Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 2).djvu/137

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123
CONCLUSION.

the dead." In the same spirit Anubis, the jackal (a beast still dreaded as a ghost by the Egyptians) is explained as "the circle of the horizon," or "the portals of the land of darkness," the gate kept, as Homer would say, by Hades, the mighty warden. Whether it is more natural that men should represent the circle of the horizon or the twilight at sunset as a jackal, or that a jackal-totem should survive as a god, mythologists will decide for themselves.[1] The jackal, by a myth that cannot be called pious, was said to have eaten his father, Osiris.

The conclusions to be drawn from so slight a treatment of so vast a subject are, that in Egypt, as elsewhere, a mythical and a religious, a rational and an irrational stream of thought flowed together, and even to some extent mingled their waters. The rational tendency, declared in prayers and hymns, amplifies the early human belief in a protecting and friendly power making for righteousness. The irrational tendency, declared in myth and ritual, retains and elaborates the early human confusions of thought between man and beast and god, things animate and inanimate. On the one hand, we have almost a recognition of supreme divinity; on the other, savage rites and beliefs, shared by Australians and Bushmen. It is not safe or scientific to call one of those tendencies earlier than the other; perhaps we know no race so backward that it is not influenced by forms of both. Nor is it safe or scientific to look on ruder practices as corruptions of the purer beliefs. Perhaps it may never be possible

  1. Le Page Renouf, Hibbert Lectures, pp. 112–114, 237.