Anacalypsis – Godfrey Higgins
The Anacalypsis (a.k.a. An Attempt to Draw Aside the Veil of the Saitic Isis or an Inquiry into the Origin of Languages, Nations and Religions) is a huge treatise written by religious historian Godfrey Higgins. It took him more than twenty years of research to discover that there was once an ancient and universal religion, basically the foundation of all other religions that are known today. His theories about Pandeism are still of enormous interest today.
Available at amazon.com and other venues.
Content of the Anacalypsis (from wikipedia.com)
The work is the product of more than twenty years of research, during which Higgins tried to uncover „a most ancient and universal religion from which all later creeds and doctrines sprang“. It includes several maps and lithographic plates of Druidical Monuments. The book itself details many of Higgins‘ beliefs and observations about the development of religion. Among these was his theory that a secret religious order, which he labeled „Pandeism“ (from Pans- or Pandu- referring to a family of Gods, appending with -ism), had continued from ancient times to the present day, stretching at least from Greece to India, and possibly having once covered the entire world:
„All this seems to confirm the very close connexion which there must have been in some former time, between Siam, Afghanistan, Western Syria, and Ireland. Indeed I cannot doubt that there has been really one grand empire, or one Universal, one Pandæan, or one Catholic religion, with one language, which has extended over the whole of the world; uniting or governing at the same time…“
Among the many unusual theories presented in this book is that both the Celtic Druids and the Jews originated in India – and that the name of the Biblical Abraham is really a variation of the word Brahma, created by shifting the last letter to the beginning: Abrahma. Higgins used the term „Pandeism“ to describe the religious society that he purported had existed from ancient times, and at one time had been known throughout the entire world. Higgins believed this practice continued in secret until the time of his writing, in the 1830s in an area stretching from Greece to India.
I think Pandeism was system; — and that when I say the country or kingdom of Pandæa, I express myself in a manner similar to what I should do, if I said the Popish kingdom or the kingdoms of Popery; or again, the Greeks have many idle ceremonies in their church, meaning the Greeks of all nations: or, the countries of the Pope are superstitions, &c. At the same time, I beg to be understood as not denying that there was such a kingdom as that of Pandae, the daughter of Cristna, any more than I would deny that there was a kingdom of France ruled by the eldest son of the church, or the eldest son of the Pope.
His usage appears related to pantheism, but is distinctly different. While pantheism normally refers to one universal god, the Pandeism described by Higgins, refers to the worship of a family, a union, or a pantheon of gods which are collectively universal.
Higgins was a follower of John Toland; although Toland had lived in an era when „deism“ and „theism“ were interchangeable, Higgins wrote during the 1820s and 1830s, a period several generations later when deism was popular and became distinct from theism. When coining „Pandeism“, Higgins showed his awareness of the similarity between Pandeism and pantheism by directly contrasting his Pandeism with Toland’s pantheism:
Many persons have thought that this Pan related to what has been called Pantheism, or the adoration of universal nature, and that Pantheism was the first system of man. For this opinion I cannot see a shadow of foundation. As I have formerly said, it seems to me contrary to common sense to believe that the ignorant half savage would first worship the ground he treads upon,–that he would raise his mind to so abstruse and so improbable a doctrine as, that the earth he treads upon created him and created itself: for Pantheism instantly comes to this.
Higgins was also aware of the similarity between his Pandeism and deism, and demonstrated familiarity with deism, as he mentions deism or deists at several other points in the same work. Higgins noted for example that „the Rev. R. Taylor, A.M., the Deist, now in gaol, persecuted by the Whigs for his religious opinions, in his learned defense of Deism called the Diegesis, has clearly proved all the hierarchical institutions of the Christians to be a close copy of those of the Essenians of Egypt.“
While more contemporary pandeism evokes both pantheism and deism and suggests their combination, Higgins‘ usage is removed from both. Whereas Toland’s construction of pantheism was based on the Greek root words pan, meaning all and Theos, meaning God, Higgins flips the construction around, stating:
When I consider all the circumstances detailed above respecting the Pans, I cannot help believing that, under the mythos, a doctrine or history of a sect is concealed. Kunti, the wife of Pandu (du or God, Pan), wife of the generative power, mother of the Pandavas or devas, daughter of Sura or Syra the Sun—Pandæa only daughter of Cristna or the Sun—Pandion, who had by Medea a son called Medus, the king of the Medes, who had a cousin, the famous Perseus — surely all this is very mythological — an historical parable!
We have seen that though Cristna was said to have left many sons, he left his immense empire, which extended from the sources of the Indus to Cape Comorin, (for we find a Regio Pandionis near this point,) to his daughter Pandæa; but, from finding the icon of Buddha so constantly shaded with the nine Cobras, &c., I am induced to think that this Pandeism was a doctrine, which had been received both by Buddhists and Brahmins.
In contrast to Toland, Higgins uses the word „Pans“ or „Pande“ to collect variations of named gods or godlike heroes – such as Pandu, Pandæa, the Pandavas, and Pandion – into a single system of worship called „Pandeism“ as a sort of family name for a group of godlike individuals. Thus where Toland’s term referred to pan- (all) and -theism (god), Higgins refers to Pande- (a root indicating this family of gods) and -ism, a wholly English construction indicating allegiance to an ideology. The term related by Higgins refers to a secret sect of worshipers of these „Pans“, which was left in the wake of the collapse of an ancient empire that stretched from Greece (the home of Medea and Perseus) to India (where the Buddhists and the Brahmins coexist). Higgins concludes that his observations:
…confirm the very close connexion which there must have been in some former time, between Siam, Afghanistan, Western Syria, and Ireland. Indeed I cannot doubt that there has been really one grand empire, or one Universal, one Pandæan, or one Catholic religion, with one language, which has extended over the whole of the world; uniting or governing at the same time…
While worthy of note, the above discussion is an example of what Higgins tries to present in his work; that religious scripture is written in a manner to confuse rather than clarify. The exhaustive discussion above comparing „Pandeism“ and „Pantheism“, while valid, fails to disclose the main emphasis of his effort, which is to show that all religions are the same and from a lost, antediluvian, original source in which all characters are allegoric representations of the zodiac with the primary deity being the sun. His theory is that this lost doctrine has been corrupted, by ignorance of allegory or by intentional purposes, from ancient times up and through Higgins time.
(The text of the last section was taken from a Wikipedia entry and is available under the the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)
Publisher’s Note: This book is printed and distributed by Createspace a DBA of On-Demand Publishing LLC and is typically not available anywhere else than in stores owned and operated by Amazon or Createspace.