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Irish Druids And Old Irish Religions

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Author Topic: Irish Druids And Old Irish Religions  (Read 4380 times)
Crissy Herrell
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« Reply #120 on: February 20, 2009, 01:29:57 pm »

O'Curry affirms that there is "no instance of human sacrifices at any time in Erin." There is only one known text referring to the custom in Ireland, which occurs in the Dinnsenchus. Both men and women were liable to be burnt to ashes for certain crimes, but not in worship. The Lives of St. Patrick do not mention such offerings, though the Book of Leinster and Lucan's verses note their ancient service. Elton thought that some of the penalties of the ancient laws seemed to have originated in an age when criminals were offered to the gods.

Some old poem upon the Fair of Tailté, a pagan cemetery, has it--

"The three forbidden bloods--
Patrick preached therein (i.e. the fair)
Yoke oxen, and slaying much cows,
Also by (against the) burning of the firstborn."

There was, however, in Leitrim a Plain of Shrieking, and Magh-sleacth was the place of slaughter.

p. 147

In an article, contributed to an antiquarian periodical, in 1785, concerning the Irish mountain Sliabh Croobh, we find the following:--

"On its summit still remain the vestiges of Druid worship, the rude altar, and the sacred well, and that during the era of Druidical government, their priests were not only the judges, but executioners of those who were doomed to death either as delinquents, or victims of sacrifice. I am inclined to suspect that it was anciently styled Sliabh cro abh; cro signifying death, and abh the point of a weapon,--and as a spot destined for human slaughter, might bear the appellation of the mountains of final death. A stone hatchet, and undoubtedly a sacrificial one, belonging to the Druids, was dug up at the foot of this mountain a few years ago, and is in Lord Moira's possession."

To show how wide-spread was the custom of human sacrifices, we may quote the list of nations adopting it, as given in the work Indo-Aryans, by Rajendralala Mitra. This includes the "Phœnicians, Carthaginians, Druids, Scythians, Greeks, Trojans, Romans, Cyclops, Lamiæ, Sestrygons, Syrens, Cretans, Cyprians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Jews, Aztecs, Khonds, Toltecs, Tezcaucans, Sucas, Peruvians, Africans, Mongols, Dyaks, Chinese, Japanese, Ashantis, Yucatans, Hindus." He adds--"The Persians were, perhaps, the only nation of ancient times that did not indulge in human sacrifices."

If, then, O'Curry, and other Irish writers, object to such a charge being made against their rude forefathers, it must be allowed that the latter would have been in, at least, respectable and numerous company.


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