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.

[641] Roberts, Cambrian Pop.  Antiq. 246; Hunt, Popular Romances, 291; New Stat.  Account, x. 313.

[642] Thorpe, Northern Myth. ii. 78.

[643] Joyce, PN ii. 84. Slan occurs in many names of wells.  Well-worship is denounced in the canons of the Fourth Council of Arles.

[644] Cartailhac, L’Age de Pierre, 74; Bulliot et Thiollier, Mission de S. Martin, 60.

[645] Sebillot, ii. 284.

[646] Dalyell, 79-80; Sebillot, ii. 282, 374; see p. 266, infra.

[647] I have compiled this account of the ritual from notices of the modern usages in various works.  See, e.g., Moore, Folk-Lore, v. 212; Mackinley, passim; Hope, Holy Wells; Rh[^y]s, CFL; Sebillot, 175 f.; Dixon, Gairloch, 150 f.

[648] Brand, ii. 68; Greg. In Glor.  Conf. c. 2.

[649] Sebillot, ii. 293, 296; Folk-Lore, iv. 55.

[650] Mackinley, 194; Sebillot, ii. 296.

[651] Folk-Lore, iii. 67; Athenaeum, 1893, 415; Pliny, Ep. viii. 8; Strabo, iv. 287; Diod.  Sic. v. 9.

[652] Walker, Proc.  Soc.  Ant.  Scot. vol. v.; Sebillot, ii. 232.  In some early Irish instances a worm swallowed with the waters by a woman causes pregnancy.  See p. 352, infra.

[653] Sebillot, ii. 235-236.

[654] See Le Braz, i. 61; Folk-Lore, v. 214; Rh[^y]s, CFL i. 364; Dalyell, 506-507; Scott, Minstrelsy, Introd. xliii; Martin, 7; Sebillot, ii. 242 f.; RC ii. 486.

[655] Jullian, Ep. to Maximin, 16.  The practice may have been connected with that noted by Aristotle, of plunging the newly-born into a river, to strengthen it, as he says (Pol. vii. 15. 2), but more probably as a baptismal or purificatory rite.  See p. 309, infra.

[656] Lefevre, Les Gaulois, 109; Michelet, Origines du droit francais, 268.

[657] See examples of its use in Post, Grundriss der Ethnol.  Jurisprudenz, ii. 459 f.

[658] Roberts, Cambrian Popular Antiquities, 246.



The Celts had their own cult of trees, but they adopted local cults—­Ligurian, Iberian, and others.  The Fagus Deus (the divine beech), the Sex arbor or Sex arbores of Pyrenean inscriptions, and an anonymous god represented by a conifer on an altar at Toulouse, probably point to local Ligurian tree cults continued by the Celts into Roman times.[659] Forests were also personified or ruled by a single goddess, like Dea Arduinna of the Ardennes and Dea Abnoba of the Black Forest.[660] But more primitive ideas prevailed, like that which assigned a whole class of tree-divinities to a forest, e.g. the Fatae Dervones, spirits of the oak-woods of Northern Italy.[661] Groups of trees like Sex arbores were venerated, perhaps for their height, isolation, or some other peculiarity.

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