The Religion of the Ancient Celts
"O God of the sea,
Put weed in the drawing wave,
To enrich the ground,
To shower on us food."
Those on shore took up the strain in chorus.847 Thus the rite was described by one who took part in it a century ago, but Martin, writing in the seventeenth century, gives other details. The cup of ale was offered with the words, "Shony, I give you this cup of ale, hoping that you will be so kind as to send plenty of seaweed for enriching our ground for the ensuing year." All then went in silence to the church and remained there for a time, after which they indulged in an orgy out-of-doors. This orgiastic rite may once have included the intercourse of the sexes—a powerful charm for fertility. "Shony" was some old sea-god, and another divinity of the sea, Brianniul, was sometimes invoked for the same purpose.848 Until recently milk was poured on "Gruagach stones" in the Hebrides, as an offering to the Gruagach, a brownie who watched over herds, and who had taken the place of a god.849
Prayer accompanied most rites, and probably consisted of traditional formulæ, on the exact recital of which depended