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The Religion of the Ancient Celts

Page: 145

Since Christian writers firmly believed in the magical powers of the Druids, aided however by the devil, they taught that Christian saints had miraculously overcome them with their own weapons. S. Patrick dispelled snow-storms and darkness raised by Druids, or destroyed Druids who had brought down fire from heaven. Similar deeds are attributed to S. Columba and others.1150 The moral victory of the Cross was later regarded also as a magical victory. Hence also lives of Celtic saints are full of miracles which are simply a reproduction of Druidic magic—controlling the elements, healing, carrying live coals without hurt, causing confusion by their curses, producing invisibility or shape-shifting, making the ice-cold waters of a river hot by standing in them at their devotions, or walking unscathed through the fiercest storms.1151 They were soon regarded as more expert magicians than the Druids themselves. They may have laid claim to magical powers, or perhaps they used a natural shrewdness {332} in such a way as to suggest magic. But all their power they ascribed to Christ. "Christ is my Druid"—the true miracle-worker, said S. Columba. Yet they were imbued with the superstitions of their own age. Thus S. Columba sent a white stone to King Brude at Inverness for the cure of his Druid Broichan, who drank the water poured over it, and was healed.

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