The Ojibways cross to paradise on a great snake, which serves as a bridge.
The Choctaw bridge is a slippery pine-log.
The South American Manacicas cross on a wooden bridge.
Among many of the American tribes, the Milky Way is the bridge to the other world.
[1. Poor, “Sanskrit Literature,” p. 151.]
The Polynesians have no bridge; they pass the chasm in canoes.
The Vedic Yama of the Hindoos crossed the rapid waters, and showed the way to our Aryan fathers.
The modern Hindoo hopes to get through by holding on to the cow’s tail!
Even the African tribes, the Guinea negroes, believe that the land of souls can only be reached by crossing a river.
Among some of the North American tribes “the souls come to a great lake,” (the ocean,) “where there is a beautiful island, toward which they have to paddle in a canoe of white stone. On the way there arises a storm, and the wicked souls are wrecked, and the heaps of their bones are to be seen under the water, but the good reach the happy island."
The Slavs believed in a pathway or road which led to the other world; it was both the rainbow (as in the Gothic legends) and the Milky Way; and, since the journey was long, they put boots into the coffin, (for it was made on foot,) and coins to pay the ferrying across a wide sea, even as the Greeks expected to be carried over the Styx by Charon. This abode of the dead, at the end of this long pathway, was an island, a warm, fertile land, called Buyau.
In their effort to restore the dead men to the happy island-home, the heavenly land, beyond the water, the Norsemen actually set their dead heroes afloat in boats on the open ocean.
Subsequently they raised a great mound over boat, warrior, horses, weapons, and all. These boats are now being dug up in the north of Europe and placed in the
[1. Tylor’s “Early Mankind,” p. 362.
2. Poor, “Sanskrit and Kindred Literatures,” pp. 3 71, 372.
great museums. They tell a marvelous religious and historical story.
I think the unprejudiced reader will agree with me that these legends show that some Atlantic island played an important part in the very beginning of human history. It was the great land of the world before the Drift; it continued to be the great land of the world between the Drift and the Deluge. Here man fell; here he survived; here he renewed the race, and from this center he repopulated the world.
We see also that this island was connected with the continents east and west by great ridges of land.
The deep-sea soundings show that the vast bulk of land, of which the Azores are the outcroppings, are so connected yet with such ridges, although their crests are below the sea-level; and we know of no other island-mass of the Atlantic that is so united with the continents on both sides of it.