thesis: KA was the Middle Stone Age word of the
The hypothetical calendar of the Blombos Cave, South Africa, Middle Stone Age, 75,000 BP, would be an example of Ka: one may just live from day to day and take what comes, or one may observe nature, count days by laying out patterns of shell beads, or by lining them up on threads, notice regularities, plan the year ahead, and thus participate in Ka, realm of the Great Spirit ...
The Middle Stone Age culture of the
According to a new study, a small group of some
200 people, or perhaps only some 70 people, left
Let me recommend the following books: Pintupi/Luritja Dictionary, 3rd edition,
by KC & LE Hansen, Institute for Aboriginal Development, Alice Springs
1974/77/92; Archaeology and Linguistics,
Now let me look out for Ka-words in Pintupi/Luritja:
KA - but, on the other hand; basic element of reasoning: it may appear like thatthis, but consier also that aspect ...
KATJA, KAMURU, KATJANGALI, KALYATU, KALYATURRA, KAAKA, KALYAKALYA, KALYAKALYARARRA, KAMI, KANTAMARRI, KANTIYA; KANGKURU, KAPALI, KARIPATU - relationship terms; Ka-words are the largest group among the terms of kinship. They are also frequent in other aboriginal languages (see the essay Kinship Terms by PAtrick McConvell, op.cit.)
KARU (Murrinpatha language from northern
Ka, in the hypothetical philosophy of
following selection of Pintupi/Luritja ka-words from
KALYU, KAPI - water, rain, springs, rockholes or rainpools
KARRKU - ocher, red in color / KANTAWARRA - yellow ocher, yellow, used to describe any object that is yellow in color
KATA - head, leader, round, spherical, head hair, person with highest authority
KATA WITTU - confident, strong, without fear; literally: made head hard/tight
KATUTIYA - God; literally: pertaining to the above
KATU - above / KANKARRA - above, up
KATAKUTU - upright / KATANU - uplifted
KAYILI - north / KAKARRU - east
KARRIMUNU - very large
KANA, KANARU - alive, awake, conscious
KAMINA - female / KAPALINYTJAMIRRI - female ancestors
KAWALI - secret
KAWALYA, KALYPA - reconciled
KAWAKU - together / KAWAKURRINGU - come together, congregated
KALA - task completed
KATAPITI, KAMITIJI - juice of berry fruits, fruit: sweet and juicy
KAMPURARRPA, KANYTJILYI, KATARAPALPA - edible berry, fruits during November and December, used metaphorically to describe a good person i.e. one obedient to God
KANTANTI - shrub type, white secretion, use of the white secretion of the shrub, found in sandhill country
KALUTU, KANTURANGU - desert poplar
KANYALA - rock kangaroo type, only inhabits the hills
KANANU - clearing, specially prepared place which is cleared of grass etc. for camping or ceremonies
KANANTJIPUNGU - style of body rolling dancing at ceremonies
KANGURRPUNGU - ceremonial action done usually by a group of men when conducting women to the initial part of the initiation ceremony
KANGKINYTJI - affectionate, to have affection for others, especially children
3) In my
previous list of Pintupi/Luritja words from
KAKALKAKALPA - vague, delirious; used of a staggering, sick person
KAKALKAKALARRINGU - become delirious, vague, disoriented
In the case of a sick person near death the strong presence of ka in doubled and quadrupled form may indicate that this person will soon become part of the spiritual world, and the passage from this to the other world is troubling. Also those who mess with the spiritual powers during their life may get into troubles.
Another group of ka-words I left out concern
tools and weapons, mostly sticks and spears. Many words designating tools and
sticks and boomerangs are KA--- words, all over
me recommend a further book:
On the double page 138/9 is shown a pecked rock
engraving of two figures wearing rayed head dresses from N'Dhala Gorge,
In the book People of the Stone Age, Weldon Owen 2000, I found a Kalkadoon figure from south of the Selwyn Ranges, Central Australia, showing a male, painted with red ocher and surrounded with a rim of yellow ocher, on his head a tall feather or tree, showing 14 red branches, in between 13 yellow ones. 14 would be the number of days of a long or double week, while 13 long weeks yield half a year.
Headdresses might have been references to the spiritual world Ka, some of them indicating calendars.
In the same book I find a hand painted on a
More on the above rock engraving and paintings in later chapters, when explain the Crowned Crane as Ka-bird of the Blombos people, emanation of the Great Spirit, whose flapping brought the world into being and may be symbolized in the engravings on the ocher pieces from a Middle Stone Age level of the Blombos Cave, and when I explain the cockatoos as Ka-birds of the early Australians.
book Archaeology and Linguistics,
If so, the descendants of the Blombos people who left Africa 65,000 years ago for Arabia, India, Asia, Australia and Europe, would also have reached the Americas, and would have brought their language with them, and if the word KA was of such a paramount importance as I believe, we should find it not only in Australian but also in American languages.
Consulting Richard Fester's book on the Ice Age I find many examples among red Indian languages, for example these (NA North America, MA Middle America, SA South America):
Caanuk (MA) think / kaanda (MA) dream / kallu
(SA) sly, cunning, crafty / chaal (MA) mouth / kallu (SA) laugh (?) / kain (MA)
hymn (?) / kal (MA) neck, throat / callpa (SA) vital energy / kallachi, kali
hailli, kankana (SA) healthy (?) / kallana (SA) stand up / cala (MA) unhurt (?)
/ ka (MA) woman (?) /
Many or most ka/ca/cha-words mentioned by
Richard Fester fit in the hypothetical Blombos philosophy as explained in the
previous messages. The list may even be better when corrected. As far as I
know, the kachina are from
6) Amazingly, there are still many ka-words holding a religious meaning: ka ka'ba kabala kachina qadar Kaddish Kalam Kali calix Kama Kamadhenu cantata cantor capitulor Kapelle (chapel) Karaite cardinal karma cathedra cathedral katholikos catholic catechesis (for comparison: Lakshi lama Lamaism - only three la-words).
The ka-soul of ancient
Ca is present in Latin caelum, later coelum for
sky, heaven. Calendar comes from Latin calendae, first day of a tributary month,
which I derive from Magdalenian CA for sky. Catalog may also have a religious
root, from Magdaleniann CA-DAG-LOG, sky-four-saying, four heavenly sayings as
derived from the curious composite animal near the entrance of Lascaux Cave: an
aspiring leader of a Magdalenian tribe must be strong as a bull, decided as a
feline, caring as a pregnant mare (or a mare caring for her fowl), and make
wise use of his weapons (which is why the lances grow as horns out of the head
of the composite animal with the bearded face of a man). Ca would also be
present in the hypothetical Magdalenian form of
7) The hypothetical Middle Stone Age word and philosophical concept of KA was of such an importance as I believe, ka-words should also have survived in other languages, for example in the Ainu language. I found this book: Trends in Linguistics, Documentation 15, The Collected Works of Bronislaw Pilsudski, 3 volumes on the Ainu Language, edited by Alfred F. Majewicz, Mouton de Gruyter 1998. Volume 2 contains a dictionary, and much to my pleasure I found similar Ka-words as in Pintupi/Laritja and other aboriginal Australian languages:
KAMUI, KAMUJ - 1. god, goddess, spirit, deity; 2. devil, evil; 3. divine; 4. being, creature; 5. beast, animal, esp. seal; 6. very big, great, good, nice, beautiful; 7. body, dead body; 8. talisman / IBENE KAMUI - food (remember Egyptian ka in food) / KAMUI-UN - divine / KAMUI-UN KOTAN - Underworld / KANTO, KANDO - heaven, sky / KACO (shaman's) drum
KASKE, KASKEHE, KASKENE, KASKETE, KASKEVA, KATA, KASI - upon, on top of / KASURE - surpass, be superior, stronger
KARA - 1. do, make; 2. act, accomplish; 3. build; 4. verbalizer
KAS - help / KAMESU - help, save / KAMPA - carry
KATU - figure, shape, appearannce, likeness / KATUN RUHE, KATUNTUHU - appearace, manner, way of (doing)
KA - thread, string, cord / KAXTA - strike light from a flint / KAPU, KATU - skin, bark / SIRI KAPU - form, appearance / KAURI - twig, stick / KAJE, KAJTE - break / KAMANATA - long knive / UM KANZI - rudder / KAMU - cover / KAJA - fish-skin dress
KAJKI - (emphatic particle) as far, as far as ... is concerned, indeed, even, thus, however, although, nevertheless
happened what often happens when I go for a new piece of work: I fell in love
Illustrations and explanations in this book led
me to the assumption that the cockatoo might have been
In the beginning there was nothing but empty space. Then the Ka-bird came a flapping, thus creating sky, sun moon and stars, earth, rain lakes and sea, plants, animals, and human beings. How did the Ka-bird create the sky? by means of the blue * feathers of the neck. How did the Ka-bird create sun, moon and stars? by means of the yellow crown. How did the Ka-bird create day and night? by means of the white and black feathers of the face and wings. How did the Ka-bird create Earth? by means of the brown feathers of the body. How did the Ka-bird create plants? by means of the feathers that resemble plants with a stem and branches. How did the Ka-bird create water? by its love for water places. How did the Ka-bird create blood? by means of the red wattles and gular sac. How did the Ka-bird create animals? by being an animal itself. How did the Ka-bird create human beings? by means of its elaborate and attractive courtship dance - don't human beings love to dance? How did the Ka-bird create time? by flapping the wings, which is why the Blombos calendar symbolized wings in motion, and if such a pattern was engraved on a piece of red ocher, it meant a new life, a new body, fresh blood, and another lifetime for a worthy deceased in the Other World named KA.
* actually, the neck of the bird is gray, but appearing blueish on my photographs, and on a picture I found on the web, the feathers at the low end of the neck are of a deep blue
9) I got my information on the Crowned Crane,
Balearica pavonina regulorum, from the book: Birdlife in Southern Africa, edited by Kenneth Newman, Rufus and
Joubert Johannesburg 1971/79. On the website www.ecotravel.co.za I found information
on the Gray Crowned Crane, Balearica regulorum, by Janis O. Grady: "The
Grey-Crowned Crane is globally restricted to
Will it help when I say that the Gray Crowned Crane was the hypothetical Ka-bird and emanation of the Creator Spirit of the Blombos people in the Middle Stone Age?
[I prefer Gray Crowned Crane to Grey-Crowned Crane, which, to me, suggests a gray crown, while it is yellow / golden.]
Especially interesting are the about 30 days of incubating the eggs, which correspond to a lunar year or lunation, and the year the young ones spend with their parents - a solar year. As the Gray Crowned Crane breeds in spring and summer, New Year might well have been in summer.
10) In the book Birdlife in Southern Africa (op.cit.) the Crowned Crane is given as Balearica pavonica regulorum, while on an ornithological website I read that the pavonina is from Westafrica, but sometimes lumped together with the South African Gray Crowned Crane Balearica regulorum.
The Gray Crowned Crane is a non-migratory bird. Its dance is more than just a mating dance but has wider social functions much as human dance. Watussi girls, I read, imitate the crane's dance, and lovely so. The main call of the Gray Crowned Crane is grao-auu, possible origin of 'my' hypothetical KA.
The Blombos culture came to a premature end,
presumably due to a precipitous temperature drop. May it be that the Ka-bird, the
Gray Crowned Crane, left
In the zoological
I rely here on two books: The Broken String, The Last Words of an Extinct People, by Neil
Bennun, Viking / Penguin 2004; and The
The /Xam-ka !ei believed in a
The Gwi Bushmen from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve tell a story of the sun's origin: Pisamboro, a lesser god, spotted a red-hot coal under a wing of the Ostrich, a legendary being, stole it, from it gave fire to the people, then threw it high in the air. Twice it fell back to earth, but the third time it stayed in the sky and became the sun.
12) Two further books on the Bushmen - Bushman Folktales, Oral Traditions of the Nharo of Botswana and the /Xam of the Cape, by Mathias Guenther, Franz Steiner Wiesbaden Stuttgart 1989 / Specimens of Bushmen Folklore, collected by Wilhelm H.I. Bleek and Lucy C. Lloyd, Daimon Verlag Einsiedeln 2001, facsimile of a reprint of a book published by George Allen London 1911 - provide more words that fit in my concept.
Clicks: / dental, ! guttural, // lateral, -/ palatal
Nharo of Botswana (my interpretations in brackets):
/kam - two (the Ka-world and our world are two worlds)
!ka.ka - separated (our world separated from the Ka-world)
/Xam of the
//kabbu - dream (the Early Race of the
!kaken .kaka /aui - a small bird; /ka-kau - a small bird, Saxicola castor; .kaui - egg
//kaiten - to ascend; //kao or //kau - be mounted, upon
!kaoken - stone; .karru - bushes, perhaps also blossoms
//ka - to be wet (.khwa - water, rain)
!kauken - children; .(k)auuken - body; .kaxu - breast, chest
-/kakka - speak, tell; ka - to think that
/karra - to bask in the sun
!ka!kauru - moon, shoe of the trickster /Kaggen thrown up in the sky. The shoe of /Kaggen was speaking, and so the moon was speaking. The moon told the hare to console the ill people: they will live on, as the moon waxes again when it had vanished. Yet the hare made a mess of the moon's words and told people they will die and vanish. Thus death came into the world. The moon protected game and by doing so led bushmen into arid zones, being sort of a "Kalahari- Lorelei." (The speaking shoe turning into the speaking moon refers to the telling marks feet and hoofs leave in the ground and "speak" to a hunter. Emu tracks are most frequent among Australian Aboriginal rock art.) A prayer to the Young Moon goes: "!kabbi-a yonder, Take my face. Thou shalt give me thy face yonder." The praying person begs the moon for its face that comes to live again (hence asking for a new life). The word !kabbi-a was not understood in 1911, and I don't know whether it is understood by now (if not, I propose a connection to a life in the Ka-world).
The main informant of Bleek and Lloyd was a
/Xam shaman by the name of /Kabbu, Dream, and he was mainly interested in
/Kaggen, The Bleek and Lloyd Collection comprises more than 12,000 pages and
has become part of UNESCO's "Memory of the World" Register for Documentary
Heritage. Microfilms available from the
is my hypothetical Middle Stone Age name and philosophical concept of the Other
World, which may survive in the mythical
Ka, as a world behind the world, a life behind life, would have been a powerful concept, still valid in our time, and perhaps better understandable if I spoke of the Other Aspect.
Sigmund Freud was the founder of psychoanalysis, which he called a metapsychology, lit. a psychology above psychology, but one may also call it a psychology behind psychology, as it explores mental structures behind the obvious behaving. Richard Dawkins found his Ka in the Selfish Genes that explain our behaving in a surprising new way, shedding light on animal and human life from a new perspective. Or consider mathematics, which, Albert Einstein said, is exact as long as we don't apply it to our world, but inexact when applied to real problems; mathematics, then, may be called the spirit of an ideal world, intertwined with our world, and yet apart from it.
Where are the scientific laws that will be discovered one hundred, one thousand, a million years hence? They are part of the Ka-world …
Considering the world as two worlds, and
looking out for other aspects to the known ones, not just accepting the obvious
but asking for the hidden phenomena, was a powerful concept, and is still
working. So, for the time being, we may date back the origin of philosophy and
the sciences to the Middle Stone Age in Southern and South
were perfectly well adapted to the harsh and very cold climate of
When the climate began to change some 40,000 years ago, warm and cold periods following each other within decades, the woods receding into ever smaller insulae, the once so very successful Neanderthals lost the basis of their life to the modern humans, who were adapted to run in the open field, and who made use of the throwing spear. So the true reason for the extinction of Neanderthals, it is believed now, have been the dramatic climatic changes occurring 40,000 years ago.
Neanderthals were far from primitive, they had a language, they adorned some of their deceased with flowers and ocher, which testifies to a belief in the Other World, hence a form of early religion. Experimental acoustic studies of Neanderthal skulls may one day inform us about the sounds they produced with their vocal cords. Until then we can only muse about their language. It may well be, however, that they were imitating animal calls, and if they should have considered birds to be messengers between this and another world, KA for the Other World may already have been a word of Neanderthals, of Homo heidelbergensis, of Homo erectus ...
15) Let me say a word on the origin of religion and begin with personal experiences of mine concerning the passing of my parents.
My father died in February 1996. On the morning of the funeral I went to the cemetery. Upon passing the door I saw father walk some twenty paces before me. I knew it can't be him, yet I saw him with my own eyes. Also my brother Steve, coming another way, passing another door, saw father walk before him. Our visions were easily explained: we saw two men of the same age and stature as our father, wearing the same hairdo and the same type of mantle and probably having worked at the same place our father did. Later on, it happened a couple of times that I saw father in crowds at places he frequented - someone who resembled him, and whom I "recognized" as father.
My mother died in June 1993. In the subsequent months I had the feeling that she helped me from above, a couple of times, a nice illusion. And again: my brother Steve had the same impression of getting helped by her from above. Also this feeling can easily be explained: we remembered our mother in the way when we were boys, when we looked up to her, and when she really helped us from above.
Relying on these personal experiences, which also occurred to my brother Steve, I dare say that the origin of religion is the inevitable death of the individual being, relieved by mild illusions and hallucinations. Imagine an early human who lost, say, his wife. Seeing her walking away into the reed one morning, or hearing her whisper in the rustle of leaves one night, may have told him that she was still alive in some way, perhaps in another world, and not really dead and gone. And such a relief and consolation may even come to animals, for example to elephants that mourn their dead, or ape mothers that mourn a dead young for days. An illusion or a hallucination or a dream bringing back the dead and telling they are not really dead would be some comfort for the soul of the animal as well as for the human soul.
16) Among the /Xam folklore collected by Wilhelm H.I. Bleek and Lucy C. Lloyd (op.cit) is a report of an apparition of a deceased woman:
'We buried my wife in the afternoon. When we had finished burying her, we () returned to the home of my sister Whai-ttu, and the other people, whence they had come forth. They had come to bury my wife with me; and we went away, crossing over () the salt pan. / And we perceived a thing which looked like a little child, as it sat upon the salt pan, seeming as if it sat with its legs crossed over each other. / And my sister, Whai-ttu, spoke, she () questioned us: "Look ye. What thing sits yonder upon the salt pan? It is like a little child." And .kweiten-ta-//ken (another sister) spoke, she asked us: "Look ye. Why is it that this thing is () truly like a person? It seems as if it had on the cap which Dja.kwain's wife used to wear." And my sister Whai-ttu spoke: "Yes, O my younger sister. () The thing truly resembles that which brother's wife was like." It did thus as we went along, it seemed as if it sat looking (towards) the place from which we came out.'
A man buries his wife. Upon returning home, his sisters and he himself see the woman they just buried sit as a child on a salt pan. They reach home. Then the man returns to the salt pan, to look whether the apparition was a bush. But no, it was no bush. "And I agreed that () it must have been a different kind of thing."
Such apparitions - or mild hallucinations, as I call them - might well have been the origin of the belief in a survival of the deceased in the Other World, or in the Ka-world, which was separate from our world and yet present in many ways: in the sky above, inside water holes, inside the rock, accessible via cracks in the rock to shamans in a trance. The Bushmen consider the graves of their ancestors places of healing, so the deceased must live on in the beyond (in my "Ka-world") and help the living via the mediation of the healer shamans, who must have some of the Ka within themselves, as every living being must have some of the Ka inside their body and soul.
long time ago, preparing myself for the official art
Mythology clearly says that life comes from nature, which is absolutely correct in the view of modern biology. As the first lines of the Genesis at the begin of the Bible are nothing else than an anticipation of evolutionary theory.
If life came from nature, it may return to nature, and this belief, supported by the consolation of mild hallucinations (visions of the deceased, alive and well again, or hearing them whisper in the rustling leaves at night, as explained in the previous chapters), would have been the origin of religion.
Is that belief so wrong? Many if not all religions are telling us about the same: Live a decent life, contribute to the common good, and your life shall not be in vain. We are leaves on the Tree of Life, spending a brief time on a branch, then falling down, withering, turning into dust, yet every leave contributes to the growth of the tree, and although each leave goes lost sooner or later, the common life, or Tree of Life, to which we contribute what we can, lives on ...