The God-Idea of the Ancients (or Sex in Religion)
By Eliza Burt Gamble

Presented by

Public Domain Books

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]

[60] Edwin Arnold, The light of Asia.

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]

[61] Godfrey Higgins, Celtic Druids, ch. ii., sec. 14.

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:

A Cali Yug, or 600 (or a Neros)432,000
A Dwapar, or Duo-par Age864,000
A Treta, or tree-par Age1,296,000
A Satya, or Satis Age1,728,000

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]

[62] Anacalypsis, vol. i., p. 232.

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]

[63] Higgins, Anacalypsis, p. 235.

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]

[64] Drummond, On the Zodiacs, p. 36.

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]

[65] Quoted by John D. Baldwin, Prehistoric Nations, p. 62.

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]

[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.

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 basis[67]; or, in other words, before the monied and aristocratic classes had drawn to themselves all the powers which had formerly belonged to the people.

[67] See The Evolution of Woman, p. 238.

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]

[68] Prehistoric Nations, p. 341.

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]

[69] See History of Persia.

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]

[70] Rawlinson, History of Herodotus, app., book ii., ch. viii.

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]

[71] Renouf, Religion of Ancient Egypt, p. 81.

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.”

[72] Book ii., ch. xxxv.

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.


Preface  •  Introduction  •  Chapter I. Sex the Foundation of the God-Idea  •  Chapter II. Tree, Plant, and Fruit Worship  •  Chapter III. Sun-Worship--Female and Male Energies in the Sun  •  Chapter IV. The Dual God of the Ancients a Trinity Also  •  Chapter V. Separation of the Female and Male Elements in the Deity  •  Chapter VI. Civilization of an Ancient Race  •  Chapter VII. Concealment of the Early Doctrines  •  Chapter VIII. The Original God-Idea of the Israelites  •  Chapter IX. The Phoenician and Hebrew God Set or Seth  •  Chapter X. Ancient Speculations Concerning Creation  •  Chapter XI. Fire and Phallic Worship  •  Chapter XII. An Attempt to Purify the Sensualized Faiths  •  Chapter XIII. Christianity a Continuation of Paganism  •  Chapter XIV. Christianity a Continuation of Paganism–(Continued)  •  Chapter XV. Christianity in Ireland  •  Chapter XVI. Stones or Columns as the Deity  •  Chapter XVII. Sacrifices  •  Chapter XVIII. The Cross and a Dying Savior

[Buy at Amazon]
The God-Idea of the Ancients or Sex in Religion
By Eliza Burt Gamble
At Amazon