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Evolution of the Dragon, by G. Elliot Smith, [1919], at


As a surrogate of the Great Mother, the Eye of Re, the thunder-weapon was also identified with any of her varied manifestations.

The thunderbolt is one of the manifestations of the life-giving and death-dealing Divine Cow, and therefore is able specially to protect mundane cows. 2

There are numerous hints in the ancient literature of other countries in confirmation of the association of the Great Mother with "falling stars". "In a fragment of Sanchoniathon, Astarte, travelling about the habitable world, is said to have found a star falling through the air, which she took up and consecrated." 3

Aphrodite also was looked upon as a meteoric stone that fell from

p. 226

the moon. In the "Iliad," Zeus is said to have sent Athena as a meteorite from heaven to earth. 1

The association of Aphrodite with meteoric stones and the ancient belief that they fell from the moon serve to confirm the identification of these life-giving and death-dealing objects with the pearl and the thunderbolt. In Southern India the goddesses may be represented either by small stones or by pots of water, usually seven in number. During the ceremony around the stone-form of the goddess the kappu-karan runs thrice around the stone, as the mandrake-digger does around the plant. The pujari who represents the goddess is painted like a leopard (Hathor's lioness) and kills the sacrificial sheep. The goddess (like Hathor) is supposed to drink the blood of the sacrificial victims (Whitehead, op. cit., pp. 164-8).

Many factors played a part in the development of the beliefs about the origin of mankind from stones, with which the identification of the thunderbolt with the winged disk plays a part.

The idea that the cowry was the giver of life and the parent of men was also transferred to crude stone imitations of the shell. Perhaps the belief in such stones as creators of human beings may have been reinforced by finding actual fossilized shells within pebbles. 2

A further corroboration of this theory was provided when the pearl came to be regarded as the quintessence of the life-giving substance of shells and as a little particle of moon-substance which fell as a drop of dew into the gaping oyster. Perry (op. cit., p. 78) refers to an Indonesian belief among the Tsalisen that their ancestors came out of the moon; and the chief of this people has a spherical stone which is said to represent the moon.

This association of the moon with round stones may be connected with the identification of the sun (as the winged disk) with a stone axe,

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when they came to be regarded as alternative weapons for the destruction or the creation of men. Perry records a story of a rock being lowered down from the sun, from which it was born, and out of a cleft in it man and woman emerged, as they were believed to have been born from the cleft in the cowry.

Then there are the Egyptian beliefs concerning stone statues, obelisks, or even unshaped blocks of stone which could be animated by human beings or gods. 1

The cycle of these stories was completed when the "Eye of Re" slaughtered the enemies of the god and they became identified with the followers of Set, "creatures of stone". Thus the evil eye petrified rebellious men: and so was launched upon its course the peculiar group of legends which in time encircled the world.

It is particularly significant that in Indonesia, in association with these ideas about stone-origins and petrifaction, Perry (p. 133) found also the clear-cut belief that the thunder-weapon was a stone, or the tooth of a cloud-dragon in the sky.

In Indonesia also petrifaction, thunder-stones, rain, floods, lightning, and an arrow shot to the accompaniment of thunder and lightning were the punishments traditionally assigned for certain offences, such as incest and laughing at animals.

The same people who introduced into the Malay Archipelago these characteristic fragments of the dragon-myth also believed that certain animals were impersonations of their gods: they also brought stories of incestuous unions on the part of their deities and rulers. To laugh at their sacred animals, or to imitate privileged customs permitted to their deities, but not to ordinary mortals, merited the same sort of punishments as were meted out to those other rebels against the ruling class and the gods in the home of these beliefs. 2

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To laugh at the divine animals, or to commit incest, which was a divine prerogative, was analogous to "the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost," which in the New Testament is proclaimed an unpardonable offence, and in pagan legend was punished by the divine wrath, thunder, lightning, rain, floods, or petrifaction being the avenging instruments. Œdipus put out his own eyes to forestall the traditional wrath of the gods.


225:2 Blinckenberg, op. ca., p. 70 et seq.

225:3 Quoted by Layard, "Nineveh and its Remains," Vol. II, p. 457.

226:1 Cook, "Zeus," I, p. 760.

226:2 Striking examples of these stories about birth from split stones have been given by Perry, "Megalithic Culture of Indonesia," Chapter X, and de Groot's "Religious System of China". It is possible that the double meaning of the Egyptian word set, as "stone" and "mountain" played a part in originating these stories. I have already quoted from the Pyramid Texts the account of the daily birth of the sun-god by a splitting of the "mountain" of the dawn. By a pun on this word the god's origin might have been interpreted as having taken place from a split "stone". The fact that the Great Mother was identified with a "mountain" (set) may also have facilitated the homology with the of the other meaning of set, i.e. "a stone".

227:1 "Incense and Libations".

227:2 As the character and attributes of the early goddesses became more complex, and contradictory traits were more sharply contrasted, the inevitable tendency developed to differentiate the goddesses themselves, and provide distinctive names for the new personalities thus split off from the common parent. We see this in Egypt in the case of Hathor and Sekhet, and in Babylonia in Ishtar and Tiamat. But the process of specialization and differentiation might even involve a change of sex. There can be no doubt that the god Horus was originally a differentiation of certain of the aspects of the sky-goddess Hathor, at first as a brother "Eye". But as the king Horus was the son of Osiris (as the dead king), when the confusion of the attributes p. 228 of Osiris and Hathor—the actual father and the divine mother of Horus—made their marriage inevitable, the maternal relationship of the goddess to her "brother" was emphasized. But as the Great Mother, Hathor was the parent of the universe, and the mother not only of Horus but also of his father Osiris. This complicated rationalization made Hathor the sister, mother, and grandmother of Horus, and was responsible for originating the belief in the incestuous practices of the divine family. When the royal family assumed the rôle of gods and goddesses they were bound by these traditions (which had their origin purely in theological sophistry) and were driven to indulge in actual incest, as we know from the records of the Egyptian royal family and their imitators in other countries. But incest became a royal and divine prerogative which was sternly forbidden to mere mortals and regarded as a peculiarly detestable sin.

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