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Irish Druids And Old Irish Religions

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Crissy Herrell
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« Reply #195 on: February 22, 2009, 12:22:27 am »

tradition among the people connecting these monuments with the Druids. They were simply regarded as places of pagan worship."

Most persons may agree with Rivett-Carnac--"It seems hardly improbable that the ruins in Europe are the remains of that primitive form of worship which is known to have extended at one time over a great portion of the globe"

Not a few have detected in these monuments remnants the old Phallic worship,--some illustrating the male principle and others symbolizing the female, Dudley's Symbolism detects the worship of the former in the circle, and the female in the quadrangular. Others would see the feminine in the circular, and the masculine in the standing stone

Astronomy, some think, furnishes a solution. The circle of 12 stones, or any multiple of 12, might represent constellations, as 19 would suit a lunar period.. Dr Kenealy, a proficient in mystic studies, wrote--"Druidical temples called Ana-mor were composed of stones, denoting the numbers of the old constellation with a Kebla of 9 stones near the circumference, on inside, to represent the sun in its progress through Signs."

We may accept the dictum of Dr Clark, that the stone circles were the temples of the British Isles; that do to the Reformation the general name in Gaelic for church was Teampull, and is still applied to the old Culdee churches of the Outer Hebrides. Forlong says, "In such monuments as these you see the very earliest idea of temple" The columns took the place of tree-stems, an later on, became circular or solar forms.

St Martin of Tours mentions "a turreted fabric highly-polished stones, out of which rose a lofty Cone. This had relation to Phallic superstition The worship stones was expressly forbidden by the Council of Nantes

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« Reply #196 on: February 22, 2009, 12:22:46 am »

in the seventh century, and as late as 1672, by an ecclesiastical ordinance, ordering the destruction of circles. Welshmen were shown the impotence of these objects, by the power of St. David splitting the capstone of Maen Ketti, in Gower.

The Irish, like their neighbours, venerated their lithic temples. They not only anointed them, as may be still seen done to the sacred cone in India, but, down to a late period, they poured water on their sacred surface that the draught might cure their diseases. Molly Grime, a rude stone figure, kept in Glentham church, was annually washed with water from Newell well; so was the wooden image of St. Fumac washed in water from a holy well near Keith. Babies were sprinkled at cairns in Western or South Scotland down to the seventeenth century. Some stones were kissed by the faithful, like the Druid's Stone in front of Chartres Cathedral, once carefully kept in the crypt.

The Cloch-Lobhirais, of Waterford, had a great reputation for deciding difficult cases. But this virtue was lost under circumstances thus narrated--"But the Good Stone, which appears to have been a remnant of the golden age, was finally so horrified at the ingenuity of a wicked woman in defending her character, that it trembled with horror and split in twain." It seems to have been as sensible and sensitive as were those Pillar-stones near Cork, which, as devoutly attested, being carried off to serve some vulgar building purposes, took the opportunity of nightly shades to retreat to their old quarters. At last, in vexation, the builder shot them into the water. After waiting the departure of their sacrilegious captors, they mysteriously glided back to their former standing-place.

These were not the only Holy stones endowed with sense and motion. At the command of a Saint, they have safely

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« Reply #197 on: February 22, 2009, 12:23:39 am »

borne over bays and streams one standing upon them, The stone at the grave of St. Declan was seen to float over the sea with his bell, his vestments, and his candle. St. Senan, sitting on a stone, was carefully lifted with it by angels to the top of a hill.

St. Patrick is connected with the cromlech of Fintona, the so-called Giant's Grave. To rebuke one sceptical at to the Resurrection, he is said to have struck the gravel with his Staff of Jesus, when the giant rose from the dead thankful for a temporary respite from the pains of hell. After learning he had been swineherd to King Laogaire, the Saint recommended him to be baptized. To this rite he submitted. He then lay down in his grave in peace secure against further torment.

Stories of giants were common of old. Jocelin speaks of Fionn Mac Con as one of them, and Ossian's heroes were often gigantic. Boetius records Fionn as being fifteen cubits high. But St. Patrick's giant was represented by one bard as one hundred and twenty feet in length. The twelve stones of Usnech were said to have been cursed by the Saint, so that they could not be built into any structure.

In the cromlech on the Walsh Hills, Fin-mac-coil was said to have kept his celebrated hounds. A cromlech was a Bethel, or house of God. St. Declan's Stone, Waterford, had a hole through which people crawled for the cure of maladies. The Pillar Stone of Fir Breige had the gift of prophecy, and was duly consulted by those who had lost their cattle. One Pillar Stone, much frequent in pagan times, split with a great crash after a discourse on the better faith, when out leaped a cat--doubtless a black one.

The Rock of Cashel--for ages a consecrated place--once known as St. Patrick's Stone. Cashel was said to

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« Reply #198 on: February 22, 2009, 12:26:51 am »

have been the place where angels were waiting for the Saint's arrival in Erin. The tooth of the Saint was a venerated piece of sandstone, which somewhat resembled a tooth in shape; possibly as much as Guatama's footstep on Adam's Peak in Ceylon.

St. Columba, likewise, among the Hebrides, had a reputation for stones. There is his Red Stone, his Blue Egg Stone in Skye, his Blue Stone of Glen Columkillo, his stony beds of penitence, his Lingam Stones, which worked miracles. He was born on a stone, he was sustained in famine by sucking meal from the Holy Stone of Moel-blatha.

There are Pillar Stones, indicating Phallic origin. That on Tara Hill was popularly known as Bod Thearghais, with especial reference to generative force. Several of them bore names connecting them with the Tuatha; as the Cairtedhe Catha Thuatha de Danann, their pillar stone of battle. The Ship Temple of Mayo was Leabha na Fathac, the Giant's Bed.

The Clochoer, or gold stone, at Oriel, Monaghan County, spoke like an oracle. So did the Lia Fail, the Ophite Stones of old, the anointed Betyles of Sanchoniathon. It is even reported of Eusebius, that he carried such in his bosom to get fresh oracles from them. Mousseaux calls some mad stones. Pliny notices moving stones. The old Irish had their rumbling stones. The Celtic Clacha-brath, or judgment stones, must have been gifted with sounding power. Yet La Vega has a simple way of accounting for these reverential objects, as--"the demons worked on them." One may credit priests with hypnotic power, or we may think, with a writer, that without magic there could have been no speaking stones.

Some holy stones had curious histories. The hallowed Pillow stone of St. Bute had been flung into the brain of

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« Reply #199 on: February 22, 2009, 12:27:13 am »

Conchobar mac Nesse, where it stayed seven years, but fell out one Good Friday. Another stone was mentioned, in the Book of Leinster, as causing the death of an old woman, 150 years old, who, having been brought into a great plain, was so charmed with the sight, that she would never go back to her mountains, preferring death there by knocking her old head upon the stone.

Elf-shots--the stone arrow-heads of their ancestors--were long regarded with reverence. As with Western Islanders, they served as charms for the Irish--being sometimes set in silver, and worn as amulets about the neck, protecting the wearer against the spiritual discharges of elf-shots from malignant enemies. They were the arrows of fairies. They ought not to be brought into a house. In 1713 Llwyd found this superstition existing in the west.

Martin speaks of finding at Inniskea a rude-looking stone kept wrapped up in flannel, and only in the charge of an old woman, as formerly with a pagan priestess. On a stormy clay it might be brought out, with certain magical observances, in the confident expectation of bringing a ship on shore, for the benefit of the wreck-loving Islanders. The Neevougi, as the stone was called, did service in calming the sea when the men went out fishing. It was equally efficacious in sickness, when certain charms were muttered over the stone We have been privately shown, by an Australian aborigine, a similar sacred stone, a quartz crystal in that case, wrapped up in a dirty rag, protected from the eyes of women. Pococke, in 1760, saw pieces of a stone on Icolmkill used to cure a prevalent flux.

Walhouse regarded such superstitions as belonging "to the Turanian races, and as antagonistic to the Aryan genius and feeling" Gomme esteems "stone worship as opposed to the general basis of Aryan culture." The unshapely stones worshipped in India belong to non-Aryan tribes.

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« Reply #200 on: February 22, 2009, 12:27:30 am »

Authors, then, contend that this Irish form of belief came not from the Celts, though accepted by them. Rhind amusingly talks of a "non-Aryan native of Ireland, who paid unwelcome visits to this country as a Scot; that Scot by and by learned a Celtic language, and insisted on being treated as a Celt, as a Goidel." As it was the non-Aryan, or Tartar race, that introduced magic and devils into Assyria, so may the same have been here the originators of Stone-worship, and other superstitions, long before the Celts reached these Islands.

As with other peoples, the Pluto and his attendants were believed to have been no less connected with celebrated stones than were the giants themselves.

The story told by a Welsh visitor into Ireland, seven hundred years ago, preserves an Irish tradition of stones--"There was in Ireland, in ancient times, a pile of stones, worthy of admiration, called the Giants' Dance, because giants from the remotest parts of Africa brought them into Ireland; and on the plains of Kildare, not far from the Castle of the Vaase, as well by force of art as strength, miraculously set them up. Those stones, according to the British story, Aurelius Ambrosius, King of the Britons, procured Merlin, by supernatural means, to bring from Ireland into Britain."

This origin of Stonehenge was long accepted as history. If not holy stones, they were, at least, indebted for their rambling to the exercise of demoniacal or occult powers. They came not from heaven, as did those of Phrygia, Mount Ida, &c.

Various authors have contended that our ancestors in the British Isles were never so lost to common sense as to worship or reverence stones, though other peoples may have done so. O'Curry considers cromlechs "never were intended and never used as altars, or places of sacrifice of

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« Reply #201 on: February 22, 2009, 12:28:27 am »

any kind; that they were not in any sense of the word Druidical." In this opinion he is opposed to Welsh, English, and Irish writers. But Arthur Clive declared--"Our Irish ancestors of Aryan race worshipped the air, stone, and fire."

Forbes Leslie conceives that many figures represented on stones "are disconnected from any Christian symbol." Certainly the Comb shape, so common upon inscribed stones, may be viewed on Indo-Scythian coins. The zigzag was a Gnostic sign. The double disc and sceptre symbol may refer to solar worship, as that of the crescent and sceptre to lunar worship.

A Buddhist origin is attributed to inscriptions by G. Moore. Dr. Longmuir considers them "the earliest, existing records of the ideas" cherished in these Islands. Leslie looks at them as associated with old Oriental divination Tate esteems them "to express some religious sentiments, or to aid in the performance of some religious rites." Not a few regard them as emblems of religious worship.

The meaning of the Cup symbol--observed on stones at Fermanagh, and in the west of Kerry--has puzzled the learned. In India it is frequently found both with and without grooves The common observance upon kistvaens and on mortuary urns, would seem to bear a religious significance. Professor T. J. Simpson imagines the emblem "connected in some way with the religious thought and doctrines of those who carved them" He saw no reason to doubt the origin of cup and ring being still earlier than even the age of the earliest Celts.

Vallencey, commenting upon the spiral marks at New Grange, fancifully says, "The three symbols (3 spirals) represent the Supreme Being or First Cause."

The most wonderful and deeply reverenced Irish stone

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« Reply #202 on: February 22, 2009, 12:28:49 am »

was the Fâl, by some strangely enough identified with the Coronation Stone brought by King Edward from Scotland to Westminster Abbey. Arbois de Jubainville gives this account of it:--

Conn Cetchathach, chief King of Ireland. in the second century, accidentally put his foot on a magical stone called Fâl, which had been brought to Ireland by the Tuatha de Danann. It cried out, so that all in Tara heard it. Three Druids present were asked what the cry meant, where the stone came from, whither it would go, and who had brought it to Tara? They asked a delay of fifty-three days, when they answered all but the first question. They could only say that the stone had prophesied. The number of its cries was the number of the kings of the royal race, but the Druids could not tell their names. Lug then appears to them, takes Conn to his palace, and prophesies to him the length of his reign, and the names of his successors. A number of idle legends are attached to the Fal stone.

As late as 1649, Commissioners were appointed by the Scottish General Assembly to dispel the popular superstitions respecting sacred stones. In Ireland the superstitious observances had a longer possession of people's minds.

As circles are known in Icelandic as domh-ringr, or doom rings of Judgment, it has been suggested that Stonehenge itself may have been a chief Seat of Judgment with the foreign colony, whose capital on Salisbury Plain may have been Sorbiodunum, afterwards Sarum.

Clemens Alexandrinus spoke of stones as images of God. Aurelius Antoninus brought to Rome a black stone, and paid homage to it. The Laplanders, until lately, sacrificed the reindeer to a stone. Lactantius records the worship of Terminus in the form of a stone. Damascius mentions consecrated stones in Syria. Black stones are

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« Reply #203 on: February 22, 2009, 12:29:04 am »

still honoured at Mecca, Benares, and elsewhere. Herodian names one worshipped by the Phœnicians, since it fell from heaven. In a letter to Sir Joseph Banks, by our Neapolitan Minister, the antiquary Sir William Hamilton, there is an allusion to a standing stone at Isurnia, that was duly dedicated to Saints Cosmo and Domiano. Astle, F.R.S., in 1798, remarked--"The ancient practice of consecrating pagan antiquities to religious purposes has been continued to modern times."



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« Reply #204 on: February 22, 2009, 12:29:30 am »

ANIMAL WORSHIP
THAT religion was early associated with animals admits of no question The Apis worship of Egypt prevailed several thousand years before Christ. Animals have served as Totems to the tribes of America and other parts, but have been certainly regarded as religious symbols in most lands. The four Evangelists are to this day symbolized by such creatures. How far this reverence, from association with an idea, degenerated into absolute worship of the living thing, is a well-recognized fact of history.

Every one knows that the twelve signs of the Zodiac, to distinguish periods of time, were named after animals, and are so to this day The Chinese cycle is called after the rat, ox, tiger, hare, dragon, serpent, horse, goat, monkey, ****, dog, and pig. Abel Remusat notes "the cycle of twelve animals, imagined by the Kirghis, and now in use through nearly all eastern Asia."

Irish literature is full of tales respecting animals, particularly in connection with sorcery Cats, dogs, bulls, cows, horses, and boars, figure largely therein. St. Kiaran frustrated the mischief intended by a cat, in the discharge of a red-hot bar from a blacksmith's forge. Because so

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« Reply #205 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

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« Reply #206 on: February 22, 2009, 12:30:22 am »

from door to door, that each of his worshippers may receive a portion of the divine virtues that are supposed to emanate from the dead or dying god."

The Hare, in like manner, was hunted once a year, but that was on May-day. The modern Irishman fancied it robbed his milch cows of the sweet draught that belonged by right to himself. On the other hand, hares have been styled St. Monacella's Lambs--being placed under her special protection.

The hare, however, was certainly reverenced in Egypt, and at Dendera was to be seen the hare-headed deity. Cæsar mentions that the Celts would not eat of the animal, any more than did the Pythagoreans. In Irish tales witch-hares are declared to be only caught by a black greyhound. Elsewhere it is stated, that in the Cashel cathedral an ornament figures a couple of hares complacently feeding upon some trilobed foliage, as the shamrock.

Only a few months since a traveller gave an illustration of the persistence of some meaning being attached to the hare, even among the educated and Christian fishermen of Aberdeen. When out at sea, and in some danger from bad weather, it is thought unfortunate, and even calamitous, for any one in the boat to mention the name of this creature.

That animal reverence, to say the least of it, continued not in Ireland alone, but even in Scotland, among those of the same race, to quite modern times, is manifest from the fierce denunciation of certain practices relating thereto. The Presbytery of Dingwall, Ross, on September 5, 1656, made special reference to the heathenish custom then prevalent in the North, of pouring out libations of milk upon hills, of adoring stones and wells, and above all, of sacrificing bulls!

The Ossianic Transactions contain some references to

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« Reply #207 on: February 22, 2009, 12:30:33 am »

the Irish Holy Bulls and Cows. The bull has been called the Deity of the Ark. In Owen Connelan's translation of Proceedings of the Great Bardic Institution, is an account of a magical cow which supplied milk to nine score nuns of Tuam-daghnalan. This is very like the tale of the Tuath smith's Glas Gaibhne, or Grey Cow, which nourished a large family and its numerous dependants. Though stolen by the General of the roving Fomorians, she contrived to lie on, and practise her benevolence until the fifth century. Her camping places, numerous as they were, are localities recognized by Irish country folk to this day. There is also the story of Diarmuid Mac Cearbhall, half Druid, half Christian, who killed his son, because he had caused the death of a Sacred Cow.

As to the nine score nuns of Tuam, it must be noticed that the word cailach served alike for nun and druidess. This led W. Hackett, in the Transactions, to observe--"the probability is that they were pagan Druidesses, and that the cows were living idols like Apis, or in some sense considered sacred animals."

________________

The PIG must be placed among the sacred animals of Ireland, as it was of various nations of antiquity. Was not the place known of old as Mucinis, or Hog Island? Did not Giraldus Cambrensis say in the twelfth century that he had never seen so many swine as in Ireland? And who would dispute the honour given still to "the gentleman who pays the rent"?

The Boar was sacred to Diana, who sent forth the destroying Calydonian boar to ravage the country, but which was slain by Theseus. The Hindoo divine mother Varahi was the Earth Sow. The third Avatar of Vishnu, Varaha, had a boar's head. A Cyprus gem bears the image of a flying boar, believed to represent Adonis,

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« Reply #208 on: February 22, 2009, 12:31:06 am »

who was killed by a boar. Sacrifices of black pigs were made to Mars Sylvanus. The sow was sacred to Isis, and sacrificed to Osiris. It was sacred to Demeter or Ceres, as representing the corn spirit. In Egypt, during later periods, the boar personated Typhon. In the picture of the Last Judgment, to be seen on the famous sarcophagus at the Sloane Museum of Lincoln's Inn Fields, the condemned soul is observed transformed into a pig. One of the Phœnician gods is beheld holding one by the tail.

The Jews were not to keep, eat, or even touch the creature, which was held sacred, as devoted to evil. Certain passages, as Isa. lxv. 3 and 4, and lxvi. 3 and 17, are curious in relation to it. "Although swine and their herdsmen," says Gladstone, "were deemed unclean, there was a very particular and solemn injunction for the sacrifice of two swine to Osiris, and to the moon, by every Egyptian. The poor, who could not supply the animals, offered the figures of swine made of dough." The Phœnician priests, like those of Druidism, were called swine. A sow figure has been found in the ruins of the Mashonaland Zimbabwe, both on pottery and carved in soapstone. Mahomet was satisfied that so unclean an animal did not exist before the Ark days. The pig was once slain for divination purposes.

The Prophet of old condemned those who sacrificed in gardens, .and who ate swine's flesh. Was it because the neighbouring Syrians were accustomed, in fear, to do homage to the destroyer of Adonis? Or, did the Jews abstain from eating it, from the fear of offending an adverse power? The Norsemen offered the pig to their sun-god, killed at the winter solstice. The animal appears on Gaulish coins, under or over a horse and the fleur-de-lis. It was the national symbol of Gaul, as seen in their standards.

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« Reply #209 on: February 22, 2009, 12:31:41 am »

The sow and its young are oddly associated with a search after a sacred spot Æneas, when in Italy, was said to have built his town where he met a sow with thirty sucklings. On the front of Croyland Abbey may still be seen the sculptured sow and pigs, under a tree, that led the founder of this monastery to fix his abode on the island of the fens.

A Breton poem, Ar Rannock--(the Numbers) mentions a wild sow, with her five young ones, that called the 'children under an apple-tree, when the wild boar came to give them a lesson. A Welsh poem begins with--"Give ear, little pigs "--meaning disciples. One of the Triads speaks of three powerful swineherds. The priest of Ceridwen or Hwch was Turch, the boar. The animal is prominent on the Cross of Drosten, Forfarshire. Glastonbury is said to be derived from Glasteing, who, after a sow with eight legs, found her with her young ones under an apple-tree; upon which he was content to die on that spot. Both St. Germanus and St Patrick are associated with the animal. Down to the Middle Ages, says an author, some supernatural power is ascribed to it, as we read of a sow being tried for witchcraft, pronounced guilty, and duly executed. It may be presumed that no one, however much admiring pork, partook of her flesh.

The Irish Brehon law had these two references to it--"The pig has a tripartite division: one-third for her body, one-third for her expectation, and one-third for her farrow." The "trespass of swine" is described as "the crimes of the pigs." All such creatures were ordered to be kept in the stye at night.

The story of the boar of Beann Gulbain, which caused the death of Diarmuid, the captor of the beautiful Graine, after he had killed it, through his heel being pierced by its bristles, is very like the classical one of the death of Adonis.

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