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- Myth, Ritual, and Religion, Vol. 1 - 5/59 -

and degrees. Also that there is one chiefe God that hath beene from all eternitie, who, as they say, when he purposed first to make the world, made first other gods of a principall order, to be as instruments to be used in the Creation and Government to follow, and after the Sunne, Moone and Starres as pettie gods, and the instruments of the other order more principall. . . . They thinke that all the gods are of humane shape," and represent them by anthropomorphic idols. An idol, or image, "Kewasa" (the plural is "Kewasowok"), is placed in the temples, "where they worship, pray and make many offerings". Good souls go to be happy with the gods, the bad burn in Popogusso, a great pit, "where the sun sets". The evidence for this theory of a future life, as usual, is that of men who died and revived again, a story found in a score of widely separated regions, down to our day, when the death, revival and revelation occurred to the founder of the Arapahoe new religion of the Ghost Dance. The belief "works for righteousness". "The common sort . . . have great care to avoyde torment after death, and to enjoy blesse," also they have "great respect to their Governors".

[1] Okee's image, as early as 1607, was borne into battle against Smith, who captured the god (Arber, p. 393). Ahone was not thus en evidence.

[2] Journal of Anthrop. Inst., Feb., 1892, pp. 285, 286.

[3] Prim. Cult,, ii. p. 342.

This belief in a chief god "from all eternitie" (that is, of unexplained origin), may not be convenient to some speculators, but it exactly corroborates Strachey's account of Ahone as creator with subordinates. The evidence is of 1586 (twenty-six years before Strachey), and, like Strachey, Heriot attributes the whole scheme of belief to "the priestes". "This is the sum of their religion, which I learned by having speciall familiaritie with some of their priests."[1] I see no escape from the conclusion that the Virginians believed as Heriot says they did, except the device of alleging that they promptly borrowed some of Heriot's ideas and maintained that these ideas had ever been their own. Heriot certainly did not recognise the identity. "Through conversing with us they were brought into great doubts of their owne [religion], and no small admiration of ours; of which many desired to learne more than we had the meanes for want of utterance in their language to expresse." So Heriot could not be subtle in the native tongue. Heriot did what he could to convert them: "I did my best to make His immortall glory knowne". His efforts were chiefly successful by virtue of the savage admiration of our guns, mathematical instruments, and so forth. These sources of an awakened interest in Christianity would vanish with the total destruction and discomfiture of the colony, unless a few captives, later massacred, taught our religion to the natives.[2]

[1] According to Strachey, Heriot could speak the native language.

[2] Heriot's Narrative, pp. 37-39. Quaritch, London, 1893.

I shall cite another early example of a New England deity akin to Ahone, with a deputy, a friend of sorcerers, like Okee. This account is in Smith's General History of New England, 1606-1624. We sent out a colony in 1607; "they all returned in the yeere 1608," esteeming the country "a cold, barren, mountainous rocky desart". I am apt to believe that they did not plant the fructifying seeds of grace among the natives in 1607-1608. But the missionary efforts of French traders may, of course, have been blessed; nor can I deny that a yellow-haired man, whose corpse was found in 1620 with some objects of iron, may have converted the natives to such beliefs as they possessed. We are told, however, that these tenets were of ancestral antiquity. I cite E. Winslow, as edited by Smith (1623-24):--

"Those where is this Plantation [New Plymouth] say Kiehtan[1] made all the other Gods: also one man and one woman, and with them all mankinde, but how they became so dispersed they know not. They say that at first there was no king but Kiehtan, that dwelleth far westerly above the heavens, whither all good men go when they die, and have plentie of all things. The bad go thither also and knock at the door, but ['the door is shut'] he bids them go wander in endless want and misery, for they shall not stay there. They never saw Kiehtan,[2] but they hold it a great charge and dutie that one race teach another; and to him they make feasts and cry and sing for plenty and victory, or anything that is good.

[1] In 1873 Mr. Tylor regarded Dr. Brinton's etymology of Kiehtan as = Kittanitowit = "Great Living Spirit," as "plausible". In his edition of 1891 he omits this etymology. Personally I entirely distrust the philological theories of the original sense of old divine names as a general rule.

[2] "They never saw Kiehtan." So, about 1854, "The common answer of intelligent black fellows on the Barwon when asked if they know Baiame . . . is this: 'Kamil zaia zummi Baiame, zaia winuzgulda'; 'I have not seen Baiame, I have heard or perceived him'. If asked who made the sky, the earth, the animals and man, they always answer 'Baiame'." Daramulun, according to the same authority in Lang's Queensland, was the familiar of sorcerers, and appeared as a serpent. This answers, as I show, to Hobamock the subordinate power to Kiehtan in New England and to Okee, the familiar of sorcerers in Virginia. (Ridley, J. A. I., 1872, p. 277.)

"They have another Power they call Hobamock, which we conceive the Devill, and upon him they call to cure their wounds and diseases; when they are curable he persuades them he sent them, because they have displeased him; but, if they be mortal, then he saith, 'Kiehtan sent them'; which makes them never call on him in their sickness. They say this Hobamock appears to them sometimes like a man, a deer, or an eagle, but most commonly like a snake; not to all but to their Powahs to cure diseases, and Undeses . . . and these are such as conjure in Virginia, and cause the people to do what they list." Winslow (or rather Smith editing Winslow here), had already said, "They believe, as do the Virginians, of many divine powers, yet of one above all the rest, as the Southern Virginians call their chief god Kewassa [an error], and that we now inhabit Oke. . . . The Massachusetts call their great god Kiehtan."[1]

[1] Arber, pp. 767, 768.

Here, then, in Heriot (1586), Strachey (1611-12) and Winslow (1622), we find fairly harmonious accounts of a polydaemonism with a chief, primal, creative being above and behind it; a being unnamed, and Ahone and Kiehtan.

Is all this invention? Or was all this derived from Europeans before 1586, and, if so, from what Europeans? Mr. Tylor, in 1873, wrote, "After due allowance made for misrendering of savage answers, and importation of white men's thoughts, it can hardly be judged that a divine being, whose characteristics are often so unlike what European intercourse would have suggested, and who is heard of by such early explorers among such distant tribes, could be a deity of foreign origin". NOW, he "can HARDLY be ALTOGETHER a deity of foreign origin".[1] I agree with Mr. Tylor's earlier statement. In my opinion Ahone--Okeus, Kiehtan--Hobamock, correspond, the first pair to the usually unseen Australian Baiame (a crystal or hypnotic vision of Baiame scarcely counts), while the second pair, Okeus and Hobamock, answer to the Australian familiars of sorcerers, Koin and Brewin; the American "Powers" being those of peoples on a higher level of culture. Like Tharramulun where Baiame is supreme, Hobamock appears as a snake (Asclepius).

[1] Prim. Cult., ii. 340, 1873, 1892.

For all these reasons I am inclined to accept Strachey's Ahone as a veritable element in Virginian belief. Without temple or service, such a being was not conspicuous, like Okee and other gods which had idols and sacrifices.

As far as I see, Strachey has no theory to serve by inventing Ahone. He asks how any races "if descended from the people of the first creation, should maintain so general and gross a defection from the true knowledge of God". He is reduced to suppose that, as descendants of Ham, they inherit "the ignorance of true godliness." (p. 45). The children of Shem and Japheth alone "retained, until the coming of the Messias, the only knowledge of the eternal and never-changing Trinity". The Virginians, on the other hand, fell heir to the ignorance, and "fearful and superstitious instinct of nature" of Ham (p. 40). Ahone, therefore, is not invented by Strachey to bolster up a theory (held by Strachey), of an inherited revelation, or of a sensus numinis which could not go wrong. Unless a proof be given that Strachey had a theory, or any other purpose, to serve by inventing Ahone, I cannot at present come into the opinion that he gratuitously fabled, though he may have unconsciously exaggerated.

What were Strachey's sources? He was for nine months, if not more, in the colony: he had travelled at least 115 miles up the James River, he occasionally suggests modifications of Smith's map, he refers to Smith's adventures, and his glossary is very much larger than Smith's; its accuracy I leave to American linguists. Such a witness, despite his admitted use of Smith's text (if it is really all by Smith throughout) is not to be despised, and he is not despised in America.[1] Strachey, it is true, had not, like Smith, been captured by Indians and either treated with perfect kindness and consideration (as Smith reported at the time), or tied to a tree and threatened with arrows, and laid out to have his head knocked in with a stone; as he alleged sixteen years later! Strachey, not being captured, did not owe his release (1) to the magnanimity of Powhattan, (2) to his own ingenious lies, (3) to the intercession of Pocahontas, as Smith, and his friends for him, at various dates inconsistently declared. Smith certainly saw more of the natives at home: Strachey brought a more studious mind to what he could learn of their customs and ideas; and is not a convicted braggart. I conjecture that one of Strachey's sources was a native named Kemps. Smith had seized Kemps and Kinsock in 1609. Unknown authorities (Powell? and Todkill?) represent these two savages as "the most exact villaines in the country".[2] They were made to labour in fetters, then were set at liberty, but "little desired it".[3] Some "souldiers" ran away to the liberated Kemps, who brought them back to Smith.[4] Why Kemps and his friend are called "two of the most exact villains in the country" does not appear. Kemps died "of the surveye" (scurvey, probably) at Jamestown, in

Myth, Ritual, and Religion, Vol. 1 - 5/59

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