Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 1).djvu/225

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Brahmanic myth we shall see that type after type was condemned and perished because it was inadequate, or inadequately equipped—because it did not harmonise with its environment.[1] For these series of experimental creations and inefficient evolutions vast spaces of time were required, according to the Aztec and Indo-Aryan philosophies. It is not impossible that actual floods and great convulsions of nature may have been remembered in tradition, and may have lent colour and form to these somewhat philosophic myths of origins. From such sources probably comes the Mexican hypothesis of a water-age (ending in a deluge), an earth-age (ending in an earthquake), a wind-age (ending in hurricanes), and the present dispensation, to be destroyed by fire.

The less philosophic and more popular Aztec legend of the commencement of the world is mainly remarkable for the importance given in it to objects of stone. For some reason, stones play a much greater part in American than in other mythologies. An emerald was worshipped in the temple of Pachacamac, the supreme and spiritual deity of the Incas, The creation legend of the Cakchiquels of Guatemala[2] makes much of a mysterious, primeval, and animated obsidian stone. In the Iroquois myths[3] stones are the leading characters. Nor did Aztec myth escape this influence.

  1. As an example of a dim evolutionary idea, note the myths of the various ages as reported by Mendieta, according to which there were five earlier ages "or suns" of bad quality, so that the contemporary human beings were unable to live on the fruits of the earth.
  2. Brinton, Annals of the Cakchiquels.
  3. Erminie Smith, Bureau of Ethnol. Report., ii.