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4 Tylor, Early History of Mankind; Catliu, vol. ii. p. 127.


Tongans, also, the land of the dead, which they
call Bulotu, is situated in the west. 1

* At the extreme western cape of Vanua Levu, the souls
of the Fijian dead embark for the judgment-seat of JVdengei,
and thither the living come in pilgrimage, thinking to see
there ghosts and gods.' 2

But this superstition conies nearer home to our-
selves. Great Britain itself, for the same reason,
apparently, as lying to the extreme west of Europe, 3
towards the setting sun, was anciently regarded
by the Galli and Germans 4 as ' the island of the
dead/ because souls were ferried over thither in
the depth of night from the opposite coast of
Gaul ; and it is said to be still a popular belief
in Armorica and Bretagne that the shades of the
departed are escorted over to England, because it
is the nether-world, or land of the dead. 5 The
very point of this weird ferry is pointed out near
Eaz, in Bretagne, where the promontory stretches
westward into the ocean, and the bay is called
Bod ann anavo, c the bay of souls.' 6 The English,

1 Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol. i. pp. 310, 311.

2 Ibid., vol. ii. p. 41.

3 Europa, as a geographical name, appears to denote ' the western
or dark land,' * and must have been given by Asiatic Greeks, just
as the Chinese call the great island to the east of them Je-pun,
i.e., * the source of day,' properly Nipon, now Japan. Asia itself
signifies 'rising,' or 'the east' (Rawlinson, Herodotus, vol. i. p. 594).

4 Procopius, Goth. Bell., vol. iv. p. 20.

5 Kuhn. Vide Kelly's Indo-European Tradition, p. 121 ; Sir G.
C. Lewis, Astronomy of Ancients, pp. 494 seg.

6 Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol. ii. p. 59.

* 'Evpojirrj, x^P a T ^ s dvcrew, rj (TKOTeivq (Heysch.) : — Kenrick,
Phoenicia, p. 85.


in their turn, not accepting the equivocal compli-
ment, and looking away from themselves to their
more western neighbour, located the descent to the
Land of Shades in the sacred isle of Erin; and
this Irish Avernus — St Patrick's Purgatory, as it
was called — was visited by many a wandering pil-
grim. The Irish, again, did not fail to remove this
region still further west. They supposed that the
spirits of the departed went to join the company of
the heroes in the island called Tir-na-nog, or land of
perpetual youth, which lay far out in the Atlantic,
and traditions of this lovely region, 'the bright
confines of another world,' are yet current, I be-
lieve, along the west coast of Ireland. 1

According to the Keltic myth of Macpherson,
departed heroes were transported to Flath-Innis,
the noble island, a verdant paradise that lies un-
vexed by storms amid the great western main. 2

According to the Greek idea, also, the Isles of
the Blessed, where the heroes rest at ease, were
conceived to lie in the ocean towards the extreme
west. The Phaiakian land of the Odyssey, says a
recent writer, is l that ideal land far away in the
west, over which is spread the soft beauty of an
everlasting twilight, . . . where the radiant pro-

1 Old Folk-Lore of Ireland, p. 290 seq. See also an article on the
Sacred Isles of the West, Notes and Queries, 2d Ser. No. cxxvi. p. 429.
Representations have been found on antique gems of departed souls
being conveyed to the abodes of bliss, imagined as some happy
island in the far west (King's Gnostics and their Remains, p. 158).

2 Tyior, loc. cit.


cessions which gladden the eyes of mortal men
only when the heavens are clear, are ever passing
through the streets and along the flower-clad hills.'
It is, in fact, cloudland ; and there is situated the
palace and gardens of Alkinoos, with their price-
less treasures and unfading glory ' (vide Cox ; Aryan
Mythology, vol. ii. p. 275). So also —

' The Elysian Plain is far away in the west, where the sun
goes down beyond the bounds of the earth. . . . The abodes
of the blessed are golden islands sailing in a sea of blue, the
burnished clouds floating in the pure ether. Grief and sorrow
cannot approach them; plague and sickness cannot touch them.
The barks of the Phaiakians dread no disaster ; and thus the
blissful company gathered together in that far western land
inherits a tearless eternity.' l Ibid., p. 321.

The sun in his daily course was conceived to

1 ' The idea of a sacred island, rising amidst the waves, removed
from all contentions and wars, the abode of quiet and purity, the
secure refuge of men buffeted by the storms of the world, seems
naturally to suggest itself to the human mind. By an easy transi-
tion, this residence of a pious and holy race becomes an Elysian
Field ; it is endowed with perpetual spring ; the ground produces
its fruits without labour ; there are no serpents or wild beasts
within its hallowed precinct ; its inhabitants are no longer a sacred
colony of living men, but the souls of the departed trauslated to a
region of bliss. The notion of holy islands first occurs in Hesiod.
He describes the race of heroes who form the fourth age of man-
kind as residing after death apart from the world, in the Islands
of the Blest, near the ocean, free from care, and enjoying three
harvests in the year. Pindar, in like manner, conceives the Islands
of the Blest as the abodes of the just and virtuous after death.'
'As the horizon of their geographical knowledge extended, the
province of fable receded, and the marvels of fancy were banished
into the more distant regions of the earth.' And so the seat of
happiness was shifted from the islands of the Mediterranean to the
Canary Islands of the Atlantic, to Hibernia, the sacred isle of the
far west, or even to the Hyperboreans of the extreme north (Sir G.
C. Lewis, Astronomy of the Ancients, pp. 489 seq. )

Homer describes the land of the Cimmerians, where Ulysses evoked
the souls of the dead, as being on the furthest extremity of the


tread the path of life from east to west. When
he rose, he entered into the land of the living ;
when he set, he sank into the land of the dead,
and thus he was the first who discovered the way
to the other world. To that world men too must
surely go, and by the same way, when their course
is run. Our life-powers wane, and inevitably de-
cline into the west. When our

1 Youthful morn
Hath travell'd on to age's steepy night.' l


i The bright day is done,
And we are for the dark.' 2

It is due, therefore, to a natural conception that
the Mexican says, i The sun goes at evening to
lighten the dead,' or that the New Zealander ex-
claims, i See ! the sun has returned to Hades,'
meaning it has set. And this is why the sun
looks so red as it approaches the horizon, accord-
ing to the belief of our Anglo-Saxon forefathers,
because then ' she looketh upon hell.' 3

ocean. When the localities of fiction receded, this scene was fixed
by Claudian at the extremity of Gaul. While, later still, Procopius
found the soul-land removed to Great Britain.

1 Shakspere, Sonnet LXIII.

2 Antony and Cleopatra, v. 2. Cf. —

' At night when I betake to rest,
Next morn I rise neer'er my West
Of life, almost by eight houres saile
Then when sleep breath'd his drowsie gale.'

Bp. Henry King, Poems, p. 37 (1657,'ed. Hannah).

« And though You travel down into the West,
May Your life's Sun stand fixed in the East,
Far from the weeping set.' Ibid., p. 50.

3 Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol. ii. pp. 60 seq. The Karens, an


1 C. Wherefore is the son rede at even \ M. For he gothe
toward hell.'
The Master of Oxford's Catechism, (Reliq. Antiq., i. p. 232).

Similarly, the classical myths of Orpheus, of
Odysseus, and other heroes, visiting the infernal
regions, or dark under-world below, are only poeti-
cal representations of the sun-god descending
beneath the verge, passing along deep down below
the northern horizon, and bringing up with him
' the wide-shining Eurydike,' the golden treasures
of the dawn. 1 The researches of Max Miiller, Cox,
and De Gubernatis have placed this beyond ques-
tion, and the most widely-dispersed savage legends,
Mr Tylor assures us, from Polynesia and America,
give new'confirmation to the theory. 2

The Icelandic myth of the Prose Edda should
also be compared. When Baldr, the bright day-
god, is slain, Hermodr is sent to seek and ransom
him. 3 He repairs towards the north, for there, he
is told, lies the way to the abodes of death, and
after a long and dangerous ride, passes over the
bridge of glittering gold, and finds him at length
in the realm of Hel (the goddess of death), which

Asiatic tribe, hold the same belief, that when the sun sets on earth
it rises in Hades, and when it sets in Hades it rises in this world
(Joe. cit.) As the earth thus becomes the land of shades during
the hours of darkness, we can understand the reason of ghosts walk-
ing here only by night, but returning below at daybreak.

1 Vide De Gubernatis, Mythical Zoology, vol. i. pp. 25, 149.

2 Primitive Culture, vol. i. p. 313.

3 Cf. Carlyle on Heroes, Lect. I. Oxford Essays, 1858, p. 196.


is also called Nijllieimr, the shadowy land, or home
of mists. 1 De Gubernatis, in his work on Mythi-
cal Zoology, sums up much of what has been said
in these words : —

1 The city of Bhogavatt (i.e., furnished "with riches) is full
of treasures, like the hell of Western tradition. This infernal
world went definitively underground when the gods, having
fallen, took humbler forms upon the earth. . . . The riches of
heaven, concealed by the cloudy or gloomy monster of night
or winter, passed into the earth ; the observation of heavenly
phenomena helped this conception. The true mythical trea-
sures are the sun and the moon in their splendour ; when they
go down, they seem to hide themselves underground ; the solar
hero goes underground, he goes to hell, after having lost all
his treasures and all his riches ; he undertakes in poverty his
infernal journey. When the sun rises from the mountain, it
seems to come out from underground : the solar hero returns
from his journey through hell, he returns resplendent and
wealthy ; the infernal demon gives back to him part of the
treasures which he possesses, having carried them off from
him, or else the young hero recovers them by his valour.' 2

In ancient Egyptian fable it was taught that
the souls of dead persons, whose bodies had been

1 In Phoenicia, Adonis, whose name signifies Lord, i.e., the sun
as supreme god, the king of heaven, was fabled to have been slain
bv the boar, the emblem of the rude, ungenial winter. Being the
source of life to the physical world, his departure from the upper
hemisphere in winter was mourned as a temporary death with a
display of the most frantic grief ; his return to it, being a new
birth, was the occasion of commensurate rejoicing ( Kenrick,
Phoenicia, p. 309 ; Milton, Paradise Lost, vol. i. p. 455 ; B. -Gould,
Curious Myths, p. 2S5). It w r as at the northern gate of the Temple
that the Jewish women used to sit when weeping for Tarnrouz, who
is identical with Adonis, i.e., bewailing the descent of the sun
among the wintry signs (Ezek. viii. 14). Rawlinson asserts that
the name Tammuz means the ' hidden ' or c concealed ' one, which
would be a suitable designation for ' Sol Inferus,' the Atrnoo of
Egypt (Herodotus, vol. ii. p. 104).

2 De Gubernatis, Mythical Zoology, vol. ii. p. 403.


properly embalmed, descended into the invisible
world in the boat of the setting sun ; and that
after some long period, during which they had
many trials to undergo, they would rise again
perfectly pure, to reunite with the body, in the
boat of the rising sun. 1 On the mummy being
committed to the tomb, the soul is directed "in the
' Book of the Dead ' to pay acts of adoration to Ra,
or Phra, the rising sun, and to Athom, the setting
sun, this last being implored to open 6 the gates in
the solar mountains that close the cave of the
west.' We learn from the same source that the
disembodied spirit had a journey to make when it
arrived in Hades, that the path it had to follow
was the nocturnal course of the sun, that it had
many ablutions to perform and changes to undergo
preparatory to its purification, and that over these
presided Osiris, ' the lord of the cave of the west.' 2
What makes this superstition of the west being
the land of shades and of the infernal powers the
more interesting, is the fact that it has lived on
into Christian times, 3 and has actually been recog-
nised in the most important of Christian ceremonies.
At baptism, according to the rite of the Greek

1 Osburn, Monumental History of Egypt, vol. i. p. 332 ; Bunsen,
Egypt, vol. v. pass.

2 Osburn, Monumental History of Egypt, vol. i. pp. 423, 429.

3 E.g., when the Botathen ghost was duly exorcised (under Epis-
copal license) by the Parson of Launceston in 1665, ' she peacefully
withdrew, gliding towards the west ' (Hawker, Footprints of Former
Men in Far Cornwall, p. 122).


Church, the sponsors, when renouncing the devil,
turn with the child towards the setting sun, and
answer, ' I have renounced him.' They then spit, to
show their utter rejection and abhorrence of him. 1
After the confession of faith candles are lighted,
and a taper put into each sponsor's hand, in token
of the child being'spiritually illuminated, and made
one of the ' children of light.' This custom of
turning to the west at the renunciation of Satan
in baptism, is a symbolical rite of very great anti-
quity. So far back as the fourth century Cyril of
Jerusalem, speaking to those who had been re-
cently baptized, said — ' Standing towards the west,
you have been commanded to stretch forth your
hand and renounce Satan as if he were pre-
sent/ 2

Just as Nirriti, the western land, to which Yama
had first crossed the rapid waters, became first the
land of death, and afterwards a personification of
evil, 3 so to the primitive Christians c the west is
the place of darkness, and Satan is darkness, and
his strength is in darkness.' For this reason, we

1 Dixon, Free Russia, vol. ii. p. 219.

2 Palmer, Antiquities of the English Ritual, vol. ii. p. 177.

3 Cox, Mythology of the Aryan Nations, vol. i. p. 344. Nirriti,
i.e., the exodus, the land of the deceased who are here no more
seen. Chaeremon states that in the Egyptian hieroglyphics, as a
serpent creeping out of a hole represents the east, so a serpent
entering a hole signifies the west, probably, i.e., the urseus serpent
appropriate to Ra the sun-god plunging into darkness. In the ideo-
graphic symbols, however, as deciphered, the west is ' the land of
truths' (BunseD, Egypt, vol. i. pp. 497, 517).


are told, they symbolically looked towards the
west in renouncing him. 1 This ceremony, together
with that of insufflations, and other external signs
of enmity to the devil, are still very generally re-
tained in the Eastern Church. "When the sponsors
had renounced the * works of darkness ' and the
' Prince of darkness,' turned towards that region
of darkness where he was supposed to dwell, they
then wheeled completely round to the opposite
point of the compass, the region of brightness,
where ' the day-spring from on high hath visited
us' 2 (Luke i. 78), and professed their faith in
Christ the 6 true Light, which lighteth every man
that cometh into the world ' (John i. 9).

1 In our mysteries ' (saith Jerome) l we first renounce him
that is in the west, who dies to us with our sin ; and then
turning about to the east, we make a covenant with the sun
of righteousness, and promise to be his servants.' 3

Turning towards the east being thus a symbol

of aversion from Satan and conversion to Christ,

1 Bingham, Christian Antiquities, vol. i. p. 517 (ed. Bohn).

2 The word for ' day-spring ' in this passage {hvarokr}) had come
to be used as a name of the Messiah. ' Behold the man, his name
is the East ' (or ' the Sunrise,' avaroKri) is the Septuagint rendering
of the words ' Behold the man whose name is the Branch ' in our
version (Zech. vi. 12). Referring to that prophecy, Philo Judseus
ga y S — < I have also heard of one of the companions of Moses having
uttered such a speech as this, "Behold, a man whose name is the
East." A very novel appellation indeed, if you consider it as spoken
of a man who is compounded of body and soul ; but if you look
upon it as applied to that incorporeal being who in no respect differs
from the divine image, you will then agree that the name 'of the
East has been given to him with great felicity ' (Trans. Yonge, vol.
ii. p. 14. Cf. Bishop Reynold's Works, vol. v. p. 258).

3 Bingham, loc. cit.

298 the east Christ's region.

from darkness to light, from serving idols to serve
Him who is the Fountain of Light, 1 the profession
of allegiance to Christ was always made with faces
turned eastwards. Such confession of faith was
made by the sponsors either repeating the Creed
after the priest, as in the Eastern churches, or
giving their assent thereto, as in the "Western, and
this is the origin of the custom still retained in
cathedrals and many churches of the congregation
and choir turning towards the east while the Creed
is being recited. 2

It is for a similar reason, no doubt, that from
time immemorial the dead have always been in-
terred with their feet towards the east, so that
when they rise from their sleep in the dust they
may stand with their backs turned on the kingdom
of darkness and Satan, ready to greet the dawn of
a better day, and to meet their Judge when He
cometh out of the east.

' In Wales the east wind is called " the wind of the dead
men's feet," because the dead are buried with their feet
towards the east, to meet their Lord at His second coming.'
Swainson, Weather Folk-Lore, p. 226.

1 Bingham, loc. cit. ; Palmer's Antiquities of English Ritual,
vol. ii. p. 179. Jones of Nayland, Figurative Language of Scripture,
Lect. II.

2 Compare the following from Lactantius — ' The east was more
peculiarly ascribed to God because He was the fountain of ligbt
and illuminator of all things, and because He makes us rise to
eternal life. But the west was ascribed to that wicked and depraved
spirit the devil, because he hides the light, and induces darkness
always upon men, and makes them fall and perish in their sins '
(Bingham, vol. i. p. 654).


Indeed, there is an ancient tradition in Bede and
Gregory 1 that the Lord Himself was thus buried
with His face and feet towards the east. Shaks-
pere has an allusion to the observance in 6 Cymbe-
line ' (iv. 2), when Guiderius says —

' Nay, Cadwal, we must lay his head to the east ;
My father hath a reason forV

And assuredly it is a strange thought, a thought
of overpowering majesty and solemnity, that the
mighty army of the dead, the countless millions
who have received Christian burial for many suc-
ceeding ages, are now all lying in parallel order,
stretched in their narrow beds in the one direction,
— in even files, ready at the trumpet-call to start
each to his feet, and find himself in the ranks of
a marshalled host stretching away to the world's
ends, but all fronting eastwards, and all face to
face with the Son of Man as He returns out of the
resplendent orient. 2

1 Vide Brand, Pop. Antiquities, vol. ii.'p. 318. The sepulchral effigy
of Dr Donne in St Paul's Cathedral was purposely turned towards
the east, Walton tells us, ' from whence he expected the second
coming of his and our Saviour Jesus,' according to the beautiful
words with which his epitaph is concluded — ' Hie Licet In Occiduo
Cinere, Aspicit Eum Cujus Nomen Est Oriens.'

2 The Saviour, according to the Patristic interpretation of Psalm
lxvii. 5, was conceived as having gone down into the west when He
submitted Himself to the power of darkness ' by His cross and
passion, by His death and burial,' and descended into the lower
parts of the earth. The Vulgate rendering of the passage is —
'Cantate Deo, psalmum dicite nomini ejus; iter facite ei qui
ascendit super occasum.' In the Douay version, ' Sing ye to God,
sing a psalm to His name ; make a way for Him who ascendeth
upon the west.' Being loosed from the pains of death at His
'glorious resurrection and ascension,' He arose above the west, like
a supernatural sunrise, and triumphed over the region and the
Prince of darkness.


This custom of uniformity in sepulture, however,
is not peculiar to Christians. Even amongst rude
and barbarous tribes the region of the rising sun
is commonly regarded as the eastern home of
deity and the renewal of life. Therefore the
custom of burying the dead with face to the east
is observed by the Australians, Yumanas, Gua-
rayos, Ainos, and others. 1

The Samoans and Fijians, on the other hand,
from the consideration that the land of the
departed lies in the far west, bury the corpse
lying with head east and feet west, in order that
the body may have but to rise and walk straight
onward to follow its soul home. So the Winne-
bagos of North America, Peruvians, Athenians,
&c. But in either case the rule of burying in the
line of east and west is widely observed.

What has been said above of the superstitions
connected with the west, the region of incipient
darkness, holds true of the north, the region of
total gloom. 2 It also has acquired an evil charac-
ter in many lands. It is either the appointed
dwelling of the dead, or the chosen home of
malicious spirits. 3 According to the Iranian

1 Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol. ii. pp. 382, 383.

2 So the Irish niardha (the west) seems cognate with 0. Norse
nordr, ' north,' which Ed. Miiller connects with 0. H. Ger. neran
(wet), Gk. vdpos, vrjpos, Sans, ndra nira (water), as if * the rainy-

3 Vide De l'Hayne de Sathan et Malins Esprits contre l'Homme,
et de l'Homme contre Eux, par F. P. Crespet (Paris, 1590), p. 32.


tradition the happy abodes which the good spirit
Ormuzd (Ahura Mazda) created for his people
were after a time smitten with calamity by the
wicked Ahriman (Aiihro Mainyu). The first abode
created was called Airyana Vaega, the original
home of the Aryans, or primitive paradise ; but
Ahriman brought in death and the great serpent,
and produced winter, which was before unknown,
by means of his Daevas or demons. This region
lay towards the north. When the Persians at a
later time abandoned this cold and inhospitable
country for the happier climes of the south, they
looked back with horror on their earlier home as a
dreary land, where the demon Zemaka, the lord of
winter, had his dwelling, the cruel, murderous
winter, which was created by the Spirit of Evil,
and is 'full of snow and evil thoughts.' Eventu-
ally they came to consider the north as the habi-
tation of demons and devils. 1

Universally, indeed, and from the earliest times,
there appears to have been a legendary belief that
the enemies of religion and civilisation lived in

1 Pictet, Orig. Indo-Europ. vol. i. pp. 36, 37; Renan, Origine du
Langage, 225. The horrible vampire-demon Drukhs Nacus,Vho was
believed by the ancient Iranians to prey upon the dead, when
driven away from the corpse by ablutions of pure water, was seen
to fly away to the region of the north under the form of a fly (Pictet,
vol. ii. p. 516). A mysterious old hag, who took up her abode in
the charnel-house of Kilcrea Abbey, Co. Cork, towards the end of
the last century, and used to amuse her leisure hours in building
walls of human bones, was generally believed by the country-people
to have come from the weird north, and to have returned thither
when she disappeared (Notes and Queries, 4th Ser. No. lxii. p. 211).


that quarter. Thus Gog and Magog, which, in
one place (Rev. xx. 8), are identified with the
powers of Antichrist, are localised in the north by
the Koran, and Ezekiel expressly states that they
would come upon Israel ' from the sides of the
nortli ' (ch. xxxix. 2).

The priests in primeval times, when offering
prayers or taking auguries, naturally turned them-
selves towards the rising sun, the source of light. 1
In this position the north lay to their left hand,
the south to the right, and the west behind them.
Accordingly in most languages 2 the word for north
is identical with that for left hand, south with
right hand ; east means the region in front, and
west that behind. In taking the auspices, every

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