GLEANINGS 3:5 - could this text be forged or filched?

I have been puzzling over Gleanings 3:5. The paragraph reads:

In olden times there were spawned great monsters and beasts in fearful form, with frightful gnashing teeth and long ripping claws; an elephant was but a rat in comparison with them. Then, because of heavenly rebellion and turmoil, and the terror overwhelming the hearts of men, The Great One hardened the face of the land, which had become unstable, and the beasts were changed to stone. This was beforetimes, when the Destroyer still slumbered in the upper vaults of Heaven.

While thinking about the paragraph, I happened to read James Churchward’s 1926 book The Lost Continent of Mu, and came across the following:

The Lost Continent of Mu, page 216:
[b]‘They were monsters and animals of prey; they were provided with claws and terrible teeth. A mountain lion is but a mole in comparison to them. Then Those Above said to these animals: ‘Ye shall all be changed into stone, that ye be not evil to men, but that ye may be a great good to them. Thus have we changed ye into everlasting stone.

Thus was the surface of the earth hardened and many of all sorts of beasts turned into stone. Thus, too, it happened that we find them throughout the world. Their forms are sometimes large (in shape) like themselves; sometimes they are shrivelled and distorted out of shape, and we often see among the rocks many beasts that no longer live, which show us that all was different in the days of the new.

I think Cushing hardly caught the exact translations in the words I have italicised. My changes, however, in no way alter the meanings.’[/b]

As you can see, there is a certain similarity between these two pieces of text.

So where did Churchward get his text from? On the previous page he says that he is going to quote from Lieutenant Cushing’s translations; he then proceeds to quote him in several paragraphs that follow. (Frank Hamilton Cushing was the first person to research and write in depth about Zuni traditions and mythology.) The last couple of sentences above imply that Churchward is quoting Cushing. However, I have been through all Cushing’s writing and the text that follows is the only text that comes close to Churchward’s text:

Zuni Fetiches - Frank H. Cushing, 1883
[b]Now that the surface of the earth was hardened, even the animals of prey, powerful and like the fathers (gods) themselves, would have devoured the children of men; and the Two thought it was not well that they should all be permitted to live, “for,” said they, “alike will the children of men and the children of the animals of prey multiply themselves. The animals of prey are provided with talons and teeth; men are but poor, the finished beings of earth, therefore the weaker.”

Whenever they came across the pathway of one of these animals, were they great mountain lion or but a mere mole, they struck him with the fire of lightning which they carried in their magic shield. Thlu! And instantly he was shrivelled and burnt into stone.

Then they said to the animals that they had thus changed into stone, “That ye may not be evil unto men, but that ye may be a great good unto them, have we changed you into rode everlasting. By the magic breath of prey, by the heart that shall endure forever within you, shall ye be made to serve instead of devour mankind.”

Thus was the surface of the earth hardened and scorched and many of all kind of beings changed to stone. Thus, too, it happens that we find, here and there throughout the world, their forms, sometimes large like the being themselves, sometimes shrivelled and distorted. And we often see among the rocks the forms of many beings that live no longer, which shows us that all was different in the “days of the new”.[/b]

My first thought is that Churchward has not quoted Cushing; he has paraphrased him. I have written to James Churchward’s great-grandson, who tells me that he too has been unable to find out where his great-grandfather got this wording from. What strikes me particularly is that Cushing’s text says, ‘Whenever they came across the pathway of one of these animals, were they great mountain lion or but a mere mole, they struck him…’, whereas Churchward puts it slightly differently:‘A mountain lion is but a mole in comparison to them’. Now look at the Gleanings text. It says, ‘…an elephant was but a rat in comparison with them’.

To give it its due, the Gleanings text does give us extra information: ‘…because of heavenly rebellion and turmoil, and the terror overwhelming the hearts of men’. It also says that the ground had become unstable before or while the beasts were still rampaging round the earth. The term ‘The Great One’ is used several times later on in Gleanings, but does not appear in any other Kolbrin books.

I do think that the similarity between these two texts needs investigating further - because it suggests that Churchward, while paraphrasing Cushing, might have written his own version in 1926, which might then have been used by someone ‘compiling’ Gleanings later on in the 20th century. There are three possibilities:

  1. Someone snaffled the text from Churchward’s The Lost Continent of Mu and reworked it into Gleanings, altering words and phrases to make it appear different. This then begs the question, who was it, and what else has been filched?

  2. It is a complete coincidence that The Lost Continent of Mu and Gleanings contain such similar constructions and wording.

  3. Both Churchward and the compiler of Gleanings were using a similar source, which was not Cushing’s 1883 Zuni Fetiches.

Does anyone have access to other pre-1926 books of Zuni myths that this text might have come from? Any thoughts?

It is quite clear that there has been extensive editing and interpolations in the reconstruction and compilation of the present day Kolbrin. From the Foreword and Introduction of the Kolbrin (Emphasis is mine):

[i]“This (The Kolbrin) was resurrected in a very dilapidated condition, but has been transcribed fully as found.

Undoubtedly, in transmission some personal colourations may have crept in, but the whole, as it stands now, with its imperfections, is, nevertheless, a reliable and validated medium for bringing a body of spiritual truths into concrete being. It is the spirit behind the façade that is the all important factor…

There has, however, been a considerable amount of reconstruction, as the original writings survived only precariously. Most of what is presented here was actually salvaged from a pile of discarded manuscripts and was partially burned and damaged by the weather before being reconstructed into a manuscript from which this is rewritten.

Undoubtedly, additional material has been incorporated with good intent, to fill gaps and elaborate on the original. Something may have been lost in the modernisation of various parts.

It has not been easy to reconstitute them, even with the assistance of a more knowledgeable co-worker who filled in the few gaps with compatible references to modern works.”[/i] – The Kolbrin, Foreword and Introduction

These things, and more, are presented in full disclosure to the Kolbrin’s readership. It would not be surprising to discover that the compliers’ were aware of Churchward, Cushing, further Zuni oral history, and many other writings and histories besides, especially considering that those most passionate about preserving the Kolbrin material would likewise have an interest in and awareness of diverse histories and spiritual traditions.

Is this passage from Gleanings one such interpolation? One particular sentence from Churchward has a similar structure, and Cushing, Churchward, and the Kolbrin all present familiar and similar concepts of what happened to the long extinct beasts of ancient times, which our ancestors (and some of us today) would attempt to simplistically describe as processes of fossilization (stone remains of ancient life). A primitive European or ancient Native American may have similar explanations in discovering fossilized remains of what the ‘Great One’, gods, fathers, etc. may have done to turn these mythical beasts into stone. This concept and experience of fossilization, therefore, would have been a common one to ancient peoples’, and should not be assumed to have been interpolated. However, it is possible that during the Kolbrin’s reconstruction, certain phraseology that attempted to replace a damaged section or modernize an archaic passage may have been used either from the compiler’s own pen, or partially borrowed and altered from a point of reference.

How the original phrase may have looked, or how it may have been read is anyone’s guess, but I would be so bold as to state that the original held the same concept, which the compiler felt needed clarification, due either to damage or more appropriate wording in the process of English modernization.

About the modernization of the text, the following note should also be considered:

“It may be argued that this work should have been presented in its archaic form, to preserve its authenticity, but the compiler disagrees, and we concur. The criterion by which any literary work should be judged is its message and intent, not its format. The words, of themselves, are sterile; it is the spirit of the whole that gives the Kolbrin meaning and life. What is presented here is an attempt to pass on, as near as possible in its original form, with all its defects and shortcomings in style and presentation, something which will be of benefit to all. The original writers attempted to make words convey something beyond inherent meaning; they endeavoured to build an edifice of glory out of common clay.” – The Kolbrin, Introduction

Well it’s the usual story, the question that keeps repeating itself, are we reading an actual ancient text or a modern fabrication? Has the alleged ancient origin of the Kolbrin been used to make it more interesting to people when in fact it’s more of a modern work compiled out of diverse sources? That’s what we’ve been trying to discover all this time but the mystery remains. And while it’s clear that the message and the “spirit” of the Kolbrin are very fulfilling, we still don’t know with certainty if what it claims to be has any actual basis.

While no one knows anything with ‘certainty’, Manu, there is, as you are aware, extensive evidence pointing to the probable authenticity of the Kolbrin, compiled here and elsewhere. If you or others have alternative explanations for this evidence, I for one would be happy to see them.

I haven’t seen any definitive evidence yet. The Akhenaten/Meritaten thing would have been pretty definitive but that still hasn’t been fully established, maybe it will be in the future and we may have some actual , irrefutable proof.

If scientific findings which were released after the Kolbrin’s publication do not meet your standards of evidence, I’m not sure what will. Perhaps complete scholarly consensus? To me, following a majority opinion is not definitive of anything, except for being herd-like.

If you require original documents to overcome skepticism, this may have you waiting as well.

Thankfully, there are other means of authentication… :wink: