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Irish Druids And Old Irish Religions

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Author Topic: Irish Druids And Old Irish Religions  (Read 4382 times)
Crissy Herrell
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« Reply #105 on: February 20, 2009, 01:24:56 pm »

Phœnicians introduced it into Erin, the Muc Innis, or Holy Isle. Of this system, Bryant's Ancient Mythology has much to relate.

A French author held that the Celtic religion was based upon a belief in the dual powers of good and evil in perpetual strife; and that the Irish associated with this a contradictory pantheism and naturalism, as in the Theogony of Hesiod.

Certainly the Irish called sea, land, or trees to witness to their oaths. The Four Masters had this passage--"Laeghaire took oaths by the sun, and the wind, and all the elements, to the Leinster men, that he would never come against them, after setting him at liberty." The version in the Leabhar-na-Uidhri is that "Laeghaire swore by the sun and moon, the water and the air, day and night, sea and land, that he would never again, during life, demand the Borumean tribute of the Leinster men."

O'Beirne Crowe, at the Archaeological Association, 1869, declared the poem Faeth Fiada pre-Christian; adding, "That the pagan Irish worshipped and invoked, as did all other pagan people, the personified powers of Nature, as well as certain natural objects, is quite true."

The Irish prayer, in the Faeth Fiada, runs thus--"I beseech the waters to assist me. I beseech Heaven and Earth, and Cronn (a river) especially. Take you hard warfare against them. May sea-pouring not abandon them till the work of Fene crushes them on the north mountain Ochaine." And then we are told that the water rose, and drowned many. This prayer was said to have been used by Cuchulainn, when pressed hard by the forces of Medb, Queen of the Connachta.

If the Palæolithic man be allowed to have been susceptible to the impressions of Nature, the mixture of many

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races, driven one upon another in the western corner of Europe, and so coming in contact with some higher influences, could not be imagined without impulses of devotion to the mighty and mysterious forces of Nature.

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Our knowledge of so-called Celtic religion has been largely derived from Cæsar and other Roman authorities. These, imbued with Italian ideas, were not very reliable observers. They saw Jupiter in one Celtic deity; Mars, Minerva, Apollo, and Mercury in others. They knew the people after relations, more or less intimate, with visitors or traders from more enlightened lands. They were acquainted with Iberians, Germans, and Celts in Gaul, but only partially with those across the Channel, until Christianity had made some way. The wilder men of those nationalities, in Ireland and Northern Scotland, were little known; these, at any rate, had not quite the same mythology as Romans saw in Gaul.

It may be granted that the traditional opinions of the Irish would be more safely conveyed to us through their early literature, rude as that might be, and capable of conflicting interpretations,--historical or mythological. In spite of the obscurity of Fenian and other poets of that remote age, their writings do furnish a better key to the religion of Erin, than theories founded upon the remarks, of Roman writers respecting Gaulish divinities. It must, however, be conceded that, in the main, Ireland consisted of varieties of the three great ethnological divisions of Gaul, commonly classed as Iberian, German, and Celtic, and inherited something from each.

A difficulty. springs up from the language in which this early poets wrote. Like our English tongue, the Irish passed through many phases, and the reading thereof has occasioned much contention among translators The

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