Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 2).djvu/22

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MYTH, RITUAL, AND RELIGION.

be chosen in particular to inherit (as among the Finns in the Kalewala) this repute of deathlessness? And how did the belief get attached, at such a distance from America and Finland, to the Australian indigenous beast most resembling the bear?

A pleasing view of Baiame, a god of the Namoi, Barwan, and other tribes on the Darling, is given by Mr. Ridley. Baiame is called "the great master;" he made the world and man; he sends rain; he welcomes the virtuous dead to a paradise in the Milky Way, and he "destroys the bad." Though "immortal, powerful, and good," Baiame assists at the initiatory mysteries, about which the less said the better.[1] Pirnmeheal, in Western Victoria, is "a gigantic man living above the clouds," a "magnified non-natural man;" he is "seldom mentioned, but always with respect."

Scanty as is the information about Australian divine myths, it is plain that these legends contain a religious element of belief in a power that "makes for righteousness" in this world and the next, and a mythical element of belief in bird-shaped, beast-shaped, and undignified deities, liable to death and disaster. All religion and all mythology are variations on these themes.

Passing from Australia to Africa, we find few races less advanced than the Bushmen (Sa-n, "settlers," in Nama). Whatever view may be taken of the past history of the Bushmen of South Africa, it is certain that at present they are a race on a very low level of development. "Even the Hottentots," according to

  1. Ridley and Günther, ap. Brough Smyth, ii. 285.