Ancient Monuments of the West---The Valley of the Mississippi---Numerous Earthworks of the Western States---Theory as to origin of the mounds---The "Defence" Theory---The Religious Theory---Earthwork of the "Great Serpent" on Bush Creek---The "Alligator," Ohio---The "Cross," Pickaway County---Structures of Wisconsin---Mr. Pigeon's Drawings---Significance of the Earthmounds---The Egg and Man's Primitive Ideas---The Egg as a Symbol---Birth of Brahma---Aristophanes and his "Comedy of the Birds"---The Hymn to Protogones---The Chinese and Creation---The Mundane or Orphic Egg---Kneph---Mr. Gliddon's replies to certain enquiries---The Orphic Theogony and the Egg---The Great Unity.
The ancient monuments of the Western United States consist for the most part of elevations and embankments of earth and stone, erected with great labour and manifest design. In connection with these, more or less intimate, are found various minor relics of art, consisting of ornaments and implements of many kinds, some of them composed of metal but most of stone.
These remains are spread over a vast amount of country. They are found on the sources of the Alleghany, in the western part of the state of New York on the east; and extend thence westwardly along the southern shore of Lake Erie, and through Michigan and Wisconsin, to Iowa and the Nebraska territory on the west. Some ancient works, probably belonging to the same system with those of the Mississippi valley and erected by the same people, occur upon the Susquehanna river as far down as the Valley of Wyoming in Pennsylvania. The mound builders seem to have skirted the southern border of Lake Erie, and spread themselves in diminished numbers over the western part of the State of New York, along the shores of Lake Ontario to the St. Lawrence river. They penetrated into the interior, eastward, as far as the county of Onondaga, where some slight vestiges of their work still exist. These seem tohave been their limits at the north-east. We have no record of their occurrence above the great lakes. Carner mentions some on the shores of Lake Pepin, and some are said to occur near Lake Travers, under the 46th parallel of latitude. Lewis and Clark saw them on the Missouri river, one thousand miles above its junction with the Mississippi; and they have been observed on the Kanzas and Platte and on other remote western rivers. They are found all over the intermediate country, and spread over the valley of the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. They line the shores of the Gulf from Texas to Florida, and extend in diminished numbers into South Carolina. They occur in great numbers in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Texas. They are found in less numbers in the Western portions of New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North and South Carolina; as also in Michigan, Iowa, and in the Mexican territory beyond the Rio Grande del Norte. In short, they occupy the entire basin of the Mississippi and its tributaries, as also the fertile plains along the Gulf.
Although possessing throughout certain general points of resemblance going to establish a kindred origin, these works, nevertheless, resolve themselves into three grand geographical divisions, which present in many respects striking contrasts, yet so gradually merge into each other that it is impossible to determine where one series terminates and the other begins. In the region bordering upon the upper lakes, to a certain extent in Michigan, Iowa and Missouri, but particularly in Wisconsin, we find a succession of remains, entirely singular in their form and presenting but slight analogy to any others of which we have in any portion of the globe. The larger proportion of these are structures of earth bearing the forms of beasts, birds, reptiles, and even of men; they are frequently of gigantic dimensions, constituting huge basso-relievos upon the face of the country. They are very numerous and in most cases occur in long and apparently dependent ranges. In connection with them are found many conical mounds and occasional short lines of embankment, in rare instances forming enclosures. These animal effigies are mainly confined to Wisconsin, and extend across the territory from Ford du Lac in a south-western direction, ascending the Fox river and following the general course of Rock and Wisconsin rivers to the Mississippi. They may be much more extensively disseminated; but it is here only that they have been observed in considerable numbers. In Michigan, as also in Iowa and Missouri, similar elevations of more or less outline are said to occur. They are represented as dispersed in ranges like the buildings of a modern city, and covering sometimes an arc of many acres.
The number of these ancient remains is well calculated to excite surprise, and has been adduced in support of the hypothesis that they are most if not all of them natural formations, "the result of diluvial action," modified perhaps in some instances, but never erected by man. Of course no such suggestion was ever made by individuals who had enjoyed the opportunity of seeing and investigating them. Simple structures of earth could not possibly bear more palpable evidences of an artificial origin than do most of the western monuments. The evidences in support of this assertion, derived from the form, structure, position and contents of these remains, sufficiently appear in the pages of this work.
The structure, not less than the form and position of a large number of the Earthworks of the West, and especially of the Scioto valley, render it clear that they were erected for other than defensive purposes. The small dimensions of most of the circles, the occurrence of the ditch interior to the embankments, and the fact that many of them are comletely commanded by adjacent heights, are some of the circumstances which may be mentioned as sustaining this conclusion. We must seek, therefore, in the connection in which these works are found and in the character of the mounds, if such there be within their walls, for the secret of their origin. And it may be observed that it is here we discover evidences still more satisfactory and conclusive than are furnished by their small dimensions and other circumstances above mentioned, that they were not intended for defence. Thus, when we find an enclosure containing a number of mounds, all of which it is capable of demonstration were religious in their purposes or in some way connected with the superstitions of the people who built them, the conclusion is irresistible that the enclosure itself was also deemed sacred and thus set apart as "tabooed" or consecrated ground---especially when it is obvious at the first glance that it possesses none of the requisites of a military work. But it is not to be concluded that those enclosures alone, which contain mounds of the description here named, were designed for sacred purposes. We have reason to believe that the religious system of the mound builders, like that of the Aztecs, exercised among them a great if not controlling influence. Their government may have been, for aught we know, a government of priesthood; one in which the priestly and civil functions were jointly exercised, and one sufficiently powerful to have secured in the Mississippi valley, as it did in Mexico, the erection of many of those vast monuments which for ages will continue to challenge the wonder of men. There may have been certain superstitious ceremonies, having no connection with the purposes of the mounds, carried on in the enclosures specially dedicated to them. It is a conclusion which every day's investigation and observation has tended to confirm, that most, perhaps all, of the earthworks not manifestly defensive in their character were in some way connected with the superstitious rights of the builders, though in what manner, it is, and perhaps ever will be, impossible satisfactorily to determine.
By far the most extraordinary and interesting earthwork discovered in the West is the great Serpent, situate on Brush Creek at a point known as the "Three Forks," near the north line of Adams county, Ohio. It occupies the summit of a high crescent-form hill or spur of land, rising a hundred and fifty feet above the level of Brush Creek, which washes its base. The side of the hill next the stream presents a perpendicular wall of rock, while the other slopes rapidly, though it is not so steep as to preclude cultivation. The top of the hill is not level but slightly convex, and presents a very even surface one hundred and fifty feet wide by one thousand long, measuring from its extremity to the point where it connects with the table land. Conforming to the curve of the hill and occupying its very summit is the serpent, its head resting near the point and its body winding back for seven hundred feet in graceful undulations, terminating in a triple coil at the tail. The entire length, if extended, would be not less than one thousand feet. The neck of the serpent is stretched out and slightly curved, and its mouth is opened wide as if in the act of swallowing or ejecting an oval figure which rests partially within the distended jaws. This oval is formed by an embankment of earth, without any perceptible opening, four feet in height, and is perfectly regular in outline, its transverse and conjugate diameters being one hundred and sixty and eighty feet respectively. The ground within the oval is slightly elevated; a small circular elevation of large stones much burned once existed in its centre, but they have been thrown down and scattered by some ignorant visitor, under the prevailing impression probably that gold was hidden beneath them. The point of the hill within which this egg-shaped figure rests seems to have been artificially cut to conform to its outline, leaving a smooth platform, ten feet wide and somewhat inclining inwards, all around it.
Upon either side of the serpent's head extend two small triangular elevations ten or twelve feet over. They are not high, and although too distinct to be overlooked, are yet much too much obliterated to be satisfactorily traced.
An effigy in the form of an alligator occurs near Granville, Licking county, Ohio, upon a high hill or headland; in connection with which there are unmistakeable evidences of an altar, similar to that in conjunction with the work just named. It is known in the vicinity as "the Alligator," which designation has been adopted for want of a better, although the figure bears as close a resemblance to the lizard as any other reptile. It is placed transversely to the point of land on which it occurs, the head pointing to the south-west. The total length from the point of the nose following the curve of the tail to the tip is about two hundred and fifty feet, the breadth of the body forty feet, and the length of the feet or paws each thirty-six feet. The ends of the paws are a little broader than the remaining portions of the same, as if the spread of the toes had been originally indicated. Some parts of the body are more elevated than others, an attempt having evidently been made to preserve the proportions of the object copied. The outline of the figure is clearly defined; its average height is not less than four feet; at the shoulders it is six feet in altitude. Upon the inner side of the effigy is an elevated circular space covered with stones which have been burned. This has been denominated an altar.
It seems more than probable that this singular effigy, like that last described, had its origin in the superstition of its makers. It was perhaps the high place where sacrifices were made on stated or extraordinary occasions, and where the ancient people gathered to celebrate the rites of their unknown worship. Its position and all the circumstances attending it certainly favour such a conclusion.
The same is true of a work in the form of a cross, occupying a like situation near the village of Tarlton, Pickaway County, Ohio. From these premises, we are certainly justified in concluding that these several effigies had probably a cognate design, possessed a symbolical significance, and were conspicuous objects of religious regard, and that on certain occasions sacrifices were made on the altars within or near them.
The only structures sustaining any analogy to these are found in Wisconsin and the extreme North-West. There we find great numbers of mounds bearing the forms of animals of various kinds, and entering into a great variety of combinations with each other, and with conical mounds and lines of embankments, which are also abundant. They are usually found on the low, level, or undulating prairies, and seldom in such conspicuous positions as those discovered in Ohio. Whether they were built by the same people with the latter, and had a common design and purpose, it is not undertaken to say, nor is it a question into which we propose to enter.
It is an interesting fact that amongst the animal effigies of Wisconsin, structures in the form of serpents are of frequent occurrence.
Some years ago, Mr. Pigeon, of Virginia, made drawings of a number of these, and he stated that near the junction of the St. Peter's with the Mississippi River were a large number of mounds and monuments, consisting---1st, of a circle and square in combination, as at Circleville, in Ohio, the sole difference being a large truncated mound in the centre of the square, as well as in the centre of the circle, with a platform round its base; 2nd, near by, the effigy of a gigantic animal resembling the elk, in length one hundred and ninety-five feet; 3rd, in the same vicinity, a large conical mound, three hundred feet in diameter at the base, and thirty feet in height, its summit covered with charcoal. This mound was surrounded by one hundred and twenty smaller mounds, disposed in the form of a circle. Twelve miles to the westward of these , and within sight of them, was a large conical truncated mound, sixty feet in diameter at the bottom, and eighteen feet high, built upon a raised platform or bottom. It was surrounded by a circle three hundred and sixty five feet in circumference. Entwined around this circle, in a triple coil, was an embankment, in the form of a serpent, two thousand three hundred and ten feet in length. This embankment, at the centre of the body, was eighteen feet in diameter, but diminished towards the head and tail in just proportion. The elevation of the head was four feet, of the body six feet, of the tail two feet. The central mound was capped with blue clay, beneath which was sand mixed with charcoal and ashes.
Mounds arranged in serpentine form have also been found in Iowa, at a place formerly known as Prairie La Porte, afterwards called Gottenburgh. Also at a place seven miles north of these on Turkey River, where the range was two and a half miles long, the mounds occurring at regular intervals. Twenty miles to the westward of this locality was the effigy of a great serpent with that of a tortoise in front of its mouth. This structure was found to be one thousand and four feet long, eighteen feet broad at its widest part, and six feet high; the tortoise was eighteen by twelve feet.
Mr. Pigeon gave accounts of many other structures, tending to illustrate and confirm the opinions advanced respecting the religious and symbolical character and design of many, if not all, the more regular earth-works of the Western States. Thirty miles west of Prairie Du Chien, he found a circle enclosing a pentagon, which in its turn enclosed another circle, within which was a conical truncated mound. The outer circle was twelve hundred feet in circumference, the embankment twelve feet broad and from three to five feet high. The entrance was on the east. The mound was thirty-six feet in diameter by twelve feet high. Its summit was composed of white pipe-clay, beneath which was found a large quantity of mica in sheets. It exhibited abundant traces of fire.
Four miles distant from this, on the lowlands of the Kickapoo River, Mr. Pigeon discovered a mound with eight radiating points, undoubtedly designed to represent the Sun. It was sixty feet in diameter at the base, and three feet high. The points extended outwards about nine feet. Surrounding this mound were five crescent-shaped mounds so arranged as to constitute a circle. Many analogous structures were discovered at other places, both in Wisconsin and Iowa. At Cappile Bluffs, on the Mississippi River, were found a conical, truncated mound, surrounded by nine radiating effigies of men, the heads pointing inwards.
Probably no one will hesitate in ascribing the work just described, some extraordinary significance. It cannot be supposed to be the offspring of an idle fancy or a savage whim. It bears, in its position and the harmony of its structure, the evidences of design, and it seems to have been begun and finished in accordance with a matured plan, and not to have been the result of successive and unmeaning combinations. It is probably not a work for defence, for there is nothing to defend; on the contrary, it is clearly and unmistakably, in form and attitude, the representation of a serpent, with jaws distended, in the act of swallowing or ejecting an oval figure, which may be distinguished, from the suggestions of analogy, as an egg. Assuming for the entire structure a religious origin, it can be regarded only as the recognised symbol of some grand mythological idea. What abstract conception was thus embodied; or what vast even thus typically commemorated, we have no certain means of knowing! Analogy, however, although too often consulted on trivial grounds, furnishes us with gleams of light, of greater or less steadiness, as our appeals to its assistance happen to be conducted, on every subject connected with man's beliefs. We proceed now to discover what light reason and analogy shed upon the singular structure before us.
Naturally, and almost of necessity, the egg became associated with man's primitive idea of creation. It aptly symbolised that primordial, quiescent state of things which preceded their vitalization and activity---the inanimate chaos, before life began, when "the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep." It was thus received in the early cosmogonies, in all of which the vivification of the Mundane Egg constituted the act of creation; from it sprang the world resplendent in glory and teeming with life.
Faber says---"The ancient pagans, in almost every part of the globe, were wont to symbolize the world by an Egg. Hence this symbol is introduced into the cosmogonies of nearly all nations, and there are few persons even among those who have not made mythology their study, to whom the Mundane Egg is not perfectly familiar. It was employed, not only to represent the earth but also the Universe in its largest extent." (Origin Pagan Idol., Vol. I, p. 175)
"The world," says Menu, "was all darkness, undiscernible, undistinguishable, altoghether in a profound sleep, till the Self-Existent, Invisible God (Brahm), making it manifest with five elemtents and other glorious forms, perfectly dispelled the gloom. Desiring to raise up creatures by an emanation from his own essence, he first created the waters, and inspired them with power of motion; by that power was produced a golden egg, blazing like a thousand stars, in which was born Brahma, the great parent of national beings, that which is the invisible cause, self-existent, but unperceived. This divinity having dwelt in the Egg through revolving years, himself meditating upon himself, divided into two equal parts, and from these halves he framed the heavens and the earth, placing in the midst the subtil ether, the eight points of the world, and the permanent receptacle of the waters."
The above is Maurice's translation. Sir William Jones renders it:---"The sole, self-existent power, having willed to produce various beings from his own divine substance, first, with a thought created the waters, and placed in them a productive seed. That seed became an egg, bright as gold, blazing like the luminary with a thousand beams, and in that egg ws born himself, in the form of Brahma, the great forefather of all spirits."
Aristophanes, in his Comedy of the Birds, is thought to have given the notions of cosmogony, ancient even in his days. "Chaos, Night, black Erebus, and wide Tartarus first existed: there was neither earth, nor air, nor heaven; but in the bosom of Erebus black-winged Night produced an Aerial Egg, from which was born golden-pinioned Love (Phanes), and he, the Great Universal Father, begot our race out of dark Chaos, in the midst of widespreading Tartarus, and called us into light."
We find this conception clearly embodied in one of the Orphic fragments, the Hymn to Protogones, who is equivalent to Phanes, the Life-giver, Priapus, or Generator.
"I invoke thee, oh Protogones, two-fold, great, wandering through the ether;
Egg-Born rejoicing in thy golden wings;
Bull-faced, the Generator of the blessed and of mortal men;
The much-renowned Light, the far celebrated Ericapæus;
Ineffiable, occult, impetuous all-glittering strength;
Who scatterest the twilight cloud of darkness from the eyes,
And roam'st through the world upon the flight of thy wings,
Bringing forth the brilliant and all-pure light; wherefore I invoke thee, as Phanes,
As Priapus the King, and as the dark-faced splendour,---
Come, thou blessed being, full of Metis (wisdom) and generation come in joy
To thy sacred, ever-varying mysteries."
We have, according to these early notions, the egg representing Being simply; Chaos, the great void from which, by the will of the superlative Unity, proceeds the generative or creative influence, designated among the Greeks as "Phanes," "Golden-pinioned Love," "The Universal Father," "Egg-born Protogones" (the latter Zeus or Jupiter); in India as "Brahma," the "Great Parent of Rational Creatures," the "Father of the Universe;" and in Egypt as "Ptha," the "Universal Creator."
The Chinese, whose religious conceptions correspond generally with those of India, entertained similar notions of the origin of things. They set forth that Chaos, before the creation, existed in the form of a vast egg, in which was contained the principles of all things. Its vivification, among them also, constituted the act of creation.
According to this and other authorities, the vivification of the Mundane Egg is allegorically represented in the temple of Daibod, in Japan, by a nest egg, which is shown floating in an expanse of waters against which a bulb (everywhere an emblem of generative energy, and prolific heat, the Sun) is striking with his horns.
"Near Lemisso, in the Island of Cyprus, is still to be seen a gigantic egg-shaped vase, which is supposed to represent the Mundane or Orphic Egg. It is of stone, and measures thrity feet in cirumference. Upon one side, in a semi-circlar niche, is sculptured a bull, the emblem of productive energy. This figure is understood to signify the Tauric constellation, "The Stars of Abundance," with the heliacal or cosmical rising of which was connected the return of the mystic reinvigorating principle of animal fecundity." (Landseer's Sabæan Res.)
In the opinion above mentioned, many other nations of the ancient world, the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Phnicians, and the Indo-Scythiac nations of Europe participated. They not only supported the propriety of the allegory, says Maurice, from the perfection of its external form, but fancifully extended the allusion to its interior composition, comparing the pure white shell to the fair expanse of heaven; the fluid, transparent white, to the circumambient air, and the more solid yolk to the central earth.
Even the Polynesians entertained the same general notions. The tradition of the Sandwich Islanders is that a bird (with them it is an emblem of Deity) laid an egg upon the waters which burst of itself and produced the Islands.
The great hermaphrodite first principle in its character of Unity, the Supreme Monad, the highest conception of Divinity was denominated Kneph or Cnuphis among the Egyptians. According to Plutarch this god was without beginning and without end, the One, uncreated and eternal, above all, and comprehending all. And as Brahm, "the Self-existent Incorruptible" Unity of the Hindus, by direction of His energetic will upon the expanse of chaos, "with a thought" (says Menu) produced a "golden egg blazing like a thousand stars," from which sprung Brahma, the Creator; so according to the mystagogues, Kneph, the Unity of Egypt, was represented as a serpent thrusting from his mouth an egg, from which proceeds the divinity Phtha, the active creative power, equivalent in all his attributes to the Indian Brahma.
That Kneph was symbolized by the ancient Egyptians under the form of serpent is well known. It is not, however, so well established that the act of creation was allegorically represented in Egypt by the symbolic serpent thrusting from its mouth an egg, although no doubt of the fact seems to have entertained by the various authors who have hitherto writtenon the Cosmogony and Mythology of the primitive nations of the East. With the view of ascertaining what new light has been thrown upon the subject by the investigations of the indefatigable Champollion and his followers---whose researches among the monuments and records of Ancient Egypt have been attended with most remarkable results---the following inquiries were addressed to Mr. G. R. Gliddon (U.S. Consul at Cairo), a gentleman distinguished for his acquaintance with Egyptian science, and his zeal in disseminating information on a subject too little understood:---
"Do the serpent and the egg, separate or in combination, occur among the Egyptian symbols and if they occur what significance seem to have been assigned them? Was the serpent in any way associated with the worship of the sun or the kindred worship of the Phallus?"
To these inquiries Mr. Gliddon replied as follows:---"In respect to your first inquiry; I concede at once that the general view of the Greco-Roman antiquity, the oriental traditions collected, often indiscriminately, by the Fathers and the concurring suffrages of all occidental Mythologists, attribute the compound symbol of the Serpent combined with the Mundane Egg to the Egyptians. Modern criticism however, coupled with the application of the test furnished by Champollion le-Jeune and his followers since 1827 to the hieroglyphics of Egypt, has recognised so many exotic fables and so much real ignorance of Egyptology in the accounts concerning that mystified country, handed down to us from the schools of Alexandria and Byzantium, that at the present hour science treads doubtingly, where but a few years ago it was fashionable to make the most sweeping assertions; and we now hesitate before qualifying, as Egyptian in origin, ideas that belong to the Mythologies of other eastern nations. Classical authority, correct enough when treating on the philosophy and speculative theories of Ptolemaic and Roman Alexandria, is generally at fault when in respect to questions belonging to anterior or Pharaonic times. Whatever we derive through the medium of the Alexandrines, and especially through their successors, the Gnostics, must by the Archæologist be received with suspicion.
After this you will not be surprised if I express doubts as to existence of the myth of the Serpent and Egg in the Cosmogony of the early Egyptians. It is lamentably true that, owing to twenty centuries of destruction, so fearfully wrought out by Mohammed Ali, we do not up to this day possess one tithe of the monuments or papyri bequeathed to posterity by the recording genius of the Khime. It is possible that this myth may have been contained in the vast amount of hieroglyphical literature now lost to us. But the fact that in no instance whatever, amid the myriads of inscribed or sculptured documents extant, does the symbol of the Serpent and the Egg occur, militates against the assumption of this, perhaps Phnician myth, as originally Egyptian. "The worship of the Serpent," observes Ampêre, "by the Ophites may certainly have a real connection with the choice of the Egyptian symbol by which Divinity is designated in the paintings and hieroglyphics, and which is the Serpent Uræus (Basilisk royal, of the Greeks), the seraph set up by Moses. Se Ra Ph is the singular of seraphim, meaning Semiticé, splendour, fire, light; emblematic of the fiery disk of the sun and which, under the name of Nehushtan---"Serpent Dragon"---was broken up by the reforming Hezekiah (2 Kings, 18, 4); or with the serpent with wings and feet, which we see represented in the Funeral Rituals; but the serpent is everywhere in the Mythologies and Cosmogonies of the East, and we cannot be assured that the serpent of the Ophites (any more than that emitting or encircling the Mundane Egg) was Egyptian rather than Jewish, Persian, or Hindustanee."
"No serpents found in the hieroglyphics bear, so far as I can perceive, any direct relation to the Ouine Myth, nor have Egyptian Eggs any direct connection with the Cosmogonical Serpent. The egg, under certain conditions, seems to denote the idea of a human body. It is also used as a phonetic sign S, and when combined with T, is the determinative of the feminine gender; in which sense exclusively it is sometimes placed close to a serpent in hieroglyphical legends."
"My doubts apply in attempting to give a specific answer to you specific question; i.e., the direct connection, in Egyptian Mythology, of the Serpent and the Cosmogonical Egg. In the "Book of the Dead," according to a MS translation favoured me by the erudite Egyptologist, Mr. Birch, of the British Museum, allusion is made to the "great mundane egg" addressed by the deceased, which seems to refer to the winds or the atmosphere---again the deceased exclaims 'I have raised myself up in the form of the great Hawk which comes out of the Egg (i.e., the Sun).'
"I do not here perceive any immediate allusion to the duplex emblem of the egg combined with the serpent, the subject of your query.
"Yet a reservation must be made in behalf of your very consistent hypothesis---supported, as I allow, by all oriental and classical authority, if not possibly by the Egyptian documents yet undeciphered---which hypothesis is Euclidean. 'Things which are equal to the same are equal to one another.' Now if the 'Mundane Egg' be in the papyric rituals the equivalent to Sun, and that by other hieroglyphical texts we prove the Sun to be, in Egypt as elsewhere, symbolized by the figure of a Serpent, does not the 'ultima ratio' resolve both emblems into one? Your grasp of this Old and New world Question reders it superfluous that I should now posite the syllogism. I content myself by referring you to the best of authorities. One point alone is what I would venture to suggest to your philosophical acumen, in respect to ancient 'parallelisms' between the metaphysical conceptions of radically distinct nations (if you please, 'species' of mankind, at geographically different centres of origins, compelled of necessity in ages anterior to alphabetical record to express their ideas by pictures, figurative or symbolical). It is that man's mind has always conceived, everywhere in the same method, everything that relates to him; because the inability in which his intelligence is circumscribed, to figure to his mind's eye existence distinct from his own, constrains him to devolve in the pictorial or sculptural delineation of his thoughts, within the same circle of ideas; and, ergo, the figurative representative of his ideas must ever be, in all ages and countries, the reflex of the same hypotheses, material or physical. May not the emblem of the Serpent and Egg, as well in the New as in the Old World, have originated from a similar organic law without thereby establishing intercourse? Is not your serpent a "rattle snake" and, ergo, purely American? Are not Egyptian Serpent all purely Nilotic? The metaphysical idea of the Cosmogonical Serpent may be one and the same; but does not the zoological diversity of representation prove that America, three thousand years ago, could have no possible intercourse with Egypt, Phnicia, or vice versa?
"Such being the only values attached to Serpents and eggs in Egyptian hieroglyphics it is arduous to speculate whether an esoteric significance did or did not exist between those emblems in the, to us, unknown Cosmogony of the Theban and Memphite Colleges. I, too, could derive inferences and deduce analogies between the attributes of the God Knuphis, or the God Ptha, and the 'Mundane Egg' recorded by Eusebius, Jamblichus, and a wilderness of classical authorities, but I fear with no very satisfactory result. It is, however, due to Mr. Bonomi, to cite his language on this subject. Speaking of the colossal state of Rameses Sesostris at Metraheni, in a paper read before the Royal Society of Literature, London, June, 1845, he observes, 'There is one more consideration connected with the hieroglyphics of the great oval of the belt, though not affecting the preceding argument; it is the oval or egg which occurs between the figure of Ptha and the staff of which the usual signification is Son or Child, but which by a kind of two-fold meaning, common in the details of sculpture of this period (the 18th or 19th Dynasty, say B.C. 1500 or 1200), I am inclined to believe refers also to the myth or doctrine preserved in the writings of the Greek authors, as belonging to Vulcan and said to be derived from Egypt, viz., the doctrine of the Mundane Egg. Now, although in no Egyptian sculpture of the remote period of this statue has there been found any allusion to this doctrine, it is most distinctly hinted at in one of the age of the Ptolomies; and I am inclined to think it was imported from the Easy by Sesostris, where, in confirmation of its existence at a very remote period, I would quote the existence of those egg-shaped basaltic stones, embossed with various devices and covered with cuneatic inscriptions, which are brought from some of the ancient cities of Mesopotamia.
"In respect to your final inquiry, I may observe that I can produce nothing from the hieroglyphics to connect, directly, Phallic Worship with the solar emblem of the Serpent. In Semitic tongues, the same root signifies Serpent and Phallus; both in different senses are solar emblems."
In the Orphic Theogony a similar origin is ascribed to the egg, from which springs "the Egg-born Protogones," the Greek counterpart of the Egyptian Phtha. The egg in this instance also proceeds from the pre-eminent Unity, the Serpent God, the "Incomparable Cronus," or Hercules. (Bryant, quoting Athenagoras, observes---"Hercules was esteemed the chief god, the same as Cronus, and was said to have produced the Mundane Egg. He is represented in the Orphic Theology, under the mixed symbol of a lion and a serpent, and sometimes of a serpent only.")
Cronus was originally esteemed the Supreme, as is manifest from his being called Il or Ilus, which is the same with the Hebrew El and, according to St. Jerome, one of the ten names of God. Damascius, in the life of Isidorus, mentions distinctly that Cronus was worshipped under the name of El, who, according to Sanchoniathon, had no one superior or antecedent to himself.
Brahm, Cronus, and Kneph each represented the mystical union of the reciprocal or active and passive principles. Most, if not all, the primitive nations recognised this Supreme Unity, although they did not all assign him a name. He was the Creator of Gods, who were the Demiurgs of the Universe, the creators of all rational beings, angels and men, and the architects of the world.
The early writers exhaust language in endeavours to express the lofty character and attributes, and the superlative power and dignity of this great Unity, the highest conception of which man is capable. He is spoken of in the sacred book of the Hindus as the "Almighty, infinite, eternal, incomprehensible, self-existent Being; he who sees everything, though never seen; he who is not to be compassed by description; he from whom the universe proceeds; who reigns supreme, the light of all lights; whose power is too infinite to be imagined; is Brahm, the One Being, True and Unknown." (Coleman's Hind. Mythology.)
The supreme God of Gods of the Hindus was less frequently expressed by the name Brahm than by the mystical syllable O´M, which corresponded to the Hebrew Jehovah. Strange as the remark may seem to most minds, it is nevertheless true, that the fundamental principles of the Hindu religion were those of pure Monotheism, the worship of one supreme and only God. Brahm was regarded as too mighty to be named; and, while his symbolized or personified attributes were adored in gorgeous temples, not one was erected to him. The holiest verse of the Vedas is paraphrased as follows:
"Perfect truth; perfect happiness; without equal; immortal; absolute unity; whom neither speech can describe nor mind comprehend; all-pervading; all-transcending; delighted by his own boundless intelligence, not limited by space or time; without feet, moving swiftly; without hands, grasping all worlds; without ears, all-hearing, understanding all; without cause, the first of all causes; all-ruling; all-powerful; the Creator, Preserver, and Transformer of all things; such is the Great One, Brahm."
The character and power of Kneph are indicated in terms no less lofty and comprehensive than those applied to the omnipotent Brahm. He is described in the ancient Hermetic books as the "first God, immovable in the solitude of his Unity, the fountain of all things, the root of all primary, intelligble, existing forms, the God of Gods, before the etherial and empyrean Gods and the celestial."
In America this great Unity, this God of Gods, was equally recognised. In Mexico as Teotl, "he who is all in himself" (Tloque Nahuaque); in Peru as Varicocha, the "Soul of the Universe;" in Central America and Yucatan as Stunah Ku or Hunab Ku, "God of Gods, the incorporeal origin of all things." And as the Supreme Brahm of the Hindus, "whose name was unutterable," was worshipped under no external form and had neither temples nor altars erected to him, so the Supreme Teot and the corresponding Varicocha and Hunab Ku, "whose names," says the Spanish conquerors, "were spoken only with extreme dread," were without an image or an outward form of worship for the reason, according to the same authorities, that each was regarded as the Invisible and Unknown God.
The Mundane Egg, received as a symbol of original, passive, unorganized, formless nature, because associated, in conformity with primitive notions, with other symbols referring to the creative force or vitalizing influence. Thus in the Hindu cosmogony Brahma is represented, after long inertia, as arranging the passive elements, "creating the world and all visible things." Under the form of the emblematic bull the generative energy was represented breaking the quiescent egg. Encircled by the folds of the agatho-demon, a type of the active principle, it was suspended aloft at the temples of Tyre. For the serpent, like the bull, was an emblem of the sun or of the attributes of that luminary---itself the celestial emblem of the "Universal Father," the procreative power of nature. "Everywhere," says Faber, "we find the great father exhibiting himself in the form of a serpent, and everywhere we find the serpent invested with the attributes of the Great Father and partaking of the honours which were paid him." (Origin Pagan Idol., vol. I, p. 45).
Under this view, therefore, we may regard the compound symbol of the serpent and the egg, though specifically allusive to the general creation, as an illustration of the doctrine of the reciprocal principles which, as we have already seen, enters largely into the entire fabric of primitive philosophy and mythology.
Thus have we shewn that the grand conception of a Supreme Unity and the doctrine of the reciprocal principles existed in America in a well defined and easily recognised form.
Our present inquiry relates to the symbols by which they were represented in both continents. That these were not usually arbitrary, but resulted from associations, generally of an obvious kind, will be readily admitted.