Pagan and Christian Creeds HTML version

10. The Saviour-God And The Virgin-Mother
From the consideration of the world-wide belief in a past Golden Age, and the
world-wide practice of the Eucharist, in the sense indicated in the last chapter, to
that of the equally widespread belief in a human-divine Saviour, is a brief and
easy step. Some thirty years ago, dealing with this subject,[1] I wrote as follows:--
"The true Self of man consists in his organic relation with the whole body of his
fellows; and when the man abandons his true Self he abandons also his true
relation to his fellows. The mass-Man must rule in each unit-man, else the unit-
man will drop off and die. But when the outer man tries to separate himself from
the inner, the unit-man from the mass-Man, then the reign of individuality begins-
-a false and impossible individuality of course, but the only means of coming to
the consciousness of the true individuality." And further, "Thus this divinity in
each creature, being that which constitutes it and causes it to cohere together,
was conceived of as that creature's saviour, healer--healer of wounds of body
and wounds of heart--the Man within the man, whom it was not only possible to
know, but whom to know and be united with was the alone salvation. This, I take
it, was the law of health--and of holiness--as accepted at some elder time of
human history, and by us seen as through a glass darkly."
[1] See Civilisation: its Cause and Cure, ch. i.
I think it is impossible not to see--however much in our pride of Civilization (!) we
like to jeer at the pettinesses of tribal life--that these elder people perceived as a
matter of fact and direct consciousness the redeeming presence (within each
unit-member of the group) of the larger life to which he belonged. This larger life
was a reality-- "a Presence to be felt and known"; and whether he called it by the
name of a Totem-animal, or by the name of a Nature-divinity, or by the name of
some gracious human-limbed God--some Hercules, Mithra, Attis, Orpheus, or
what-not--or even by the great name of Humanity itself, it was still in any case the
Saviour, the living incarnate Being by the realization of whose presence the little
mortal could be lifted out of exile and error and death and suffering into splendor
and life eternal.
It is impossible, I think, not to see that the myriad worship of "Saviours" all over
the world, from China to Peru, can only be ascribed to the natural working of
some such law of human and tribal psychology--from earliest times and in all
races the same--springing up quite spontaneously and independently, and (so
far) unaffected by the mere contagion of local tradition. To suppose that the
Devil, long before the advent of Christianity, put the idea into the heads of all
these earlier folk, is really to pay TOO great a compliment both to the power and
the ingenuity of his Satanic Majesty--though the ingenuity with which the early
Church DID itself suppress all information about these pre-Christian Saviours
almost rivals that which it credited to Satan! And on the other hand to suppose