1. The Races of Mankind and the Origins of Religion

“Heaven is my Father, it engendered me. I have this entire celestial circle as my family. My Mother is the noble Earth. The highest part of its surface is her womb; there the Father makes fruitful the womb of the one who is his wife and daughter."

Thus the Vedic poet sang four or five thousand years ago, before an earth altar where a fire of dry herbs flamed. A profound divination, a sublime consciousness is expressed in these strange words. They contain the secret of the double origin of mankind. Anterior to and superior to the earth is the divine archetype of man; celestial is the origin of his soul. But his body is the product of earthly elements fecundated by a cosmic essence. The embraces of Uranus and the Great Mother, in the language of the Mysteries, signify the showers of souls or of spiritual monads which come to fertilize terrestrial seeds; they are the organizing principles without which matter would be only an inactive and diffused mass. The highest part of the earth's surface, which the Vedic poet calls the womb of the earth, designates the continents and mountains, cradles of the races of man. As for Heaven, Varuna, the Uranus of the Greeks, this represents the invisible order, super-physical, eternal and intellectual; it embraces the entire infinity of space and time.

In this chapter we shall consider only the terrestrial origins of humanity according to esoteric traditions, confirmed by modern anthropological and ethnological science.

The four races which share the globe today are daughters of varied lands. Successive creations, slow elaborations of the earth at work, the continents have emerged from the seas at great intervals of time, which the ancient priests of India called interdiluvian cycles. During thousands of years, each continent produced its flora and fauna, culminating in a human race of a different color.

The southern continent, engulfed by the last great flood, was the cradle of the primitive red race of which the American Indians are but the remnants, descended from the troglodytes, who reached the top of the mountains when their continent sank. Africa is the mother of the black race, called the Ethiopian by the Greeks. Asia gave birth to the yellow race, preserved in the Chinese. The last arrival, the white race, came from the forests of Europe, between the tempests of the Atlantic and the laughter of the Mediterranean. All human types are the result of mixtures, combinations, degeneracies or selections of these four great races. In the preceding cycles, red and black races ruled successively with powerful civilizations which have left traces in Cyclopean structures as well as in the architecture of Mexico. The temples of India and Egypt had traditions concerning these vanished civilizations. -- In our cycle the white race is predominant, and if one calculates the probable antiquity of India and Egypt, one will find that its preponderance dates back seven or eight thousand years.1

According to Brahmanic traditions, civilization probably began on our globe five thousand years ago, with the red race on the southern continent, while all of Europe and part of Asia were still under water. These myths also speak of an earlier race of giants. Gigantic human bones, whose formation resembles the monkey more than man, have been found in caves of Tibet. These creatures were related to a primitive humanity, intermediate, and still akin to animal life, possessing neither articulated speech, social organization, nor religion. For these three things always appear at the same time, and this is the meaning of that remarkable bardic triad which says, "Three things come into existence at the same time: God, light and freedom." With the first stammering of speech, society is born and the vague hint of a divine order appears. It is the breath of Jehova in the mouth of Adam, the word of Hermes, the law of the first Manu, the fire of Prometheus. A God trembles in the human faun. The red race, as we have said, inhabited the southern continent, now engulfed, called Atlantis by Plato, in keeping with Egyptian traditions. A great earthquake destroyed part of this continent, and scattered the remainder. Several Polynesian races, as well as the Indians of North America and the Aztecs whom the Spanish conquerors found in Mexico, are the survivors of this ancient red race whose civilization, lost forever, had its days of glory and material splendor. All these people carry in their souls the incurable melancholy of old races which die without hope.

After the red race, the black race dominated the globe. One must look for the superior species, the best of the race, in the Abyssinian and the Nubian, in whom is preserved the type of this race at its height. The latter invaded southern Europe in prehistoric times, and were driven back by the inhabitants. Their trace has been completely erased from our popular traditions. During the period of their supremacy, they had religious centers in Upper Egypt and in India. Their Cyclopean cities crenelated the mountains of Africa, the Caucasus and Central Asia. Their social organization was an absolute theocracy. At the top were priests who were feared like the gods; at the bottom were groveling tribes without any acknowledged family. The women were slaves. These priests possessed profound knowledge, the principle of the divine unity of the universe, and the worship of the stars which, under the name of Sabeanism, spread among the white peoples.2 But between the knowledge of the priests and the crude fetishism of the masses, there was no middle ground, no idealistic art, no vivid mythology. Moreover, they possessed an already scientific industry, especially the art of handling huge stones by means of the ballista, and of melting metals in immense furnaces, at which they used prisoners of war. Among this race, strong in physical resistance, passionate energy and the capacity for affection, religion therefore was the reign of power, through terror. The nature of God hardly affected the consciousness of these childlike peoples except in the form of a dragon, a terrible antediluvian animal which the kings had painted on their banners, and the priests carved on the portals of their temples.

If the sun of Africa helped give birth to the black race, it can be said that the glaciers of the arctic regions witness the advent of the white race. The latter are the Hyperboreans of whom Greek mythology speaks. These sandy-haired, blue-eyed men came from the north through forests illuminated by the aurora borealis, accompanied by dogs and reindeer, directed by bold leaders and guided by clairvoyant women. Shaggy hair of gold, and eyes of azure: these were their predetermined colors. This race is to invent the worship of the sun and of the sacred fire, and will bring into the world the longing for heaven. Sometimes these people will rebel against heaven to the point of wishing to climb up to it; at other times they will bow before its splendors in absolute adoration.

Like the others, the white race also had to tear itself away from the savage state before becoming aware of itself. -- Its distinctive characteristics are the love of individual freedom, reflective sensitivity which creates the power of sympathy, and supremacy of the intellect, which gives the imagination an idealistic and symbolic turn. -- Spiritual sensitivity brought about affection -- man's preference for but one wife; from this came this race's tendency toward monogamy, the conjugal principle and the family. -- The need for freedom, coupled with that of sociability created the clan, with its elective principle. Visionary imagination created ancestor worship, which forms the root and center of religion among white people.

The social and political principle is manifest the day some half-savage men, besieged by an enemy people, instinctively assemble and choose the strongest and most intelligent among them to defend and lead them. On that day society is born. The chief is a king in embryo; his companions are future noblemen. The deliberating old men, unable to march, already form a kind of senate or assembly of elders. -- But how was religion born? It has been said that it arose out of the fear of primitive man, face to face with nature. But fear has nothing in common with reverence and love. It does not unite fact and idea, visible and invisible, man and God. As long as man did nothing but tremble before nature, he was not yet man. He became man when he seized the link which connected him with the past and future, with something superior and beneficent, and when he worshiped that mysterious unknown. But how did he worship for the first time?

Fabre d'Olivet offers a supremely astute and thought-provoking hypothesis on how ancestor worship must have been established among the white race.3 In a quarrelsome clan, two rival warriors are arguing. Raging, they are about to fight, and are already grappling with one another. At that moment, a dishevelled woman throws herself between them and separates them. Her eyes are aflame; her voice has the tone of authority. In panting, cutting words she says that in the forest she has just seen the ancestor of the race, the victorious warrior of yesteryear, the Herôll, appear before her. He does not wish two brother warriors to fight, but to unite against the common enemy. "The ghost of the great ancestor, the Herôll, told me so," exclaims the excited woman. "He spoke to me; I saw him!" What she says, she believes. Convinced, she convinces. Moved, astonished, and as though overcome by an invincible force, the reconciled rivals regard this inspired woman as a kind of divinity.

Such inspirations, followed by abrupt changes, must have occurred frequently and in many diverse forms in the prehistoric life of the white race. Among savage people it is the woman who, in her excitable sensitivity, first senses the spiritual, affirms the unseen.

Let us now consider the unexpected and enormous consequences of an event similar to the one about which we are speaking. In the clan, in the tribe, everyone is talking about the marvelous event. The oak tree where the inspired woman saw the vision, becomes sacred. She is taken back to it, and there, under the hypnotic influence of the moon, which plunges her into a visionary state, she continues to prophesy in the name of the great ancestor. Soon this woman and others like her, standing on rocks in the middle of forest glades, at the sound of the wind and the distant ocean, call forth the diaphanous souls of ancestors before quivering crowds who, charmed by magic incantations, see them or think they see them amidst the mists drifting in the moonlight. Ossian, the last of the great Celts, will summon Fingal and his companions in the gathering clouds. Thus at the very origin of social life, ancestor worship is established among the white race. The great ancestor becomes the god of the tribe. This was the beginning of religion.

But this is not all. Around the prophetess old men group themselves and observe her in her deep sleep and in her prophetic ecstasies. They study her divers states, examine her revelations, interpret her oracles. They observe that when she prophesies in the visionary state, her face is transfigured. Her speech becomes rhythmical, and her raised voice pronounces her oracles as she sings a serious and meaningful melody.4 From this come the lines, verses, poetry and music, whose origins are considered divine among the people of the Aryan race. The idea of revelation could occur only with respect to facts of this kind. At the same time we see religion and worship, priests and poetry arise.

In Asia, Iran and India, where peoples of the white race established the first Aryan civilization, mixing with people of different colors, men quickly gained ascendancy over women in religious insight. There we no longer hear anyone speak except wise men, Rishis and prophets. Woman, subjugated, submissive, is no longer priestess except in the home. But in Europe the trace of the important role of woman is found among peoples of the same origin who remained savage for thousands of years. It appears in the Scandinavian Pythoness, in the Voluspa of the Edda, in the Celtic Druidesses, in the women diviners who accompanied the Germanic armies and decided the day of battle,5 and even in the Thracian Bacchantes who survive in the legend of Orpheus. The prehistoric clairvoyant is continued in the Pythia of Delphi.

The first prophetesses of the white race are organized in Druidess schools under the supervision of informed elders or Druids, men of the oak tree. At first they were only doers of good deeds. Through their intuition, their divination and their enthusiasm, they gave a great impetus to the race. But rapid corruption and tremendous abuses of this institution were inevitable. Feeling that they were mistresses of the destinies of the people, the Druidesses wanted to rule the latter at any cost. Lacking inspiration, they tried to reign by terror. They demanded human sacrifices, making these the essential element of their cult. In this, the heroic instincts of their race worked in their favor. The people were courageous, their warriors held death in contempt; at the first call they came voluntarily and bravely threw themselves beneath the knives of bloodthirsty priestesses. Through human hecatombs the latter hurried the living to join the dead as messengers, for it was believed that in this manner one gained the protection of the ancestors. This activity on the part of the prophetesses and Druids became a fearful means of domination.

This is the first example of the perversion the noblest instincts of human nature inevitably undergo when they are not controlled by a wise authority or guided toward the good by a higher conscience. Left to the mercy of ambition and individual passion, inspiration degenerates into superstition, courage into ferocity, the sublime ideal of sacrifice into an instrument of tyranny and of sinister and cruel exploitation.

But the white race was only in its violent, wild youth. Passionate in the spiritual sphere, it had yet to undergo many other and more bloody crises. It had just been awakened by the attacks of the black race, which was beginning to invade the south of Europe. This was an unequal struggle from the beginning. The half-savage whites, just emerging from their forests and their lacustrine homes, had no other means of defense than their spears and stone-tipped arrows. The blacks had iron weapons, armor of brass, all the resources of their industrial civilization and their Cyclopean cities. Defeated in the first encounter, the white captives became the slaves of the black men, who forced them to quarry stone and to carry crude ore into their furnaces. Escaped captives brought back to their own country the customs, skills and fragments of the science of their conquerors. They learned two things from the black men: the smelting of metals, and holy writing, that is, the art of recording certain ideas by means of mysterious hieroglyphic signs which they inscribed on the skins of beasts, on stone, or the bark of the ash tree. From this we get the runes of the Celts. Smelted, forged metal was the instrument of war; sacred writing was the origin of science and of religious tradition. The struggle between the white and black races wavered back and forth for many centuries from the Pyrenees to the Caucasus, and from the Caucasus to the Himalayas. The salvation of the white men was in their forests. There, like wild animals, they could hide themselves, reappearing at a suitable moment. Emboldened, disciplined and better armed as the centuries progressed, they finally took revenge, overthrew the cities of the black men, drove them from the coasts of Europe, later invading North Africa and Central Asia, then inhabited by black peoples.

The mixture of the two races was effected either by peaceful colonization or by military conquest. Fabre d'Olivet, that wonderful seer of the prehistoric past of mankind, starts with this idea in order to set forth a clear view of the origin of the people called the Semitic and also of the Aryans. Wherever the white colonists yielded to the black peoples, accepting their rule and receiving religious initiation from their priests, there Semitic peoples such as the pre-Menes Egyptians, the Arabs, the Phoenicians, Chaldeans and Jews probably came into being. The Aryan civilizations, on the other hand, probably were formed where the white men ruled the black men as a result of war or conquests -- as in the case of the Iranians, Hindus, Greeks and Etruscans. In addition, among Aryan peoples we also include all the whites who remained in a savage and nomadic state in antiquity such as the Scythians, the Getae, the Celts, and later the Germans.

In this way the basic diversity between religions and sacred writing of these two great categories of nations can be explained. Among the Semites, where the intellectuality of the black race originally predominated, over and above the popular idolatry a tendency toward monotheism can be observed. The principle of the oneness of the hidden, absolute and formless God was one of the essential dogmas of the priests of the black race and of their secret initiation. Among the white men who were conquerors or who remained of pure blood, one observes on the contrary, a tendency toward polytheism, mythology and personification of divinity, stemming from their love of nature and their impassioned ancestor worship.

The main difference between the style of writing of the Semites and the Aryans probably resulted from the same cause. Why do all Semitic people write from right to left, and why do all Aryan people write from left to right? The reason Fabre d'Olivet gives is as curious as it is original. It calls before our eyes a real vision of the forgotten past.

Everyone knows that in prehistoric times no writing at all was done by the general masses of the people. The custom only spread with phonetic script, or the art of representing the sounds of words by letters. But hieroglyphic script, or the art of representing things by arbitrary signs, is as old as human civilization. And always in those primitive times, such writing was the privilege of the priesthood, since it was considered a sacred thing, a religious function, and originally a divine inspiration. When, in the Southern Hemisphere, the priests of the black or southern race drew their mysterious signs on animal skins or on stone slabs, they used to face the South Pole, the lines of their handwriting directed toward the east, the source of light. Therefore they wrote from right to left. The priests of the white or Nordic race learned writing from the black priests and at first wrote like them. But when the sense of their origin was developed in them, along with national consciousness and racial pride, they invented their own signs, and instead of facing the south, the country of the black men, they faced the north, the country of their ancestors, while continuing to write in the direction of the east. Their characters then ran from left to right, the direction of Celtic runes, of Zend, Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, and all writings of the Aryan races. The letters move toward the rising sun, the source of terrestrial life, but the people face the north, the country of their ancestors and the mysterious source of the aurora borealis.

The Semitic and the Aryan currents are the two rivers upon which all our ideas, mythology, religion, art, science and philosophy have come to us. Each of these streams carries with it a different conception of life; the reconciliation and balance of the two would be truth itself. The Semitic current contains absolute and superior principles: the idea of unity and universality in the name of a supreme Principle which, in its application, leads to the unification of the human family. The Aryan current contains the idea of ascending evolution in all terrestrial and supra-terrestrial kingdoms, and its application leads to an infinite diversity of developments in the richness of nature and the many aspirations of the soul. Semitic genius descends from God to man; Aryan genius ascends from man to God. One is represented by the punishing archangel who descends to earth, armed with sword and thunder; the other by Prometheus, who holds in his hand the fire snatched from heaven and surveys Olympus with his glance.

We bear these two geniuses within us. We think and act under the influence of the one or the other in turn. But they are not harmoniously blended within us. They contradict and fight each other in our inner feelings, in our subtle thoughts, as well as in our social life and institutions. Hidden beneath many forms which can be summarized under the generic terms spirituality and naturalism, they control our discussions and struggles. Irreconcilable and invincible, who will unite them? And yet the progress, the salvation of mankind depends upon their reconciliation and synthesis. For this reason, in this book we would like to go back to the source of the two streams, to the birth of the two geniuses. Beyond the conflicts of history, the wars of cults, the contradictions of sacred texts, we shall enter the very consciousness of the founders and prophets who gave religions their initial impetus. From above, these men received keen intuition and inspiration, that burning light which leads to fruitful action. Indeed, synthesis pre-existed in them. The divine ray dimmed and darkened with their successors, but it reappears, it shines whenever a prophet, hero or seer returns to his life origin. For only from this point of departure does one see the goal; from the shining sun, the path of the planets.

Thus revelation in history is continuous, graduated, multiform, like nature, but identical in its source, one like Truth, unchangeable as God.

In following back along the Semitic stream, by way of Moses we come to Egypt, whose temples, according to Manetho, embodied a tradition thirty thousand years old. In tracing back along the Aryan stream, we come to India, where as a result of the conquest of the white race, the first great civilization developed. India and Egypt were the two great mothers of religions. They knew the secret of the great initiation. We shall enter their sanctuaries.

But their traditions will carry us back even further to an earlier period when the two rival geniuses of which we spoke, appear united in a primeval innocence and a marvelous harmony. This is the primitive Aryan period. Thanks to the wonderful achievements of modern science, thanks to philology, mythology and comparative ethnology, today we are able partly to envision this period. It is outlined in the Vedic hymns, which nevertheless, in their patriarchal simplicity and sublime purity, are but a reflection. It was a virile and serious age, resembling nothing less than the Golden Age dreamed of by the poets. Grief and strife are by no means absent, but within men is a confidence, a strength and a serenity which mankind has never recaptured.

In India, thought will become more profound, feelings will be refined. In Greece, passions and ideas will be clothed in the charm of art and the magic cloak of beauty. But no poetry surpasses certain Vedic hymns in moral loftiness, in eminence and intellectual breadth. In them breathes the feeling of the Divine in nature, the Unseen surrounding it and the great Unity pervading the whole.

How was such a civilization born? How did such a superior intellectuality develop in the midst of wars between races and the battle against nature? Here the investigations and conjectures of contemporary science stop. But the religious traditions of people, interpreted according to their esoteric meaning, go further and allow us to imagine that the first concentration of the Aryan nucleus in Iran took place through a kind of selection. This latter was worked out in the very center of the white race, under the leadership of a conquering lawmaker who gave his people a religion and a law in harmony with the genius of the white race.

The holy book of the Persians, the Zend-Avesta, speaks of this ancient legislator under the name of Yima, and Zoroaster, in founding a new religion refers to him as the first man to whom Ormuzd, the living God, spoke. Jesus Christ refers to Moses in the same manner. -- The Persian poet Firdausi calls this same lawmaker Djem, the conqueror of black men. -- In the Hindu epic, the Ramayana, he appears under the name Rama, is dressed like an Indian king, is surrounded by the splendors of a progressive civilization, but he retains his two distinctive characteristics of reforming conqueror and initiate.  -- In the Egyptian traditions, the time of Rama is indicated by the reign of Osiris, Lord of Light, which precedes the reign of Isis, Queen of Mysteries. -- Finally, in Greece, the ancient hero-demigod was honored under the name Dionysius, which comes from the Sanskrit Deva Nahusha, the divine restorer. Orpheus even gave this name to the divine Intelligence, and the poet Nonnus sang of the conquest of India by Dionysius, according to the tradition of Eleusis.

Like radii of the same circle, all these traditions indicate a common center. By following their path one can reach it. Then, long before the India of the Vedas, before the Iran of Zoroaster, in the early dawn of the white race, one sees the first creator of the Aryan religion emerging from the forests of ancient Scythia, crowned with his twin tiara of conqueror and initiate, and bearing in his hand the mystical fire, the holy fire which will illumine all races.

It is to Fabre d'Olivet that the honor is due for having discovered this personality.6 He marked out the bright path which leads to him, and in following this path I, in turn, shall attempt to call him forth.


Notes for this chapter:

1. This division of mankind into four successive, primitive races was accepted by the oldest priests of Egypt. They are represented by four figures of different types and skin colors in the paintings of the tomb of Seti I at Thebes. The red race bears the name Rot; the Asiatic race with yellow skin, Amu; the African race with black skin, Halasiu; the Lybico European race with white skin and blond hair, Tamahu -- Lenormant, History of the Peoples of the Orient, Vol. I.

2. Refer to the Arabian historians, as well as Abul Ghazi, Genealogical History of the Tartars and works of Mohammed Moshen, historian of the Persians. William Jones, Asiatic Researches 1. Discourse on the Tartars and Persians.

3. Histoire philosophique du genre humain, Vol. 1..

4. All who have seen a real sleep walker have been struck by the unusual intellectual excitement which is brought about during sleep. For those who have not witnessed such a phenomenon and who doubt it, we will quote a passage from the famous David Strauss. At the house of his friend, Dr. Justinus Kerner, he saw the famous Clairvoyant of Prevorst and describes her in the following manner:
"Shortly afterward, the seer fell into a hypnotic sleep. Thus for the first time I viewed this unusual state, and, I can say, in its purest and loveliest manifestation. The face bore a suffering yet exalted and tender expression and was as if bathed in heavenly light; the speech was pure, cadenced and rhythmical, a sort of recitative, an abundance of overflowing feelings which might have been compared to masses of clouds, sometimes bright, sometimes dark, gliding over the soul, or better still, to quiet, melancholy breezes caught up in the strings of a marvelous aeolian harp." (Trans. by R. Lindau, Biographie Generale, art. Kerner)

5. Refer to the last battle between Ariovistus and Caesar in the latter's Commentaries.

6. Historie philosophique du genre humain. Vol. 1.


2. Mission of Rama

The Great Initiates