Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 1).djvu/155

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her treachery, and that she continues to be cut in two and grow again every month.

This kind of fancy is so natural, that the writer has known a little Scotch girl of four or five to watch the waning moon, which she had lately seen a full circle, and to exclaim, "Some bad man has cut the moon with a knife."

In harmony with the general hypothesis that all objects in nature are personal, and human or bestial, in real shape, and in passion and habits, are the myths which account for eclipses. These have so frequently been published and commented on[1] that a long statement would be tedious and superfluous. To the savage mind, and even to the Chinese and the peasants of some European countries, the need of an explanation is satisfied by the myth that an evil beast is devouring the sun or the moon. The people even try by firing off guns, shrieking, and clashing cymbals, to frighten the beast (wolf, pig, dragon, or what not) from his prey. What the hungry monster in the sky is doing when he is not biting the sun or moon we are not informed. Probably he herds with the big bird whose wings, among the Dacotahs of America and the Zulus of Africa, make thunder; or he may associate with the dragons, serpents, cows, and other aerial cattle which supply the rain, and show themselves in the waterspout. Chinese, Greenland, Hindoo, Finnish, Lithunian, and Moorish examples of the myth about the moon-devouring beasts are vouched for by Grimm.[2] A

  1. Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol. i.; Lefébure, Les Yeux d'Horus.
  2. Teutonic Mythology, English trans., ii. 706.