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Irish Druids And Old Irish Religions

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Crissy Herrell
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« Reply #120 on: February 20, 2009, 01:32:02 pm »

Sir W. Jones considered that "the whole crowd of gods and goddesses meant only the powers of Nature." Adolphe Pietet proceeds on the following lines--"From a primitive duality, constituting the fundamental force of the Universe, there arises a double progression of cosmical powers, which, after having crossed each other by a mutual transition, at last proceed to blend in one Supreme Unity, as in their essential principles; such, in a few words, is the distinctive 'character of the mythological doctrines of the ancient Irish."

As elsewhere mentioned, the Irish Saints are traditionally mixed up with matters connected with former deities. Thus, Ledwich, in his Antiquities of Ireland, is induced to exclaim, "Very few of the Saints who adorn our legends ever had existence, but are personifications of inanimate things, and even of passions or qualities." St. Thenew or Mungo, patron Saint of Glasgow, was but a metamorphosed divinity of the same race. He was born of a virgin, a proof of her goddess-ship. His miraculous powers were like those of Irish gods, being exerted over Nature's laws. His rod was the Druidical hazel-branch, which burst into flame after his breathing upon it. Thus we see the river Shannon, once an object of worship, remembered under the name of St. Senanus; and the mountain Kevn of Glendalough, also adored, become the Saint Kevin.

The strange mixture of heathenism and Scripture has

p. 157

struck many inquirers. Meyrick's Druidical Religion during the residence of the Romans, points to this strange union in Britain. It was his opinion that "at the commencement of the fourth century, the Druids felt a common cause with the Roman priests in the extermination of Christianity." Bergmann detected the same influence in Snorre's Scandinavian Fascination of Gulfi. He separated the two elements for us. Leflocq remarked the mixture in the "transferring the gods themselves, and placing in the mouth of Odin an echo of the language of Moses." He might well say, "We are surprised to find the teaching of Genesis, and the morals of the Evangelists, in a book of the Eddas." Many may be equally surprised at the same in the MSS. of Erin.

"The Druids and Bards of these far-reaching bardic times," says Mrs. Bryant, "were practically heretics with respect to the more ancient forms of religious idea, which linger without meaning in the Irish peasants' tenacious memory, or adhere to his habits by the same persistence of conservative instinct."

While the cultured Egyptians, Assyrians, Hindoos, Jews, and Greeks, bowed to other gods than the First Cause, no Irishman need be astonished at a similar weakness in his half-civilized ancestors. It might be that the moral infirmities of the former were greater than those in the men and women of old Erin.



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