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Thus Servius says Luna is the same as Diana, the same as Ceres, the same as Juno, the same as Proserpine; and Lucian tells us the same of Astarte and Rhea. The mountain-Irish peasantry at this day exclaim, when they see the new moon,“may you leave me safe as you find me," an evident remnant of the lunar worship
As the wickedness of the world had caused its destruction by the deluge, so the Irish made of this circumstance an evil genius, goddess of the winds that caused shipwrecks, and called her Badhbh, which also signifies a raven, the bird which Noah first despatched, and which returned without any satisfactory result. This occasioned it always to be considered a bird of ill omen. Artemidorus
“there is an island near Britain in which the sacred rites of Ceres and Proserpine are observed as in Samothrace:" this was, in all probability, Ireland, which was called Anan or Annun, the land of divination, by the Irish writers; and in the Mabinogion, or institutional tales of Britain Annwn, or the land of spirits, is represented as lying somewhere off Dyved, or Pembrokeshire.
The Rev. Walter Davies has most clearly proved that the rites of Ceres and Proserpine were practised in the Helio-arkite worship in Britain, and they were doubtless the same in Ireland. For it is remarkable that a portable shrine dedicated to this purpose was drawn about by oxen employed by the idolatrous Irish, and termed Arn-Breith, the same as Arn Berith, the ark of the covenant, according to Vallancey. Ireland itself was called Torc and Muic, a boar and a hog, and in Britain these animals were symbols of the ark. Thus the island of the Boar or Hog was po more than the island of the Arkite genius. But Vallancey tells us that Torc and Muic are Druidic words implying likewise an enchanter and a sorcerer, consequently, this appellation was synonymous with Annan, the land of enchantment.
One principal rite was the constant keeping up of the inextinguishable fire, in honour of the Solar-arkite divinity, and for this purpose we meet with the Gallicenæ of Ireland under the title of Gabha, a name for the muses, which word also signifies lamentation or mourning, and they appear to be commemorated in the names of some rocky islets a little to the south of the island of Raglin, not far from the peninsular of Magie, called the nine maids. The rites in honour of the Irish Apollo began in May, wherefore, that month is called Bel-teine, the fire of Belus, and Ced-aman, the sacred fire, or that of Ced, the Lunar-arkite goddess, as in Britain. It was the custom in Ireland to extinguish every fire
• Notes on Virgil's Georgics, I. iv. 5. + She was, as Ceres, worshipped under the figure of a ploughshare. See Warner's History of Ireland, p. 133.
twice a year, on certain festivals, and to rekindle them from that of the chief Mogh, or Magus, of each district.* Budh is said to have put an end to the horrid custom of offering human sacrifices, and to have substituted instead, that of brute animals, as the cock, the goat, the horse, &c. for the expiation of sins.t The first of these was held sacred to Budh, or the sun, on account of its ushering in the sun's rising, by its early crowing, and the last was an emblem of the ark, which was called a steed of the sea.I
Lakes and rivers were also held sacred in Ireland. Thus the river Seanon, or Shanon, runs into the lake of Rhèa, or Lough Rhèa. “This,” says Vallancey, “was a Titanis, or Diluvian goddess, the same as Diana and Seanon is the same as a Brahminical god.” After passing this lake, the Seanon enters that of Dearg (Lough Dearg), another title of the Arkite goddess, whence the lake is also called Deargait, the abode of Dearg. Below this is Kill-da-loo, the temple (or retreat) of the two altars, in honour of the two divinities described by the river and lakes, typifying Noah being received into the ark. From hence the country on each side was named Limneach, the present Irish name of the county and city of Limerick, whence Leamhain is the river that runs out of Killarney lake. General Vallancey informs us that Limnatis implies a maritime deity, for the word diuvn is applied to the sea by Homer, both in the Illiad and Odyssey. Above these is Ath-luan, or Athlone, the new moon, signifying the symbolical Lunar-arkite goddess.
There is, indeed, no place in Ireland where the worship of the Cabiritic deities can be traced so well as the Shannon; but we find a river and a lake named after Dearg in the county of Donegal, remarkable, in later times, for the purgatory of St. Patrick. There is a river called Suir, sacred water, which falls into the sea at Waterford; and we find that one of the rites in celebrating the worship of the Arkite divinity was a wave-offering, called Luaimhnighthe.ll
Besides lakes and rivers, the superstitions in Ireland point out circular marks in grassplots, said to be made by the dancing of the Siabh-bhoi, genii of the night, the Gabha, or Gallicenæ, before mentioned. They were also termed Sidh; thus Bann. sidh, the genius of death, supposed to give notice of such an approaching event by dreams or otherwise, Sidh-gaoithe, the genius of the whirlwind, Sidh-bhrog, the family genius, Leannan-sidh, a favorite genius, and Sidh-draoithachd, enchanted by spirits.
* Collect. de Reb. Hib., vol. vi.
# Ibid. Giraldus mentions the sacrifice of the horse in the inauguration of the provincial kings.
Davies's Mythology of the Druids. $ Collect. de Reb. Hib. il Shaw's Gaelic Dictionary.
The following curious passage in the Liber Lecanus,* like the British poem Hanes Taliesin, or mythological history of Radiant Front, the chief Druid, seems to point out the form of initiation into the mysteries of Irish Druidism. “Tuan Mac Caril, born of the wife of Muiredac Mundung, asserted the postdiluvian invasion of Eirin, for he lived, in Kæsar's time, in the form of a man, then for 300 years in the form of a deer, (alluding, as any one would see by examining Davies's British Mythology, to the timidity of the aspirant,) after, for 200 years, in the shape of a boar, a symbol of the Arkite goddess,) then 300 years in the similitude of a bird, (another symbol of the Lunar-arkite divinity,) and lastly, 100 years in the shape of a salmon, which being caught, was presented to the queen of Eirin, (that is, received into the sanctuary of the Lunar-arkite goddess,) when she, upon eating it, immediately, conceived and brought forth Tuan Mac Cairil, who related the truth of Kæsar's expedition to Erin." The salmon above mentioned refers to the greater mysteries performed in the water, whence a point of land at the mouth of the Suir, in Waterford harbour, is called Phait-leac, the stone of the Paitici, used as a landing-stone. Vallancey conjectures that it might have been the remains of a temple to the sea gods, and he calls Kæsar the grandson of Noah. At any rate, we can do no otherwise than regard this as a mythological tale, and Mac Cairil, by his pedigree and adventures, appears to have every claim of relationship with the Arkite mysteries.
The pagan Irish priests were called Draoi and Druad, and, like other Celtic nations, they elected an Ard-druad, or presiding Druid, who acted as metropolitan over the rest in their several subordinate stations,t and who decided all controversies in religion without appeal. As the deity was named Crom, so the officiating priest was called Cromthear, who wore a crystal called Leug, or Leice, for the purpose of divination. The Irish Druids pretended to draw down fire from heaven by means of a crystal termed Liath Meisicith, the magical stone of speculation; and this fire they called Logh Aesar, the essence of, or spiritual fire, and the presence of God. This fire might have been communicated by a preparation of cobalt ground up with oil, which will lie an hour or more in that unctuous state, and then burst into an amazing blaze. They seem, as well as the British Druids, to have been partial to particular plants, and among the number of these is the Muil, penny-grass, or Venus's navel-wort. The god who presided over trees was called Soma.
Ireland was anciently remarkable for divination; and the Hibernian Druids make nice distinctions between the soothsayer, augur, sorcerer, and enchanter, according to the various arts
* Printed in the Appendix to Lluyd's Archæologia.
they were supposed to possess. The priestesses were termed Sain, and their office was seanam, to bless, or to defend from enchantments, from the word sean, a charm. But Sain is also a swarm of bees; thus were these Druidesses, like the Seon of Britain, termed bees, and, like the British Tylwyth Teg and Gwyllion monasighe, woman fairies, and credulously supposed by the common people at this day to be so affected to certain families, that they are heard to sing mournful lamentations about their houses by night, whenever any of the family labours under sickness that is to end in death.*
The Hibernian Druids teaching the doctrine of the transmigration of souls, named the body culn and colna; from cul, revolution, case, or receptacle; and ana, or anal, life, breath, or spirit. Synonymous to this was cuirp, the circle, or case of Pei life.t
They resembled their fellows in Britain in most things, but differed materially in one respect, and that was their committing their arcana to writing; and the characters in which they were written were termed Ogum, mystic. The powers of these characters are lost, and therefore any attempt to decipher them would be fruitless. No less than twenty Ogum alphabets are extant, all differing from each other; but the most simple is probably the most ancient, and this consists of a horizontal or perpendicular line, and strokes made to meet it, on both sides, at different angles, Some of these are still extant on rude stones, others in mss., one of which was in the form of a dart; and O’Molloy, in his Irish Grammar, mentions two more.
The Druidic rites were performed in consecrated groves of the dair, oak tree, and from thence the groves were called Dairai. Within these was the Magh-sleacht, plain of adoration, where stood the representation of the great god, Črom. The temple, like the British Caer Sidi, was termed Sidhe, being composed of stones, each of which represented a sign of the zodiac, and as Crom-Cruach, the great god, or the sun, was in the centre, so these were regarded as subordinate and subservient deities to him, and therefore intercessory; on which account, in modern Irish, the term Sidhe signifies spirits. The Irish early Christian writers positively assert that the Hibernian Druids permitted no worship of graven images; and this is corroborated by the circumstance of none having ever been found in the bogs among the various relics of Druidism which have been discovered. They describe the temples of worship as consisting of two unhewn stones capped with gold and silver, to represent the sun and moon, surrounded by twelve others, to represent the angels presiding over the seasons, or by nineteen, to express the lunar cycle, or by twenty-eight, to express the solar cycle; and say that this
O'Brien's Dict. Hib.
+ Collect. de Reb. Hib., vol. iii.
was the only species of idolatry to be found. This temple was also called Cil, a place of retreat, or devotion, afterwards, like the British Llan, applied to Christian churches, though many places in Ireland and Wales are called Cil where no traces of a Christian church are to be found, which shows their Druidic origin. The holy Scriptures seem to distinguish the worshippers of Baal in the groves as having no graven images : “ Manasseh did after the abomination of the heathen whom the Lord cast out. He built up again the places, he reared up altars for Baal and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven, aud served them; he built altars in the house of the Lord, he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord, and he made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards, and he set a graven image of the grove that he made in the house."* Again, “And the king (Josiah) commanded to bring forth out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven, and he burnt them. And he put down the idolatrous priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the high places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, to the moon, and to the planets (the twelve signs), and to all the host of heaven.”+
The temple was also called Ti-mor, the great circle, which, besides its astronomical reference, had allusion to the supreme God, as tosach gan tosach, without beginning without end. The sanctuary, which by the British Druids was called Ketti, by those of Ireland was termed Crom-leach, the stone of Crom, the great god, and in this the fires in honour of Saman, the sun, called also Beil-teinne, were kept burning, attended by vestal virgins. The Gal-ti-mor, fire of the great circle, was evidently of this kind; and the sacred fires in honour of Beal, or the sun, were also lighted on rocks and mountains on the vernal equinox, (the present 1st of May,) the summer solstice, (answering to the 1st of August,) and the eve of the 1st of Nov r. Some mountains, by their names, are traditionary evidences of this, as Calain, the altar of the sun, a mountain in the county of Clare, where an altar still exists, called Altoir na graine, the altar of the sun, and where there is also an Ogum inscription. Sometimes they were lighted on Carns, or heaps of stones, and then these were called Cairn-nod, or Carns of the sun.|| The mysteries * 2 Kings, xxi. 1.
+ Ibid. xxiii. 5.
Beauford's Ancient Topography of Ireland. ii And also Flashgo, or temples of Vesta. Here was performed a species of divination, called the Ob, in order to consult the manes of he dead relative to future events. Ibid.