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Irish Druids And Old Irish Religions

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Crissy Herrell
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« Reply #105 on: February 20, 2009, 01:23:29 pm »

Jubainville's Cours de la littérature Celtique does not omit mention of these wonder-workers. He calls to mind the fact that, like the Greeks of the Golden Age, they became invisible, but continued their relations with men; that the Christian writers changed them into mortal kings in chronicles; that their migrations and deities resemble those of Hesiod; that they continue to appear in animal or human forms, though more commonly as birds; that ancient legends record their descent to earth from the blue heavens.

He brings forward a number of the old Irish stories about the Tuaths. When defeated by the Sons of Milé, they sought refuge in subterranean palaces. One Dagan, a word variant of the god Dagdé, exercised such influence, that the sons of Milé were forced, for peace' sake, to make a treaty with him. His palace retreat below was at Brug na Boinné, the castle of the Boyne. The burial-place of Crimtham Nia Nair, at Brug na Boinné, was chosen because his wife was a fairy of the race of Tuatha. In the Tain bô Cuailnge there is much about the Sid, or enchanted palace. Dagdé had his harp stolen by the Fomorians, though it was recovered later on.

The son of Dagdé was Oengus. When the distribution of subterranean palaces took place, somehow or other, this young fellow was forgotten. Asking to be allowed to spend the night at one, he was unwilling to change his quarters, and stayed the next day. He then absolutely refused to depart, since time was only night and day; thus retaining possession. The same Tuath hero fell in love with a fair harper, who appeared to him in a dream. The search, aided by the fairies, was successful in finding the lady, after a year and a day.

It was in his second battle that Ogmé carried off the sword of Tethra, King of the Fomorians. This sword

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« Reply #106 on: February 20, 2009, 01:23:42 pm »

had the gift of speech; or, rather, said Jubainville, it seemed to speak, for the voice which was heard was, according to a Christian historian, only that of a demon hidden in the blade. Still, the writer of this Irish epic remarked, that in that ancient time men adored weapons of war, and considered them as supernatural protectors.

The Book of Conquests allows that the Tuatha were descended from Japhet, though in some way demons; or, in Christian language, heathen deities. One Irish word was often applied to them, viz. Liabra, or phantoms. It is believed that at least one Tuath warrior, named Breas, could speak in native Irish to the aboriginal Firbolgs.

A writer in Anecdota Oxon is of opinion that very different notions and accounts exist at the different periods of Irish epic literature concerning them. He declares that, excepting their names, no very particular traces of them have come down to us. The most distinct of the utterances about the race points to the existence of war-goddesses.

Wilde gives a definite reason why we know so little about the Tuatha de Danaans. It was because "those who took down the legends from the mouths of the bards and annalists, or those who subsequently transcribed them, were Christian missionaries, whose object was to obliterate every vestige of the ancient forms of faith." The distortion of truth about these singular, foreign people makes it so difficult to understand who or what they were; to us they seem always enveloped in a sort of Druidic fog, so that we may class them with men, heroic demi-gods, or gods themselves, according to our fancy.



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« Reply #107 on: February 20, 2009, 01:24:09 pm »

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IRISH GODS.
SOME writers, from a jealous regard to the reputation of their ancestors, have been unwilling to acknowledge the idolatry of ancient Erin. They reject the testimony as to images, and decline to accept the record as to heathen deities. Yet it is surely a satisfaction to know that the Highest and Unseen was worshipped at all, though under rude and material symbolism, instead of being unknown and unfelt.

If claiming to be, in some degree, at least, of Celtic heritage, the Irish may conceivably be esteemed of kindred faith with Celtic Gauls and Celtic Germans, whose divinities were recognized by the Romans, though called, from certain supposed similitude's, by more familiar Italian names.

The Irish, from their geographical position, were a mixture of many peoples, forming a succession of human layers, so to speak, according to the number of the newcomers, and the period of local supremacy. The tendency of populations northward and westward, from wars or migrations, was to carry to Erin various races from the Continent of Europe, with their different customs and their gods, having more permanent influence than the visitation of their coasts by Oriental seamen.

Thus we perceive, in fragmentary traditions and superstitions, the adoration of the Elements, and the fanciful embodiment of divine attributes in their phases and their apparent contradictions, In some way or other, the Islanders failed not to see, with Aristotle, that "the principle of life is in God." Yet J. S. Mill thought that religion may exist without belief in a God.

In our investigations, we need bear in mind what the

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« Reply #108 on: February 20, 2009, 01:24:21 pm »

learned Professor Rhys asserts, that --"most of the myths of the modern Celts are to be found manipulated, so as to form the opening chapters of what has been usually regarded as the early history of the British Isles." So we know of other lands, that their chronicles may be a disguised form of faith, clad in the mysticism fostered by all priests.

As ancient mythologies, apparently so idle and meaningless, are now perceived to embody truths, scientific and religious, so the seemingly foolish traditions of nations, descriptive of their early history, are recognized to convey ideas more or less astronomical and theological.

___________

NATURE WORSHIP has been regarded as the foundation of all religions. Aristotle left this remarkable saying, "When we try to reach the Infinite and the Divine by means of mere abstract terms, are we even now better than children trying to place a ladder against the sky?" Early man could not avoid anthropomorphizing the Deity. The god could show himself. He could walk, talk, come down, go up. Earlier still, man saw the reflection of the godhead in the sun, the storm, or the productive forces.

Boscawen writes--"The religion of Assyria was in constitution essentially a Nature worship; its Pantheon was composed of deifications of Nature powers. In this opinion I know I differ considerably from other Assyriologists, Mr. Sayce, M. Lenormant and others being of opinion that the system was one of solar worship." An author speaks of "one great surge of voluptuous Nature worship that swept into Europe."

According to Pliny--"The world and sky, in whose embrace all things are enclosed, must be deemed a god, eternal, immense, never begotten, and never to perish.

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« Reply #109 on: February 20, 2009, 01:24:35 pm »

To seek things beyond this is of no profit to man, and they transcend the limits of his faculties." Not a few learned men of our day are satisfied with Pliny's principles.

That Nature worship is a natural impulse, has been well illustrated in a pretty story told of a little English girl, whose father was expected home from sea, and who was seen to take up some water from a basin near her, and say, "Beautiful water! send home my father here."

We have a right to assume that our island races, existing in the country long before the arrival of Celts in the west, did indulge in Nature worship, and continued to do so long after they came to these shores. Even Canute, at the end of a thousand years after Christ, found occasion to say, that "they worship heathen gods, and the sun or the moon, fire or rivers, water, wells or stones, or forest trees of any kind."

Baron d'Holbach said, "The word Gods has been used to express the concealed, remote, unknown causes of the effects he (man) witnessed." And Dormer's Origin of Primitive Superstitions declared that, "If monotheism had been an original doctrine, traces of such a belief would have remained among all peoples." Lubbock considered the Andaman Islanders "have no idea of a Supreme Being." Professor Jodi talks of "the day on which man began to become God." Dr. Carus, while affirming that "the anthropomorphic idol is doomed before the tribunal of science," says, "The idea of God is and always has been a moral idea."

Pictet observes, "There existed very anciently in Ireland a particular worship, which, by the nature of its doctrines, by the character of its symbols, by the names even of its gods, lies near to that religion of the Cabirs of Samothracia, emanating probably from Phœnicia." He thought the

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« Reply #110 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.

_____________

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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« Reply #111 on: February 20, 2009, 01:25:09 pm »

early introduction of Latin, Norman-French, and English increased the obscurity, and hampered the labours of copyists in the Middle Ages, as was the case with that composite language known now as Welsh.

The god most prominently set forth in early Irish missionary records, in the Lives of the Saints, and in the ancient Bards, is Crom, Cromm Cruach or Cenn Crûach, the bleeding head; or Cromm Cruaich, the Crooked or Bent One of the Mound. As Crom-cruaghair, the great Creator, he has, by some writers, been identified with the Persian Kerum Kerugher. Crom has been rendered great; and Cruin, the thunderer. One considers Cromleac as the altar of the Great God. He is also known as Ceancroitihi, and the head of all gods. Cromduff-Sunday, kept early in August, was the festival of Black Crom.

He figures in the several Lives of St. Patrick. At the touch of the Saint's sacred staff of Jesus, his image fell to the ground. He is associated with Mag Slecht, a mound near Ballymagauran, of Tullyhead Barony, County Cavan. The Welsh god Pen Crug or Cruc, Chief of the Mound, answered to the Irish deity.

He was certainly the Sun-god, for his image was surrounded by the fixed representations of twelve lesser divinities. Irish imagination pictured the first of gold, the others of silver. They were certainly stones; and, as Andrew Lang remarks, "All Greek temples had their fetish stone, and each stone had its legend." The one surrounded with the twelve would readily suggest the Sun and the twelve Signs of the Zodiac.

An old reference to Crom has been recorded in Ogham letters, thus translated, "In it Cruach was and twelve idols of stone around him, and himself of gold." In the old book Dinseanchus we read thus of Crom Cruach--"To whom they sacrificed the first-born of every offspring,

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« Reply #112 on: February 20, 2009, 01:26:27 pm »

and the first-born of their children." This record of their heathen fathers must have been, doubtless, a libel in the excess of zeal. The priests of Crom were the Cruim-thearigh.

Instead of gold, one story declares the image was ornamented with bronze, and that it faced the South, or Sun. It was set up in the open air on the Mag Slechta, says Colgan, the Field of Adoration. They who are not Irish or Welsh scholars have to submit to a great variety of readings and meanings in translators.

The mythology has been thus put into verse by T. D. McGee --

"Their ocean god was Menanan Mac Lir,
   Whose angry lips
In their white foam full often would inter
   Whole fleets of ships.

Crom was their Day god; and their Thunderer,
   Made morning and eclipse;
Bride was their queen of song, and unto her
   They prayed with fire-touched lips."

Professor Rhys has an explanation of Cromm Cruaich as the Crooked or Bent one of the Mound; saying--"The pagan sanctuary had been so long falling into decay, that of the lesser idols only their heads were to be seen above ground, and that the idol of Cenn Cruaich, which meant the Head or Chief of the Mound, was slowly hastening to its fall, whence the story of its having had an invisible blow dealt it by St. Patrick."

The Mother of the Irish gods,--the Bona Dea of Romans--appears to have been the Morrigan, to whom the white-horned bull was sacred. She was the Great Queen. Some old poet had sung, "Anu is her name; and it is from her is called the two paps above Luachair." From her paps she was believed to feed the other deities, and hence became Mother of the gods. According to another, she

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« Reply #113 on: February 20, 2009, 01:26:44 pm »

was the goddess of battle with the Tuatha, and one of the wives of the Great Dagda. She was thought to have her home in the Sighi, or fairy palaces.

The Bona Dea of Rome is said to have been Hyperborean. Hence, observes Crowe, it may have been Ireland that gave the goddess and her worship to the Romans. As Ann, she may have been the goddess of wealth. Rea or Reagh: was, also, Queen of Heaven. Not a few crescents have been found in the neighbourhood of Castle-reagh. Dr. Keating calls the Moriagan, Badha, and Macha the three chief goddesses of the Tuath de Danaans.

Her white-horned bull of Cruachan, Find-bennach, was in direct opposition to the brown bull of Cualnge. She was the goddess of prosperity. She occasionally appeared in the shape of a bird and addressed the bull Dond. She is the Mor Riogan, and identified with Cybele.

The Female Principle was adored by the old Irish in various forms. As the Black Virgin, she is the dark mould, or matter, from whose virgin material all things proceed. She is the Ana-Perema, of the Phœnicians, and the queen of women. She may be the Brid, Bride or Bridget, goddess of wisdom, but daughter of the Druid Dubhthach. Several goddesses are like the Indian Dawn goddesses. Aine, or circle, was mother of all gods. Ri, or Rol, says Rhys, was "the mother of the gods of the non-Celtic race."

The Celtic Heus or Esus was a mysterious god of Gaul. The Irish form was Aesar, meaning, he who kindles a fire, and the Creator. In this we are reminded of the Etruscan Aesar, the Egyptian sun bull Asi, the Persian Aser, the Scandinavian Aesir, and the Hindoo Aeswar. The Bhagavat-Gita says of the last that "he resides in every mortal."

Hesus was acknowledged in the British Isles. In one

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« Reply #114 on: February 20, 2009, 01:26:57 pm »

place he is represented with a hatchet, cutting down a tree. As the Breton Euzus, the figure is not attractive looking. Dom Martin styles Esus or Hesus "the Jehovah of the Gauls." He was, perhaps, the Aesar, or Living One, of the Etruscans. Leflocq declares, "Esus is the true god of the Gauls, and stands for them the Supreme Being, absolute and free." The name occurs on an altar erected in the time of the Emperor Tiberius, which was found in 1711 under the choir of Notre Dame, Paris.

Sun-gods were as common in Ireland as in other lands. Under the head of "Sun-worship" the subject is discussed; but some other references may be made in this place.

The Irish sun-gods, naturally enough, fought successfully in summer, and the Bards give many illustrations of their weakness in winter. Sun heroes were not precisely deities, as they were able to go down to Hades. Aengus, the young sun, whose foster-father was Mider, King of the Fairies, was the protector of the Dawn goddess Etain, whom he discreetly kept in a glass grianan or sun-bower, where he sustained her being most delicately on the fragrance and bloom of flowers. His father was the great god Dagda.

Sun-gods have usually golden hair, and are given to shooting off arrows (sunbeams), like Chaldæan ones. As a rule, they are not brought up by their mothers; one, in fact, was first discovered in a pig-sty. They grow very rapidly, are helpers and friends of mankind, but are engaged everywhere in ceaseless conflicts with the gods or demons of darkness.

The Irish sun-gods had chariots, like those of the East. They indulged in the pleasures of the chase, and of fighting, but were more given to the pursuit of Erin's fairest

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daughters. Occasionally they made improper acquaintance with darker beings, and were led into trouble thereby.

Grian was the appellation of the sun, and Carneach for the priest of the solar deity. Strabo mentions a temple in Cappadocia to Apollo Grynæus. Ovid notes a goddess called by the ancients Grane. The Phrygians had a god Grynæus. Grane and Baal both refer to the sun. J. T. O'Flaherty regarded the Irish word Grian as pure Phœnician. The Four Masters inform their readers that "the monarch Laogaire had sworn ratha-Greine agus Gavithe"; that is, by the sun and wind. Breaking his oath, he was killed by those divinities. Eusebius held that Usous, King of Tyre, erected two pillars for worship to the sun and wind.

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« Reply #115 on: February 20, 2009, 01:27:08 pm »

It has been affirmed by an Erse scholar, that the Irish Coté worshipped the sun under forty different names. Dal-greine, or sun standard, was the banner of the reputed Fingal. Daghda was an Apollo, or the sun. He was also the god of fire.

The Phœnicians have been credited as the introducers of Irish solar deities. Sir S. Rush Meyrick held their origin in these Islands from Arkite sun-worship: Tydain was the Arkite god, the Lord of Mystery. H. O'Brien, in Phœnician Ireland, Dublin, 1822, spoke of the Irish word Sibbol as "a name by which the Irish, as well as almost all other nations, designated and worshipped Cybele;" sibola, an ear of corn, being a symbol of Ceres and Cybele of the Phœnicians. Several supposed Phœnician relics, especially swords, have been discovered in Ireland.

The Gaulish Belenus was known over these Islands. In his temples at Bayeux and at Bath there were images of the Solar god. He was adored, too, at Mont St. Michel. A remnant of his worship is seen in the custom of maids washing their faces in May-morn dew, and then mounting

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a hill to see the sunrise. According to Schedius, the word may be rendered 2 + 8 + 30 + 5 + 50 + 70 + 200 or 365, the period in days of the sun's annual round. The solar Hercules was represented in Irish by Ogmian or Ogham. The god of light was ever god of the Heavens.

Belenus was Belus or Belis, from belos, an arrow, or ray, and therefore a form of Apollo. As Apollo-Belinus, he was the young Sun, armed with arrows or rays, and was exhibited as a young man without beard, and rays round his head. As Apollo-Abelios, he was the old or winter sun, having no rays. The Breton god was Beletucadrus--Mars and Apollo being identical. The votive altar at St. Lizier bears the names of Minerva and Belisana. Baron Chaudruc-de-Crazannes, writing upon Belisana, goddess of the Gauls, observes that Cæsar "had found in Esus, Taranis, Teutates, Camulus, Belisana, an identity with Jupiter, Mercury, Apollo, Mars, and Minerva, of Greeks and Romans." Belisana, without lance or shield, was called the Queen of Arrows, i. e. the solar rays. She was represented as thinking profoundly.

Samhan, literally servant, is derived from Sam, the sun; so, samh-an, like the sun. As the Irish Pluto, he is guardian of the Dead. As such, he would receive the prayers for souls on Hallow Eve. The Arab schams is the sun. Cearas, god of fire, has a feminine equivalent in Ceara, goddess of Nature. As the horse was a symbol of the sun, we are not surprised to see it associated with the god Cunobelin of Gaul, who had the sun's face, with locks of hair. The Gaulish Cernunnos appeared as an old man with horns on his head.

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« Reply #116 on: February 20, 2009, 01:27:22 pm »

Le Blanc, in Etude sur le Symbolisme Druidique, asserts that the name of Bal-Sab proves that Bâl, Bel, or Beal is the same as the Irish Samhan. Bâl is the personification. of the sacred fire become visible. The year, the work of

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Samhan, the Sun, was known as the Harmony of Beal. Samhan, adds Le Blanc, "was that idol which the King of Ireland adored after the name of head of all the gods." In the Psalms we read, "They join themselves to Baal-Peor, and eat the sacrifice of the dead." This was true of many ancient countries, and may; perhaps, be applied to Ireland.

A Hymn to Apollo, appearing in the ably conducted Stonyhurst Magazine, is so beautiful, and so truly descriptive of the sun and fire worship of ancient Erin, that a verse of it may be transcribed:--

"Pile up the altar with faggots afresh,
   The head be off severed--strew wheat and rye,
Pouring libations of wine on the flesh,
   That odorous incense ascend the sky!
          Ward against evil,
             Guard of the byre--
          Glorious sun-god--
             Prince of the lyre!
          Olympus compelling
          With harmonious swelling--
             Apollo aeidon!
             Worshipped with fire!"

There was an Irish fish god, associated with caves and storms, with the attributes of Dagon in the land of the Philistines. Neith, a god of war, had two wives, Nemain and Fea; these were also styled goddesses of war. The Book of Leinster names Brian, Tuchar, and Sucharba as gods of the Tuaths. The Irish Badb is but the Gaulish Badna, and yet not a goddess of war. Deuc or Ducius was known to St. Austin as "a libidinous demon." Aou was another Celtic god.

Camulus, the Gaulish Mercury, whose image was on the Puy de Dome, was the Irish Cumall, father of the mythical Finn, and said to be the same as the Welsh Gwyn, son of Nûd. The Irish Toth was probably a copy of Thoth, or the Gaulish Teut, god of war. Canobalinos, the Welsh

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« Reply #117 on: February 20, 2009, 01:27:35 pm »

Conbelin, was adored in both isles. Decete is named in Devon, Anglesey, and South-west Ireland.

Dormer Supposed the deities were first of place, then of peoples. Rhys saw minor gods as genii locorum and asked what race it was that gave the Celtic lands its population of spirits. He regarded the mass of divinities as "very possibly creations of the people here long before the Celts." The non-Aryan mythology had doubtless great influence on the religion of the Goiedels.

When St. Patrick tried conversion Upon the King's daughters, Eithne and Finola, they inquired if his god lived in the hills, valleys, fountains, or rivers. Seeing his party in white, the princesses concluded they Were men of Sidhe, or earth divinities.

Some imagine the popular Mithraic faith of the East reached Ireland. It did gain the shores of Gaul; for, in 1598, a stone cist was dug up near Dijon, enclosing a glass vessel. Upon the stone was this Greek inscription--"In the sacred wood of Mithras, this tumulus covers the body of Chyndonax, high priest. Return, thou ungodly person, for the protecting gods preserve my ashes."

Chaldæan influence may have been Carried to Erin by Tyrian traders. Very many terms of divination used there are like those employed in Chaldaic. A Chaldæan record on physic or divination was found in India in 1765. The Tuaths, so associated with Irish deities, have been thought to be wandering Chaldees. It is singular that the Irish Venus was recognized under the names of Bidhgoe Nanu, and Mathar, which in Persian would be Biducht, Nanea, and Metra.

The circle may represent the universe. The Irish god Ti-mor means the great circle. He was Alpha and Omega, Α Ω, the perfect Decad or 10, of Pythagoras. Much was another name for the Great God.

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« Reply #118 on: February 20, 2009, 01:27:49 pm »

In comparing Irish gods with others, Neit has been identified with the Naat of India and Neith of Egypt; Creeshna, the sun, with the Indian Christna: Prith, lord of the air, with Pritha, a title of Vishnu; Ner, latinized to Nereus, with the Naros of India; Cau, with Caudra; Omti with the Buddhist Om, Esar with Eswara, &c. Comhdhia--the middle and end--reminds one of the Orphic hymn--"Zeus is the first, Zeus is the last: Zeus is the head, Zeus is the middle."

"The god of the Gael," writes Donald Ross," was outside of him, and draped awfully by his imagination." The Deity everywhere has been regarded with awe, and even terror, in all religious systems. Pantheism, however, in some mystical form, entered the mind of the Gael, as well as that of the Greek and Hindoo. While Orpheus sang, "All has come from the bosom of Zeus," Finlanders held that their god Kawe was in the bosom of K-unattaris (Nature).

Some fancy the butterfly--Dealbhaude--was in Ireland a symbol of God, from its changes of being. Be'al was the source of all being, as the Scandinavian Tuisco, after whom our Tuesday is named, was the Father of all beings.

Dr. Todd affirmed--"The Irish had no knowledge of the Dei Gentium, Saturn, Apollo, Mars, &c., or of the feminine deities Juno, Venus, Minerva, &c., under any Celtic name or designation." Crowe answered, "Now, this is not true. The Dei Gentium, under the ancient Gaulish or Iberno-Celtic names, are often met with in Irish story." But Crowe held with Cæsar and Tacitus, that the Celts of Gaul and our Isles had similar gods to those of Rome and Greece.

Though the transcribers of the Book of Leinster, during the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries, corrupted the MS., from ignorance more than design, yet not a few

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learned men trace in that book the most ancient Irish mythological treatise.

With so fighting a race as that of Erin, war-gods were common. Some were battle furies, as Nemon, the Nemetona of Gaul. Others were like Cairbre, whose exploits are narrated by the Four Masters, and who, as a hero, was, as Prof. Rhys says, "placed on a level with the gods." It is not easy, however, to discover there those ancient legends which, as Cory's Ancient Fragments supposes, "recognize as the primary element of all things, two independent principles, of the nature of male and female; and those in mystic union, as the soul and body, constitute the Great Hermaphrodite Deity." There was scarcely that refinement in ancient Ireland.

Dr. Kenealy's Book of God perceives in the Irish Oun or Ain the cycle, or seasons course; as in Bel-ain, the year of Baal, the sun. The Irish anius is the astrologer, surveying the cycle. Bay is regarded as circle or cycle in Irish and Sanscrit. The Irish Cnaimh was, in Kenealy's View, the Phœnician great-winged one, or Cneph of Egypt. He speaks of "their more ancient manner of invocation being Ain treidhe Dia ainm Tau-lac, Fan, Mollac or Ain, triple God, whose name is Tau-lac, Fan, Mollac. This third person was the Destroyer." Fan he places with Pan or Phanes.

Another fanciful author sees the source of an Irish religious festival in the Charistita of Romans, a feast sacred to Concord and the Loves at the end of the year--whence the word Eu-charist. Lenoir is more correct in saying, "Astronomy is truly the fruitful source from which the Mages and the priests have drawn ancient and modern fables."

The Rev. R. Smiddy writes of the Celtic Ceal, the heaven; and Cealtach, a heavenly person. Church, a circle,

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Crissy Herrell
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« Reply #119 on: February 20, 2009, 01:28:01 pm »

is swreal, or swrealleacht, the pillared temple of the Druids. He derives teampul from tiomchal, round, as the sun. Taking Dia as both god and day, he gets Dia Sol, Dia Luan, Dia Moirt (death), Dia Ceadion (the first god), Dia Ardion (the high God), Dia Beanion (the woman god), Dia Satharn (Saturn). After all, we may perceive, with Max Müller, that "the whole dictionary of ancient religion is made up of metaphor."

The French author of Sirius, who perceives in that star the origin of all thundering or barking gods, has a god of thunder in the Celtic T-aran, which is T affix to the sound made by a dog.

"The Celtic priests, or Druids," says he, "who, like the Egyptian priests, had adopted the Chien-Levrier for a symbol, called themselves the ministers of an Unknown God, descended, it is said, upon earth, as Thoth, under a human form, and having all the characteristics of that Egyptian god, with the head of a dog; benefactor of Humanity, Supreme--civilizing Legislator, Poet and Musician, King of Bards, Inventor and Protector of Agriculture, Regulator of Waters, Protector in Darkness, raised to the Presidency in a circle of stones, Founder of sacred ceremony, Model-priest, invoked under the name of Father."

All that is very Welsh, and cannot be applied to Ireland. The Welsh Triads have had claimed for them a greater age than modern critics are disposed to allow. Many of the Welsh gods therein recorded are of doubtful pagan origin, and belonged rather to the mysticism that crept into Europe from the East during the early Middle Ages.

The Irish--except where their Bards came under the influence of the same wave of oriental or Gnostic learning--of olden time knew little of Addon, the seed-bearer in himself; Ammon without beginning; Celi, the mystery; Deon, the just: Duv, he is: Dovydd. regulator; Deon, separate

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One; Dwyv, I am; Daw, being; Gwawr, dawn of day; Gwerthevin, supreme; Ton, source; Tor, one of yore; Nudd, manifest; Perydd, cause; Rhen, pervader; Rhwyf, overlooker, &c.

There is no mention of their recognition of the Three Attributes--Plennydd, Alawn, and Gwron, indicated by the three divergent rays. They had no Circle of Ceugant as the infinite space; nor did they look upon the cromlech as representing, in three stones upholding the cap-stone, the doctrine of Trinity in Unity.

We cannot conceive of an Irish bard writing, as did a Welsh bard, of Ceridwen--"Her complexion is formed of the mild light in the evening hour, the splendid, graceful, bright, and gentle Lady of the Mystic Song." But we do know that the early Crusaders brought home much of this mystic talk from the East, and that ecclesiastics of an imaginative turn were charmed with pseudo-Christian gnosticism. The Irish pagan, as the Welsh pagan, was ignorant of such refinement of speech or ideas. The Welsh Archdruid assured the writer of his belief that so-called pagan philosophy was the source of Bardism, that the teaching of the Triads was but the continuation of a far older faith in his fathers.

Ossian more properly pictures the opinions of his race in Ireland and Scotland, though they are rather negative than affirmative. He, doubtless, never entered the esoteric circle of Druidism, and is very far from displaying any tincture of mysticism in his verses.

His gods were hardly spiritual, but vulnerable; as, when Fingal fought the Scandinavian Deity, that shrieked when wounded, "as rolled into himself, he rose upon the wind." Yet the gods could disturb the winds and waves, bring storms on foes, and so destroy them. Dr. Blair was struck with the almost total absence of religious ideas in Ossian.

p. 133

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