The Religion of the Ancient Celts

Page: 44

by Professor Rh[^y]s as non-Celtic, as borrowed by the Celts from the aborigines.327 But it is too deeply impressed on the fabric of {94} Celtic tradition to be other than native, and we have no reason to suppose that the Celts had not passed through a stage in which such a state of things was normal. Their innate conservatism caused them to preserve it more than other races who had long outgrown such a state of things.

Footnote 199:(return)

HL 89; Stokes, RC xii. 129. D'Arbois, ii. 125, explains it as "Folk of the god whose mother is called Danu."

Footnote 200:(return)

RC xii. 77. The usual Irish word for "god" is dia; other names are Fiadu, Art, Dess.

Footnote 201:(return)

See Joyce, SII. i. 252, 262; PN i. 183.

Footnote 202:(return)

LL 245b.

Footnote 203:(return)

LL 11.

Footnote 204:(return)

LL 127. The mounds were the sepulchres of the euhemerised gods.

Footnote 205:(return)

Book of Fermoy, fifteenth century.

Footnote 206:(return)

LL 11b.

Footnote 207:(return)

IT i. 14, 774; Stokes, TL i. 99, 314, 319. Síd is a fairy hill, the hill itself or the dwelling within it. Hence those who dwell in it are Aes or Fir síde, "men of the mound," or síde, fairy folk. The primitive form is probably sêdos, from sêd, "abode" or "seat"; cf. Greek [Greek: edos] "a temple." Thurneysen suggests a connection with a word equivalent to Lat. sidus, "constellation," or "dwelling of the gods."

Footnote 208:(return)

Joyce, SH i. 252; O'Curry, MS. Mat. 505.

Footnote 209:(return)

"Vision of Oengus," RC iii. 344; IT i. 197 f.

Footnote 210:(return)

Windisch, Ir. Gram. 118; O'Curry, MC ii. 71; see p. 363, infra.

Footnote 211:(return)

Windisch, Ir. Gram. 118, § 6; IT iii. 407; RC xvi. 139.

Footnote 212:(return)

Shore, JAI xx. 9.

Footnote 213:(return)

Rh[^y]s, HL 203 f. Pennocrucium occurs in the Itinerary of Antoninus.

Footnote 214:(return)

Keating, 434.

Footnote 215:(return)

Joyce, SH i. 252.

Footnote 216:(return)

See p. 228. In Scandinavia the dead were called elves, and lived feasting in their barrows or in hills. These became the seat of ancestral cults. The word "elf" also means any divine spirit, later a fairy. "Elf" and síde may thus, like the "elf-howe" and the síd or mound, have a parallel history. See Vigfusson-Powell, Corpus Poet. Boreale, i. 413 f.

Footnote 217:(return)

Tuan MacCairill (LU 166) calls the Tuatha Déa, "dée ocus andée," and gives the meaning as "poets and husbandmen." This phrase, with the same meaning, is used in "Cóir Anmann" (IT iii. 355), but there we find that it occurred in a pagan formula of blessing—"The blessing of gods and not-gods be on thee." But the writer goes on to say—"These were their gods, the magicians, and their non-gods, the husbandmen." This may refer to the position of priest-kings and magicians as gods. Rh[^y]s compares Sanskrit deva and adeva (HL 581). Cf. the phrase in a Welsh poem (Skene, i. 313), "Teulu Oeth et Anoeth," translated by Rh[^y]s as "Household of Power and Not-Power" (CFL ii. 620), but the meaning is obscure. See Loth, i. 197.

Footnote 218:(return)

LL 10b.

Footnote 219:(return)

Cormac, 4. Stokes (US 12) derives Anu from (p)an, "to nourish"; cf. Lat. panis.

Footnote 220:(return)

Leicester County Folk-lore, 4. The Cóir Anmann says that Anu was worshipped as a goddess of plenty (IT iii. 289).

Footnote 221:(return)

Rh[^y]s, Trans. 3rd Inter. Cong. Hist. of Rel. ii. 213. See Grimm, Teut. Myth. 251 ff., and p. 275, infra.

Footnote 222:(return)

Rh[^y]s, ibid. ii. 213. He finds her name in the place-name Bononia and its derivatives.

Footnote 223:(return)

Cormac, 23.

Footnote 224:(return)

Cæsar, vi. 17; Holder, s.v.; Stokes, TIG 33.

Footnote 225:(return)

Girald. Cambr. Top. Hib. ii. 34 f. Vengeance followed upon rash intrusion. For the breath tabu see Frazer, Early Hist. of the Kingship, 224.

Footnote 226:(return)

Joyce, SH i. 335.

Footnote 227:(return)

P. 41, supra.

Footnote 228:(return)

Martin, 119; Campbell, Witchcraft, 248.

Footnote 229:(return)

Frazer, op. cit. 225.

Footnote 230:(return)

Joyce, PN i. 195; O'Grady, ii. 198; Wood-Martin, i. 366; see p. 42, supra.

Footnote 231:(return)

Fitzgerald, RC iv. 190. Aine has no connection with Anu, nor is she a moon-goddess, as is sometimes supposed.

Footnote 232:(return)

RC iv. 189.

Footnote 233:(return)

Keating, 318; IT iii. 305; RC xiii. 435.

Footnote 234:(return)

O'Grady, ii. 197.

Footnote 235:(return)

RC xii. 109, xxii. 295; Cormac, 87; Stokes, TIG xxxiii.

Footnote 236:(return)

Holder, i. 341; CIL vii. 1292; Cæsar, ii. 23.

Footnote 237:(return)

LL 11b; Cormac, s.v. Neit; RC iv. 36; Arch. Rev. i. 231; Holder, ii. 714, 738.

Footnote 238:(return)

Stokes, TIG, LL 11a.

Footnote 239:(return)

Rh[^y]s, HL 43; Stokes, RC xii. 128.

Footnote 240:(return)

RC xii. 91, 110.

Footnote 241:(return)

See p. 131.

Footnote 242:(return)

Petrie, Tara, 147; Stokes, US 175; Meyer, Cath Finntrága, Oxford, 1885, 76 f.; RC xvi. 56, 163, xxi. 396.

Footnote 243:(return)

CIL vii. 507; Stokes, US 211.

Footnote 244:(return)

RC i. 41, xii. 84.

Footnote 245:(return)

RC xxi. 157, 315; Miss Hull, 247. A baobh (a common Gaelic name for "witch") appears to Oscar and prophesies his death in a Fionn ballad (Campbell, The Fians, 33). In Brittany the "night-washers," once water-fairies, are now regarded as revenants (Le Braz, i. 52).

Footnote 246:(return)

Joyce, SH i. 261; Miss Hull, 186; Meyer, Cath Finntraga, 6, 13; IT i. 131, 871.

Footnote 247:(return)

LL 10a.

Footnote 248:(return)

LL 10a, 30b, 187c.

Footnote 249:(return)

RC xxvi. 13; LL 187c.

Footnote 250:(return)

Cf. the personification of the three strains of Dagda's harp (Leahy, ii. 205).

Footnote 251:(return)

See p. 223, infra.

Footnote 252:(return)

D'Arbois, ii. 372.

Footnote 253:(return)

RC xii. 77, 83.

Footnote 254:(return)

LL 11; Atlantis, London, 1858-70, iv. 159.

Footnote 255:(return)

O'Donovan, Grammar, Dublin, 1845, xlvii.

Footnote 256:(return)

RC xii. 77.

Footnote 257:(return)

Lucian, Herakles.

Footnote 258:(return)

RC xii. 89. The name is found in Gaulish Gobannicnos, and in Welsh Abergavenny.

Footnote 259:(return)

IT i. 56; Zimmer, Glossæ Hibernicæ, 1881, 270.

Footnote 260:(return)

Atlantis, 1860, iii. 389.

Footnote 261:(return)

RC xii. 89.

Footnote 262:(return)

LL lla.

Footnote 263:(return)

RC xii. 93.

Footnote 264:(return)

Connac, 56, and Cóir Anmann (IT iii. 357) divide the name as día-na-cecht and explain it as "god of the powers."

Footnote 265:(return)

RC xii. 67. For similar stories of plants springing from graves, see my Childhood of Fiction, 115.

Footnote 266:(return)

RC xii, 89, 95.

Footnote 267:(return)

RC vi. 369; Cormac, 23.

Footnote 268:(return)

Cormac, 47, 144; IT iii. 355, 357.

Footnote 269:(return)

IT iii. 355; D'Arbois, i. 202.

Footnote 270:(return)

LL 246a.

Footnote 271:(return)

Irish MSS. Series, i. 46; D'Arbois, ii. 276. In a MS. edited by Dr. Stirn, Oengus was Dagda's son by Elemar's wife, the amour taking place in her husband's absence. This incident is a parallel to the birth-stories of Mongan and Arthur, and has also the Fatherless Child theme, since Oengus goes in tears to Mider because he has been taunted with having no father or mother. In the same MS. it is the Dagda who instructs Oengus how to obtain Elemar's síd. See RC xxvii. 332, xxviii. 330.

Footnote 272:(return)

LL 245b.

Footnote 273:(return)

IT iii. 355.

Footnote 274:(return)

O'Donovan, Battle of Mag-Rath, Dublin, 1842, 50; LL 246a.

Footnote 275:(return)

D'Arbois, v. 427, 448.

Footnote 276:(return)

The former is Rh[^y]s's interpretation (HL 201) connecting Cruaich with crúach, "a heap"; the latter is that of D'Arbois (ii. 106), deriving Cruaich from cru, "blood." The idea of the image being bent or crooked may have been due to the fact that it long stood ready to topple over, as a result of S. Patrick's miracle. See p. 286, infra.

Footnote 277:(return)

Vallancey, in Coll. de Rebus Hib. 1786, iv. 495.

Footnote 278:(return)

LL 213b. D'Arbois thinks Cromm was a Fomorian, the equivalent of Taranis (ii. 62). But he is worshipped by Gaels. Crin, "withered," probably refers to the idol's position after S. Patrick's miracle, no longer upright but bent like an old man. Dr. Hyde, Lit. Hist. of Ireland, 87, with exaggerated patriotism, thinks the sacrificial details are copied by a Christian scribe from the Old Testament, and are no part of the old ritual.

Footnote 279:(return)

RC xvi. 35, 163.

Footnote 280:(return)

Fitzgerald, RL iv. 175.

Footnote 281:(return)

RC xxvi. 19.

Footnote 282:(return)

Annals of the Four Masters, A.M. 3450.

Footnote 283:(return)

RC xii. 83, 85; Hyde, op. cit. 288.

Footnote 284:(return)

LU 94.

Footnote 285:(return)

RC xii. 65. Elsewhere three supreme "ignorances" are ascribed to Oengus (RL xxvi. 31).

Footnote 286:(return)

RC iii. 342.

Footnote 287:(return)

LL 11c; LU 129; IT i. 130. Cf. the glass house, placed between sky and moon, to which Tristan conducts the queen. Bedier, Tristan et Iseut, 252. In a fragmentary version of the story Oengus is Etain's wooer, but Mider is preferred by her father, and marries her. In the latter half of the story, Oengus does not appear (see p. 363, infra). Mr. Nutt (RC xxvii. 339) suggests that Oengus, not Mider, was the real hero of the story, but that its Christian redactors gave Mider his place in the second part. The fragments are edited by Stirn (ZCP vol. v.).

Footnote 288:(return)

HL 146.

Footnote 289:(return)

See my Childhood of Fiction, 114, 153. The tale has some unique features, as it alone among Western Märchen and saga variants of the "True Bride" describes the malicious woman as the wife of Mider. In other words, the story implies polygamy, rarely found in European folk-tales.

Footnote 290:(return)

O'Grady, TOS iii.

Footnote 291:(return)

RC i. 41.

Footnote 292:(return)

O'Curry, MC i. 71.

Footnote 293:(return)

LL 117a. See p. 381, infra.

Footnote 294:(return)

Cumont, RC xxvi. 47; D'Arbois, RC xxvii. 127, notes the difficulty of explaining the change of e to i in the names.

Footnote 295:(return)

HL 121.

Footnote 296:(return)

See Crooke, Folk-Lore, viii. 341. Cf. Herod, ii. 131.

Footnote 297:(return)

Loth, i. 269.

Footnote 298:(return)

HL 563.

Footnote 299:(return)

Train, Isle of Man, Douglas, 1845, ii. 118; Grimm, Teut. Myth. ii. ch. 24; Frazer, GB2 ii. 99 f.

Footnote 300:(return)

Bathurst, Roman Antiquities at Lydney Park, 1879; Holder, s.v. "Nodons."

Footnote 301:(return)

See Rh[^y]s, HL 122; Cook, Folk-Lore, xvii. 30.

Footnote 302:(return)

Stokes, US 194-195; Rh[^y]s, HL, 128, IT i. 712.

Footnote 303:(return)

Loth, ii. 235, 296. See p. 160, infra.

Footnote 304:(return)

Joyce, OCR.

Footnote 305:(return)

For these four Manannans see Cormac 114, RC xxiv. 270, IT iii. 357.

Footnote 306:(return)

O'Grady, ii.

Footnote 307:(return)

Bodley Dindsenchas, No. 10, RC xii. 105; Joyce, SH i. 259; Otia Merseiana, ii. "Song of the Sea."

Footnote 308:(return)

LU 133.

Footnote 309:(return)

Moore, 6.

Footnote 310:(return)

Geoffrey, Vita Merlini, 37; Rees, 435. Other saintly legends are derived from myths, e.g. that of S. Barri in his boat meeting S. Scuithne walking on the sea. Scuithne maintains he is walking on a field, and plucks a flower to prove it, while Barri confutes him by pulling a salmon out of the sea. This resembles an episode in the meeting of Bran and Manannan (Stokes, Félire, xxxix.; Nutt-Meyer, i. 39). Saints are often said to assist men just as the gods did. Columcille and Brigit appeared over the hosts of Erin assisting and encouraging them (RC xxiv. 40).

Footnote 311:(return)

RC xii. 59.

Footnote 312:(return)

Folk-Lore Journal, v. 66; Rh[^y]s, HL 314.

Footnote 313:(return)

Larminie, "Kian, son of Kontje."

Footnote 314:(return)

Joyce, OCR 37.

Footnote 315:(return)

D'Arbois, vi. 116, Les Celtes, 39, RC xii. 75, 101, 127, xvi. 77. Is the defaced inscription at Geitershof, Deo M ... Sam ... (Holder, ii. 1335), a dedication to Mercury Samildánach? An echo of Lug's story is found in the Life of S. Herve, who found a devil in his monastery in the form of a man who said he was a good carpenter, mason, locksmith, etc., but who could not make the sign of the cross. Albert le Grand, Saints de la Bretagne, 49, RC vii. 231.

Footnote 316:(return)

Holder, s.v.; D'Arbois, Les Celtes, 44, RC vii. 400.

Footnote 317:(return)

Holder, s.v. "Lugus."

Footnote 318:(return)

Stokes, TIG 103. Gaidoz contests the identification of the Lugoves and of Lug with Mercury, and to him the Lugoves are grouped divinities like the Matres (RC vi. 489).

Footnote 319:(return)

HL 425.

Footnote 320:(return)

See p. 349, infra.

Footnote 321:(return)

See p. 272, infra.

Footnote 322:(return)

HL 409.

Footnote 323:(return)

See Loth, RC x. 490.

Footnote 324:(return)

Leahy, i. 138, ii. 50, 52, LU 124b.

Footnote 325:(return)

LL 215a; see p. 78, supra.

Footnote 326:(return)

See, further, p. 385, infra.

Footnote 327:(return)

The Welsh People, 61. Professor Rh[^y]s admits that the theory of borrowing "cannot easily be proved."




Our knowledge of the gods of the Brythons, i.e. as far as Wales is concerned, is derived, apart from inscriptions, from the Mabinogion, which, though found in a fourteenth century MS., was composed much earlier, and contains elements from a remote past. Besides this, the Triads, probably of twelfth-century origin, the Taliesin, and other poems, though obscure and artificial, the work of many a "confused bard drivelling" (to cite the words of one of them), preserve echoes of the old mythology.328 Some of the gods may lurk behind the personages of Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Britonum and of the Arthurian cycle, though here great caution is required. The divinities have become heroes and heroines, kings and princesses, and if some of the episodes are based on ancient myths, they are treated in a romantic spirit. Other episodes are mere Märchen formulæ. Like the wreckage of some rich galleon, the débris of the old mythology has been used to construct a new fabric, and the old divinities have even less of the god-like traits of the personages of the Irish texts.

Some of the personages bear similar names to the Irish divinities, and in some cases there is a certain similarity of {96} incidents to those of the Irish tales. Are, then, the gods dimly revealed in Welsh literature as much Goidelic as Brythonic? Analysing the incidents of the Mabinogion, Professor Anwyl has shown that they have an entirely local character, and are mainly associated with the districts of Dyfed and Gwent, of Anglesey, and of Gwynedd, of which Pryderi, Branwen, and Gwydion are respectively the heroic characters.330 These are the districts where a strong Goidelic element prevailed, whether these Goidels were the original inhabitants of Britain, driven there by Brythons,331 or tribes who had settled there from Ireland, or perhaps a mixture of both. In any case they had been conquered by Brythons and had become Brythonic in speech from the fifth century onwards. On account of this Goidelic element, it has been claimed that the personages of the Mabinogion are purely Goidelic. But examination proves that only a few are directly parallel in name with Irish divinities, and while here there are fundamental likenesses, the incidents with Irish parallels may be due to mere superficial borrowings, to that interchange of Märchen and mythical données which has everywhere occurred. Many incidents have no Irish parallels, and most of the characters are entirely different in name from Irish divinities. Hence any theory which would account for the likenesses, must also account for the differences, and must explain why, if the Mabinogion is due to Irish Goidels, there should have been few or no borrowings in Welsh literature {97} from the popular Cúchulainn and Ossianic sagas, and why, at a time when Brythonic elements were uppermost, such care should have been taken to preserve Goidelic myths. If the tales emanated from native Welsh Goidels, the explanation might be that they, the kindred of the Irish Goidels, must have had a certain community with them in divine names and myths, while others of their gods, more local in character, would differ in name. Or if they are Brythonic, the likenesses might be accounted for by an early community in myth and cult among the common ancestors of Brythons and Goidels. But as the date of the composition of the Mabinogion is comparatively late, at a time when Brythons had overrun these Goidelic districts, more probably the tales contain a mingling of Goidelic (Irish or Welsh) and Brythonic divinities, though some of these may be survivals of the common Celtic heritage.335 Celtic divinities were mainly of a local, tribal character. Hence some would be local Goidelic divinities, others, classed with these, local Brythonic divinities. This would explain the absence of divinities and heroes of other local Brythonic groups, e.g. Arthur, from the Mabinogion. But with the growing importance of these, they attracted to their legend the folk of the Mabinogion and other tales. These are associated with Arthur in Kulhwych, and the Dôn group mingles with that of Taliesin in the Taliesin poems. Hence Welsh literature, as far as concerns the old religion, may be regarded as including both local Goidelic and Brythonic {98} divinities, of whom the more purely Brythonic are Arthur, Gwynn, Taliesin, etc. They are regarded as kings and queens, or as fairies, or they have magical powers. They are mortal and die, and the place of their burial is pointed out, or existing tumuli are associated with them, All this is parallel to the history of the Tuatha Dé Danann, and shows how the same process of degradation had been at work in Wales as in Ireland.