar, exist among races not civilised like the Incas, and not provided with colleges of learned priests. In fact, the position of Pachacamac and the Sun is very nearly that of the Blackfoot Creator Nà-pi, and the Sun, or of Shang-ti and the Heaven, in China. We have the Creative Being whose creed is invaded by that of a worshipped aspect of nature, and whose cult, quite logically, is nil, or nearly nil. There are also, in different strata of the Inca empire, ancestor-worship, or mummy-worship, Totemism and polytheism, with a vague mass of huaca = Elohim, kalou, wakan.

Perhaps it would not be too rash to conjecture that Pachacamac is not a merely philosophical abstraction, but a survival of a Being like Nà-pi or Ahone. Cieza de Leon calls Pachacamac ’a devil,’ whose name means ’creator of the world’! [17] The name, when it was uttered, was spoken with genuflexions and signs of reverence. So closely did Pachacamac resemble the Christian Deity, that Cieza de Leon declares the devil to have forged and insisted on the resemblance! [18] It was open to Spanish missionaries to use Pachacamac, as to the Jesuits among the Bantu to use Mpungu, as a fulcrum for the introduction of Christianity. They preferred to regard Pachacamac as a fraudulent fiend. Now Nzambi Mpungu, among the Bantu, is assuredly not a creation of a learned priesthood, for the Bantu have no learned priests, and Mpungu would be useless to the greedy conjurers whom they do consult, as he is not propitiated. On grounds of analogy, then, Pachacamac may be said to resemble a savage Supreme Being, somewhat etherealised either by Garcilasso or by the Amautas, the learned class among the subjects of the Incas. He does not seem, even so, much superior to the Ahone of the Virginians.

We possess, however, a different account of Inca religion, from which Garcilasso strongly dissents. The best version is that of Christoval de Molina, who was chaplain of the hospital for natives, and wrote between 1570 and 1584. [19] Christoval assembled a number of old priests and other natives who had taken part in the ancient services, and collected their evidence. He calls the Creator (’not born of woman, unchangeable and eternal’) by the name Pachayachachi. ’Teacher of the world’ and ’Tecsiviracocha,’ which Garcilasso dismisses as meaningless. [20] He also tells the tale of the Inca Yupanqui and the Lord of the Sun, but says that the Incas had already knowledge of the Creator. To Yupanqui he attributes the erection of a gold image of the Creator, utterly denied by Garcilasso. [21] Christoval declares, again contradicted by Garcilasso, that sacrifices were offered to the Creator. Unlike the Sun, Christoval says, the Creator had no woman assigned to him, ’because, as he created them, they all belonged to him’ (p. 26), which, of course, is an idea that would also make sacrifice superfluous.

Christoval gives prayers in Quichua, wherein the Creator is addressed as Uiracocha.

Christoval assigns images, sacrifice, and even human sacrifice, to the Creator Uiracocha. Garcilasso denies that the Creator Pachacamac had any of these things, he denies that Uiracocha was the name of the Creator, and he denies it, knowing that the Spaniards made the assertion. [22] Who is right? Uiracocha, says Garcilasso, is one thing, with his sacrifices; the Creator, Pachacamac, without sacrifices, is another, is GOD.

Mr. Markham thinks that Garcilasso, writing when he did, and not consciously exaggerating, was yet less trustworthy (though ’wonderfully accurate’) than Christoval. Garcilasso, however, is ’scrupulously truthful.’ [23] ’The excellence of his memory is perhaps best shown in his topographical details.... He does not make a single mistake,’ in the topography of three hundred and twenty places! A scrupulously truthful gentleman, endowed with an amazing memory, and a master of his native language, flatly contradicts the version of a Spanish priest, who also appears to have been careful and honourable.

I shall now show that Christoval and Garcilasso have different versions of the same historical events, and that Garcilasso bases his confutation of the Spanish theory of the Inca Creator on his form of this historical tradition, which follows:

The Inca Yahuarhuaccac, like George II., was at odds with his Prince of Wales. He therefore banished the Prince to Chita, and made him serve as shepherd of the llamas of the Sun. Three years later the disgraced Prince came to Court, with what the Inca regarded as a cock-and-bull story of an apparition of the kind technically styled ’Borderland.’ Asleep or awake, he knew not, he saw a bearded robed man holding a strange animal. The appearance declared himself as Uiracocha (Christoval’s name for the Creator), a Child of the Sun; by no means as Pachacamac, the Creator of the Sun. He announced a distant rebellion, and promised his aid to the Prince. The Inca, hearing this narrative, replied in the tones of Charles II., when he said about Monmouth, ’Tell James to go to hell!’ [24] The predicted rebellion, however, broke out, the Inca fled, the Prince saved the city, dethroned his father, and sent him into the country. He then adopted, from the apparition, the throne-name Uiracocha, grew a beard, and dressed like the apparition, to whom he erected a temple, roofless, and unique in construction. Therein he had an image of the god, for which he himself gave frequent sittings. When the Spaniards arrived, bearded men, the Indians called them Uiracochas (as all the Spanish historians say), and, to flatter them, declared falsely that Uiracocha was their word for the Creator. Garcilasso explodes the Spanish etymology of the name, in the language of Cuzco, which he ’sucked in with his mother’s milk.’ ’The Indians said that the chief Spaniards were children of the Sun, to make gods of them, just as they said they were children of the apparition, Uiracocha.’ [25] Moreover, Garcilasso and Cieza de Leon agree in their descriptions of the image of Uiracocha, which, both assert, the Spaniards conceived to represent a Christian early missionary, perhaps St. Bartholomew. [26] Garcilasso had seen the mummy of the Inca Uiracocha, and relates the whole tale from the oral version of his uncle, adding many native comments on the Court revolution described.

To Garcilasso, then, the invocations of Uiracocha, in Christoval’s collection of prayers, are a native adaptation to Spanish prejudice: even in them Pachacamac occurs. [27]

Now, Christoval has got hold of a variant of Garcilasso’s narrative, which, in Garcilasso, has plenty of humour and human nature. According to Christoval it was not the Prince, later Inca Uiracocha, who beheld the apparition, but the Inca Uiracocha’s son, Prince of Wales, as it were, of the period, later the Inca Yupanqui.

Garcilasso corrects Christoval. Uiracocha saw the apparition, as Père Acosta rightly says, and Yupanqui was not the son but the grandson of this Inca Uiracocha. [28] Uiracocha’s own son was Pachacutec, which simply means ’Revolution,’ ’they say, by way of by-word Pachamcutin, which means "the world changes."’

Christoval’s form of the story is peculiarly gratifying in one way. Yupanqui saw the apparition in a piece of crystal, ’the apparition vanished, while the piece of crystal remained. The Inca took care of it, and they say that he afterwards saw everything he wanted in it.’ The apparition, in human form and in Inca dress, gave itself out for the Sun; and Yupanqui, when he came to the throne, ’ordered a statue of the Sun to be made, as nearly as possible resembling the figure he had seen in the crystal.’ He bade his subjects to ’reverence the new deity, as they had heretofore worshipped the Creator,’ [29] who, therefore, was prior to Uiracocha.

Interesting as a proof of Inca crystal-gazing, this legend of Christoval’s cannot compete as evidence with Acosta and Garcilasso. The reader, however, must decide as to whether he prefers Garcilasso’s unpropitiated Pachacamac, or Christoval’s Uiracocha, human sacrifices, and all. [30]

Mr. Tylor prefers the version of Christoval, making Pachacamac a title of Uiracocha. [31] He thinks that we have, in Inca religion, an example of ’a subordinate god’ (the Sun) ’usurping the place of the supreme deity,’ ’the rivalry between the Creator and the divine Sun.’ In China, as we shall see, Mr. Tylor thinks, on the other hand, that Heaven is the elder god, and that Shang-ti, the Supreme Being, is the usurper.

The truth in the Uiracocha versus Pachacamac controversy is difficult to ascertain. I confess a leaning toward Garcilasso, so truthful and so wonderfully accurate, rather than to the Spanish priest. Christoval, it will be remarked, says that ’Chanca-Uiracocha was a huaca (sacred place) in Chuqui-chaca.’ [32] Now Chuqui-chaca is the very place where, according to Garcilasso, the Inca Uiracocha erected a temple to ’his Uncle, the Apparition.’ [33] Uiracocha, then, the deity who receives human sacrifice, would be a late, royally introduced ancestral god, no real rival of the Creator, who receives no sacrifice at all, and, as he was bearded, his name would be easily transferred to the bearded Spaniards, whose arrival the Inca Uiracocha was said to have predicted. But to call several or all Spaniards by the name given to the Creator would be absurd. Mr. Tylor and Mr. Markham do not refer to the passage in which Christoval obviously gets hold of a wrong version of the story of the apparition.

There is yet another version of this historical legend, written forty years after Christoval’s date by Don Juan de Santa Cruz Pachacuti-yamqui Salcamayhua. He ranks after Garcilasso and Christoval, but before earlier Spanish writers, such as Acosta, who knew not Quichua. According to Salcamayhuia, the Inca Uiracocha was like James III., fond of architecture and averse to war. He gave the realm to his bastard, Urca, who was defeated and killed by the Chancas. Uiracocha meant to abandon the contest, but his legitimate son, Yupanqui, saw a fair youth on a rock, who promised him success in the name of the Creator, and then vanished. The Prince was victorious, and the Inca Uiracocha retired into private life. This appears to be a mixture of the stories of Garcilasso and Christoval. [34]

It is not, in itself, a point of much importance whether the Creator was called Uiracocha (which, if it means anything, means ’sea of grease!’), or whether he was called Pachacamac, maker of the world, or by both names. The important question is as to whether the Creator received even human sacrifices (Christoval) or none at all (Garcilasso). As to Pachacamac, we must consult Mr. Payne, who has the advantage of being a Quichua scholar. He considers that Pachacamac combines the conception of a general spirit of living things with that of a Creator or maker of all things. ’Pachacamac and the Creator are one and the same,’ but the conception of Pachayachacic, ’ruler of the world,’ ’belongs to the later period of the Incas.’ [35] Mr. Payne appears to prefer Christoval’s legend of the Inca crystal-gazer, to the rival version of Garcilasso. The Yunca form of the worship of Pachacamac Mr. Payne regards as an example of degradation. [36] He disbelieves Garcilasso’s statement, that human sacrifices were not made to the Sun. Garcilasso must, if Mr. Payne is right, have been a deliberate liar, unless, indeed, he was deceived by his Inca kinsfolk. The reader can now estimate for himself the difficulty of knowing much about Peruvian religion, or, indeed, of any religion. For, if Mr. Payne is right about the lowest savages having no conception of God, or even of spirit, though the idea of a great Creator, a spirit, is one of the earliest efforts of ’primitive logic,’ we, of course, have been merely fabling throughout.

Garcilasso’s evidence, however, seems untainted by Christian attempts to find a primitive divine tradition. Garcilasso may possibly be refining on facts, but he asks for no theory of divine primitive tradition in the case of Pachacamac, whom he attributes to philosophical reflection.

In the following chapter we discuss ’the old Degeneration theory,’ and contrast it with the scheme provisionally offered in this book. We have already observed that the Degeneration theory biasses the accounts of some missionaries who are obviously anxious to find traces of a Primitive Tradition, originally revealed to all men, but only preserved in a pure form by the Jews. To avoid deception by means of this bias we have chosen examples of savage creative beings from wide areas, from diverse ages, from non-missionary statements, from the least contaminated backward peoples, and from their secret mysteries and hymns.

Thus, still confining ourselves to the American continent, we have the ancient hymns of the Zuñis, in no way Christianised, and never chanted in the presence of the Mexican Spanish, These hymns run thus: ’Before the beginning of the New Making, Awonawilona, the Maker and container of All, the All-Father, solely had being.’ He then evolved all things ’by thinking himself outward in space.’ Hegelian! but so are the dateless hymns of the Maoris, despite the savage mythology which intrudes into both sets of traditions. The old fable of Ouranos and Gaia recurs in Zuñi as in Maori. [37]

I fail to see how Awonawilona could be developed out of the ghost of chief or conjurer. That in which all things potentially existed, yet who was more than all, is not the ghost of a conjurer or chief. He certainly is not due to missionary influence. No authority can be better than that of traditional sacred chants found among a populace which will not sing them before one of their Mexican masters.

We have tried to escape from the bias of belief in a primitive divine tradition, but bias of every kind exists, and must exist. At present the anthropological hypothesis of ancestor-worship as the basis, perhaps (as in Mr. Spencer’s theory) the only basis of religion, affects observers.

Before treating the theory of Degeneration let us examine a case of the anthropological bias. The Fijians, as we learned from Williams, have ancestral gods, and also a singular form of the creative being, Ndengei, or, as Mr. Basil Thomson calls him, Degei. Mr. Thomson writes: ’It is clear that the Fijians humanised their gods, because they had once existed on earth in human form.... Like other primitive people, the Fijians deified their ancestors.’ Yet the Fijians ’may have forgotten the names of their ancestors three generations back’! How in the world can you deify a person whom you don’t remember? Moreover, only malevolent chiefs were deified, so apparently a Fijian god is really a well-born human scoundrel, so considerable that he for one is not forgotten—just as if we worshipped the wicked Lord Lyttelton! Of course a god like Ahone could not be made out of such materials as these, and, in fact, we learn from Mr. Thomson that there are other Fijian gods of a different origin.

’It is probable that there were here and there, gods that were the creation of the priests that ministered to them, and were not the spirits of dead chiefs. Such was the god of the Bure Tribe on the Ra coast, who was called Tui Laga or "Lord of Heaven." When the missionaries first went to convert this town they found the heathen priest their staunch ally. He declared that they had come to preach the same god that he had been preaching, the Tui Laga, and that more had been revealed to them than to him of the mysteries of the god.’

Mr. Thomson is reminded of St. Paul at Athens, ’whom then ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.’ [38]

Mr. Thomson has clearly no bias in favour of a God like our own, known to savages, and not derived from ghost-worship. He deduces this god, Tui Laga, from priestly reflection and speculation. But we find such a God where we find no priests, where a priesthood has not been developed. Such a God, being usually unpropitiated by sacrifice and lucrative private practice, is precisely the kind of deity who does not suit a priesthood. For these reasons—that a priesthood ’sees no money in’ a God of this kind, and that Gods of this kind, ethical and creative, are found where there are no priesthoods—we cannot look on the conception as a late one of priestly origin, as Mr. Thomson does, though a learned caste, like the Peruvian Amantas, may refine on the idea. Least of all can such a God be ’the creation of the priests that minister to him,’ when, as in Peru, the Andaman Isles, and much of Africa, this God is ministered to by no priests. Nor, lastly, can we regard the absence of sacrifice to the Creative Being as a mere proof that he is an ancestral ghost who ’had lived on earth at too remote a time;’ for this absence of sacrifice occurs where ghosts are dreaded, but are not propitiated by offerings of food (as among Australians, Andamanese, and Blackfoot Indians), while the Creative Being is not and never was a ghost, according to his worshippers.

At this point criticism may naturally remark that whether the savage Supreme Being is fÍted, as by the Comanches, who offer puffs of smoke: or is apparently half forgotten, as by the Algonquins and Zulus: whether he is propitiated by sacrifice (which is very rare indeed), or only by conduct, I equally claim him as the probable descendant in evolution of the primitive, undifferentiated, not necessarily ’spiritual’ Being of such creeds as the Australian.

One must reply that this pedigree cannot, indeed, be historically traced, but that it presents none of the logical difficulties inherent in the animistic pedigree—namely, that the savage Supreme Being is the last and highest result of evolution on animistic lines out of ghosts. It does not run counter to the evidence universally offered by savages, that their Supreme Being never was mortal man. It is consistent, whereas the animistic hypothesis is, in this case, inconsistent, with the universal savage theory of Death. Finally, as has been said before, granting my opinion that there are two streams of religious thought, one rising in the conception of an undifferentiated Being, eternal, moral, and creative, the other rising in the ghost-doctrine, it stands to reason that the latter, as best adapted to everyday needs and experiences, normal and supernormal, may contaminate the former, and introduce sacrifice and food-propitiation into the ritual of Beings who, by the original conception, ’need nothing of ours.’ At the same time, the conception of ’spirit,’ once attained, would inevitably come to be attached to the idea of the Supreme Being, even though he was not at first conceived of as a spirit. We know, by our own experience, how difficult it has become for us to think of an eternal, powerful, and immortal being, except as a spirit. Yet this way of looking at the Supreme Being, merely as being, not as spirit, must have existed, granting that the idea of spirit has ghost for its first expression, as, by their very definition, the high gods of savages are not ghosts, and never were ghosts, but are prior to death.

Here let me introduce, by way of example, a Supreme Being not of the lowest savage level. Metaphysically he is improved on in statement, morally he is stained with the worst crimes of the hungry ghost-god, or god framed on the lines of animism. This very interesting Supreme Being, in a middle barbaric race, is the Polynesian Taa-roa, as described by Ellis in that fascinating book ’Polynesian Researches.’ [39] ’Several of their taata-paari, or wise men, pretend that, according to other traditions, Taa-roa was only a man who was deified after death.’ Euhemerism, in fact, is a natural theory of men acquainted with ancestor-worship, but a Euhemeristic hypothesis by a Polynesian thinker is not a statement of national belief. Taa-roa was ’uncreated, existing from the beginning, or from the time he emerges from the po, or world of darkness.’ In the Leeward Isles Taa-roa was Toivi, fatherless and motherless from all eternity. In the highest heavens he dwells alone. He created the gods of polytheism, the gods of war, of peace, and so on. Says a native hymn, ’He was: he abode in the void. No earth, no sky, no men! He became the universe.’ In the Windward Isles he has a wife, Papa the rock = Papa, Earth, wife of Rangi, Heaven, in Maori mythology. Thus it may be argued, Taa-roa is no ’primaeval theistic idea,’ but merely the Heaven-God (Ouranos in Greece). But we may distinguish: in the Zuñi hymn we have the myth of the marriage of Heaven and Earth, but Heaven is not the Eternal, Awonawilona, who ’thought himself out into the void,’ before which, as in the Polynesian hymn, ’there was no sky.’ [40]

Whence came the idea of Taa-roa? The Euhemeristic theory that he was a ghost of a dead man is absurd. But as we are now among polytheists it may be argued that, given a crowd of gods on the animistic model, an origin had to be found for them, and that origin was Taa-roa. This would be more plausible if we did not find Supreme Beings where there is no departmental polytheism to develop them out of. In Tahiti, Atuas are gods, Oramutuas tiis are spirits; the chief of the spirits were ghosts of warriors. These were mischievous: they, their images, and the skulls of the dead needed propitiation, and these ideas (perhaps) were reflected on to Taa-roa, to whom human victims were sacrificed. [41]

Now this kind of horror, human sacrifice, is unknown, I think, in early savage religions of Supreme Beings, as in Australia, among the Bushmen, the Andamanese, and so on. I therefore suggest that in an advanced polytheism, such as that of Polynesia, the evil sacrificial rites unpractised by low savages come to be attached to the worship even of the Supreme Being. Ghosts and ghost-gods demanded food, and food was therefore also offered to the Supreme Being.

It was found difficult, or impossible, to induce Christian converts, in Polynesia, to repeat the old prayers. They began, trembled, and abstained. They had a ritual ’for almost every act of their lives,’ a thing unfamiliar to low savages. In fact, beyond all doubt, religious criminal acts, from human sacrifice to the burning of Jeanne d’Arc, increase as religion and culture move away from the stage of Bushmen and Andamanese to the stage of Aztec and Polynesian culture. The Supreme Being is succeeded in advancing civilisation, and under the influences of animism, by ruthless and insatiable ghost-gods, full of the worst human qualities. Thus there is what we may really call degeneration, moral and religious, inevitably accompanying early progress.

That this is the case, that the first advances in culture necessarily introduce religious degeneration, we shall now try to demonstrate. But we may observe, in passing, that our array of moral or august savage supreme beings (the first who came to hand) will, for some reason, not be found in anthropological treatises on the Origin of Religion. They appear, somehow, to have been overlooked by philosophers. Yet the evidence for them is sufficiently good. Its excellence is proved by its very uniformity, assuredly undesigned. An old, nay, an obsolete theory—that of degeneration in religion—has facts at its basis, which its very supporters have ignored, which orthodoxy has overlooked. Thus the Rev. Professor Flint informs the audience in the Cathedral of St. Giles’s, that, in the religions ’at the bottom of the religious scale,’ ’it is always easy to see how wretchedly the divine is conceived of; how little conscious of his own true wants … is the poor worshipper.’ The poor worshipper of Baiame wishes to obey His Law, which makes, to some extent, for righteousness. [42]


[1In Pinkerton, xiii. pp. 13, 39; Prim. Cult. ii. 342.

[2See Preface to this edition for corrected statement.

[3Myths of the New World, p. 47.

[4There is a description of Virginia, by W. Strachey, including Smith’s remarks, published in 1612. Strachey interwove some of this work with his own MS. in the British Museum, dedicated to Bacon (Verulam). This MS. was edited by Mr. Major, for the Hakluyt Society, in 1849, with a glossary, by Strachey, of the native language. The remarks on religion are in Chapter VII. The passage on Ahone occurs in Strachey (1612), but not in Smith (1682), in Pinkerton. I owe to the kindness of Mr. Edmund Gosse photographs of the drawings accompanying the MS. Strachey’s story of sacrifice of children (pp. 94, 95) seems to refer to nothing worse than the initiation into the mysteries.

[5See Brinton, Myths of the New World, for a philological theory.

[6Compare ’The Fire Walk’ in Modern Mythology.

[7Compare St. Augustine’s curious anecdote in De Cura pro Mortuis habenda about the dead and revived Curio. The founder of the new Sioux religion, based on hypnotism, ’died’ and recovered.

[8Cf. Demeter.

[9Major North, for long the U.S. Superintendent of the Pawnees.

[10Schoolcraft, iii. 237.

[11As envisaged here, Nà-pi is not a spirit. The question of spirit or non-spirit has not arisen. So far, Nà-pi answers to Marrangarrah, the Creative Being of the Larrakeah tribe of Australians. ’A very good Man called Marrangarrah lives in the sky; he made all living creatures, except black fellows. He made everything.... He never dies, and likes all black fellows.’ He has a demiurge, Dawed (Mr. Foelsche, apud Dr. Stirling, J.A.I., Nov. 1894, p. 191). It is curious to observe how savage creeds often shift the responsibility for evil from the Supreme Creator, entirely beneficent, on to a subordinate deity.

[12Grinnell’s Blackfoot Lodge-Tales and Pawnee Hero Stories.

[13Garcilasso, i. 101.

[14Op. cit. i. 106.

[15From all this we might conjecture, like Mr. Prescott, that the Incas borrowed Pachacamac from the Yuncas, and etherealised his religion. But Mr. Clements Markham points out that ’Pachacamac is a pure Quichua word.’

[16Garcilasso, ii. 446, 447.

[17Cieza de Leon. p.253

[18Markham’s translation, p. 253.

[19Rites and Laws of the Yncas, Markham’s translation, p. vii.

[20Rites, p. 6. Garcilasso, i. 109.

[21Rites, p. 11.

[22Compare Reports on Discovery of Peru, Introduction.

[23Rites, p. xv.

[24Lord Ailesbury’s Memoirs.

[25Garcilasso, ii. 68.

[26Cieza de Leon, p. 357.

[27Rites, pp. 28, 29.

[28Acosta, lib. vi. ch. 21: Garcilasso. ii. 88, 89.

[29Rites, p. 12.

[30Ibid. p.54.

[31Prim. Cult. ii, 337, 338.

[32Rites, p. 29.

[33Garcilasso, ii. 69.

[34Rites and Laws, p. 91 et seq.

[35Payne, i. 139.

[36Op. cit. i. 468. Mr. Payne absolutely rejects Ixtlilochitl’s story of the monotheism of Nezahualcoyotl; ’Torquemada knows nothing of it,’ i. 490.

[37Cushing, Report, Ethnol. Bureau, 1891-92, p. 379.

[38J.A.I. May 1895, pp. 341-344.

[39ii. 191, 1829.

[40Prim. Cult. ii. 345, 346. Ellis, ii. 193.

[41Ellis, ii. 221.

[42The Faiths of The World, p. 413.

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