Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 2).djvu/24

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MYTH, RITUAL, AND RELIGION.

present, especially as no proof of great degradation has been advanced.[1]

It is admitted that "on a low level we find them now," and our object is to demonstrate that to a low level their mythical conceptions belong.[2] Before investigating the religious myths of the Bushmen, it must be repeated that, as usual, their religion is on a far higher level than their mythology. The conception of invisible or extra-natural powers, which they entertain and express in moments of earnest need, is all unlike the tales which they tell about their own gods, if gods such beings may be called. Thus Livingstone says,[3] "On questioning intelligent men among the Bakwains as to their former knowledge of good and evil, of God, and the future state, they have scouted the idea of any of them ever having been without a tolerably clear conception on all these subjects." Their ideas of sin were the same as Livingstone's, except about polygamy, and apparently murder (p. 159). Probably there were other trifling discrepancies. But "they spoke in the same way of the direct influence exercised by God in giving rain in answer to the prayers of the rain-makers, and in granting deliverance in times of

  1. The partisans of the theory of degradation have still to explain how, admitting that savages are degenerate from civilisation, the degeneracy has always taken similar forms, which forms, again, are found everywhere among the oldest parts of civilised religion and myth.
  2. See Waitz, Anthrop. Nat. Völk, ii. 323–329. Our main authorities at present for Bushman myths are contained in A Brief Account of Bushman Folk-lore, Bleek, London, 1875; and in A Glimpse into the Mythology of the Maluti Bushmen, by Mr. Orpen, Chief Magistrate, St. John's Territory, Cape Monthly Magazine, July 1874. Some information may also be gleaned from the South African Folk-lore Journal, 1879–80.
  3. Missionary Travels, p. 158.