Nash Buckingham in many of his hunting stories mentions “red gods.” I've always wondered who these “red gods” were.
While this race of ours was in its cradle of mystery, when men were young and gods were new, our forbears called their gods “the red ones”; and it answered all their needs, whether of description or of devotion.
One need but open anywhere the sacred books of our share of the East to catch the gleam of the color. Far in the backward of the ages, when the gods were principles plain to the people of the forest, the early Aryan saw his gods red and called them so.
Red were the gods when our ancestors lived afield and were in fearless fellowship with the gods that peopled every stream in every forest.
Red the gods remained while the proto-Aryans swept out from their cradle and peopled the world. Red were the gods who looked down upon the building of Kapilavastu, that first great city that has proved the type of other great cities.
Rudyard Kipling wrote about the red gods in his poem, “The Feet of the Young Men.” Here are a few excerpts:
Now the Four-way Lodge is opened, now the Hunting Winds are loose —
Now the Smokes of Spring go up to clear the brain;
Now the Young Men's hearts are troubled for the whisper of the Trues,
Now the Red Gods make their medicine again!
Who hath seen the beaver busied? Who hath watched the blacktail mating?
Who hath lain alone to hear the wild-goose cry?
Who hath worked the chosen water where the ouananiche is waiting,
Or the sea-trout's jumping-crazy for the fly?
Do you know the world's white roof-tree — do you know that windy rift
Where the baffling mountain-eddies chop and change?
Do you know the long day's patience, belly-down on frozen drift,
While the head of heads is feeding out of range?
It is there that I am going, where the boulders and the snow lie,
With a trusty, nimble tracker that I know.
I have sworn an oath, to keep it on the Horns of Ovis Poli,
And the Red Gods call me out and I must go!
Surely no young fellow is worth much unless that luring song has at some time sung itself into his heart and set his feet to wandering, wandering into Nature's beauty.
Stop a moment and think what was Kipling's horizon in his boyhood when he was pocketing those facts of boyhood vision which became the images and the fancy of maturer thought.
His early life was spent in India, where our kinfolk think no shame to have before their view artistic conceptions of the gods they still believe in.
And those gods are red today, red by long tradition of the past.
And our God said, “Let us make man in our image,” and he made him and called him Adam. The Hebrew for man is pronounced aw-dawm, from which Adam is derived. It's also related to aw-dawm-ah, which means red earth, or red clay — indicating the natural earth elements that composed Adam's body, and the body of every human being since.
So it is no wonder that Buckingham and other old-time outdoor writers say that red are the gods that call young men to nature; the rather were the wonder if they were to call the gods other.
The calling of the red gods takes the hunter to the pure bosom of nature, whose every phase is replete with beauty, of good fellowship, of love for nature and forgetfulness of the unspeakably disgusting vulgarities of the “civilized” battle for life.
Every time we bend to inhale the sweet odor of the heliotrope, the red gods call us out to nature. I can hear them calling now, as they have for so many years! Mother Nature pours out her life-giving soul-restoring magic upon us all who come to her.