Ragnarok : the Age of Fire and Gravel eBook

Ignatius Donnelly
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 362 pages of information about Ragnarok .

The ice-fields and wild climate of the poles, and the cold which descends annually over Europe and North America, represent the residuum of the refrigeration caused by the evaporation due to the comet’s heat, and the long absence of the sun during the age of darkness.  Every visitation of a comet would, therefore, necessarily eventuate in a glacial age, which in time would entirely pass away.  And our storms are bred of the conflict between the heat and cold of the different latitudes.  Hence, it may be, that the Tertiary climate represented the true climate of the earth, undisturbed by comet catastrophes; a climate equable, mild, warm, stormless.  Think what a world this would be without tempests, cyclones, ice, snow, or cold!

Let us turn now to the evidences that man dwelt on the earth during the Drift, and that he has preserved recollections of the comet to this day in his myths and legends.

[1.  “Popular Science Monthly,” July, 1876, p. 283.]

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PART III

The Legends

CHAPTER I.

THE NATURE OF MYTHS.

IN a primitive people the mind of one generation precisely repeats the minds of all former generations; the construction of the intellectual nature varies no more, from age to age, than the form of the body or the color of the skin; the generations feel the same emotions, and think the same thoughts, and use the same expressions.  And this is to be expected, for the brain is as much a part of the inheritable, material organization as the color of the eyes or the shape of the nose.

The minds of men move automatically:  no man thinks because he intends to think; he thinks, as he hungers and thirsts, under a great primal necessity; his thoughts come out from the inner depths of his being as the flower is developed by forces rising through the roots of the plant.

The female bird says to herself, “The time is propitious, and now, of my own free will, and under the operation of my individual judgment, I will lay a nestful of eggs and batch a brood of children.”  But it is unconscious that it is moved by a physical necessity, which has constrained all its ancestors from the beginning of time,

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and which will constrain all its posterity to the end of time; that its will is nothing more than an expression of age, development, sunlight, food, and “the skyey influences.”  If it were otherwise it would be in the power of a generation to arrest the life of a race.

All great thoughts are inspirations of God.  They are part of the mechanism by which he advances the race; they are new varieties created out of old genera.

There come bursts of creative force in history, when great thoughts are born, and then again Brahma, as the Hindoos say, goes to sleep for ages.

But, when the fever of creation comes, the poet, the inventor, or the philosopher can no more arrest the development of his own thoughts than the female bird, by her will-power, can stop the growth of the ova within her, or arrest the fever in the blood which forces her to incubation.

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Ragnarok : the Age of Fire and Gravel from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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