Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 2).djvu/20

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MYTH, RITUAL, AND RELIGION.

is wavering, and, for whatever reason, whether on account of linguistic confusion or not, he is commonly regarded as having been, like his adversary the crow, bird-shaped. Doubtless it may be maintained that he owes his feathers to a confusion between Pund-jel, "an elder," and "Pund-jel" or "Bund-jel," an eagle-hawk. On the other hand, it may be replied that when Pund-jel, the eagle-hawk, became a divine name, it was applied as a title of respect to elders. However this may be, the vast number of ornithomorphic deities in American and other legends seem to prove that bird-gods in Australia rather represent a widespread early human fancy than owe their origin to a special linguistic confusion in a single instance. "Wavering in form and quality as he is between man, god, and bird, Pund-jel is yet credited with a certain superintendence of morality; indeed, as far as our information goes, he is quite an exemplary person for a god. We hear of nothing nearly so bad about Pund-jel as about Indra, Zeus, Heitsi Eibib, and other Greek, Indo-Aryan, and Hottentot divinities. But Pund-jel is a far more savage conception of deity than the divine being of the aborigines of West Victoria, Pirnmeheal. He is briefly described by Mr. Dawson[1] as a "gigantic man, living above the clouds, of a kindly disposition, seldom men-

  1. Australian Aborigines, p. 47.