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Observations placeholder

Xam bushmen - Anteater and lynx



Type of Spiritual Experience


The /Xam bushmen of South Africa believed that there was an ‘early’ race which they called when it related to them – the ‘First Bushmen’  These First Bushmen equated to the gods and goddesses of the Greeks and Romans – co-creators of systems.

The /Xam, however, also believed  that every animal species also had a creator and they called these beings ‘animal-people’ beings with the intelligence to create and remove life forms.  As they co-created, eventually they produced a species which became physical – in effect appeared as a species in the material world. 

The /Xam symbolically attributed the head of the animal gods in the following story to be the Anteater.  The Anteater then created other animal gods for each species.  He was helped by another symbolic god called the Lynx [Note that the capitalisation is used to denote the difference between a ‘god’ creator and an animal, for example, a lynx].  Once the Lynx had ‘proclaimed’  the species laws invented by the Anteater, it turned into a proper animal.

There are a huge number of extremely important concepts all tied up in this story. 

  •  First there is the concept of a species creator being non physical, but creating species with distinct characteristics already prescribed.
  • Secondly there is the idea that humans were able to learn the laws of the animal kingdom – which were good to eat and which not, which provided skins and which not – from the spiritual world.  It also says that how to do certain things, for example, using an ostrich egg to drink water from, or making shoes from certain skins, was also an idea provide by the spiritual world.  Thus humans didn’t find out by trial and error they were told in spiritual visions
  • Third, it describes how the attributes [fur, hair, horns etc], and the habits such as what the animal ate [ate grass, ate bushes, ate ant eggs, honey etc ] ; or where the animal kept its young [cave, hollow]; and which other species it could mate with [only its own kind] of each of the animals had been prescribed by the Anteater in the laws – in effect the processes and characteristics of each species were laws of the universe defined by the Anteater god
  • Fourth, it also shows that some properties and attributes of the species are shared and as such there can be ‘battles’ in the spiritual world as to how the properties are apportioned out and as to which hierarchy the eventual species belongs to.  The Lynx and the Anteater argued over the springbok girl [goddess] /Khauko as to which of them she belonged to – was she going to be classified within the Anteater hierarchy or the Lynx hierarchy.  [This same battle is ongoing in the physical world with the Linnean hierarchy and its opponents- which species derived from which species]
  • Finally the difference between the god that prescribed the laws and the one that spoke them is also made clear –  very crudely put one builds designs and codes the laws [Anteater],  one implements them [Lynx].

A description of the experience

The First Bushman’s Path:  stories, Songs and testimonies of the /Xam of the Northern Cape

The Anteater and the Lynx were the ones that made it happen

 For the Anteater prescribed her laws and the Lynx spoke them

And the gemsbok heard the Lynx and married a female gemsbok

And the meerkat heard the Lynx and married a female meerkat

And the cheetah married a female cheetah who was his sister

And the leopard married a female leopard who was his sister

Because the Anteater wanted them all to marry their own kind

And the hartebeest married a female hartebeest and ate grass

And the wildebeest married a female wildebeest and ate grass

And the scrub hare married a female hare and they ate bushes

And the ostrich married a female ostrich and they ate bushes

Because the Anteater said so, because she had rightly said so

And the leopard grew fur and it felt it had leopard fur

And the cheetah grew fur and it felt it had cheetah fur

And the brown hyena grew hair and it felt it was a hyena

And the springbok grew horns and felt it was a springbok

Because the animals had listened to the Lynx with their ears

And the jackal became a jackal and it put its jackal children

Into a hollow in the ground which it dug out with its claws

And the aardwolf became an aardwolf and it kept its children

In the cave where they lived when they were people and talked

Because the Anteater and the Lynx had so ordered and spoken

And the springbok ate the shoots and blossoms of the driedoring

And the people ate ant eggs and honey and bulbs and cucumbers

And the hyena drank up the yolks of ostrich eggs in the night

And the people ate the yolks with brushes made of gemsbok tails

Because the Anteater wanted them to, because she had said so

And the people drank water out of the shells of ostrich eggs

And they ate the meat of animals which they had cooked over fire

They hunted springbok and they killed them so as to eat them

And they roasted the meat and they boiled the meat in pots

Because the Anteater went and told them what they should do

And they wore the skins of the springbok that they had eaten

And they wore the skins of the cheetah and the skins of the leopard

And they made shoe from the eland skins, from hartebeest skins

From gemsbok skins, from quagga skins, from wildebeest skins

Because it was the Anteater’s laws which the Lynx had spoken

 And they ate hare meat, they ate kudu meat, they ate zebra meat

And they ate squirrel meat and steenbok meat and ostrich meat

And they ate the meat of the silver fox and of the vaal korhaan

And of the francolin and of the blue crane and of the porcupine

Because it was the Anteater who ordered that it should be so

And the Lynx became a lynx and he went to live in the reeds

And he married a female lynx and killed springbok and ate them

And the Anteater became an anteater and she lived in a burrow

And she married an anteater and she ate the white eggs of ants

Because she had prescribed her laws which the Lynx had spoken

Because they had each tried to own the springbok girl !Khauko

The source of the experience

African tribal

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Inherited genes