The Religion of the Ancient Celts
The survival of the belief in spells among modern Celtic peoples
is a convincing proof of their use in pagan times, and throws light
upon their nature. In Brittany they are handed down in certain
families, and are carefully guarded from the knowledge of others.
The names of saints instead of the old gods are found in them, but
in some cases diseases are addressed as personal beings. In the
Highlands similar charms are found, and are often handed down from
male to female, and from female to male. They are also in common
use in Ireland. Besides healing diseases, such charms are supposed
to cause fertility or bring good luck, or even to transfer the
property of others to the reciter, or, in the case of darker magic,
to cause death or disease.
In Ireland, sorcerers could "rime either a man or beast to death,"
and this recalls the power of satire in the mouth of File or
Druid. It raised blotches on the face of the victim, or even caused
Among primitive races powerful internal emotion affects the body in