The Religion of the Ancient Celts eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 445 pages of information about The Religion of the Ancient Celts.

[541] Dechelette, 257-258.  In another instance the ram is marked with crosses like those engraved on images of the underworld god with the hammer.

[542] Kennedy, 187.

[543] Lady Wilde, 118; Curtin, Tales, 54.

[544] Le Braz, i. 229; Gregor, 21; Cambry, Voyage dans le Finistere, i. 229.

[545] Le Braz, ii. 47; Folk-Lore, iv. 357; MacCulloch, Misty Isle of Skye, 254; Sebillot, i. 235-236.

[546] Names of places associated with the great festivals are also those of the chief pagan cemeteries, Tara, Carman, Taillti, etc. (O’Curry, MC ii. 523).

[547] Rennes Dindsenchas, RC xv. 313-314.

[548] Cf.  Frazer, Adonis, 134.

[549] Cf.  Chambers, Mediaeval Stage, i. 250, 253.

[550] See Vigfusson-Powell, Corpus Poet.  Boreale, i. 405, 419.  Perhaps for a similar reason a cult of the dead may have occurred at the Midsummer festival.

[551] Miss Faraday, Folk-Lore, xvii. 398 f.

[552] Bede, de Temp.  Rat. c. xv.

[553] Vigfusson-Powell, i. 419.

[554] Curtin, Tales, 157; Haddon, Folk-Lore, iv. 359; Le Braz, ii. 115 et passim.

[555] Frazer, Adonis, 253 f.



In early thought everything was a person, in the loose meaning then possessed by personality, and many such “persons” were worshipped—­ earth, sun, moon, sea, wind, etc.  This led later to more complete personification, and the sun or earth divinity or spirit was more or less separated from the sun or earth themselves.  Some Celtic divinities were thus evolved, but there still continued a veneration of the objects of nature in themselves, as well as a cult of nature spirits or secondary divinities who peopled every part of nature.  “Nor will I call out upon the mountains, fountains, or hills, or upon the rivers, which are now subservient to the use of man, but once were an abomination and destruction to them, and to which the blind people paid divine honours,” cries Gildas.[556] This was the true cult of the folk, the “blind people,” even when the greater gods were organised, and it has survived with modifications in out-of-the-way places, in spite of the coming of Christianity.

S. Kentigern rebuked the Cambrians for worshipping the elements, which God made for man’s use.[557] The question of the daughters of Loegaire also throws much light on Celtic nature worship.  “Has your god sons or daughters?...  Have many fostered his sons?  Are his daughters dear and beautiful to men?  Is he in heaven or on earth, in the sea, in the rivers, in the mountains, in the valleys?"[558] The words suggest a belief in divine beings filling heaven, earth, sea, air, hills, glens, lochs, and rivers, and following human customs.  A naive faith,

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The Religion of the Ancient Celts from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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