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The Lion's Den
Professor Cowles



The main points of Prof. Anthony Cowles' NYU lecture, as told to Inspector Morse by Prof. Cowles.

ONE, that a bat cult once existed among the Aboriginals of Australia. It was known across the continent, and the god of the cult was called "The Father of All Bats." Adherants believed that human sacrifices to the god made them worthy enough that the Father of All Bats might apepar to them. Once enticed to appear, he would conquer all men. Sacrifices were run though a gantlet of worshippers who struck the victims with clubs imbedded with sharp bats' teeth. The teeth were coated with a substance made from the saliva of rabid bats, and the victims would apparently go mad before dying of their wounds. Leaders of the cult reputedly could take the form of winged snakes.
Cowles believes that this cult became extinct or dormant hundreds of years ago. Its former existance is the reason he became interested in Jackson Elias' books about present-day death cults.

TWO, that an Aboriginal song cycle mentions a place where enormous beings gathered, somewhere in the west of Australia. The songs say these gods, who were not at all like men, built great sleeping walls and dug great vaces. But living winds blew down the gods and overthrew them, destroying their camp. When this happened, the way was opened for the Father of All Bats, who came into the land and grew strong.

THREE, a set of 4 overexposed glass slides. Each shows a few sweating men standing beside enormous blocks of stone, pitted and eroded but obviously dressed and formed for architectural purposes. Dim carvings can be seen on some. Sand billows everywhere. Cowles says that the discoverer of this site, Arthur MacWhirr of Port Hedland, kept a diary in which he described several attacks on the party by aboriginals. MacWhirr records death to victims from hundreds of tiny puncture wounds.

FOUR is a tale Cowles collected near the Arafura Sea in northern Australia. In it, Sand Bat has a battle of wits with Rainbow Snake, the Aboriginal deification of water and the patron of life. Rainbow Snake succeeds in tricking and trapping Sand Bat and his clan into the depths of a watery place from which Sand Bat can only complain, and is unable to return to trouble the people.