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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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Posts: 3407

« Reply #195 on: February 22, 2009, 12:29:54 am »

many Irish stories are about the magical feats of lower animals, and such a number of places in Ireland are named after them, it has been supposed, said Patrick Kennedy, that the early Irish paid them the same divine honours as the Egyptians had done.

Birds share in the veneration. The Dove, which was held sacred at Hierapolis, and the symbol of Mithras, was honoured in West Scotland and in Ireland; for Bollandus records that "a snow-white dove, with a golden bill, was wont to sit on the head of St. Kentigarn while occupied in sacred rites." The name of St. Columba also suggests the dove.

The Wren is not yet forgotten in Ireland. It was thought to be the king of birds. It was hunted as the Cutty wren, and is still hunted on St. Stephen's Day, the 26th of December, the winter solstice. There, and in Western Scotland, it has been known as the Lady of Heaven's hen, with this refrain

"The wren! the wren! the king of all birds,
St. Stephen's Day was caught in the furze;
Although he is little, his family's great,
I pray you, good landlady, give us a trate."

The French hunt and kill it, devotionally, on Twelfth Day. Contributions should then be collected in a stocking. After the bird has been solemnly buried in the churchyard, a feast and a dance terminate the ceremony.

The wren in some way symbolized the sun, and was once sacrificed to Pluto. It perhaps represented the weak sun. Morien tells his readers--"The Druids, instead of a dove, employed a wren to symbolize the sun's divinity escaping into an Arkite shrine, to save himself from his murderous pursuers." "The worshipful animal," says J. G. Frazer, "is killed with special solemnity once a year; and before or immediately after death he is promenaded

p. 226

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