Other Gods of Nature.
The Development of Fire.
We have seen thus far how the human mind by its natural though at the same time most wonderful powers can reach and did reach the highest conception of the godhead though starting from the commonest impressions of the senses. I took my first illustration from fire but all the other phenomena of nature would teach the same lesson namely that the human mind is capable of discovering the Supernatural in the Natural. Nothing seems to us more natural than that the various manifestations of fire should have been marked and named by the earliest inhabitants of the world. Yet if we restricted the meaning of natural to whatever animals or beings endowed with sense only are capable of performing we should have to call even the simple naming of fire achieved by man and by man alone not a natural but a supernatural or at all events a super-animal act. Formerly it would hardly have been necessary to insist on this distinction. But at present when philosophy seems chiefly to consist in ignoring the frontier-lines that separate the animal kingdom from our own it is necessary to show that there are certain limits to the mental faculties of mere animals. Some animals are scared by fire and run away from it others are attracted by it but they will never name and conceive it. When we see our fire burning and hear it crackling in the grate nothing seems to us more homely more natural. Every child feels attracted by the fire enjoys its genial warmth and wonders what kind of thing it is. But try to think once more what the first appearance of fire must have been when it came down from the sky as lightning killing a man and setting his hut ablaze;—surely there was a miracle if ever there was a miracle; a theophany if ever there was a theophany. There was nothing to compare it to in the whole experience of man and if it was called a wild beast1 or a bird of prey or a poisonous serpent these were all but poor similes which could hardly satisfy an observing and inquiring mind.
And when after a time the beneficial aspects also of fire had been discovered when certain families had found out how to elicit fire from flints or how to produce it by friction the mystery remained as great as ever. It was a weird power a strange apparition a something totally inexplicable at first to the human understanding. Thus there remained in the fire from the first even after it had been named something unknown something different from all the ordinary and finite perceptions something not natural something unnatural or as it was also called something supernatural.
If we once see this clearly and understand how the supernatural element was there from the beginning though not yet disentangled from its natural surroundings we shall be better able to understand how the same supernatural element was never completely lost sight of by the poets of the Veda and how in the end Agni fire after being stripped of all that was purely phenomenal natural and physical stands before us endowed with all those qualities which we reserve for the Supreme Being. He was adored as the creator and ruler of the world as omnipotent omniscient just kind and compassionate. In that state all his physical antecedents were forgotten. It was no longer the fire crackling on the hearth that was believed in as the creator of the world. It was the unknown agent recognised from the first in that motion which we call fire who had been raised to a divine dignity though the old name of Agni remained as if to remind the people of their first acquaintance with him whom they called from the first ‘the friend of man the immortal among mortals.’
The Agents behind other Phenomena of Nature.
This one road which we have hitherto explored that led our ancestors from nature to nature's God is no doubt an important road but we must remember that it is but one out of many. Whether we examine the religions of civilised or of uncivilised races we shall always find that they started not only from fire but from many of the other of the great phenomena of nature such as the storm-wind the sun the moon the stars the sky the sea the earth the rivers and the mountains in their gropings after what lies beyond after the invisible agent the father the author after the God revealed to the senses in the countless miracles of nature. If the storm-wind was from the first called the crusher or shouter people soon asked who is it that shouts and crushes? If the sun was called the shining and warming the question could not long be suppressed who it was that shines and warms. The sky as participating in the work of the sun and the moon and the stars of the storm the lightning and the rain was also asked who he was or who was behind and above the sky who was the real agent of all the acts performed on the stage of heaven. The very earth though so near and palpable and familiar became nevertheless mysterious when it was asked what life there was in her and when it was felt how much she did in her quiet and much suffering way for all who dwelt in her fields and forests.
The Theogonic Process.
If we like we may call this primitive wonderment at what seems to us at present so very natural and the religious and mythological phraseology that sprang from that wonderment by such names as Animism (Beseelung) Personification and Anthropomorphism. These names are all right and they may be useful for the purpose of classification. Only we must remember that the historical student of religion cannot rest satisfied with mere names with mere classification but that his chief object is to account for facts thus named and classified and thus to learn to understand something however little it may be of the inevitable growth and development of religious and mythological concepts.
If we have once clearly understood the inseparable connection between thought and language and if more particularly we have mastered the fact that the roots of our words and the roots of our concepts were expressions of acts our task becomes much easier. But I know but too well how great a mental effort is required in order to apprehend that fact and all its far-reaching consequences. Important as these consequences are for a right understanding of all that we call thought nowhere are they more surprising than in the study of what is called mythological and religious thought. All other keys that have been tried to unlock those ancient chests have lifted one bolt or another. The key handed to us by Noiré has turned and lifted them all and the ancient chests now stand open and their treasures may be examined. When human beings were once in possession of the name and concept of anima or soul of persona person of manhood and godhead we can well understand that they should have predicated soul of the sun personality of the moon manhood of the storm and godhead of the sky. But the real question is how were these name-concepts of anima persona homo and deus elaborated and what organic connection was there between them and such concepts as the sun the moon and the sky? To imagine that mythology and religion could have arisen by ancient poets calling sun moon and sky animated or personal or manlike or divine would be to use a homely metaphor to put the cart before the horse. There is such a phrase in the later periods of the growth of the human mind. We ourselves are still living in it our poetry draws most of its inspiration from it. We hear our poets express their ‘faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes.’ They speak of ‘the morn in russet mantle clad walking o'er the dew of yon high eastern hill.’ We have read of ‘a brotherhood of venerable trees’ and of the ‘sable goddess Night’ and we know perfectly well what is meant by all this because we are in possession of a large dictionary of language and thought.
But if we want really to understand this phraseology we have first to find our way into more distant prehistoric periods into the dark subterranean caves where those weapons were forged with which man from the earliest days fought his battles and made his conquests.
Students of these prehistoric periods of thought and language are often blamed for taking unnecessary trouble for trying to explain things which we are told require no explanation at all for spreading darkness where all before seemed light. It is asked what is there to puzzle us when we see that the ancients spoke of the sun as a living thing nay as a person as a man as a god? Is it not simply a case of Animism of Personification of Anthropomorphism and of Deification? Words words words! We first call what has to be explained by a name and in this case by a very imperfect name. And then after we have named this process we turn round and say O it is all very simple it is nothing but Animism Personification and Anthropomorphism! We imagine that our work is done while it really is only beginning.
Even Mr. Herbert Spencer has risen in revolt against such perfunctory theories. The very dogs are able to sniff out the difference between what has life and what has not between the animate and the inanimate; was man less sagacious than the dogs?
I thought it right in one case at least in that of fire to give a full description of the slow process by which that natural appearance was named. Having once been called ‘he who moves’ Agni or having been conceived as the agent of any other of his more striking acts his further growth became easy to understand. We saw how almost by necessity he came after that to grow into a breathing and living agent (Animism) for fire breathes lives and dies; came to grow into a man-like being (Anthropomorphism) for fire though not a man is a man-like agent; came to grow into an individual person (Personification) for one fire differs from another; and came at last to grow into a Deva or a god (Deification). We looked for all the links in that chain of thought and though we did not find them all yet we found enough to allow us an insight into the true nature of that psychological process which led gradually and naturally from the mere percept of fire as an agent to the concept of an unseen power revealed to us in the various manifestations of fire and light.
We shall now try to catch a glance of the same instructive process in other realms of nature in order to see from how many points that irresistible impulse toward religion towards true and natural religion proceeded which in the end made man feel that however wide the horizon of his knowledge there was always a Beyond and that in spite of every effort of thought and language there always remained something that could not be named and could not be comprehended except as an agent invisible yet omnipresent. This psychological process began with the senses—for how else could it begin?—but it did not end with them but called forth:
‘That sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns
And the round ocean and the living air
And the blue sky and in the mind of man
A motion and a spirit that impels
All thinking things all objects of all thought
And rolls through all things.’
I doubt whether we could give a better definition of Physical Religion than what Wordsworth has given us in these few lines.
Next to fire the most important phenomenon in nature which led to the conception of a divine being was the wind more particularly the storm-wind. In the most distant parts of the world and among people unrelated in language and thought the storm-wind appears not only as one among many gods but often as the supreme and only god. The agent or as we say the agency or the force of the wind was so palpable and often so overpowering that we find traces of this god in almost every pantheon.
The Storm-wind in America.
Let us begin with America2
. Here we find that with the Choctaws the general word for deity is Hushtoli
which means the storm-wind. In the Greek language also ishtali
means the storm-wind and hustolah
the windy season. The Quichés call the mysterious creative power Hurakan
. This word has no meaning in their language but it finds its explanation in the ancient tongue of Haity from which the Quichés must have borrowed it. Dr. Brinton in his Essays of an Americanist
1890. p. 121 doubts the derivation of Huracan from Haytian and derives it from Maya. In the dialects of the Maya group rakan
is said by him to express greatness and hun
one or first. In Cakchiquel hurakan
means a giant. The Spaniards and other European nations made us familiar with the word as the name of the terrible tornado of the Caribean Sea3
. It lives on in French as ouragan
in German as Orkan
in English as hurricane
. Neglectful of its biography German etymologists derived Orkan
English etymologists discovered in hurricane
something of the hurry
of the storm or like Webster something of its fury
; but Oviedo in his description of Hispaniola4
leaves no doubt that the name was borrowed from the ancient language of Haity and had been carried there by the Quichés from the Antilles.
This Hurakan has been identified by some American scholars with Cuculcan Gucumatz and Votan all names of the god of the storm-wind in Central America.
The chief divinity of several tribes in ancient Mexico was called Mixcohuatl and this is to this day the name of the tropical whirlwind. The natives of Panama worshipped the same phenomenon under the name of Tuyra.
It is curious that Mr. Brinton from whose interesting work on The Myths of the New World these facts are quoted is convinced that man never did and never could draw the idea of God from nature. He thinks that the deeper and far truer reason for the divinity ascribed to the wind is to be found in the identity of wind with breath of breath with life of life with soul and of soul with God. Mr. Brinton may be quite right that the transition of meaning from wind to breath and life and soul has acted as a powerful ingredient in ‘the evolution of ancient deities.’ But even then the starting-point of that evolution would have been in nature namely in the real wind which by a perfectly intelligible process became sublimised into breath spirit life soul and God. It may be granted to Mr. Brinton (l.c. p. 75) that the motions of the air are often associated in thought and language with the operations of the soul and the idea of God. We are told that in Peru the commonest and simplest adoration of the collective deities consists in kissing the air—a very significant mode of prayer. But surely the various manifestations of the wind so well described by Mr. Brinton himself are quite sufficient by themselves to evoke in the human mind and in human language the concept and name of a powerful superhuman agent. He describes very eloquently ‘the power of the winds on the weather bringing as they do the lightning and the storm the zephyr that cools the brow and the tornado that levels the forest. They summon the rain to fertilize the seed and refresh the shrivelled leaves. They aid the hunter to stalk the game and usher in the varying seasons. In a hundred ways they intimately concern his comfort and his life and it will not seem strange he adds himself that they almost occupied the place of all other gods in the mind of the child of nature.’
The Aztec prayer addressed to the Tlalocs the gods of the showers began with the following invocation: ‘Ye who dwell at the four corners of the earth—at the north at the south at the east and at the west.’
The Eskimo also prayed to Sillam Innua the owner of the winds as their highest god and the abode of the Dead was called by them Sillam Aipane the house of the winds.
As the rain-bringers and life-givers the winds were naturally called the fathers of the human race and Mr. Brinton has recognised in the four brothers who appear in so many traditions of America as the ancestors and leaders of ancient tribes coming from the four corners of the earth the later representatives of the four winds the North the South the East and the West winds.
What he says of these traditions applies in so many words to the traditions of Aryan races. ‘Sometimes’ he writes ‘the myth defines clearly these fabled characters as the spirits of the winds; sometimes it clothes them in uncouth grotesque metaphors; sometimes again it so weaves them into actual history that we are at a loss where to draw the line that divides fiction from truth’ (p. 77).
In the mythology of Yukatan the four gods Bacab were supposed to stand one at each corner of the world supporting like gigantic caryatides the over-hanging firmament. When at the general deluge the other gods and men were swallowed by the waters they alone escaped to people the earth anew. These four known by the names of Kan Muluc Ix and Cauac represented respectively the East North West and South. The East was distinguished by yellow the South by red the West by black the North by white and these colours appear again in different parts of the world with the same meaning as representing the four quarters of the world. According to the Quichés these four beings were first created by Hurakan the Heart of Heaven. If we translate the Heart of Heaven into the Sanskrit Dyaus the subjective or active Heaven or Heaven as an agent we see how near he as the father of the Maruts or storm-winds comes to Hurakan the father of the four winds. The description of these winds also is sometimes almost identical with that given of the Maruts by the Vedic poets. It is said that they measured and saw all that exists at the four corners and the four angles of the sky and the earth; that they did not bring forth and produce when the season of harvest was near until he blew into their eyes a cloud until their faces were obscured as when one breathes on a mirror. Then he gave them four wives whose names were Falling Water Beautiful Water Water of Serpents and Water of Birds.
In Aztec legends these four beings are said to have emerged from a cave called Pacavitampu and this is said to mean either ‘the house of existence’ or ‘the lodging of the Dawn.’ There in the distant East the Aztecs placed Tula the birthplace of their race. This again reminds us of Vedic mythology and the description of the four beings that came from the cave of the Dawn leaves little doubt as to their similarity with the Vedic storm-gods the Maruts. ‘Their voices’ we are told ‘could shake the earth and their hands heap up mountains. Like the thunder-god they stood on the hills and hurled their sling-stone to the four corners of the earth. When one was overpowered he fled upward to the heaven or was turned into stone. It was by their aid and counsel that the savages who possessed the land renounced their barbarous habits and commenced to till the soil' (l.c. p. 83).
Truly indeed might Mr. Brinton say that ‘the winds producing the thunder and the changes that take place in the ever-shifting panorama of the sky the rain-bringers the lords of the seasons—and not this only but the primary type of the soul the life the breath of man and the world—are second to nothing in their rôle in mythology’ The road from the naming of the different winds to the naming of the Storm-wind as the father of the winds or again to the naming of the Sky as the father of the winds as well as of the other heavenly powers is as clearly traced in America as anywhere else. The surroundings of nature have no doubt a considerable influence on the formation of storm-myths. We find them most fully developed in mountainous countries and the more the very existence of man was felt to depend on the beneficial or hurtful influences of the winds and thunderstorms the more readily did the human mind arrive at the conception of a supreme beneficent or malignant power behind the storm-wind controlling the fates of man.
This will explain the fact to which I alluded in my first course of Gifford Lectures (p. 453) that in many of the American languages the same word is used for storm and god5
. In Africa also Dr. Nachtigall was struck by the same fact and he instances the Baghirmi as having but one name for storm and God. We shall see that in India also the old name of the storm-gods Marut was used in the language of the Buddhists as a general name of gods (Maru).
The Storm-wind in Babylon.
Let us now turn our eyes from America to Babylon. The primitive inhabitants of Babylon beheld in the winds powers of good and evil6
. The good wind cooled the heat of summer and brought moisture to the parched earth. The evil wind was the tempest the freezing blast of winter and the burning sirocco of the desert. Their number is sometimes given as four sometimes as seven the seven sons or messengers of Anu. In the battle against the dragon of chaos they were the allies of Merodach as the Maruts were the allies of Indra. Matu occurs frequently as the name of the destructive storm-wind whose favour had to be conciliated. He is called the lord of the mountain and his wife the lady of the mountain (cf. Sk. Pârvatî). But we also hear of many Matus the children of the sea.
The Storm-wind in India.
We now return to India where the storms meet us under the name of the Maruts. In their purely physical aspect the storms or Maruts are represented in the Veda as powerful and destructive but at the same time as beneficent also as clearing the air as bringing rain as fertilising the soil and reinvigorating the body. I shall quote a few passages from the Rig-veda.
They are said to shake heaven and earth like the hem of a garment. They cause a long and broad unceasing rain to fall (I. 37 II) so that the cows have to walk knee-deep. Mountains shake men tremble (I. 38 10) the kings of the forest the trees are rent as under (I. 39 5). The Maruts bring winds and lightning (I. 64 5) and they pour down rain (I. 64 6). But after the storm is over they are praised for bringing back the light and like the dawn (II. 34 12) driving away the hideous darkness (I. 86 10). They are also celebrated for restoring fertility to the soil and for making the autumn plentiful through their invigorating rain (I. 171 6; II. 34 4). Thus they bring not only food to men but water medicine and health (V. 53 14; VI. 74 3) being in this respect like their father Rudra who is often implored to bring medicine and to bestow health (VII. 46; II. 33 13).
In most of the hymns of the Veda however the Maruts as the representatives of the storm the thunderstorm and all its concomitant features have assumed a very definite dramatic character. They appear brilliant on their chariots (I. 37 1) with spears daggers rings axes and with whips which they crack in the air (I. 37 2; 3). They shoot arrows (I. 64 10) and fling stones (I. 172 2). They have golden headbands round their heads (V. 54 11). Often they are represented as musicians as singers pipers (I. 85 10) and dancers (VIII. 20 22) sometimes as birds (I. 87 2) and as wild boars with iron tusks (I. 88 5). They are called the manly sons of Rudra (I. 64 2) and they are likewise called the youthful Rudras themselves who never grow old (I. 64 3). In some places their mother is called Prisni (I. 85 2) their father or lord Dyaus (X. 77 2; VIII. 20 17) or Svar sky (V. 54 10). They are the constant companions of Indra in his fight against his enemies such as Vritra Ahi and other demons. They are even represented as themselves the conquerors of Vritra (VIII. 7 23) and as the protectors of Indra (VII. 7 24). But occasionally they seem slighted by Indra who claims all glory for himself (I. 165). Dyaus also is invoked as their companion as when we read V. 58 6 ‘Let Dyaus roar down the bull of the Dawn.’ (See also V. 59 8.) As Agni represents both light and lightning it is but natural that he too should appear in their company (V. 60 7). Rodasî who is often mentioned as the friend or wife of all of them seems to be intended for the lightning (V. 61 12). At times they become so completely personified that the poets forgetful of their physical origin actually compare them to the wind and call them blazing with wind (vâta-tvish V. 57 4). It is more difficult to discuss in what sense Vishnu is sometimes mentioned as their friend and helper (V. 87 4) while Soma when joined with them can only be meant as the rain of the thunderstorm (VIII 20 3).
Though the Maruts are almost always invoked as a company sometimes of twenty-one sometimes of a hundred and eighty being all alike in strength yet in one place the poet speaks also of one son of Rudra and calls him Mâruta belonging to the Maruts (VI. 66 11).
After a time these Maruts like Agni and other gods of nature assume a strongly marked moral character and in the end they take their place among the highest gods. Thus one poet (I. 38 6) addresses them in the following words: ‘Let not one sin after another difficult to be conquered overcome us; may it depart together with greed.’ ‘Whatever fiend attacks us deprive him of power and strength’ (I. 39 8). ‘The mortal whom ye O Maruts protected he surpasses all people in strength through your protection. He carries off booty; he acquires honourable wisdom and prospers’ (I. 64 13). The Maruts themselves are called not only heroes but wise poets also (V. 52 13). They impart not only strength to their worshippers but even immortality (V. 55 4). Some of the qualities which seem to us peculiar to the highest deities only such as the punishing of sin and likewise the forgiving of sin where there is hearty repentance are in the end ascribed to the Maruts also. Their peculiar physical nature disappears more and more and they are implored almost in the same words as Varuna and the Âdityas (X. 77 8). Thus one poet says: ‘May your bright thunderbolt be far from us O Maruts whatever sin we may have committed against you men as we are O worshipful let us not fall under its power let your best favour rest on us’ (VII. 57 4).
The Marus of the Buddhists.
In Pali Maru is used in the general sense of deva though deva-hood is no longer a very exalted position in the eyes of the Buddhists.
Rudra the Father of the Maruts.
But though we can watch this gradual transition from the Maruts as the storms to the Maruts as sub-natural agents as dramatic heroes and lastly as supreme gods the fact of their being a company or a host could not but lead to the supposition of a lord or father of the Maruts generally called Rudra. We saw the same in America where the four winds were represented by Hurakan the most powerful wind. And as in the Veda Dyaus the bright sky is sometimes conceived as the father of the winds we find in America also that the lord of the winds the prince of the powers of the air whose voice is the thunder and whose weapon the lightning is Michabo
the Great Light the Spirit of Light of the Dawn or the East literally as Brinton has shown7
the Great White One.
The Storm-wind in Germany.
Another country where the god of the storm-wind was raised in the end to the rank of a supreme deity was Germany or whatever may have been the last home of the united German family. It has been shown that the Teutonic tribes possessed originally a deity corresponding very nearly in name and character to the Vedic Dyaus the Greek Zeus and the Latin Ju-piter. This was Tiu a name preserved in Anglo-Saxon tîwes-dœg our Tuesday the dies Jovis. The same name occurs in the Edda as Tŷr in Old High-German as Zio. But in the same way as in the Veda the ancient god Dyaus was driven back and at last superseded by Indra the god of the thunderstorm we find that in Germany also the common Aryan god of the sky had to make room for Odin or Wodan originally a representative of storm and thunder. The gods of storm and thunder were generally represented as fighting gods as brave warriors and in the end as conquerors; and with warlike nations like the Germans such gods would naturally become very popular more popular even than the god of light who was supposed to live enthroned in silent majesty above the dome of heaven the one-eyed seer the husband of the earth the All-father as he was called in Germany also.
According to a view which was very prevalent in former days and which even now counts some very distinguished scholars amongst its adherents Odin
was originally a man the founder of the ancient Northern and Teutonic religion who was afterwards worshipped as the supreme god the fountain-head of wisdom the founder of culture the inventor of writing and poetry the progenitor of kings the lord of battle and victory so that his name and that of Alföđr
All-father were blended together8
Those who take this view derive Odin's
name not unnaturally from an old word akin to the Latin vâtes9
a prophetic singer or bard and compare with it the O. N. ôđr
inspiration. But they have never shown how vâtes
in Latin could become Óđinn
in Old Norse and Wuotan
in Old High-German10
Grimm in his Deutsche Mythologie did not look upon this view of Odin as any longer requiring even a refutation. He treated the name of Wuotan and Odin as from the beginning a name of a superhuman being. He derived the O. H. G. Wuotan the Lombardian Wôdan or Guôdan the Old Saxon Wuodan and Wôdan (Westphalian Guôdan and Gudan) the A. S. Wôden Frisian Wêda the Old Norse Óđinn from the O. H. G. verb watan wuot O. N. vađa ôđ meaning to move along quickly then to be furious a transition of meaning which is likewise found in Lat. vehi and vehemens peto and impetus. This root watan however cannot be connected with Latin vâdere unless we take the Latin d as the representative of an original media aspirata. From this watan Grimm derives the substantive wuot wrath fury θνμός and the O. N. óđr mind poetry song; A. S. wôđ voice song.
As the supreme god of the Teutonic nations Wuotan's character is summed up by Grimm in the following words11
: ‘He is the all-pervading creative and formative power who bestows shape and beauty on man and all things from whom proceeds the gift of song and the management of war and victory on whom at the same time depends the fertility of the soil nay wishing and all the highest gifts and blessings.’
In the popular legends however what may be called his etymological character is still far more clearly perceptible. Wuotan
is there the furious god the god of war and victory armed with his spear (Gûngnir
) and followed by two wolves (Geri
) two ravens (Huginn
). He also sends the storm rides on the gale has his waggon or wain and his horse. In the Old Norse legends he is an old man with a broad hat and a wide mantle heklu-mađr
a hooded man and as such he appears in the German Hakolberend
the leader of the wild host whose memory lives on even now in John Hacklebirnie's
house though he is no doubt quite unconnected with Hakleberg
i.e. Mount Hecla12
This root in High German watan would presuppose a Low German d and a classical dh. As h in Sanskrit is a neutral exponent of gh dh bh we should have to postulate an original vadh for vah (part. vodha for vah-ta). In vehemens also we see traces of the same transition of meaning as in wuot fury.
Grohmann proposed to identify Wuotan with the Vedic Vấta wind and at first sight that etymology is very tempting. But vấta is known to have the accent on the first syllable and ought therefore to show th in Low d in High German.
Still Grohmann was right in making Wuotan
the god of wind and weather only that his etymon seems to me to lie not so much in the wind as in the weather. Weather
before it took its general meaning meant stormy weather. This is still very clear in the German Wetter-leuchten
kvan) Donner-wetter Wind und Wetter Unwetter Wetterschlag
&c. and even in the English weather-beaten
. It is the O. H. G. wetar
A. S. weder
O. N. veđr
. The th in Modern English weather
is dialectic. The same word exists in the Veda namely as vádhas and vádhar (Delbrück in K. Z.
xvi. 266); but it there means the actual thunderbolt of Indra and of his enemies and also weapon in general. From the same root we have vadhá striker and weapon; vádhatra weapon; vadhasná Indra's thunderbolt. In Greek this root has been preserved in ὠθέω in ἐν-οσί-χθων earth-striker &c. (see Curtius s.v.). From this root and from no other is derived Wuotan
literally the striker with the thunderbolt the weather-god the storm-god13
If then the name of Wuotan
meant originally the weather-god the wielder of the thunderbolt we must begin with that concept and slowly trace the transition from the furious huntsman to Odin the All-father the solemn and majestic deity just as we saw14 Hurakan
the lord of the winds assume the supremacy over all other gods among certain American tribes and as in India we could watch the Maruts becoming changed into purely moral divinities presided over by Rudra or Dyaus as sovereign gods.
The Mixed Character of Ancient Gods.
Besides the lesson which we have thus learnt from a comparative study of American. Babylonian Indian and Teutonic mythologies as to the possible development of the highest concept of divinity out of the simplest phenomena of nature there is another lesson which was impressed upon us when studying the history of Agni and which is even more strongly inculcated by the history of the storm-gods. The ancient gods were not restricted to one character. Agni for instance was no doubt the fire on the hearth but any poet might speak of him as born in the sky as lightning as rising as the sun in the morning and setting in the evening as generated by the fire-sticks nay as identical with the warmth and life of the vegetable and animal world. In like manner the father of the Maruts is not only a meteoric deity sending his arrows from the clouds he is also a celestial deity he is in fact one side of that power of light and life which is recognised in the sky and called Dyaus and recognised in the sun and called Svar. We distinguish between the sky and the sun and the morning and the thunderstorm and so no doubt did the ancient poets of the Veda. But they also recognised a common element or if you like a common agent behind all these phenomena of nature and they had no difficulty in ascribing the same deeds to Agni Dyaus Svar or Sûrya the Maruts and the Rudras. Thus it happens that in later phases of mythology one god who has assumed a definite personality may nevertheless display some solar or celestial or meteoric characteristics which cling to him from an earlier stage of his existence. Apollo as we know him in Homer is not the sun but he has retained some solar qualities. Athene is not the dawn but she has not lost all matutinal features. Zeus certainly is not simply the sky and yet his character would be unintelligible unless we could trace him back to the Vedic Dyaus the sky.
The Theogonic Development.
I hope it will not be supposed that because in this course of lectures I have given such prominence to the fire and the storm-wind as powerful stimulants in the religious life of mankind my conviction has been changed that it was the sky and the sun who gave from the first the most powerful impulse to the growth of mythological and religious ideas. My only reason for passing these two theogonic processes over at present was that they have been most fully analysed before by myself and by others and that I thought I might without presumption refer my hearers here to what I have written on this subject in my Lectures on the Science of Language and in my Hibbert Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion with special reference to India. What has been called the Religion of Dyaus and the Solar Myth may be reckoned among the best secured gains of modern scholarship. Mωμήσεταί τις μᾶλλον ἢ μιμήσεται. The only new light which has been thrown on these theogonic processes is that we understand now how what were considered hitherto as mere facts are in reality the necessary results of our mental constitution. We know now that like the fire and the storm-wind the sky and the sun also could only be named by names expressive of agency. Whether we call this a necessity of language or thought it is as we saw a necessity from which we cannot escape. At first these celestial solar igneous or meteoric agents having become the objects of early thought were described according to their manifold manifestations particularly such as influenced the life and the acts of man. After a time however these various manifestations were recognised as external only and the agent being more and more divested of these external veils was slowly recognised as something else something by itself something beyond the finite knowledge of man and in the end as something sub-natural supernatural and infinite. This led naturally to the two phases of Henotheism and Polytheism and by a still more powerful abstraction to Monotheism that is the recognition of one agent one author one father one God hidden behind the magic veil of nature but revealed by an irresistible necessity which postulates something infinite and divine in the agents of the objective world because it has discovered something infinite and divine in the subjective world in the agent within or in the self.
We may thus discover in all the errors of mythology and in what we call the false or pagan religions of the world a progress towards truth a yearning after something more than finite a growing recognition of the Infinite throwing off some of its veils before our eyes and from century to century revealing itself to us more and more in its own purity and holiness. And thus the two concepts that of evolution and that of revelation which seem at first so different become one in the end. If there is a purpose running through the ages if nature is not blind if there are agents recognised at last as the agents of one Will behind the whole phenomenal world then the evolution of man's belief in that Supreme Will is itself the truest revelation of that Supreme Will and must remain the adamantine foundation on which all religion rests whether we call it natural or supernatural.