The Religion of the Ancient Celts

Page: 80

The wind was also regarded as a living being whose power was to be dreaded. It punished King Loegaire for breaking his oath. But it was also personified as a god Vintius, equated with Pollux and worshipped by Celtic sailors, or with Mars, the war-god who, in his destructive aspect, was perhaps regarded as the nearest analogue to a god of stormy winds. Druids and Celtic priestesses claimed the power of controlling the winds, as did wizards and witches in later days. This they did, according to Christian writers, by the aid of demons, perhaps the old divinities of the air. Bishop Agobard describes how the tempestarii raised tempests which destroyed the fruits of the earth, and drew "aerial ships" from Magonia, whither the ships carried these fruits. Magonia may be the upper air ruled over by a sky god Magounos or Mogounos, equated with Apollo. The winds may have been his servants, ruled also by earthly magicians. Like Yahweh, as conceived by Hebrew poets, he "bringeth the winds out of his treasures," and "maketh lightnings with rain."

Footnote 556:(return)

Gildas ii. 4.

Footnote 557:(return)

Jocelyn, Vila Kentig. c. xxxii.

Footnote 558:(return)

Trip. Life, 315.

Footnote 559:(return)

LL 12b. The translation is from D'Arbois, ii. 250 f; cf. O'Curry, MC ii. 190.

Footnote 560:(return)

RC xxii. 400.

Footnote 561:(return)

RC xii. 109.

Footnote 562:(return)

Petrie, Tara, 34; RC vi. 168; LU 118.

Footnote 563:(return)

Joyce, OCR 50.

Footnote 564:(return)

D'Achery, Spicelegium, v. 216; Sébillot, i. 16 f., 56, 211.

Footnote 565:(return)

Gregory of Tours, Hist. ii. 10, speaks of the current belief in the divinity of waters, birds, and beasts.

Footnote 566:(return)

Sébillot, i. 9, 35, 75, 247, etc.

Footnote 567:(return)

Joyce, SH ii. 273; Cormac, 87; Stokes, TIG xxxiii., RC xv. 307.

Footnote 568:(return)

Miss Hull, 170, 187, 193; IT i. 214; Leahy, i. 126.

Footnote 569:(return)

IT i. 287.

Footnote 570:(return)

Henderson, Irish Texts, ii. 210.

Footnote 571:(return)

Capit. Karoli Magni, i. 62; Leges Luitprand. ii. 38; Canon 23, 2nd Coun. of Arles, Hefele, Councils, iii. 471; D'Achery, v. 215. Some of these attacks were made against Teutonic superstitions, but similar superstitions existed among the Celts.

Footnote 572:(return)

See Grimm, Teut. Myth. ii. 498.

Footnote 573:(return)

A more tolerant note is heard, e.g., in an Irish text which says that the spirits which appeared of old were divine ministrants not demoniacal, while angels helped the ancients because they followed natural truth. "Cormac's Sword," IT iii. 220-221. Cf. p. 152, supra.

Footnote 574:(return)

Cæsar, vi. 18; Pliny xxii. 14. Pliny speaks of culling mistletoe on the sixth day of the moon, which is to them the beginning of months and years (sexta luna, quae principia, etc.). This seems to make the sixth, not the first, day of the moon that from which the calculation was made. But the meaning is that mistletoe was culled on the sixth day of the moon, and that the moon was that by which months and years were measured. Luna, not sexta luna, is in apposition with quae. Traces of the method of counting by nights or by the moon survive locally in France, and the usage is frequent in Irish and Welsh literature. See my article "Calendar" (Celtic) in Hastings' Encyclop. of Religion and Ethics, iii. 78 f.

Footnote 575:(return)

Delocke, "La Procession dite La Lunade," RC ix. 425.

Footnote 576:(return)

Monnier, 174, 222; Fitzgerald, RC iv. 189.

Footnote 577:(return)

Frazer, Golden Bough2, ii. 154 f.

Footnote 578:(return)

Pliny, xvi. 45; Johnson, Journey, 183; Ramsay, Scotland in the Eighteenth Century, ii. 449; Sébillot, i. 41 f.; MacCulloch, Misty Isle of Skye, 236. In Brittany it is thought that girls may conceive by the moon's power (RC iii. 452).

Footnote 579:(return)

Strabo, iii. 4. 16.

Footnote 580:(return)

Brand, s.v. "New Year's Day."

Footnote 581:(return)

Chambers, Popular Rhymes, 35; Sébillot, i. 46, 57 f.

Footnote 582:(return)

Polybius, v. 78; Vita S. Eligii, ii. 15.

Footnote 583:(return)

Osborne, Advice to his Son (1656), 79; RC xx. 419, 428.

Footnote 584:(return)

Aristotle, Nic. Eth. iii. 77; Eud. Eth. iii. 1. 25; Stobæus, vii. 40; Ælian, xii. 22; Jullian, 54; D'Arbois, vi. 218.

Footnote 585:(return)

Sébillot, i. 119. The custom of throwing something at a "fairy eddy," i.e. a dust storm, is well known on Celtic ground and elsewhere.

Footnote 586:(return)

Folk-Lore, iv. 488; Curtin, HTI 324; Campbell, The Fians, 158. Fian warriors attacked the sea when told it was laughing at them.

Footnote 587:(return)

Mélusine, ii. 200.

Footnote 588:(return)

Sébillot, ii. 170.

Footnote 589:(return)

Meyer, Cath. Finntraga, 40.

Footnote 590:(return)

RC xvi. 9; LB 32b, 55.

Footnote 591:(return)

Meyer, op. cit. 55; Skene, i. 282, 288, 543; Rh[^y]s, HL 387.

Footnote 592:(return)

Meyer, 51; Joyce, PN i. 195, ii. 257; RC xv. 438.

Footnote 593:(return)

See p. 55, supra; IT i. 838, iii. 207; RC ii. 201, ix. 118.

Footnote 594:(return)

Holder, s.v. "Vintius."

Footnote 595:(return)

Agobard, i. 146.

Footnote 596:(return)

See Stokes, RC vi. 267.




Among the Celts the testimony of contemporary witnesses, inscriptions, votive offerings, and survivals, shows the importance of the cult of waters and of water divinities. Mr. Gomme argues that Celtic water-worship was derived from the pre-Celtic aborigines, but if so, the Celts must have had a peculiar aptitude for it, since they were so enthusiastic in its observance. What probably happened was that the Celts, already worshippers of the waters, freely adopted local cults of water wherever they came. Some rivers or river-goddesses in Celtic regions seem to posses pre-Celtic names.598