Godfrey Higgins: A Critique

The work of Godfrey Higgins, Anacalypsis, is quite nearly as hard to find as a two-headed chicken -- and it is nearly as normal as one.

I had little hope of actually getting a copy of it by special library loan, but I did. And once I saw it, I knew I wouldn't be able to do much with it -- this monstrosity is composed of two volumes larger than a New York City phone book, with type as dense as the entries.

It cites few sources for its claims, but those it does cite are the sort of things you won't find easily -- anyone wishing to back-check all of Higgins' comments will be in for a real lifetime chore, even if they live in the UK. There is no telling whether the bulk of Higgins' sources are credible or not (though we do have some hints). And to make matters worse, I could only secure it by loan for two weeks.

So I went through as much of Anacalypsis as I could, writing down the most clearly outstanding and easily refutable propositions. Not that there were not other oddities that could be so refuted; but it runs down to that Anacalypsis is full of assertions that are either undocumented or come from sources whose credibility is completely unknown in this time, so our goal will merely be to show what sort of ideas Higgins promoted throughout his work, so that those who use him as an authority will be compelled into defending his value as a source, and explaining why we ought to find Higgins a credible authority on the grounds that they do use him for.

It is also, furthermore, that Higgins is so outdated that any arguments he makes based on dating, language, and so on, require at this time a full re-argument before they can be accepted.

  • Higgins offers endorsement of the idea that the world was once ruled by an ancient, advanced civilization. "Druidical and Cyclopaean buildings scattered over the world, in almost all nations, which I soon became convinced were the works of a great nation...." [viii] All of Asia was once ruled by black people who were Buddhists [255] and these Buddhists were colonizers of Egypt and "worshipers of the Sun in Taurus". [267]
  • Higgins' ideas about linguistics are far from confidence-inspiring. He says: Hebrew is the oldest language [x]; Latin is the same language as Sanskrit [2] (though Higgins also says, "I am ignorant of the Sanskrit language" [12].
  • Higgins says that trees give us a clue about languages and their origins: "...[C]areful comparison of the names of different letters in Irish, Hebrew, Samaritan, and Greek alphabets make it 'appear almost certain that they have all been called after the trees which now grow in the latitude of England, or else that the trees have been named after them."

    For example, A = ailm in Irish, or elm. Also M = mu, mem, or vine. But where's the M in vine, then? It was "dropped for some unknown cause." [13] But the Asiatics nevertheless "called their sixteen letters after the Irish names of trees." [14]

  • Higgins on anthropology and the effects of skin color: "...the angle at which the plane of the eclipse makes with the plane of the equator was much larger than it is at this moment: the effect of which would be to increase the heat in the polar regions, and render them comfortable places for their inhabitants." Thus "the northern climes were probably the birth-place of man." [210] "Now I suppose that man was originally a Negro, and that he improved as years advanced and he travelled westwards, gradually changing from the jet black of India, through all the intermediate shades of Syria, Italy and France, to the fair white and red of the maid of Holland and Britain. On the burning sands and under the scorching sun of Africa, he would probably stand still, if he did not retrograde. But the latter is most likely to have happened; and accordingly, we find him an unimproved Negro, mean in understanding, black in colour." [284]

    Also, one "Dr. Pritchard" has "successfully proved" that "blackness of skin is not cause by heat alone" but "is to be ascribed more to civilisation".

    The irony here is that Higgins is used as a source by Massey and Kuhn, and they in turn are often used by African-American "revisionsist" writers like Yosef ben-Yochanon who seem to be unaware of Higgins' racist sentiments.

  • Also, the Jews were actually "a tribe of Hindoo or Persian nomades or shepherds." [367] Abraham is Brahma and Sara is Saraiswati.
  • A "medal" alleged to have been found in the pre-Christian ruins of Citium supposedly depicts a bearded figure labelled as "the Savior" [219]. It was drawn by a "Dr. Clarke" who "shews [it] is Phoenician, and therefore of great antiquity" (how, is not explained).

    We'd like to know where this medal is now. The "Dr. Clarke" is actually Daniel Clarke, who was a mineralologist and thus was not qualified to assess ancient artifacts.

  • The common use of chants, music, and pilgrimages are taken as evidence that Tibetian Buddism is the same religion as Christianity [233]. Also, "Every part of Christianity refers back to Abraham, and it is all Freemasonry." [790] So Tibetian Buddhism is also Freemasonry.
  • "Buddha was Bacchus, Christna was Hercules, in reality, one 2160 years after the other." [254]
  • When the evidence doesn't back Higgins, it's not because he is wrong but because someone is hiding something: "I cannot believe that the Brahmins did not know the meaning of the word Agnus; their wish for secrecy can be the only reason that I can imagine for the signification of it not being found in their dictionaries." [263]
  • "Mr. Faber" says that Jesus was not originally called Jesus Christ, but "Jescua Hanamasiah." "Ham" is the same as "Om" in India. [315]
  • Higgins on church architecture: "...[O]ur churches were built in the inconvenient oblong form, instead of square or round, in imitation of mystic ships called Argha from mysteries of Egypt." This is why they have a section called a "nave". [344-5]
  • That Rome, Constantinople, and Troy were all built on seven hills "tends to shew that one secret system was at the bottom of them all." [360]
  • The Twelve Caesars of Rome recorded by Suetonious are the 12 signs of the Zodiac. Their title is after the Celtic god of war, Aesar. [369] No, there were not actually 12 such leaders in history, because "judicial astrology has corrupted almost every history which we possess."
  • Matt. 16:17-19 needs a new exegesis. Peter son of Jonas: The latter is the same as Janus (the Roman god) and Ioni, "the generative principle". "Stone" or Peter is an "emblem if the make generative principle" and is the same as a sacred stone found "in India at every temple" and obelisks in Egypt, and the "single stone found near every Gilgal or Druidical circle" as well as the stone found at Westminster Abbey. [644-5]
  • Though I have selected portions from Higgins, much of his writing is like this paragraph, all of it provided without a shred of corroborative documentation:
    As Jesus was IXOYE with the mystic monogram, I, prefixed, I-IXOYE, and the deity of Egypt was Omtha with the mystic monogram M, prefixed, M-OMtha, so may Ixion, divine one crucified, have been X-ion with the mystic X prefixed, and again, Caesar X-aesar and the Iokn may have been the Ione of Spiritus Mundi, the Dovem the crucified Semiramis, who flew away in the form of a Dove." [658]

    I am not even sure what was being said there, even if it was ever documented, which it was not.

  • Higgins uses the Kabbalah, medieval Jewish occult material, to interpret the pre-Christian Wisdom of Solomon and Sirach as occult documents. [712]
  • Freemasonry originated in ancient Hindustan [725].
  • Jesus was black and went to Italy, which is why we see black infant Christs in Italy. [751]
  • Trying to prove mystic significance to the number 72, Higgins says: "The rabbis maintain that the angels who ascended and descended Jacob's ladder were seventy-two in number." "The Kabalists found seventy-two names of God" in Exodus 14:13-21. "In Numbers xxili.9, Exod. xv.27, we read of seventy palm trees. Of course the number ought to be seventy-two." The Greek king Solon made monetary adjustments so that the value of a mina was changed from 72 drachma to a hundred. [780-2]
  • Higgins has something for Muslims, too. "Mohammed was called a Saca of Saceswara, as well as a Vicramaditya. These are all descriptive epithets. And from the fact named above we find the reason why the Mohamedens spared the statues of Buddha in India: It strongly confirms the doctrine of the secret religions of the Mohamedens. Mohammed was thought to be a renewed incarnation of divine wisdom, and of course of Buddha, in his tenth avatar." [v2, 2]
  • The book of Esther is part of the annals of the kings of Persia [17].
  • Mormons may like this one: The gods of India and Mexico are the same [23]. "Mexico" is Mesi-co, and since Hebrew msih = Messiah, "Mexico" is the "country of the Messiah."
  • As noted, we don't know much about Higgins' sources, but one he does use we know about: The unreliable Robert Taylor, who may have been the first to use the bogus Pope Leo X quote, and who confused a hymn to Jesus with one for Prometheus.
  • John the Baptist was a Mithraist, as were the Essenes. The place he baptized, Aenon, is "sacred to the sun." [66] His reference to being baptized by fire is to be connected to a rite in Scotland in which baptized children are swung over a fire three times. [67]
  • The Jews had a "secret doctrine" of crucified avatars. [115]

    And need we say more? Higgins' editor admits that Higgins was criticized by scholars who "felt that amateurs had no place in their special fields" [459], so even in his day he was obviously considered unreliable. How much more so today in light of what we know now? Anyone using Higgins as a source had best explain themselves as well as Higgins.

    -JPH