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In our journey westward across the Atlantic we shall pass in sight of that spot where once existed the pride and life of the ocean, the Land of Mu, which, at the epoch that we have been considering, had not yet been visited by the wrath of Homen, that lord of volcanic fires to whose fury it afterward fell a victim. The description of that land given to Solon by Sonchis, priest at Sais; its destruction by earthquakes, and submergence, recorded by Plato in his "Timæus," have been told and retold so many times that it is useless to encumber these pages with a repetition of it. I shall therefore content myself with mentioning that the ten provinces which formed the country,' that Plato says Kronos divided among his ten sons, were thickly populated, and that the black race seems to have predominated. We shall not tarry in Zinaan, “the scorpion," longer than to inquire if, perchance, the Egyptian goddess Selk, whose title was "the great reptile," directress of the books, whose office was principally in the regions of the
Amenti-that is, in the "Lands of the West "-where she was employed in noting on the palm branch of Thoth the years of human life, was not a deification of the West Indies of our day.
Selk was also called the lady of letters, from which she appears to have been the goddess of writing; and her emblem was placed over the doors of libraries, as the keeper of books.
What connection could possibly have existed, in the mind of Egyptian wise men, between a scorpion, the letters of the alphabet, and the art of writing, Egyptologists do not inform us. Still they did nothing concerning their symbols and their deities without a motive.
thus making Selk the goddess of writing, and symbolizing her as a scorpion, did they intend to indicate that the art of writing and knowledge of the books came to them from the "Lands of the West," and take the shape of the West Indies as emblem of said lands?
This suggestion seems plausible if we consider that they figured the land of Psek2 as a scorpion, and that, from the general contour of the group of islands known to us as the West Indies, the Mayas called them Zinaan, the "scorpion." 3 But Zinaan means also an "accent," a "mark in writing." (See Plate V.)
As to the name Selk, it may have been suggested by the color of the black ink used in writing, or by the name of the large black scorpion quite abundant in Central America. Eek
1 Wilkinson, Manners and Customs, vol. iii., chap. xiii.
Ibid., p. 169 (note). Champollion le jeune, Panthéon, plate xv.
Ubi supra, Introduction, pp. xli-lx.
means "black" in Maya. If to designate the name of a goddess we prefix the word with the feminine article X (English sh), we have X-Eek, that may easily become Selk. Ekchuch is the name of the black scorpion. X-Ekchuch would be that of the female black scorpion. From it the name of the Egyptian goddess of writing and the connection of the scorpion with letters may easily be derived.
From Zinaan we set sail for the nearest seaport in Mayach. It is Tulum, a fortified place, as the name indicates, situated in lat. N. 20° 11' 50" and long. W. 87° 26′ 55′′ from Greenwich. Its ruins, seen from afar, serve yet as a landmark to mariners navigating the waters of the eastern coast of the peninsula of Yucatan.
Proceeding thence inland, in a direction west eight degrees north, one hundred and twenty miles as the crow flies, we reach the city of Chichen whence we started on our voyage of circumnavigation.