Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Celtic Mythology of Germany, Great Britain, Scandinavia, and the other Northern Nations

The Celtic Mythology of Germany, Great Britain, Scandinavia, and the other Northern Nations



     The Celtic mythology of Germany, Great Britain, Scandinavia, and the other northern nations is as extraordinary as that of Greece and Rome. Every race and nation under the heavens were at one time steeped in superstition to such an extent as to make people, living in enlightened ages, wonder that creatures endowed with reasoning powers should ever have given themselves over to such vile delusions as some of our forefathers seem to have

[Pg 86] done. The adventures of the Scandinavian gods, giants, and elves were not behind those of the gods and supernatural beings in the south and east. In the beginning of time, we are informed, a world existed in the north called Niflheim, in the centre of which was a well from which sprang twelve rivers. In the south was another world, Muspelheim—a light, warm, radiant world, the boundary of which was guarded by Surt with a flaming sword. From Niflheim flowed cold streams called Elivaager, which, hardening into ice, formed one icy layer upon the other, within the abyss of abysses that faced the north. From the south there streamed forth the sparkling heat of Muspelheim; and as the heat and cold met, the melting ice-drops became possessed of life, and produced, through the power of him who had sent forth heat, Ymir, the sire of the frost giants. Ymir obtained his nourishment from four milky streams that escaped from the udders of the cow Aedhumla—a creature formed from the melting frost. From Ymir there came forth offspring while he slept, viz. a man and woman, who emerged from under his left arm, and sons from his feet. Thus was produced the race of the frost giants. Meantime, as the cow Aedhumla licked the frost-covered stones, there came forth the first day a man's hair, a head the second day, and a man, complete in all his parts, the third day. This man, Buri, had a son named Bor, who married Beltsa, one of the giant race, by whom he had three sons, Odin, Vili, and Ve.
Odin became the chief god, and ruled heaven and earth, and was omniscient. As ruler of heaven, his seat was Valaskjalf, from whence he sent two black ravens, daily, to gather tidings of all that was being done throughout the world. As god of war, he held his court in Valhalla, whither brave warriors went after death to revel in the tumultuous joys in which they took pleasure when on earth. Odin had different names and characters, as many[Pg 87] of the gods had. By drinking from Mimir's fountain, he became the wisest of gods and men. He was the greatest of sorcerers, and imparted a knowledge of his wondrous art to his favourites. Frigga was his queen, and the mother of Baldur, the Scandinavian Apollo; but he had other wives and favourites, and a numerous progeny of sons and daughters. All over Scandinavian lands, but particularly in Denmark, the people imagine that they hear his voice in the storm.
The other two brothers were less famous, but they were gods, and assisted Odin to slay Ymir, and carry his body into the middle of Ginnungagap, and formed from it the earth and heavens. Of his blood the brothers made all the seas and waters, taking the gore that flowed from his body to form the impassable ocean which is supposed to encircle the earth. Of his bones they made the mountains, using the broken splinters and his teeth for the stones and pebbles. From his skull they made the heavens, at each of the four corners of which was stationed a dwarf, of whom we shall hear more by-and-bye. Of Ymir's brains clouds were formed, of his hair plants and herbs, and of his eyebrows a wall of defence was made against the giants round Midgard, the central garden or place of abode of the sons of men. The work of the celebrated brothers was not ended by these achievements; for they took the sparks that were cast out of the world Muspelheim, and, throwing them over the face of the heavens, produced the sun, moon, stars, and fiery meteors, and so arranged them in their places and courses, that days, months, and years followed. Allfader placed chariots and horses in heaven, where Night rode round the earth with her horse Hrimfaxi, from whose bit fell the rime-drops that every morning bedewed the earth. After her course followed her son Day, with his horse Skinfaxi, from whose shining mane light beamed. Mani directed the course of the moon, and Sol drove the chariot of the sun. They[Pg 88] were followed by a wolf, which was of the giant race, and that will in the end of time swallow, or assist to swallow, up the moon, darken the sun's brightness, let loose the boisterous winds, and drink the blood of every dying man.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Coming of the Milesians to Ireland

The Coming of the Milesians to Ireland


After the Second Battle of Moytura the Danaans held rule in Ireland until the coming of the Milesians, the sons of Miled. These are conceived in Irish legend as an entirely human race, yet in their origin they, like the other invaders of Ireland, go back to a divine and mythical ancestry. Miled, whose name occurs as a god in a Celtic inscription from Hungary, is represented as a son of Bilé. Bilé, like Balor, is one of the names of the god of Death, i.e., of the Underworld. They come from “Spain”—the usual term employed by the later rationalising historians for the Land of the Dead.
The manner of their coming into Ireland was as follows: Ith, the grandfather of Miled, dwelt in a great tower which his father, Bregon, had built in “Spain.” One clear winter's day, when looking out westwards from this lofty tower, he saw the coast of Ireland in the distance, and resolved to sail to the unknown land.
He embarked with ninety warriors, and took land at Corcadyna, in the south-west. In connexion with this episode I may quote a passage of great beauty and interest from de Jubainville's “Irish Mythological Cycle”
According to an unknown writer cited by Plutarch, who died about the year 120 of the present era, and also by Procopius, who wrote in the sixth century A.D., ‘the Land of the Dead’ is the western extremity of Great Britain, separated from the eastern by an impassable wall. On the northern coast of Gaul, says the legend, is a populace of mariners whose business is to carry the dead across from the continent to their last abode in the island of Britain. The mariners, awakened in the night by the whisperings of some mysterious voice, arise and go down to the shore, where they find ships awaiting them which are not their own, and, in these, invisible beings, under whose weight the vessels sink almost to the gunwales. They go on board, and with a single stroke of the oar, says one text, in one hour, says another, they arrive at their destination, though with their own vessels, aided by sails, it would have taken them at least a day and a night to reach the coast of Britain. When they come to the other shore the invisible passengers land, and at the same time the unloaded ships are seen to rise above the waves, and a voice is heard announcing the names of the new arrivals, who have just been added to the inhabitants of the Land of the Dead.
One stroke of the oar, one hour's voyage at most, suffices for the midnight journey which transfers the Dead from the Gaulish continent to their final abode. Some mysterious law, indeed, brings together in the night the great spaces which divide the domain of the living from that of the dead in daytime. It was the same law which enabled Ith one fine winter evening to perceive from the Tower of Bregon, in the Land of the Dead, the shores of Ireland, or the land of the living. The phenomenon took place in winter; for winter is a sort of night; winter, like night, lowers the barriers between the regions of Death and those of Life; like night, winter gives to life the semblance of death, and suppresses, as it were, the dread abyss that lies between the two.”
At this time, it is said, Ireland was ruled by three Danaan kings, grandsons of the Dagda. Their names were MacCuill, MacCecht, and MacGrené, and their wives were named respectively Banba, Fohla, and Eriu. The Celtic habit of conceiving divine persons in triads is here illustrated. These triads represent one person each, and the mythical character of that personage is evident from the name of one of them, MacGrené, Son of the Sun. The names of the three goddesses have each at different times been applied to Ireland, but that of the third, Eriu, has alone persisted, and in the dative form, Erinn, is a poetic name for the country to this day. That Eriu is the wife of MacGrené means, as de Jubainville observes, that the Sun-god, the god of Day, Life, and Science, has wedded the land and is reigning over it.
Ith, on landing, finds that the Danaan king, Neit, has just been slain in a battle with the Fomorians, and the three sons, MacCuill and the others, are at the fortress of Aileach, in Co. Donegal, arranging for a division of the land among themselves. At first they welcome Ith, and ask him to settle their inheritance. Ith gives his judgment, but, in concluding, his admiration for the newly discovered country breaks out: “Act,” he says, “according to the laws of justice, for the country you dwell in is a good one, it is rich in fruit and honey, in wheat and in fish; and in heat and cold it is temperate.” From this panegyric the Danaans conclude that 1th has designs upon their land, and they seize him and put him to death. His companions, however, recover his body and bear it back with them in their ships to “Spain”; when the children of Miled resolve to take vengeance for the outrage and prepare to invade Ireland.
They were commanded by thirty-six chiefs, each having his own ship with his family and his followers. Two of the company are said to have perished on the way. One of the sons of Miled, having climbed to the masthead of his vessel to look out for the coast of Ireland, fell into the sea and was drowned. The other was Skena, wife of the poet Amergin, son of Miled, who died on the way. The Milesians buried her when they landed, and called the place “Inverskena” after her; this was the ancient name of the Kenmare River in Co. Kerry.
“It was on a Thursday, the first of May, and the seventeenth day of the moon, that the sons of Miled arrived in Ireland. Partholan also landed in Ireland on the first of May, but on a different day of the week and of the moon; and it was on the first day of May, too, that the pestilence came which in the space of one week destroyed utterly his race. The first of May was sacred to Beltené, one of the names of the god of Death, the god who gives life to men and takes it away from them again. Thus it was on the feast day of this god that the sons of Miled began their conquest of Ireland.
Celtic, Milesians, Balor,
These are conceived in Irish legend as an entirely human race, yet in their origin they, like the other invaders of Ireland, go back to a divine and mythical ancestry.






Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Tuath De Danaan and the Fairyland

The Tuath De Danaan and the Fairyland



    The kings and heroes of the Milesian race now fill the foreground of the stage in Irish legendary history. But, as we have indicated, the Danaan divinities are by no means forgotten. The fairyland in which they dwell is ordinarily inaccessible to mortals, yet it is ever near at hand; the invisible barriers may be, and often are, crossed by mortal men, and the Danaans themselves frequently come forth from them; mortals may win brides of Faëry who mysteriously leave them after a while, and women bear glorious children of supernatural fatherhood. Yet whatever the Danaans may have been in the original pre-Christian conceptions of the Celtic Irish, it would be a mistake to suppose that they figure in the legends, as these have now come down to us, in the light of gods as we understand this term. They are for the most part radiantly beautiful, they are immortal (with limitations), and they wield mysterious powers of sorcery and enchantment. But no sort of moral governance of the world is ever for a moment ascribed to them, nor (in the bardic literature) is any act of worship paid to them. They do not die naturally, but they can be slain both by each other and by mortals, and on the whole the mortal race is the stronger. Their strength when they come into conflict (as frequently happens) with men lies in stratagem and illusion; when the issue can be fairly knit between the rival powers it is the human that conquers. The early kings and heroes of the Milesian race are, indeed, often represented as so mightily endowed with supernatural power that it is impossible to draw a clear distinction between them and the People of Dana in this respect. The Danaans are much nobler and more exalted beings, as they figure in the bardic literature, than the fairies into which they ultimately degenerated in the popular imagination; they may be said to hold a position intermediate between these and the Greek deities as portrayed in Homer. But the true worship of the Celts, in Ireland as elsewhere, seems to have been paid, not to these poetical personifications of their ideals of power and beauty, but rather to elemental forces represented by actual natural phenomena—rocks, rivers, the sun, the wind, the sea. The most binding of oaths was to swear by the Wind and Sun, or to invoke some other power of nature; no name of any Danaan divinity occurs in an Irish oath formula. When, however, in the later stages of the bardic literature, and still more in the popular conceptions, the Danaan deities had begun to sink into fairies, we find rising into prominence a character probably older than that ascribed to them in the literature, and, in a way, more august. In the literature it is evident that they were originally representatives of science and poetry—the intellectual powers of man. But in the popular mind they represented, probably at all times and certainly in later Christian times, not intellectual powers, but those associated with the fecundity of earth. They were, as a passage in the Book of Armagh names them, dei terreni, earth-gods, and were, and are still, invoked by the peasantry to yield increase and fertility. The literary conception of them is plainly Druidic in origin, the other popular; and the popular and doubtless older conception has proved the more enduring.
Druids, Celts, Tuath De Danaan, Faeries, Fairyland, earth gods,
The fairyland in which they dwell is ordinarily inaccessible to mortals



Friday, December 13, 2013

The Tale of the Milesian Ethné, New Grange and the Faeries

The Tale of the Milesian, Ethné, New Grange and the Faeries

     
    But the imagination of the Celtic bard always played with delight on the subjects of these transition tales, where the reconciling of the pagan order with the Christian was the theme. The same conception is embodied in the tale of Ethné, which we have now to tell.
It is said that Mananan Mac Lir had a daughter who was given in fosterage to the Danaan prince Angus, whose fairy palace was at Brugh na Boyna. This is the great sepulchral tumulus now called New Grange, on the Boyne. At the same time the steward of Angus had a daughter born to him whose name was Ethné, and who was allotted to the young princess as her handmaiden.
Ethné grew up into a lovely and gentle maiden, but it was discovered one day that she took no nourishment of any kind, although the rest of the household fed as usual on the magic swine of Mananan, which might be eaten today and were alive again for the feast tomorrow. Mananan was called in to penetrate the mystery, and the following curious story came to light. One of the chieftains of the Danaans who had been on a visit with Angus, smitten by the girl's beauty, had endeavoured to possess her by force. This woke in Ethné's pure spirit the moral nature which is proper to man, and which the Danaan divinities know not. As the tale says, her “guardian demon” left her, and an angel of the true God took its place. After that event she abstained altogether from the food of Faëry, and was miraculously nourished by the will of God. After a time, however, Mananan and Angus, who had been on a voyage to the East, brought back thence two cows whose milk never ran dry, and as they were supposed to have come from a sacred land Ethné lived on their milk thenceforward.
All this is supposed to have happened during the reign of Eremon, the first Milesian king of all Ireland, who was contemporary with King David. At the time of the coming of St. Patrick, therefore, Ethné would have been about fifteen hundred years of age. The Danaan folk grow up from childhood to maturity, but then they abide unaffected by the lapse of time.
Now it happened one summer day that the Danaan princess whose handmaid Ethné was went down with all her maidens to bathe in the river Boyne. When arraying themselves afterwards Ethné discovered, to her dismay—and this incident was, of course, an instance of divine interest in her destiny—that she had lost the Veil of Invisibility, conceived here as a magic charm worn on the person, which gave her the entrance to the Danaan fairyland and hid her from mortal eyes. She could not find her way back to the palace of Angus, and wandered up and down the banks of the river seeking in vain for her companions and her home. At last she came to a walled garden, and, looking through the gate, saw inside a stone house of strange appearance and a man in a long brown robe. The man was a Christian monk, and the house was a little church or oratory. He beckoned her in, and when she had told her story to him he brought her to St. Patrick, who completed her adoption into the human family by giving her the rite of baptism.
Now comes in a strangely pathetic episode which reveals the tenderness, almost the regret, with which early Irish Christianity looked back on the lost world of paganism. As Ethné was one day praying in the little church by the Boyne she heard suddenly a rushing sound in the air, and innumerable voices, as it seemed from a great distance, lamenting and calling her name. It was her Danaan kindred, who were still seeking for her in vain. She sprang up to reply, but was so overcome with emotion that she fell in a swoon on the floor. She recovered her senses after a while, but from that day she was struck with a mortal sickness, and in no long time she died, with her head upon the breast of St. Patrick, who administered to her the last rites, and ordained that the church should be named after her, Kill Ethné—a name doubtless borne, at the time the story was composed, by some real church on the banks of Boyne.






Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Burial Mounds and the Druid War with Fairyland

Burial Mounds and the Druid War with Fairyland
Connection between burial mounds and the Fairy Kingdom


      Eochy, however, would not accept defeat, and now ensues what I think is the earliest recorded war with Fairyland since the first dispossession of the Danaans. After searching Ireland for his wife in vain, he summoned to his aid the Druid Dalan. Dalan tried for a year by every means in his power to find out where she was. At last he made what seems to have been an operation of wizardry of special strength—“he made three wands of yew, and upon the wands he wrote an ogham; and by the keys of wisdom that he had, and by the ogham, it was revealed to him that Etain was in the fairy mound of Bri-Leith, and that Midir had borne her thither.”
    Eochy then assembled his forces to storm and destroy the fairy mound in which was the palace of Midir. It is said that he was nine years digging up one burial mound after another, while Midir and his folk repaired the devastation as fast as it was made. At last Midir, driven to the last stronghold, attempted a stratagem—he offered to give up Etain, and sent her with fifty handmaids to the king, but made them all so much alike that Eochy could not distinguish the true Etain from her images. She herself, it is said, gave him a sign by which to know her. The motive of the tale, including the choice of the mortal rather than the god, reminds one of the beautiful Hindu legend of Damayanti and Nala. Eochy regained his queen, who lived with him till his death, ten years afterwards, and bore him one daughter, who was named Etain, like herself.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

“Land of Youth” of the Beautiful Etain in Fairyland

Land of Youth” of the Beautiful Etain in Fairyland



The preliminary events of the cycle are transacted in the “Land of Youth,” the mystic country of the People of Dana after their dispossession by the Children of Miled. Midir the Proud son of the Dagda, a Danaan prince dwelling on Slieve Callary, had a wife named Fuamnach. After a while he took to himself another bride, Etain, whose beauty and grace were beyond compare, so that “as fair as Etain” became a proverbial comparison for any beauty that exceeded all other standards. Fuamnach therefore became jealous of her rival, and having by magic art changed her into a butterfly, she raised a tempest that drove her forth from the palace, and kept her for seven years buffeted hither and thither throughout the length and breadth of Erin. At last, however, a chance gust of wind blew her through a window of the fairy palace of Angus on the Boyne. The immortals cannot be hidden from each other, and Angus knew what she was. Unable to release her altogether from the spell of Fuamnach, he made a sunny bower for her, and planted round it all manner of choice and honey-laden flowers, on which she lived as long as she was with him, while in the secrecy of the night he restored her to her own form and enjoyed her love. In time, however, her refuge was discovered by Fuamnach; again the magic tempest descended upon her and drove her forth; and this time a singular fate was hers. Blown into the palace of an Ulster chieftain named Etar, she fell into the drinking-cup of Etar's wife just as the latter was about to drink. She was swallowed in the draught, and in due time, having passed into the womb of Etar's wife, she was born as an apparently mortal child, and grew up to maidenhood knowing nothing of her real nature and ancestry.


Fairyland, land of youth, Danaan, Etain, beauty,

as fair as Etain” became a proverbial comparison for any beauty that exceeded all other standards

Milesian King Ollav Buried in the Tumulus at Loughcrew, in Westmeath.

The Milesian King, Ollav Fōla


The most distinguished Ollav of Ireland was also a king, the celebrated Ollav Fōla, who is supposed to have been eighteenth from Eremon and to have reigned about 1000 B.C. He was the Lycurgus or Solon of Ireland, giving to the country a code of legislature, and also subdividing it, under the High King at Tara, among the provincial chiefs, to each of whom his proper rights and obligations were allotted. To Ollav Fōla is also attributed the foundation of an institution which, whatever its origin, became of great importance in Ireland—the great triennial Fair or Festival at Tara, where the sub-kings and chiefs, bards, historians, and musicians from all parts of Ireland assembled to make up the genealogical records of the clan chieftainships, to enact laws, hear disputed cases, settle succession, and so forth; all these political and legislative labours being lightened by song and feast. It was a stringent law that at this season all enmities must be laid aside; no man might lift his hand against another, or even institute a legal process, while the Assembly at Tara was in progress. Of all political and national institutions of this kind Ollav Fōla was regarded as the traditional founder, just as Goban the Smith was the founder of artistry and handicraft, and Amergin of poetry. But whether the Milesian king had any more objective reality than the other more obviously mythical figures it is hard to say. He is supposed to have been buried in the great tumulus at Loughcrew, in Westmeath.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Celtic Land of Youth

The Celtic Land of Youth


O fair-haired woman, will you come with me to the marvellous land, full of music, where the hair is primrose-yellow and the body white as snow?
There none speaks of ‘mine’ or ‘thine’—white are the teeth and black the brows; eyes flash with many-coloured lights, and the hue of the foxglove is on every cheek.
Pleasant to the eye are the plains of Erin, but they are a desert to the Great Plain.
Heady is the ale of Erin, but the ale of the Great Plain is headier.
It is one of the wonders of that land that youth does not change into age.
Smooth and sweet are the streams that flow through it; mead and wine abound of every kind; there men are all fair, without blemish; there women conceive without sin.
We see around us on every side, yet no man seeth us; the cloud of the sin of Adam hides us from their observation.
O lady, if thou wilt come to my strong people, the purest of gold shall be on thy head—thy meat shall be swine's flesh unsalted new milk and mead shall thou drink with me there, O fair-haired woman.
I have given this remarkable lyric at length because, though Christian and ascetic ideas are obviously discernible in it, it represents on the whole the pagan and mythical conception of the Land of Youth, the country of the Dead.
Etain, however, is by no means ready to go away with a stranger and to desert the High King for a man “without name or lineage.” Midir tells her who he is, and all her own history of which, in her present incarnation, she knows nothing; and he adds that it was one thousand and twelve years from Etain's birth in the Land of Youth till she was born a mortal child to the wife of Etar. Ultimately Etain agrees to return with Midir to her ancient home, but only on condition that the king will agree to their severance, and with this Midir has to be content for the time.
Celtic, Land of Youth,

represents on the whole the pagan and mythical conception of the Land of Youth

Friday, December 6, 2013

Druid Burial Mounds and the War with Fairyland

Druid Burial Mounds and the War with Fairyland


    Eochy, however, would not accept defeat, and now ensues what I think is the earliest recorded war with Fairyland since the first dispossession of the Danaans. After searching Ireland for his wife in vain, he summoned to his aid the Druid Dalan. Dalan tried for a year by every means in his power to find out where she was. At last he made what seems to have been an operation of wizardry of special strength—“he made three wands of yew, and upon the wands he wrote an ogham; and by the keys of wisdom that he had, and by the ogham, it was revealed to him that Etain was in the fairy mound of Bri-Leith, and that Midir had borne her thither.”
    Eochy then assembled his forces to storm and destroy the fairy mound in which was the palace of Midir. It is said that he was nine years digging up one burial mound after another, while Midir and his folk repaired the devastation as fast as it was made. At last Midir, driven to the last stronghold, attempted a stratagem—he offered to give up Etain, and sent her with fifty handmaids to the king, but made them all so much alike that Eochy could not distinguish the true Etain from her images. She herself, it is said, gave him a sign by which to know her. The motive of the tale, including the choice of the mortal rather than the god, reminds one of the beautiful Hindu legend of Damayanti and Nala. Eochy regained his queen, who lived with him till his death, ten years afterwards, and bore him one daughter, who was named Etain, like herself.




Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Milesian Settlement of Ireland

The Milesian Settlement of Ireland



The Milesians had three leaders when they set out for the conquest of Ireland—Eber Donn (Brown Eber), Eber Finn (Fair Eber), and Eremon. Of these the first-named, as we have seen, was not allowed to enter the land—he perished as a punishment for his brutality. When the victory over the Danaans was secure the two remaining brothers turned to the Druid Amergin for a judgment as to their respective titles to the sovranty. Eremon was the elder of the two, but Eber refused to submit to him. Thus Irish history begins, alas! with dissension and jealousy. Amergin decided that the land should belong to Eremon for his life, and pass to Eber after his death. But Eber refused to submit to the award, and demanded an immediate partition of the new-won territory. This was agreed to, and Eber took the southern half of Ireland, “from the Boyne to the Wave of Cleena,” while Eremon occupied the north. But even so the brethren could not be at peace, and after a short while war broke out between them. Eber was slain, and Eremon became sole King of Ireland, which he ruled from Tara, the traditional seat of that central authority which was always a dream of the Irish mind, but never a reality of Irish histor





The Irish Celtic Mythological Cycle




The Irish Celtic Mythological Cycle
The Mythological Cycle comprises the following sections:
1. The coming of Partholan into Ireland.
2. The coming of Nemed into Ireland.
3. The coming of the Firbolgs into Ireland.
4. The invasion of the Tuatha De Danann, or People of the god Dana.
5. The invasion of the Milesians (Sons of Miled) from Spain, and their conquest of the People of Dana.
With the Milesians we begin to come into something resembling history—they represent, in Irish legend, the Celtic race; and from them the ruling families of Ireland are supposed to be descended. The People of Dana are evidently gods. The pre-Danaan settlers or invaders are huge phantom-like figures, which loom vaguely through the mists of tradition, and have little definite characterization. The accounts which are given of them are many and conflicting, and out of these we can only give here the more ancient narratives.
Irish, Celtic, mythology, Firbolgs, Tuatha De Dannann, Misesians


Mythological cycle of the peopling of Ireland with the Misesian demi-gods.



Monday, December 2, 2013

The Celtic Druid Conception of Death

The Celtic Druid Conception of Death



The fact is that the Celtic conception of the realm of death differed altogether from that of the Greeks and Romans, and, as I have already pointed out, resembled that of Egyptian religion. The Other-world was not a place of gloom and suffering, but of light and liberation. The Sun was as much the god of that world as he was or this. Evil, pain, and gloom there were, no doubt, and no doubt these principles were embodied by the Irish Celts in their myths of Balor and the Fomorians, of which we shall hear anon; but that they were particularly associated with the idea of death is, I think, a false supposition founded on misleading analogies drawn from the ideas of the classical nations. Here the Celts followed North African or Asiatic conceptions rather than those of the Aryans of Europe. It is only by realizing that the Celts as we know them in history, from the break-up of the Mid-European Celtic empire onwards, formed a singular blend of Aryan with non-Aryan characteristics, that we shall arrive at a true understanding of their contribution to European history and their influence in European culture.



Human Sacrifices in Celtic Ireland




Human Sacrifices in Celtic Ireland
Bertrand endeavours to dissociate the Druids from these practices, of which he says strangely there is “no trace” in Ireland, although there, as elsewhere in Celtica, Druidism was all-powerful. There is little doubt, however, that in Ireland also human sacrifices at one time prevailed. In a very ancient tract, the “Dinnsenchus,” preserved in the “Book of Leinster,” it is stated that on Moyslaught, “the Plain of Adoration,” there stood a great gold idol, Crom Cruach (the Bloody Crescent). To it the Gaels used to sacrifice children when praying for fair weather and fertility—“it was milk and corn they asked from it in exchange for their children—how great was their horror and their moaning!