The Religion of the Ancient Celts

Page: 100

The cult of animals was also connected with totemic usage, though at a later stage this cult was replaced by that of anthropomorphic divinities, with the older divine animals as their symbols, sacrificial victims, and the like. This evolution now led to the removal of restrictions upon slaying and eating the animals. On the other hand, the more primitive animal cults may have remained here and there. Animal cults were, perhaps, largely confined to men. With the rise of agriculture mainly as an art in the hands of women, and the consequent cult of the Earth-mother, of fertility and corn-spirits probably regarded as female, the sacramental eating of the divine animal may have led to the slaying and eating of a human or animal victim supposed to embody such a spirit. Later the two cults were bound to coalesce, and the divine animal and the animal embodiment of the vegetation {226} spirit would not be differentiated. On the other hand, when men began to take part in women's fertility cults, the fact that such spirits were female or were perhaps coming to be regarded as goddesses, may have led men to envisage certain of the anthropomorphic animal divinities as goddesses, since some of these, e.g. Epona and Damona, are female. But with the increasing participation of men in agriculture, the spirits or goddesses of fertility would tend to become male, or the consorts or mothers of gods of fertility, though the earlier aspect was never lost sight of, witness the Corn-Mother. The evolution of divine priest-kings would cause them to take the place of the earlier priestesses of these cults, one of whom may have been the divine victim. Yet in local survivals certain cults were still confined to women, and still had their priestesses.

Footnote 696:(return)

Reinach, BF 66, 244. The bull and three cranes may be a rebus on the name of the bull, Tarvos Trikarenos, "the three-headed," or perhaps Trikeras, "three-horned."

Footnote 697:(return)

Plutarch, Marius, 23; Cæsar, vii. 65; D'Arbois, Les Celtes, 49.

Footnote 698:(return)

Holder, s.v. Tarba, Tarouanna, Tarvisium, etc.; D'Arbois, Les Druides, 155; S. Greg. In Glor. Conf. 48.

Footnote 699:(return)

CIL xiii. 6017; RC xxv. 47; Holder, ii. 528.

Footnote 700:(return)

Leahy, ii. 105 f.; Curtin, MFI 264, 318; Joyce, PN i. 174; Rees, 453. Cf. Ailred, Life of S. Ninian, c. 8.

Footnote 701:(return)

Jocelyn, Vita S. Kentig. c. 24; Rees, 293, 323.

Footnote 702:(return)

Tacitus, Germ. xlv.; Blanchet, i. 162, 165; Reinach, BF 255 f., CMR i. 168; Bertrand, Arch. Celt. 419.

Footnote 703:(return)

Pennant, Tour in Scotland, 268; Reinach, RC xxii. 158, CMR i. 67.

Footnote 704:(return)

Pausan, vii. 17, 18; Johnson, Journey, 136.

Footnote 705:(return)

Joyce, SH ii. 127; IT i. 99, 256 (Bricriu's feast and the tale of Macdatho's swine).

Footnote 706:(return)

Strabo, iv. 4. 3, says these swine attacked strangers. Varro, de Re Rustica, ii. 4, admires their vast size. Cf. Polyb. ii. 4.

Footnote 707:(return)

The hunt is first mentioned in Nennius, c. 79, and then appears as a full-blown folk-tale in Kulhwych, Loth, i. 185 f. Here the boar is a transformed prince.

Footnote 708:(return)

I have already suggested, p. 106, supra, that the places where Gwydion halted with the swine of Elysium were sites of a swine-cult.

Footnote 709:(return)

RC xiii. 451. Cf. also TOS vi. "The Enchanted Pigs of Oengus," and Campbell, LF 53.

Footnote 710:(return)

L'Anthropologie, vi. 584; Greenwell, British Barrows, 274, 283, 454; Arch. Rev. ii. 120.

Footnote 711:(return)

Rev. Arch. 1897, 313.

Footnote 712:(return)

Reinach, "Zagreus le serpent cornu," Rev. Arch. xxxv. 210.

Footnote 713:(return)

Reinach, BF 185; Bertrand, 316.

Footnote 714:(return)

"Cúchulainn's Sick-bed," D'Arbois, v. 202.

Footnote 715:(return)

See Reinach, CMR i. 57.

Footnote 716:(return)

CIL xiii. 5160, xii. 2199. Rh[^y]s, however, derives Artaios from ar, "ploughed land," and equates the god with Mercurius Cultor.

Footnote 717:(return)

CIL xii. 1556-1558; D'Arbois, RC x. 165.

Footnote 718:(return)

For all these place and personal names, see Holder and D'Arbois, op. cit. Les Celtes, 47 f., Les Druides, 157 f.

Footnote 719:(return)

See p. 32, supra; Reinach, CMR i. 72, Rev. Arch. ii. 123.

Footnote 720:(return)

O'Grady, ii. 123.

Footnote 721:(return)

Epona is fully discussed by Reinach in his Epona, 1895, and in articles (illustrated) in Rev. Arch. vols. 26, 33, 35, 40, etc. See also ii. [1898], 190.

Footnote 722:(return)

Reinach suggests that this may explain why Vercingetorix, in view of siege by the Romans, sent away his horses. They were too sacred to be eaten. Cæsar, vii. 71; Reinach, RC xxvii. 1 f.

Footnote 723:(return)

Juvenal, viii. 154; Apul. Metam. iii. 27; Min. Felix, Octav. xxvii. 7.

Footnote 724:(return)

For the inscriptions, see Holder, s.v. "Epona."

Footnote 725:(return)

CIL iii. 7904.

Footnote 726:(return)

CIL xiii. 3071; Reinach, BF 253, CMR i. 64, Répert. de la Stat. ii. 745; Holder, ii. 651-652.

Footnote 727:(return)

Granger, Worship of the Romans, 113; Kennedy, 135.

Footnote 728:(return)

Grimm, Teut. Myth. 49, 619, 657, 661-664.

Footnote 729:(return)

Frazer, Golden Bough2, ii. 281, 315.

Footnote 730:(return)

Cæsar, v. 21, 27. Possibly the Dea Bibracte of the Aeduans was a beaver goddess.

Footnote 731:(return)

O'Curry, MC ii. 207; Elton, 298.

Footnote 732:(return)

Girald. Cambr. Top. Hib. ii. 19, RC ii. 202; Folk-Lore, v. 310; IT iii. 376.

Footnote 733:(return)

O'Grady, ii. 286, 538; Campbell, The Fians, 78; Thiers, Traité des Superstitions, ii. 86.

Footnote 734:(return)

Lady Guest, ii. 409 f.

Footnote 735:(return)

Blanchet, i. 166, 295, 326, 390.

Footnote 736:(return)

See p. 209, supra.

Footnote 737:(return)

Diod. Sic. v. 30; IT iii. 385; RC xxvi. 139; Rh[^y]s, HL 593.

Footnote 738:(return)

Man. Hist. Brit. p. x.

Footnote 739:(return)

Herodian, iii. 14, 8; Duald MacFirbis in Irish Nennius, p. vii; Cæsar, v. 10; ZCP iii. 331.

Footnote 740:(return)

See Reinach, "Les Carnassiers androphages dans l'art gallo-romain," CMR i. 279.

Footnote 741:(return)

See Holder, s.v.

Footnote 742:(return)

Rh[^y]s, CB4 267.

Footnote 743:(return)

Cæsar, v. 12.

Footnote 744:(return)

Dio Cassius, lxii. 2.

Footnote 745:(return)

See a valuable paper by N.W. Thomas, "Survivance du Culte des Animaux dans le Pays de Galles," in Rev. de l'Hist. des Religions, xxxviii. 295 f., and a similar paper by Gomme, Arch. Rev. 1889, 217 f. Both writers seem to regard these cults as pre-Celtic.

Footnote 746:(return)

Gomme, Ethnol. in Folklore, 30, Village Community, 113.

Footnote 747:(return)

Dio Cass. lxxii. 21; Logan, Scottish Gael, ii. 12.

Footnote 748:(return)

Joyce, SH ii. 529; Martin, 71.

Footnote 749:(return)

RC xxii. 20, 24, 390-1.

Footnote 750:(return)

IT iii. 385.

Footnote 751:(return)

Waldron, Isle of Man, 49; Train, Account of the Isle of Man, ii. 124.

Footnote 752:(return)

Vallancey, Coll. de Reb. Hib. iv. No. 13; Clément, Fétes, 466. For English customs, see Henderson, Folklore of the Northern Counties, 125.

Footnote 753:(return)

Frazer, Golden Bough2, ii. 380, 441, 446.

Footnote 754:(return)

For other Welsh instances of the danger of killing certain birds, see Thomas, op. cit. xxxviii. 306.

Footnote 755:(return)

Frazer, Kingship, 261; Stokes, RC xvi. 418; Larminie, Myths and Folk-tales, 327.

Footnote 756:(return)

See Rh[^y]s, Welsh People, 44; Livy, v. 34.

Footnote 757:(return)

Cf. IT iii. 407, 409.

Footnote 758:(return)

Cæsar, v. 14.

Footnote 759:(return)

Strabo, iv. 5. 4.

Footnote 760:(return)

Dio Cass. lxxvi. 12; Jerome, Adv. Jovin. ii. 7. Giraldus has much to say of incest in Wales, probably actual breaches of moral law among a barbarous people (Descr. Wales, ii. 6).

Footnote 761:(return)

RC xii. 235, 238, xv. 291, xvi. 149; LL 23a, 124b. In various Irish texts a child is said to have three fathers—probably a reminiscence of polyandry. See p. 74, supra, and RC xxiii. 333.

Footnote 762:(return)

IT i. 136; Loth, i. 134 f.; Rh[^y]s, HL 308.

Footnote 763:(return)

Zimmer, "Matriarchy among the Picts," in Henderson, Leadbhar nan Gleann.

Footnote 764:(return)

See p. 259, infra.

Footnote 765:(return)

See p. 274, infra.




Whether the early Celts regarded Heaven and Earth as husband and wife is uncertain. Such a conception is world-wide, and myth frequently explains in different ways the reason of the separation of the two. Among the Polynesians the children of heaven and earth—the winds, forests, and seas personified—angry at being crushed between their parents in darkness, rose up and separated them. This is in effect the Greek myth of Uranus, or Heaven, and Gæa, or Earth, divorced by their son Kronos, just as in Hindu myth Dyaus, or Sky, and Prithivi, or Earth, were separated by Indra. Uranus in Greece gave place to Zeus, and, in India, Dyaus became subordinate to Indra. Thus the primitive Heaven personified recedes, and his place is taken by a more individualised god. But generally Mother Earth remains a constant quantity. Earth was nearer man and was more unchanging than the inconstant sky, while as the producer of the fruits of the earth, she was regarded as the source of all things, and frequently remained as an important divinity when a crowd of other divinities became prominent. This is especially true of agricultural peoples, who propitiate Earth with sacrifice, worship her with orgiastic rites, or assist her processes by magic. With advancing civilisation such a goddess is still remembered as the friend of man, and, as in the Eleusinia, is represented sorrowing and {228} rejoicing like man himself. Or where a higher religion ousts the older one, the ritual is still retained among the folk, though its meaning may be forgotten.

The Celts may thus have possessed the Heaven and Earth myth, but all trace of it has perished. There are, however, remnants of myths showing how the sky is supported by trees, a mountain, or by pillars. A high mountain near the sources of the Rhone was called "the column of the sun," and was so lofty as to hide the sun from the people of the south. It may have been regarded as supporting the sky, while the sun moved round it. In an old Irish hymn and its gloss, Brigit and Patrick are compared to the two pillars of the world, probably alluding to some old myth of sky or earth resting on pillars.767 Traces of this also exist in folk-belief, as in the accounts of islands resting on four pillars, or as in the legend of the church of Kernitou which rests on four pillars on a congealed sea and which will be submerged when the sea liquefies—a combination of the cosmogonic myth with that of a great inundation. In some mythologies a bridge or ladder connects heaven and earth. There may be a survival of some such myth in an Irish poem which speaks of the drochet bethad, or "bridge of life," or in the