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THE MYTHOLOGY OF ALL RACES 



Volume III 
CELTIC 
SLAVIC 



Volume I. Greek and Roman 
William Sherwood Fox, Ph.D., Princeton University. 

Volume II. Eddie 

Axel Olrik, Ph.D., University of Copenhagen. 

Volume III. Celtic, Slavic 

Canon John A. MacCulloch, D.D., Bridge of Allan, Scotland. 

Jan MAchal, Ph.D., Bohemian University, Prague. 

Volume IV. Finno-Ugric, Siberian 
Uno Holmberg, Ph.D., University of Finland, Helsingfors. 

Volume V. Semilic 
R. Campbell Thompson, M.A., F.S.A., F.R.G.S., 0.\ford. 

Volume Yl. Indian, Iranian 
A. Berriedale Keith, D.C.L., Edinburgh University. 
Albert J. Carnoy, Ph.D., University of Louvain. 

Volume VII. Armenian, African 
Makoiros Ananikian, B.D., Kennedy School of Missions, Hart- 
ford, Connecticut. 
Alice Werner, L.L.A. (St. Andrews); School of Oriental Studies, London 

Volume VIII. Chinese, Japanese 

U. Hattori, Litt D., University of Tokyo. 
(Japanese Exchange Professor at Harvard University, iQij-iQid) 

Masaharu Anesaki, Litt.D., University of Tokyo. 
(Japanese Exchange Professor at Harvard University, iQi^-igis) 

Volume IX. Oceanic 
Roland Burrage Ddcon, Ph.D., Harvard University. 

Volume X. American {North of Mexico) 
Hartley Burr Alexander, Ph.D., University of Nebraska. 

Volume XI. American {Latin) 
Hartley Burr Alexander, Ph.D., University of Nebraska. 

Volume XII. Egyptian, Indo-Chinese 
W. Max MiJLLER, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania. 
Sir James George Scott, K.C.I.E., London^.. 

Volume XIII. Index 




.,!^ 



'Jf0^mmK 




PLATE I 

Brug na Boinne 

The tumulus at New Grange is the largest of a 
group of three at Dowth, New Grange, and Knowth, 
County Aieath, on the banks of the Boyne in the 
plain known to Irish tales as Brug na Boinne, the 
traditional burial-place of the Tuatha De Danann 
and of the Kings of Tara. It was also associated 
with the Tuatha De Danann as their immortal 
dwelling-place, e. g. of Oengus of the Brug (see pp. 
50-51, 66-67, ^7^77)- The tumuli are perhaps of 
the neolithic age (for plans see Plate VI, A and B). 



191 



..// 



THE MYTHOLOGY 



OF ALL RACES 

IN THIRTEEN VOLUMES 



^^^S^^f^ 



OCT 8 ic 



LOUIS HERBERT GRAY, A.M., PH.D., Editor 

GEORGE FOOT MOORE, A.M., D.D., LL.D., Consulting Editor 



l^ui v.: 



CELTIC 



BY 



JOHN ARNOTT MACCULLOCH, 

HON. D. D. (sT. ANDREWS) 



SLAVIC 



BY 
JAN MACHAL, ph.d. 

WITH A CHAPTER ON BALTIC MYTHOLOGY BY 
THE EDITOR 



VOLUME III 




BOSTON 
MARSHALL JONES COMPANY 
M DCCCC XVIII 



Copyright, 191 8 
By Marshall Jones Company 



Entered at Stationers' Hall, London 



All rights reserved 
Printed June, 191 8 



PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA BY THE UNIVERSITY PRESS 
CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS 

BOUND BY THE BOSTON BOOKBINDING COMPANY 



CONTENTS 

CELTIC 



PAGE 



Author's Preface S 

Introduction 7 

Chapter I. The Strife of the Gods 23 

II. TUATHA De DaNANN AND MiLESIANS. ... 42 

III. The Division of the Sid 49 

IV. Mythic Powers of the Gods 54 

V. Gods Helping Mortals 62 

VI. Divine Enmity and Punishment 68 

VII. The Loves of the Gods 78 

VIII. The Myths of the British Celts .... 92 

IX. The Divine Land 114 

X. Mythical Animals and Other Beings. . . 124 

XL Myths of Origins 135 

XII. The Heroic Myths — I. Cuchulainn and 

his Circle 139 

XIII. The Heroic Myths — II. Fionn and the 

Feinn 160 

XIV. The Heroic Myths — HI. Arthur .... 184 
XV. Paganism and Christianity 206 



vi CONTENTS 

SLAVIC 

PAGE 

Editor's Preface 217 

Pronunciation 219 

Introduction 221 

Part I. The Genii 225 

Chapter I. Belief in Soul and Genii 227 

II. Worship of the Dead, Especially An- 
cestors 233 

III. The Household Gods 240 

IV. Genii of Fate 249 

V. Navky and Rusalky 253 

VI. ViLY 256 

VII. Silvan Spirits 261 

VIII. Field-Spirits 267 

IX. Water-Spirits 270 

X. Sun, Moon, and Stars 273 

Part II. The Deities of the Elbe Slavs 275 

Chapter I. Svantovit 279 

II. Triglav 284 

III. SVARAZIC 286 

V 

IV. Cernobog 288 

V. Other Deities 289 

Part III. The Deities of the Pagan Russians .... 291 

Chapter I. Perun 293 

II. Dazbog 297 

III. SvAROzic and Svarog 298 

IV. Chors 299 

V. Veles, Volos, and Stribog 300 

Part IV. Cult and Festivals 303 

Chapter I. Worship of the Gods 305 

II. The Koleda 307 



CONTENTS vli 



PAGE 



III. The Rusalye 311 

IV. The Kupalo and Jarilo 313 

Part V. Baltic Mythology 315 

Notes, Celtic 333 

Notes, Slavic 35 1 

Bibliography, Celtic 365 

Bibliography, Slavic 389 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

PLATE FACING PAGE 

I Brug na Boinne — Coloured Frontispiece 

II Gaulish Coins 8 

1. Horse and Wheel-Symbol 

2. Horse, Conjoined Circles and S-Symbol 

3. Man-Headed Horse and Wheel 

4. Bull and S-Symbol 

5. Bull 

6. Sword and Warrior Dancing Before it 
7-8. Swastika Composed of Two S-Symbols (?) 

9-10. Bull's Head and two S-Symbols; Bear Eating a 
Serpent 
II. Wolf and S-Symbols 

III Gaulish Coins 14 

1. Animals Opposed, and Boar and Wolf (?) 

2. Man-Headed Horse and Bird, and Bull Ensign 

3. Squatting Divinity, and Boar and S-Symbol or Snake 

4. Horse and Bird 

5. Bull and Bird 

6. Boar 

7. Animals Opposed 

IV God with the Wheel 20 

V Smertullos 40 

VI A. Plan of the Brug na Boinne 50 

B. Plan of the Brug na Boinne 50 

VII Three-Headed God 56 

VIII Squatting God 72 

IX A. Altar from Saintes 86 

B. Reverse Side of the same Altar 86 

X Incised Stones from Scotland 94 

1. The"Picardy Stone" 

2. The "Newton Stone" 



X ILLUSTRATIONS 

PLATE FAONC PAGE 

XI Gauls and Romans in Combat io6 

XII Three-Headed God 112 

XIII Sucellos 116 

XIV Dispater and Aeracura (?) 120 

XV Epona 124 

XVI Cernunnos 128 

XVII Incised Stones from Scotland 134 

1. The "Crichie Stone" 

2. An Incised Scottish Stone 

XVIII Menhir of Kernuz 140 

XIX Bulls and S-Symbols 152 

I, 6. Carvings of Bulls from Burghhead 
2-5. S-Symbols 

XX A. Altar from Notre Dame. Esus 158 

B. Altar from Notre Dame. Tarvos Trigaranos . 158 

XXI Altar from Treves 166 

XXII Page of an Irish Manuscript 176 

XXIII Artio 186 

XXIV Boars 188 

XXV Horned God 204 

XXVI Sucellos 208 

XXVII Zadusnica 237 

XXVIII Djadek 244 

XXIX Setek 244 

XXX Lesni Zenka 261 

XXXI Svantovit 279 

XXXH Festival of Svantovit 281 

XXXIII Radigast 286 

XXXIV Idealizations of Slavic Divinities 288 

1. Svantovit 

2. Ziva 

3. Cernobog and Tribog 

XXXV Veles 300 

XXXVI Ancient Slavic Sacrifice 305 

XXXVH The Sacred Oak of Romowe 305 



CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 



BY 



JOHN ARNOrr MACCULLOCH, Hon. D.D. (St. Andrews) 

RECTOR OF ST. SAVIOUr's, BRIDGE OF ALLAN, STIRLINGSHIRE, AND HONORARY 
CANON OF CUMBRAE CATHEDRAL 



TO 
DR. JAMES HASTINGS 

Editor of the Encyclop<zdia of Religion and Ethics, 
THE Dictionary of the Bible, etc. 

WITH THE GRATITUDE AND RESPECT OF THE AUTHOR 



AUTHOR'S PREFACE 

rj a former work * I have considered at some length the re- 
ligion of the ancient Celts; the present study describes those 
Celtic myths which remain to us as a precious legacy from 
the past, and is supplementary to the earlier book. These 
myths, as I show, seldom exist as the pagan Celts knew them, 
for they have been altered in various ways, since romance, 
pseudo-history, and the influences of Christianity have all 
affected many of them. Still they are full of interest, and it 
is not difficult to perceive traces of old ideas and mythical 
conceptions beneath the surface. Transformation allied to 
rebirth was asserted of various Celtic divinities, and if the 
myths have been transformed, enough of their old selves re- 
mained for identification after romantic writers and pseudo- 
historians gave them a new existence. Some mythic incidents 
doubtless survive much as they were in the days of old, but 
all alike witness to the many-sided character of the life and 
thought of their Celtic progenitors and transmitters. Romance 
and love, war and slaughter, noble deeds as well as foul, wordy 
boastfulness but also delightful poetic utterance, glamour and 
sordid reality, beauty if also squalid conditions of life, are found 
side by side in these stories of ancient Ireland and Wales. 

The illustrations are the work of my daughter, Sheila Mac- 
Culloch, and I have to thank the authorities of the British 
Museum for permission to copy illustrations from their publica- 
tions; Mr. George Coffey for permission to copy drawings and 
photographs of the Tumuli at New Grange from his book New 
Grange {Brugh na Boinne) and other Inscribed Tumuli in Ire- 
land; the Librarians of Trinity College, Dublin, and the Bod- 

* The Religion of the Ancient Celts, Edinburgh, 191 1. 



6 AUTHOR'S PREFACE 

leian Library, Oxford, for permission to photograph pages 
from well-known Irish MSS.; and Mr. R. J. Best for the use 
of his photographs of MSS. 

In writing this book it has been some relief to try to lose 
oneself in it and to forget, in turning over the pages of the 
past, the dark cloud which hangs over our modem life in these 
sad days of the great war, sad yet noble, because of the freely 
oflFered sacrifice of life and all that life holds dear by so many of 
my countrymen and our heroic allies in defence of liberty. 

J. A. MACCULLOCH. 

Bridge of Allan, Scotland, 
May, i6, 1916. 



Ill — I 



INTRODUCTION 

IN all lands whither the Celts came as conquerors there was 
an existing population with whom they must eventually 
have made alliances. They imposed their language upon them 
— the Celtic regions are or were recently regions of Celtic 
speech — but just as many words of the aboriginal vernacular 
must have been taken over by the conquerors, or their own 
tongue modified by Celtic, so must it have been with their 
mythology. Celtic and pre-Celtic folk alike had many myths, 
and these were bound to intermingle, with the result that such 
Celtic legends as we possess must contain remnants of the 
aboriginal mythology, though it, like the descendants of 
the aborigines, has become Celtic. It would be difficult, in 
the existing condition of the old mythology, to say this is of 
Celtic, that of non-Celtic origin, for that mythology is now 
but fragmentary. The gods of the Celts were many, but of 
large cantles of the Celtic race — the Celts of Gaul and of 
other parts of the continent of Europe — scarcely any myths 
have survived. A few sentences of Classical writers or images 
of divinities or scenes depicted on monuments point to what 
was once a rich mythology. These monuments, as well as in- 
scriptions with names of deities, are numerous there as well as 
in parts of Roman Britain, and belong to the Romano-Celtic 
period. In Ireland, Wales, and north-western Scotland they 
do not exist, though in Ireland and Wales there is a copious 
literature based on mythology. Indeed, we may express the 
condition of affairs in a formula: Of the gods of the Conti- 
nental Celts many monuments and no myths; of those of the 
Insular Celts many myths but no monuments. 

The myths of the Continental Celts were probably never 

1 1 1 — 2 ' 



8 INTRODUCTION 

committed to writing. They were contained in the sacred verses 
taught by the Druids, but it was not lawful to write them 
down;' they were tabu, and doubtless their value would have 
vanished if they had been set forth in script. The influences of 
Roman civilization and religion were fatal to the oral mythol- 
ogy taught by Druids, who were ruthlessly extirpated, while 
the old religion was assimilated to that of Rome. The gods 
were equated with Roman gods, who tended to take their 
place; the people became Romanized and forgot their old 
beliefs. Doubtless traditions survived among the folk, and 
may still exist as folk-lore or fairy superstition, just as folk- 
customs, the meaning of which may be uncertain to those who 
practise them, are descended from the rituals of a vanished 
paganism; but such existing traditions could be used only 
with great caution as indexes of the older myths. 

There were hundreds of Gaulish and Romano-British gods, 
as an examination of the Latin inscriptions found in Gaul and 
Britain^ or of Alfred Holder's Altceltischer Sprachschatz^ will 
show. Many are equated with the same Roman god, and most 
of them were local deities with similar functions, though some 
may have been more widely popular; but we can never be sure 
to what aspect of the Roman divinity's personality a parallel 
was found in their functions. Moreover, though in some cases 
philology shows us the meaning of their names, it would avail 
little to speculate upon that meaning, tempting as this may be 
— a temptation not always successfully resisted. This is also 
true of the symbols depicted on monuments, though here the 
function, if not the myth, is more readily suggested. Why are 
some deities horned or three-headed, or why does one god carry 
a wheel, a hammer, or an S-symbol.? Horns may suggest divine 
strength or an earlier beast-god, the wheel may be the sun, the 
hammer may denote creative power. Other symbols resemble 
those of Classical divinities, and here the meaning is more ob- 
vious. The three Matres, or "Mothers," with their symbols of 
fertility were Earth Mothers; the horned deity with a bag of 



PLATE II 

Gaulish Coins 

1. Coin of the Nervii, with horse and wheel- 
symbol (cf. Plates III, 4, IV, XV). 

2. Gaulish coin, with horse, conjoined circles, 
and S-symbol (cf. Plates III, 3, IV, XIX, 2-5). 

3. Coin of the Cenomani, with man-headed horse 
(cf. Plate III, 2) and wheel. 

4. Coin of the Remi (.?), with bull (cf. Plates III, 
5, IX, B, XIX, I, 6, XX, B, XXI), and S-symbol. 

5. Coin of the Turones, with bull. 

6. Armorican coin, showing sword and warrior 
dancing before it (exemplifying the cult of weapons; 

cf. pp. 33-34)- 

7. 8. Gaulish coins, with swastika composed of 
two S-symbols (.''). 

9, 10. Gaulish coin, showing bull's head and two 
S-symbols; reverse, bear (cf. Plate XXIII) eating 
a serpent. 

II. Coin of the Carnutes, showing wolf (cf. Plate 
III, i) and S-symbols. 









II 



INTRODUCTION 9 

grain was a god of plenty. Such a goddess as Epona was a 
divinity of horses and mules, and she is represented as riding a 
horse or feeding foals. But what myths lie behind the repre- 
sentation of Esus cutting down a tree, whose branches, extend- 
ing round another side of the monument, cover a bull and three 
cranes — Tarvos Trigaranos? Is this the incident depicted on 
another monument with a bull's head among branches on 
which two birds are perched .^^ 

Glimpses of myths are seen in Classical references to Celtic 
gods. Caesar, whose information (or that of his source) about 
the gods of Gaul is fragmentary, writes: "They worship chiefly 
the god Mercury. Of him there are many simulacra; ^ they 
make him inventor of all arts and guide of journeys and 
marches, and they suppose him to have great power over the 
acquiring of money and in matters of merchandise. After him 
come Apollo, Mars, Jupiter, and Minerva. Concerning these 
they hold much the same opinions as other nations — Apollo 
repels diseases, Minerva teaches the beginnings of arts and 
crafts, Jupiter sways celestial aff"airs. Mars directs wars."^ 
There is no evidence that all the Gauls worshipped a few gods. 
Many local deities with similar functions but difi"erent names 
is the evidence of the inscriptions, and these are grouped col- 
lectively by Caesar and assimilated to Roman divinities. There 
are many local Mercuries, Minervas, Apollos, and the like, 
each with his Celtic name attached to that of the Roman god. 
Or, again, they are nameless, as in the case of the Yorkshire 
inscription, "To the god who invented roads and paths" — 
an obvious Mercury. Caesar adds, "The Gauls declare that 
they are descended from Dispater, and this, they say, has been 
handed down by the Druids." ^ If, as the present writer has 
tried to show elsewhere,^ Dispater is the Roman name of a 
Celtic god, whether Cernunnos, or the god with the hammer, 
or Esus, or all three, who ruled a rich underworld, then this 
myth resembles many told elsewhere of the first men emerging 
from the earth, the autochthones. The parallel Celtic myth 



lo INTRODUCTION 

has not survived. In Ireland, If it ever existed there, it gave 
place to stories of descent from fictitious personages, like 
Mile, son of Bile, invented by the early scribes, or from Biblical 
patriarchs. 

Apollonj us, writing in the third century b. C^ reports a 
Celticmyth about the waters of Eridanus. ^polloy driven by 
his father's threats from heaven because of the son whom 
Karonis bore to him, fled to the land of the Hypejebereans ; 
and the tears which he shed on the way formed the tossing 
waters.^ Some. Greek myth is here mingled with a lQC_al legend 
about the origin of a stream and a Celtic ^od^ possibly E^loios, 
who had a neighbouring temple alAqiiileia. In an island of the 
Hypf^r|]>£vr^ans (a Cellic^people dwelling beyond the RHpaean 
-Mountains wheii£e_JBorea&-Jbtlew) was a cixculax-teaiple where 
A pplln was worshipped. Every year near the yemaLer^iiiaox 
the god appeared in the sky, harp ing_and dancings until the 
rising=ai4hePleiades.^° It is natural that this " Guxulax-temple " 
should have been found i" St^ri'^b^ngf 

Lucian (second century a. d.) describes a Gaulish god Og- 
mios, represented as an old man, bald-headed and with 
wrinkled and sun-burnt skin, yet possessing the attributes of 
Hercules — the lion's skin, the club, the bow, and a sheath 
hung from his shoulder. He draws a multitude by beautiful 
chains of gold and amber attached to their ears, and they follow 
him with joy. The other end of the chains is fixed to his tongue, 
and he turns to his captives a smiling countenance. A Gaul 
explained that the native god of eloquence was regarded as 
Hercules, because he had accomplished his feats through elo- 
quence; he was old, for speech shows itself best in old age; the 
chains indicated the bond between the orator's tongue and the 
ears of enraptured listeners. ^^ 

Lucian may have seen such a representation or heard of a 
Gaulish myth of this kind, and as we shall see, an Irish god 
Ogma, whose name is akin to that of Ogmios, was a divine 
warrior and a god of poetry and speech. Ogma is called 



INTRODUCTION 1 1 

grianainech ("sun-faced," or shining-faced"), perhaps a par- 
allel to Lucian's description of the face of Ogmios. The head of 
Ogmios occurs on Gaulish coins, and from one of his eyes pro- 
ceeds a ray or nail. This has suggested a parallel with the 
Ulster hero Cuchulainn in his "distortion," when the Ion Idith 
(? "champion's light") projected from his forehead thick and 
long as a man's fist. Another curious parallel occurs in the 
Tain Bo Cualnge, or "Cattle-Spoil of Cualnge," where, among 
the Ulster forces, is a strong man with seven chains on his neck, 
and seven men dragged along at the end of each, so that their 
noses strike the ground, whereupon they reproach him. Is this 
a distorted reminiscence of the myth of Ogmios .'' 

A British goddess Sul, equated with Minerva at Bath, is \ 
mentioned by Solinus (third century a. d.) as presiding over 
warm springs. In her temple perpetual fires burned and never 
grew old, for where the fire wasted away it turned into shining 
globes. ^^ The latter statement is travellers' gossip, but the j 
"eternal fires" recall the sacred fire of St. Bxigit at Kjldare, 
tended by nineteen nuns in turn, a day at a time, and on the 
twentieth by the dead saint herself. Thejfire was tabu to 
males^jwho must not even breathe on it,^^ This breath tabu in 
connexion with fire is found among Earsis,3rahmans,. Slavs, 
in Japan» and formerly in Ri'igen. The saint succeeded to the 
myth on-xitualof a goddess, theJLrisli Brigit, or the^Brigindo 
or B4iigantia oLGaulish and BxLtish inscri ptions, who was like- 
wise equated with M inerva > 

A tabued grove near Marseilles is mythically described by 
Lucan, who wrote in the first century of our era, and doubtless 
his account Is based on local legends. The trees of the grove 
were stained with the blood of sacrifices, and the hollow cav- 
erns were heard to roar at the movement of the earth; the 
yew trees bent down and rose again; flames burned but did not 
consume the wood; dragons entwined surrounded the oaks. 
Hence people were afraid to approach the sacred grove, and 
the priest did not venture within its precincts at midnight or 



12 INTRODUCTION 

midday, lest the god should appear — "the destruction that 
wasteth at noonday." " In Galatia Artemis was thought to 
wander with demons in the forest at midday, tormenting to 
death those whom she met; while Diana in Autun was re- 
garded as a midday demon who haunted cross-roads and for- 
ests. Whether these divinities represent a Celtic goddess is 
uncertain, and their fateful midday aspect may have been 
suggested by the "midday demon" of the Septuagint version 
of Psalm xc. 6. Both accounts occur in lives of saints. 

Several references suggest that the gods punished the taking 
of things dedicated to themselves, and therefore tabu to men. 
Caesar says that this was a criminal action punished by torture 
and death, ^^ and Irish myth also discloses the disastrous results 
of breach of tabu. The awe of the priest of the grove is par- 
alleled by incidents of Celtic history. After the battle of AUia 
in 390 B. c, where the Celts saw divine aid in the flight of the 
Romans and stood awestruck before it, they were afraid of the 
night.^^ After the battle of Delphi (279 b. c.) "madness from 
a god" fell on them at night, and they attacked each other, no 
longer recognizing each other's speech. ^^ Another fear based 
on a myth is referred to in Classical sources, that of the future 

\ cataclysm. The Celts did not dread earthquakes or high tides, 
which, indeed, they attacked with weapons; but they feared 
the fall of the sky and the day when fire and water must pre- 

' vail. An Irish vow perhaps refers to this: something would be 
done if the sky with its showers of stars did not fall or the earth 
burst or the sea submerge the world. Any untoward event 
might be construed as the coming of this catastrophe or analo- 
gous to it. How, then, was the sky meanwhile supported .f* 
Perhaps on mountain-peaks like that near the source of the 
Rhone, which the native population called "the column of the 
sun," and which was so lofty that it hid the northern sun from 
the southern folk.^^ Gaidoz says that "the belief that the earth 
rests on columns is the sole debris of ancient cosmogony of 
which we know in Irish legends, but we have only the reflexion 



INTRODUCTION 13 

of it in a hymn and gloss of the Liher Hymnorum. In vaunting 
the pre-eminence of two saints who were like great gods of old 
Christian Ireland, Ultan says of Brigit that she was 'half of 
the colonnade of the kingdom (of the world) with Patrick the 
eminent.' The gloss is more explicit — 'as there are two pillars 
in the world, so are Brigit and Patrick in Ireland.'" ^^ In some 
of the romantic Irish voyages islands are seen resting on pillars, 
and an echo of these myths is found in the Breton tradition that 
the church at Kernitou stands on four columns, resting on a 
congealed sea which will submerge the structure when it be- 
comes liquid. ^° 

Divine help is often referred to in Irish myths, and a parallel 
instance occurs in Justin's allusion to the guidance of the 
Segovesi by birds to the Danubian regions which they con- 
quered.^^ Such myths are depicted on coins, on which a horse 
appears led by a bird, which sometimes whispers in its ear. 
Heroes were also inspired by birds to found towns. Birds were 
objects of worship and divination with the Celts, and divinities 
transformed themselves into the shape of birds, or birds formed 
their symbols. 

The birth of heroes from a god and a human mother occurs in 
Irish myth. One Classical parallel to this is found in the ac- 
count of the origin of the northern Gauls given by Diodorus. 
They were descended from Hercules and the beautiful giant 
daughter of the King of Celtica, and hence they were taller and 
handsomer than other peoples. ^^ This is perhaps the Greek 
version of a native myth, which is echoed in the Irish tale of 
the gigantic daughter of the king of Maidens' Land and her 
love for Fionn.^^ Again, when Diodorus speaks of Hercules as- 
sembling his followers, advancing into Celtica, improving the 
laws, and founding a city called Alesia, honoured ever since by 
the Celts as the centre of their kingdom, he is probably giving 
a native myth in terms of Greek mythology.^^ Some native 
god or hero was concerned, and his story fitted that of Her- 
cules, who became popular with the Celts. 



14 INTRODUCTION 

The Celts had beliefs resembling those of the Greeks and 
Romans about incubi. Demons called dusii sought the couches 
of women out of lust, a belief reported by sub-Classical authors. 
The Classical evidence for Celtic belief in divine descent is also 
furnished by the form of several proper names which have 
been recorded, while lineage from a river or river-god is as- 
sociated with the Belgic Viridomar.^^ 

A legend reported by Pliny concerns some natural product, 
perhaps a fossil echinus, in explanation of the origin of which 
this myth was current, or to it an existing serpent-myth had 
been attached. Numerous serpents collected on a day in sum- 
mer and, intertwining, formed a ball with the foam from their 
bodies, after which their united hissings threw it into the air. 
According to the Druids, he who would obtain it must catch it 
on a mantle before it touched the ground and must escape 
hastily, putting running water between himself and the pur- 
suing serpents. The ball was used magically.^^ 
f Classical observers cite vaguely some myths about the other- 
world and they admired profoundly the Celtic belief in im- 
mortality, which, if Lucan's words are correct, was that of the 
soul animating a new body there. Diodorus also affirms this, 
though he compares it with the Py thago rean doctrine of trans- 
migfaj;ion ; 2^ yet in the same passage he shows that thfe dead 
passed to another world and were not_rebQni on-earth. Irish 
mythology tells us nothing about the world of the dead, though 
it has much to say of a go^isUaJid or EJ^i^^ium, to which the 
living were sometimes invited by immortals. This Elysium 
was in distant islands, in the hollow hills, or under the waters. 
Plutarch, on the authority of Demetrius, who may have been a 
Roman functionary in Britain, reports that round Britain are 
many desert islands, named after gods and heroes. Demetrius 
himself visited one island lying nearest these, inhabited by a 
people whom the Britons regarded as sacred, and while he was 
there, a storm arose with fiery bolts falling. This the people 
explained as the passing away of one of the mighty, for when a 



PLATE III 

Gaulish Coins 

1. Coin of the Senones, showing on one side two 
animals opposed, and on the reverse a boar and a 
wolf (?) opposed (cf. Plates II, ii, XXIV). 

2. Gaulish coin, with man-headed horse and bird, 
and, below, a bull ensign (cf. Plates II, 3-5, 9, IX, 
B, XIX, I, 6, XX, B, XXI). 

3. Coin of the Remi, showing squatting divinity 
with a torque in the right hand (cf. Plates VIII, IX, 
XXV), and on the reverse a boar and S-symbol or 
snake. 

4. Armorican coin, with horse and bird. 

5. Coin of the Camutes, with bull and bird. 

6. Gaulish coin from Greek model, with boar. 

7. Gaulish coin of the Senones, with animals 
opposed. 



INTRODUCTION 15 

great soul died, the atmosphere was affected and pestilences 
were caused. Demetrius does not say whither the soul went, 
either to the islands or elsewhere, but islands named after gods 
and heroes suggest the Irish divine Elysium, and this is con- 
firmed by what Demetrius adds, and by what Plutarch reports 
in another work. On one of the islands Kronos is imprisoned, 
and Briareos keeps guard over him,^^ along with many deities 
{8aifiova(i) who are his attendants and servants. What Celtic 
divinities or heroes lurk under these names is unknown, 
but the myth resembles traditions of A r - thur in -AvalQn-(Ellyr 
s lum) , or of ,Fio;Lii_Qr_Arthur sleeping in a liQllQW.hill, waiting 
to start up at the hour of their country's need. Elsewhere 
Plutarch speaks of an island in which the barbarians say that 
Kiquos is imprisoned_by Jupiter in a cavern. There Kronos 
sleeps, fed by birds with ambrosia, while his son lies beside him 
as if guarding him. The surrounding sea, clogged with earth, ap- 
pears to be solid, and people go to the island, where they spend 
thirteen years waiting on the god. Many remain, because there 
is no toil or trouble there, and devote their time to sacrificing, 
singing hymns, or studying legends and philosophy. The cli- 
mate is exquisite, and the island is steeped in fragrance. Some- 
times the god opposes their departure by appearing to them 
along with those who minister to him, and these divine min- 
istrants themselves prophesy or tell things which have been 
revealed to them as dreams of Saturn when they visit his 
cave. Plutarch's alleged informant had waited on the god and 
studied astrology and geometry, and before going to another 
island he carried with him golden cups.^^ In this latter story 
the supposed studies and ritual of the Druids are mingled with 
some distorted tradition of Elysium, and the reference to cups 
of gold carried from the island perhaps points to the myth of 
things useful to man brought from the land of the gods.^° 

The sixth century Byzantine historian Procopius has a 
curious story about the island of "Brittia," which was divided 
by a wall from north to south. West of the wall none could 



i6 INTRODUCTION 

live, so foul was the air, so many the vipers and evil beasts; 
but in its inhabited part dwelt Angles, Frisians, and Britons. 
The island lay between Britannia and Thule, Thule is prob- 
ably Scandinavia; Britannia, which is, strictly speaking, 
Britain, is confused with the region lying between Brittany 
and the mouths of the Scheldt and Rhine. Brittia is Britain; 
the wall is the Roman Wall, shown on Ptolemy's map running 
north and south at the present Scottish border, because Scot- 
land was represented as lying at right angles to England. The 
region beyond the wall, mountainous, forest-clad, and inac- 
cessible, was easily conceived as a sinister place by those who 
heard of it only vaguely. Procopius then says that on the coast 
of the Continent fishermen and farmers are exempt from taxa- 
tion because it is their duty to ferry souls over to Brittia, doing 
this in turn. At midnight they hear a knocking at their door 
and muffled voices calling; but when they reach the shore, they 
see only empty boats, not their own. In these they set out and 
presently perceive that the boats have become laden, the gun- 
wale being close to the water; and within an hour Brittia is 
reached, though ordinarily it would take a day and a night to 
cross the sea. There the boats are invisibly unladen, and al- 
though no one has been seen, a loud voice is heard asking 
each soul his name and country.^^ The Roman poet Claudian, 
writing toward the close of the fourth and the beginning of the 
fifth century of our era, had perhaps heard such a story, though 
he confuses it with that of Odysseus and the shades. ^^ At the 
extremity of the Gaulish coast is a place protected from the 
tides, where Odysseus by sacrifice called up the shades. There 
is heard the murmur of their complaint, and the inhabitants 
see pale phantoms and dead forms flitting about.^^ This 
strictly concerns the Homeric shades, for Classical testimony 
to the Celtic other-world, as well as Irish stories of the return 
of the dead, never suggests "pale phantoms." Claudian may 
have heard some story like that of Procopius, though it is by 
no means certain that the latter is reporting a Celtic belief 



INTRODUCTION 17 

for other peoples than the Celts dwelt in his time opposite 
Britain. Possibly, however, the Celts believed that the dead 
went to distant islands. Even now the Bretons speak of the 
"Bay of Souls" at Raz, at the extreme point of Armorica, while 
folk-lore tells how the drowned are nightly conveyed by boat 
from Cape Raz to the isle of Tevennec.^* If the Celtic dead 
went to an island, this may explain the title said by Pliny, 
quoting Philemon (second century b. c), to have been given 
by the Cimbri to the northern sea, Morimarusam = Mortuum 
Mare or possibly Mortuorum Mare (*' Sea of the Dead") — the 
sea which the dead crossed. The title may refer, however, to an 
unchangeably calm sea, and such a sea has always been feared, 
or to the ice-covered sea, which Strabo ^^ regarded as an im- 
passable spongy mixture of earth, water, and air. The sup-j 
posed Celtic belief in an island of the dead might also explain] 
why, according to PHny, no animal or man beside the Gallicj 
ocean dies with a rising tide ^^ — a belief still current in BritJ 
tany; the dead could be carried away only by an outflowing 
tide. But whether or not the Celts believed in such an island, 
it is certain that no Irish story of the island Elysium connects 
that with them, but associates it only with divine beings and 
favoured mortals who were lured thither in their lifetime. 

In Wales and Ireland, where Roman civilization was un- 
known, mythology had a better chance of survival. Yet here, 
as in Gaul, it was forced to contend with triumphant Chris- 
tianity, which was generally hostile to paganism. Still, curi- 
ously enough, Christian verity was less destructive of Celtic 
myths than was Roman civilization, unless the Insular Celts 
were more tenacious of myth than their Continental cousins. 
Sooner or later the surviving myths, more often fragments than 
finished entities, were written down; the bards and the filid 
(learned poets) took pride in preserving the glories of their 
race; and even learned Christian monks must have assisted in 
keeping the old stories alive. Three factors, however, played 
their part in corrupting and disintegrating the myths. The 



1 8 INTRODUCTION 

first of these was the dislike of Christianity to transmit what- 
ever directly preserved the memory of the old divinities. In 
the surviving stories their divinity is not too closely descried; 
they are made as human as possible, though they are still super- 
human in power and deed; they are tolerated as a kind of 
fairy-folk rather than as gods. Yet they are more than fairies 
and they have none of the wretchedness of the decrepit, skin- 
clad Zeus of Heine's Gods in Exile. Side by side with this there 
was another tendency, natural to a people who no longer wor- 
shipped gods whose names were still more or less familiar. 
They were regarded as kings and chiefs and were brought into 
a genealogical scheme, while some myths were reduced to 
annals of supposititious events. Myth was transmuted into 
pseudo-history. This euhemerizing ^^ process is found in all 
decaying mythologies, but it is outstanding in that of the 
ancient Irish. The third factor is the attempt of Christian 
scribes to connect the mythical past and its characters with 
persons and events of early Scriptural history. 

These factors have obscured Irish divine legends, though 
enough remains to show how rich and beautiful the mythology 
had been. In the two heroic cycles — those of Cuchulainn 
and Fionn respectively — the disturbance has been less, and 
in these the Celtic magic and glamour are found. Some stories 
of the gods escaped these destructive factors, and in them these 
delectable traits are also apparent. They are romantic tales 
rather than myths, though their mythical quality is obvious. 

Two mythical strata exist, one older and purely pagan, in 
which gods are immortal, though myth may occasionally have 
spoken of their death; the other influenced by the annahstic 
scheme and also by Christianity, in which, though the unlike- 
ness of the gods to humankind is emphasized, yet they may be 
overcome and killed by men. The literary class who rewrote 
the myths had less simple Ideals than even the Greek mythog- 
raphers. They imagined some moving situations and majestic 
episodes or borrowed these from the old myths, but they had 



INTRODUCTION 19 

little sense of proportion and were infected by a vicious rhetori- 
cal verbosity and exaggeration. Many tales revel monoto- 
nously in war and bloodshed, and the characters are spoiled by 
excessive boastfulness. Yet in this later stratum the mytho- 
poeic faculty is still at work, inasmuch as tales were written in 
which heroes were brought into relation with the old divinities. 

The main sources for the study of Irish mythology are the 
documents contained in such great manuscripts as the Book 
of Leinster and the Book of the Dun Cow (Leabhar na hUidhre),^^ 
written in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, but based on 
materials of older date. Later manuscripts also contain im- 
portant stories. Floating tales and traditions, fairy- and folk- 
lore, are also valuable, and much of this material has now been 
published. ^^ 

Among the British Celts, or those of them who escaped the 
influence of Roman civilization, the mythological remains are 
far less copious. Here, too, the euhemerizing process has been at 
work, but much more has the element of romance affected the 
old myths. They have become romantic tales arranged, as in 
the Mabinogion, in definite groups, and the dramatis personae 
are the ancient gods, though it is difficult to say whether the 
incidents are myths transformed or are fresh romantic inven- 
tions of a mythic kind. Still, the Welsh Mabinogion is of great 
importance, as well as some parts of Arthurian romance, the / 
poems about Taliesin, and other fragments of Welsh literature. 
The euhemerizing process is still more evident in those portions 
of Geofi'rey of Monmouth's History which tell of the names and 
deeds of kings who were once gods. 

Thus if materials for Irish and British mythology are copious, 
they must be used with caution, for we cannot be certain that 
any one story, however old, ever existed as such in the form of 
a pagan myth. As the mountain-peaks of Ireland or Wales or 
the Western Isles are often seen dimly through an enshrouding 
mist, which now is dispersed in torn wisps, and now gathers 
again, lending a more fantastic appearance to the shattered 



20 INTRODUCTION 

crags, so the gods and their doings are half-recorded and half- 
hidden behind the mists of time and false history and romance. 
Clear glimpses through this Celtic mist are rare. This is not to 
be wondered at when we consider how much of the mythology 
has been long forgotten, and how many hands have worked 
upon the remainder. The stories are relics of a dead past, as 
defaced and inexplicable as the battered monuments of the old 
religion. Romancers, would-be historians. Christian opponents 
of paganism, biographers of saints, ignorant yet half-believing 
folk, have worked their will with them. Folk-tale incidents 
have been wrought into the fabric, perhaps were originally 
part of it. Gods figure as kings, heroes, saints, or fairies, and a 
new mythical past has been created out of the debris of an older 
mythology. There is little of the limpid clearness of the myths 
of Hellas, and yet enough to delight those who, in our turbulent 
modern life, turn a wistful eye upon the past. 

To make matters worse, modern writers on Celtic tradition 
have displayed a twofold tendency. They have resolved every 
story into myths of sun, dawn, and darkness, every divinity or 
hero into a sun-god or dawn-goddess or ruler of a dark world. 
Or those with a touch of mysticism see traces of an esoteric 
faith, of mysteries performed among the initiate. In mediaeval 
Wales the "Druidic legend" — the idea of an esoteric wisdom 
transmitted from old priests and philosophers — formed itself 
among haj f-crazy j£s thusiast s and has been reviv ed in our own 
time by persons of a simlUx g^nwj". Ireland and the West High- 
lands have always been remarkably free of this XLonsense, 
though som£_Celts with a turn for agreeing with their interlocu- 
tor seem to have persuaded at least one mystic that he was on 
the track of esoteric beliefs and ritual there.^° He did not know 
his Celt! The truth is that the mediaeval and later Welsh 
Druidists were themselves in the mythopoeic stage — crude 
Blakes or Swedenborgs — and invented stories of the creed of 
the old Druids which had no place in it and are lacking in any 
document of genuine antiquity, Welsh or Irish. This is true 



PLATE IV 

God with the Wheel 

This deity, who carries S-symbols as well as the 
wheel, was probably a solar divinity (see p. 8; for 
the wheel as a symbol cf. Plate II, i, 3, and for the 
S-symbol Plates II, 2, 4, 7-9, 11, III, 3, XIX, 2-5). 
The statue was found at Chatelet, Haute-Marne, 
France. 



INTRODUCTION 21 

also of the modern "mythological" school. Not satisfied with 
the beautiful or wild stories as they stand, they must mytholo- 
gize them still further. Hence they have invented a pretty but 
ineffectual mythology of their own, which they foist upon our 
Celtic forefathers, who would have been mightily surprised to 
hear of it. The Celts had clearly defined divinities of war, of 
agriculture, of the chase, of poetry, of the other-world, and they 
told romantic myths about them. But they did not make all 
their goddesses dawn-maidens, or transform every hero into a 
sun-god, or his twelve battles into the months of the solar year. 
Nor is it likely that they had mystic theories of rebirth, if that 
was a wide-spread Celtic belief; and existing examples of it 
always concern gods and heroes, not mere mortals. They are 
straightforward enough and show no esoteric mystic origin or 
tendency, any more than do similar myths among savages, nor 
do they set forth philosophic theories of retribution, such as were 
evolved by Pythagorean and Indian philosophy. Modern inves- 
tigators, themselves in the mythopoeic stage, easily reflect back 
their ideas upon old Celtic tales. Just as little had the Celts an 
esoteric monotheism or a secret mystery-cult; and such genu- 
ine notices of their ancient religion or its priests as have reached 
us know nothing of these things, which have been assumed to 
exist by enthusiasts during the last two centuries. 



CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

CHAPTER I 
THE STRIFE OF THE GODS 

THE annalistic account of the groups of people who succes- 
sively came to Ireland, some to perish utterly, others to re- 
main as colonists, represents the unscientific historian's attempt 
to explain the diflFerent races existing there in his time, or of 
whom tradition spoke. He wrote, too, with an eye upon Biblical 
story, and connected the descendants of the patriarchs with the 
folk of Ireland. Three different groups of Noah's lineage arrived 
in successive waves. The first of these, headed by Noah's grand- 
daughter, Cessair, perished, with the exception of her husband. 
Then came the Fomorians, descendants of Ham; and finally 
the Nemedians, also of the stock of Noah, arrived. According 
to one tradition, they, like Cessair's people and another group 
unconnected with Noah — the race of Partholan (Bartholo- 
mew) — died to a man, although another legend says that they 
returned to Spain, whence they had come. Spain figures 
frequ_eiitly-in these annali stic stor ies, and a^cJo,5e._connexion be- 
tween,it-and Ireland is takeji,for granted. This may be a remi- 
niscence of a link by way of trade between the two countries in 
prehistoric days, of which, indeed, arcjiaeology pj:es£nts-&ome 
proof — Possibly, tjDO, early Celtic colonists reached Ireland di- 
rectly frorn Spain, rather than through Gaul and Britain. 
Still another tradition makes Nemedian survivors wander over 
the world, some of their descendants becoming the Britons, 
while others returned to Ireland as a new colonizing group — 
Firbolgs, Fir-Domnann, and Galioin. A thij-d group nf tlipir 

descendants who had learned magi c came to Ire land — the 
III— 3 



24 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

Ti^atjiaJQpJ) a n ?i ]rn Finally the MiLesLaxLS^, the ancestors of 
the Irish, a rrived and conquered the T.uatha-Iie Danann, as 
the^ had defeated theJEjomomiis.^ 

Little of this is actual history, but how much of it is invention, 
and how much is based on mythic traditions floating down from 
the past, is uncertain. What is certain is that the annalists, 
partly as a result of the euhemerizing process, partly through 
misunderstanding, mingled groups of gods with tribes or races 
of men and regarded them as more or less human. These 
various traditions are introductory to the story of the two 
battles of Mag-Tured, enlarged from an earlier tale of a single 
conflict. An interval of twenty-seven years elapsed between the 
twojiialiles, and they were fought in diflferent parts of Ireland 
bearing the same name, one in Mayo and the other in ^Hgo, the 
first battle being fought against the Firbolgs, and the second 
against the Fomarians..,by the Tuatha De Danann . 

Having reached Ireland, the Tuatha De Danann established 
themselves at Mag-Rein in Connaught. The Firbolgs sent a 
huge warrior, Sreng, to parley with them, and to him ap- 
proached Bres, son of Elatha, of the TuaiJia.D£_Danann. The 
warriors gazed long upon each other; then they mutually ad- 
v mired their weapons, and finally exchanged them, Bres receiv- 
\ ing the heavy, broad-pointed spears of the Firbolg, and Sreng 
the light, sharp-pointed lances of Bres. The demand of the in- 
vaders was surrender of the half of Ireland, but to this the Fir- 
Ibolgs would not agree. Meanwhile the T«atha-De-Daimnn, 
Iterrified at the heavy Firbolg spears, retreated to Mag-Tured, 
VBadb, Morrigan, and Macha, three of their women, producing 
frogs, rain of fire, and streams of blood against the Firbolgs. 
By mutual agreement an armistice was arranged for prepara- 
tion, and some from each side even engaged in a hurling match. 
Such were the tactics of the time! Each party prepared a heal- 
ing well for the wounded, in which medicinal herbs were placed. 
Dagda led the forces on the first day, when the Tuatha De 
Danann were defeated; but under the command of Ogma, 



THE STRIFE OF THE GODS 25 

Midir, Bodb Dearg, Diancecht, Aengaba of Norway, Badb, 
Macha, Morrigan, and Danann, they were successful on the 
second day. On the third day Dagda again led, "for in me you \ 
have an excellent god"; on the fourth day badba, bledlochtana, 
and amaite aidgill ("furies," "monsters," "hags of doom") 
cried aloud, and their voices resounded in the rocks, waterfalls, 
and hollows of the earth. Sreng severed the arm of Nuada, 
king of the Xuatha D£J3anann; Bres was slain by Eochaid, 
who, overpowered by thirst, sought water throughout Ireland, 
but the y^\-z^.Y<\^ of the Til a t hri De-J^anann hid all streams from 
him, and he was slain. The Firbolgs, reduced to three hundred, 
were still prepared to fight, but when the Tuatha De Danann 
offered them peace and the province of Connaught, this was 
accepted.^ 

As we shall see, the Tlialiia ^D^ Danann were_gods, and their 
strife against the Firbolgs, a nan=CeItic_giQup, is probably 
based on a tradition of war between incorriingjCdla_and abari- 
g^es- Meanwhile the JCiiatJia De Danann made alliance with 
the Famoiians. Ethne, daughter of Balor, married Cian, son 
of Diancecht, her son being the famous Lug. Nuada's mutila- 
tion prevented his continuing as King, for no maimed person 
could reign; and the women insisted that the Fomorian Bres, 
their adopted son, should receive the throne, since he was son 
of Elatha, the Fomorian King. Eri, sister of Elatha, was 
counted of the Tu.atJia.=D£~-9iaaarH-n, perhaps because their 
mother was also of them, an instance of succession through the 
female line; and this would account for Bres becoming King, 
though these genealogies are doubtless inventions of the annal- 
ists. Bres was son of Elatha and Eri. Such unions of brother 
and sister (or half-sister) are common in mythology and were 
not unknown in royal houses, e. g. in Egypt and Peru, as a 
means of keeping the dynasty pure. One day Eri saw a silver 
boat approaching. A noble warrior with golden locks stepped 
ashore, clad in an embroidered mantle and wearing a jewelled 
golden brooch, and five golden torques round his neck. He 



26 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

carried two silvery pointed spears with bronze shafts, and a 
golden-hilted sword inlaid with silver. Eri was so overcome by 
his appearance that she easily surrendered to him and wept 
bitterly when he rose to leave her. Then he drew from his 
finger a golden ring and bade her not part with it save to one 
whose finger it should fit. Elatha was his name, and she would 
bear a son Eochaid Bres, or ' the Beautiful." At seven years 
old Bres was as a boy of fourteen.^ 

Bres was miserly and caused much murmuring among the 
Tualha De Danann. "Their knives were not greased by him; 
and however often they visited him their breaths did not smell 
of ale." No poets, bards, or musicians were in his household, 
and no champions proved their prowess, save Ogma, who had 
the slavish daily task of carrying a load of fuel, two-thirds of 
which were swept from him by the sea, because he was weak 
through hunger."* Bres claimed the milk of all brown, hairless 
cows, and when these proved to be few in number, he caused 
the kine of Munster to pass through a fire of bracken so that 
they might become hairless and brown,^ this tale being possibly 
connected with the ritual passing of cattle through fires ^t Pel- 
t ane (May T)ay). Another version of the tale, however, makes 
it less pleasant for Bres. He demanded a hundred men's drink 
from the milk of a hornless dun cow or a cow of some other 
colour from every house in Ireland; but by the advice of Lug 
and Findgoll, Nechtan, King of Munster, singed the kine in a 
fire of fern and smeared them with a porridge of flax-seed. 
Three hundred wooden cows with dark brown pails in lieu of 
udders were made, and the pails were dipped in black bog- 
stuff. When Bres inspected them, the bog-stuff was squeezed 
out like milk; but since he was under gets, or tabu, to drink 
whatever was milked, the result of his swallowing so much bog- 
stuff was a gradual wasting away, until he died when traversing 
Ireland to seek a cure. Stokes conjectures that Bres required 
the milk of one-coloured cows as a means of removing his wife's 
barrenness.^ 



THE STRIFE OF THE GODS 27 

Another account of Bres's death tells how Corpre the poet 
came to his house. It was narrow, dark, and fireless, and for 
food the guest received only three small unbuttered cakes. 
Next morning, filled with a poet's scorn, he chanted a satire: 

"Without food quickly on a dish, 
Without a cow's milk whereon a calf grows. 
Without a man's abode under the gloom of night, 
Without paying a company of story-tellers, 
Let that be the condition of Bres." 

This was the first satire made in Ireland, but it had all the 
effect which later belief attributed to satire, and Bres declined 
from that hour. Surrendering his sovereignty and going to his 
mother, he asked whence was his origin; and when she tried 
the ring on his finger, she found that it fitted him. Bres and she 
then went to the Fomorians' land, where] his father recognized 
the ring and upbraided Bres for leaving the kingdom. Bres 
acknowledged the injustice of his rule, but asked his father's 
help, whereupon Elatha sent him to Balor, grandson of Net, 
the Fomorian war-god, and to Indech, who assembled a huge 
force in order to impose their rule on the Tuatha De Danann.^ 
Some curious incidents may be mentioned here. While Bres 
ruled, the Fomorian Kings, Indech, Elatha, and TethYa, bound 
tribute on Ireland and reduced some of the Tuatha De Danann 
to servitude. The Fomorians had formerly exa.cted tribute of 
the Nemedians, and it was collected by one of their women in 
an iron vessel — fifty fills of corn and milk, of butter, and of 
flour. This may be a memory of sacrifice. Ogma had to carry 
fuel, and even Dagda was obliged to become a builder of raths, 
or forts. In the house where he lived was a lampooner named 
Cridenbel who demanded from him the three best bits of his 
ration, and thus Dagda's health suffered; but Oengus, Dagda's 
son, hearing of this', gave him three gold coins to put into Cri- 
denbel's portion. These would cause his death, and Bres would 
be told that Dagda had poisoned him. Then he must tell the 
story to Bres, who would cause the lampooner's stomach to be 



28 CELTIC MYTHOI.OGY 

opened; and if the gold were not found there, Dagda would 
have to die. In the sequel Oengus advised Dagda to ask as 
reward for his rath-hu'Admg only a black-maned heifer; and 
although this seemed weakness to Bres, the astuteness of Oen- 
gus was seen when, after the second battle, the heifer's lowing 
brought to Dagda the cattle exacted by the Fomorians.^ 

This mythical story of Bres's sovereignty, and of the servi- 
tude of beings who are gods, is probably parallel to other myths 
of the temporary eclipse of deities, as when the Babylonian 
high gods were afraid of Tiamat and her brood, or cowered in 
terror before the flood. It may also represent an old nature 
dualism — the apparent paralysis of gods of sunshine and 
fruitfulness in the death and cold of winter; or it may hint at 
some temporary defeat of Celtic invaders, which even their 
gods seemed to share. Whatever the Fomorians be, their final 
defeat was at hand. » 

When Bres retired, Nuada was again made King because his 
hand was restored. Diancecht (a divinity of leechcraft), as- 
sisted by Creidne, god of smith-work, made for him a silver 
hand, but Miach, Diancecht's son, not content with this, ob- 
tained the mutilated hand and by means of such a spell as is 
common to many races — "joint to joint, sinew to sinew" — 
he set it to the stump, caused skin to grow, and restored the 
hand. In another version he made a new arm with a swine- 
herd's arm-bone.^ Through envy Diancecht struck Miach 
four blows, three of which Miach healed, but the fourth was 
fatal. His father buried him, and from his grave sprang as 
many herbs as he had joints and sinews. Airmed, his sister, 
separated them according to their properties, but Diancecht 
confused them so that none might know their right values.^** 
These incidents reflect beliefs about magico-medical skill, and 
the last may be a myth of divine jealousy at man's obtaining 
knowledge. Nuada now made a feast for the gods, and as they 
banqueted, a warrior, coming to the portal, bade the door- 
keepers announce him as Lug, son of Cian, son of Diancecht, 



THE STRIFE OF THE GODS 29 

and of Ethne, Balor's daughter. He was also known as samil- 
ddnach ("possessing many arts"), and when asked rwhat he 
practised, he answered that he was a carpenter, only to hear 
the door-keeper reply, "Already we have a carpenter." In 
succession he declared himself smith, champion, harper, hero, 
poet, magician, leech, cup-bearer, and brazier, but the Tuatha 
De Danann possessed each one of these. Lug, however, be- 
cause he knew all these arts, gained entrance and among other 
feats played the three magic harp-strains so often referred to 
in Irish texts — sleep-strain, wail-strain, and laughter-strain, 
which in turn caused slumber, mourning, and joy.^^ 

In another version of Lug's coming, from The Children of 
Tuirenn {Aided Chlainne Tuirenn), as he approached, "like the 
setting sun was the splendour of his countenance," and none 
could gaze on it. His army was the fairy cavalcade from the 
Land of Promise,^ and with them were his foster-brothers, 
Manannan's sons. Lug rode Manannan's steed, Enbarr, 
fleet as the spring wind, and on whose back no rider could 
be killed; he wore Manannan's lorica which preserved from 
wounds, his breastplate which no weapon could pierce, and his 
sword, the wound of which none survived, while the strength 
of all who faced it became weakness. When the Fomorians came 
for tribute, Lug killed some of them, whereupon Balor's wife, 
Cethlionn, told him that this was their grandson and that it 
had been prophesied that when he arrived, the power of the 
Fomorians would depart. As Lug went to meet the Fomo- 
rians, Bres was surprised that the sun seemed rising in the west, 
but his Druids said that this was the radiance from the face of 
Lug, who cast a spell on the cattle taken for tribute, so that they 
returned to the Tuatha De Danann. When his fairy cavalcade 
arrived, Bres begged his life on condition of bringing over the 
Fomorians, while he offered sun, moon, sea, and land as guar- 
antees that he would not again fight; and to this Lug agreed. 
The guarantee points to an animistic view of nature, for it 
means that sun, etc., would punish Bres if he was unfaithful. ^^ 



30 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

To return to the other account, Nuada gave Lug his throne, 
and for a year the gods remained in council, consulting the wiz- 
ards, leeches, and smiths. Mathgen the wizard announced 
that the mountains would aid them and that he would cast 
them on the Fomorians; the cup-bearer said that through his 
power the Fomorians would find no water in lough or river; 
Figol the Druid promised to rain showers of fire on the foe and 
to remove from them two-thirds of their might, while increase 
of strength would come to the Tuatha De Danann, who would 
not be weary if they fought seven years; Dagda said that he 
would do more than all the others together. For seven years 
weapons were prepared under the charge of Lug.^'* 

At this point comes the episode of Dagda's assignation with 
the war-goddess Morrigan, who was washing in a river, one 
foot at Echumech in the north, the other at Loscuinn in the 
south. This enormous size is a token of divinity in Celtic 
myths, and the place where Dagda and Morrigan met was now 
known as "the couple's bed." She bade him summon the men 
of knowledge and to them she gave two handfuls of the blood 
of Indech's heart, of which she had deprived him, as well as 
valour from his kidneys. These men now chanted spells 
against the Fomorians — a practice invariably preceding 
battle among the Celts. ^^ 

Another incident shows that the Celts, like other races, could 
recount irreverent stories about their gods. Dagda had been 
sent to spy out the Fomorians' camp and to ask a truce. Much 
porridge was made for him, boiled with goats, sheep, and 
swine, and the mess being poured into a hole in the ground, he 
was bidden to eat it under pain of death. Taking a ladle big 
enough for a man and woman to lie in, he began his meal and 
ate it all, after which sleep overcame him, and the Fomorians 
mocked his distended paunch. When he rose, uneasy was his 
movement, but he bravely bore his huge branched fork or club, 
dragging it till its track was like a boundary-ditch, so that men 
call that "the track of Dagda's club." An obscene story fol- 



THE STRIFE OF THE GODS 31 

lows regarding his amour with Indech's daughter, who agreed 
to practise magic against her father's army.^^ 

Before the battle each chief promised Lug prodigies of val- 
our, craftsmanship, or magic — weapons, and armour in unfail- 
ing abundance, enfeeblement and destruction of the enemy, 
the power of satire upon them, magical healing of wounded or 
slain. Lug's two witches said, "We will enchant the trees and 
the stones and the sods of the earth so that they shall become 
a host under arms against the foe"; but Lug was prevented 
from going to the fray, because "they feared an early death for 
the hero owing to the multitude of his arts." Preliminary com- 
bats occurred in which the superior magic of the Tuatha De 
Danann was apparent. Weapons were restored or new ones 
made in a twinkling by Goibniu, Luchtine, and Creidne, 
Goibniu (cf. Old Irish goha, "smith") had promised that though 
the battle lasted seven years, he would replace every broken 
sword or spear-head; no spear-head forged by him would miss, 
and none whom it pierced would continue in life. He kept his 
promise, making weapons by three turns in his forge, and re- 
newed the blunted or broken instruments of war. Elsewhere we 
learn that Goibniu's immortal ale, like nectar and soma, made 
the divinities immortal, ^^ so that he is the equivalent of the 
Greek Hephaistos, god of craftsmen, who poured out nectar 
for the gods at their banquet, and of the Vedic deity Tvastr, 
who made the cup from which the gods drank.^^ Why divine 
smiths should be associated with the drink of the gods is not 
clear, but probably we have here different forms of a myth 
common to the Indo-European peoples. Goibniu is still re- 
membered In Irish folk-tales. 

Creidne, the cerd, or brazier, promised to supply rivets for 
the spears, hilts for the swords, and bosses and rims for the 
shields; he made the rivets in three turns and cast the rings to 
them. Creidne, whom euhemerizing tradition described as hav- 
ing been drowned while bringing golden ore from Spain to 
Ireland, may^be compared with Len Linfiaclach, cerd of the 



32 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

god Bodb, who lived in Loch Lein, making the bright vessels 
of Fand, daughter of Flidais. Every evening he threw his 
anvil eastward as far as a grave-mound at Indeoin na nDese 
and it in turn cast three showers toward the grave, of water, 
of fire, and of purple gems.^^ 

Luchta the carpenter {saer) promised to supply all the shields 
and javelin-shafts required for the battle. These shafts he 
made with three chippings, the third completing them and set- 
ting them in the rings of the spears, or he threw them with 
marvellous accuracy at the sockets of the spear-heads stuck by 
Goibniu in the door-lintels, this being precisely paralleled by 
the art of Caoilte, the survivor of the Feinn.^^ 

The mortally wounded were placed in a well over which 
Diancecht and his children sang spells, or into which he put 
healing herbs; and thus they became whole.^^ The Fomorians 
sent Ruadan, son of Bres and of Brig, daughter of Dagda, 
to discover the reason of these things; and a second time he 
was sent to kill one of the divine craftsmen. He obtained one 
of the magic spears and wounded Goibniu, who slew Ruadan 
and then entered the healing well, while Brig bewailed her 
son with the first death-keen heard in Ireland. Here, as so 
often, the origin of mourning chants and runes is ascribed to 
divinities. ^^ 

Before the battle Lug escaped from his guards and heart- 
ened the host by circumambulating them on one foot with one 
eye closed, chanting a spell for their protection — the attitude 
of the savage medicine-man, probably signifying concentra- 
tion. Then came the clash of battle, "gory, shivering, crowded, 
sanguineous, the river ran in corpses of foes." Nuada and Ma- 
cha were slain by Balor, who possessed an evil eye, or was a 
personification of the evil eye, so much feared by the Celts. 
Once when his father's Druids were concocting magic potions, 
the fumes gave his eye poisonous power, and his eyelid was 
raised by four men, but only on the battle-field, where no army 
could resist it. When Lug appeared, Balor desired it to be 



THE STRIFE OF THE GODS 33 

lifted, but Lug cast a stone at the eye, so that it was carried 
through his head, blasting some of his own men.^^ In a ballad 
account of this, Balor was beheaded by Lug, but asked him to 
set the head upon his own and earn his blessing. Fortunately 
for himself, however. Lug set it on a hazel, and it dropped 
poison which split the hazel in two. The tree became the abode 
of vultures and ravens for many years, until Manannan caused 
it to be dug up, when a poiso-nous vapour from its roots killed 
and wounded many of the workmen. Of the wood Luchta 
made a shield for Manannan, which became one of the famous 
shields of Erin. It could not be touched in battle and it always 
caused utter rout. Finally it became Fionn's shield. ^^ 

The war-goddess Morrigan sang a magic rune to hearten 
the host, and the battle became a rout for the Fomorians, 
though not before Ogma and Indech had fallen in single com- 
bat. Bres was found unguarded by Lug and others, and made 
three offers for his life; but two of these — that Ireland's kine 
should always be in milk, and that corn would be reaped every 
quarter — were rejected. Life was offered him, however, if he 
would tell how the men of Erin should plough, sow, and reap; 
and when Bres said that these things should always be done on 
a Tuesday, he was set free.^^ In another account four Fomorians 
escaped, ruining corn, milk, fruit, and sea produce; but on 
November Eve (Samhain) they were expelled by Bodb, Midir, 
Oengus, and the Morrigan, so that never more should their dep- 
redations occur.^^ This points to the conception of the Fomo- 
rians as powers of blight; that of Bres suggests rather that they 
were pre-Celtic gods of fertility. 

Two curious incidents, revealing the magic powers of weap- 
ons, which were worshipped by the Celts, and of musical instru- 
ments, occur here. Ogma captured the sword of the war-god 
Tethra, and when unsheathed it told the deeds it had done, 
as was the custom with swords in those days, for, as the Chris- 
tian compiler adds, "the reason why demons spake from weap- 
ons was because weapons were then worshipped and acted as 



34 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

safe-guards." The other incident tells how Dagda's harp was 
carried off and was found by Lug, Ogma, and Dagda in the 
house where Bres and his friends were. No melody would sound 
from it until Dagda uttered a charm; but then the harp came 
to him, killing nine men on its way, after which he played the 
three magic strains of sleep, mourning, and laughter.-^ This 
harp resembles that of Teirtu in the Welsh tale of Kulhwch 
and Olwen, which played or stopped playing of itself when so 
desired. 2^ 

Thus the Tuatha De Danann conquered, and the Morrigan 
proclaimed the victory to the royal heights of Ireland, its hosts 
of the side, its chief waters, and its river-mouths — a reminis- 
cence of the animistic view or the personalization of nature. 
Then she sang of the world's end and of the evils to come — 
one of the few eschatological references in Irish mythology, 
though it is most likely of Christian origin.^® 

This curious story is undoubtedly based on old myths of 
divine wars, but what these denoted is uncertain. Both Tuatha 
De Danann and Fomorians are superhuman. Vaguely we dis- 
cern behind the legend a strife of anthropomorphic figures of 
summer, light, growth, and order, with powers of winter, dark- 
ness, blight, and disorder. Such powers agree but ill. There 
is strife between them, as, to the untutored eye, there is strife 
in the parts of nature for which they stand; and this apparent 
dualism is reflected on the life of the beings who represent the 
powers of nature. All mythologies echo the strife. The Baby- 
lonian Marduk and the gods battle with Tiamat and her brood; 
gods and Titans (or Jotuns), Re' and 'Apop, fight, and those 
hostile to gods of light and growth, gods dear to man's heart, 
are represented in demoniac guise. If Tuatha De Danann and 
Fomorians were both divine but hostile groups of the Irish 
Celts, the sinister character of the latter would not be for- 
gotten by the annalists, who regarded both with puzzled eyes 
and sought vainly to envisage them as mortals. Or, again, the 
two may be hostile sets of deities, because divinities respec- 



THE STRIFE OF THE GODS 35 

tlvely of Celts and aborigines. The Fomorlans are, in fact, called 
gods of the menial F^rbolgs, who are undoubtedly an aborig-l 
inal race, while Joniorians are described in later Chmtian' 

times as lyigrR clous and demoniac, unlike the Tuatha-De 

Danaxift^and the pagaa-Celts must already have regarded them 
a§-ev41r. The gods of a conquering race are often regarded as 
hostile to those of the aborigines, and vice versa, and now new 
myths arise. In either case the close relationship in which the 
groups stand by marriage or descent need not be an invention 
of the compiler. Pagan mythology Is Inconsistent, and com- 
promise Is Inevitable. Conquerors and conquered tend to 
coalesce, and this is true of their gods; or, as different tribes of 
one race now intermarry, now light, so also may their evil and 
their friendly divinities. Zeus was son of the Titan Kronos, 
yet hostile to him. Vile, Ve, and Odin, father of the gods, were 
sons of a giant, and the gods fought with giants. Other paral- 
lels might be cited; but what is certain is that gods of an 
orderly world — of growth, craftsmanship, medicine, poetry, 
and eloquence. If also of magic and war — are opposed to 
beings envisaged, on the whole, as harmful. In this combat 
some of the gods are slain. If this were told of them in the old 
myths, probably It did not affect the continuance of their cult. 
Pagan gods are mortal and immortal; their life is a perennial 
drama, which ever begins and ends, and Is ever being renewed 
— a reflexion of the life of nature Itself. 

In another story the strife of powers of light and growth with 
those of darkness and blight Is suggested, though the latter are 
euhemeristlcally described as mortals. Three men came from 
Athens with their mother Carman — Valiant, Black, and Evil, 
sons of Extinction, who was son of Darkness, and he son of Ail- 
ment. By her incantations Carman ruined every place where 
she came, while her sons destroyed through plundering and dis- 
honesty. They came to Ireland to blight the corn of the Tuatha 
De Danann, who sent against them Ai, a poet, Cridenbel the 
lampooner, Lugh Laebach, a wizard, and Bechuille, a witch, 



36 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

some of whom have already played a part in the story of Mag- 
Tured. By spells they drove the men oversea, but not until 
they gave the Seven Things which they served as security that 
they would not return, and left their mother as a hostage. She 
died of grief, begging the gods to hold an annual festival at her 
burial-place and to call it by her name; and as long as they 
kept it the Leinstermen were promised plenty of corn, fruit, 
milk, and fish.^° No explanation is given as to what the 
mysterious " Seven Things " were. 

In other tales groups of gods are seen at strife with each other 
and in their conflict they were sometimes not too mighty to 
seek the help of heroes. An example of this occurs in the story 
/of CjkJbulainn's visit to F.ly sJTipi. In spite of the prowess of the 
god Labraid, sung by the goddesses Fand and Liban, the time 
has come when he must give battle to supernatural foes — 
Senach the Unearthly, Eochaid, Eol, and Eogan the Stream, 
the last mentioned in the Book of Invasions {Leabhar Gabdla) as 
hostile to the Tuatha Dp Danann.^^ These were united, appar- 
ently, with Manannan, whose consort Fand, Labraid's sister, 
had left him.^^ Labraid was afraid, for the contest would be of 
doubtful issue. Glad indeed would he be of the hero Cuchu- 
lainn's aid, and for that assistance he was willing to give him 
his sister Fand. When Cuchulainn arrived in the gods' domain 
and was welcomed by Labraid, they gazed on the vast armies of 
the foe, while two ravens, skilled in Druidic secrets, announced 
the hero's presence to the hosts. Next morning Eochaid went 
to wash at a stream, when Cuchulainn slew him; and a great 
fight followed between Cuchulainn and Senach, who also was 
slain. Cuchulainn then put forth all his might, and so great 
was the carnage that Labraid himself entreated him to end it; 
and then Labraid sang: 

"A mighty host, with multitudes of horses. 
Attacked me on every side; 

They were the people of Manannan, son of the sea, 
Whom Eogan had called to his aid." 



THE STRIFE OF THE GODS 37 

Another instance occurs in the story of Loegaire, son of the 
King of Connaught. The people of Connaught were met in 
assembly near the Loch of the Birds in the plain of Ai, when a 
stranger approached them through the mist which rose from 
the lake. He wore a purple cloak, and his yellow hair fell upon 
his shoulders. A golden-hilted sword hung at his side; in his 
right hand he carried a five-pointed spear, and on his left arm 
a shield with a golden boss. Loegaire welcomed him, and he 
told how he had come from the gods' land to seek the aid of 
warriors. Fiachna was his name, and he had slain his wife's 
ravisher, but had been attacked by his nephew, Goll, son of the 
king of the fort of Mag Mell, and in seven battles had been 
vanquished, so that in view of a new conflict he had come for 
succour. He sang of the beauty of the land and of the bloody 
combats fought there among the people of majestic race, and 
how silver and gold awaited those who would help him. Beau- 
tiful were the divine warriors, with blue eyes of powerful sight, 
teeth brilliant as glass, and red lips. Mighty in conflict, In 
their assemblies they sang In melodious verse of learned mat- 
ters. ^^ Fiachna disappeared Into the lake, and now Loegaire 
appealed to his men. Fifty warriors plunged with him into the 
water and in the divine land under the loch joined Fiachna 
against his foe, besieging the fort of Mag Mell, where his wife 
was a prisoner. The defenders released her, and she followed 
the vanquishers, singing of her love for Goll. Fiachna gave 
his daughter. Sun Tear, to Loegaire, and each of his men also 
received a wife. For a year they remained in the divine land, 
until they became home-sick; and as they left him Fiachna 
bade them mount on horseback and not alight on the earth if 
they wished to return to him. The people of Connaught re- 
joiced to see them again, for sorely had they mourned them, 
but now Loegaire announced their return to the gods' land, 
nor would he remain, although his father offered him the king- 
dom, its gold, and its women. The unmoved son sang of the 
divine land, where beer fell in showers, and every army was of 



38 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

a hundred thousand warriors, while as one went from kingdom 
to kingdom, the melodious music of the gods was heard. He 
told of his goddess wife and those of his comrades and of the 
cauldrons and drinking-horns taken from the fort; for one 
night of the nights of the sid he would not accept his father's 
kingdom. With these words he quitted the king for ever and 
returned to Mag Mell, there to share the sovereignty with 
Fiachna — a noble divine reward to a mortal.^^ In the heroic 
cycle of Fionn other instances of heroes helping gods will be 
found. 

War between different divine groups is also found in the 
story of Caibell and Etar, Kings of the side (divine or fairy- 
folk), each of whom had a beautiful daughter. Two Kings who 
sought the maidens in marriage were offered battle for them. 
If, however, the combat was fought in the sid, the sid would be 
polluted — an idea contrary to that of these other instances of 
war in the gods' land; and if the sid-iolk were seen among 
men, they would no longer be invisible at will. The fight, 
therefore, took place at night, lest there should be no distinc- 
tion between them and men; and the side took the form of deer. 
So terrible was the struggle that four hillocks were made of the 
hoofs and antlers of the slain; and to quell it, water broke 
forth from a well and formed Loch Riach, into which if white 
sheep are cast every seventh year at the proper hour, they 
become crimson. Etar alone of the kings survived.^^ 

The_Oiriatian scribes were puzzkd_x»ver the Tjialha^_Pe 
Dguann. The earliest reference to them says that because of 
thejrjcnowledge they were banisfa^d from -heaven, arriving in 
Irela nd in clouds and mists — the smoJ^e of their burning ships, 
s^ys an euhemerizing tradition. Eochaid ua Flainn, in the tenth 
century, calls them "plxantonis" {siabhra) and asks whe-ther 
thev came frornh pavpr^ ny , Pfrth; wprp tVipy dr^"'^"'^ ^f "^" 
They were affiliated tq J^ph^t yet regardeiL-as demons in- the 
Book,,nJ Invasions. Another tradition makes them a branch 
of the descendants of Nemed who, after being in the Njorthern 



THE STRIFE OF THE GODS 39 

isles learning wizardry, returned to Ireland. The annalists 
treated them more or less as men; official Qiristianity.^more or 
less as_d£inQns; popular belief and romance as aJdnd.of beau- 
tifuLiairy-jaca.with much of their pld divine-aspect. 

D'Arbois translates Tua^ha DA_£>anann as "peopleu-of the 
god—ydiose mother is called .Qanu";^^ Stokes renders it "folk 
or folks of th€-godiie&&-XXanu " ; ^^ Stern prefers to vegSLrdDjinann 
as a later addition and to take the earlier name as TtuUkaMloT 
££2L-X^ — "■Oxe^-diuine tribe/' or "the men of., the god." ^s 
Three insignificant members of the group, Brian, luchar, and 
lucharba, are sometimes called "three gods of Danu"; and 
hence also, perhaps, the whole group is designated "men of 
the three gods." Bri an, l uchax^-and-Iucharba are also termed 
tri.-dh-dana, or "tjjree gcuis_.-Q£-Ji»," i. e. "knowledge," or 
"fate." Danand— ^Dianu) is mentioned with Bechuille as a 
separate-goddess, and both are called Josteirjnotkers of the 
gods^ Cormac!s_ G/ojiary knows- nothing of Danu^ but s p eaks 
of a godde^§[Axmj-mat&ljimmMMlMnim sium. — " Lt was well she 
nurse4-th#-gGds" — while he refers to two hills iniLerryas "the 
papa-oiAnu," which a later glossary calls "thg.p/3ps of Danu." 
Ireland is called lath n!Anann, aad-Anu-is mejxtioned with 
Macha^ Mon%an^and Badb, the jstanrgoddesses, though other 
passages give Panu along- with- these. PQSsiblyJDa.nu is a mis- 
take for__,All!i^ through confusion wkh«^i2, "kjaowledge," 
knowledge as a function of-BriaHjJjichar^ and- lucharba being 
personified as Danu, so that they would then be called gods or 
sons of^Da4i% though -ikey were- actually— sons- oflBrigit. As 
Stem points out, Danu can scarcely be mother of the whole 
group, since she herself is daughter of Delbaeth, who was 
brother of Dagda, Ogma, Bres, etc. If Anu was mother of the 
group, the likeness of her name to Danu would also lead to the 
mistake; and Anu as goddess is perhaps a personification of 
Ireland, a kind of earth mother. On the whole, the general 
relationship of the euhemerized gods evolved by the annalists 

is as mythical as the pagan stories themselves. 

Ill — 4 



40 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

In the storj'" of The Children of Tuirenn Brian, luchar, and 
lucharba are sons of Tuirenn, son of Ogma. One day Cian, at 
enmity with them, saw them approaching. Striking himself 
with a Druldic wand, he became a pig, but Brian noticed this 
and changed himself and his brothers Into hounds which chased 
and killed Clan with stones, because he said that weapons 
would tell the deed to his son. They burled his body seven 
times ere the earth ceased to reject It. Lug, Clan's son, was 
told of this deed by the earth, and he forced the children of 
Tuirenn to bring many magical treasures. In getting which 
danger was Incurred. By their father's advice they crossed the 
sea in Manannan's canoe and succeeded in obtaining the treas- 
ures, but now had to give "three shouts on Cnoc Mlodh- 
chaoin," a hill on which Miodhchaoin and his sons prohibited 
all shouting. Here, then, they were wounded by these men, 
and their father asked Lug for the magic pig's skin which 
healed all wounds. He refused it, even when Brian was carried 
before him, and thus the murderers perished miserably.^^ 

Most of the names of the chief gods have already been men- 
tioned — Dagda or Eochaid OUathair, who in one place Is called 
an "earth god" to th&~-Tuatlia,D£_Danann, and also their 
"god of wizardry" — probably a deity of fruitfulness and fer- 
tility; Oengus; Nuada; Ogma, god of poetry; Goibniu, god of 
smiths; Creidne, of braziers; Diancecht, of medicine; Manan- 
nan, son of Ler; MIdir; Bodb Dearg; Lug, perhaps a sun-god; 
and other lesser divinities. Of,goddesses there are Ami nr T)^nu; 
■Bxigit, goddess of poetry and primitive culture; Etain; and the 
war-goddesses — Morrigan, Macha, and Neman, while Badb 
constitutes a fourth or sometimes takes the place of one of the 
triple group. Th^Jjuatha De. Danann had power ovex_agrI- 
culluie. aad_ciittle, but they had other functions, while all of 
them had greal ma gic poten cy. Unfortunately few myths 
about these functions exist, and their precise nature must be 
matter of conjecture. The mythlco-magical nature of the 
gods' possessions survives even in records which regard them 



PLATE V 
Smertullos 

This deity is perhaps a god of the underworld, 
particularly as the serpent is a chthonian creature. 
See p. 158. From an altar found at Notre Dame, 
Paris. For other Celtic deities of Elysium see 
Plates VII-IX, XII-XIV, XVI, XXV-XXVI. 



THE STRIFE OF THE GODS 41 

as mortals. The preface to the story of the battle of Mag-Tured 
tells how from Falias was brought the stone of Fal, which 
roared under every king who would assume the sovereignty. 
Fro m Qorias w as broughj ^. T.ug' s s pear ; no battle was ever won 
agai nst it o r against him who_JiQie_it. Fro m F;^ ^ias_cajne 
Nua.da.^SESWQird, which none could escape wh en it was drawn. 
From__M]i[i.'3:S-,came Qlagd^'s ^gnldrnn. from^.which. na-com- 
panyL_£ver- went^away__uiithankful.'*° T heir magic foo d- and 

other ppggp'^ginnR wi11 b^ mpntinnpd ]afer. Some things of 

which no myths remain are said to have been in the Brug na 
Boinne — the bed of Dagda, the two paps of Morrigan, the 
comb and casket of Dagda's wife (i. e. two hills), the stone wall 
of Oengus, the shot of Midir's eye, and the like. 



CHAPTER II 
TUATHA DE DANANN AND MILESIANS 

THE annalistic account of the conquest of the TuatKa^De 
Danann by the Milesia ns cannot conceal the divinity of 
the former nor the persistence of the belief in Druidic magic 
and supernatural power. M. d'Arbois has shown that the 
scheme which makes the Tuatha De Danann masters of _I^re- 
land jor one hundred and^ixty-nine years untiljthe- Milesians 
came Ij^the invention of Gilla Coemain, who die d in 1072 . 
The Be^h-i^ Invasions adopted it, and it assumes that the gods 
reigned in succession as kings until 1700 b. c. Even in Gilla 
Coemain's time, however, this scheme was not always ac- 
cepted, for Tigernach in his Annals knows no historic Irish date 
before 305 b. c, while current tales showed that the gods were 
still alive at a much later date, e. g. in the time of C onchob ar 
and Ciicliulainii^alleged IrisJLxQn tempQ.r -a. r i es . of Chris t.^ 

When the Milpf^^j^ns arriypd^ three-Kings nf tho Tiiat^q D^ 
Danana-xuled — MacCuill ("SqiljqI the Hazel"), MacCecht 
("SDn_Qf_the. Plough"), and AladGieine ("Son^f the Sun"), 
married respectively to Banba, Fotla, aiidJElriu, whose names 
are ancient names of Ireland, the last still surviving as "Erin." 
Were these old eponymous goddesses, from whom parts of 
Ireland were supposed to have taken their names, or were they 
inventions of the annalists, derived from titles given to the 
country? The former is suggested by an incident in the story. 
The three Kings may have been gods of nature and agriculture, 
and in fighting th&^^lilciians they were respectively slain by 
Ebcr^Airem ("Ploughman"), and Amairgcn, siftget-of-spells 
and giver of judgements. Thc^^i^lcaLajis were descendants of a 



TUATHA DE DANANN AND MILESIANS 43 

Si^jfiMail, noble expelled from Egypt, who came toiSpiain, where 
his descendant_Bx.egon built a tQjver and was fathemor grand- 
father of ^il^, whose fatheris sometimes calledJBile. Another 
son, Ith, gazing one evening from the tower, saw thexQiSSt of 
Ir eland . With ninety followers he sailed thither and was wel- 
comed-byuhfi-iings, whoJieggedJiim to_. settle .a dispute. Very 
different was his fate from that of folk-tale heroes called in to 
adjust quarrels. While bidding the Kings act according to jus- 
tice, he so praised the fertility of the land that they suspected 
him of designs upon it and slew him. His followers carried 
his body to^Spain^^and the chiefs of the Milesiajis, resolving 
to avenge him, sailed to Ireland, but the^Tuatha De Danann 
made a magic mist, so that the island appeared like a hog's 
back — hence its name Muic-Inis, or "Pig Island." At last 
they landed, and the poet Amairgen, son of Mile, sang: — 

"I am a wind at sea, 
I am a wave of the sea, 
I am a roaring of the sea, 
I am an ox in strength, 
I am a bird of prey on a cliff, 
I am a ray of the sun, 
I am an intelligent navigator, 
I am a boar of fierceness, 
T am a lake on a plain, 
I am an effective artist, 
I am a giant with a sharp sword hewing down an army," etc.^ 

Some see in this a species of Celtic pantheism, but if so it is 
pantheism of a curious kind, for it is, rather, the vain-glorious 
bombast of the Celt, to which there are parallels in Welsh 
poems, where Taliesin speaks of the successive forms which 
he has assumed. The comparison should not be made with the 
pantheism of the Irishman Erigena, but with the bragging 
utterances of savage medicine-men. 

The Milesians met in succession Banba, Fotla, and Eriu, 
each of whom asked that they would call the isle after her 
name. The Kings then begged an armistice, ostensibly to dis- 



44 CELTIC AIYTHOLOGY 

cuss the question of battle or capitulation, but really in order 
to give their firi.iirls time to prepare inc antations; while they 
agreed to accept the judgement of Amairgen, save that, if it 
were false, he must die. Amairgen then told the Milesians that 
they must embark for the magic distance of nine waves; and 
if they succeeded in returning, the land would be theirs. This 
was the first judgement ever given in Ireland. The Milesians 
now returned to their ships, but no sooner had they gained the 
desired distance than the Hcyids^nd poets of the gods raised a 
storm. Eber recognized it as a Druidic storm, which did not 
rage beyond the top of the masts; and Amairgen now invoked 
the aid of the natural features of Erin — an archaic animistic 
rune, embedded in the later story, and one which preserves a 
primitive stage of thought: 

"I invoke thee, Erin, 
Brilliant, brilliant sea, 
Fertile, fertile hill. 
Wood with valleys, 
Flowing, flowing stream," etc. 

Now the storm ceased, and Eber joyfully boasted that he 
would strike the people of Erin with spear and sword; but that 
moment the tempest burst forth again, scattering and wreck- 
ing the ships, and drowning many. The survivors l anded at t he 
B®y4Ui_and g ave battle to the Tuath^ T)^ Danann The three 
queens are said to have created a magic army which was a 
delusion to the Milesians,^ as Lug's witches had done to the 
Fomorians; but in spite of this the Tuatha De Danann were 

defeated. 

"We boldly gave battle 
To the sprites (siabhra) of the isle of Banba, 
Of which ten hundred fell together 
By us, of the Tuatha Dc Danann." 

At another conflict a further rout took place, in which the 
three Kings and Queens were slain; and it was now that,r-the 
survivors of the Tnathg Tin Danann took refuge in the under- 
grqund sid^ the Miirsinns remainin g ma sters of Ireland.'' 



TUATHA DE DANANN AND MILESIANS 45 

On whatever this account Is based, it is not itself an ancient 
pagan myth, for gods worshipped by men are not defeated by 
them or by their supposititious ancestors. By the annalists, 
real races, imaginary races, and divine groups were regarded 
more or less from one standpoint; all were human and might 
be made to light each other. Next came the question — How 
were the old gods abandoned, and why had they been, or were 
even now, supposed popularly to live in the sidF It was known 
that the Christianized tribes had forsaken the gods, though 
these had come to be regarded by them as a kind of fairy race 
living out of sight, to whom in time of need and stib rosa they 
might appeal. Obviously, then, Christianity must have caused 
their defeat. To this idea we may trace one source of the ac- 
count just summarized. It is, in effect, what is said in the 
Colloquy with the Ancients {Acallamh na Senorach), in which, 
regardless of the annalistic scheme, the gods are powerful long 
after their supposed defeat. Caoilte, survivor of the Feinn into 
the days of St. Patrick, says that soon the Tiialha D4Iianann 
will be reduced in power, for the saint "will relegate them to 
the foreheads of hills and rocks, unless that now and again 
thou see some poor one of them appear as transiently he re- 
visits the earth," i. e. the haunts of men.^ Hence, perhaps, the 
Colloquy elsewhere represents them as possessing not so much 
land as will support themselves.^ In St. Patrick's Life this 
victory is dramatically represented. He went to Mag Slecht, 
where stood an image of Cenn Cruaich ("Head of the Mound"), 
covered with gold and silver, and twelve others covered with 
bronze. The chief image bowed downward when he raised his 
crozier, and the earth swallowed the others, while their in- 
dwelling demons, cursed by the saint, fled to the hill. 

Why, then, was the defeat ascribed to the Milesians .? Of / 
the different hostile Celtic groups dwelling in different parts of/ 
Ireland, two at last became pre-eminent shortly before St. Pat 
rick's time, governed by great dynastic families and reigning 
respectively at Cashel and Tara . It was for their aggran- 



46 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

dizement that the legend of descent from Mile and his ances- 
tors was invented; but as the ^ods had come to be re garde d as 
a powerful race who had conqu ere d e a r li e r. ja ce s in Ireland, 
so iL became necessary to show.Jiiat^the-A'l.ilesians had over- 
come them. This pushed__tlie Milesians back to remote anti- 
quity and showed that they had been masters of Trpbnd RJ nre 
170CL-B.C., while the -Tuatka De .Danann, whose p.aw^iL-had 
passed at the coming of Christianity, were now alleged to have 
been conquered by them. Thus the central theory of those 
mediaeval reconstructors of Irish history was " that- tr^land 
had -been subjected to the Milesian race lor ages before the 
ChrislLaiL.£ra." Later,_jLh.e Ulster heroes were brought, into 
relatiQn_ship with Mile, as at last were aUthe Irish aristocracy.^ 
M^^lc {I'^tin wi'/^f, "soLiier") and Bile are jn en of-Stra w 
withjio place in the older mythology, and hence the attempts 
of Rhys and -d'Arbois to equate Bile with Balor and with a 
Celtic Dispater, as god of death and ancestor_Qf_Lh£_Celts, are 
nothing-but modern mythologizing. The account of the con- 
quest doubtless made use of earlier conceptions of supernatural 
power and magic, while still apt to consider the Tuatha De 
Danann as somehow diflFerent from men {siabhra, "sprites"), 
this being the popular view and also current in literary tales 
embodying older myths. The gods were a superhuman race, 
the side, helping men on occasion; and this influenced the 
official view, for euhemeristic documents tell how, after their 
defeat, the Tuatha De Danann retired— ta- subterranean pal- 
acesr^merging now apxithen to help or to harm mortals. Even 
the Milesians were not yet free of their power, especially that 
of Dagda. Their corn and milk were being destroyed by the 
T'tAtha DeJDlanann, and to prevent this in future they made 
friends with Dagda, so that now these things were spared to 
them.^ This story seems to be the late form of the earlier 
mythic idea that corn and milk depend on the gods, who, when 
ofl"ended by men, withhold these gifts. They were also obtained 
by sacrifice, e. g. by off"crings of children and animal firstlings 



TUATHA DE DANANN AND MILESIANS 47 

to Cenn Cruaich;^ and elsewhere we find that the Fomorians 
exacted two-thirds of their corn and milk annually from the 
Nemedians.^" Perhaps there is here a mingling of the idea of 
destruction by gods of blight with that of the withholding of 
such gifts and with that of the offering of these things. A sur- 
vival of such sacrifices occurs in the food and milk left out for 
the fairies in Ireland and in the West Highlands. 

The functions of some of the divinities as controllers of fer- 
tility are suggested by references of this character, as well as 
by the symbols on Gaulish monuments; and some folk-lore 
collected by Mr. D. Fitzgerald in Limerick shows how the mem- 
ory of these functions vaguely persisted under a romantic dress. 
Cnoc Aine {Knockainy, or "Aine's Hill") has always been con- 
sidered the dwelling of Aine, queen of the fairies of South Mun- 
ster and daughter of Eogabal, of the Tuatha De Danann. Aine, 
"the best-hearted woman that ever lived," is still seen in Loch 
Guirr or on Cnoc Aine. She married Lord Desmond after he 
had captured her — the usual fairy bride incident — and bore 
him a son. Both she and the son left him, but appeared from 
time to time afterward, the son becoming Earl of Desmond in 
due course. Once he spoke to his mother about the barrenness 
of the hill, and next morning it was planted with pease set by 
her at night — a significant hint of her functions. Remnants 
of the agricultural ritual survived into last century in the form 
of a procession round the hill on St. John's Eve with clears — 
bunches of straw tied on poles and lit, these being afterward 
carried through fields and cattle to bring luck to both. One 
year this was neglected, but a mysterious procession, with clears, 
headed by Aine, was seen on the hill. On another occasion girls 
who had remained after the usual procession had gone met 
Aine, who thanked them for the honour done to her but begged 
them to depart as " they wanted the hill to themselves," " they " 
being Aine's retinue, seen by the girls through a ring which 
she produced." Aine was thus obviously associated with 
fertility-rites. 



48 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

It now remains to be seen how, according to the annalistic 
account, after their defeat and retirement to the hollow hills 
or sid, the gods divided these among themselves, while at the 
same time one of their number acted as king. 



CHAPTER III 
THE DIVISION OF THE SID 

CELTIC deities may have been associated in pagan times 
with hills and pre-historic tumuli, especially those near 
the Boyne; and within these was the subterranean land of the 
gods, who also dwelt on distant islands. If this were the case, 
it would help to explain why mounds were regarded as the re- 
treats of the Tuatha De Danann, and why they are still sup- 
posed to emerge thence as a kind of fairies. If the folk believed 
that the old gods had always been associated with mounds, 
it was easy for the euhemeristic writers to evolve a legend of 
their having retired there after being defeated by the Milesians. 

Within these hills and mounds were their gorgeous palaces, 
replete with all Elysian joys. These hollow hills were known as 
sid, a word possibly cognate with Latin sedes, and hence per- 
haps meaning "seats of the gods"; and their divine inhabit- 
ants were the des side, fir side, mnd side, "the people [or "men" 
or "women"] of the sid,'" or simply "the sidey These are 
everywhere regarded as the Tuatha De Danann or their de- 
scendants. Men used to worship the side, says St. Fiacc's 
hymn, while the daughters of King Loegaire regarded St. 
Patrick and his white-robed bishops as des side, appearing on 
earth. ^ In later times the side were held to be fairies and were 
called by various names, but these fairies closely resemble 
the earlier side, the Tuatha De Danann, while they are not 
necessarily of small stature. In this they are very like th.& fees 
of mediaeval French belief — romantic survivals of earlier 
goddesses. 

In some stories the side are associated both with the sid and 



50 CELTIC \nTHOLOGY 

with the island Elysium, these being regarded as synonymous 
— the goddess with whom Connla elopes is of the des side, yet 
she comes from the island overseas. The confusion may be 
due to the fact that the gods were supposed to have various 
dwelling-places, not necessarily to the priority of one belief 
over the other. On the other hand, the Mesca Ulad, or Intoxi- 
cation of the Ulstermen, says that after their defeat the Tua- 
tha De Danann went underground to speak with the side,^ 
although this may be only the confused notion of an annalist 
who knew of the side, yet regarded the Tuatha De Danann as 
human. 

The mingled romantico-annalistic view was that the Tuatha 
De Danann retired to the sid. An early text, The Conquest of 
the Sid {De Gahail int sida), tells how Dagda apportioned the 
sid among them, his son Oengus, who was absent, being omitted. 
This story is clearly based upon an earlier myth which narrates 
how the chief god divided their various spheres among the 
divinities, as the Babylonian Marduk prepared the mansions 
of the deities and made them inhabit these as their strongholds. 
Of Dagda's sid another document says: 

" Behold the sid before your eyes, 
It is manifest to you that it is a king's mansion 
Which was built by the firm Dagda; 
It was a wonder, a court, an admirable hill." ^ 

This was the Brug na Boinne. Oengus Mac Ind ()c, or " Son 
of the Young Ones," viz. Dagda and Boann, was then with his 
foster-father Midir, but soon claimed his abode as Esau did his 
blessing. The claim, however, could not be granted, whereupon 
Oengus asked to spend the night in Dagda's palace, to which his 
father agreed, granting him also the next day. When this had 
elapsed, Oengus was bidden to go, but refused, because, time 
being composed of day and night, his tenancy must be per- 
petual. Thus Dagda was dispossessed; and the sid, passing to 
Oengus, took his name, Brug Maic Ind (^c* 

In another version of this story from the Book of Fermoy, in- 



PLATE VI 

A AND B 

Plan of the Brug na Boinne 

1. General view of the tumulus. 

2. Cross-section of the mound. 

3. Plan of the central chamber. 

4. View of the stone-work of the Brug and its 
entrance, after the removal of the earth. 

5. General ground-plan of the Brug. 

See also Plate I and cf. pp. 66-67, ^7^77- 





m 



/© c: 







r,,,;'V,,.p' 







THE DIVISION OF THE SID .51 

fluenced by the view that some of the Tuatha De Danann had 
died as mortals, Dagda has long since passed away, and the 
mounds are places of sepulture, perhaps a reflection of the fact 
that kings were interred there. Yet they are apportioned by the 
chief survivors, Bodb Dearg and Manannan, the latter having 
the task of selecting concealed dwellings. These he found in 
beautiful hills and valleys, and drew round them an invisible 
and impenetrable wall, though the Tuatha De Danann them- 
selves could see and pass through it. He gave them Goibniu's 
ale, which preserved them from old age, disease, and death, 
and his own swine, which, killed and eaten one day, were alive 
the next and fit again for use. Thus even from this euhemeris- 
tic narrative the real divinity of its personages appears.^ 

In this account Bodb Dearg is made sovereign of the Tuatha 
De Danann, as he is also in the story of The Children of Ler 
{Aided Chlainne Lir). Ler, disgusted at the choice, retired, 
whereupon the others resolved to punish him, but were over- 
ruled by Bodb, who gave Ler his daughter Aobh as wife, pro- 
vided he would pay allegiance to him. Aobh bore him two 
daughters and two sons before her death, and to comfort him 
Bodb now gave him her sister Aoife who, jealous of her step- 
children, transformed them into swans — a shape which they 
must keep for nine hundred years, though they retained speech 
and reason and the power of exquisite song. As a punishment 
Bodb changed Aoife into a "demon of the air." Not till the 
time of St. Patrick and St. Mochaomhog did Ler's children 
resume their own form. Withered and old, they now accepted 
the Christian faith and died, after having found their father's 
palace a roofless ruin.^ 

In the version given in the Book of Fermoy Elcmar, foster- 
father of Oengus, received the Brug na Boinne, and Manannan 
advised Oengus to ask it from him. Through Manannan's 
magic power Elcmar was expelled, and Oengus gained the sid, 
where he dwells invisibly, eating the swine and drinking the ale 
of immortality. In still another version a curious account of the 



52 . CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

origin of Oengus is given. He was a natural son of Dagda, by 
Elcmar's wife. Dagda sent Elcmar on a journey and wrought 
spells, bringing darkness and "strayings" upon him, and ward- 
ing off hunger and thirst from him. He obtained access to the 
goddess, perhaps because, like Uther and Manannan on like 
occasions, he assumed the appearance of the real husband. 
Elcmar was still absent when Oengus was born, but he may 
later have discovered the truth, for Oengus was taunted, as 
Merlin was, with having no parents. He went in tears to the 
god Midir, who took him to Dagda, and the latter acknowl- 
edged him as his son, bidding him go to Elcmar's sid and 
threaten him with death if he would not promise him "the 
sovereignty of a day and night in his land" — the same trick 
which Oengus played on Dagda in the first version.^ This story 
is introductory to the beautiful myth of Etain, to be told later; 
but here it should be noted that in a poem by the euhemerizing 
monk, Flann Manistrech, Elcmar slew Midir and was himself 
slain by Oengus.^ This, however, need be no part of an earlier 
myth. 

Still another account is given in verse by the tenth century 
poet, Cinaed ua hArtacain. Boann, Nechtain's wife, came to 
stay with her brother Elcmar, vassal of Dagda, who sought her 
love in vain. His Druids advised him to send Elcmar on a 
mission, but the latter bargained that it should not keep him 
away over night, whereupon Dagda "kept the sun in the lofty 
ridge of the heavens till the end of nine months." Elcmar 
thought that only a day had passed, but on his return he saw by 
the change in the flowers how long the time had been. Mean- 
while Dagda and Boann had deceived him, but now they were 
afraid, and birth-pangs seized the faithless wife. They left her 
child Oengus by the road-side near Midir's sid, and there he 
was brought up until his companions jeered at his unknown 
origin. Taxed by Oengus, Midir told the truth, and taking him 
to Dagda's sid, obtained it for him for a day and a night, thus 
tricking him.^ 



THE DIVISION OF THE SID 53 

Whether the earliest story told of Dagda's or of Elcmar's 
dispossession, Oengus is a god who tricks his father or his foster- 
father, and perhaps the latter was the sufferer in the primitive 
form. Rhys makes Dagda an equivalent of Kronos and Oengus 
of Zeus; but apart from the disinheriting incident, which is not 
exactly parallel in the respective Greek and Celtic stories, ^° 
Dagda and Oengus have no clear traits in common with Kronos 
and Zeus, nor is there the slightest evidence that Dagda, like 
Kronos, ruled over the dead, either before or after his expul- 
sion. The possible basis of the story, as the present writer has 
suggested elsewhere, is a myth explaining why the cult of one 
god came to supersede that of another.^^ 



CHAPTER IV 
MYTHIC POWERS OF THE GODS 

AS in most mythologies, the Celtic deities have powers which 
reflect those supposed to be possessed by medicine-men, 
as well as others peculiar to themselves. These were the subject 
of myths taught by the Druids, who knew many things concern- 
ing the might of the immortal gods.' The gods were undying, 
and their abode was that of "the ever-living ones," where none 
ever died. Caoilte describes the Tuatha De Danann to St. 
Patrick as beings "who are unfading, and whose duration is 
perennial" in contrast with himself or men;- or they are 
"fairies or sprites with corporeal forms, endowed with immor- 
tality." Yet immortality is said to have been given them by 
Manannan through their drinking Goibniu's immortal beer, so 
that "no disease nor sickaess ever attacks them," nor "decay 
nor old age comes upon them." ^ The daughter of Bodb Dcarg 
was asked by St. Patrick what it was which maintained the gods 
in form and comeliness, and her answer was, "All such of us as 
partook of Goibniu's banquet, nor pain nor sickness troubles 
them." "^ Elsewhere this immortality seems to be dependent 
upon the eating of certain fragrant berries, of which it is said 
that "no disease attacks those whoeat them, but they feel the 
exhilaration of wine and old mead; and were it at the age of a 
century, they would return again to be thirty years old." 
Once the Tuatha De Danann had played a match with the 
Feinn and brought from the Land of Promise crimson nuts, 
catkin apples, and these fragrant berries; but one of them fell 
to earth, and from it grew a quicken (rowan) tree, whose ber- 
ries possessed these virtues. The gods sent one of their people 



MYTHIC POWERS OF THE GODS 55 

to guard the tree — a savage, one-eyed giant, Searbhan Loch- 
lannach, who could not be slain until struck with three blows of 
his iron club; and around the tree he made a wilderness, sleep- 
ing in it by night, and watching at its foot by day. Fionn 
demanded as eric^ or fine, from two warriors either the head 
of Diarmaid or a handful of these berries; but Diarmaid over- 
came them, and then asked the giant for the berries. Searbhan 
refused them, but by skill and strength the hero seized his club 
and slew him.^ 

Yet, even in their own immortal land, gods are slain. Per- 
haps this was not altogether the result of the annalistic view of 
the gods, for myth may have told of their death, as it did of 
gods elsewhere — Dionysus, Attis, Balder, Osiris. The anal- 
istic view did not hinder the continuance of myths, and divini- 
ties whose death is recorded in the Annals are found to be alive 
long after, while gods and goddesses born in pagan times ap- 
pear thousands of years later to persons living in the Christian 
period. In spite of this perennial duration, they remained 
youthful and beautiful. Yet while the gods' land was pic- 
tured as a deathless, peaceful place, men still gave it certain of 
the traits of human life. War, wounds, and death were there, 
according to some stories; gods might even be slain by men; 
and as gods have human passions, so they may also have 
human weaknesses. Such is always the inconsistency of myth. 

Invisibility was another divine power, innate, or acquired by 
donning a mantle, or from Manannan's spell, Feth Fiada, which 
was known also to Druids, poets, and Christian saints, who by it 
became unseen or took other forms. When the sons of Midir, 
assisted by the Feinn, fought against Bodb, Midir's son and 
Caoilte went to the sid of Oengus for a physician to heal Oscar's 
wounds; and then "there arose a Fkh Fiada around us, so that 
we were invisible." In one passage Dagda is invisible, and Midir 
said, "We behold and are not beheld." When Manannan 
came to fetch his consort Fand, none saw him but the goddess, 

and when Lug arrived to assist Cuchulainn, he was unseen by 

III— c 



56 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

the hero's foes. Divinities sometimes hid in a magic mist, as 
the Tuatha De Danann did on arriving in Ireland; they could 
appear to such mortals as they pleased, remaining unseen by 
others. Gods were probably not regarded as spiritual beings. 
Like the dead in Celtic belief, they had resplendent corporeal 
forms and ate and drank; but their bodily form differed from 
men's in that it could become invisible and was not subject to 
the laws of gravitation. The gods travelled through the air or 
appeared above men's heads. 

How, then, did they appear when visible.^ Sometimes in the 
magnificence of divinity, yet still in anthropomorphic form. 
Sometimes they were of vast size, like the Morrigan or the Welsh 
Bran, while a goddess who sought the aid of Fionn was enor- 
mous compared even with the gigantic Feinn. Sometimes they 
appear merely as mortals and are not recognized as gods. In- 
stances of this are found in the story of Cuchulainn's birth, 
where Lug is seen, as a mortal host in a mysterious house, and 
in that of Merlin's father; invisible to all but his mother, and 
later taking human shape. Sometimes a disguise was as- 
sumed. Oengus and Midir appeared to Rib and Eochaid in the 
shape of hospitallers, with a haltered pack-horse, and bade 
them begone. Gods also took the appearance of particular 
mortals, as when Midir appeared to Etain as her lover Ailill, 
or Manannan as Fiachna to the latter's wife, or as when Pwyll 
and Arawn exchanged forms. ^ 

Animal forms were also assumed. Of these one favourite 
shape was that of birds. Morrigan appeared to Cuchulainn as 
a bird; so also do Devorgilla and her handmaid, the former 
being in love with the hero. Llew took the form of an eagle; 
Budc and his foster-brother that of birds when the former 
wished to visit his paramour, whose husband Nar slew them. 
Midir and Etain, Fand and Liban were seen as birds linked 
together. The gods, or side, appear as deer in one story. Again, 
the idea of divine shape-shifting, expressed, however, in the 
well-known folk-tale formula of the "Transformation Com- 



PLATE VII 

Three-Headed God 

This triple-headed divinity (cf. p. 8) may possibly 
be another form of Cernunnos (see Plate X\I). 
For another representation see Plate XII, and for a 
three-headed deity of the Elbe Slavs cf. pp. 284-85 
and see Plate XXXIV, 3. From a block of stone 
found at Paris, now in the Musee Camayalet in that 
city. 



MYTHIC POWERS OF THE GODS 57 

bat," is combined with the Celtic idea of rebirth in Welsh and 
Irish tales; and the Welsh story, Hanes Taliesin, a sixteenth 
century tale, is based on earher poems in which this formula is 
already prefixed to the rebirth incident. Shape-shifting is so 
commonly ascribed to Tahesin that it is no wonder that the 
formula was attached to his story, as it also was to the Greek 
myth of Proteus and the Hindu story of Vikramaditya: In the 
poem Taliesin describes his transformations and adds, 

"I have been a grain discovered 
Which grew on a hill . . . 
A hen received me 
With ruddy claws and parting comb. 
I rested nine nights 
In her womb a child." ^ 

The Hanes Taliesin represents earlier myths about the hero 
and Cerridwen, the latter being a Brythonic goddess. Cerrid- 
wen, who dwelt below a lake, became hostile to Gwion Bach 
because he obtained the inspiration which she had intended for 
her son. The goddess pursued him, but he changed himself to 
a hare, and she took the form of a greyhound, after which the 
pair successively became fish and otter, bird and hawk, grain 
of wheat and hen. Cerridwen as a hen swallowed the grain, and 
gave birth to a beautiful child, whom she cast into the sea, but 
he was rescued by Elphin and obtained the name of Taliesin.^ 

In most versions of the Transformation Combat the op- 
ponents are males, and therefore one cannot give birth to the 
other; but by an ingenious device the compiler of the Irish 
myth of The Two Swine-Herds {Cophur in da muccida), an in- 
troductory story to the Tdi7t Bo Cuahige, surmounted this diffi- 
culty. The swine-herds were subordinate divinities — Friuch, 
herd of the god Bodb, king of the sid of Munster, and Rucht, 
herd of Ochall Oichni, king of the sid of Connaught. They 
could take any shape, and there was friendship between them. 
When there was mast in Munster, Rucht fed his swine there; 
and Friuch brought his herd to Connaught in the same way. 



S8 CELTIC ]\I\THOLOGY 

People stirred up a quarrel between them, however, and Friuch 
put spells on Rucht's swine so that they should not eat the mast 
of Alunster, while Rucht did the same to Friuch's pigs. When 
the swine became thin, the gods took their office from the herds, 
and Friuch and Rucht turned themselves into ravens and for a 
year reviled each other in Connaught and for a year in Munster. 
Resuming their own shape, they announced that there would 
yet be many corpses and much wailing because of them. Now 
they took the form of water-beasts and were seen for a year in 
the Suir and.for another in the Shannon, devouring each other, 
and appearing as large as hills, until they came ashore as men, 
telling Ochall that they must still take other shapes to test their 
strength. They became champions, one of Bodb's host, the 
other of Fergna, King of the sid of Nento-fo-hiuscne, their term 
in this form ending with a fight which lasted three days and 
nights, and in which they gave such wounds that their lungs 
were visible. Next they became demons, a third of the people 
dying with fright at seeing them; while in another version 
transformations into stags and dragons are added. Finally 
they became worms, one in a spring in Connaught, the other in 
the river Cruind in Ulster. Queen Medb came one day to the 
spring to draw water, and the little animal, speckled with all 
colors, jumped into her dish. She spoke to it, and it told her 
that it had been in many shapes, and bade her take Ailill as her 
husband, after which it returned into the spring. That day 
Fiachna washed in the river Cruind and was frightened at 
seeing a tiny beast which told him of the luck about to befall 
him, and how it was Bodb's swine-herd. It besought Fiachna to 
feed it for a year, as the other had begged of JXIedb, and later 
it told him of a future combat with the other beast. Next day 
one of Fiachna's cows would swallow it when>drinking, as one 
of Mcdb's kine would swallow the other; and as a result 
Medb's cow bore Findbennach ("White-Horn"), and Fiachna's 
the Donn or Brown Bull of Cualnge. No bull dared bellow 
before either, and great war was caused in Ireland on their 



MYTHIC POWERS OF THE GODS 59 

account.^ The Dindsenchas speaks of seven shapes which the 
swine-herds took, but describes five only — swine-herds, birds, 
wolves, trout, and worms — and it also tells how a bull-calf of 
the Donn's was killed by White-Horn. ^° 

A folk-tale analogy to this myth occurs in a West Irish col- 
lection. Two heroes at enmity fought until they were old men, 
then as puppies until they were old dogs, then as young bulls, 
as stallions, and as birds, until one was slain, his body falling 
on the other and kiUing him. The rebirth incident is lacking 
here.^^ 

In the story which narrates how King Mongan recovered his 
wife from the King of Leinster his feats were originally those 
of a divine namesake. Taking the form of a cleric, he gave 
that of another cleric to his attendant and won entrance to the 
King's fort and to his wife. He kissed her, but when the at- 
tendant hag cried out, he sent a magic breath at her, and what 
s.he had seen was no longer clear in her mind, after which he 
shaped a sharp spike on which she fell and was killed. His at- 
tempt to recover his wife failed, however, and at a later time 
he took the guise of Aed, son of the King of Connaught, trans- 
forming a hag into the shape of Aed's beautiful wife, Ibhell. 
The King of Leinster fell in love with her.and exchanged Mon- 
gan's wife to the pretended Aed for her; but the pair escaped, 
and great was the King's disgust to find Ibhell in the form of a 
hag. Mongan also made a river with a bridge over It, where 
none had ever been before, and In it he set the two clerics whose 
shapes he had borrowed. ^^ 

The gods could likewise transform each other. Etain was 
changed by Fuamnach Into an insect, as a preliminary to her 
rebirth, and we have seen how the children of Ler were trans- 
formed into swans by their jealous step-mother. Ler heard 
them singing, yet god though he was, he could not disenchant 
them, just as Manannan was unable to change Aolfe from the 
shape of a crane Into which the jealous luchra had turned her.^^ 
The gods remained for three hundred years listening to the 



6o CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

music of the swans, which caused happiness to all who heard 
it; and after many sufferings the birds met the sons of Bodb, 
who spoke to them of the divinities, while Fionnghula sang of 
her former happiness when she enjoyed the guileless teaching 
of Alanannan, the convocations of Bodb, the voice of Oengus, 
and the sweetness of his kisses. We have seen how the chil- 
dren, after their disenchantment, died in the Christian faith. 
This old and touching myth has received a Christian ending: 
how it originally told the further fate of Ler's children is 
unknown. 

The gods also transformed mortals. Morrigan brought a 
bull to a cow over which Odrus watched, and which followed 
the bull when Morrigan went into the cave of Cruachan. Odrus 
pursued through the cave to the sid within, but there she fell 
asleep, and the goddess awoke her, sang spells over her, and 
made of her a pool of water.^^ This is partly paralleled by 
another story in which elves, or siabhra, transformed Aige into 
a fawn and sent her round Ireland. Later she was killed, and 
nothing remained of her but a bag of water which was thrown 
into a river, thenceforward named after her.^^ A more curious 
transformation is that by which the god Oengus changed his 
four kisses into as many birds, in order that they might satirize 
the nobles of Erin, until a Druid by a stratagem stopped 
them.'® As has been seen, the kisses of Oengus were dear to 
Fionnghula. The souls of the righteous appear sometimes as 
white birds, and those of the wicked as ravens, in Christian 
documents — a conception which is probably of pagan origin.'^ 

Finally, to show how the memory of the Tuatha De Danann 
and their powers survived into later centuries the story of 
0' Donneir s Kern may be cited. In this, Manannan appears 
as a kern, or serving-man, at the houses of historic personages 
of sixteenth century Ireland. He plays such music as never 
was heard, bewitching men to slumber; he is a marvellous 
conjuror, producing out of his bag hound, hare, dog-boy, and 
lady, who all climb a silken thread which he tosses upward to a 



MYTHIC POWERS OF THE GODS 6i 

cloud; he performs miracles of healing; he takes off a man's 
head and puts it on again; and from each place where he goes 
he suddenly disappears from human sight, none knowing 
whither he has vanished. ^^ Folk-memory thus preserved much 
of the old conception of the gods. 



CHAPTER V 
GODS HELPING MORTALS 

IN Greek mythology the gods were represented as coming to 
man's help, and in Christian legend saints were seen hover- 
ing above an army in battle and giving it substantial aid. So 
in Celtic myth deities were often kindly disposed toward men 
or assisted them, sometimes for ends of their own. 

Such a myth is associated with the historic King Mongan 
of Ulster in the sixth and seventh centuries. He is shown to 
be son of the god Manannan by a mortal mother, and as has 
been seen, he had powers of shape-shifting, and besides being 
brought up in the divine land, had free access to it. He was 
also regarded as a rebirth of the hero Fionn; hence the stories 
told of this king of the Christian historic period must already 
have been narrated of some far earlier mythic king or god, 
perhaps possessed of the same name. Two of these legends nar- 
rate how the god assisted Mongan's putative father out of 
desire for his wife. In the shorter story Fiachna, King of Ul- 
ster, had gone to help Aedan in Scotland against Saxon hosts 
who had with them a terrible warrior, and during the fight a 
noble stranger appeared to Fiachna's wife and asked her love. 
She refused him with scorn, but later relented in order to save 
her husband's life, which, said the visitant, was in danger from 
the terrible warrior. "Our son will be famous, and his name 
will be Mongan. I shall tell thy husband our adventures, and 
that thou didst send me to his help." This the stranger did, 
afterward slaying the warrior and giving victory to Fiachna; 
and when Mongan was born, he was known as Manannan's 
son, for Manannan had announced his name when leaving the 
Queen at dawn.^ 



GODS HELPING MORTALS 63 

In the longer version Fiachna had become security for the 
exchange of four kine offered by the King of Lochlann to a 
Black Hag for her cow, the flesh of which alone could cure his 
disease. Later the hag compelled Fiachna to fight with the 
King, who had broken his promise to her; but all went well 
until the King of Lochlann let lOose venomous sheep, before 
which Fiachna's men fell in hundreds. A warrior in a green 
cloak fastened by a silver brooch, with a circlet of gold on his 
head and golden sandals on his feet, appeared and asked what 
reward Fiachna would give him who would drive off the sheep. 
Fiachna replied that he would give anything he had, whereupon 
the warrior begged his ring "as a token for me when I go to 
Ireland to thy wife to sleep with her," to which the com- 
placent Fiachna assented. The stranger — Manannan — an- 
nounced that he would beget a glorious child, called Mongan 
Finn, or the "Fair"; "and I shall go there in thy shape, so 
that thy wife shall not be defiled by it." Fiachna would also 
become King of Lochlann. Taking a venomous hound from 
his cloak, Manannan launched it successfully at the sheep and 
then appeared to the Queen as Fiachna. On the night of Mon- 
gan's birth the Queen's attendant had a son, Mac an Daimh, 
while the wife of Fiachna's opponent, Fiachna the Black, bore 
a daughter, Dubh Lacha, these possibly also being children of 
the amorous god. When Mongan was three days old, Manan- 
nan took him to the Land of Promise and brought him back 
when he was sixteen. Meanwhile Fiachna Dub having killed 
the other Fiachna, the Ulstermen bargained that Mongan 
should retain half the province, with Dubh Lacha as his wife. 
One day when he and his Queen were playing together, "a 
dark, black-tufted little cleric" reproached Mongan for his 
inactivity and offered to help him to regain his land. Mongan 
went with him; they slew Fiachna; and all Ulster became 
Mongan's. The cleric was Manannan, though his transforma- 
tion, in this as in the other version, is the result of the revision 
of the story by a Christian scribe. At a later time Mongan 



64 CELTIC AnTHOLOGY 

exchanged Dubh Lacha for the kinc of the King of Leinster, 
but she, while living in the King's house, persuaded him to 
wait a year ere she was his.^ How Mongan regained her through 
his magic powers learned in the divine land has already been 
described. A prophecy about Mongan is put into Manannan's 
mouth in The Voyage of Bra7i, where he tells Bran how he will 
go to Fiachna's Queen, that by her he will have a son who will 
delight the folk of the sid, will make known secrets and take 
all forms — dragon, wolf, stag, salmon, seal — and how the 
god will place the valiant hero with princes and will be his 
tutor. 

Apart from the Christian colouring in these tales, they are 
of pagan origin and reflect pagan ideas about semi-divine sons 
of gods and the help given by gods to men. The late Mr. Nutt 
maintained that the story of Mongan was one form of a Celtic 
myth which might be fitted to any real or imaginary hero — 
that of a wonder-child, born of a mortal mother and a super- 
natural father, gifted magically by him, associated with him 
in the divine land, and passing thence at death. He assumed 
that Mongan had finally gone there, basing this assumption on 
verses which mention Mongan's wandering with Manannan 
in "the land with living heart," and his coming thence to see 
St. Columba. Alongan was the hero of such a myth in Ulster; 
Fionn of another local myth, later popular all over Ireland; 
Arthur of a similar Brythonic myth.^ 

The myth of the help given by gods to mortals is seen again 
in the story of Cuchulainn, son of the god Lug, who assists him 
in time of need. Cuchulainn stood alone against Medb's hosts, 
because she invaded Ulster when its men were in their periodic 
sickness.'' He had slain hundreds of them and was now distorted 
with fury and in sore distress, when Loeg, his charioteer, an- 
nounced that he saw a warrior approaching, fair, tall, with 
yellow hair, clad in a green mantle with a silver brooch. Shield, 
five-pointed spear, and javelin were in his hands. He plied 
these as he came, but "no one attacks him and he attacks no 



GODS HELPING MORTALS 65 

one," for he was invisible to Medb's warriors. Cuchulainn 
cried that this must be one of his friends of the side coming to 
his aid, and so it turned out, for the warrior was his father 
Lug from the sid. "My wounds are heavy," said Cuchulainn, 
*'it is time they were healed." Lug bade him sleep for three 
days while he himself fought the hosts; and as he sang a charm, 
the hero slept. Lug not only battled for him, but as he had 
claimed the power of healing in the story of the battle of Mag- 
Tured, so now he cured his son's wounds with medicinal herbs; 
and when Cuchulainn awoke, he was refreshed and strong. The 
god, however, would not stay to help him further, lest the 
fame of the deeds wrought by both should accrue to Cuchulainn; 
and the hero now donned a dress of invisibility given him by 
Manannan, a precious garment of the Land of Promise. 
Manannan is also called his foster-father in Druidism or wiz- 
ardry,^ and Cuchulainn's "friends of the side^^ may be com- 
pared with the leannan sighe, fairies who befriend mortals when 
human powers fail them.^ His opponent, Ferdia, reproached 
him for not telling him how his friends of the side came to his 
aid when he thought of them, but Cuchulainn replied that 
since the Feth fiada was shown to all by the sons of Mile, the 
Tuatha De Danann could not use invisibility or work magic. ^ 
This passage, however, from the Stowe manuscript of the 
Tain Bo Cualnge is, in its final statement, inconsistent with the 
incidents of the other manuscripts. 

Other heroes were helped by Manannan. In The Tragic 
Death of the Sons of Usnech {Longes mac nJJsnig) Naisi has a 
sword given to him by the god, its virtue being that it leaves 
no trace of stroke or blow behind it;^ and some of his weapons 
were possessed by the Feinn. Diarmaid had his crann huidhe 
— a yellow-shafted spear — but its properties were less power- 
ful than another magic spear with a red shaft, the gai dearg. 
It could do nothing against the boar which slew Diarmaid, and 
he lamented that he had not taken with him the gai dearg, as 
Grainne advised. With the shafts of these spears he twice 



66 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

leaped beyond the ring of his surrounding enemies and escaped 
them, and he also used "Manannan's magic staves" on an- 
other occasion to leap up a precipice. Besides these he pos- 
sessed the moralltach, the sword of Manannan or of Oengus.^ 

Of Diarmaid it is said that "with most potent Manannan 
mac Ler thou studiedst and wast brought up in the Land of 
Promise and in the bay-indented coasts; with Oengus too, the 
Dagda's son, thou wast most accurately taught." ^° Oengus 
freely helped Diarmaid when he and Grainne were pursued by 
Fionn. Oengus learned that they were surrounded in a wood, 
and passing through the foe, unknown to the Feinn, he bade 
the eloping pair come under his mantle, when he would remove 
them without their pursuer's knowledge. Diarmaid refused to 
go, but asked the god to take Grainne, which Oengus did, 
reaching a distant wood unseen. There Diarmaid came to 
them and found a fire and a meal prepared by Oengus, who ere 
he left them warned Diarmaid of the places into which he must 
not go. When Diarmaid and Grainne took refuge in the 
quicken-tree of Dubhros, Oengus came invisibly as before, but 
now as each warrior in succession climbed the tree to take 
Diarmaid's head, he gave them the hero's form as he threw 
them down. When the Feinn cut the heads off, however, their 
true form was restored, and the ruse was discovered. Oengus 
would fain have carried both away, but again had to be satis- 
fied with taking Grainne, bearing her invisibly in his magic 
cloak to the Brug na Boinne, where Diarmaid joined them, 
carrying the head of the witch whom Fionn had sent against 
him. Oengus now made peace between Diarmaid and Fionn, 
arranging the conditions which his foster-son demanded. 
Finally, when Diarmaid's death was caused by Fionn's craft, 
the latter advised that he and the others should escape lest 
Oengus and the Tuatha De Danann should capture them. 
Oengus, aware of the tragedy, arrived with the swiftness of the 
wind, and seeing the body, cried: "There has never been one 
night, since I took thee with me to the Brug na Boinne, at the 



GODS HELPING MORTALS 67 

age of nine months, that I did not watch thee and carefully 
keep thee against thy foes, until last night, O Diarmaid; and 
alas for the treachery that Fionn hath done thee, for all that 
thou wast at peace with him." Then he sang a lament, and 
bearing the body to his Brug, he said, "Since I cannot restore 
him to life, I will send a soul into him, so that he may talk to 
me each day." ^^ Oengus has less power than savage medicine- 
men or gods in myth, who bring the dead back to life, or than 
Demeter, who gave life to Dionysos after he was dismembered 
by the Titans. But the story is an almost unparalleled example 
of a god's love for a mortal. Fionn himself bears witness to the 
love which Oengus had for Diarmaid as a child in his Brug, 
and how when spells were put upon a boar that it should have 
the same length of life as he, the god conjured him never to 
hunt a boar. ^2 

Another interesting instance is found in the story of Fraoch, 
whose mother was a goddess. When he killed a dragon, women 
of the sid came and carried him there, curing him of his wounds; 
and so, too, when he was slain at a ford by Cuchulainn, those 
divine women, clad in green, came and lamented over him and 
carried his body into the sid. Fraoch should not have gone 
near water, for this was dangerous for him, and his mother's 
sister, the goddess Boann, had said, "Let him not swim Black 
Water, for in it he will shed his blood." ^^ In another story the 
goddess Morrigan helped Tulchainde, Conaire's Druid, who 
wished Dil, daughter of Lugmannair, to elope with him from 
the Isle of Falga — the Isle of Man regarded as the divine land. 
Dil loved an ox born at the same time as herself and insisted 
that Tulchainde should take it with her; and the Morrigan 
was friendly to him and at his wish brought it to Mag mBreg." 
The Morrigan was both hostile and friendly to Cuchulainn, 
thus resembling that supernatural but ambiguous personage, 
the Lady of the Lake in Arthurian tradition, now helping, now 
opposing. 



CHAPTER VI 
DIVINE ENMITY AND PUNISHMENT 

THE gods were sometimes hostile to men, not always for 
obvious reasons, as is curiously illustrated in the Echtra 
Nerai, or Adventures of Nera, an introductory tale to the Tain 
Bo Cualnge. Here the gods are regarded as demons appearing 
with great power on Samhain Eve (Hallowe'en). King Ailill 
offered a reward to anyone who on that night would tie a withe 
round the foot of a captive hanged the previous day; and sev- 
eral tried, but were afraid. Nera was bolder, but his withe kept 
springing off the corpse until it told him to put a peg in it, after 
which the dead body asked him to carry it on his back to the 
nearest house for a drink, because "I was thirsty when I was 
hanged." The house was surrounded by a fiery lake, and into 
it and a second, surrounded by a lake of water, they could not 
enter. In a third house the corpse found water and squirted it 
on the faces of the sleepers so that they died, after which Nera 
carried the dead body to the gallows. This part of the story 
is connected with the vampire belief. Nera returned to Ailill's 
fort, but found it burnt, and a heap of human heads lay near 
it. He followed a company leaving it and thus came to the sid 
of Cruachan, where its king sent him to a woman in one of its 
dwellings, bidding him bring firewood daily to the royal house. 
At this task he noticed a lame man carrying a blind man to a 
well, and daily the blind man asked, "Is it there.-*" to which 
the lame man answered, "It is indeed; let us go away." The 
woman told Nera that they were guardians of the king's crown 
in the well, and when he described his adventures and the de- 
struction of Ailill's fort, she explained that this was merely the 



DIVINE ENMITY AND PUNISHMENT 69 

glamour of an elfin host {sluag siabhra), but that it would hap- 
pen, unless he warned his friends. When he returned, he would 
find them as he left them — a clear proof that he was in a time- 
less region. They must watch next Samhain Eve, unless they 
first destroyed the sid, and as proof of his statement he must 
take from the sid fruits of summer — wild garlic, primrose, 
and golden fern. Before his people came to destroy the sid, he 
must warn her so that she with his cattle and the child she 
would bear him might not lose their lives. Nera returned and 
obtained the reward, and Ailill resolved to destroy the sid. 
Meanwhile the woman carried the firewood, pretending that 
Nera was ill; and when he came to warn her, she bade him 
watch the cattle, one of which was to be his son's after his 
birth. The goddess Morrigan stole this cow while Nera slept 
and took it to the bull of Cualnge, by whom it had a calf. 
Cuchulainn is now introduced pursuing Morrigan and restor- 
ing the cow; and on its return the woman sent Nera back to 
his people — a reduphcation of the first sending back. The 
sid-iolk could not destroy Ailill's fort until next Samhain Eve 
when the sid would be open, and Nera now told his people of 
the wonderful sid and how its dwellers were coming to attack 
the fort. Ailill bade him bring anything of his own out of the 
sid, and from it he fetched the cattle, including his child's bull- 
calf which now fought the famous Findbennach, or white- 
horned bull. Warned to beware of its sire, the bull of Cualnge, 
Medb swore by her gods that she would not rest until her bull 
fought it. Meanwhile Ailill's men destroyed the sid, taking 
from it the crown, Loegaire's mantle, and Dunlaing's shirt; 
but Nera was left in the sid and will not come thence till doom 
— like other mortals, he has become an inhabitant of the 
gods' land.^ Here also, as in the story of Etain, mortals wage 
successful war with hostile divinities. Nevertheless the deities 
survive, and only the outer works of their sid are destroyed. 

The hostility of Morrigan to the hero Cuchulainn is seen in 
the Tain Bo Regamna, or Cattle-Raid of Regamon. In his sleep 



70 CELTIC AIYTHOLOGY 

he heard a great cry, and setting off with his charioteer Loeg 
to discover its meaning, they came to a chariot drawn by a 
one-legged horse, the chariot-pole passing through its body and 
emerging from its head. On it was a red woman, clad in red, 
and near it marched a giant in a red tunic, carrying a spear 
and a huge forked branch, and driving a cow. Cuchulainn 
maintained that all the cows In Ulster were his, but the woman 
denied this, and when he asked why she spoke for the man, she 
announced that his name was Uar-gaeth-sceo Luachair-sceo. 
Then the giant cried out that her name was Faebor beg-beoil 
cuimdiuir folt scenbgairit sceo uath. Irritated at this gibber- 
ish — an Instance of the well-known concealment of divine 
names — the hero leaped into the chariot, placing his feet on 
the woman's shoulders and his spear at her head, and de- 
manded her true name, to which she replied that she was a 
sorceress and that the cow was her reward for a poem. Cuchu- 
lainn begged to hear it, and the woman consented, provided 
that he would retire from the chariot. After the poem was re- 
cited, Cuchulainn prepared to leap again into the chariot, when 
woman, giant, cow, and chariot vanished; but on the branch 
of a tree was a black bird — the woman changed to this form. 
Now he recognized her as Badb or the Morrigan, the battle- 
goddess, and she told him that for his conduct she would pur- 
sue him with vengeance. She was carrying the cow from the 
sid of Cruachan, that it might be covered by the bull of Cualnge 
and when their calf was a year old, Cuchulainn would die. 
She would attack him when facing his opponent at the ford 
during the foray of Cualnge, and as an eej she would twine 
round his feet. "I will crush thee against the stones of the 
ford, and thou wilt never obtain healing from me," answered 
Cuchulainn. "As a she-wolf I will bite thy right hand and 
devour thee," she replied. "I shall strike thee with my lance 
and put out an eye, and never wilt thou obtain healing from 
me," he returned. "As a white cow with red ears I will enter 
the water, followed by a hundred cows. We shall dash upon 



DIVINE ENMITY AND PUNISHMENT 71 

thee. Thou wilt fall, and thy head will be taken." "I shall 
throw a sling-stone at thee, and thy heel shall be broken, and 
no help wilt thou get from me," cried Cuchulainn; and with 
that Morrigan disappeared into the sid of Cruachan.^ 

In a variant of this tale (where the cow-driving incident is 
perhaps the one which is mentioned in the Echtra Nerai) a. 
different reason for this hostility is given. Morrigan appeared 
as a beautiful woman offering Cuchulainn her love, her treas- 
ures, and her herds, but he replied that the opportunity was 
not fitting, since he was engaged in a desperate contest, and 
contemptuously refused her help. She uttered threats as in 
the previous version; and when he was fighting at the ford, he 
was overturned by an eel which he crushed in his hand, and 
again as a wolf and a heifer Morrigan was defeated. Now no 
one wounded by Cuchulainn could be healed save by himself, 
and Morrigan therefore appeared as a lame and blind old 
woman milking a cow with three teats. Cuchulainn asked for 
milk, which she gave him from each teat, and at every draught 
he pronounced the blessing of "gods and not-gods"^ upon 
her. At each benediction one of her wounds was healed, and 
now she revealed herself, but was told that, had he known, she 
would never have had healing from him.^ Perhaps because of 
this healing, or because of a subsequent reconcilement, before 
Cuchulainn went to the last fatal fight, the goddess broke his 
chariot, "for she liked not his going to the battle, knowing 
that he would not come again to Emain Macha." ^ The story 
also shows how divinities have the gift of shape-shifting, 
though it does not always avail them against the prowess of a 
hero. 

The idea that gods punish neglect of their worship or com- 
mands, or avenge other sinful actions, is found in most reli- 
gions, and some stories seem to be derived from it, as when 
Welsh legend knows of Nynnyaw and Peibaw transformed to 
oxen for their sins by God — a probable substitution for a 

pagan divinity.^ Instances of the destruction of corn and milk 
in — 6 



72 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

by divinities have been cited, and these perhaps signify pun- 
ishment for neglecting the gods, seeing that, in the case of the 
Milesians with Dagda, this was followed by a compact made 
with him — the equivalent of the fresh covenant made with 
God by His careless worshippers in the Old Testament. Pos- 
sibly stories like that of Aillen mac Midhna of the Tuatha De 
Danann, coming out of the sid every year to burn Tara,^ point 
to the same conception. The gods even punished members of 
their own group for wrongdoing, as in the case of Aoife, who 
was transformed by Bodb; and Becuma was banished from 
the gods' land because of her sin with Manannan's son. She 
came to earth in a self-moving boat and by spells bound Conn, 
high king of Ireland, to do her will and to banish his son Art; 
but while she remained in dalliance with Conn for a year, there 
was neither corn nor milk in Ireland — a direct divine punish- 
ment, for it was held that an evil king's reign was marked by 
famine and destruction. The Druids told Conn that nothing 
would avail save the sacrifice of "the son of a sinless couple," 
i. e. the son of the queen of a divine land, whom Conn brought 
thence. To rescue the boy his mother came with a marvellous 
cow, which was accepted as a sacrifice, while the queen told 
Conn that he must renounce Becuma, else Ireland would lose 
a third of its corn and milk. Later, when the sid-io\k stole the 
chess-men with which Becuma was playing with Art, she put 
spells on him not to eat until he had brought Delbchaem from 
a mysterious island, intending thus to cause his death. He 
sailed till he reached an Elysian island, whose fair women 
taught him how to escape the dangers before him and to find 
Delbchaem; but when he brought her to Tara, Becuma in 
disgust left Conn for ever.^ Punishment of a divine bei'ng is also 
seen in the story of Manannan's slaying Fer Fedall because of 
his misdeed, which resulted in the drowning of Tuag.^ Con- 
chean slew Dagda's son Aed for seducing his wife, and though 
Dagda did not kill him, he made him carry the corpse until 
he found a stone as long as Aed to put upon his grave. ^° 



PLATE VIII 
Squatting God 

The deity has torques on his neck and lap, and 
IS encircled by two serpents with rams' heads. 
Traces of horns appear on his head. He may 
possibly be a form of Cernunnos (see Plate XVI), 
and would thus be a divinity of the under- 
world. From an altar found at Autun, Saone-et- 
Loire. For a representation on a Gaulish coin see 
Plate III, 3; cf. also Plates IX, XXV. 









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V ^s 



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'■:^m^^^^''-^: 






DIVINE ENMITY AND PUNISHMENT 73 

Trespass on a sacred place Is implied In the story of Eochald, 
who eloped with his step-mother. Oengus, In disguise, told 
him not to camp on his meadow; and when he persisted, the 
god sent plagues upon him, killing his cattle and horses, and 
threatening to slay his household If he would not go. Oengus 
then gave him a horse on which to depart with his goods, and 
the lake which was formed afterward from the bursting of an 
uncovered well produced by the micturatlon of this horse 
drowned Eochald and all his household, save his daughter 
LIban. This, as well as the similar story told of Eochald's 
brother Rib, who trespassed on the ground of Oengus and 
MIdIr, has afhnlty with tales of the bursting of a sacred well 
upon the Impious trespasser, as In the legend of Boann.^^ 

In another story OillU pastured his cattle on the exterior of a 
sid, the grass of which the sid-iolk now destroyed. While 
OillU watched there with Ferchess, he saw fairy cattle leaving 
the sid, followed by Eogabal, son of its King, and his daughter 
Aine. Eogabal was slain by Ferchess, and AIne was outraged 
by Ollill, but she struck his right ear, leaving no flesh on it, 
whence his epithet "Bare Ear." Aine promised vengeance, 
which was wrought thus. Eogan, OiliU's son, and Lugald 
mac Con heard music proceeding from a yew formed by magic 
as part of the means employed for vengeance, and in It 
was found a little harper, who was brought by them to Ollill. 
Before he went away, however, he made contention between 
Eogan and Lugald; the latter was slain, and this caused the 
battle of Mag Mucrime, where OiliU's seven sons perished. ^^ 
In this story gods are within men's power, though the latter 
cannot finally escape punishment. So also is it in the tale of 
Macha, "sun of women-folk," daughter of MIdir, or of Salnred, 
son of Ler, who came to the house of the rich peasant, Cronn- 
chu, and served him, bringing him prosperity and living with 
him as his wife. Cronnchu went to a feast of the Ulstermen, 
but was bidden by Macha not to say an imprudent word or 
mention her name. At the horse-racing, however, he boasted 



74 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

that his wife was swifter than the horses, whereupon King 
Conchobar insisted that she should be sent for, and though 
she was with child, forced her to run against his chariot. She 
said that all who saw It would suffer for the deed, and when at 
the goal she gave birth to twins, she condemned every Ulster- 
man to undergo for five days and four nights each year all the 
pangs which she had felt, and to have no strength during that 
time. Cuchulainn alone escaped the curse. ^^ 

The automatic working out of punishment is seen In the 
tragic results of the breaking of personal tabus, e. g. In the case 
of Cuchulainn and Flonn.^^ This Is sometimes regarded as the 
inevitable operation of fate or as divine vengeance for wrong 
done to gods, not necessarily by the victim, and It receives 
its most mysterious Illustration In the doom of Conaire Mor in 
the long tale of Da Derga's Hostel. In some versions Conalre's 
origin is connected with Incest — itself caused by a vengeful 
god — while his death at the height of his prosperity Is re- 
garded as the consequence of injury done by his ancestor to 
the god MIdir, whose wife Etain was retaken from him by 
Conalre's forefather Eochaid.^^ Through a trick of Midlr's, 
Eochald had a child, Mess Buachalla, by his daughter Ess, 
and Mess Buachalla was mother of Conaire. Who, then, was 
Conalre's father.^ One account regards him as King Eterscel, 
while Mess Buachalla is here daughter of Ess and one of the 
side, or of Ess and Eterscel — the latter version thus intro- 
ducing the incest incident in another form. Another account 
tells how Eochald married Etain, daughter of Etar, King of 
the cavalcade from the sid; and their daughter Etain became 
Cormac's wife, but was put away because she bore him no son. 
Cormac ordered his Infant daughter to be slain, but she smiled 
so sweetly on his thralls that they took her to King Eterscel's 
cowherds, who guarded her in a hut with a roof-light, whence 
her name Mess Buachalla, or "the Cowherds' Foster-Child." 
Through the roof-light Eterscel's people saw her when she was 
grown up, and told the king of her beauty. Now It was proph- 



DIVINE ENMITY AND PUNISHMENT 75 

esied that he would have a son by a woman of unknown race, 
but before he sent for her, a bird flew through the roof-light, 
and dofhng its plumage, became a man, to whom Mess Buach- 
alla yielded herself. Before leaving her he told how she would 
have a son, Conaire, by him, who must never hunt birds; and 
Conaire was regarded as Eterscel's child when born. At 
Eterscel's death the new king was to be selected by divination 
at the "bull-feast." A bull was killed, probably as a sacrifice, 
and after the diviner had eaten its flesh, he dreamed of the 
future king — In this case a naked man with a sling coming to 
Tara. Meanwhile Conaire hunted a flock of wonderful birds, 
which suddenly became armed men, one of them telling him 
that he was Nemglan, King of the birds, his father, and that 
he was breaking his geasa (tabus) in hunting his kinsmen. 
Conaire replied that he knew nothing of this gets, whereupon 
Nemglan bade him go naked toward Tara, where watchers 
would meet him. In this incident there is doubtless some dim 
memory of clan totem-myths. 

A different account of his becoming king makes Mess 
Buachalla tell him for the first time who his father is, viz. 
Eterscel, her own father, when he had just died. His succes- 
sor must fulfil certain apparently impossible conditions, but 
Conaire met the terms and became king. Mysterious hosts 
brought to him by his mother stayed with him for a time and 
then departed, none knew whither; they were side from Bri 
Leith, Midir's sid}^ This appears to mean that Conaire was 
divinely assisted to become king, so that the approaching dis- 
aster might be all the greater. 

To return to the other account, Nemglan told Conaire the 
geasa which he must observe. He became king, and none ever 
had a more prosperous reign; plenty abounded, and murder 
and rapine were banished. At last, however, the vengeance 
of the god began to work. Through a fate which he could not 
resist Conaire one day settled a quarrel between two of his 
serfs, thus breaking one of the geasa, and on his return he saw 



76 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

the whole country in flame and smoke — a delusion of the 
side. To avoid the fire he and his men went sunwise round 
Tara and counter-clockwise round Brcgia. These were tabued 
directions; and as he went, he pursued the evil beasts of Cerna, 
disobeying another tabu. Then, belated, he resolved to stay in 
the hostel of Derga ("Red"), and three red-haired horsemen 
clad in red and on red steeds ^^ were seen preceding him to the 
house of Red — another of his geasa. He sent messengers after 
them begging them to fall behind, but they only went the 
faster and] announced: "We ride the steeds of Donn Tet- 
scorach (Midir's son) from the sid. Though we are alive, we 
are dead. Great are the signs. Destruction of life. Sating of 
ravens. Feeding of crows. Strife of slaughter. Wetting of 
sword-edge. Shields with broken bosses in hours after sun- 
down. Lo, my son!" With this boding prophecy they van- 
ished, and the gods themselves thus caused the violation of 
Conaire's geasa. After arriving at the hostel he broke yet an- 
other, for there came a hideous woman who, standing on one 
foot, holding up one hand, and casting an evil eye on Conaire 
and his men, foretold their doom. Then she begged to be taken 
in, appealing to Conaire's generosity, and he said, "Let her 
in, though it is a geis of mine." 

At this time Ingcel, whose single eye had three pupils, in- 
vaded Ireland with Conaire's foster-brothers, and they were 
now on their way to attack the hostel. Ingcel is described as 
going toward it to spy upon the inmates, returning with ever 
fresh reports of the wonders and the people seen by him, some 
of them gigantic and monstrous, with magic weapons. When 
the hostel was surrounded, a terrible battle began. Conaire 
was parched with thirst, but no water was to be obtained, 
though his ally MacCecht sought it in all Ireland. Lakes and 
rivers had been dried up, apparently by the gods, as at the first 
battle of Mag-Tured, and one loch alone was reached before its 
water disappeared. MacCecht returned with a draught, but 
all too late. Conaire's host was scattered and dead, and he 



DIVINE ENMITY AND PUNISHMENT -Ji 

himself was being decapitated by two of his foes, whom Mac- 
Cecht slew, and then poured the water into Conaire's mouth. 
The head thanked him for his act, and thus perished Conaire, 
through no fault of his own, victim of fate and of a god's ven- 
geance.^^ The story is as tragic as a Greek drama, if its art is 
less consummate. 



CHAPTER VII 
THE LOVES OF THE GODS 

LIKE the gods of Greece and India, the deities of the Celts 
had many love adventures, and the stories concerning 
these generally have a romantic aspect. An early tale of this 
class records that one night, as Oengus slept, he saw a beau- 
tiful maiden by his bed-side. He would have caught hold of 
her, but she vanished, and until next night he was restless and 
ill. Again she appeared, singing and playing on a cymbal, and 
so it continued for a year till Oengus was sick of love. Fergne, 
a cunning leech, diagnosed the cause of his patient's illness 
and bade Boann, Gengus's mother, search all Ireland for the 
maiden, but though she sought during a whole year, the girl 
could not be found. Fergne therefore bade Boann summon 
Dagda, Gengus's father, and he advised him to ask the help 
of Bodb, King of the side of Munster, famed for knowledge. 
Bodb discovered the maiden, and Gengus set out to see whether 
he could recognize her. By the sea they found many girls, 
linked two and two by silver chains; and one, taller than the 
rest, was the maiden of the vision, Caer, daughter of Ethal of 
sid Uaman. Dagda, advised by Bodb, sought help from Ailill 
and Medb, King and Queen of Connaught — another instance 
of mortals aiding gods; but Ethal refused Ailill's request to 
give up Caer, whereupon Dagda's army with Ailill's forces 
destroyed his sid and took him prisoner. Still he refused, be- 
cause he had no power over his daughter, for every second 
year she and her maidens took the form of birds at Loch Bel 
Draccan (the "Lake of the Dragons' Mouths"); and thither 
Dagda bade Gengus go. At this loch, says incidental refer- 



THE LOVES OF THE GODS 79 

ence to the story, the maidens were wont to remain all the 
year of their transformation, Caer as the most lovely of all 
birds, wearing a golden necklace, from which hung an hundred 
and fifty chains, each with a golden ball.^ When Oengus saw 
the birds, he called to Caer. "Who calls me?" she cried. "It 
is Oengus that calls thee; come to him that he may bathe with 
thee." The bird-maiden came, and Oengus also took the form 
of a bird. Together they plunged three times in the lake, and 
then flew to Brug na Boinne, singing so sweetly that everyone 
fell asleep for three days and nights. Caer now became Oen- 
gus's wife.2 

In this story the god Bodb is famed for knowledge, and in 
the incidental reference cited he is said for a whole year to have 
kept off by his magic power the harper Cliach, who sought his 
daughter's hand.^ Possibly the shape-shifting of Caer and her 
maidens was the result of a curse or spell, as in other instances, 
unless — being goddesses — the power was in their own hands. 
The myth uses the folk-tale formula of the Swan-Maiden, 
though its main Incident Is lacking, viz. her capture by obtain- 
ing the bird-dress, which she has doffed. 

In the story of Oengus's disinheriting Elcmar, he later ap- 
pears as a suitor for Etain, daughter of Ailill, who refused her 
to him; but Midir was more successful, whence there was 
enmity between him and Oengus. The long tale which follows 
is extant in several manuscripts and Is here pieced together 
mainly from the versions in the Egerton Manuscript and the 
Leabhar na hUidre. Besides Etain, Midir had another consort, 
Fuamnach, who was jealous of her. With the help of a Druid's 
spells and by her own sorceries she changed Etain Into an In- 
sect and by a magic wind blew her about for seven years; but 
Oengus found her in this state and made for her a grianan, or 
bower filled with shrubs and flowers, on which she fed and 
thrived. Perhaps by night she was able to resume her true 
form, for Oengus slept with her; and when Fuamnach heard 
of this, she caused Midir to send for Oengus, so that a recon- 



8o CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

ciliation might be effected. Meanwhile, however, Fuamnach 
went to the grianan and again by a magic wind ejected Etain, 
who was blown upon the breeze until she fell through the roof 
of Etair's house into his wife's golden cup. She swallowed the 
insect and later gave birth to the divinity as an infant called 
Etain, who, more than a thousand years before, had been bom 
as a goddess. When she now grew up, as she and her maidens 
were bathing, a warrior appeared, singing about Etain, and 
then vanished, this being Midir, or possibly Oengus, who had 
discovered Fuamnach's treachery and struck off her head. 
Here, however, is interpolated a verse telling how not Oengus 
but Manannan slew or burned her, as well as her grandson, 
Siugmall.'' 

The next section of the story exists in two forms and relates 
how Etain was married by Eochaid Airem, King of Ireland. 
His brother, Ailill Anglonnach, fell in love with her, and when 
at last he disclosed this to Etain, she, after much persuasion, 
arranged a meeting-place with him. At the appointed time 
however, Ailill did not come, being hindered by sleep; but one 
in his likeness appeared to Etain on successive occasions and 
at last announced himself to be Midir, who had thus dealt with 
Ailill, and told her how she was his consort, parted from him 
by magic. Nevertheless, she refused to go with him; but 
when she told Ailill, he was cured of his love. The Egerton 
version then relates how Midir, appearing in hideous form, 
carried off Etain and her handmaid Crochan to his sid of Bri 
Leith, near the rising of the sun, first staying on the way at the 
sid of his divine relative Sinech; and when Crochan com- 
plained of wasting time there, Midir said that this sid would 
now bear her name. 

In the version given by the Leabhar na hUidre the incident of 
Midir's disclosing himself is more mythical in character. He 
invited Etain to the gods' land, "the Great Plain," or Mag 
Mor — a marvellous land, wherein is music. Its people are 
graceful, and nothing is called "mine" or "thine." The plains 



THE LOVES OF THE GODS 8i 

of Ireland are fair, but fairer is this plain, its ale more intoxi- 
cating than that of Erin! There is choice of mead and wine, 
and conception is without sin or crime (hence Segda in the 
story of Becuma was "son of a sinless couple"). Its people 
are invisible: they^see but are not seen, and none ever grows 
old. The magic food of the gods' land will be Etain's — un- 
salted pork,, new milk, and mead. Midir now met Eochaid 
and proposed a game of chess with him, allowing him to win, 
whereupon Eochaid demanded that Midir and his folk should 
perform four tasks — clear the plains of Meath, remove 
rushes, cut down the forest of Breag, and build a causeway- 
across the moor of Lamrach. In the Dindsenchas, a topo- 
graphical treatise, these tasks are an eric, or fine, on Midir for 
taking Eochaid's wife, and in performing them the divine folk 
taught a new custom to the men of Erin, viz. placing the yoke 
over the oxen's shoulders instead of on their foreheads, whence 
Eochaid's cognomen, Airem ("Ploughman").^ In a second 
game Midir won and asked that he might hold Etain and kiss 
her. Eochaid would not consent until a month had passed, 
and then Midir arrived in splendour for his reward, surrounded 
by armies. Etain blushed when she heard his demand, but he 
reminded her that by no will of hers had he won her. "Take 
me then," said she, "if Eochaid is willing to give me up." 
"For that I am not willing," cried Eochaid, "but he may cast 
his arms around thee." So Midir took her and then rose with 
her through the roof, and the assembly saw the pair as two 
swans winging their way to the sid. 

The Egerton version ends by telling, how through the div- 
ination of a Druid, Eochaid discovered Midir's sid, destroyed 
it, and recovered Etain. The version in the Leahhar na hUidre 
is defective after narrating how Eochaid and his men dug up 
several sid one after another; but the Dindsenchas relates that 
Ess, Etain'sedaughter, brought tribute of cattle and was fos- 
tered by Midir for nine years, during which Eochaid besieged 
the sid, thwarted by his power. Midir brought out sixty women 



82 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

in Etain's form, among them Ess, Eochaid's daughter; but 
Eochaid mistook her for Etain and by her had a daughter 
Mess Buachalla, mother of Conaire. Recognizing his mistake, 
he went to Midir, who restored Etain to him; and in revenge 
Siugmall, Midir's grandson, afterwards killed Eochaid.® 

Although folk-talc formulae are found in this story, it is 
based on myths of divine love and magic power and of a god- 
dess's rebirth as a mortal. Midir's poetic description of the 
gods' land is archaic and may only later have been connected 
with the underground sid. Curious, too, is the idea, which we 
have noted above, of the subjection of gods to mortals — 
performing tasks and permitting their abode to be spoiled or a 
consort taken from them — but It may reflect the belief in 
magic power to which even divinities must yield. Never- 
theless, the deities get their own back: Etain's recapture is 
preceded by the incest incident; Midir is slain; and his de- 
scendant, Conaire, dies because the god causes him to break 
his tabus, as already described. 

The story of the birth of the hero Cuchulainn is based on 
the love of a god. Lug, for a mortal, Dechtere, sister of Concho- 
bar. King of Ulster. It is told in two versions, one found in 
two recensions, the Leahhar na hUidre and the Egerton Manu- 
script; the other is also given in the Egerton Manuscript. 
We follow the latter (c), noting the chief points of difference 
between it and the others {a and b). Dechtere, with fifty 
maidens, left Conchobar's house for three years, at last return- 
ing in the form of birds which devoured everything, so that 
Conchobar organized a hunt which continued unsuccessfully 
till nightfall. The other version begins with the devastation 
wrought by nine flocks of mysterious birds, joined two and 
two by silver chains, the leading pair in each group being 
many-coloured; but these birds are not Dechtere and her 
companions, for she accompanies Conchobar in his chariot on 
the hunt. The next incident Is obscurely told in version c, but 
comparing it with the other, it is evident that the hunters en- 



THE LOVES OF THE GODS 83 

tered a small house where were a man and a woman, and that 
it was suddenly enlarged, beautified, and filled with all desir- 
able things, for it was one of the gods' magic dwellings, which 
they could produce on earth by glamour. The man was Lug, 
the woman Dechtere, though this was known only to Bricriu. 
Conchobar believed that they were his vassals and demanded 
his right of sleeping with the woman, who escaped by saying 
she was enceinte; and in the morning an infant was discovered, 
the child of Dechtere by Lug, though it had the appearance of 
Conchobar. The child was called Setanta, but afterward was 
known as Cuchulainn. 

In version h the host told his guests that his wife was in 
childbed. Dechtere assisted her and took the child to foster 
him; and at the same time the host's mare gave birth to two 
foals — a common folk-tale coincidence. In the morning all 
had vanished, and Conchobar's party returned home with the 
child, which died soon after. When the funeral was over, Dech- 
tere in drinking swallowed a mysterious tiny animal, and that 
night Lug appeared, telling her that she was with child by him, 
for it was he who had carried her off with her companions as 
birds — an incident lacking in this version. His was the child 
whom she had fostered, and now he himself had entered her 
as the little animal. Her child, when bom, would be called 
Setanta. Here Setanta is at once Lug's son and his rebirth; 
but the two ideas are not exclusive if we take into account 
ancient ideas. In early Indian belief the father became an 
embryo and was reincarnated in his first-born son, whence 
funeral rites were performed for the father in the fifth month 
of pregnancy, and he was remarried after the birth. '^ Probably 
for a similar reason, preserved in Celtic myth after it was no 
longer believed of mortals, a god who had a child by a mortal 
was thought to be reborn while still existing separately him- 
self; and this explains why the Ulstermen sought a wife for 
Cuchulainn so that "his rebirth might be of himself." In 
various texts Cuchulainn is called son of Lug. 



84 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

When Dechtere was found to be with child, it was thought 
that Conchobar himself was the father, for she slept by him 
— a glimpse of primitive manners in early Ireland. Elsewhere 
Cuchulainn calls Conchobar his father,^ and this may represent 
another form of the story, with Conchobar as Cuchulainn's 
parent by his sister Dechtere. Dechtere was meanwhile 
affianced to Sualtam, but ashamed of her condition, she 
vomited up the animal and again became a virgin; yet the 
child whom she bore to Sualtam was the offspring of the three 
years' absence — Setanta or Cuchulainn. On the whole this 
is a much distorted myth, but two things emerge from it — 
Lug's amour with Dechtere and his fatherhood of Setanta.^ 

Another tale, with Christian interpolations, tells how 
Connla, son of Conn, who reigned from 122 to 157 a. d., one 
day saw a strange woman who announced that she was from 
Tir na mBeo ("the Land of the Living"), where was no death, 
but perpetual feasting, and her people dwelt in a great sid^ 
whence they were called des side, or "people of the jiV." The 
goddess was invisible to all but Connla, whence Conn asked 
him with whom he spoke, to which she replied that she was 
one who looked for neither death nor old age and that she 
loved Connla and desired him to come to Mag Mell ("the 
Pleasant Plain"), where reigned a victorious king. Conn bade 
his Druid use powerful magic against her and her brichta ban, 
or "spells of women," against which at a later time St. Patrick 
made his prayer. The Druid pronounced an incantation to 
hinder Connla from seeing, and all others from hearing, the 
goddess, who withdrew after giving an apple to Connla. He 
would eat nothing but this, nor did it ever grow less; and in a 
month the love-lorn Connla saw her reappear in a boat of glass, 
calling him to come, for "the ever-living ones" invited him, 
so that he might escape death. Conn again called his Druid, 
whereupon the goddess sang that the Druids would soon pass 
away before a righteous one, St. Patrick — a Christian inter- 
polation, post eventum; and Conn then spoke to his son, but 



THE LOVES OF THE GODS 85 

the goddess sang that once on the waves Connla's grief at leav- 
ing his friends would be forgotten, and the land of joy would 
soon be reached, where there were none but women. Connla 
sprang into the boat, which sped across the sea into the un- 
known, whence he has never returned, ^° In this tale the land 
of women is obviously but a part of the divine land, since that 
is ruled by a king; and there is also confusion between the 
idea of an overseas region of the immortals — Mag Mell — 
and that of the subterranean sid. Connla's adventure is men- 
tioned in the Coir Jnmann, or Fitness of Names, where an- 
other account is given, viz. that he was slain by enemies." A 
parallel myth, perhaps of Celtic origin, is found in one of the 
Lais of Marie de France concerning the knight Lanval, with 
whom a fairy fell in love. When she declared herself, he sprang 
on horseback behind her and went away to Avalon, a beau- 
tiful island, the Elysium of the Brythonic Celts. ^- 

The Land of Ever-Living Women recurs in some tales of the 
imm-rama, or romantic voyage, type, e. g. in The Voyage of 
Maelduin, an old pagan story reconstructed in Christian 
times. Maelduin and his companions went on a quest for his 
father's murderers and met with the strangest adventures, 
one of which describes their arrival at an island where they 
saw seventeen girls preparing a bath. A warrior appeared who, 
on bathing, proved to be a woman and sent one of the girls 
to bid the men enter her house. There a splendid repast was 
given them, and the woman, Queen of the isle, desired each to 
take the girl who best pleased him, reserving herself for Mael- 
duin. In the morning she begged all to remain. Their age 
would not increase; they would be immortal; and perpetual 
feasting and excessive love without toil would be theirs. She 
had been wife of the King of the island, the girls were her 
daughters, and now she reigned alone, so that she must leave 
them each day to judge cases for the people of the isle. The 
voyagers remained three months, when all but Maelduin grew 
home-sick; yet he consented to go with them, and all entered 



86 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

their boat in the Queen's absence. Suddenly she appeared and 
threw out a rope which Maelduin seized, with the result that 
they were drawn back to the shore, where they remained three 
months longer, escaping then once more. This time one of 
Maelduin's men caught the rope thrown by the Queen, but the 
others severed his hand, and seeing this, she wept bitterly at 
their going.^' These women were not mortals but goddesses, 
eager for the love of men. 

Another myth tells of a goddess's love for Cuchulainn. A 
flock of beautiful birds appeared in Ulster, and caused all the 
women to long for them. Cuchulainn, in distributing his catch 
among them, omitted his mistress Ethne, and to appease her 
he promised that the two most beautiful birds which next ap- 
peared would be hers. Soon after, two birds linked together 
flew over the lake, singing a song which made everyone but 
Cuchulainn sleep. He pursued, but failing to catch them, he 
rested, angry in soul, against a stone, and while sleeping saw 
two women approaching, one in a green mantle, and the other 
in a purple, each armed with a horse-whip with which they 
attacked him. When he was all but dead, his friends found 
him, and on his awaking, he remained ill for a year. Then 
appeared a stranger who sang of the healing which could be 
given him by Aed Abrat's daughters, Liban and Fand, wife of 
Manannan. Fand desired his love, would he but come to her 
wondrous land; and had he been her friend, none of the things 
seen by him in vision would have happened. The stranger, 
Oengus, son of Aed Abrat, disappeared, and after the Ulster- 
men had persuaded Cuchulainn to tell his vision, he was ad- 
vised to return to the pillar-stone. There he found Liban, who 
told him that Manannan had abandoned Fand, and she 
brought him a message from her own husband, Labraid, that 
he would give him Fand in return for one day's service against 
his enemies.^"* Labraid dwelt in Mag Mcll, and there Cuchu- 
lainn would recover his strength; but the hero desired his 
charioteer Loeg first to go and report upon this land. 



PLATE IX 

A AND B 

Altar from Saintes 

A. The obverse shows a seated god and goddess. 
The god is squatting (cf. Plates III, 3, VIII, XXV), 
and holds a torque in his hand. The goddess has a 
cornucopia (cf. Plates XIV, XV), and a small fe- 
male figure stands beside her. 

B. On the reverse is a squatting god with a purse 
in his right hand; to the left is a god with a hammer 
(see Plates XIII, XIV, XXVI), and to the right is 
a goddess. Three bulls' heads are shown below 
(cf. Plates II, 4-5, 9, III, 5, XIX, i, 6, XX, B, XXI). 
From an altar found at Saintes, Charente-Inferieure, 
France. 



THE LOVES OF THE GODS 87 

At this point we hear of Loeg's visit and return, and next 
follows a long passage that has nothing to do with the story, 
which then continues as if from another version in which 
Liban's visit had not occurred. Cuchulainn was still ill and 
sent Loeg to tell Emer, his wife, how women of the side had 
destroyed his strength; but when she reproached him for his 
weakness, he arose and went to the enclosure (the pillar-stone 
of the first part). There Liban appeared, singing of Labraid's 
prowess and of his need for Cuchulainn, and striving to lead 
the hero to the dwelling of the side or to Labraid's home on a 
lake where troops of women came and went. Cuchulainn re- 
fused to go at a woman's call, whereupon Liban proposed that 
Loeg should bring tidings of Labraid's land. The two visits of 
Loeg are thus the same, but differently described-. In the first 
Liban took Loeg by the shoulder, for he could not go in safety, 
unless under the protection of a woman. In a bronze boat they 
reached an island in a lake, and in a palace Loeg saw thrice 
fifty women who welcomed him. While he spoke with Fand, 
Labraid arrived, gloomy because of the approaching contest, 
but Liban cheered him by announcing that Loeg was there, 
and that Cuchulainn would come. Now Loeg returned to tell 
of all he had seen. 

The other version describes how Loeg passed with Liban to 
the plain of Fidga, where dwelt Aed Abrat and his daughters. 
There Fand bade him at once bring Cuchulainn, for on that 
day the strife would begin; and Loeg returned, urging Cuchu- 
lainn to go and recounting what he had beheld. In one house 
were thrice fifty men; at the eastern gate were three purple 
trees with birds singing; in the forecourt was a silver tree 
with musical branches; from sixty other trees dropped food to 
nourish three hundred; and there was, too, a vat of unfailing 
ale. He described Fand's marvellous beauty and still urged 
Cuchulainn with accounts of the attractiveness of the land, 
without any lie or injustice, and of the glory of its warriors and 

its women. Cuchulainn at last went there and by his might 
III — 7 



88 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

quelled the enemies of the god. Fand and Liban now sang in 
praise of him, and he remained for a month with Fand, after 
which he bade her farewell. She appointed a tryst with him in 
Erin, but Emer heard of it and with fifty women came to at- 
tack Fand. Cuchulainn, however, bade Fand have no fear, and 
addressing Emer he told her how the goddess was more worthy 
of his love. Emer reproached him, and when she added, "If 
only I could find favour in thy sight," Cuchulainn's love for 
her returned: "Thou shalt find favour so long as I am in life." 
Then began a noble contest between Fand and Emer as to 
which of them should sacrifice herself for the other, and Fand 
sang a beautiful lament. At this moment Manannan became 
aware of Fand's predicament and arrived to rescue her, unseen 
by all save her and Loeg. Fand again sang, describing the 
coming of "the horseman of the crested sea-waves," and told 
of her former love for the god and the splendour of their es- 
pousals. Now, deserted by Cuchulainn, she would return to 
Manannan; but still her heart yearned for the hero, as she 
told Manannan when he asked her whether she would depart 
with him or no. Yet one thing weighed with her: Manannan 
had no consort worthy of him, while Cuchulainn already had 
Emer. So she departed; and when the hero knew it, he bounded 
thrice in air and gave three leaps southward, and abode for a 
long time fasting in the mountains. Emer went to Conchobar, 
who sent his Druids to bind Cuchulainn; and when the hero 
would have slain them, they chanted spells and fettered him, 
giving him a draught of oblivion so that he remembered Fand 
no more. Emer also shared in this potion and forgot her 
jealousy; "and Manannan shook his mantle between Cuchu- 
lainn and Fand, so that they should never meet again." '^ In 
this story Emer addresses Loeg as one who often searches the 
sid, while he speaks of the divine land as well-known to him 
and seems to see Manannan when he is invisible to the others, 
Manannan himself was an ardent lover, and what St. Pat- 
rick called "a complicated bit of romance," was told to him 



THE LOVES OF THE GODS 89 

by Caollte. Allien, of the Tuatha De Danann, became en- 
amoured of Manannan's wife, while his sister Aine, daughter of 
Eogabal, loved Manannan and was dearer to him than all 
mankind. Aine asked the cause of her brother's sadness, and 
he told her that he loved the goddess Uchtdelbh ("Shapely 
Bosom"). Aine accordingly bade him come with her where 
the divine pair were, and taking her seat by Manannan, she 
gave him passionate kisses. Meanwhile Uchtdelbh, seeing 
Allien, loved him; and Manannan gave her to him, himself 
taking Aine.^^ On another occasion Manannan desired Tuag, 
a maiden guarded by hosts of the King of Erin's daughters; 
and since no man might see her, Manannan sent a divine 
Druid, Fer Fidail, son of Eogabal, in the form of a woman to 
gain access to Tuag. He remained with her three nights and 
then, singing a sleep-strain over her, he carried her to the 
shore and left her slumbering while he looked for a boat wherein 
to carry her asleep to the Land of Ever-Living Women, or, in 
another version, to go to take counsel of Manannan. But a 
wave came and drowned her, the wave in one version being 
Manannan the sea-god himself — a primitive piece of person- 
alization of nature. For his misdeed Fer Fidail was slain by 
Manannan, and probably the cause of offence was that he had 
loved Tuag,^^ this explaining why she was drowned by the 
disappointed god. 

A parallel myth, connected with other personages, tells how 
Clidna the Shapely went from the Hill of the Two Wheels, in 
the Pleasant Plain of the Land of Promise, with luchna Curly- 
Locks to go to Oengus Mac Ind Oc. But luchna practised 
guile upon her so that she slept in the boat of bronze through 
his music; and then he turned the boat's head, altering its 
course till it reached the place called Clidna. At that time 
occurred one of the three great seabursts which spread through 
all the world. It caught up the boat, and Clidna was drowned; 
whence this seaburst was called Clidna's Wave.^^ The 
others were Tuag's and Rudraige's, or Ladru's and Baile's. 



90 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

The story of Crlmthann Nia Nair shows that one who so- 
journs in the divine land or tastes its food may not be able to 
return to earth with impunity, for he has become a member of 
the other-world state and is no longer fit for earth. This is 
found in other Irish tales and in stories of fairyland or the world 
of the dead elsewhere. ^^ Crimthann was son of Lugaid Red 
Stripes, of whom one of those occasional stories of incest, not 
uncommon in primitive society, is told, proving that it had 
at one time been common in Celtic custom, perhaps in the 
royal house. Lugaid's mother was Clothru, a sister of Medb 
and Ethne. Clothru and Ethne are both said to have been 
wives of Conchobar after Medb left him for Ailill; and their 
brothers, Bres, Nar, and Lothar, were called the Three Finns, 
or White Ones, of Emuin. Once Clothru bewailed her childless 
condition to them, and as a result of her entreaties she had a 
son Lugaid by all three. ^° Clothru again bore a child to Lugaid, 
Crimthann Nia Nair, or "Nar's Man," the hero of this story 
and afterward supreme king, who fared on what is called "a 
splendid adventure" with a goddess or witch called Nar. He 
went to a land overseas, where he remained with her for a 
month and a half; and at his departure he obtained many 
love-tokens — a chariot and a golden draught-board, a sword 
richly ornamented, a spear whose wounds were always mortal, 
a sling which never missed its aim, two dogs worth a hundred 
female slaves, and a beautiful mantle. Soon after his return, 
however, he fell from his horse and died -^ — an incident per- 
haps to be explained in terms of the myths of Loegaire Liban 
and Oisin, who, in order to return to the divine land, were 
warned not to dismount from their horses.^- On the other 
hand, Cuchulainn was able to return to Ireland from Elysium 
without hurt, and so also was Aedh, son of the King of Lein- 
ster, who was enticed into the sid by Bodb Dearg's daughters. 
For three years the folk of the sid cared for him while his 
father mourned, not knowing whither the divine people had 
taken him — into the sky or down under the earth. He and 



THE LOVES OF THE GODS 91 

fifty other youths escaped, however, and Aedh met St. Pat- 
rick, who restored him to his father and said that he would 
eventually die as God willed, i. e. the Tuatha De Danann 
would have no further power over him.-^ 

Sometimes mortals, or gods later envisaged as mortals, 
abducted daughters of gods. Garman took Bodb's daughter 
Mesca from the sid; but she died of shame, and the plain 
where her grave was dug was named after her, Mag Mesca. -^ 
Men of the sid, divine or semi-divine beings, but regarded as 
attendants on men, also had love-affairs with goddesses. 
Cliach, from sid Balne, was harper to the King of the three 
Rosses and made music at the sid of Femen to attract Con- 
chenn, Bodb's daughter. For a year Bodb's magic prevented 
the lover from approaching nearer, so that he "could do noth- 
ing to the girls " in the sid; but he harped until earth opened, 
and a dragon issued forth, when he died in terror. This dragon 
will arise at the end of the world and afflict Ireland in ven- 
geance for St. John Baptist — perhaps an altered fragment of 
an old cosmogonic myth.^^ Another story has some resem- 
blance to this. Liath, a young Prince of the side, loved Midir's 
daughter Bri, who went with her attendants to meet him as 
he approached. But the slingers on Midir's sid kept him back, 
and their sling-stones were like "a swarm of bees on a day of 
beauty." Liath's servant was slain, and because Liath could 
not reach her, Bri turned back to the sid and died of a broken 
heart.^^ 

Besides these, a large number of Irish and Welsh tales Illus- 
trate the amours of the gods, as may be seen elsewhere in this 
volume. 



CHAPTER VIII 
THE MYTHS OF THE BRITISH CELTS 

THE surviving myths of the British Celts (Brythons), as 
distinguished from the Irish Celts (Goidels), exist in the 
form of romantic tales in the Mabinogion and similar Welsh 
stories and in the Arthurian and Taliesin literature, or are re- 
ferred to in the Triads and Welsh poems. Have the divinities 
who there figure as kings and queens, heroes and heroines, 
magicians and fairies, retained any of their original traits and 
functions? The question is less easily answered than in the 
case of Irish divinities subjected to the same romantic and 
euhemerizing processes. With religious and social changes it 
was forgotten that the gods were gods, and they became more 
or less human, for the mediaeval story-teller was "pillaging 
an antiquity of which he does not fully possess the secret." 
The composition of the stories of the Mabinogion^ like those of 
the great Irish manuscripts, dates from the tenth and eleventh 
centuries, yet in both cases materials and personages are 
of far older date, the supernatural element is strong, and there 
is a mythical substratum surviving all changes. Further, the 
Welsh tales belong to a systematized method of treating an- 
cient traditions, and were the literary stock-in-trade of the 
Alabinog, or aspirant to the position of a qualified bard. This 
process was still further carried out in Ireland, where myths 
were recast into a chronological as well as a romantic mould, 
the file, or man of letters, being estimated according to the 
number of his stories and his power of harmonizing and syn- 
chronizing them. In Welsh literature the euhemerizing, 
historical process is seen at work less in the legends than in 



THE MYTHS OF THE BRITISH CELTS 93 

the historians Nennius and Geoffrey of Monmouth, with 
whom some gods became kings having a definite date, as in 
the Irish annals. 

Certain personages and incidents of Welsh story resemble 
those of Irish tradition. Was there, then, once a common 
mythology among the ancestors of Goidel and Brython, to 
which new local myths later accrued ? Or did Irish and Welsh 
myths mingle because Goidels existed either as a primitive 
population in Wales, conquered by Brythons, or as a later 
Irish immigration? Probably we are right in assuming that 
the Mahinogion literature contains the debris of Brythonic 
myths, influenced more or less from Goidelic sources, as the 
occasional presence of Irish names and episodes suggests. The 
Arthurian and Taliesin cycles are purely Brythonic. What is 
certain is that the dim divinities of the Mahinogion are local' 
in character and belong to specific districts in Wales, gods of^ 
tribes settled there. Celtic divinities were apt to be local, 
though some had a wider repute. Few of the many British 
divinities mentioned in inscriptions are known to Welsh story. 
Nodons is Nudd or Lludd; Maponos is Mabon; the Belenos 
and Taranos of Continental inscriptions may be respectively 
Beli or Belinus and Taran of Welsh story, while the latter sug- 
gests the British idol called Heithiurun in the Dind'senchas .^ 

The Mabinogi of Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed,^ begins by tell- 
ing why he was called Pen Jnnzvfn, or "Head of Annwfn" 
(Elysium). One day he observed a strange pack following a 
deer, but when he drove them off and urged on his own hounds, 
a horesman appeared, rebuking him for interfering with his 
sport. Pwyll apologized, and presently he and the stranger, 
Arawn, King of Annwfn, agreed to exchange their forms and 
kingdoms for a year: Pwyll would have Arawn's beautiful 
wife and would fight Arawn's rival, Havgan, giving him but 
one blow, which would slay him, for a second would resusci- 
tate him. All this happened satisfactorily; never had Pwyll's 
kingdom been so well ruled, and complete friendship was 



94 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

effected between the monarchs. As in Irish myth, this is the 
theme of a mortal helping a deity in the Other-World. Yet 
Pwyll was once himself a god, as his title Pen Annzvfn denotes, 
and was later euhemerized into a king, or confused with an 
actual monarch called Pwyll, while Annwfn here becomes a 
mere kingdom on earth. 

One day Pwyll sat on a mound which had the property of 
causing him who was seated on it to receive a blow or see a 
prodigy. A beautiful woman rode toward him and his men, 
who pursued, but could not take her. This happened again on 
the morrow, but on the third day, when Pwyll himself pursued, 
she stood still at his bidding. She was Rhiannon, daughter 
of Heveidd Hen, and wished to marry him instead of Gwawl, 
whom she detested; and in a year he must come to her father's 
court for her. When Pwyll arrived, a stranger, who in reality 
was Gwawl, appeared demanding a boon of him, and on his 
promising it, asked for Rhiannon. She solved the difficulty 
by agreeing to be Gwawl's wife in a year, but bade Pwyll ap- 
pear then as a beggar, carrying a certain magic bag, which, in 
the sequel, could not be filled with food. Gwawl was enraged, 
but was told by the beggar that unless a man of lands and 
riches stamped down the contents, it never could be filled. 
Gwawl did so and was immediately imprisoned in the bag, 
which was kicked about the hall by Pwyll's followers until, to 
escape death, he renounced his claim to Rhiannon. 

The magic mound is here the equivalent of the sid, and such 
hills are favourite places for the appearance of immortals or 
fairies in Celtic story. Rhiannon, who suddenly appeared on 
the hill, was a goddess, like Fand or Connla's lover, and the 
theme is that of the Fairy Bride. 

The story now tells how Rhiannon, whose child disappeared 
at birth, was accused of slaying it and was forced to sit at the 
horse-block of the palace, to tell her story to each new comer, 
and to offer to carry him inside. Meanwhile Teyrnon, Lord of 
Gwent-is-coed, had a mare whose foals disappeared on May- 



PLATE X 
Incised Stones from Scotland 

1. Incised stone, locally known as "the Picardy 
Stone," with double disc and Z-rod symbol, serpent 
and Z-symbol, and mirror with double-disc handle. 
From Insch, Aberdeenshire. 

2. Incised stone with double disc and serpent 
and Z-rod symbols. From Newton, Aberdeenshire. 
a. Plate XVII. 



THE MYTHS OF THE BRITISH CELTS 95 

Eve, and this May-Eve he saw a huge claw clutching the new- 
born colt. He severed It with his sword, and the intruder 
vanished; but at the door-way was a new-born infant, which 
Teyrnon nurtured. Like Cuchulainn and other heroes, it had 
a rapid growth and was called Gwri Golden-Hair. Noticing 
Gwri's likeness to Pwyll, Teyrnon carried the boy to him, 
and Rhiannon was reinstated, exclaiming that her anguish 
(pryderi) was past; whence Gwri was called Pryderi and 
succeeded Pwyll as King. 

Folk-tale formulae abound in this section — that of the 
Abandoned Wife, found also in the Mahinogi of Branwen; and 
that of an animal born the same night as the hero; while the 
claw incident occurs In tales of Flonn. The importance of the 
story is in Pryderi's birth. The fact that Teyrnon's foal dis- 
appeared on the same night as Pryderi, who was found at 
Teyrnon's door, and the meanings of the names Teyrnon = 
TIgernonos ("Great King") or Tigernos ("Chief"), and 
Rhiannon = Rigantona ("Great Queen"), may point to a 
myth in which they were Pryderi's parents.^ Manawyddan, 
who becomes Rhiannon's husband and rescues both her and 
Pryderi from the vengeance of Gwawl, may have been his 
father in another myth, for a poem associates him with Pry- 
deri in Caer SIdi, a part of Annwfn. In the story, however, 
Pwyll, an original lord of Elysium, is Pryderi's parent. Does 
this point to a number of goddesses, bearing the name Rigan- 
tona, consorts of different gods, and later fused into one as 
Rhiannon.'' In another Mabinogi, Pryderi is despoiled of 
swine sent him by Arawn, or of which, according to a Triad, 
he was swineherd, Pwyll having brought them from Annwfn 
and given them to Pryderi's foster-father. Pwyll and Pryderi 
are thus associated with Elysium and with animals brought 
thence. A Tallesin poem tells of the magic cauldron of Pen 
Annwfn, viz. Pwyll. Round It was a ridge of pearls; it would 
not boil a coward's food; voices Issued from it; it was warmed 
by the breath of nine maidens; and it formed part of the 



96 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

"Spoils of Annwfn" which Arthur and others made a long 
journey overseas to obtain. Gweir was imprisoned in Caer 
Sidi through the spite (or messenger?) of Pwyll and Pryderi, 
associated as lords and defenders of Annwfn.'* Arawn, Lord 
of Annwfn, was defeated by Amaethon, son of Don, at the 
mythic battle of Cath Godeu.^ 

The Mahinogi of Math, son of Mathonwy,^ tells of Gil- 
vaethwy's love for Goewin, Math's "foot-holder." To help 
him his brother Gwydion resolved to cause war and told Math 
that swine, unknown before, had been sent to Pryderi in Dyfed 
by Arawn. He and Gilvaethwy, disguised as bards, set oflP to the 
court of Pr}'deri, who praised Gwydion for his songs, where- 
upon the latter asked for the swine, but was told that they 
must breed double their number ere they left the country. 
Gwydion now obtained them in exchange for twelve stallions 
and twelve greyhounds magically formed by him from fungus; 
but these soon turned again to their original shape, and Pryd- 
eri invaded Math's territory, only to be defeated and slain 
in single combat by Gwydion's enchantments. Gilvaethwy 
outraged Goewin during the battle, and when Math discovered 
this, he transformed the brothers first into a couple of deer, 
then into swine, and finally into wolves. In these forms they 
had animal progeny, afterward changed to human shape by 
Math. Math now found a new "foot-holder" in Arianrhod, 
Gwydion's sister, but she proved no virgin, and when Math 
caused her to pass under his magic rod, she bore twins, one of 
whom was taken by Math and called Dylan. When Gwydion 
brought the other, who had grown rapidly, to Arianrhod's 
castle, she refused to give him a name. Disguised as a shoe- 
maker, Gwydion then arrived with the boy and made shoes 
for Arianrhod which did not fit. She went on board Gwyd- 
ion's ship, produced by magic, and saw the boy shoot a bird. 
Not recognizing him, she cried, "With a sure hand {Haw 
gyffes) lieu shoots the bird," whereupon Gwydion revealed 
himself and said that she had named the boy, Lieu Llaw 



THE MYTHS OF THE BRITISH CELTS 97 

Gyffes. Now she refused to arm him, but once more disguised, 
Gwydion with Lieu caused an enchanted fleet to appear; and 
she armed both, only to be taunted with the stratagem. Again 
she said that Lieu would never have a wife of the people of this 
earth, but Math and Gwydion made him a bride out of flowers 
and called her Blodeuwedd. She was unfaithful to Lieu, how- 
ever, and advised by her lover, Gronw Pebyr, she discovered 
that a javelin wrought for a year during Mass on Sundays 
would kill him when standing with one foot on a buck and the 
other on a bath curiously prepared by the bank of a river. 
Gronw made the javelin, and when Lieu, prevailed on by 
Blodeuwedd, showed her the fatal position, he was struck by 
Gronw and flew off as an eagle. Soon after, Gwydion found a 
pig eating worms which fell from a wasted eagle on a tree; 
and as he sang three verses, at each the eagle came nearer. 
When he struck it with a magic rod, it became Lieu, who now 
turned Blodeuwedd into an owl; while Gronw had to submit 
to a blow from a javelin which penetrated the flat stone placed 
by him against his body and killed him. Lieu now recovered 
his lands and ruled them happily. 

These personages are associated with a dim figure called 
Don, who is probably not male, but female, and is mother of 
Gwydion, Gilvsethwy, Govannon, Amsethon, and Arianrhod, 
who was herself mother of Dylan and Lieu. Math is Don's 
brother. Superficially this group is equivalent to the Tuatha 
De Danann, and Don is parallel to Danu, while Govannon 
(go/, "smith") is the equivalent of Goibniu, the Irish smith- 
god. Lieu, the reading of whose name as Llew ("Lion") may 
be abandoned, has been equated with Lug, and both names 
are said to mean "light." "Light," however, has no sense in 
the name-giving incident, and possibly, as Loth suggests,^ 
there is a connexion with Irish lu, "Httle." The other names 
of the group have no parallels among the Tuatha De Danann. 
Mythological traits are the magic powers of Math and Gwyd- 
ion, their shape-shifting, and the introduction of the swine. 



98 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

Math Hen, or "the Ancient," is an old Welsh "high god," 
remembered for magic, which he taught to Gwydion; for the 
fact that the winds brought to him the least whisper of a con- 
versation, wherever it might be held; and for his pre-eminent 
goodness to the suffering and his justice without vengeance 
upon the wrongdoer. The last trait shows a high ideal of 
divinity, and the second a conception of omniscience. 

As a magician Gwydion is also prominent, and by magic 
he governed Gwynedd. He was the cleverest of men and 
possessed terrible strength, while his prophetic powers are 
emphasized in a Triad, and he had supreme gifts as story-teller 
and bard. His successful raid on Prydcri's pigs which came 
from Annwfn suggests that, like Cuchulainn, he is the culture 
hero bringing domestic animals from the god's land to earth, 
and perhaps for this reason a Triad calls him one of the three 
cowherds of Britain, guarding thousands of kine. Irish myth 
also frequently speaks of cattle brought from the sid. Gwyd- 
ion's name reflects his character as an inspired bard, if it is 
from a root vet, giving words meaning "saying" or "poetry," 
cognate terms being Irish faith, "prophet" or "poet," and 
Latin vates.^ Gwydion would thus be equivalent to Ogma 
and Ogmios, gods of eloquence and letters, and a late manu- 
script says he first taught reading and knowledge of books to 
the Gaels of Anglesey and Ireland. He is not straightforward, 
however, when he pretends that his sister Arianrhod is a virgin, 
for she is his mistress and mother of his sons, an incest incident 
with parallels in Irish story. 

Arianrhod consented to the fraud and as a further pretence 
to chastity disowned Lieu; yet a Triad calls her one of the 
three blessed or white ladies of Britain. Was she worshipped 
as a virgin goddess, while myth gave her a different character."* 
Celtic goddesses, like the Matres, were connected with fertility, 
and goddesses of fertility or earth are apt to possess a double 
character, like the great Phrygian Mother, who was also re- 
garded as a virgin. ** Arianrhod, like Aphrodite, was lovely; 



THE MYTHS OF THE BRITISH CELTS 99 

"beauty-famed beyond summer's dawn," sang a poet.^° Her 
name means "silver wheel." 

Much that is said of Lieu Is insignificant for mythology, 
though Rhys has built a large structure of sun, dawn, and 
darkness upon it. The greater part of it is a well-known folk- 
tale formula attached to his name — that of the Unfaithful 
Wife. It is doubtful whether Lieu really equals Lug merely 
because their uncles are respectively Govannon and Gavida 
(Goibniu), both meaning "smith"; for while Gavida nurtured 
Lug, and Lug slew Balor, Lieu was not brought up by Govan- 
non, and the latter incident has no equivalent in his story. 
Moreover, Lug is prominent in connexion with the great 
Celtic festival, Lugnasad (celebrated on the first of August), 
but Lieu is not. Thus his mythological significance is lost 
to us. 

Math caused Dylan to be baptized, and then this precocious 
baby made for the sea, where he swam like a fish; no billow 
broke under him, and he was called "son of the wave." The 
blow which caused his death came from Govannon — one of 
the three nefarious blows of Britain — but is otherwise un- 
explained. The waves lamented his death, and ever, as they 
press toward the land, they seek to avenge it.^^ Perhaps Dylan 
was once a sea-god, regarded as identical with the waves, like 
Manannan. Tradition speaks of the noise of the waters pour- 
ing into the Conway as his dying groans, and, again like 
Manannan, son of Ler (the sea), he is called Dylan Eil Ton 
or Mor ("Son of the Wave" or "Sea").i2 "As soon as he 
entered the sea, he took its nature." 

Govannon's functions as a smith-god are illustrated from a 
reference in Kulhzvch and Olwen, where his help must be gained 
by Kulhwch to attend at the end of the furrows to cleanse the 
iron,^^ though the meaning of this is obscure. In a Taliesin 
poem he and Math are associated as artificers.^"* Amsethon's 
name suggests that his functions were connected with agricuU 
ture {amaeth, "ploughman" or "labourer"), and this is illus- 



loo CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

trated by the fact that no husbandmen can till or dress a 
certain field for Kulhwch, "so wild Is it, save Amsethon, son of 
Don; he will not follow thee of his own free will, and thou canst 
not force him."^^ He also brought animals from the gods' 
land — a roebuck, whelp, and lapwing belonging to Arawn — 
and this led to the battle of Godeu, in which, aided byGwyd- 
ion, he fought Arawn. Gwydion changed trees and sedges 
into combatants, as he had transformed fungus into hounds 
and horses. On either side fought personages who could not 
be vanquished until their names were discovered, but Gwyd- 
ion affected the course of the battle by finding the name of 
Arawn's mysterious helper, Bran — a mythic instance of the 
power of the hidden name, once it becomes known to another.'^ 

Whether as a survival from myth or from later folk-belief, 
the stars are associated with some of these divinities. The 
constellation of Cassiopeia is called "Don's Court"; Arianrhod 
is connected with the constellation Corona BoreaHs; and the 
Milky Way is termed "Gwydion's Castle," because he fol- 
lowed it in chasing Blodeuwedd across the sky — an obviously 
primitive myth.^^ 

The Mahinogion of Branwen and of Manawyddan are con- 
nected and concern the families of Pwyll and Llyr.^^ The 
Llyr group consists of his sons. Bran and Manawyddan; their 
sister, Branwen; and their half-brother, Nissyen and Evnissyen. 
As Bran sat on a rock at Harlech, vessels arrived bearing 
Matholwych, King of Ireland, as a suitor for Branwen. He 
was accepted, and a feast was made for him in tents, for no 
house could hold Bran. But Evnissyen the mischief-maker 
mutilated Matholwych's steeds, and the king indignantly 
left, returning only when Bran gave him gifts, including a 
cauldron which restored life to the dead, though they re- 
mained dumb. This cauldron was obtained from two mys- 
terious beings who came out of a lake in Ireland, the man 
bearing the cauldron, and the woman about to give birth to 
an armed warrior; but they and their descendants were so 



THE MYTHS OF THE BRITISH CELTS loi 

troublesome that they were imprisoned in a white-hot iron 
house, whence the pair escaped to Britain with their cauldron 
— an incident probably borrowed from the Ulster tale of the 
Mesca Ulad. Matholwych returned to Ireland with Branwen, 
and there, after two years, in retaliation for Evnissyen's con- 
duct, she was placed in the kitchen, where the butcher struck 
her every morning. She accordingly sent a starling to Bran 
with a message, whereupon he waded over to Ireland, his 
men following in ships and crossing the Shannon on his body. 
The Irish came to terms and built Bran a vast house, in which 
they concealed warriors in sacks; but Evnissyen discovered 
this and crushed them one by one. Peace was now concluded, 
but Evnissyen again caused trouble by throwing Branwen's 
child into the fire. In the fight which followed the Irish were 
winning because they restored their dead in the cauldron; 
but Evnissyen smashed it, though he died in the effort. Bran 
was slain, and seven only of his people escaped, including 
Pryderi, Manawyddan, and Taliesin. Bran bade them cut 
off his head and bury it at London, looking toward France; 
and they reached Anglesey with Branwen, who died there of a 
broken heart. Meanwhile Caswallawn, son of Beli, had usurped 
the kingdom, Bran's son also dying of sorrow. As Bran 
had advised, his head-bearers remained at Harlech for seven 
years, feasting and listening to the birds of Rhiannon singing 
far overhead; and at Gwales for eighty years, the head enter- 
taining them in a house with a forbidden door. The years 
passed as a day, until one of the men opened the door, when 
their evils were remembered, and they went to London to 
bury the head. 

Manawyddan having lamented that he was landless, Pryd- 
eri gave him land in Dyfed and his mother Rhiannon as 
wife. All three, with Kicva, Pryderi's wife, were seated on a 
knoll when a thunder-clap was heard; and as the cloud which 
accompanied it cleared away, they found the country desolate, 
without creature or habitation. Lack of food impelled them 



102 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

to seek a living as saddlers, shield-makers, and shoe-makers 
successively, but they were always expelled by the regular 
craftsmen. One day they pursued a boar to a strange castle, 
and Pryderi entered, but trying to lift a golden cup, his hands 
stuck fast to it, nor could he move his feet. Manawyddan 
told Rhiannon of Pryderi's disappearance, and when she 
sought him, she met the same fate, until at another clap of 
thunder the castle disappeared. Manawyddan and KIcva, as 
shoe-makers, were again foiled by envious cobblers, and he 
now sowed three fields, but an army of mice ate the grain. 
One of these he caught and was about to hang, in spite of the 
entreaties of Kicva, of a clerk, and of a priest, when a bishop 
appeared, and Manawyddan bargained to give up the mouse 
if the bishop released Pryderi and Rhiannon, removed the 
enchantment from Dyved, and told him who and what the 
mouse was. The bishop was Llwyd, a friend of Gwawl, whom 
Pryderi's father, Pwyll, had insulted. All had happened in 
revenge for that: the mouse was Llwyd's wife, the other mice 
the ladies of the court. Everything was now restored; Pryderi 
and Rhiannon reappeared; and Llwyd agreed to seek no fur- 
ther revenge. 

While the framework of Branwen is connected with Scandi- 
navian and German sagas, whether borrowed by Welshmen 
from their Norse allies In the ninth and tenth centuries, 
as Nutt supposed, ^^ or by Norsemen from Wales, its person- 
ages are Celtic, and it contains many native elements. Llyr 
Half-Speech and Manawyddan are the equivalents of the 
Irish sea-gods Ler and Manannan, the latter of whom Is also 
associated with Elysium. It is uncertain whether these two 
were common to Goldels and Brythons, or were borrowed by 
the latter; but at all events they have a definite position in 
Welsh tradition, which knows of two other Llyrs — Llyr 
Marini and Llyr, father of Cordelia in GeoflFrey's History — 
Shakespeare's Lear.^" These are probably varying present- 
ments of a sea-god. Llyr is sometimes confused with Lludd 



THE MYTHS OF THE BRITISH CELTS 103 

Llaw Ereint, or "Silver-Hand." A Triad represents Gweir, 
Mabon, and Llyr as three notable prisoners of Britain; but in 
Kulhwch these are Greit, Mabon, and Lludd, father of Cor- 
delia. ^^ Are Llyr and Lludd identical, and is an Irish Alloit, 
sometimes called father of Manannan, the equivalent of 
Lludd .^ All this is uncertain. Rhys and Loth are tempted to 
correct Lludd into Nudd, an earlier Nodens Lamargentios 
("Nudd Silver-Hand") having been changed to Lodens (Lludd) 
Lamargentios by alliteration, and to equate him with the 
Irish Nuada Argetlam ("Silver-Hand"); but the possibility 
of such an alliterative change has been denied. Nuada is 
identified with the British god Nodons; but though Llyr was 
a sea-god, there is no proof that Nuada or Nodons was such, 
though some symbols in the remains of the temple of Nodons 
on the Severn have been thought to suggest this.^^ These, 
however, are not decisive, and it is equally possible 
that the god was equated with Mars rather than with 
Neptune. 

Manawyddan, whose name is derived from Welsh Manaw, 
the Isle of Man, is much more humanized in Welsh story than 
the divine Manannan of the Voyage of Bran; yet he has magic 
powers and great superiority as a craftsman. He is associated 
with Arthur in a poem and is praised for his wise counsels, 
while Pryderi was instructed by him in various crafts and 
aided by him, just as the Irish Diarmaid was nurtured and 
taught by Manannan. Rhiannon may have been introduced 
accidentally into the story — "a mere invention of the nar- 
rator in order to give sequence to the narrative"; ^^ but possi- 
bly she is Manawyddan's real consort, not one given him by her 
son. If so, Pryderi would be Manawyddan's son, not Pwyll's, 
and his deliverance of Rhiannon and Pryderi from his magi- 
cian foe would be significant.^^ Rhiannon appears magically, 
like Irish goddesses of Elysium, and she may thus have been 
associated with Manawyddan in Elysium, who with Pryderi is 

Lord of Annwfn in a Taliesin poem — 
III— 8 



104 CELTIC iVnTHOLOGY 

" Complete is my chair in Caer Sidi; 
Plague and age hurt not him who is in it, 
They know Manawyddan and Pryderi; 
Three organs round a fire sing before it, 
And about its points are ocean's streams. 
And the abundant well above it — 
Sweeter than white wine the drink of it." ^ 

Rhiannon's magic birds, whose song brought joy and oblivion 
for seven years, like that of Ler's bird-children,^® and awoke the 
dead and made the living sleep," have an Elysian note and 
confirm the supposition that she is an Elysian goddess. Be- 
yond that we need not go, and there Is nothing to connect 
her with the dawn or the moon. 

Branwen or Bronwen ("White Bosom") has no definite 
traits. Her marriage to Matholwych and her subsequent 
sufferings recall the stories of Gudrun, Kriemhild, and Signy; 
but whether she ever was connected as a goddess of fertility 
with her brother's cauldron of regeneration must remain an 
ingenious conjecture, not supported by the Mabinogi. As a 
sea-god's daughter, she may be "the Venus of the northern 
sea," as Elton supposed, ^^ while the Black Book of Caermar- 
then calls the sea "the fountain of Venus," ^^ though this is, 
perhaps, nothing more than a Classical recollection. Later 
romance knew her as Brangwaine, the confidante of Tristram 
and Yseult, giving the knight the love-potion w^hlch bound 
him In Illicit amour with Yseult. 

Bran is a more obviously mythological figure, and his 
gigantic size is an earlier or later method of indicating his 
divinity. His buried head protected the land from Invasion 
— a mythical expression of actual custom — for bodies and 
heads of warriors had apotropaic virtues and were sometimes 
exhibited or buried in the direction whence danger was ex- 
pected.^" Hence the Image of a divine head might have greater 
powers, and this may explain the existence of Celtic Images 
of a god's head, often In triple form. These figures, found In 
Gaul, were believed by Rh^s to be Images of Cernunnos, a 



THE MYTHS OF THE BRITISH CELTS 105 

god of the Celtic underworld, which he regarded as a dark 
region, contrary to all that we can gather of it, while Bran 
was the Brythonic equivalent of Cernunnos and was slain by a 
sun-hero, his wading to Ireland representing his crossing the 
waters to Hades, like Yama, there to reign as lord of the dead.^^ 
The heads, however, can be explained only conjecturally as 
heads of Cernunnos. The exigencies of the story demanded 
that Ireland should be brought in, and as Bran had to reach it 
somehow, it was easiest to make the gigantic god wade there; 
if the parallel with Yama were true, Bran should have died 
before crossing the water of death. Yama's realm was not 
"dark," but a heavenly region of light, like the Celtic other- 
world, even if the latter, unlike the former, was subterranean. 
Far from being "dark," Bran is bright and cheerful and has 
Elysian traits. Eighty years are as a day, and men think only 
of feasting and happiness in the presence of his head, which is as 
agreeable to them as he himself was in life; it produces an Elys- 
ium on earth, which is lost through opening a door, exactly as 
others lose it and become decrepit through contact with earth. 
Thus if Bran, sitting on the rock at Harlech or existing as a 
talking head afterward solemnly buried, like Orpheus's singing 
head interred in a sacred place, is the equivalent of the squat- 
ting Gaulish god Cernunnos, perhaps also represented as a single 
or triple head, this can only be because both were lords of a 
bright other-world, whether the region of the dead or a divine 
land. Bran is certainly not a dark god of blight, but rather 
the reverse, since his cauldron resuscitates the dead. In cross- 
ing to Ireland he carried his musicians on his back, and this 
may point to his being a divinity of musicians and bards. If 
so, he, as the Urdawl Ben ("Noble Head"), may be compared 
to the Uthr Ben ("Wonderful Head") of a Taliesin poem, 
which boasted of being a bard, harper, and piper, and equal to 
seven score professionals.^^ Arthur disinterred Bran's head, 
not wishing to owe the defence of Britain to it. 

Bran was euhemerized into a British king who was confused 



io6 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

with Brennus, leader of the Gauis In the sack of Rome, 390 
B. c, and was transformed into a conqueror of Gaul and 
Rome.^^ He also figures as a saint, Bran the Blessed, if that 
was not already a pagan epithet; and remaining at Rome 
seven years as hostage with his son Caradawc, he brought 
Christianity thence to the Cymry. Caradawc is here the his- 
toric Caratacus, who was carried prisoner to Rome, but there 
is confusion with a Caradawc ("Great Arms," or "Prince of 
Combat"), son of Llyr Marini, about whom a saga may have 
existed. In any case Bran was regarded as head of one of the 
three saintly families of Britain. ^^ 

In the Mabinogi of Branwen, Caswallawn, clothed in a 
mantle of invisibility, destroyed the heroes of Britain and 
usurped the kingdom, leaving Manawyddan landless; and 
though his sister was married to Llyr, he was hostile to Llyr's 
descendants. Caswallawn, Lludd, Llevelys, and Nynnyaw 
were sons of Beli, although Geoffrey makes his Lear long pre- 
cede Beli or Heli as king, while he also introduces a Belinus 
and confuses Caswallawn with Cassivellaunus, Caesar's foe.^* 
Beli and Belinus may represent the god Belenos, who was 
equated with Apollo; and Beli is victorious champion of the 
land and the preserver of its qualities in a Taliesin poem, in 
which the singer implores him ^'^ — perhaps a reminiscence of 
earlier divine traits. A Triad calls Beli father of Arianrhod, 
and Rhys, assuming that this is Arianrhod, the daughter of 
Don, makes Don consort of Beli, equates Don with Danu, and, 
without the slightest evidence, assigns to Danu as consort the 
shadowy figure Bile, father of Mile, invented by Irish annal- 
ists. Beli and Bile are then equated with the Celtic Dispater, 
the divine ancestor of the Celtic race, whom he assumes to 
have been a "dark" god, ruling a "dark" underworld. ^^ All 
this is modern mythologizing. 

Caswallawn is confused in the Triads with Cassivellaunus, a 
warrior who may have been named after him; and he is called 
"war-king," an epithet which may recall his divine functions, 



PLATE XI 

Gauls and Romans in Combat 

Bas-relief from a sarcophagus found near Rome. 



THE MYTHS OF THE BRITISH CELTS 107 

those of a god invisibly leading armies to battle and embodied 
in chiefs who bore his name. Yet the epithet might be that of 
actual warriors, just as the German Emperor calls himself the 
"war-lord." 

Lludd,as King, rebuilt London orCaer Ludd, and was buried 
at Ludgate Hill, which thus preserves his name and points to 
an earlier cult of Lludd at this place.^* He is also said to have 
been enclosed in a narrow prison — an unexplained reference 
to some tale now lost. In the story of Lludd and Llevelys ^^ his 
country of Britain was subjected to three plagues — the Cora- 
nians who heard every whisper, like Math Hen; a shriek on 
May-Eve caused by a foreign dragon attacking the dragon of 
the land and producing wide-spread desolation; and the mys- 
terious disappearance of a year's supply of food. Llevelys bade 
Lludd bruise certain insects in water and throw the mixture 
over his assembled people and the Coranians; the latter alone 
would be poisoned by it. The dragons were to be made drunk 
with mead and then buried. The third plague was caused by a 
magician who lulled every one to sleep and then carried off the 
provisions; but Lludd was to keep awake by plunging into 
cold water and then to capture the giant, who would become 
his vassal. This last plague recalls "the hand of glory," the 
hand of a new-born infant or a criminal, which, anointed with 
grease and ignited, rendered a robber invisible and caused 
every one to sleep in whatever house the thief entered. Treasure 
was also discovered by its means, and as Dousterswivel in 
Scott's Antiquary said, "he who seeksh for treasuresh shall 
never find none at all," to which the Antiquary replied, "I 
dare take my corporal oath of that conclusion." Whether this 
episode of the story is based on such a folk-belief is not clear. 
As a whole nation suffers from the plagues, and as two of them 
affect fertility and plenty, the origin of the tale may be found 
in the mythical contest of divine powers with hostile potencies 
of blight, as at Mag-Tured.'*^ In a Triad the plague of the 
Coranians is called that of March Malaen from beyond the 



io8 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

sea;*^ and March suggests the Fomorlan More, who taxed 
the Nemedians in two-thirds of their children, corn, and milk 
on November-Eve.^ The Welsh plagues, however, occur at Bel- 
tane, i. e. at the beginning of summer, rather than winter, as 
might be expected. Lludd is praised for generosity in giving 
meat and drink — the attribute of a kindly god. The Cora- 
nians are connected with Welsh cor ("dwarf") and are still 
known as mischievous fairies. 

In connexion with such dwarfs it is interesting to note that a 
dwarf fairy-folk is described by Giraldus Cambrensis (1147- 
1223). Two of them took the priest Elidurus, when a boy, 
through subterranean passages to a delightful region, whose 
people lived on milk and saffron, swore no oaths, and contemned 
human ambition and inconstancy. Elidurus frequently visited 
them, but being persuaded by his mother to steal their gold, he 
was pursued and the gold was taken from him, after which he 
never again found the way to fairy-land.'*^ Save for their size, 
these fairies recall the Tuatha De Danann, dwelling in the sid. 

Gwyn, son of Nudd, is connected both with Annwfn and also 
in later belief with fairy-land.'*^ He was a great magician and a 
mighty warrior — "the hope of armies" — while his horse was 
also "the torment of battle";'*" without him and a certain 
steed named Du, the monster boar, the Twrch Trwyth, could 
not be caught by Kulhwch. Gwyn abducted Creidylad (Cor- 
delia), daughter of Lludd, who was afhanced to Gwythur; but 
in the fight which followed Gwyn was victor and forced one of 
his foes to eat his dead father's heart so that he became mad. 
Arthur interfered, however, and ordered that Creidylad should 
remain with her father, while Gwyn and Gwythur must fight 
for her every day until doom, when she would be given to the 
victor.^ This story is illustrated by folk-survivals. On May- 
day in the Isle of Man a girl representing the May Queen was 
attended by a captain and several others; and there was also a 
Queen of Winter with her company. The two bands met in 
mock battle, and if the May Queen was captured, her men had 



THE MYTHS OF THE BRITISH CELTS 109 

to ransom her.*^ Ritual combats between representatives of 
summer and winter occur among the folk everywhere and in 
origin symbolized the defeat of winter, as well as actually 
aided the gods of light and growth. The story of Creidylad is 
perhaps the debris of an old myth explaining the reason of such 
a contest when its real purpose was forgotten. 

Another group of divine personages is found In the Hanes 
Taliesin, which was written In the sixteenth or seventeenth 
century, although references to Incidents in it occur in far ear- 
lier poems In the Book of Taliesin and presuppose its existence 
in some form when they were composed. It contains mythical 
elements which introduce old divinities, a culture hero or god, 
Taliesin, and the conceptions of inspiration, rebirth, and shape- 
shifting, the last being expressed in the folk-tale formula of the 
Transformation Combat, as It already is in one of the poems.^^ 
Taliesin Is unknown to the Mabinogion, save as a bearer of 
Bran's head, and this suggests his local character, while the 
saga was probably developed in a district to the south of the 
estuary of the Dyfi.'*^ Before story or poem was written, three 
facts concerning his mythic history must have been remem- 
bered — his inspiration, his shape-shifting powers, and his 
being the rebirth of Gwion. Whether or not there was an 
actual poet called Taliesin living in the sixth or, as his latest 
translator and commentator, Mr. J. G. Evans, thinks. In the 
thirteenth century, it is certain that his poems contain many 
mythical references which must once have been told of a myth- 
ical being doubtless bearing the same name as himself. 

Tegid the Bald lived in Lake Tegid (Bala) with his wife 
Cerridwen, their beautiful daughter Crelrwy, and their sons 
Morvran and Avagddu, the latter the. most ill-favoured of 
men, although Morvran ("Sea-Crow") is elsewhere said to 
have been also of repellent aspect. Cerridwen wished to com- 
pensate Avagddu by giving him knowledge, so that he might 
have entry among men of standing; and with the aid of the 
books of FfergU (Vergil) she prepared a cauldron of inspiration 



no CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

and science to boil for a year. While she went to gather herbs 
of virtue, she set the blind Mordu to kindle the fire and Gwion 
to stir the pot; but three drops from it fell on his finger, which 
he put in his mouth, and he found himself master of knowledge, 
which taught him to flee from Cerridwen's rage. Here follows 
the incident of the Transformation Combat, with the goddess 
as a hen finally swallowing Gwion as a grain. ^° She later gave 
birth to him, and wrapping him up in a hide, placed him in the 
sea. At Gwydno's weir the value of a hundred pounds was 
found every first of May, and Elphin was to obtain whateverwas 
discovered on the next occasion, which proved to be the child. 
When the package was opened, Gwydno exclaimed, "Here is 
a fine or radiant brow" or "fine profit" {tal iessin), whence 
Elphin named the child Taliesin, and the infant sang and 
showed how deep was his knowledge. He was nurtured by 
Elphin and became one of the greatest of bards. Now Elphin 
had boasted at court that he had a more virtuous wife and a 
better bard than any there, whence he was imprisoned until 
his claim was verified. Rhun was sent to seduce his wife, but 
Taliesin put a servant in her place, and she fell victim to Rhun^ 
who cut off her finger with her mistress's ring. When Elphin 
was confronted with it, he showed an ingenuity equal to that 
of Sherlock Holmes in proving that the finger was not his 
wife's — the ring was too tight, the finger-nail was uncut, and on 
herfingersome flourhad remained from her baking. Nowhis wife 
never baked; she cut her finger-nails weekly; and the ring was 
loose even on her thumb. Taliesin next came forward and by 
his spells made the other bards utter nonsense. He sang of his 
origin — "the region of the summer stars" — his existence in 
long past ages, from that of Lucifer's fall to the days of the 
Patriarchs, and his life at the Nativity and Crucifixion of 
Christ, and referred to his birth from Cerridwen. Then the 
castle shook; Elphin was summoned; and as Taliesin sang his 
chains fell from him.^^ 

The latter part of the story is purely romantic, but in poems 



THE MYTHS OF THE BRITISH CELTS iii 

ascribed to Taliesin and in a Triad his greatness as the "chief 

of bards" appears — 

"With me is the splendid chair, 
The inspiration of fluent and urgent song." 

He has been with the gods and ranks himself as one of them, 
telling how he was created and enchanted by them before he 
became immortal; ^^ he has a chair not only on earth but in 
the gods' land.^^ Taliesin was the ideal bard, a god of inspira- 
tion like Ogma, and, besides his reincarnation, his birth from 
Cerridwen shows his divine nature. Yet, like other semi- 
divine personages connected with inspiration or culture, he 
obtains his powers by accident or by force. One myth, that 
of the cauldron, shows the former and is parallel to the story 
of Fionn and the salmon; ^^ but in another, darkly referred to 
in a poem, he with Arthur and many companions goes overseas 
to Caer Sidi for the spoils of Annwfn, including the cauldron 
of Pen Annwfn.^^ Here, whether successfully or not, the gifts 
of culture and inspiration are sought by force or craft. Are 
two separate myths combined in the Hanes Taliesin, one making 
Taliesin son of a goddess with an abode in the divine land; the 
other viewing him as a culture hero, stealing the gifts of the 
gods' land, and therefore obnoxious to Cerridwen.'' And if so, 
do these myths "reflect the encroachment of the cult of a god 
on that of a goddess, his worshippers regarding him as her son, 
her worshippers reflecting their hostility to the new god in a 
myth of her enmity to him".? ^^ 

Taliesin was supreme in shape-shifting and rebirth. Of no 
other Brythonic god or hero is the latter asserted, and several 
poems obscurely enumerate various forms which he assumed 
and recount his adventures in them. When, however, the poet, 
speaking in his name, asserts that he has been a sword, tear, 
word, book, coracle, etc., it is obvious that this is mere bardic 
nonsense and not pantheism, as some have suggested. The 
claims of Taliesin and of the Irish Amairgen resemble those of 
the Eskimo angakok, who has the entree of the other-world and 



112 CELTIC M^T^HOLOGY 

can transform himself at will; " and the gift of transformation 
and rebirth is then associated with inspiration in the Hanes 
Taliesin. Here the equation with Fionn and Oisin, already 
noted by J. G. Campbell and accepted by Rhys, is worth ob- 
serving. Fionn and Gwion obtain inspiration accidentally. 
Fionn is reborn, not as Oisin, but as Mongan, and Gwion as 
Taliesin. Oisin and Taliesin are both bards, and Oisin's name 
is perhaps equivalent to -essin or -eisin in Taliesin. Taliesin's 
shape-shifting has no parallel with Fionn or Oisin, but Oisin's 
mother and, in one tradition, Fionn's also became a fawn. 
Thus inspiration, rebirth, and shape-shifting are attached to 
different personages in different ways, showing that mythical 
elements common to the Celtic race have been employed. 

Tegid is a god of the world under waters, but is not other- 
wise known to existing myth; though he and Cerridwen, pos- 
sessor of a cauldron, are perhaps parallel to the giant pair out 
of a lake with their cauldron in Branzven, Cerridwen being a 
local goddess of inspiration, as her cauldron of knowledge shows. 
The Celtic mythical cauldron, bestowing knowledge, plenty 
(like Dagda's), and life (Hke Bran's), ^^ is recognizable as a 
property of the gods' land; but it was dangerous, and a bard 
sings of his chair being defended from Cerridwen's cauldron. ^^ 
Cerridwen was regarded as a daughter of Ogyrven, from whose 
cauldron came three muses, and who was perhaps an epony- 
mous deity of the elements of language, poetry, and the letters 
of the alphabet, called ogyrvens, as well as a god of bards. 
Cerridwen is styled "the ogyrven of various seeds, those of 
poetic harmony, the exalted spirit of the minstrel"; but 
ogyrven also means "a spiritual form," "a personified idea," 
and may here be equivalent to "goddess." ^° Thus Cerridwen 
was a deity of inspiration, like Brigit, though, like other Celtic 
goddesses, her primary function may have been with fertility, 
of which the cauldron, supplying plenty and giving life, is a 
symbol. She is also called a "goddess of grain." ^^ 

Tegid's water-world is the land under waves of Irish myth — 



PLATE XII 

Three-Headed God 

The statue, adorned with torques, was once 
homed. For another representation of this divinity, 
perhaps a deity of the underworld, see Plate VII. 
Found at Condat, France. 



THE MYTHS OF THE BRITISH CELTS 113 

one aspect of Elysium, examples of which have already been 
considered. Another instance occurs in the Voyage of Maelduin, 
where the voyagers reach a sea, beneath which is descried a 
country with castles, men, and cattle; but in a tree is a great 
beast eating an ox, and the sight so terrifies them that they 
sail quickly away. In another story Murough is invited to 
come below the waters. He dives down and reaches the land 
of King Under- Waves, whom he sees sitting on a golden throne; 
a year spent there feasting seems but a few days. Welsh tradi- 
tion has also m.any stories of water-worlds, as well as of fairy 
brides, daughters of the lord of the lake, and cattle which came 
thence.^^ In a Christianized Irish version of the conception a 
bishop from time to time visited a monastery beneath the 
waters of a lake, finally disappearing from his own monastery, 
none knew whither.^^ 



CHAPTER IX 
THE DIVINE LAND 

ELYSIUM, called by many beautiful Celtic names, is the 
gods' land and is never associated with the dead. The 
living were occasionally invited there, however, and either 
remained perpetually or returned to earth, where sometimes 
they found themselves decrepit and aged; time had lapsed 
like a dream, because they were in the immortal land and had 
tasted its immortal food. Many tales already cited have 
shown different conceptions of its situation — in the sid, on 
a mysterious island, or beneath the waters; or the gods create 
it on earth or produce it by glamour to mortal eyes. Occa- 
sionally such conceptions are mingled. These legends have 
illustrated its marvellous beauty, its supernatural fruit trees 
and music, its unfailing and satisfying food and drink, and 
the deathless glory and youth of its people. 

The tales now to be summarized will throw further light 
upon its nature. The first of these. The Voyage of Bran^ is an 
old pagan myth retold in prose and verse in the seventh or 
eighth century by a Christian editor, interested in the past. 
Bran, son of Febal, one day heard music behind him produced 
by a woman from unknown lands, i. e. from Elysium. Lulled 
by its sweetness, he slept, and on awaking found by his side 
a musical branch of silver with white blossoms. Taking it 
into his royal house, he there saw the woman, who sang of 
the wondrous isle whence she had brought the branch. Four 
feet of white bronze upheld it, and on its plains were glisten- 
ing, coloured splendours. Music swelled there; wailing, 
treachery, harshness, grief, sorrow, sickness, age, and death 



THE DIVINE LAND 115 

were unknown. An exquisite haze hung over it, and its people 
listened to the sweet music, drinking wine the while; laughter 
pealed there and everlasting joy. Thrice fifty Islands lay to 
the west of it, each double or triple the size of Erin. The 
woman then prophesied of Christ's birth, and after she had 
urged Bran to sail till he reached Tir na m-Ban ("the Land 
of Women"), she disappeared, the branch leaping from Bran's 
hand into hers. 

Next day Bran sailed with twenty-seven men, and on the 
voyage they saw Manannan driving his chariot over the 
waves. The god sang to the voyagers and told how he was 
passing over a flowery plain, for what Bran saw as the sea was 
to Manannan a plain. The speckled salmon in the sea were 
calves and lambs, and steeds invisible to Bran were there also. 
People were sitting playing and drinking wine, and making love 
without crime. Bran's coracle was not on the waves, but on 
an immortal wood, yielding fruit and perfume; the folk of 
that land were immortal and sinless, unlike Adam's descend- 
ants, and in it rivers poured forth honey. Finally Manannan 
bade Bran row to Tir na m-Ban, which he would reach by 
sunset. 

Bran first came to an isle of laughter; and when one of his 
men was sent ashore, he refused to leave the laughing folk of 
this Isle of Joy. At the Land of Women their Queen wel- 
comed Bran, throwing a ball of thread which cleaved to his 
hand, and by which the boat was drawn ashore. All now went 
into a house where were twenty-seven beds, one for each; 
the food never grew less and for each man it had the taste 
which he desired. They stayed for a year, though it was in 
truth many years; but home-sickness at last seized one of 
them, Nechtan, so that he and the others begged Bran to re- 
turn. The Queen said they would rue this, yet as they were 
bent on going, she bade them not set foot on Erin and to take 
with them their comrade from the Isle of Joy. When Erin 
was reached. Bran told his name to the men gathered on the 



Ii6 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

shore; but they said, "We do not know him, though the voyage 
of Bran is in our ancient stories." Nechtan now leaped ashore, 
but when his foot touched land, he became a heap of ashes. 
Bran then told his wanderings and bade farewell to the crowd, 
returning presumably to the divine land. "From that hour 
his wanderings are not known." ^ 

Manannan's land overseas is the subject of a convention- 
alized tale in the Colloquy of the Ancients {Acallamh na Seno- 
rach), which contains primitive material. One of Fionn's 
men, Ciabhan, embarked with two youths, Lodan and Eolus, 
sons of the Kings of India and of Greece; and during a storm 
Manannan appeared riding over the waves. "For the space of 
nine waves he would be submerged in the sea, but would rise 
on the crest of the tenth, and that without his breast or chest 
wetted." He rescued them on condition of fealty to himself, 
and drawing them on his horse, brought them to the Land of 
Promise. Having passed the loch of dwarfs, they came to 
Manannan's stone fort, where food, wine, and music delighted 
them; and where they saw Manannan's folk perform many 
tricks, which they themselves were able to imitate. In the 
Land of Promise were three beautiful sisters, Clidna, Aeife, 
and Edaein, who eloped with the visitors in two boats, Clidna 
going along with Ciabhan. When he reached Erin, he went 
ashore to hunt, and now a great wave, known ever after as 
Clidna's wave, rolled in and drowned her, overwhelming at 
the same time Manannan's men, Ildathach and his sons, both 
in love with Clidna and following in pursuit of her. A diflFcrent 
account of Clidna has already been cited. ^ 

In the story of Bran, the queen-goddess fell in love with 
him and visited him (as in the legend of Connla) to induce 
him to come to her. While there are hints of other inhabitants, 
women or goddesses alone exist on this island — an additional 
parallel to the story of Connla, though there the island has 
a king; to the incident in Maelduin; and to the name "Land 
of Ever-Living Women" in the Dind'senchas of Tuag Inbir. 



PLATE XIII 

SUCELLOS 

This divinity, characterized by a hammer (cf. p. 
9), was a ruler of the underworld (cf. the represen- 
tation of Dispater with a hammer, Plate XIV). A 
benevolent god, his hammer is a symbol of creative 
force. The artistic type (for another instance of 
which see Plate XXVI) was influenced by that of 
the Alexandrian Serapis and the Classical Hades- 
Pluto. Cf. also Plate IX, B. The figure was found 
at Premeaux, France. 



THE DIVINE LAND 117 

Another instance occurs in a Fionn story. Fionn and his men 
were hunting when there met them a huge and beautiful 
woman, whose finger-rings were as thick as three ox-goads. 
She was Bebhionn from Maidens' Land in the west, where 
all the inhabitants were women save their father (its king) 
and his three sons; and for the third time she had escaped 
from her husband, son of the King of the adjacent Isle of Men, 
and had come to seek Fionn's protection. As she sat by him 
and GoU, however, her huge husband came, and slaying her, 
eluded the heroes' pursuit, vanishing overseas in a boat with 
two rowers.' 

The tradition of the Isle of Women still exists in Celtic folk- 
lore. Such an island was on^y a part of the divine land and 
may have originated in myth from actual custom — women 
living upon or going at certain periods to small islands to per- 
form rites generally tabu to men, a custom to which reference 
is made by Strabo and Pomponius Mela.^ 

That the gods could create an Elysium on earth has been 
found in the story of Lug and Dechtire, and another instance 
occurs in the tale of Cormac mac Art, King of Ireland in the 
third century, of whom an annalist records that he disappeared 
for seven months in 248 a. d., a reference to the events of this 
story. To Cormac appeared a young man with a branch from 
which hung nine apples of gold; and when this was shaken, 
it produced strange music, hearing which every one forgot his 
troubles and fell asleep. He came from a land where there 
was nought save truth, and where was no age, nor decay, nor 
gloom, nor sadness, nor envy, nor jealousy, nor weeping; and 
Cormac said that to possess the branch he would give what- 
ever was asked, whereupon the stranger answered, "give me 
then thy wife, thy son and daughter." Cormac agreed and 
now told his bargain to his wife, who, like her children, was 
sorrowful that he should have preferred the branch to them. 
The stranger carried off successively, daughter, son, and wife, 
and all Ireland grieved, for they were much loved; but Cormac 



Ii8 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

shook the branch, and the mourning ceased. In a year desire 
to see his wife and children came to the King. He set off, and 
as he went, a magic mist surrounded him, and he saw a house 
in the midst of a wonderful plain. After witnessing many 
marvels, he reached another house where a huge and beauti- 
ful man and woman offered him hospitality. Cormac bathed, 
the hot stones going into the bath-water of themselves, and 
the man brought in a boar, while Cormac prepared the fire 
and set on a quarter of the beast. His host proposed that he 
should tell a tale, at the end of which, if it were true, the meat 
would be cooked, but Cormac asked him to begin first. "Well, 
then," said the host, "the pig is one of seven, and with them 
I could feed the whole world. When one is eaten, I place its 
bones in the sty, and next day it is alive again." This tale 
proved true, because the meat was already cooked. When a 
second quarter was placed on the fire, the host told of his 
corn which grew and gathered itself, and never grew less; and 
thus a second quarter was cooked. A third quarter was set 
on, and now the woman described the milk of her seven cows 
which filled seven tubs and would satisfy the whole world. 
Her tale also proved true, and now Cormac realized that he 
was in presence of Manannan and his wife, because none 
possessed such pigs as he, and he had brought his wife and her 
cows from the Land of Promise. Cormac then told how he 
had lost his wife and children — a true story, for the fourth 
quarter was found cooked. Manannan bade him eat, but 
when he refused, for he would never dine with two persons 
only, the god opened a door and brought in his wife and chil- 
dren, and great was their mutual joy. Manannan now as- 
sumed his divine form and related how he had brought the 
branch because he desired Cormac to come hither, and he 
also explained the mystery of the wonders seen by him. When 
they sat down to eat, Manannan produced a table-cloth on 
which appeared whatever food was demanded, and a cup. If 
one told a lie, it would break, but if truth was then spoken, 



THE DIVINE LAND 119 

it would be restored; and to prove this, he informed Cormac 
that his lost wife had had a new husband, whereupon the cup 
broke. ' "My husband has lied," cried the goddess, and at her 
words the cup was repaired. Manannan then said that table- 
cloth, cup, and branch would be Cormac's and that he had 
wrought magic upon him in order that he might be with him 
that night in friendship. In the morning, after a night's sleep, 
Cormac and his family found themselves no longer in the 
divine land, but in their own palace of Tara, and beside him 
were the cup, branch, and table-cloth which had covered the 
board of the god.^ Cormac's recognition of the god through 
his swine shows knowledge of the myth of the gods' food — 
the Mucca Mhanannain, "to be killed and yet to be alive for 
evermore." ® 

A story told of Mongan has some resemblance to that of 
Cormac. He commiserated a poor bardic scholar, bidding 
him go to the sid of Lethet Oidni and bring thence a precious 
stone of his, as well as a pound of silver for himself and a 
pound of gold from the stream beside the sid. At two sid on 
his way a noble-looking couple welcomed him as Mongan's 
messenger, and a similar pair received him at the sid of Lethet 
Oidni, where was a marvellous chamber. Asking for its key, 
he took thence the stone and silver, and from the river he 
took the gold, returning to Mongan, who bestowed the silver 
upon him.^ Another story of Mongan relates how he, his wife, 
and some others, entering a mysterious house during a storm, 
found in it seven "conspicuous men," many marvellous 
quilts, wonderful jewels, and seven vats of wine. Welcome 
was given to them, and Mongan became intoxicated and told 
his wife his adventures, or "frenzy," from the telling of which 
he had formerly asked a respite of seven years. When they 
woke next morning, they found that they had been in the 
house a full year, though it seemed but a night. ^ In this in- 
stance, however, the house had not disappeared. Examples 

of beautiful places vanishing at daybreak are found in Fionn 
III — 9 



120 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

talcs and also in the Grail romances. The seeker of the Grail 
finds himself no longer in the Grail castle in the morning, and 
the castle itself has become invisible. Such creations of glamour 
were probably suggested by dreams, whose beauty and terror 
alike vanish "when one awaketh." 

Fruit-bearing, musical trees, in whose branches birds are 
constantly singing, grow in the gods' land. In the sid of 
Oengus were three trees always in fruit; and there were also 
two pigs, one always living, and the other always cooked and 
ready for eating — the equivalent of the Mucca Mhanatinain, 
or "Pigs of Manannan" — and a jar of excellent beer, Goib- 
niu's ale. None ever died there. ^ The Elysian ale is doubtless 
a superlative form of the Irish cuirm or braccai, made from 
malt, of which the Gauls had a divinity, Braciaca; ^° and it is 
analogous to the Vedic soma and the wine of Dionysos.^^ 
Within the sid, or the gods' land, were other domestic animals, 
especially cows, which were sometimes brought thence by 
those who left it or were stolen by heroes or by dwellers in 
one sid from those of another. Where mortals steal them, 
there is a reminiscence of the mythical idea that the elements 
of civilization were wrested from the gods by man. Cauldrons 
were used by the Celts for domestic and sacrificial as well as 
other ritual purposes, and these also gave rise to myths of 
wonderful divine cauldrons like Dagda's, from which "no 
company ever went unthankful." Their contents restored the 
dead or produced inspiration, and they were stolen from the 
gods' land, e. g. by Cuchulainn and by Arthur.^- The caul- 
dron rimmed with pearls which Arthur and his men sought 
resembles the basin with rows of carbuncles on its edge in 
which, according to another story, a fairy woman washed.'^ 

The inspiration of wisdom was obtained in the gods' land, 
either by drinking from a well or by eating the salmon in it; 
but this knowledge was tabu even to some members of the 
divine land. Such a well, called Connla's Well, was in the 
Land under Waves, and thither Sincnd, grand-daughter of 



PLATE XIV 

DiSPATER AND AeRACURA (?) 

Dispater was the great Celtic god of the under- 
world (see p. 9) and is here represented holding a 
hammer and a cup (for the hammer cf. the deity 
Sucellos, Plates XIII, XXVI, and see Plate IX, B; 
the cup suggests the magic cauldron of the Celtic 
Elysium; cf. pp. 41, 95-96, 100, 109-12, 120, 151, 
192, 203-04 and see Plates IX, B, XXV). If the 
goddess beside him holding a cornucopia (cf. Plate 
IX, A) is really Aeracura, she probably represents 
an old earth goddess, later displaced by Dispater. 
From an altar found at Oberseebach, Switzerland. 



THE DIVINE LAND 121 

Ler, went from the Land of Promise to behold It. Above It 
grew hazels of wisdom, bearing leaves, blossoms, and nuts 
together; and these fell into the water, where they were eaten 
by salmon — the salmon of knowledge of other tales. From 
the well sprang seven streams of wisdom, and SInend, seek- 
ing understanding, followed one of these, only to be pursued 
and overwhelmed by the fount itself. Sometimes these hazels 
were thought to grow at the heads of the chief rivers of Erin.^* 
Such a fountain with five streams, their waters more melo- 
dious than mortal music, was seen by Cormac beside Manan- 
nan's house; above It were hazels, and In It five salmon. Nuts 
also formed part of the food of the gods In the story of Diar- 
maid and Grainne, and in a tale from the Dindsenchas they 
are said to be eaten by the "bright folk and fairy hosts of 
Erin." ^^ Another secret well stood In the green of Sid Nech- 
taln, and none could approach It without his eyes bursting 
save Nechtan and his cup-bearers. Boann, his wife, resolved 
to test its power or, in another version, to prove her chastity 
after adultery with Dagda, and walked round It thrice wither- 
shins; but three waves from it mutilated her, she fled, and 
was drowned in the pursuing waters. ^^ 

Goddesses sometimes took the form of birds, like the swan- 
maidens of universal myth and folk-tale; and they sang 
exquisite, sleep-compelling melodies. Sweet, unending bird- 
music, however, was a constant note of Elysium, just as the 
song of Rhiannon's birds caused oblivion and loss of all 
sense of time for eighty years. In the late story of Telgue's 
voyage to Elysium the birds which feasted on the delicious 
berries of Its trees are said to warble "music and minstrelsy 
melodious and superlative," causing healthful slumber; ^^ 
while In another story the minstrel goddess of the sid of Doon 
Buldhe visited other side with the birds of the Land of Promise 
which sang unequalled music. ^^ 

The lords of the sid Elysium were many, but the chief were 
Dagda, Oengus, and MIdIr, as Arawn In Brythonic story was 



122 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

king of Annwfn. In general, however, every sid had Its own 
ruler, and if this is an early tradition, it suggests a cult of a 
local god on a hill within which his abode was supposed to be. 
Manannan Is chief, par excellence, of the island Elysium, and 
it was appropriate that a marine deity should rule a divine 
region including "thrice fifty isliands." In that land he had a 
stone fort with a banquetlng-hall. Lug, who may be a sun- 
god, was sometimes associated with the divine land, as the 
solar divinity was in Greek myth, and also with Manannan; 
and he with his foster-brothers, Manannan's sons, came to 
assist the Tuatha De Danann, riding Manannan's steed before 
"the fairy cavalcade from the Land of Promise." ^^ He a4so 
appeared as owner of an Elysium created by glamour on 
earth's surface, where Conn the Hundred-Fighter heard a 
prophecy of his future career,^° this prophetic, didactic tale 
doubtless having an earlier mythic prototype. 

The Brythonic Elysium differed little from the Irish. One 
of its names, Annwfn, or "the not-world," which was is elfydd 
("beneath the world"), was later equated with Hades or Hell, 
as already in the story of Gwyn. In the Mabinogi of Pwyll it 
Is a region of this world, though with greater glories, and has 
districts whose people fight, as In Irish tales. In other Mahino- 
gion, however, as in the Tallesin poems and later folk-belief, 
there Is an over-sea Elysium called Annwfn or Caer SIdl — 
"its points are ocean's streams" — and a world beneath the 
water — "a caer [castle] of defence under ocean's waves." ^^ 
Its people are skilled in magic and shape-shifting; mortals 
desire Its "spoils" — domestic animals and a marv^ellous 
cauldron; It Is a deathless land, without sickness; Its waters 
arc like wine; and with It are associated the gods. The Isle 
of Avalon in Arthurian tradition shows an even closer like- 
ness to the Irish Elysium. ^^ 

Thus the Irish and Welsh placed Elysium In various regions 
— local other-worlds — In hills, on earth's surface, under or 
oversea; and this doubtless reflects the different environments 



THE DIVINE LAND 123 

of the Celtic folk. With neither is it a region of the dead, nor 
in any sense associated with torment or penance. This is true 
also of later folk-stories of the Green Isle, now seen beneath, 
now above, the waters. Its people are deathless, skilled in 
magic; its waters restore life and health to mortals; there 
magic apples grow; and thither mortals are lured or wander 
hy chance. ^^ The same conception is still found in a late story 
told of Dunlang O'Hartigan, who fought at Clontarf in 1014. 
A fairy woman offered him two hundred years of life and 
joy — "life without death, without cold, without thirst, with- 
out hunger, without decay" — if he would put off combat for 
a day; but he preferred death in battle to dishonour, and 
"foremost fighting, fell."24 

The parallel between Celtic and early Greek conceptions of 
Elysium -^ is wonderfully close. Both are open to favoured 
human beings, who are thus made immortal without death; 
both are exquisitely beautiful, but sensuous and unmoral. 
In both are found islands ruled by goddesses who sometimes 
love mortals; both are oversea, while a parallel to the sid 
Elysium underground may be found in the later Greek tradi- 
tion of Elysium as a region of Hades, which may have had 
roots in an earlier period. ^^ The main difference is the occa- 
sional Celtic view of Elysium as a place where gods are at 
war. This may be due to warrior aspects of Celtic life, while 
the more peaceful conception reflects settled, agricultural life; 
although Norse influences have sometimes been suggested as 
originating the former.^' 



CHAPTER X 
MYTHICAL ANIMALS AND OTHER BEINGS 

THE Celts worshipped animals or their anthropomorphic 
representations — the horse, swine, stag, bull, serpent, 
bear, and various birds. There was a horse-goddess Epona, a 
horse-god Rudiobus, a mule-god Mullo, a swine-god Moccus, 
and bear-goddesses called Artio and Andarta, dedications to or 
images of these occurring in France and Britain.^ Personal 
names meaning "son of the bear" or "of the dog," etc., sug- 
gest myths of animal descent lost to us, though they find a 
partial illustration in stories like that of Oisin, son of a woman 
transformed to a fawn. We have seen that gods and magi- 
cians assume animal forms or force these upon others; and 
other stories point to the belief that domesticated animals came 
from the gods' land. 

From these we turn to tales in which certain animals have a 
mythic aspect, perhaps connected with a cult of them. A 
divine bull or swine might readily be regarded as enormously 
large or strong, or possessed of magic power, or otherwise dis- 
tinguished; and these are the aspects under which such animals 
appear in the. stories now to be considered. 

In the Irish tale of Mac Ddtho's Boar {Seel Mucei Male 
Ddtho) Mac Datho, King of Leinster, had a dog famed through- 
out the land. It could run round Leinster in a day and was 
coveted both by Ailill and Medb of Connaught and by 
Conchobar of Ulster; but Mac Datho promised it to both and 
invited the monarchs and their retinues to a feast, hoping that 
he would escape in the quarrel which would certainly arise 
between them. The chief dish was a boar reared by Mac 



PLATE XV 

Epona 

1. The horse-goddess Epona may have been 
originally a deity of a spring or river, conceived as a 
spirited steed. She is here represented as feeding 
horses (for the horse see Plates II, 1-3, III, 2, 4). 
From a bas-relief found at Bregenz, Tyrol. 

2. The goddess is shown seated between two 
foals, and the cornucopia which she holds would 
characterize her as a divinity of plenty (cf. Plates 
IX, A, XIV, and p. 9). From a bronze statuette 
found in Wiltshire. 



MYTHICAL ANIMALS AND OTHER BEINGS 125 

Datho's grandson, Lena, who, though buried in a trench which 
the boar rooted up over him, succeeded in killing the animal 
with his sword. For seven years the boar had been nurtured 
on the flesh of fifty cows; sixty oxen were required to drag its 
carcass; and its tail was a load for sixty men; yet Conall 
Cernach sucked it entire into his mouth! ^ The story tells 
nothing more of this remarkable animal, but it may commem- 
orate an old ritual feast upon an animal regarded as divine and 
endowed with mythic qualities. 

The Mirabilia added to Nennius's History speak of the 
Porcus Troit or Twrch Trwyth, hunted by Arthur, an episode 
related in the tale of Kulhzuch and Olwen. This creature, which 
was a transformed knight, slaughtered many of the hunters 
before it was overcome and three desirable possessions taken 
from between its ears.^ The Porcus Troit resembles the Wild 
Boar of Gulban, a transformed child, hunted by Diarmaid 
when the Feinn had fled before it; and tradition tells of its 
great size — sixteen feet long.'* Fionn himself chased a huge 
boar which terrified every one until it was slain by his grand- 
son, Oscar. It was blue-black, with rough bristles, and no 
ears or tail; its teeth protruded horribly; and each flake of 
foam from its mouth resembled the foam of a mighty water- 
fall.^ A closer analogy to Arthur's hunt occurs in a story of the 
Dindsenchas concerning a pig which wasted the land. Manan- 
nan and Mod's hounds pursued it, when it sprang into a lake 
where it maimed or drowned the following hounds; and then 
it crossed to Muic-Inis, or Pig Island, where it slew Mod with 
its tusk.^ Another hunting of magic swine concerns animals 
from the cave of Cruachan, which is elsewhere associated with 
divinities. Nothing grew where they went, and they destroyed 
corn and milk; no one could count them accurately, and when 
shot at they disappeared. Medb and Ailill hunted them, and 
when one of them leaped into Medb's chariot, she seized its 
leg, but the skin broke, and the pig left it in her hand. 
After that no one knew whither they went, although a variant 



126 CELTIC IVHTHOLOGY 

version says that now they were counted. From this cave 
came other destructive creatures — a great three-headed bird 
which wasted Erin till Amairgen killed it, and red birds which 
withered everything with their breath until the Ulstermen slew 
them.^ It is strange why such animals should be associated 
with this divine cave, but probably the tradition dates from 
the time when it was regarded as "Ireland's gate of hell," so 
that any evil spirit might inhabit it. 

In these stories of divinities or heroes hunting fabulous swine 
it is possible that the animals represent some hurtful power, 
dangerous to vegetation; for the swine is apt to be regarded 
in a sinister light and might well be the embodiment of 
demoniac beings. On the other hand, the animal sacrificed 
to a god, or of which the god is an anthropomorphic aspect, 
is sometimes regarded as his enemy, slain by him. Whether 
this conception lurks behind these tales is uncertain, as also 
is the question whether the magic immortal swine — the food 
of the gods — were originally animals sacrificed to them. 
Divine swine appear in a Fionn tale. The Feinn were at a 
banquet given by Oengus, when the deity said that the best 
of Fionn's hounds could not kill one of his pigs, but rather 
his great pig would kill them. Fionn, on the contrary, main- 
tained that his hounds. Bran and Sgeolan, could do so. A year 
after, a hundred and one pigs appeared, one of them coal- 
black, and each tall as a deer; but the Feinn and their dogs 
killed them all, Bran slaying the black one, whereupon Oengus 
complained that they had caused the death of his sons and 
many of the Tuatha De Danann, for they were in the form of 
the swine. A quarrel ensued, and Fionn prepared to attack 
Oengus's brug, when the god made peace. ^ In another instance 
a fairy as a wild boar eluded the Feinn, but Fionn ofi"ered the 
choice of the women to its slayer, and by the help of a " familiar 
spirit" in love with him Caoilte "got the diabolical beast 
killed." Fionn covered the women's heads lest Caoilte should 
take his wife, but his ruse was unsuccessful.^ 



MYTHICAL ANIMALS AND OTHER BEINGS 127 

In still another Instance Derbrenn, Oengus's first love, had 
six foster-children; but their mother changed them into swine, 
and Oengus gave charge of them to Buichet, whose wife de- 
sired the flesh of one of them. A hundred heroes and as many- 
hounds prepared to hunt them, when they fled to Oengus for 
help, only to find that he could not give it until they shook 
the tree of Tarbga and ate the salmon of Inver Umaill. Not 
for a year were they able to do this, but now Medb hunted 
them, and all were slain save one. Other huntings of these 
swine, less fortunate for the hunters, are also mentioned, and 
in one passage Derbrenn's swine are said to have been fash- 
ioned by magic.-^° Both in Irish and in Welsh story pigs are 
associated with the gods' land and are brought thence by 
heroes or by the gods. The Tuatha De Danann are said to 
have first introduced swine into Ireland or Munster." 

The mythic bulls of the Tain Bo Cualgne were reincarna- 
tions of divinities, whence enormous strength was theirs, and 
the Brown Bull was of vast size. He carried a hundred and 
fifty children, until one day he threw them oflF and killed all 
but fifty; a hundred warriors were protected by his shadow 
from the heat, or by his shelter from the cold. His melodious 
evening lowing was such as any one would desire to hear, and 
no eldritch thing dared approach him; he covered fifty heifers 
daily, and each next morning had a calf.^- Two gifts given to 
Conn by a princess who was with the god Lug were a boar's 
rib and that of an ox, twenty-four feet long, forming an arch 
eight feet high; but nothing further is told of the animals which 
owned these huge bones. ^^ 

Cattle were a valued possession of the gods' land and, like 
swine, were brought thence by heroes. Man easily concluded 
that animals useful to him were also useful to the gods, but 
he regarded these as magical. The divine mother of Fraoch 
gave him cows from the sid. ^Flidais, "one of the tribe of the 
god folk," was wife of Ailill the Fair and had a cow which 
supplied milk to three hundred men at one night's milking; 



128 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

while during the Tain another account speaks of FHdais 
having several cows which fed Ailill's army every seventh day. 
FHdais loved Fergus and urged him to carry her off with her 
cow ^^ — a proof of its value, which is seen also in tales of the 
capture of cows along with some desirable woman, divine or 
human. In many Welsh instances cattle are a possession of the 
fairy-folk dwelling under a lake and often come to land 
to feed.^^ The cow of FHdais resembles the seven kine of 
Manannan's wife; their milk suffices the people of the entire 
Land of Promise or the men of the whole world, while from the 
wool of her seven sheep came all their clothing.^® 

Though the waves were "the Son of Ler's horses in a sea- 
storm," Manannan rode them on his steed Enbarr, which he 
gave to Lug; and this horse was "fleet as the naked cold wind 
of spring," while its rider was never killed off its back.^^ 
In Elysium "a stud of steeds with grey-speckled manes and 
another crimson-brown" were seen by Laeg, and similar horses 
were given to carry mortals back to earth, whence, if they did 
not dismount, they could return safely to Elysium. Such a 
steed was brought by Gilla Decair to Fionn and his men, and 
miserable-looking though it was, when placed among the 
Feinn's horses, it bit and tore them. Conan mounted it in 
order to ride it to death, but it would not move; and when 
thirteen others vaulted on it, the Gilla fled, followed swiftly by 
the horse with its riders. Carrying them over land and sea, 
with another hero holding its tail, it brought them to the Land 
of Promise, whence Fionn ultimately rescued them. This forms 
the first part of a late artificial tale, based upon a mythic 
foundation. ^^ Other mythical horses came from a water-world, 
e. g. the steeds which |Cuchulainn captured, one of these being 
the Grey of Macha, out of the Grey Lake. Cuchulainn slipped 
behind it and wrestled with it all round Erin until it was 
mastered; and when it was wounded at his death, it went into 
the lake to be healed. The other was Dubsainglend of the 
Alarvellous Valley, which was captured in similar fashion.^® 



PLATE XVI 

Cernunnos 

This homed deity with torques on his horns is 
perhaps identical with the homed god shown in 
Plate XXV. He was doubtless a divinity of the 
underworld (see pp. 9, 104-05, 158, and for other 
deities of Elysium of. Smertullos, Plate V; the three- 
headed god, Plates VII, XII, the squatting god, 
Plates VIII-IX; Sucellos, Plates XIII, XXVI; and 
Dispater, Plate XIV). From an altar found at 
Notre Dame, Paris. 



MYTHICAL ANIMALS AND OTHER BEINGS 129 

Possibly the rushing stream was personified as a steed, and 
the horse-goddess Epona is occasionally connected with streams, 
while horses which emerge from lakes or rivers may be mythic 
forms of water-dlvlnltles. In more recent folk-belief the mon- 
strous water-horse of France and Scotland was capable of self- 
transformation and waylaid travellers, or, assuming human 
form, he made love to women, luring them to destruction. 
Did such demoniac horses already exist In the pagan period, 
or are they a legacy from Scandinavian belief, or are they 
earlier equine water-dlvlnltles thus distorted In Christian 
times? This must remain uncertain, but at all events they 
were amenable to the power of Christian saints, since St. 
Fechin of Fore, when one of his chariot-horses died on a 
journey, compelled a water-horse to take Its place, afterward 
allowing It to return to the water.^o Akin to these Is the Welsh 
afanc, one of which was drawn by the oxen of Hu Gadarn 
from a pond, while another was slain by Peredur (Percival) 
after he had obtained a jewel of invisibility which hid him 
from the monster with Its poisoned spear.^^ 

Mortals as well as side were transformed into deer, and 
fairies possessed herds of those animals, while Caoilte slew 
a wild three-antlered stag — "the grey one of three antlers" 

— which had long eluded the hunters. ^^ Three-horned animals 

— bull or boar — are depicted on Gaulish monuments, and 
the third horn symbolizes divinity or divine strength, the 
word "horn" being often used as a synonym of might, es- 
pecially divine power. On an altar discovered at Notre 
Dame In Paris, the god Cernunnos ("the Horned," from cernu-, 
"horn".^) has stag's horns; and other unnamed divinities 
also show traces of antlers. Possibly these gods were anthro- 
pomorphic forms of stag-divinities, like other Gaulish deities 
with bull's horns.^^ 

Serpents or dragons Infesting lochs, sometimes generically 
called peist or heist (Latin bestia, "beast"), occur in Celtic 
and other mythologies and are reminiscent of earlier reptile 



I30 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

forms, dwelling in watery places and regarded as embodiments 
of water-spirits or guardians of the waters. In later tradition 
such monsters were said to have been imprisoned in lochs or 
destroyed by Celtic saints. As has been seen, a dragon's 
shriek on May-Eve made the land barren till Lludd buried 
it and its opponent alive after stupifying them with mead. 
They were placed in a cistvaen at Dinas Emreis in Snowdon, 
and long afterward Merlin got rid of them when they hin- 
dered Vortigern's building operations. Here the dragons are 
embodiments of powers hostile to man and to fertility, but are 
conquered by gods, Lludd and Merlin.^'* 

Another story of a peist occurs in the Tain Bo Frdich. 
Fraoch was the most beautiful of Erin's heroes, and his mother 
was the divine Behind, her sister the goddess Boann. Finda- 
bair, daughter of Ailill and Medb, loved him, but before going 
to claim her he was advised to seek from Boann treasure of the 
sid, which she gave him in abundance, while he was made wel- 
come at Ailill's dun. After staying there for some time, he 
desired Findabair to elope with him, only to be refused, where- 
upon he demanded her of Ailill, but would not give the bride- 
price asked. Ailill and Medb therefore plotted his death, 
fearing that if he took Findabair by force, the Kings who 
sought her would attack them. While Fraoch was swimming 
in the river, Ailill bade him bring a branch from a rowan- 
tree growing on the bank, and swimming there, he returned 
with it, Findabair meanwhile admiring the beauty of his 
body. Ailill sent him for more, but the monster guardian 
of the tree attacked him; and when he called for a sword, 
Findabair leaped into the water with it, Ailill throwing a five- 
pronged spear at her. Fraoch caught it and hurled it back; 
and though the monster all the while was biting his side, with 
the sword he cut off its head and brought it to land. A bath 
of broth was made for him, and afterward he was laid on a bed. 
Then was heard lamentation, and a hundred and fifty women of 
the side, clad in crimson with green head-dresses, appeared, 



MYTHICAL ANIMALS AND OTHER BEINGS 131 

all of one age, shape, and loveliness, coming for Fraoch, the 
darling of the side. They bore him off, bringing him back on 
the morrow recovered of his wound, and Findabair was now 
betrothed to Fraoch on his promising to assist in the raid of 
Cualnge. Thus Fraoch, a demi-god, overcame the peist.^^ 
In the ballad version from the Dean of Lismore's Book, Medb 
sent him for the berries because he scorned her love. The tree 
grew on an island in a loch, with the peist coiled round its 
roots. Every month it bore sweetest fruit, and one berry 
satisfied hunger for a long time, while its juice prolonged life 
for a year and healed sickness. Fraoch killed the peist, but 
died of his wounds.^® The tree was the tree of the gods and 
resembles the quicken-tree of Dubhros, guarded by a one-eyed 
giant whom Diarmaid slew.^^ These stories recall the Greek 
myth of Herakles slaying the dragon guardian of the apples 
of the Hesperides,^^ which has a certain parallel in Babylonia. 
A marvellous tree with jewelled fruit was seen by Gilgamesh 
in a region on this side of the Waters of Death; and in the Fields 
of the Blessed beyond these waters he found a magic plant, 
the twigs of which renewed man's youth. He gathered it, 
but a serpent seized it and carried it off. The stories of Fraoch 
and Diarmaid point to myths showing that gods were jealous 
of men sharing their divine food; and their tree of life was 
guarded against mortals, though perhaps semi-divine heroes 
might gain access to it and obtain its benefits for human beings. 
The guardian peist recalls the dragons entwined round oaks 
in the grove described by Lucan.^^ 

Such Celtic peists were slain by Fionn, and in one poem 
Fionn or, in another, his son, Daire, was swallowed by the 
monster, but hacked his way out, liberating others besides 
himself.^° They also defended duns in Celtic story, and in the 
sequel to the tale of Fraoch he and Conall reached a dun 
where his stolen cattle were. A serpent sprang into Conall's 
belt, but was later released by him, and "neither did harm to 
the other." In Cuchulainn's account of his journey to Scath, 



132 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

the dun had seven walls, each with an iron palisade; and hav- 
ing destroyed these, he reached a pit guarded by serpents 
which he slew with his fists, as well as many toads, sharp and 
beaked beasts, and ugly, dragon-like monsters. Then he took a 
cauldron and cows from the du?i, which must have been in the 
gods' land across the sea, as in other tales where such thefts 
are related. ^^ 

A curious story from the Dindsenchas tells how the son of 
the Morrigan had three hearts with "shapes of serpents through 
them," or "with the shape of serpents' heads." He was slain 
by MacCecht, and if death had not befallen him, these ser- 
pents would have grown and destroyed all other animals. 
The hearts were burned, and the ashes were cast into a stream, 
whereupon its rapids stayed, and all creatures in it dled.^^ 
In another story Cian was born with a caul which increased 
with his growth, but Sgathan ripped it open, and a worm sprang 
from it, which was thought to have the same span of life as 
Cian. A wood was put round it, and the creature was fed, but 
it grew to a vast size and swallowed men whole. Fire was set 
to the wood, when it fled to a cave and made a wilderness all 
around; but at last Oisin killed it with Diarmaid's magic 
spear.^^ Serpents with rams' heads are a frequent motif on 
Gaulish monuments, either separately or as the adjuncts of a 
god; but their meaning is unknown, and no myth regarding 
them has survived. 

Other parts of nature besides animals were regarded myth- 
ically. Mountains, the sea, rivers, wells, lakes, sun, moon, and 
earth had a personality of their own, and this conception sur- 
vived when other ideas had arisen. Appeal was made to them, 
as the runes sung by Morrigan and Amairgen show, and they 
were taken as sureties, or their power was invoked to do harm, 
as when Aed Ruad's champion took sureties of sea, wind, sun, 
and firmament against him, so that the sun's heat caused Aed 
to bathe, and the rising sea and a great wind drowned hlm.^* 
In another Instance, a spell chanted over the sea by Dub, 



MYTHICAL ANIMALS AND OTHER BEINGS 133 

wife of Enna, of the side, caused the drowning of his other wife, 
Aide, and her family. ^^ The personality of the sea is seen also 
in the story of Lindgadan and the echo heard at a cliff: en- 
raged at some one speaking to him without being asked, he 
turned to the cliff to be avenged upon the speaker, when the 
crest of a wave dashed him against a rock.^^ So, too, the sea 
was obedient to man, or perhaps to a god, Tuirbe Tragmar, 
father of the Goban Saer, used to hurl his axe from the Hill 
of the Axe in the full of the flood-tide, forbidding the sea to 
come beyond the axe,^^ an action akin to the Celtic ritual of 
"fighting the waves." The voices of the waves had a warn- 
ing, prophetic, or sympathetic sound to those who could hear 
them aright, as many instances show. 

As elsewhere, personalized parts of nature came to be re- 
garded as animated by spirits, like man; and such spirits grad- 
ually became more or less detached from these and might be 
seen as divine beings appearing near them. Some of them 
became the greater gods, while others assumed a darker char- 
acter, perhaps because they were associated with sinister as- 
pects of nature or with the dead. The Celts knew all these, and 
some still linger on In folk-belief. Fairy-like or semi-divine 
women seen by streams or fountains, or in forests, or living in 
lakes or rivers, are survivals of spirits and goddesses of river, 
lake, or earth; and they abound in Celtic folk-story as bonnes 
dames, dames blanches, fees, or the Irish Be Find. Beings like 
mermaids existed in early Irish belief. When Ruad's ships were 
stopped, he went over the side and saw "the loveliest of the 
world's women," three of them detaining each boat. They 
carried him off, and he slept with each in turn, one becoming 
with child by him. They set out in a bronze boat to Intercept 
him on his return journey, but when they failed, the mother 
killed his child and hurled the head after him, the others crying, 
"It Is an awful crime." ^^ In another tale Rath heard the mer- 
maids' song and saw them — "grown-up girls, the fairest of 
shape and make, with yellow hair and white skins above the 



134 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

waters. But huger than one of the hills was the haiiy-clawed, 
bestial lower part which they had beneath." Their song lulled 
him to sleep, when they flocked round him and tore him 
limb from limb.^^ Other sea-dwellers are the luchorpdin — 
a kind of dwarf, three of whom were caught by Fergus and 
forced to comply with his wish and to tell him how to pass 
under lochs and seas. They put herbs in his ears, or one of them 
gave him a cloak to cover his head, and thus he went with them 
under the water.^° 

A curious group of beings answered Cuchulainn's cry, caus- 
ing confusion to his enemies, or screamed around him when he 
set out or was in the thick of the fight. While he fought with 
Ferdia, "around him shrieked the Bocdnachs and the Bandn- 
achs and the Geniti Glinne, and the demons of the air; for it 
was the custom of the Tuatha De Danann to raise their cries 
about him in every battle," and thus increase men's fear of 
him. Or they screamed from the rims of shields and hilts of 
swords and hafts of spears of the hero and of Ferdia. ^^ Here 
they are friendly to Cuchulainn, but in the Fled Bricrend, or 
feast of Bricriu, one of the tasks imposed on him, Conall, and 
Loegaire was to fight the Geniti Glinne, Cuchulainn alone 
succeeding and slaughtering many of them.^- What kind of 
beings they were is uncertain, but if Geniti Glinne means " Dam- 
sels of the Glen," perhaps they were a kind of nature-spirits, 
this being also suggested by the " demons of the air " which were 
expelled by St. Patrick.''^ As nature-spirits they might be 
classed with the Tuatha De Danann, as indeed they seem to 
be in the passage cited above.^"* Li one sentence of the Tdin 
Bo Cuabige, they are associated with Nemain or Badb, who 
brought confusion upon Medb's host; yet on the other hand 
they dared not appear in the same district as the bull of 
Cualnge.'*^ 



PLATE XVII 
Incised Stones from Scotland 

1. Incised stone with "elephant" symbol and 
crescent symbol with V-rod symbol. From Crichie, 
Aberdeenshire. 

2. Incised stone with "elephant" and double 
disc (or "spectacles") with Z-rod symbol. See also 
Plate X. 



CHAPTER XI 
MYTHS OF ORIGINS 

SAVAGE and barbaric peoples possess many grotesque 
myths of the origin of various parts of nature. In recently 
existing Celtic folk-lore and in stories preserved mainly in the 
Dindsenchas conceptions not unlike these are found and doubt- 
less were handed down from the pre-Christian period, whether 
Celtic or pre-Celtic, while in certain instances a saint takes 
the place of an older pagan personage. In Brittany and else- 
where in France natural features — rivers, lakes, hills, rocks — 
are associated in their origin with giants, fairies, witches, or 
the devil, just as in other Celtic regions and, indeed, in all 
parts of the world. Many traditions, however, connect them 
with the giant Gargantua, who was not a creation of Rabe- 
lais' brain, but was borrowed from popular belief. He may 
have been an old Celtic god or hero, popular and, therefore, 
easily surviving in folk-memory, and may also be the Gurgun- 
tius, son of Belinus, King of Britain, mentioned by Giraldus 
Cambrensis. Many hills or isolated rocks or erratic boulders 
are described as his teeth, or as stones thrown, or vomited, or 
ejected by him; and rivers or lakes were formed from his 
blood or urine, numerous traditions regarding these being 
collected by Sebillot in his book on Gargantua.^ 

In Irish story similar traditions are found and are of a naive 
character. Manannan shed "three drops of grief" for his dead 
son, and these became three lochs, as in the Finnish Kalevala 
a mother's tears are changed into rivers. Again, a king's 
daughter died of shame when her lover saw her bathing, and 
her foster-mother's tears made Loch Gile. In other instances 

in — lO 



136 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

lochs are formed by water pouring forth at the digging of a 
grave, e.g. that of Manannan, slain in battle, or that of Gar- 
man, son of Glas. Or a well is the source of a loch, because 
some one was drowned in it, or because its waters poured forth 
over intruders, or because of the breaking of a tabu connected 
with it, e.g. leaving its cover off. In two instances already- 
cited the urine of a horse belonging to a god produced a loch; ^ 
and more curious still is the myth of the woman Odras whom 
the Morrigan changed into a pool of water. ^ 

An interesting story tells of the magic creation of a wood. 
Gaible, son of Nuada, stole a bundle of twigs which Ainge, 
daughter of Dagda, had gathered to make a tub, for Dagda 
had made one which dripped during flood-tide, and she wished 
for a better one. Gaible threw away the bundle, and it be- 
came a wood springing up in every direction."* This is of a 
very primitive character and resembles the folk-tale incident 
of the Transformation Flight, in which a twig, comb, or reed 
thrown down by fugitives becomes a thick forest or bush im- 
peding the pursuers.^ Curious, too, is the story of Codal, who 
on a hillock fed his fosterling Eriu, from whom is named 
Eriu's Island (Ireland). As she grew, the hillock increased 
with her, and had she not complained to Codal of the sun's 
heat and the cold wind, it would have grown until Ireland was 
filled with the mountain. Another story, recalling that of the 
Australian Bunjel's slicing earth with a knife into creeks and 
valleys, tells how Fergus, with Cuchulainn's sword, the calad- 
holg out of the sid^ sheared the tops of three mountains, which 
are now "Meath's three bare ones," while as a counter blow 
Cuchulainn did the same to three hills in Athlone.® In an- 
other tale Fergus, irritated against Conchobar, struck three 
blows on the ground and thus caused three hills to arise which 
will endure for ever.^ 

The first occurrence of other things is often the subject of 
a tradition. Alany myths exist about the origin of fire, and in 
Irish story the first camp-fire was made by Aidne for the Mile- 



MYTHS OF ORIGINS 137 

sians by wringing his hands together, when flashes as large as 
apples came from his knuckles, this resembling the legends of 
light or fire obtained from a saint's hand. At Nemnach, near 
the sid of Tara, rose a stream on which stood the first mill 
built in Ireland, but no myth describes its origin. On the other 
hand, the story of the first trap resembles that told of the 
guillotine and its inventor. Coba was trapper to Erem, son 
of Mile, and was the first to prepare a trap and pitfall in Erin, 
but having put his leg into it to test it, his shin-bone and arms 
were fractured, and he died. Brea, in the time of Partholan, 
was the first man to build a house or make a cauldron — that 
important vessel of Celtic myth and ritual; ^ while the first 
smelting of gold was the work of Tigernmas, a mythic Irish 
king.^ The divine origin of ploughing with oxen has already 
been mentioned — an interesting agricultural myth.^° Brigit, 
goddess of poetry, when her son Ruadan died at Mag-Tured, 
bewailed him with the first "keening" heard in Ireland; and 
she also invented a whistle for night signalling. ^^ So also the 
first satire, with dire effects, was spoken by Corpre, poet of 
the gods.^^ Another instrument, the harp, was discovered ac- 
cidentally. All was discord in the time of the Firbolgs. Canola 
fled from her husband and by the shore heard a sweet murmur 
as the wind played through the sinews still clinging to a whale's 
skeleton. Listening, she fell asleep; and when her husband, 
finding her thus, learned that the sound had lulled her, he 
made a framework of wood for the sinews. On this he played, 
and the pair were reconciled. ^^ But the Irish could also look 
back to a golden age when, in the reign of Geide the Loud- 
Voiced, each one deemed the other's voice as sweet as strings of 
lutes would be, because of the greatness of the peace and friend- 
ship which every one had for the other; ^'* and, with the addition 
of plenty and prosperity, much the same is said of Conaire's 
reign, until Midir's vengeance overtook him.^^ Prosperity 
was supposed to characterize every good king's reign in Ire- 
land, perhaps pointing to earlier belief in his divinity and the 



138 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

dependence of fertility on him; but the result is precisely that 
which everywhere marked the golden age. As elsewhere, too, 
gods instituted festivals, one myth telling how Lug first cele- 
brated that of Lugnasad, not in his own honour, but to the 
glory of his foster-mother.'*^ 

The mythic trees of Elysium were not unknown on earth, 
though there they were safely guarded; and another instance, 
besides those already described,'^ is found in the oak of Mugna. 
"Berries to berries the Strong Upholder [a god?] put upon 
it. Three fruits upon it, viz. acorn, apple, and nut; and when 
the first fruit fell, another used to grow." Leaves were always 
on this useful tree, which stood until Ninine the poet cast it 
down.'^ What is perhaps a debased myth of a world-tree like 
Yggdrasil is found in the story of the tree in Loch Guirr, seen 
once every seven years as the loch dried when its enchant- 
ment left it. A green cloth covered the tree, and a woman 
sat knitting under it; but once a man stole the cloth, where- 
upon the woman said: — 

"Awake, thou silent tide; 
From the Dead Woman's Land a horseman rides, 
From my head the green cloth snatching." 

At these words the waters pursued him and took half of his 
horse and the cloth from him.'^ 

Few and fragmentary as these myths are, they, with the 
classical myths already cited,^° prove what a rich cosmogony 
the ancient Celts must have had. 



CHAPTER XII 

THE HEROIC MYTHS 

I. CUCHULAINN AND HIS CIRCLE 

THE Celts possessed many myths regarding ideal heroic 
figures or actual heroes who tended to become mythical. 
A kind of saga was formed about some of these, telling of 
their birth, their deeds, their amours, their procuring for men 
spoils from the gods' land, and their death or departure to 
Elysium; while round them were ranged other personages 
whose deeds are also recounted, and who may have been the 
subjects of separate sagas. Groups of tribes had each their 
hero, who occasionally attained wider popularity and was 
adopted by other tribes. To these heroes are ascribed magic 
and supernatural deeds. Some of them are of divine origin — 
sons of gods or reincarnations of gods — and they differ in 
many respects from ordinary men — in size, or appearance, 
or in power. In a sense they are divine and may have been at 
one time subjects of a cult, but in the myths they are repre- 
sented as living and moving on earth, and to some of them a 
definite date is given. The three heroes best known, each the 
centre of a group, are Cuchulainn, Fionn, and Arthur. The 
stories concerning Cuchulainn, who is more prominent than 
his King, Conchobar, were current among the tribes of Ulster; 
those about Fionn were popular first in Leinster and Munster, 
then over all Ireland and the West Highlands; those about 
Arthur were found among the Brythons. 

Cuchulainn is the chief figure about the court of Conchobar, 
alleged to have been King of Ulster at the beginning of the 
Christian era. The heroes were "champions of the Red 



I40 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

Branch," so called after a room in Conchobar's palace of 
Emain Macha; and three are more prominent and on some 
occasions rivals — Cuchuiainn, Conall the \'ictorious, and 
Loegaire the Triumphant. Others of the group are Dechtire, 
Conchobar's sister, their father Cathbad the Qruid, Fergus 
mac Roich, Ferdia, Curoi mac Daire, and Bricriu, while Ailill 
and Medb of Connaught also enter into the saga. The stories 
about these are over a hundred in number, but reference can 
here be made only to those in which Cuchulainn figures 
prominently. 

Some of the group are descended from the Tualha X)e 
rXartann, or their origin is supernatural. One story makes 
Conchobar a natural son of Nessa by Cathbad. Later King 
Fergus mac Roich wished to marry her, and she agreed, if he 
would resign the throne for a year to Conchobar; but when 
the year passed, Fergus was deposed, and the youth remained 
King with many privileges. He had the jux^imas noctis over 
every. girl in the province,-^nd in whatever house he stayed 
the wife was at his disposal; yet he was wisest of men, possessed 
of many gifts, and a great hero.^ In another story Nessa was 
sent for water by Cathbad and brought it from the river 
Conchobar, whereupon Cathbad forced her to drink it because 
it contained two worms. She became pregnant after swallow- 
ing these, and at birth her child held a worm in each hand and 
was named after the river. Some, however regarded him as 
son of Nessa's lover, Fachtna Fathach, King of Ulster.- Thus 
three origins are ascribed to Conchobar — son of Cathbad, 
or of Fachtna, or of a river personalized or of a river-god who 
took the form of the worms. A similar origin is ascribed to 
Conall. His mother Findchoem, Cathbad's daughter, being 
bidden by a Elniid to wash in and drink from a well over which 
he sang spells, swallowed a worm and became enc£inte, the 
worm lying in the child's hand in her womb.^ 

Cu(;diiilainn was son of the god Lug,'* and though he was 
also called son of Sualtam, Dcchtire's husband, yet even here 



PLATE XVIII 

Menhir of Kernuz 

The monument shows figures of Mercury (cf. 
pp. 9, 158) and a child, and of a god with a club 
(cf. Plates IV-V). Mercury and the child have 
been equated with Lug and his son, Cuchulainn 
(see pp. 64-65, 82-84, I58~S9; for Lug see also 
pp. 25, 28-33, 4°? 122, and for Cuchulainn pp. 36, 
69-71, 86-88, 128, 134, 139-59, 209, 212). The 
latter has also been identified with Esus, but with 
scant plausibility (see Plates XX, A, XXI). 



THE HEROIC MYTHS 141 

his origin is semi-divine. Sualtam's mother was of the sid- 
folk; he was called Sualtam sidfch ("of the fairy haunts") 
and possessed "the- magic might of an elf." ^ The super- 
natural aspect of some of the personages is seen in Cuchulainn's 
feats or his "distortion"; or in Tergus, who had the strength 
of seven hundred men, ate seven hogs and kine at a meal, 
and wielded a sword as long as a rainbow, while a seventh 
part of him surpassed the whole of any ordinary man.^ In 
one passage C^nchobar is called dia talmaide ("a terrestrial 
god"), while Dechtire is termed a goddess.^ Yet Cuchulainn 
was not necessarily a sun-god or sun-hero; for if he was, why 
does the -Tuin, in which he plays so great a part, take place 
in winter, while his greatest activity is from Samhain (Novem- 
ber) until the beginning of spring.^ Nor is every mistress of 
his a dawn-goddess, nor every foe a power of darkness. 

The boyish deeds of Cuchulainn were described to Medb 
during the Tain by Fergus and others. Before his fifth year, 
when already possessed of man's strength, he heard of the 
"boy corps" of his uncle Conchobar and went to test them, 
taking his club, ball, spear, and javelin, playing with these 
as he went. At Emain he joined the boys at play without 
permission; but this was an insult, and they set upon him, 
throwing at him clubs, spears, and balls, all of which he fended 
off, besides knocking down fifty of the boys, while his "con- 
tortion" seized him — the first reference to this curious 
phenomenon. Conchobar now interfered, but Cuchulainn 
would not desist until all the boys came under his protection 
and guarantee.^ 

At Conchobar's court he performed extraordinary feats 
and expelled a band of invaders when the Ulstermen were 
in their yearly weakness. ^° He was first known as Setanta, 
and was called Cuchulainn in the following way. Culann the 
smith had prepared a banquet for Conchobar, who, on his 
way to it, saw the youth holding the field at ball against three 
hundred and fifty others; and though he bade him follow. 



142 CELTIC AnTHOLOGY 

Setanta refused to come until the play was over. While the 
banquet was progressing, Culann let loose his great watch- 
dog, which had the strength of a hundred, and when Setanta 
reached the fort, the beast attacked him, whereupon he thrust 
his ball into its mouth, and seizing its hind legs, battered it 
against a rock. Culann complained that the safe-guard of 
his flocks and herds was destroyed, but the boy said that he 
would act as watch-dog until a whelp of its breed was ready; 
and Cathbad the Druid now gave him a name — Cu Chulainn, 
or "Culann's Dog." This adventure took place before he 
was seven years old." Baudis suggests that as Cuchulainn 
was not the hero's birth-name, a dog may have been his 
manito,^^ his name being given him in some ceremonial way 
at puberty, a circumstance afterward explained by the mythical 
story of Culann's Hound. ^^ 

One day Cuchulainn overheard Cathbad saying that what- 
ever stripling assumed arms on that day would have a short 
life, but would be the greatest of warriors. He now demanded 
arms from Conchobar, but broke every set of weapons given 
him until he received Conchobar's own sword and shield; 
and he also destroyed seventeen chariots, so that nothing 
but Conchobar's own chariot suiBced him. Cuchulainn made 
the charioteer drive fast and far until they reached the dun 
of the sons of Nechtan, each of whom he fought and slew, 
cutting off their heads; while on his return he killed two huge 
stags and then captured twenty-four wild swans, fastening all 
these to the chariot. From afar Levarcham the prophetess 
saw the strange cavalcade approaching Emain and bade all 
be on their guard, else the warrior would slay them; but Con- 
chobar alone knew who he was and recognized the danger 
from a youth whose appetite for slaughter had been whetted. 
A stratagem was adopted, based upon Cuchulainn's well-known 
modesty. A hundred and fifty women with uncovered breasts 
were sent to meet him,^"* and while he averted his face, he 
was seized and plunged into vessels of cold water. The first 



THE HEROIC MYTHS 143 

burst asunder; the water of the second boiled with the heat 
from his body; that of the third became warm; and thus his 
rage was calmed. Fiacha, who tells this story, now describes 
the hero. Besides being very handsome, with golden tresses,j 
he had s pven t oes on each^foot, seven fingers on each handj 
and seven pupils in each eye, while on his body was a shirt 
of gold thread and a green mantle with silver clasps. No 
wonder, added Fiacha, that now at seventeen he is slaughter- 
ing so many in the Tain Bo Cualnge}^ 

Cuchulainn's beauty attracted women, whence Conchobar's 
warriors, fearing for the virtue of their wives, sent him to 
woo Forgall's daughter, Emer;^^ but to hinder this, Forgall 
urged him to find Domnal the Warlike in Alba, hoping that 
he would never return. He set off with Conchobar, Loegaire, 
and Conall; and after Domnal had taught them extraordinary 
feats, he sent them to receive instruction from Scathach, who 
dwelt to the east of Alba. Meanwhile Cuchulainn had refused 
the love of Domnal's ugly daughter, Dornolla. She vowed 
vengeance, and when the heroes departed, she caused a vision 
of Emain to rise before Cuchulainn's companions, which made 
them so home-sick that he had to proceed alone. Instructed 
by a youth, he crossed the Plain of Ill-Luck safely. On its 
first half men's feet stuck fast, and on the second half the 
grass held their feet on the points of its blades; but he must 
first follow the track of a wheel and then that of an apple which 
rolled before him. A narrow path through a glen would bring 
him to Scathach's house, which was on an island approached 
by a narrow bridge, slippery as an eel's tail, or, in another 
version, high in the centre, while the other end rose up when- 
ever anyone leaped on it, and flung him backward. This 
island and bridge are not mentioned in the older recensions 
of the story. After many attempts Cuchulainn reached the 
other side by his " salmon-leap." Uathach, Scathach's daughter, 
fell in love with him and told him how to obtain valour from 
her mother. He must make his salmon-leap to the great yew- 



144 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

tree where Scathach was teaching her sons, Cuare and Cet, 
and set his sword between her breasts. Thus he obtained 
from Scathach all his wishes — acquaintance with her feats, 
marriage to Uathach without a dowry, and knowledge of his 
future, while she yielded herself to him. For a year he remained 
with Scathach, learning skill In arms, and then, despite her 
attempts to hinder him, he assisted her In fighting the amazon 
Aife and her warriors. Having discovered that Aife loved 
above all else her charioteer and chariot-horses, he exclaimed, 
as he fought her, that these had perished. She looked aside, 
and that moment Cuchulainn overcame her and made her 
promise never again to oppose Scathach. From his a7nour 
with Aife, a son would be born called Conlaoch, who was to 
wear a ring which Cuchulainn left for him and to seek his 
father when he was a warrior of seven years old. He must 
make himself known to none, turn aside for none, and refuse 
combat to none. 

On his return to Scathach Cuchulainn slew a hag who 
disputed the crossing of the bridge of leaps, and Scathach 
bound him and Ferdlad, Fraoch, Naisi, and Fergus, whom she 
had trained, never to combat with each other. While going 
home to Ireland he slew the Fomorians to whom Devorgllla, 
daughter of the King of the Isles, was to be given in trib- 
ute — an early Celtic version of the story of Perseus and 
Andromeda. ^^ 

Though Devorgllla was awarded to Cuciualalnn, he after- 
ward gave her to Lugaid as wife, since he himself was to marry 
£mer; whereupon Devorgllla and her handmaid sought the 
hero in the form of birds, and when he wounded them, their 
true form appeared. Cuchulainn sucked out the sling-stone 
and with it some blood; and for this reason also he could not 
wed her, for he had drunk her blood — a mythical version of 
the rite of blood brotherhood. He now carried off Emer despite 
Forgall's opposition, and she became his wife, though not be- 
fore Conchobar exercised his royal prerogative on her.^^ 



THE HEROIC MYTHS 145 

The feats which Cuchulainn learned from Scathach are no 
longer intelligible and are probably exaggerated or imaginary 
warrior exploits. Scathach and Aife may be reminiscences 
of actual Celtic female warriors, though the hero's visit to 
Scathach's isle is akin to his journey to Fand — it is a visit to 
a divine land, whose people are sometimes at war (as in the 
stories of Fand and Loegaire), but where wisdom, valour, and 
other things may be gained by mortals. 

When Conlaoch came to Ireland, his father's injunctions 
were the cause of his slaying his own son In ignorance with 
his marvellous spear, the gai holga; and when he recognized 
the ring which his son wore, great was his sorrow. ^^ This is 
a Celtic version of the story of Suhrab and Rustam.^" 

Cuchulainn did not at once become hero of Ulster. In the 
story of Mac Ddtho's Boar, to which reference has already 
been made, the hero Is Conall, who never passed a day without 
killing a Connaughtman or slept without a Connaughtman's 
head under his knee. BrIcriu, the provoker of strife, advised 
that each man should get a share of the boar according to 
his warlike deeds. Cet of Connaught was chief until Conall 
arrived and put him to shame; and then, though the boar's 
tail required sixty men to carry it, he sucked it into his mouth, 
allotting scanty portions to the men of Connaught. In the 
fight which ensued the latter were routed, Mac Datho's hound 
siding with the Ulstermen.^^ 

The Fled Brier end, or Feast of Bricriu, tells of a feast 
made for Conchobar and his men by Bricriu in a vast house 
built for this purpose. Bricriu prepared for himself a balcony 
with a window looking down on the hall, for he knew that the 
Ulstermen would not allow him to enter It; yet they feared to 
accept the invitation lest he should provoke quarrels among 
them, and the dead should outnumber the living. Thereupon 
he asserted that If they refused, he would do still worse; and 
after discussion It was agreed that they should go, but that 
Bricriu should be guarded from entering the feast. In the 



146 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

sequel, however, he provoked a quarrel between Loegaire, 
Conall, and Cuchulainn as to which of them should receive 
the champion's portion; whereupon each claimed it, and a 
fight arose between them in the hall. This reflects actual 
Celtic custom, for Poseidonius speaks of festivals at which a 
quarter of pork was taken by the bravest; and if another 
claimed it, they fought until one was killed.^- Conchobar 
separated the heroes, and Sencha announced that the question 
should be submitted to Ailill, King of Connaught, Meanwhile 
Bricriu stirred up strife among the heroes' wives, who had left 
the hall, by telling each in turn that she should have the right 
of first entry; and this caused a quarrel among them, every 
one extolling her own husband. Loegaire and Conall each made 
a breach in the wall so that his wife should enter first, the door 
having been closed; but Cuchulainn removed one side of the 
house, and his wife Emer had precedence. Bricriu then de- 
manded that the damage should be repaired, but none could 
do this save Cuchulainn, and he only after extraordinary 
exertions. Conchobar now bade the heroes go to Curol mac 
Daire, whose judgements were always equitable, In order 
that he might settle the question. 

On his way Loegaire encountered a repulsive giant with a 
cudgel, who beat him and made him return without horses, 
chariot, or charioteer; and Conall met the same fate, Cuchu- 
lainn alone being able to overcome the giant and to return In 
triumph with arms and horses. Bricriu thereupon announced 
that the champion's morsel was Cuchulalnn's, but his rivals 
objected, saying that one of his friends of the side had over- 
come them. The Ulstermen now sought judgement from Ailill, 
but Cuchulainn remained behind to amuse the women with 
his feats until Loeg, his charioteer, reproached him with delay. 
By the swiftness of their chariot-horses they arrived first at 
AillU's palace, where water was brought by a hundred and 
fifty young girls to provide baths for the heroes, and the most 
beautiful of these accompanied them to their couches, Ciichu- 



THE HEROIC MYTHS 147 

lainn choosing FIndabair, Ailill's daughter. AiHU asked three 
days and nights to consider the question, and on the first 
night three cats — "druidic beasts" from the cave of Cruachan 
— arrived. Conall and Loegaire abandoned their food to 
them, but Cuchulainn attacked them, and at dawn the cats 
disappeared, after the manner of other supernatural beings, 
who vanish at daybreak. Ailill was in despair how to solve 
the problem of the championship, but Medb sneered at him, 
and sending for each hero, gave him a cup without the others 
knowing it, saying that it would assure him of the champion's 
morsel at Conchobar's board. Meanwhile Cuchulainn van- 
quished the others in the sport of wheel-throwing, while he 
also threw needles so that each one entered the eye of the 
other, forming a single line. 

Medb now sent them to Ercol and Garmna to seek their 
judgement, and they referred them to Samera, who dispatched 
them to the Geniti Glinni. Loegaire and Conall returned with- 
out arms or garments; Cuchulainn was at first overcome, but 
when Loeg reproached him, his demoniac fury began, and he 
attacked them and filled the valley with their blood, taking 
their banner and going back as a conqueror to Samera, who 
said that he should have the champion's morsel. Returning 
to Ercol, the warriors were challenged to combat him and his 
horse. Loegaire's steed was killed by Ercol's, and he fled to 
Emain, saying that the others were slain by Ercol. Conall 
also fled, but Cuchulainn's horse, the Grey of Macha, killed 
Ercol's, and he then carried Ercol prisoner to Emain, where 
he found everyone lamenting his death. On the way Samera's 
daughter Buan, who had fallen in love with Cuchulainn, leaped 
after his chariot, and falling on a rock, was killed. A feast 
was prepared at Emain Macha and now each hero produced 
his cup in expectation of the award. Cuchulainn's cup, how- 
ever, of gold and precious stones, proved the most valuable 
and beautiful, and all would have given him the championship, 
had not his rivals maintained that this was not a true judge- 



148 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

ment and threatened to attack the hero. Conchobar therefore 
sent them to Yellow, son of Fair, who bade them go to Terror, 
son of Great Fear, a giant who could assume whatever form 
pleased him. He proposed the "covenant of the axe," which 
Loegaire and Conall refused, whereas Cuchulainn accepted 
it, provided they would acknowledge his supremacy, the cov- 
enant being that Cuchulainn should cut off Terror's head 
today, while Terror cut off his tomorrow. When Cuchulainn 
did his part, Terror took his head and axe and plunged into 
his loch; but next day he appeared, and Cuchulainn placed 
himself in position. Three times Terror drew the axe over 
his neck and then bade him rise in token of his bravery; but 
still his rivals would not give way, so that now the Ulstermen 
bade them seek the judgement of Curoi. This axe game is 
found in Arthurian romance in the story of Sir Gazvayne and 
the Green Knight, and it is apparently based on an actual 
Celtic custom of a man, in token of bravery, after an entertain- 
ment, allowing someone to cut his throat with a sword. -^ 

At Curoi's castle Blathnat, his wife, welcomed them in his 
absence, though he knew they would come, and she bade them 
take turns in guarding it. In whatever part of the world Curoi 
was, he sang a spell over the castle at night, and it revolved 
as swiftly as a millstone, so that the entrance could not be 
found — an incident found elsewhere in Celtic romance. 
Loegaire took the first watch and saw a giant approaching 
from the sea, as high as heaven and bearing oak-trees in his 
hands, which he threw at Loegaire, missing him each time, after 
which the monster stretched out his hand, and squeezing him 
till he was half-dead, threw him outside the castle. Next 
night Conall met the same fate. On the night when Cuchulainn 
watched, the three goblins of Sescind Uairbeoil, the three 
herdsmen of Bregia, and the three sons of Big-Fist the Siren 
were to unite to take the castle, while the spirit of the lake 
near by would swallow it whole; but Cuchulainn slew the 
nine foes when they arrived, as well as two other bands of nine, 



THE HEROIC MYTHS 149 

making a cairn of their heads and arms. Wearied and sad, 
he now heard the loch roaring like the sea and saw a monster 
emerging from it and approaching with open jaws to gulp the 
castle down. With one leap he came behind it, tore out its 
heart, and cutting off its head, placed it on the heap. At dawn 
the giant arrived, and when he stretched out his hand, Cuchu- 
lainn made his salmon-leap and whirled his sword round his 
head, whereupon the monster vanished after having agreed 
to grant his three wishes — the sovereignty of Ireland's heroes, 
the champion's morsel, and precedence for Emer over the 
women of Ulster. Cuchulainn's leap had brought him outside 
the castle, but after several trials he sprang back into it with 
a sigh, and Blathnat said, "That Is a sigh of victory." When 
Curoi arrived, he found the trophies outside his castle and 
gave judgement In Cuchulainn's favour. 

Later, when all three were absent from Emain Macha, a 
huge boor arrived, carrying a tree, a vast beam, and an axe 
with a handle which required a plough-team to move it. He 
announced that he had sought everywhere for a man capable 
of fighting him and proposed the covenant of the axe. This 
passage repeats grotesquely the former Incident, save that 
Fat-Neck, who struck off the boor's head, refused to fulfil 
his part of the covenant, as also did Loegaire and Conall on 
their return. Cuchulainn took his place, but the boor spared 
him, calling him the bravest of warriors and fulfilling for him 
the three wishes he had made; for he was none other than 
Curoi, who had taken first the giant's, then the boor's form.^* 

The story of The Exile of the So7is of Doel the Forgotten 
{Longes mac nDuil Dermait) opens with a version of Bricriu's 
Feast. Cuchulainn had been cursed by Eocho Rond to have 
no rest until he discovered why Doel's sons left their country. 
With Loeg and Lugald he captured the ship of the King of 
Alba's son, who gave him a charm; and thus they reached an 
Island with a rampart of silver and a palisade of bronze, while 
on It was a castle where dwelt a royal pair — RIangabair and 



ISO CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

Finnabair — with three beautiful daughters. These welcomed 
them, because Loeg was their son; and Riangabair told Cuchu- 
lainn that the sister of Doel's sons and her husband were in 
a southern isle. In the morning Cuchulainn gave a ring to 
Etan, one of the daughters, who had slept with him, and 
then sailed for the isle. Connla, husband of Achtland, Doel's 
daughter, had his head against a stone in the west of the isle, 
and his feet against another in the east — a position resembling 
that in which Nut is represented above the earth in Egyptian 
mythology.^^ Achtland was combing his hair. As the ship 
approached, Connla blew so violently that a wave was formed, 
but as no diviner had announced danger from Cuchulainn, 
he was allowed to land. Achtland made him a sign and then 
said that she knew where her brothers were and that she 
would go with him, for it was foretold that he would rescue 
them. They reached an is]and where two women were cutting 
rushes, and one of them sang of seven Kings who ruled it. 
Cuchulainn brained her, whereupon the other told him the 
names of the Kings, one of whom was Coirpre, Doel's brother. 
Coirpre attacked Cuchulainn, but was forced to sue for mercy 
and carried him into the castle, where he gave him his daughter 
and told him the story of Doel's sons. Next day Eocho Glas 
arrived to fight Coirpre, and Cuchulainn leaped on the edge 
of his shield, but Eocho blew him into the sea. Now he leaped 
on the boss of the shield, again on Eocho himself, and both 
times he was blown into the ocean; but at last he slew his foe 
with the gai bolga. Then came the side whom Eocho had 
outraged, among them Doel's sons, and bathed in his blood 
to wash away the shame. Cuchulainn returned to Riangabair's 
isle, where he slept with Finnabair, and finally reaching Emain 
Macha, he went thence to Ailill and Medb, who caused Eocho 
Rond to be brought. He had fought Cuchulainn because his 
daughter Findchoem loved him, and on her account had put 
geasa (spells) on the hero, who now, having fulfilled them, 
demanded and obtained her.^° 



THE HEROIC MYTHS 151 

Both these tales contain many primitive traits and mythical 
Incidents which throw considerable light on earlier Celtic folk- 
belief. 

Previous to Bricriu's feast must be placed a story In which 
Curol discomfited Cuphulainn. He joined the hero and others 
In attacking the stronghold of the god Midir In the Lale__of 
Falga ( = the Land_Q£PromIse) and led them into It when their 
efforts failed through the juag^Ic of Its defenders, his condition 
being that he must have whatever jewel he chose. The in- 
vaders carried off MIdlr's three cows, his cauldron, and his 
daughter Blathnat. To Cuchulalnn's chagrin, however, Curoi 
chose her and took her away by magic; and though the hero 
pursued him, he was bound hand and foot by Curoi and shaved 
with his sword. ^^ Another version of this exploit, or per- 
haps of an analogous feat, tells how Cuchulainn journeyed to 
Scath and by aid of the King's daughter stole a cauldron, 
three cows, and much gold; but his coracle was wrecked, and 
he had to swim home with his men clinging to hlm.^^ 

When Cuchulainn went to obtain Curol's judgement, he 

may have come to an arrangement with Blathnat, for Keating 

says that, finding him alone, she told him that she loved him,^^ 

while a story In the Dind'senchas describes her as his paramour 

and declares that she bade him come and take his revenge. 

She brought it about that Curoi was alone in his castle and 

as a signal she caused milk to flow down-stream to Cuchulainn, 

whereupon he entered and slew Curoi, whose sword Blathnat 

had taken.^'^ In another version, however, the incident of 

the separable soul occurs. Curol's soul was In an apple, and 

this In a salmon, which appeared every seven years In a certain 

well, while the apple could be split only by Curol's sword. 

This knowledge was obtained by Curol's wife, as In parallel 

stories, and the sword given by her to Cuchulainn, who thus 

compassed her husband's death.^^ The folk-tale formula Is 

thus complete, though doubtless Curoi Is a genuine Celtic 

personality, whose fame was known to Welsh bards.^^ Prob- 
III — II 



152 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

ably a complete saga existed about this great hero or divinity 
and magician, who, according to another story, with his magic 
wand took possession of Ireland and the great world. ^^ The 
slaying of Curoi should be compared with that of Lieu, brought 
about by Blodeuwedd's treachery, and with the killing of 
Searbhan by his own club, especially as Blodeuwedd's name, 
meaning "Flower-Face," from blodeu ("flowers") is akin to 
Blathnat's, which is probably from bldth ("bloom"). In the 
sequel Curoi's poet avenged his death by leaping off a cliff 
with Blathnat in his arms.^^ 

The greatest adventure in Cuchulainn's career occurs in 
the Tain Bo Ciialnge, or Cattle-Raid of Cilalnge,'' to which 
belong a number of prefatory tales, some of them already 
cited. Only the briefest account of this long story can be given 
here. Queen Medb of Connaught desired the Donn or Brown 
Bull of Cualnge in Ulster, so that she might have the equivalent 
of her husband Ailill's bull, the Findbennach, or "White- 
Horned," these bulls, as narrated above,^^ being rebirths of 
semi-divinities. When Daire, owner of the bull, refused to give 
it, Medb collected an enormous force to march against Ulster 
at the time when the Ulstermen were in their "debility" — 
the result of Macha's curse,^^ Cuchulainn and Sualtam were 
unaffected by that curse, however, and they went against the 
host, in which were some heroes of Ulster, Cormac, Conall, 
Fiacha, and Fergus, exiled because of a quarrel with Conchobar 
for his treacherous murder of the sons of Usnech. As Medb 
set out, a beautiful girl suddenly appeared on her chariot- 
shaft, announcing herself as servant of Aledb's people, Fedelm 
the prophetess {ba7ifaid) from the sid of Cruachan (hence Medb 
was also of the side); but she prophesied disaster because of 
Cuchulainn, whom she saw in a vision. 

Cuchulainn, having entered a forest, stood on one leg, and 
using one hand and one eye, he cut down an oak sapling, which 
he twisted into a ring, inscribing on it his name, and placing 
it over a pillar-stone. This was a geis (tabu) to the host not to 



PLATE XIX 

Bulls and S-Symbols 

1. 6. Bulls, conventionally treated, with the 
characteristic Celtic spiral ornament. From stones 
found at Burghhead near Forres, Elginshire. Simi- 
lar figures exist on stones at Inverness and Ulbster 
(Caithness). They are believed to date from the 
Christian Celtic period, but perhaps represent a 
pagan tradition. Cf. also Plates II, 4-5, 9, III, 5, 
IX, B, XX, B, XXI. 

2-5. S-symbol, also believed to be of the Celtic 
Christian period, but doubtless derived from the 
same symbol as used on Gaulish coins and carried 
by a divinity (see Plates II, 2, 4, 7-9, 11, III, 3, 
IV). 

2. On a silver brooch found at Croy, Inverness- 
shire. 

3. On a stone found at Kintradwell, Sutherland- 
shire. It exists on a few other stones. 

4. Engraved with numerous other figures and 
symbols on a cave at East Wemyss, Fife. 

5. On a silver ring attached to a chain found at 
Parkhill, Aberdeenshire. 



THE HEROIC MYTHS 153 

advance until they had done the same; and meanwhile he 
kept tryst with Conchobar's daughter Fedelm or with her 
handmaid. Again entering a wood, he cut down the fork of 
a tree, placed on it four heads of the enemy slain by him, and 
set it in a ford to prevent the chariots from passing until it 
was drawn out. Now he slew hundreds of the host, but a 
treaty was made that every day a warrior should meet him in 
single combat, while he allowed the army to proceed. These 
combats, described with great spirit, as well as other daring 
deeds of Cuchulainn's, occupy the greater part of the Tain, 
but none of them is so full of interest and pathos as the long 
episode of the fight with Ferdia, his former fellow-pupil with 
Scathach, whom at last to his sorrow he slew. 

One incident tells of the warning given by the goddess 
Morrigan, in the form of a bird, to the bull to beware of Medb's 
men, so that with fifty heifers he fled to the Heifer's Glen, 
but was ultimately taken and brought to Medb's host; and 
another passage describes Cuchulainn's rejection of Morri- 
gan's advances, and her wounding and later healing by him.^'' 
There is also the incident of Medb's sending her women to 
bid him smear a false beard on himself when her warrior, Loch, 
refused to fight this beardless youth, whereupon he said a spell 
over some grass and clapped it to his chin, so that all thought 
he had a beard. The help given to Ciidniiainn by Lug has 
already been described ;^^ and the Tuatha ne-Danann likewise 
aided him by throwing^ heali ng he-rbs and plants into the 
streams in which his wounds were^jKa&b^d.- Interesting is the 
long account of his riastrad, or "distortion," before wreaking 
his fury on the men of Connaught for slaying the "boy corps" 
of Emain. He grew to an immense size and quivered in every 
limb, while his feet, shins, and knees were reversed in his 
body. This was the permanent condition of Levarcham and 
Dornolla, already mentioned, and implied swiftness and 
strength, since Levarcham traversed all Ireland every day. 
Of Cuchulainn's eyes, one sank in his head so that a heron 



/ 



154 CELTIC AHTHOLOGY 

could not have reached it, while the other protruded from 
its socket as large as the rim of a cauldron. His mouth reached 
his ears, and fire streamed from it, mounting above his head 
in showers, while a great jet of blood higher and more rigid 
than a ship's mast shot upward from his scalp, within which 
his hair retreated, and formed a mist all about. This distortion 
frequently came upon Cuchulainn, like the terrific heat some- 
times given off by his body, enough to melt deep snow for 
thirty feet around. 

During the progress of the Tain Ailill sent messengers to 
Cuchulainn, offering him his daughter Findabair if he would 
keep away from the host. Finally his fool, taking Ailill's 
shape, approached the hero with Findabair, but Cuchulainn 
detected the transformation and slew him, besides thrusting 
a stone through Findabair's mantle and tunic. She had been 
offered to Ferdia and others If they conquered Cuchulainn; 
but later she died of shame because of the slaughter of warriors 
in the fight between the chiefs to whom she had been promised 
and her lover Reochaid and his men. In the version given in 
the Book of Lecan, however, she remained with Cuchulainn 
when peace was concluded. This is the same Findabair who 
Is the heroine of the story of Fraoch cited above, and whose 
favours Cuchulainn had already gained. ^^ 

Meanwhile the Ulstermen had recovered from their debility 
and gathered for the battle with the enemy, while the goddess 
A^orrigan uttered a song of slaughter between the armies. 
Meat's forces were defeated, but she sent the bull by a cir- 
cuitous way to Cruachan; and seeing the trackless land before 
him, he uttered three terrible bellowings, at which the Findben- 
nach came hurrying toward him. Bricrlu saw the wild combat 
between the maddened animals, but as they struggled he was 
trampled into the earth by their hoofs. All over Ireland they 
drove, fighting as they went; and next day the Brown Bull 
was seen coming to Cualnge with the FIndbennach in a mangled 
heap on his horns. Women and children wept as they beheld 



THE HEROIC MYTHS 155 

him, but these he slew; and then, turning his back against a 
hill, his heart was rent with his mighty exertions. Thus ended 
the Tdin.^^ 

Cuchulainn was now seventeen years old, and to the few 
years which ensued before his death probably belong -his 
amour with the goddess Fand and that with Blathnat, since 
Curoi intended to oppose him during the Tain, but was sent 
back by Medb. 

The slaying of Curoi, of Cairbre Niaper in fair fight at Ros na 
Righ, and of Calatin, as well as his twenty-seven sons and 
his sister's son, during the Tain, led to the hero's death. Cala- 
tin's wife bore posthumously three monstrous sons and three 
daughters who were nurtured by Medb and studied magic 
arts in order to compass Cuchulainn's death. Joining at last 
with Lugaid, Curoi's son, and Ere, Cairbre's son, they marched 
toward Ulster while its men were in their debility. Mighty 
efforts were made to restrain Cuchulainn from a combat which 
all knew would be fatal to him, and he was at last concealed 
in the Glen of the Deaf; but Calatin's daughters discovered 
this and created a phantasmal army out of puff-balls and 
withered leaves, as Lug's witches transformed into soldiers 
trees, sods, and stones, and Gwydion trees and sedges. ^^ This 
army and other eldritch things filled the glen with strange 
noises, and Cuchulainn thought that enemies were harassing 
Ulster, though Cathbad told him that this was merely magic 
illusion. Then one of the weird daughters took the form of 
Niamh, daughter of Celtchar, and speaking in her name, 
bade Cuchulainn attack the foes who were overwhelming 
Ulster. Neither the protestations of the real Niamh, nor of 
Dechtire, nor of Conchobar, nor the assurances of Cathbad 
that the hosts were illusions could withhold him. On his way 
to Emain he saw Badb's daughter washing blood from a 
warrior's gear — the "Washer at the Ford," a prophecy of 
his own death — but he was resolute and cheerful in face of 
the desperate fight to which he bound himself. During the 



156 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

night Morrigan broke his chariot, hoping thus to stay him 
from the combat, but next morning he bade it be yoked with 
the Grey of Macha, though the horse reproached him. On his 
way three crones, cooking dog's flesh with poisons and spells, 
called him, but since one of his geasa was not to approach a 
cooking-hearth nor to eat the flesh of his^namesake {cu^ ^' <^g^^), 
he would have passed on, had not the crones reproached him. 
So he turned aside, took the flesh with his left hand, and ate it, 
placing his hand under his thigh, whereupon strength departed 
from thigh and hand. In the fight he slew many foes, until 
Lugaid possessed himself of Cuchulainn's spear and wounded 
first the Grey of Macha, which plunged into the loch for healing; 
and then Cuchulainn, who begged permission to crawl to the 
loch for water. He set himself against a pillar-stone, and there 
the faithful horse returned and killed many of his foes with 
teeth and hoofs; but at last Lugaid struck ofl!" Cuchulainn's 

!ead, though as the hero's sword fell from his grasp, 4t lopped 
flF his enemy's hand. Meanwhile Conall was met by the horse, 
and together they sought and found Cuchulainn's body, the 
Grey placing its head on its master's breast. Conall pursued 
Lugaid, for Cuchulainn and he had vowed that whoever 
survived must avenge the others; and his own horse aided him, 
biting a piece from Lugaid's side, while Conall cut off his 
head, thus taking vengeance for the hero's death. ^- 

Lugaid, Curoi's son, was called Mac na Tri Con, or "Son of 
the Tly^ee Dogs," viz. Curoi, Cuchulainn, and Con^l — con 
being the genitive oicu ("dog") — because it was believed that 
his mother Blathnat, Curoi's wife, had loved these two as 
well as her husband."*^ Thus Lugaid killed one reputed father 
of his and was himself slain by another. A tenth century poem 
calls the three flags of his grave Murdej ^ Disgrace, and 
Trgacliery.'''* He was probably not Cuchulainn's friend Lugaid 
Red-Stripes, who, however, was also a son of three fathers, 
Bres, Nar, and Lothar, by their sister Clothru. 

In his old age Conall retired to the Court of Medb, who 



THE HEROIC MYTHS 157 

induced him to slay Ailill; but for this the three Reds, or 
Wolves, killed him and cut off his head in revenge for the death 
of Curoi at the hands of Cuchulainn.'*^ 

Conchobar met his fate in a curious way. Among the 
trophies in Emain Macha was a sling-ball made of the brain 
of Mesgegra, King of Leinster, slain by Conall. One day Cet, 
whom Conall killed at the feast on Mac Datho's Boar, stole 
this ball, which was mixed with earth, and thus hardened, and 
later induced the women of Connaught to get Conchobar to 
show himself to them, whereupon Cet flung the ball into his 
forehead, whence it could not be removed lest he should die. 
Years after, an earthquake occurred, and when his I^uid toldj 
him that this signified our Load's crucifixion, Conchobar, whoj 
now believed in God, felt such emotion at not being able tc 
avenge Christ that the ball started from his head, and h( 
died.46 

M. d'Arbois maintained that the saga of Cuekuiainn was 
known in-Gaiil. Cuchulainn's name Setanta is akin to that 
of the Setantii, Celtic tribes living in the district between the 
Ribble and Morecambe Bay, and this, according to Rhys,"^^ 
suggests a British ancestry for the I risk hero. D'Arbois, on 
the other hand, regards this folk, as well as the Brigantes, as 
of BelgicL£auli§Ji_|n:ovenance, while the latter had-colonies 
injreland. They had a well-known god, F^sus, whom d'Arbois 
identifies with Xuchulainn ; whence the story is of Xaaulish 
origin, perhaps taught by the.Druids^ and it was ultimately 
carried to-Ulster, where it was received with enthusiasm. ^^ 
The identification rests on certain figured monuments, in the 
persons, names, or episodes of which M. d'Arbois sees those of 
the saga. On one altar Esus is cutting down a tree, while on the 
same altar is figured a bull on which are perched three birds, 
this animal being entitled Tarvos Trigaranos — "the bull with 
three cranes" {gar anus), unless the cranes are a rebus for the 
three horns (karenos) of divine animals. On another altar from 
Treves a god is cutting down a tree, and in its branches are 



158 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

a bull's head and two birds — a possible combination of the 
incidents on the other altar. AI. d'Arbois regards this as 
illustrating the Tdiyi. Esus, the woodman, is Cuchulainn; 
his action depicts what the hero did — cutting down trees to 
bar the way of Aledb's host; "^^^iis" is derived from words 
meaning "anger," "rapid.jTiotion," such as Cuchulainn often 
displayed. The bull is the Brown Bull; the birds are the 
forms in which Alorrigan and her sisters appeared/^ though 
these bird-forms were those of the crow, not the crane; the 
personal name Donnotaurus is found in Gaul and is the equiva- 
lent of the Dmm Tarb — the "Broiwi Bull." ^° Again, Djodorus 
says that the Dioscuri, i. e,-CastQi_aiid Pollux, were the gods 
most worshipped by the-Celts in the west of-Gaul,^^ and M. 
d'Arbois finds these in C4eluilainn and Conall Cernach, the 
former being foster-brother of the latter, having been suckled 
by Eindchoem, Conall's mother. He bases this identification 
on an altar found at Paris, on the four sides of which are 
represented the Roman Castor and Pollux and two Gaulish 
diyinities — SmertuUos attacking a serpent with a club, and 
an unriamed horned god, perhaps the god Cernunnos {cernu-, 
"horn"). Sjnertullos is, therefore, the native equivalent of 
Eolliix, Cera unno s oi Xlastor; and at the same time^Hiertullos 
is Cuchulainn, and Gernunnos is Conall Cexnach. In the Tain 
Cuchulainn vanquished Morrigan as an eel — the serpent of 
the monument — and, again, to hide his youthfulness, he 
srneared ismevtkain^ henc-^ Smerlullos) his chin :witli_a. false 
beard. As for Conall Cernach, whose epithet means "victori- 
ous," M. d'Arbois connects it also with the hypothetical 
Cauiii- ("JiQrn"), though Conall is never said to be horned." 

XiUgy Cuchulainn's father, was a widely worshipped^Celtic 
god, his equivalent in Gaul being a hypothetical LAigus,^ .whose 
name appears in place-names there. As Lug was called 
saniildunach ("skilled in many arts")," Lugus may be the 
Gaulish god equated by Caesar with Mercuiy, whom he calls 
"inventor of all arts" and associates with the simulacra, or 



PLATE XX 

A AND B 

Altar from Notre Dame 

A. The god Esus (cf. p. 9) was perhaps a deity of 
vegetation, and human victims offered to him were 
hanged on trees. He has been identified, though 
with slight probability, with Cuchulainn (cf. Plate 
XVIII). He is here shown cutting down a tree, 
the branches of which are carried over to the next 
side of the altar. 

B. The next side of the same altar, dedicated by 
sailors and found at Notre Dame, Paris. Under the 
branches of the tree which Esus is felling stands a 
bull with three cranes perched on his back — Tarvos 
Trigaranos (see p. 9). For the bull see also Plates 
II, 4-5, 9, III, 5, IX, B, XIX, I, 6. The subjects 
of these two sides of the altar recur in an altar from 
Treves (Plate XXI). 



THE HEROIC MYTHS 159 

standing-stones, of Gaul. Now on one of these at Kervadel 
four bas-reliefs were sculptured in Gallo-Roman times, one 
of them depicting the god Mercury together with a smaller 
childish figure; and M. d'Arbois assumes that this represents 
the god Lug with his son Cuchulainn.^^ 

Tempting as these identifications are, it must be confessed 
that they rest upon comparatively slender evidence and on 
what may be merely apparent coincidences, while they are of 
an extremely speculative character. 



CHAPTER XIII 
THE HEROIC MYTHS 

(ConttJiued) 
II. FIONN AND THE FfiINN 

THE annalists gave a historic aspect and a specific date 
and ancestry to Fionn and his men, the Feinn, but they 
exist and are immortal because they sprang from the heroic 
ideals of the folk; if they were once men, it was in a period of 
which no written record remains. Their main story possesses 
a framework and certain outstanding facts, but whatever far 
distant actuality the epos has is thickly overlaid with fancy, 
so that we are in a world of exaggerated action, of magic, 
whenever we approach any story dealing with the Feinn. 
The annalistic scheme added nothing to the epos; rather is it 
as if to the vague personalities of folk-tale had been given 
a date, names, and a line of long descent, which may delight 
prosaic minds, though it spoils the folk-tale for the imaginative. 
Traces of the annalistic scheme occur in the chronological 
poem of Gilla Caemhain (ob. 1072) and in the Annals of 
Tighernach (ob. 1088), which regarded the Feinn as a hireling 
militia defending Ireland, consisting of seven legions or Fianna 
(also Feinn, literally "troops"), each of three thousand men 
with a commander. The Feinn of Leinster and Meath com- 
prised those of our epos — the clanna Baoisgne, its later 
chiefs being Cumhal, GoU (of the clanna Morna), and Fionn. 
We are told of their arms, dress, and privileges, and of the 
conditions of admission to their ranks — some almost super- 
human;' and we learn that their exactions became so heavy 
that king and people rose against them and routed them 



THE HEROIC MYTHS i6i 

at Cnucha, where Cumhal, father of Flonn, fell. Later his 
opponent Goll became head of the Feinn, and then Flonn 
himself; but as a result of their new pretensions the Feinn were 
finally destroyed at Gabhra. 

Many Feinn stories are coloured by this scheme, which was 
applied to them at an early period; yet alongside the oldest 
references to it we find stories or allusions which show that the 
imaginative aspect was as strong then as it was later, and 
that at an early date there was much Fionn literature so well 
known that mere reference to its persons or incidents sufficed.^ 

A recent writer suggests that Fionn was originally a hero 
of the subject race of the Galioin in North Leinster,^ who 
are constantly associated with Flrbolgs and Fir Domnann. 
These appear to be remnants of a pre-Celtic population In 
Ireland,^ and are usually despised for evil qualities, though 
they have strong magical powers, just as conquerors often 
consider aboriginal races to be superior magicians, If Inferior 
human beings. These races furnished military service for the 
Celtic kings of their district down to the rise of the dominant 
"Milesian" monarchs In the fifth century; and of these Fimina, 
Fionn (whose name means "white" and has nothing to do 
with fianna or fehin), whether he really existed or not, was 
regarded as chief. Mac Firbis, a seventeenth century author, 
quotes an earlier writer who says that Fionn was of the sept 
of the Ui Tarsig, part of the tribe of the Galioin. Cumhal, 
his father, of the clanna Baolsgne, is represented In the Boyish 
Deeds of Fionn {Macgnimartka Finn)^ — a story copied from 
the tenth century Psalter of Cashel into a later manuscript — 
as striving at Cnucha with Uirgreann and the clanna Luagnl, 
aided by the clanna Morna, both subject tribes, for the chief 
Fiannship (Fiannuigeacht). Only In later accounts of the 
battle is Conn, the High King (Ardri), introduced, and though 
the annalistic conception colours the Introduction to this 
otherwise mythical tale, it appears to be based on recollections 
of clan feuds, especially as Fionn himself was later slain by 



1 62 CELTIC M\THOLOGY 

members of the clanna Uirgreann. With growing popularity, 
he became a Leinster Irish hero, fighting against other Irish 
tribes, mainly those of Ulster; but it was not until the middle 
Irish period that the Fionn story, which had now spread 
through a great part of Ireland among the Celtic folk, with 
many local developments, was adopted by the literary class 
of the dominant tribes, as at an earlier period they had taken 
over the Cuchulainn saga from the Ulstermen. They were 
rewriting Irish history in the light of contemporary events 
and of their own ambitions; and accordingly they transfigured 
and remoulded the legend of Fionn, which afforded them an 
ever-growing literary structure. The forced service of the 
Fianna became that of a highly developed militia under 
imaginary high kings, whence the rise of tales in which Fionn 
is brought into relation with these rulers — Conn, Cormac, 
Art, and Cairbre — In the second and third centuries. The 
Fianna became defenders of Ireland against foreign Invasion; 
they battled with Norsemen; they even went outside Ireland 
and conquered European or Asiatic kings. 

In origin Fionn was the ideal hero of a subject, non-Celtic 
race, as Cumhal had been, and they were located at Almha — 
the Hill of Allen. They tended, however, to become historic 
figures, associated primarily with the forced service of such 
a race, then with the later mythic national militia; but despite 
this, a mythic aspect was theirs from first to last, while the 
cycle of legends was constantly being augmented. To Oisin, 
son of Fionn, are ascribed many poems about the Feinn: hence 
he must have been regarded traditionally as the poet of the 
band, rather than his father, who studied the art and ate 
the salmon of knowledge. Few excelled in bravery Oisin's 
son, Oscar. Caoilte mac Ronan, Fionn's nephew, was famed 
for fleetness; at full speed he appeared as three persons and 
could overtake the swift March wind, though it could not 
outstrip him. Diarmaid ui Duibhne, who "never knew weari- 
ness of foot, nor shortness of breath, nor, whether in going 



THE HEROIC MYTHS 163 

out or in coming in, ever flagged," possessed a "beauty-spot" 
{ball-seirc)\ and no woman who saw it could resist "the light- 
some countenance" of "yellow-haired Diarmaid of the women." 
Goll of clanna Morna, Fionn's enemy, and then his friend, 
but with whom a feud arose which ended in his death, was 
probably the ideal warrior, prodigiously strong, noble, and 
brave, of a separate saga. Conan Maol was also of clanna 
Morna, and his father aided in slaying Cumhal at Cnucha, 
for which Fionn afterward put an eric^ or fine, upon him. 
Although of the Feinn, he was continually rejoicing at their 
misfortunes in foul-mouthed language; and this Celtic Ther- 
sites, "wrecker and great disturber of the Feinn," was con- 
stantly in trouble through his boldness and reckless bravery 
— "claw for claw, and devil take the shortest nails, as Conan 
said to the devil." In later accounts he appears rather as a 
comic character. MacLugach of the Terrible Hand is also 
prominent; so, too, is Fergus True-Lips, the wise seer, inter- 
preter of dreams, and poet. Others come and go, but round 
these circles all the breathless interest of this heroic epos. 
Their occupations were fighting on a vast scale, the records 
of which, like those of the Cuchulainn saga, are often tiresome 
and ghastly; mighty huntings, watched from some hill-top 
by Fionn, and described with zest and not a little romantic 
beauty as the hunt wends by forests, glens, watercourses, 
or smiling valleys; lastly, love-making, for these warriors 
could woo tenderly and with compelling power. Their vast 
strength and size — one of their skulls held a man seated — 
tend to remove them from the puny race of mere human 
beings; yet though of divine descent, they were not im- 
mortal, so that Caoilte says of a goddess: "She is of the 
Tuatha De Danann, who are unfading and whose duration 
is perennial; I am of the sons of Milesius, that are perishable 
and fade away."^ 

While the Cuchulainn legend had a definite number of 
tales and, after a certain date, remained complete, the Fionn 



i64 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

cycle received continual additions. New stories were written, 
new incidents invented or borrowed from existing folk-tale 
or saga, until comparatively recent times. Again, unlike the 
Ciichulainn saga, the Fionn cycle contains numerous poems; 
while the former has fewer folk-tale versions of its literary 
stories than the latter. 

The interest of Fionn's ancestral line begins with Cumhal. 
The Boyish Deeds shows him engaging in a clan feud with the 
clanna Luagni, assisted by the clanna of which Morna was 
chief. Morna's son Aodh took a leading part in the battle 
and was prominent afterward under the name Goll ("One- 
Eyed"), because he lost an eye there; Cumhal fell at his stroke.^ 
A different account of the battle is given in the Leahhar na 
hUidhre. In this, Tadg, a Druid, succeeded to Almha, the 
castle of his father Nuada, who also was a Druid; and Tadg's 
daughter Muirne was sought in marriage by Cumhal, but 
refused, because Tadg foresaw that he would lose Almha 
through him. Cumhal then abducted her, whereupon Tadg 
complained to the High King, Conn, who ordered Cumhal to 
give her up or leave the country. He refused, however, and 
collecting an army, fought Conn's men, including Uirgreann, 
Morna, and Goll, the latter of whom slew him, whence there 
was feud between Cumhal's descendants and GoU.^ 

Although Tadg and Nuada are called Druids, Nuada is 
elsewhere one of the Tuatha De Danann, and he is probably 
the god Nuada who fought at Mag-Tured;^ while Tadg is 
also said to be from the sid of Almha, which is thus regarded 
both as a divine dwelling and as a fort. Hence Fionn is affili- 
ated to the gods, and another tradition makes his mother's 
father Bracan, a warrior of the Tuatha De Danann. ^° Cumhal 
has been identified with a god Camulos, known from inscrip- 
tions in Gaul and Scotland, whose name is also found in 
Camulodunum (? Colchester). As Camulos was equated with 
Mars, he was a warrior-god — a character in keeping with 
that of Cumhal, though if the latter was a non-Celtic hero. 



THE HEROIC MYTHS 165 

and if his name should be read Umall, the identification is 
excluded. ^^ 

Fionn, a posthumous child, was at first called Deimne. For 
safety's sake he was taken by Bodhmhall and the Liath 
Luchra and reared in the wilds, where, while still a child, he 
strangled a polecat and had other adventures.^- At ten years 
old he came to a fortress on the Lifi"e7, where the boys were 
playing hurley, and beat them; and when they described him 
as "fair" to its owner, he said that his name should be Fionn 
("Fair"), but that they must kill him if he returned. Never- 
theless, next day he slew seven of them and a week later 
drowned nine more when they challenged him at swimming. ^^ 
While this incident resembles one in Cuchulainn's early career, 
in other, probably later, accounts, the match takes place 
in the presence of the High King, Conn, who called the boy 
"Fionn."'"* In the Colloquy with the Ancients, however, another 
incident is found. Goll had been made chief of the Feinn after 
Cumhal's death; and when ten years old, Fionn came to 
Conn, announcing that he wished to be reconciled with him 
and to enter his service. Conn now offered his rightful heritage 
to him who would save Tara from being burnt by Allien mac 
Midhna of the Tuatha De Danann, who yearly made every 
one sleep through his fairy music and then set fire to the 
fortress. Fionn did not succumb to the music, because of 
the magic power of a weapon given him by one of his father's 
comrades, and he also warded off with his mantle the flame 
from Aillen's mouth and succeeded in beheading him, so that 
he was given Goll's position, while Goll made friends with 
him rather than go into exile.'^ In the account of Cumhal's 
death as given in the Leabhar na hUidhre, Conn advised 
Muirne to go to her sister Bodhmhall, at whose house Fionn 
was born. Later he challenged Tadg to single combat, or to 
fight him with many, or to pay a fine for Cumhal's death; and 
Tadg, appealing for a judgement, was forced to surrender 
Almha to Fionn. Peace was now made between Fionn and Goll.'^ 



1 66 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

The story of Fionn's "thumb of knowledge" belongs in 
some versions to this period. To learn the art of poetry he 
went to Finneces, who for seven years sought to capture a 
salmon which would impart supernatural knowledge to him 
— the "salmon of knowledge" — and after he had caught it, 
he bade Fionn cook it, forbidding him to taste it. When 
Finneces inquired whether he had eaten any of it, Fionn 
replied, "No, but my thumb I burned, and I put it into my 
mouth after that"; whereupon Finneces gave him the name 
Fionn, since prophecy had announced that Fionn should eat 
the salmon. He ate it in fact, and ever after, on placing his 
thumb in his mouth, knowledge of things unknown came to 
him.'" This story, based on the universal idea that super- 
natural knowledge or acquaintance with the language of beasts 
comes from eating part of an animal, often a snake, is par- 
allel to the story of Gwion's obtaining inspiration intended for 
Avagddu '^ and to that of the Norse Sigurd, who, roasting 
the heart of the dragon Fafnir, intended for the dwarf, burned 
his finger, placed it in his mouth, and so obtained supernatural 
wisdom. In German tales the animal is a Haselwurm, a snake 
found under a hazel, like the Celtic salmon which ate the nuts 
falling from the hazels of knowledge. As told of Fionn, the 
story is a folk-tale formula applied to him, but the conception 
ultimately rests upon the belief in beneficial results from the 
ritual eating of a sacred animal with knowledge superior to 
man's. Among American Indians, Maoris, Solomon Islanders, 
and others there are figured representations of a medicine- 
man with a reptile whose tongue is attached to his own, and 
it is actually believed by the American Indians that the 
postulant magician catches a mysterious otter, takes its 
tongue, and hangs it round his neck in a bag, after which he 
understands the language of all creatures.'^ 

When Fionn sought supernatural knowledge, he chewed 
his thumb or laid it on his tooth, to which it had given this 
clairvoyant gift; or, again, the knowledge is already in his 



PLATE XXI 

Altar from Treves 

A deity (Esus) fells a tree in the foliage of which a 
bull's head appears, while three cranes perch on the 
branches (Tarvos Trigaranos). The bas-relief thus 
combines the subjects of two sides of the altar from 
Notre Dame (Plate XX). 



THE HEROIC MYTHS 167 

1 

thumb. Culdub from the sid stole the food of the Feinn on 
three successive nights, but was caught by Flonn, who also 
followed a woman who had come from the sid to obtain water. 
She shut the door on his thumb, which he extricated with 
difficulty; and then, having sucked It, he found that he knew 
future events.^'' In another account, however, part of his 
knowledge came from drinking at a well owned by the Tuatha 
De Danann.^^ 

Folk-tale versions of Flonn's youth resemble the literary 
forms, with differences In detail. Cumhal did not marry, 
because It was prophesied that If he did he would die In the 
next battle; yet having fallen In love with the king's daughter, 
he wedded her secretly, although a Druid had told the mon- 
arch that his daughter's son would dethrone him, wherefore 
he kept her concealed — a common folk-tale Incident. As his 
death was at hand Cumhal begged his mother to rear his 
child, but It was thrown Into a loch, from which It was rescued 
by Its grandmother, who caused a man to make them a room 
In a tree and, to preserve the secret, killed him. When the 
boy was fifteen, she took him to a hurllng-match, and the king, 
who was present, cried, "Who Is that fin cumhal ('white 
cap')?" The woman called out, "Fin mac Cumhal will be his 
name," and again fled, this being followed by the thumb 
Incident with the formula of Odysseus and the Cyclops, In 
which a one-eyed giant Is substituted for FInneces. Later, 
Flonn fought the beings who threw down a dun which was 
In course of construction and for this obtained the king's 
daughter, while the heroes killed by these beings were restored 
by him and became his followers.-^ Scots ballad and folk-tale 
versions contain some of these Incidents, but vary much as 
to Cumhal. In one he goes to Scotland and defeats the Norse, 
and there sets up as a king; but Irish and Norse kings entice 
him to Ireland, persuade him to marry, and kill him In his 
wife's arms. His posthumous son Is carried by his nurse to 

the wilds, and then follows the naming Incident and that of 
III — 12 



1 68 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

the thumb of knowledge, though here Black Arcan, Cumhal's 
murderer, takes the place of Finneces and is slain by Fionn 
on learning of his guilt from his thumb. Lastly Fionn obtains 
his rightful due.^' His birth incident and subsequent history 
is an example of the Aryan "Expulsion and Return" formula, 
as Nutt pointed out, and is paralleled in other Celtic Instances. 
In the Boyish Deeds of Fionn Cruithne became Fionn's 
wife, but in other tales he possesses other wives or mistresses. 
In the Colloquy with the Ancients his wife Sabia, daughter of 
the god Bodb Dearg, died of horror at the slaughter when 
Fionn's men fought Goll and the clanna Morna.-'* An Irish 
ballad also makes Dearg's daughter mother of Oisin, while 
a second daughter offered herself to Fionn for a year to the 
exclusion of all others, after which she was to enjoy half of 
his society; but he refused, whereupon she gave him a potion 
which caused a frenzy.-'' Sabia, Oisln's mother, is the Saar 
of tradition, whom a Druid changed into a deer. Spells were 
laid on Fionn to marry the first female creature whom he met, 
and this was Saar, as a deer, though by his knowledge he 
recognized her as a woman transformed. He afterward found 
a child with deer's hair on his temple, for if Saar licked her 
offspring, he would have a deer's form; If not, that of a human 
being. She could not resist giving him one lick, however, and 
hair grew on his brow, whence his name Oisin, or "Little 
Fawn." Many ballads recount this incident, but in one the 
deer is Grainne, whose story will be told presently,^^ although 
elsewhere she is called Blai.-^ Another divine or fairy mistress 
of Fionn's could assume many animal shapes, and hence he 
renounced her. Mair, wife of Bersa, also fell in love with him 
and formed nine nuts with love-charms, sending them to him 
that he might eat them; but he refused and buried them, be- 
cause they were "an enchantment for drinking love." ^^ An- 
other love-affair turned Fionn's hair grey. Cuailnge, smith 
to the Tuatha De Danann, had two daughters, Miluchradh 
and Ainc, both of whom loved Fionn. Aine, however, said 



THE HEROIC MYTHS 169 

that she would never marry a man with grey hair, where- 
upon Miluchradh caused the gods to make a lake, on which 
she breathed a spell that all who bathed there should become 
grey. One day Fionn was drawn to this lake by a doe and 
was induced to jump into it to recover the ring of a woman 
sitting by the shore; but when he emerged, she had vanished, 
and he was a withered old man. The Feinn dug down toward 
Miluchradh's sid, when she appeared with a drinking-horn 
which restored Fionn's youth, but left his hair grey, while 
Conan jeered at his misfortune.-^ One poem offers a partial 
parallel to the incident of Cuchulainn and Conlaoch, without 
its tragic ending. Oisin, angry with his father, went away for 
a year, after which father and son met without recognition. 
Fionn gave Oisin a blow, and both then reviled each other 
until the discovery of their relationship, when the dispute 
was happily settled. ^° 

Fionn's hounds, Bran and Sgeolan, were nephews of his 
own, for Ulan married Fionn's wife's sister Tuirrean, whom 
his fairy mistress transformed into a wolf-hound which gave 
birth to these famous dogs. Afterward, when Ulan promised 
to renounce Tuirrean, the fairy restored her form.^^ 

Fionn's adventures are mainly of a supernatural kind — 
combats with gods, giants, phantoms, and other fantastic 
beings, apart from those in which he fought Norsemen or 
other foreign powers, an anachronism needing no comment. 
On one occasion Fionn, Oisin, and Caoilte came to a mysterious 
house, where a giant seized their horses and bade them enter. 
In the house were a three-headed hag and a headless man 
with an eye in his breast; and as they sang at the giant's bid- 
ding, nine bodies arose on one side and nine heads on the 
other, shrieking discordantly. Slaying the horses, he cooked 
their flesh on rowan spits, and a part, uncooked, was brought 
to Fionn, but was refused by him. Then a fight began, and 
Fionn wielded his sword until sunrise, when all three heroes 
fell into a swoon. When they recovered, the house had van- 



lyo CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

ished, and they realized that the three "phantoms" were the 
three shapes out of Yew Glen, which had thus taken revenge 
for injury done to their sister, Culenn Wide-Maw.^- 

In The Fairy Palace of the Quicken-Trees {Bruighean Caor- 
thuinn) Fionn defeated and killed the King of Lochlann, 
but spared his son Midac, bringing him up in his household. 
Midac requited him ill, for he chose land on either side of the 
Shannon's mouth, where armies could land, and then invited 
Fionn and his men to the palace of the quicken-trees, while 
Oisin, Diarmaid, and four others remained outside. Presently 
Midac left the palace, when all its splendour disappeared, and 
the Feinn were unable to move. Meanwhile an army arrived, 
but Diarmaid and the others repulsed it after long fighting; 
and he released Fionn and the rest with the blood of three 
kings.^^ In a folk-tale version the blood was exhausted before 
Conan was reached, and he said to Diarmaid, "If I were a 
pretty woman, you would not have left me to the last," where- 
upon Diarmaid tore him away, leaving his skin sticking to the 
seat.^^ The house created by glamour in these stories, and 
vanishing at dawn, has frequently been found in other tales. 

The Feinn were sometimes aided by, sometimes at war 
with, the Tuatha De Danann, though in later tales these 
seem robbed of much of their divinity, one story regarding 
them almost as demoniac. Conaran, a chief of the Tuatha 
De Danann, bade his three daughters punish Fionn for his 
hunting. On three holly sticks they hung hasps of yarn in 
front of a cave and reeled them off withershins, while they sat 
in the cavern as hideous hags and magically bound Fionn and 
others who entered it. Now arrived Goll, Fionn's former 
enemy, and with him the hags fought; but two of them he 
halved by a clean sword-sweep, and the third, after being 
vanquished, restored the heroes. Afterward, however, when 
she reappeared to avenge her sisters' death, Goll slew her and 
then burned Conaran's sid, giving its wealth to Fionn, who 
bestowed his daughter on him.^^ Goll is here deemed a hero, 



THE HEROIC MYTHS 171 

as in many poems which lament his ultimate lonely death by 
Flonn, after a brave defence. In these Goll Is superior to Flonn, 
and he was the popular hero of the Feinn In Donegal and 
Connaught, as If there had been a cycle of tales In these 
districts in which he was the central figure.^^ 

Flonn also fought the Mulreartach, a horrible one-eyed hag 
whose husband was the ocean-smith, while she was foster- 
mother to the King of Lochlann. She captured from the Feinn 
their "cup of victory" — a clay vessel the contents of which 
made them victorious — but after a battle in which the 
King of Lochlann was slain, the cup was recovered. The hag 
returned, however, and killed some of the Feinn, but Flonn 
caused the ground to be cut from under her and then slew 
her.^^ This hag, whose name perhaps means "the eastern sea," 
has been regarded as an embodiment of the tempestuous wa- 
ters; and in one version the ocean-smith says that she can- 
not die until she is drowned In "deep, smooth sea" — as if 
this were a description of the storm lulled to rest. When she 
is let down Into the ground, the suggestion Is that of water 
confined In a hollow space ;^^ and if so, the story is a roman- 
tic treatment of the Celtic rite of "fighting the waves" with 
weapons at high tides.^^ 

While the King of Lochlann is associated with this hag, he 
and the Lochlanners are scarcely discriminated from Norsemen 
who came across the eastern sea, invading Ireland and captur- 
ing Fionn's magic possessions, his dogs, or his wife. Yet there 
is generally something supernatural about them; hence, prob- 
ably before Norsemen came to Ireland, Lochlann was a super- 
natural region with superhuman people. Rhys equates It 
with the Welsh Llychlyn — "a mysterious country in the 
lochs or the sea" — whence Fionn's strife would be with 
supernatural beings connected with the sea, an interpretation 
agreeing with the explanation of the Mulreartach. 

Once Fionn, having made friends with the giant Seachran, 
was taken with him to the castle of his mother and brother, 



172 CELTIC AnTHOLOGY 

who hated him. While dancing, Seachran was seized by 
a hairy claw from the roof, but escaped, throwing his mother 
into the cauldron destined for him. He and Fionn fled, pur- 
sued by the brother, who slew Seachran, but was killed by 
Fionn, who learned from his thumb that a ring guarded by 
warriors would heal him who drank thrice above it. Diarmaid 
obtained the ring, but was pursued by the warriors, whom 
Seachran's wife slew, after which the giant was restored to life.*° 
Other stories record the chase of enchanted or monstrous 
animals. Oisin slew a huge boar of the breed of Balor's swine, 
which supplied a week's eating for men and hounds; but 
meanwhile Donn, one of the side, carried off a hundred maidens 
from Aodh's sid. Aodh's wife, secretly in love with Donn, 
changed them into hinds, and when he would not return her 
love, transformed him into a stag. In this guise he boasted 
that the Feinn could not take him, but after a mighty en- 
counter, Oisin, with Bran and Sgeolan, slew him.^^ In another 
tale a vast boar, off whom weapons only glanced, killed many 
hounds; but at last it was brought to bay by Bran, when 
"a churl of the hill" appeared and carried it away, inviting 
the Feinn to follow. They reached a sid where the churl 
changed the boar into a handsome youth, his son; and in the 
sid were many splendours, fair women, and noble youths. 
The churl was Eanna, King of the sid, his wife Manannan's 
daughter. Fionn offered to wed their daughter, Sgathach, 
for a year; and Eanna agreed to give her, saying that the 
chase had been arranged in order to bring Fionn to the sid. 
Presents were then given to him and his men, but at night 
Sgathach played a sleep-strain on the harp which lulled to 
slumber Fionn and the others, who in the morning found 
themselves far from the sid, but with the presents beside 
them, while it proved that the night had not yet arrived, an 
incident which should be compared with a similar one in 
the story of Nera.^- This overcoming of the Feinn by glamour 
and enchantment is a common episode in these stories. 



THE HEROIC MYTHS 173 

Allusion has already been made ^^ to the Tale of the Gilla 
Dacker and his Horse {Toruighecht in Ghilla Dhecair). After 
the horse had disappeared with fifteen of the Feinn, Fionn 
and his men sought them overseas and reached a cliff up which 
Diarmaid alone was able to ascend by the magic staves of 
Manannan. He came to a magic well of whose waters he drank, 
whereupon a wizard appeared, fought with him, and then 
vanished into the well. This occurred on several days, but at 
last Diarmaid clasped him in his arms, and together they 
leaped into the well. There he found himself in a spacious 
country where he conquered many opposing hosts; but a 
giant advised him to come to a finer land, Tir jo Thiunn, or 
"Land under Waves," a form of the gods' realm, and there he 
was nobly entertained, the wizard being its King, with whom 
the giant and his people were at feud, as in other tales of 
Elysium its dwellers fight each other. Meanwhile Fionn and 
his men met the King of Sorcha and helped him in battle with 
other monarchs, among them the King of Greece, whose 
daughter Taise, in love with Fionn, adored him still more 
when he slew her brother! She stole away to him, but was 
intercepted by one of the King's captains; and soon after 
this, Fionn and the King of Sorcha saw a host approaching 
them, among whom was Diarmaid. He informed Fionn that 
the Gilla was Abartach, son of Alchad, King of the Land of 
Promise, and from him Conan and the others were rescued. 
GoU and Oscar now brought Taise from Greece to Fionn, and 
indemnity was levied on Abartach, Conan choosing that it 
should consist of fourteen women, including Abartach's wife; 
but Abartach disappeared magically, and Conan was balked 
of his prize.^"* This story, the romantic incidents of which are 
treated prosaically, jumbles together myth and later history, 
and while never quite forgetting that Tir jo Thiunn, Sorcha, 
and the Land of Promise are part of the gods' realm, does its 
best to do so. 

Several other instances of aid given by the Feinn to the 



174 CELTIC MITHOLOGY 

folk of Elysium occur in the Colloquy with the Ancients. The 
Feinn pursued a hind into a sid whose people were Donn and 
other children of Alidir. When their uncle Bodb Dearg was 
lord of the Tuatha De Danann, he required hostages from 
Midir's children, but these they refused, and to prevent Bodb's 
vengeance on Midir, they sought a secluded sid. Here, how- 
ever, the Tuatha De Danann came yearly and slew their 
men until only twenty-eight were left, when, to obtain Fionn's 
help, one of their women as a fawn had lured him to the sid^ as 
the boar led Pryderi into the enchanted castle."*^ The Feinn 
assisted Midir's sons in next day's fight against a host of the 
gods, including Bodb, Dagda, Oengus, Ler, and Morrigan's 
children, when many of the host were slain; and three other 
battles were fought during that year, the Feinn remaining 
to assist. Oscar and Diarmaid were wounded, and by Donn's 
advice, Fionn captured the gods' physician and caused him 
to heal their wounds, after which hostages were taken of the 
Tuatha De Danann, so that A^idir's sons might live in peace. ^^ 
Caoilte told this to St. Patrick centuries after, and he had 
scarce finished, when Donn himself appeared and did homage 
to the saint. The old gods were still a mysterious people to 
the compilers or transmitters of such tales, but they were 
capable of being beaten by heroes and might be on good terms 
with saints. Even in St. Patrick's time the side or Tuatha De 
Danann were harassed by mortal foes; but old and worn as 
he was, Caoilte assisted them and for reward was cured 
of his ailments.'*^ Long before, moreover, he had killed the 
supernatural bird of the god Ler, which wrought nightly 
destruction on the sid^ and when Ler came to avenge this, he 
was slain by Caoilte.'*^ Thus were the gods envisaged in Chris- 
tian times as capable of being killed, not only by each other 
but by heroes. 

Sometimes, however, they helped the Feinn, nor is this 
unnatural, considering Fionn's divine descent. Diarmaid was 
a pupil and protege of Manannan and Oengus and was aided 



THE HEROIC MYTHS 175 

by the latter.'^^ Oengus helped Fionn in a quarrel with Cormac 
mac Art, who taunted him with Conn's victory over Cumhal; 
whereupon Fionn and the rest forsook their strife with Oengus 
(the cause of this is unknown), and he guided them in a foray 
against Tara, aiding in the fight and alone driving the spoil.^" 
Again when the Feinn were in straits, a giant-like being assisted 
them and proved to be a chief of the side, and in a tale from the 
Dindsenchas Sideng, daughter of Mongan of the sid, brought 
Fionn a flat stone with a golden chain, by means of which he 
slew three adversaries.''^ Other magic things belonging to the 
Feinn were once the property of the gods. Manannan had a 
"crane-bag" made of a crane's skin, the bird being the goddess 
Aoife, transformed by a jealous rival; and in it he kept his 
treasures, though these were visible only when the tide was 
full. This bag became Cumhal's.^^ Manannan's magic shield 
has already been described, and it also was later the property 
of Cumhal and Fionn. ^^ In the story of The Battle of Ventry 
{Cath Finntrdga), at which the Tuatha De Danann helped 
the Feinn, weapons were sent to Fionn through Druidic sorcery 
from the sid of Tadg, son of Nuada, by Labraid Lamfhada, 
"the brother of thine own mother"; and these weapons shot 
forth balls of fire.^"* Others were forged by a smith and his 
two brothers. Roc and the ocean-smith, who had only one 
leg and one eye.^^ Whether these beings are borrowings from 
the Norse or supernatural creations of earlier Celtic myth is 
uncertain. Fionn had also a magic hood made in the Land 
of Promise, and of this hood it was said, "You will be hound, 
man, or deer, as you turn it, as you change it." ^^ 

We now approach the most moving episode of the whole 
cycle — The Pursuit of Diarmaid and Grainne {Toruigheacht 
Dhiarmada agus Ghrdinne), the subject of a long tale with 
many mythical allusions, of several ballads and folk-tales, and 
of numerous references in earlier Celtic literature. Only the 
briefest outline can be given here, but all who would know 
that literature at its best should read the story itself. Early 



176 CELTIC M\THOLOGY 

accounts tell how Fionn, seeking to wed Grainne, had to per- 
form tasks; but when he had accompHshed these and mar- 
ried her, she eloped with Diarmaid.^^ In the longer narrative, 
when Fionn and his friends came to ask Grainne's hand, she 
administered a sleeping-potion to all of them save Olsin and 
Diarmaid, both of whom she asked in succession to elope with 
her. They refused; but, madly in love with Diarmaid's beauty, 
she put geasa on him to flee with her. Thus he was forced to 
elope against his will, and when the disappointed suitor Fionn 
discovered this, he pursued them and came upon them in a 
wood, while in his sight Diarmaid kissed Grainne. At this 
point the god Oengus came to carry them off unseen, and 
when Diarmaid refused his help, Oengus took Grainne away, 
the hero himself escaping through his own cleverness. Having 
reached Oengus and Grainne, "whose heart all but fled out 
of her mouth with joy at meeting Diarmaid," he received 
advice from the god, who then left them. They still fled, 
with Fionn on their track, while the forces sent after them 
were overpowered by Diarmaid. For long he would not con- 
sent to treat Grainne as his wife, and only when he overheard 
her utter a curious reproach would he do so.^^ From two 
warriors, whose fathers had helped in the battle against 
Cumhal, Fionn demanded as eric, or fine, either Diarmaid's 
head or a handful of berries from the quicken-tree of Dubhros; 
but when the warriors came to Diarmaid, he parleyed long with 
them and at last, as they were determined to fight him, he bound 
them both. Grainne, who was now with child, asked for these 
wonderful berries, whereupon Diarmaid slew their giant guar- 
dian and sent the warriors with the berries to Fionn. He and 
Grainne then climbed the tree; and when Fionn arrived, he 
offered great rewards to the man who would bring down 
Diarmaid's head. Oengus again appeared, and when nine of 
the Feinn climbed the tree and were slain, he gave each one 
Diarmaid's form and threw the bodies down, their true shape 
returning only when their heads were cut ofi". Oengus now 



PLATE XXII 

Page of an Irish Manuscript 

Rawlinson B 512, iig a (in the Bodleian Library, 
Oxford), containing part of the story of " The Voy- 
age of Bran, Son of Febal." 



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bftjud^-fotvl-npl itmil^ inllc mbr 




THE HEROIC MYTHS 177 

carried Grainne in his magic mantle to the Brug na Boinne, 
while Diarmaid alighted like a bird on the shafts of his spears 
far outside the ring of the Feinn and fought all who opposed 
him, Oscar, who had pleaded for his forgiveness, accompany- 
ing him to Oengus's sid. Meanwhile Fionn sought the help of 
his nurse from the Land of Promise, and she enveloped the 
Feinn in a mist, herself flying on the leaf of a water-lily, through 
a hole in which she dropped darts on Diarmaid. He flung his 
invincible spear, the gai dearg, through the hole and killed the 
witch, whereupon Oengus made peace between Fionn and 
Diarmaid, who was allowed to keep Grainne. 

Fionn, however, still sought revenge against Diarmaid, who 
one night heard in his sleep the baying of a hound. He would 
have gone after it, for it was one of his geasa always to follow 
when he heard that sound,^^ but Grainne detained him, saying 
that this was the craft of the Tuatha De Danann, notwithstand- 
ing Oengus's friendship. Nevertheless at daylight he departed, 
refusing to take, despite Grainne's desire, Manannan's sword 
and the gai dearg; and at Ben Gulban Fionn told him that the 
wild boar of Gulban was being hunted, as always, in vain. 
Now Diarmaid was under geasa never to hunt a boar, for his 
father had killed Roc's son in the sid of Oengus, and Roc had 
transformed the body into a boar which would have the same 
length of life as Diarmaid, whom Oengus now conjured never 
to hunt a boar. Diarmaid, however, resolved to slay the 
boar of Gulban, viz. the transformed child, though he under- 
stood that he had been brought to this by Fionn's wiles; and 
in the great hunt which followed "the old fierce magic boar" 
was killed, though not before it had mortally wounded the 
hero. In other versions Diarmaid was unhurt, but Fionn bade 
him pace the boar to find out its length, whereupon a bristle 
entered his heel and made a deadly wound. ^° Diarmaid now 
lay dying, while Fionn taunted him. He begged water, for 
whoever drank from Fionn's hands would recover from any 
injury; and he recalled all he had ever done for him, while 



1 78 CELTIC M\THOLOGY 

Oscar, too, pleaded for him. Fionn went to a well and brought 
water in his hands, but let it slowly trickle away. Again 
Diarmaid besought him, and again and yet again Fionn 
brought water, but each time let it drop away, as inexorable 
with the hero as Lug was with Bran. So Diarmaid died, 
lamented by all. Oengus, too, mourned him, singing sadly of 
his death; and since he could not restore him to life, he took 
the body to his sid, where he breathed a soul into it so that 
Diarmaid might speak to him for a little while each day.^^ 
Fionn, who knew that Grainne intended her sons to avenge 
Diarmaid, was afterward afraid and went secretly to her, 
only to be greeted with evil words. As a result of his gentle, 
loving discourse, however, "he brought her to his own will, 
and he had the desire of his heart and soul of her," She became 
his wife and made peace between him and her sons, who were 
received into the Feinn.®^ 

So ends this tragic tale, the cynical conclusion of which 
resembles a scene in Richard III. A ballad of the Pursuit, 
however, relates that Diarmaid's daughter Eachtach summoned 
her brothers and made war with Fionn, wounding him severely, 
so that for four years he got no healing. ^^ In a Scots Gaelic 
folk-tale Grainne, while with Diarmaid, plotted with an old 
man to kill him, but was forgiven. Diarmaid was discovered 
by Fionn through wood-shavings floating down-stream from 
cups which he had made, and Fionn then raised the hunt- 
ing-cry which the hero must answer, his death by the boar 
following.^^ In the Dindsenchas this "shavings" incident is 
told of Olsin, who was captured by Fionn's enemies and 
hidden in a cave, his presence there being revealed In the 
same way to Fionn, who rescued him.^^ Ballad versions do 
not admit that Diarmaid ever treated Grainne as his wife, 
in spite of her reproaches or the spells put upon him; and it 
was only after his death that Fionn discovered his innocence 
and constancy, notwithstanding appearances. ®® In tradition 
the pursuit lasted many years, and sepulchral monuments 



THE HEROIC MYTHS 179 

in Ireland are still known as "the beds of Diarmaid and 
Grainne." Some incidents of the pursuit are also told sepa- 
rately, as when one story relates that after an old woman had 
betrayed the pair to Fionn, they escaped in a boat in which 
was a man with beautiful garments, viz. the god Oengus.^^ 

Various reasons for the final quarrel between Fionn and GoU 
are given, but in the end GoU was driven to bay on a sea-crag 
with none beside him but his faithful wife, where, though 
overcome by hunger and thirst, he yet refused the offer of 
the milk of her breasts. Noble in his loneliness, he is repre- 
sented in several poems as recounting his earlier deeds. Then 
for the last time he faced Fionn, and fighting manfully, he fell, 
covered with wounds. ^^ 

The accounts of Fionn's death vary, some placing it before, 
some after, the battle of Gabhra, which, in the annalistic 
scheme, was the result of the exactions of the Feinn. Cairbre, 
High King of Ireland, summoned his nobles, and they resolved 
on their destruction, whereupon huge forces gathered on both 
sides, and "the greatest battle ever fought in Ireland" fol- 
lowed. Few Feinn survived it, and the most mournful event 
was the slaying of Oisin's son Oscar by Cairbre — the subject 
of numerous laments, purporting to be written by Oisin,^^ 
full of pathos and of a wild hunger for the brave days long past. 
In Fionn's old age he always drank from a quaigh, for his wife 
Smirgat had foretold that to drink from a horn would be 
followed by his death; but one day he forgot this and then, 
through his thumb of knowledge, he learned that the end 
was near. Long before, Uirgreann had fallen by his hand, and 
now Uirgreann's sons came against him and slew him.^° In 
another version, however, GoU's grandson plotted to kill 
him with Uirgreann's sons and others, and succeeded. ^^ There 
is no mention of the High King here, and it suggests the long- 
drawn clan vendetta and nothing more. Thus perished the 
great hero, brave, generous, courteous, of whom many noble 
things are spoken in later literature, but none nobler than 



i8o CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

Caoilte's eulogy to St. Patrick — "He was a king, a seer, a 
poet, a bard, a lord with a manifold and great train, our ma- 
gician, our man of knowledge, our soothsayer; all whatsoever 
he said was sweet with him. Excessive perchance as ye deem 
my testimony of Fionn, nevertheless, by the King that is 
above me, he was three times better still." ^' Yet he had un- 
desirable traits — craft and vindictiveness, while his final un- 
forgiving vengeance on Diarmaid is a blot upon his character. 
One tradition alleged that, like Arthur, Fionn was still living 
secretly somewhere, within a hill or on an island, ready to 
come with his men in the hour of his country's need; and 
daring persons have penetrated to his hiding-place and have 
spoken to the resting hero.^^ Noteworthy in this connexion 
is the story which makes the seventh century King Mongan, 
who represents an earlier mythic Alongan, a rebirth of Fionn, 
this being shown by Caoilte's reappearance to prove to Mon- 
gan's poet the truth of the King's statement regarding the 
death of Fothad Airglech. "We were with thee, with Fionn," 
said Caoilte. "Hush," said Mongan, "that is not fair.'' "We 
were with Fionn then"; but the narrator adds, "Alongan, 
however, was Fionn, though he would not let it be said."^^ 
Other stories, as we have seen, make Mongan the son of 
Manannan. 

Of the survivors of the Feinn, the main interest centres 
in Oisin and Caoilte, the latter of whom lingered on with some 
of his warriors until the coming of St. Patrick. In tales and 
poems of later date, notably in Alichael Comyn's eighteenth 
century poem, Oisin went into a sid or to Tir na nOg ("the 
Land of Youth"). The Colloquy with the Ancients, on the other 
hand, says that he went to the sid of Ucht Cleitich, where was 
his mother Blai, although later he is found in St. Patrick's 
company without any explanation of his return; and now 
Caoilte rejoins him.^^ This agrees with the Scots tradition 
that a pretty woman met Oisin in his old age and said, "Will 
you not go with your mother.'"' Thereupon she opened a door 



THE HEROIC MYTHS i8i 

In the rock, and Oisin remained with her for centuries^ al- 
though It seemed only a week; but when he wished to return 
to the Feinn, she told him that none of them was left.^^ In 
an Irish version OlsIn entered a cave and there saw a woman 
with whom he lived for what seemed a few days, although It 
was really three hundred years. When he went to revisit the 
FeInn, he was warned not to dismount from his white steed; 
but In helping to raise a cart he alighted and became an old 
man." The tales of his visit to the Land of Youth vary. Some 
refer It to his more youthful days, but Michael Comyn was 
probably on truer ground In placing It after the battle of 
Gabhra. In these, however, it is not his mother, but Niamh, 
the exquisitely beautiful daughter of the King of Tir na nOg, 
who takes him there, laying upon him geasa whose fulfilment 
would give him Immortal life. Crossing the sea with her, he 
killed a giant who had abducted the daughter of the King of 
Tir na m-Beo ("the Land of the Living"); and In Tir na nOg he 
married Niamh, with whom he remained three centuries. In one 
tale he actually became King because he outraced Niamh's father, 
who held the throne until his son-in-law should do this; and to 
prevent it he had given his daughter a pig's head, but Oisin, 
after hearing Niamh's story, accepted her, and her true form was 
then restored. ^^ In the poem the radiant beauty and joy of Tir 
na nOg are described In traditional terms; but. In spite of these, 
Oisin longed for Erin, although he thought that his absence 
from it had been brief. Niamh sought to dissuade him from 
going, but in vain, and now she bade him not descend from 
his horse. When he reached Erin, the Feinn were forgotten; 
the old forts were in ruins; a new faith had arisen. In a glen 
men trying to lift a marble flagstone appealed to him for aid, 
and stooping from his horse, he raised the stone; but as he 
did so, his foot touched ground, whereupon his horse vanished, 
and he found himself a worn, blind old man. In this guise he 
met St. Patrick and became dependent on his bounty."^ 

These stories Illustrate what is found In all Celtic tales of 



1 82 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

divine or fairy mistresses — they are the wooers, and mortals 
tire of them and their divine land sooner than they weary of 
their lovers. Mortals were apt to find that land tedious, for, 
as one of them said, " I had rather lead the life of the Feinn 
than that which I lead in the sid'^ — it is the plaint of Achilles, 
who would liefer serve for hire on earth than rule the dead in 
Hades, or of the African proverb, "One day in this world is 
worth a year in Srahmandazi." 

The meeting of the saint with the survivors of the Feinn 
is an interesting if impossible situation, and it is freely de- 
veloped both in the Colloquy with the Ancients and in many 
poems. While a kindly relationship between clerics and Feinn 
is found in the Colloquy, even there Caoilte and Oisin regret 
the past. Both here and in the poems St. Patrick shows much 
curiosity regarding the old days, but in some of the latter he 
is not too tender to Oisin's obstinate heathendom. Oisin, it 
is true, is "almost persuaded" at times to accept the faith, 
but his paganism constantly breaks forth, and he utters 
daring blasphemies and curses the new order and its annoy- 
ances — shaven priests instead of warriors, bell-ringing and 
psalm-singing instead of the music and merriment of the past. 
Yet in these poems there is tragic pathos and wild regret — 
for the Feinn and their valorous deeds, for the joys never now 
to be recalled, for shrunken muscles and dimmed eyes and tired 
feet and shaking hands, for Oisin's long silent harp, above all 
for his noble son Oscar. 

" Fionn wept not for his own son, 
Nor did he even weep for his brother; 
But he wept on seeing my son lie dead, 
While all the rest wept for Oscar. 

From that day of the battle of Gabhra 
We did not speak boldly; 
And we passed not either night or day 
That we did not breathe heavy sighs." ^^ 

One fine ballad tells how Oisin fought hopelessly against the 
new order, scorning Christian rites and beliefs, but at last 



THE HEROIC MYTHS 183 

craved forgiveness of God, and then, weak and weary, passed 

away. 

"Thus It was that death carried off 
Oisin, whose strength and vigours had been mighty; 
As it will every warrior 
Who shall come after him upon the earth." *^ 

In others the Feinn are shown to be In hell, and St. Patrick 

rejoices In their fate. Sometimes OlsIn cries on Flonn to let 

no devil In hell conquer him; sometimes, weak old man as he 

Is, his cursing of St. Patrick mingles with confession of sin 

and prayers for Flonn's welfare and regrets that he cannot be 

saved. 

"Oh, how lamentable the news 
Thou relatest to me, O cleric; 
That though I am performing pious acts, 
The Feinn have not gained heaven." *^ 

Tradition maintains that OlsIn was baptized, and a curious 
story from Roscommon tells how, at St. Patrick's prayer for 
solace to the Feinn In hell, though they cannot be released, 
Oscar received a flail and a handful of sand to spread on the 
ground. The demons could not cross this to torment the 
Feinn, for If they attempted to do so, Oscar pursued them 
with his flail. ^^ 



m — 13 



CHAPTER XIV 
THE HEROIC MYTHS 

(Continued) 
III. ARTHUR 

NENNIUS, writing in the ninth century, is the first to 
mention Arthur.^ This hero is dux bellorum, waging war 
against the Saxons along with kings who had twelve times 
chosen him as chief; and twelve successful battles were fought, 
the last at Mount Badon, where Arthur alone killed over nine 
hundred men. Gildas (sixth century), however, refers to this 
struggle without mentioning Arthur's name.- In one of these 
conflicts Arthur carried an image of the Virgin on his shoulder, 
or a cross made at Jerusalem; and the Mirabilia added by a 
later hand to Nennius's History state that Arthur and his 
dog Caball (or Cavall) hunted the Porcus Troit, the dog 
leaving the mark of its foot on a stone near Builth. Nennius 
himself gives a simple, possibly semi-historical, account of 
Arthur; and the Annales Cambriae (tenth century) say that 
Arthur with his nephew and enemy Medraut (Mordred) fell 
at Camlan. 

Geoffrey of Monmouth (i 100-54), who reports the Arthurian 
legend as it was known in South Wales, states that Uther 
Pendragon, King of Britain, loved Igerna, wife of Gorlois, 
Duke of Cornwall; but for safety Gorlois shut her up in Tinta- 
gel. Merlin now came to Uther's help and by "medicines" 
gave him Gorlois's form, and his confidant Ulfin that of the 
Duke's friend, while Merlin himself took another guise, so 
that Uther thus gained access to Igerna. News of Gorlois's 
death arrived, and the messengers marvelled to see him at 



THE HEROIC MYTHS 185 

Tintagel; but Uther disclosed himself and presently married 
Igerna, who bore him Arthur and a daughter Anne, the former 
becoming king at Uther's death. His exploits against Saxons 
are related and how he carried his shield Pridwen, with a 
picture of the Virgin, and his sword Caliburnus, which was 
made in the Isle of Avalon. His conquests extended to Ireland, 
Iceland, Gothland, the Orkneys, Norway, and Gaul; his 
coronation and his court are described, and how he resolved 
to conquer Rome. On the way he slew a giant who had ab- 
ducted to St. Michael's Mount Helena, niece of Duke Hoel, 
and had challenged Arthur to fight after his refusal to send 
him his beard, which was to have the chief place in a fur made 
by the giant from the beards of other kings. This monster 
was greater than the giant Ritho, whom Arthur had fought 
on Mount Aravius. After conquering the Romans, Arthur 
heard how his nephew Mordred had usurped the throne, 
while Queen Guanhumara (Gwenhwyfar, Guinevere) had 
married him. Arthur returned and vanquished Mordred, but 
was mortally wounded and carried to Avalon, resigning the 
crown to Constantine, while Guanhumara entered a nunnery.^ 
Geoffrey obtained some information from a book in the 
British tongue, and some from Walter, Archdeacon of Oxford; 
besides which he must also have incorporated floating tradi- 
tions, to which William of Malmesbury (ob. 1142) refers as 
"idle tales." The narrative has a mythical aspect and is 
embellished after the manner of the time. Arthur's wide- 
spread conquests and his fights with giants resemble Fionn's, 
while his birth of a father who changed his form recalls that 
of Mongan, son of Manannan, who did the same,^ whence 
Uther may be a Brythonic god, and Arthur a semi-divine hero 
like Mongan or Cuchulainn. Fionn, who in one account was 
a reincarnation of Mongan, was betrayed by his wife Grainne 
and his nephew Diarmaid,^ Arthur by his wife and nephew; 
and as Mongan went to Elysium, so Arthur went to Avalon. 
Geoffrey, as well as all existing native Welsh story, knows 



1 86 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

nothing of the Grail or of the Round Table, which first appears 
in Wace's Brut^ completed in 1155. 

Three questions now arise. Was there a historic Arthur 
on whom myths of a fabulous personage were fathered? Is 
Geoflfrey in part rationalizing and amplifying in chivalric 
fashion an existing mythic story of Arthur? Does he omit 
some existing traditions of Arthur? These questions are 
probably to be answered in the affirmative. If the name 
"Arthur" is from Latin Jrtorius,^ it must have been intro- 
duced into Britain in Roman times; and hence the mythic 
Arthur need not have been so called unless the whole myth 
post-dates the possibly historic sixth century Arthur. If, more- 
over, the Latin derivation is correct, the supposed source in a 
hypothetical Celtic artor ("ploughman" or "one who harnesses 
for the plough") falls to the ground. Had the mythic per- 
sonality a name resembling Artorius? That is possible, and 
there was a Celtic god Artaios, who was equated with Mercury 
in Gaul. Artaios may be akin to Artio, the name of a bear- 
goddess, from artos ("bear"), although Rhys connects it 
with words associated with ploughing, e. g. Welsh ar ("plough- 
land").'' Artaios would then be equivalent to Mercurius cultor; 
but the connexion of Artaios and Arthur is problematical. 

In any case the story of Arthur is largely mythic, like that 
of Cuchulainn or of Fionn. Nennius appears to know a more 
or less historic Arthur; but if there was a mythic Arthur- 
saga in his time, why does he not allude to it? Did the "ancient 
traditions" to which he had access not know this mythic 
hero, or was he not interested in this aspect of his "magnan- 
imous Arthur?" Still more curious is it that neither Gildas 
nor Bede refers to Arthur. Geoffrey's narrative became 
popular and is the basis of Wace's Brut, where the Round 
Table appears as made by Arthur to prevent quarrels about 
precedence, and it is said that the Britons had many tales 
about it. Layamon {c. 1200), on the other hand, states that it 
was made by a cunning workman and seated sixteen hundred, 



PLATE XXIII 

Artio 

The bear-goddess (see p. 124) feeds a bear. The 
inscription states that "Licinia Sabinilla (dedicated 
this) to the goddess Artio," and the box pedestal 
has a sHt through which to drop offerings of coins. 
Found at Berne ("Bear-City"), which still preserves 
a trace of the ancient Celtic cult in its famous den 
of bears. Cf. Plate 11, 10. 



THE HEROIC MYTHS 187 

while in the Romances it was made by Merlin. Layamon 
also declares that three ladies prophesied at Arthur's birth 
regarding his future greatness — the three Matres or Fees 
of Celtic belief, found also in other mythologies. Yet before 
Geoffrey's time Arthur was known in Brittany, whither Britons 
had fled from the Saxons; and there the Normans learned of 
the saga, which they carried to Italy before 1 100 a. d., so that 
Alanus ab Insulis (ob. c. 1200) says that in his time resentment 
would have been aroused in Brittany by the denial of Arthur's 
expected return. 

Among the Welsh romantic tales about Arthur the chief 
is that of Kulhwch and Olwen,^ where he and his warriors, 
some of whom have magic powers, aid Kulhwch in different 
quests. The story, which antedates Geoffrey, and proves that 
an Arthurian legend existed before his time, is based on the 
folk-tale formula of a woman's hatred to her step-son. She 
bade Kulhwch seek as his wife Olwen, daughter of Yspaddaden 
Penkawr, whose eyelids, like Balor's, must be raised by his 
servitors, though he is not said to possess an evil eye. The 
quest was difficult, and when Kulhwch found Yspaddaden's 
castle, he learned that many suitors for Olwen had been slain, 
for Yspaddaden would die when she married — a variant of 
the theme of the separable soul.^ Yspaddaden set Kulhwch 
many tasks, some of them connected with each other, and 
in many of these his cousin Arthur assisted him. Among them 
is the capture of the Twrch Trwyth (Nennius's Porcus Troit), 
on account of the scissors, comb, and razors between its ears, 
which Yspaddaden desired. This boar was a knight trans- 
formed by God for his sins, and to capture it the aid of Mabon, 
son of Modron, must be obtained. First, however, his prison 
must be found, for he had been stolen on the third night after 
his birth, and none knew where he was. With the help of 
various animals his place of bondage was discovered, and he 
was released by Arthur, whose aid, with that of others, Yspad- 
daden had said that Kulhwch would never obtain. Arthur 



1 88 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

now collected an army for the chase of the boar, and this 
pursuit recalls many stories of Fionn. A great combat with it 
took place, and after Arthur had fought it for nine days and 
nights without being able to kill it, he sent to it and its pigs 
Gwrhyr Gwalstawt in the form of a bird to invite one of them 
to speak with him. The invitation was refused, however, and 
accordingly Arthur, with his dog Cavall and a host of heroes, 
hunted the boar from place to place. Alany were slain, but 
at last the boar was seized, and the razor and scissors were 
taken. Nevertheless, before the comb could be obtained, the 
boar fled to Kernyu (Cornwall), where it was captured; 
although all that had happened previously was merely a game 
compared with the taking of the comb. The boar was now 
chased into the sea, and Arthur went north to obtain the blood 
of the sorceress Gorddu on the confines of hell, another of the 
things required by Yspaddaden. Arthur slew Gorddu, and 
Kaw of Prydein (Pictland) collected her blood, which, with 
the other marvellous objects, was taken to Yspaddaden, who 
was now slain. 

In this story Kulhwch comes to Arthur's court, which is 
attended by many warriors and supernatural personages, 
some of whose names (e. g. Conchobar, Curoi) recur in the 
Romances or are taken from other parts of Brythonic as well 
as Irish traditions. The gate was shut while feasting went on, 
save to a king's son or to the master of an art — an incident 
recalling the approach of Lug, "master of many arts," to the 
abode of the Tuatha De Danann before the battle of Alag- 
Tured ^° — all others being entertained outside with food, 
music, and a bedfellow. Among the personages of this tale 
who recur in the Romances are Kei, Bcdwyr (Bedivere), 
Gwalchmei (Gawain), and Gwenhwyfar; characters from the 
Mahinogion or other tales are Manawyddan, Morvran, Teyr- 
non, Taliesin, and Creidylad, daughter of Lludd. Mabon, son 
of Modron, is the Maponos of British and Gaulish inscrip- 
tions, where he is equated with Apollo; and his mother's name 



PLATE XXIV 

Boars 

The boar appears as a worshipful animal on Gaul- 
ish coins (see Plate III, i, 3, 6), and there was a 
Gallic boar-deity, Moccus (p. 124). It also plays a 
role in Irish saga (pp. 124-27, 172) and in the Welsh 
story of the Twrch Trzvyth (or Porcus Troit) (pp. 
108, 125, 187-88). Bronze figures found at, Houns- 
low, Middlesex. 



THE HEROIC MYTHS 189 

is equivalent to that of thie goddesses called Matronae (akin to 
the Matres), whose designation appears in that of the Marne. 
Mabo?i means "a youth," and Map07ios "the great {or divine) 
youth," whence he must have been a youthful god. His 
immortality is suggested by the fact that he had been in prison 
so long that animals which had attained fabulous ages had 
no knowledge of him, and only a salmon, older than any of 
them, knew where his prison was. It carried Kei and Gwrhyr 
thither on its shoulders, and when Arthur attacked the strong- 
hold, it supported Kei and Bedwyr, who made a breach in the 
wall and released the captive. Mabon rode a horse swifter 
than the waves, and he is called "the swift" in the Stanzas 
of the Graves. The chase of the boar could not take place 
without him, and he followed it into the Bristol Channel, 
where he took the razor from it. Reference is made to Mabon's 
imprisonment in a Triad; and he and Gweir, whose prison is 
mentioned in a Taliesin poem about Arthur and his men, 
with Llyr Lledyeith, were the three notable prisoners. Yet 
there was one still more notable — Arthur, who was three 
nights in prison in Caer Oeth and Anoeth, three nights in 
prison by Gwenn Pendragon, and three nights in an enchanted 
prison under Llech Echymeint; but Goreu, his cousin, deliv- 
ered him.^^ 

Other mythical or magic-wielding personages in Kulhzvch 
are the following. Gwrhyr, who could speak with birds and 
animals, transformed himself into a bird in order to speak to 
the boar; and Menw also took that shape and sought to remove 
one of the boar's treasures, when it hurt him with its venom. 
He could also make Arthur and his men invisible, though 
they could see other men. Morvran, son of Tegid Voel, seemed 
a demon, covered with hair like a stag; none struck him at 
the battle of Camlan on account of his ugliness, just as none 
struck Sandde Bryd-angel because of his beauty. Sgilti Light- 
Foot could march on the ends of tree-branches, and so light 
was he that the grass never bent under him. Drem saw the 



I90 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

gnat rise with the sun from Kelliwic in Cornwall to Pen 
Blathaon in Scotland. Under Gwadyn Ossol's feet the highest 
mountain became a plain, and Sol could hold himself all day 
on one foot. Gwadyn Odyeith made as many sparks from the 
sole of his foot as when white-hot iron strikes a solid object; 
he cleared the way of all obstacles before Arthur and his men. 
Gwevyl, when sad, let one of his lips fall to his stomach, 
while the other made a hood over his head; and Ychdryt 
Varyvdraws projected his beard above the beams of Arthur's 
hall. Yskyrdaw and Yseudydd, servants of Gwenhwyfar, had 
feet as rapid as their thoughts; and Klust, interred a hundred 
cubits underground, could hear the ant leave its nest fifty 
miles away. Medyr could pass through the legs of a wren in 
the twinkling of an eye from Cornwall to Esgeir Oervel in 
Ireland; Gwiawn could remove with one stroke a speck from 
the eye of a midge without injuring it; 01 found the track of 
swine stolen seven years before his birth. Many of these 
invaluable personages have parallels in Celtic as well as other 
folk-tales, and are the clever companions of the hero, who 
execute tasks impossible to himself. ^^ 

In the Dream of Rhonahwy the hero had a vision of the 
knightly court of Arthur, different from that in Kulhzvchj 
and found himself transported thither. Arthur had mighty 
armies, and he and others were of gigantic size, while his 
mantle rendered the wearer invisible. The story describes 
Arthur's game at chess with Owein, and how Owein's crows 
were first ill-treated and then killed their tormentors. These 
crows are frequently mentioned in Welsh poetry, and Arthur 
is said to have feared them and their master. In this tale we 
also hear of Iddawc (mentioned in the Triads), whose horse, 
on exhaling its breath, blows far off those whom he pursues, 
and as it respires, it draws them to him. He was an interme- 
diary between Arthur and Mordred at Camlan, sent with 
gracious words from Arthur, reminding Alordred how he had 
nurtured him and desiring to make peace; but Iddawc altered 



THE HEROIC MYTHS 191 

these messages to threats and thus caused the battle. Arthur's 
court appears again In The Lady of the Fountain, a Welsh tale 
which is the equivalent of Chretien's Yvain (twelfth century), 
but here again the conception of it is far more knightly and 
romantic than in Kulhwch. The supernatural in this story, 
whether Celtic or not, is found, e. g., in the one-eyed black 
giant with one foot and an iron club, who guards a forest in 
which wild animals feed. He tells Kynon to throw a bowlful 
of water on a slab by a fountain, when a storm will burst, 
followed by the music of birds, and a black-armoured knight 
will appear and fight with Kynon. In these two tales the follow- 
ing personages known to Welsh literature and the Romances 
appear — Mordred, Caradawc, Llyr, Nudd, Mabon, Peredur, 
Llacheu, Kei, Gwalchmei, Owein, March son of Meirchion 
(Mark, King of Cornwall), and Gwchyvar. 

In the early Welsh poems there are many references to 
Arthur and his circle, as when, in the Black Book of Caermarthen 
(twelfth century), one poem, telling of Arthur's expedition to 
the north, mentions Kei, whose sword was unerring In his 
hand, Bedwyr the Accomplished, Mabon, Manawyddan, 
"deep was his counsel," and Llacheu, Arthur's son. Kei 
pierced nine witches, probably the nine witches of Gloucester 
mentioned in Peredur, while Arthur fought with a witch and 
clove the Paluc Cat. A Triad declares that this creature was 
born of a pig hunted by Arthur, because it was prophesied 
that the Isle would suffer from Its litter; and although Coll, 
Its guardian, threw the cat Into the Menal Strait, Paluc's 
children found It and nourished It until It became one of the 
three plagues of Mon (Anglesey). This demon cat, which should 
be compared with those fought by Cuchulainn, recurs in 
Merlin, but is then located on the continent. In this poem 
Arthur is also said to have distributed gifts. ^^ Llacheu figures 
in another poem, which tells of his death, as "marvellous in 
song," and he Is mentioned there with Bran, Gwyn, and 
Creldylad.^'* The Stanzas of the Graves refer to the graves of 



192 CELTIC AHTHOLOGY 

Gwythur, March, and Arthur, the latter's being anoeth hid 
("the object of a difficult search"); and Arthur's horse Cavall, 
not his dog Cavall or Caball (as in Nennius and Kulhzvch, 
where Bedvvyr held it in leash), is mentioned in another poem. 

Arthur's expedition to Annwfn in Kulhzvch, where Annwfn 
is equivalent to hell, lying to the north, is paralleled by another 
in a Taliesin poem to which reference has already been made.^^ 
Arthur and others went in his ship Prydwn (Prytwenn in 
Kulhzvch, where it goes a long distance in the twinkling of an 
eye ^^) over seas to Caer Sidi for the "spoils of Annwfn," 
including the magic cauldron of Penn Annwfn, and apparently 
to release Gweir, who had been lured there through the 
messenger of Pwyll and Pryderi. While Annwfn was spoiled, 
Gweir "grievously sang, and thenceforth till doom he remains 
a bard"; but the expedition was fatal to many who went 
on it, for "thrice Prydwn's freight" voyaged to Caer Sidi, 
but only seven returned. ^^ This recalls Cuchulainn's similar 
journey to Scath for its cauldron and cows;^^ and there is 
also a parallel in Kulhwch, where one of the treasures desired 
of the hero by Yspaddaden is the cauldron of Diwrnach the 
Irishman, who refused it when Arthur sent for it. Arthur 
then sailed for Ireland in his ship, and Bedwyr seized the 
cauldron, placing it on the shoulders of Arthur's cauldron- 
bearer, who brought it away full of money.^^ Another treasure 
which Kulhwch had to obtain, but of which there is no further 
mention, is the basket of Gwyddneu, from which the whole 
world might eat according to their desire, this basket resembling 
Dagda's cauldron. 2° 

The Guinevere incident in Geoffrey is differently rendered 
in Welsh tradition. A Triad says that the blow given her by 
Gwenhwyfach (her sister In Kulhwch) caused the battle of 
Camlan,^' and another Triad speaks of Medraut's drawing 
her from her royal seat at Kelllwic and giving her a blow, 
while he Is also said to have outraged her. Medraut at the 
same time consumed all the food and drink, but Arthur retail- 



THE HEROIC MYTHS 193 

ated by doing likewise at Medraut's court and leaving neither 
man nor beast alive. Medraut resembled Hir Erwn and Hir 
Atrym in Kulhwch, who wherever they went ate all provided 
for them and left the land bare;^- although another view of 
him is found in a Triad which speaks of the blow given him 
by Arthur as "an evil blow" and of himself as gentle, kindly, 
and fair. Guinevere seems to have had an ill character in 
Welsh tradition, a spiteful couplet speaking of her as "bad 
when young, worse later." -^ Her name means "white phantom 
or /^^," from gwen ("white") and hzvyvar, a word cognate 
with Irish siabur, siahhra ("phantom," "fairy"), the corre- 
sponding Irish name being Finnabair;-* and this seems to point 
to her divine aspect, just as Etain was called be find ("white 
woman") by Midir. A Triad speaks of three Guineveres, 
all wives of Arthur, with different fathers; but Celtic myth 
loved triple forms, and the different Guineveres, Llyrs, Mana- 
wyddans, etc., may have been local forms of the same divinity. 
The departure of the wounded Arthur to Avalon, though 
mentioned by Geoffrey, does not occur in native Welsh story; 
yet in other sources which refer to it there is probably to be 
found a Brythonic tradition on the subject. In the Vita 
Merlini attributed to Geoffrey, Avalon appears as Insula 
Pomorum, or "Isle of Apples," where the labour of cultivating 
the soil is unnecessary, so abundant is nature. Grapes and 
corn grow plentifully, and nine sisters, of whom Morgen is 
chief, and who can take the form of birds, bear rule there. 
These nine recall the nine maidens whose breath boiled the 
cauldron of Annwfn, and the bird sisters perhaps recur in 
the Perceval story where Perceval, attacked by black birds, 
kills one which turns to a beautiful woman whom the others 
bear away to Avalon. ^^ In another description the island 
lacks no good thing and is unvisited by enemies. Peace, con- 
cord, and eternal spring and flowers are there; its people are 
youthful; there is no old age, disease, or grief; all is happiness, 
and all things are in common. A regia virgo rules it, more 



194 CELTIC AiYTHOLOGY 

beautiful than the lovely maidens who serve her; she healed 
Arthur when he was brought to the court of King Avallo and 
now they live together.-^ Her name is Morgen, though else- 
where Morgen is Arthur's sister, and Giraldus Cambrensis 
calls her dea phantastica; while William of Malmesbury speaks 
of Avalloc (Avallo) as dwelling at Avalon with his daughters. 
How close is the resemblance of this island to the Irish Elysium 
must at once be seen. It is mainly a land of women; there 
is no toil, but plenty; no sickness nor death, but immortal 
youth; and the divine women there can take the form of birds 
like Fand, Liban, and others. They who visit Arthur find 
the place full of all delights, says the Vita Merlini; and if 
Arthur went to Avalon to his sister, he resembles Oisin who, 
in one account, went with his mother to Elysium." In the 
Didot Perceval Arthur declares that he will return, so that 
Britons expect him and have sometimes heard him hunting 
in the forest ;2^ and Layamon, who lived in a district where 
Brythonic tradition must have abounded, says also that 
Arthur, when wounded, announced his departure to the fair- 
est of all maidens, Argante, Queen in Avalon, who would 
heal him, but that he would return. A boat appeared, in which 
were two women, who placed him in it; and now he dwells 
in Avalon with the fairest of elves, the fees or goddesses of other 
traditions, while Britons await his coming.^® In Malory the 
boat is full of queens, among them Morgen, Arthur's sister, 
and Nimue, the Lady of the Lake, "always friendly to Arthur." 
From her had come the sword Excalibur, and her home was 
in a wonderful palace within a rock in a lake — an Elysium 
water-world. All this points to the interest taken in a hero by 
other-world beings. 

The identification of Glastonbury with Avalon may be due 
to two influences. Glastonbury and its Tor were surrounded 
by marshes, which would cause it to be considered as an 
island; and probably, too, the Tor was a divine abode analogous 
to the sid, as the legend of Gwyn suggests. Some local myth 



THE HEROIC MYTHS 195 

would lead this "island" to be regarded as Elysium, while in 
Arthur's case it came to be called Avalon either because a 
local lord of Elysium was named Avallo, or because magic 
trees with apples {avail, "apple-tree"), like those of the Irish 
Elysium, were supposed to grow there. Glastonbury as a 
sid Elysium is supported by another early Arthur tradition; 
and one form of this had been transferred to Italy by the Nor- 
mans, for Gervase of Tilbury speaks of a groom finding him- 
self in a castle on Etna, wherein Arthur lay in bed, suffering 
from Mordred's wounds, which broke out afresh each year,^° 
More usually, however, the legend is that of Arthur and his 
knights waiting, like Fionn, in an enchanted sleep within a hill 
for the time when their services will be required, this story 
being attached to the Eildon Hills and other places.^^ 

Welsh literature shows that at a period contemporary with 
Geoffrey, and in manuscripts perhaps going back to an ear- 
lier period, there was an Arthurian tradition in Wales which 
differed considerably from that of the historian and was 
much fuller. Arthur became a figure to whom floating myths 
and traditions might be attached and, like Fionn, he was a 
slayer of witches, monsters, and serpents, so that in the Life 
of St. Carannog a huge reptile which devastated the land was 
hunted and destroyed by him. It is certain that, before the 
great French poems of the Arthurian cycle were written, 
Arthur was popular both in Britain and in Brittany.^^ 

The outburst of Arthurian romance proper, that of the 
Anglo-Norman writers, belongs to the end of the twelfth 
and the beginning of the thirteenth century, opening 
with the Lais of Marie de France and the Tristan, Erec, 
Chevalier de la Charette, and Conte del Graal of Chrestien de 
Troyes. Whence was its subject-matter drawn? Some hold 
that beyond the scanty facts related of the historic Arthur, 
all was taken from Armorican sources, popularized by conteurs 
there. These traditions, according to Zimmer, were originally 
Welsh, but were brought to Armorica by immigrants from 



196 CELTIC AHTHOLOGY 

Britain; but others, e. g. Gaston Paris and A. Nutt, find the 
sources in Welsh tradition and native Celtic tales, learned by 
Normans after the Conquest of England and passed thence 
to France, either directly or via Anglo-Norman poems. This 
is supported by the identity of episodes in the Romances with 
those of Irish sagas; and Miss Weston has adduced new 
evidence which indicates that in Wauchier's Perceval, the 
Elucidation, and the English Gawain poems "we have a 
precious survival of the earliest collected form of Arthurian 
romantic tradition." ^^ Wauchier de Denain refers to a certain 
Bleheris, of Welsh birth, whose patron was the Count of 
Poitiers, and to him he attributes the source of his narrative. 
Bleheris is probably the Blihis to whom the Elucidation refers 
as source of the Grail story, the Bledhericus described by 
Giraldus as famosus ille fabidator, and the Breri mentioned 
by an Anglo-Norman poet named Thomas, who wrote on Tris- 
tan about 1170.^^ Arthurian romance is thus traced directly to 
Welsh sources through this writer, who certainly flourished not 
later than the beginning of the twelfth century. 

Arthur and Arthur's court are a centre toward which or from 
which stories converge or issue, whence other personages are 
apt to be regarded as more interesting than he or to have 
a larger number of deeds attributed to them. Conchobar's 
court, with its heroes, where boys are brought up and go forth 
armed to their first adventures, suggests the primitive Celtic 
Arthurian court, unaltered by mediaeval chivalric ideas. ^^ In 
the Cuchulainn stories it is not so much Conchobar who is 
the chief figure as Cuchulainn, though he is always in the back- 
ground, and in this Arthur in relation to Gawain, Perceval, 
and others corresponds to him. Arthur has little to do with 
the Grail, and new important personages, not necessarily of the 
early Celtic group, tend to be introduced. 

Gawain was Arthur's nephew as Cuchulainn was Concho- 
bar's, and the earlier presentation of him is more just than the 
later. "He never returned from a mission without having 



THE HEROIC MYTHS 197 

fulfilled it; he was the best of walkers and the best of horse- 
men," says Kulhwch; and according to the Triads^ he had a 
golden tongue and was one of the best knights of Arthur's 
court for guests and strangers.^^ He had a valuable steed 
Gringalet as Cuchulainn had two. His sword Escalibur 
(Latin Caliburnus), made in Avalon, was given him by Arthur, 
its first owner; and its Welsh name, Caledvwlch, seems identical 
with that of Cuchulainn's caladbolg, which was forged in the 
sid. One incident of Gawain's legend is his visit to an island 
castle where are many knights and maidens, who can never 
speak to each other, ruled by a mysterious lady allied with its 
magician chief, the captor of these knights and maidens; and 
he who goes there must remain always. Gawain reached it, 
guided by the lady, who met him at a fountaln,^^ a visit which 
suggests those of Bran, Connla, and Cuchulainn to Elysium 
{not the region of the dead) at the invitation of a goddess 
connected with its lord. Gawain was given up as dead, and 
this legend persisted, though he returned to Arthur. Prob- 
ably, like Connla, he remained in Elysium, so that mediaeval 
tradition regarded him as living in fairy-land. In a second 
incident the other-world momentarily appears. Guinevere 
was abducted by Meleagant (Melwas) to a castle on an island 
whence no traveller returned. It was approached by a sword- 
bridge and an under-water bridge, Lancelot crossing by the 
former, Gawain choosing the latter; and although in Chres- 
tien's Le Chevalier de la Charette Lancelot rescues Guinevere, 
evidence exists which points to Gawain as the real hero of the 
adventure.'^ A sword-bridge is otherwise unknown to Celtic 
myth; a realm reached by descending into water is known; 
and Gawain himself came to a palace under water, where 
he met with strange adventures.'^ Possibly Gawain, like his 
brother Mordred, was lover of Guinevere, a situation to 
which Lancelot succeeded when he was later evolved. The 
question also arises whether Gawain and Mordred were 
Arthur's sons by his sister, wife of King Loth, as Malory 



198 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

asserts of Mordred.''° This is not impossible, just as one 
tradition made Cuchulainn son of Conchobar by his sister 
Dechtire. Gawain, in Miss Weston's opinion, is the earliest 
hero of the Grail, his position as such being emphasized by 
Wauchier, drawing on a version by Bleheris. Perceval next 
became the hero of the Quest, then Lancelot, and finally 
Galahad, who achieved it. 

Among those who are known to Welsh literature and who 
appear in the Romances is Kei. His counsel was not to open 
the gate to Kulhwch, but Arthur said that courtesy must be 
shown; and he was one of those whose help Kulhwch demanded 
on entering. He passed for offspring of Kynyr Keinvarvawc, 
who told his wife that if her son took after him, his heart 
and hands would always be cold, and he would be obstinate; 
when he carried a burden, none would perceive him from 
behind or before, and none would support fire and water as 
long as he. Kei could breathe for nine days and nine nights 
under water and could remain that time without sleeping, 
while nothing could heal a blow of his sword. When he pleased, 
he could become as high as the highest tree; and when heavy 
rain fell, all that he held in his hand was dry above and below 
to the distance of a handbreadth, so great was his natural heat, 
which also served as fuel to his companions when they suffered 
most from cold.'^^ These characteristics recall those of Celtic 
saints, who remained dry in wet weather and could produce 
light from their hands, and also Cuchulainn's "distortion" 
and heat. Kei took an important part with Bedwyr in seek- 
ing Olwen for Kulhwch, Bedwyr seizing one of the poisoned 
javelins thrown at them by Yspaddaden; and he was also 
active in questing for the treasures and reached the castle 
of Gwrnach Gawr, where, as at the stronghold of Arthur and 
the Tuatha De Danann, none could enter but the master of 
an art. Kei proclaimed himself the best sword-polisher in the 
world and gained entrance by saying that he had a companion 
whom the porter would recognize because his spear-head would 



THE HEROIC MYTHS 199 

detach Itself from the shaft, draw blood from the wind, and 
resume its place on the shaft. This was Bedwyr. Kei then 
killed Gwrnach with his own sword and carried it off, since 
the boar could be killed by it alone. ^^ Kei and Bedwyr dis- 
covered and aided in releasing Mabon, and obtained the leash 
made from the beard of Dillus Varvawc while he was living, 
which alone could hold the Little Dog of Greit; but Arthur 
sang a teasing verse about this and irritated Kei so much 
that peace between them was restored with difficulty. At the 
hunt of the boar Bedwyr held Arthur's dog Cavall in leash.'*^ 

In Kulhzvch, as in the Black Book of Caermarthen, Kei is not 
only a mighty warrior, fighting against a hundred, but also a 
great drinker, and his valour as well as his nobility and wisdom 
is sung in later poetry. In a curious dialogue between Arthur 
and Guinevere after her abduction she told him that Kei 
could vanquish a hundred, including Arthur, while she described 
Arthur as small compared with Kei the tall. Possibly Kei 
rather than Melwas was here Guinevere's ravisher.^ In Geof- 
frey, Kei Is Arthur's sewer and received a province from him, 
while Bedwyr Is butler and Duke of Normandy, and both 
assist Arthur In his adventures and are mentioned together.^^ 
Kei is also sewer In the Welsh romances which show traces 
of Continental Influence — Peredur, Olzven and Lunet — where, 
as In the Anglo-French romances, his boastful, quarrelsome 
nature appears. He is always ready to fight, yet always over- 
thrown; and he is to the Arthur saga what Conan and Bricriu 
are to those of Fionn and Cuchulalnn. Reference is made in 
Kulhzvch to his death at the hands of Gwddawc, a deed re- 
venged by Arthur, but in the Welsh Saint Graal Kei slew 
Arthur's son, Llacheu, and made war on Arthur. 

Of Bedwyr Kulhzvch says that he never hesitated to take 

part In any mission on which Kei was sent; none equalled him 

in running save Drych; though he had but one hand, three 

combatants did not make blood flow more quickly than he; 

and his lance, which produced one wound In entering, caused 
III — 14 



200 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

nine in retiring — i. e. it was studded with points turned back 
so that they caught the flesh on being withdrawn. ^^ In like 
manner Cuchulainn's gai holga inflicted thirty wounds when 
pulled out, and reference is frequently made to pointed 
spears of similar character. Bedwyr is praised in Welsh 
poetry and is the Sir Bedevere of the Romances. In Geoffrey 
he reconnoitred the hill where the giant was supposed to live 
and comforted the nurse of the dead woman abducted by him, 
and he is also said to have been slain by the Romans.^^ 

Nennius relates that Vortigem's attempts to build a city 
mysteriously failed until his wise men said that he must obtain 
a child without a father and sprinkle the foundation with his 
blood — an instance of the well-known Foundation Sacrifice. 
This victim is at last found because a companion is heard 
taunting him, as they play at ball, that he is "a boy without 
a father." His mother alleged that he had no mortal sire, and 
the child exposed the wise men's ignorance, by telling what 
would be discovered beneath the foundation — a pool, two 
vases, with a tent, and in it two serpents. One of these expelled 
the other, and all this is explained as symbolic of the world, 
Vortigem's kingdom, the Britons, and the Saxon invaders. 
Giving his name as Ambrose (Embreis gzvledig^ or "prince") 
and saying that a Roman consul was his father, the boy 
obtained the place as a site for a citadel of his own, Dinas 
Emrys.^^ Ambrosius Aurelianus the gwledig was a real person 
who I fought the Saxons in the fifth century,'*^ and to his history 
these myths have been attached. In Geoffrey this boy is Merlin 
or Ambrosius Merlin, whose mother said that often a beauti- 
ful youth appeared, kissed her, and vanished, although after- 
ward he sometimes spoke with her invisibly and finally as a 
man slept with her, leaving her with child. One of Vortigem's 
wise men explained him as an incubus (the Celtic dusius). 
Merlin told how two dragons were asleep in two hollow stones, 
and when dug up, they fought, the red dragon finally being 
worsted; and he now uttered many tedious prophecies, in- 



THE HEROIC MYTHS 201 

eluding that of the coming of Ambrosius as king. At a later 
time he advised Ambrosius, who wished to erect a memorial 
for native heroes, to send for the "Giants' Dance" to Ireland, 
whither African giants had carried it; and by Merlin's in- 
genuity the stones, which had healing and magic virtues, were 
removed to Stonehenge. Geoffrey then recounts how Merlin 
transformed Uther so that he might gain access to Igerna.^° 

In Welsh literature Merlin or Myrddin is connected with 
the Britons of the north. Whether this Merlin is the same as 
Geoffrey's is uncertain, the former being called Merlin the 
Wild or Caledonius, but at all events the two are combined 
in later literature. He is a bard and prophet who fled frenzied 
to the Caledonian Forest after learning of his sister's son's 
death; and there he prophesied to his pig under an apple-tree 
and had a friend Chwimbian, the VIviane of romance. The 
later chroniclers and romantic accounts develop Merlin's 
magic, e. g. his shape-shifting, the removal of the stones here 
becoming supernatural; while his birth is ascribed to demoniac 
power, and but for his baptism he would have been a kind of 
Antichrist. He took the child Arthur; and when, as King, 
Arthur unwittingly had an amour with his sister, he appeared 
as a child and revealed the secret of the king's birth, after 
which, as an old man, he disclosed to Arthur how he had 
sinned with his sister in ignorance. In the Triads he and his 
nine bards went into the sea in a glass house, or he took with 
him the Treasures of Britain to the Isle of Bardsey. In other 
accounts, however, his disappearance was caused by his fairy 
mistress's treachery, for she learned the secret of his magic 
power and how to imprison a man in a wall-less tower; in which 
she shut him up, visiting him daily, while it appeared to 
others as a "smoke of mist." Another version describes him 
as enclosed in a rocky grave, whence perhaps the phrase of a 
Welsh poem — "the man who speaks from the grave" — and 
in yet another tradition he retires from the world in an 
Esplumeor, which he made himself." 



202 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

How much of all this Is pure romance, how much is genuine 
Brythonic myth, is uncertain; and MerHn may be an old god 
degraded to a mere magician. Nennius and Geoffrey in their 
narratives suggest the well-known "Expulsion and Return" 
formula — the boy without a father, taunted when playing 
at ball, comes into favour because he shows why a castle cannot 
be built. This recalls Fionn's youth and how, overcoming 
the beings who destroyed a dun, he thus regained his heritage.^^ 
Merlin's father was doubtless a god, but as "the son without a 
father" he recalls the son of a sinless couple" in the story of 
Becuma, as well as Oengus, who was taunted with having no 
known father.^' The incident of his disappearance of his own 
will suggests the legends of heroes sleeping in hills, just as his 
imprisonment by his mistress recalls that of Kronos in the 
British myth cited by Plutarch and the stories of mortals 
bound by the love of immortals to the other-world. While 
Merlin is connected with Arthur in Geoffrey and the Romances, 
he is not one of the throng around the hero in Kulhwch. 

The debatable ground of the Grail romances cannot be 
discussed here in detail, especially as the episode did not 
enter into the earliest Perceval romances, of Welsh origin, 
and is lacking in the Welsh Peredur, written in full knowledge 
of the Perceval-Grail stories, and in the English Syr Percy- 
velle. Perceval probably succeeded Gawain as the hero of the 
Grail, to be superseded himself by Galahad. In Wauchier's 
continuation of Chrestien's Perceval Gawain rode beyond Ar- 
thur's kingdom through a waste land to a castle by the sea, 
where he saw a knight on a bier with a sword on his breast. 
A procession of clergy, singing the Vespers of the Dead, entered; 
and then followed a feast at which "a rich Grail" provided 
the food and served the guests, "upheld by none." Later 
Gawain saw a lance with a stream of blood flowing from it 
into a silver cup, and finally the King of the castle entered 
and bade Gawain fix the two halves of a broken sword together. 
Unable to do this, he failed in the Quest, but having asked 



THE HEROIC MYTHS 203 

about lance and sword, he learned that the lance was that by 
which Christ's side was pierced, while the sword was that of 
the Dolorous Stroke by which Logres and all the country 
was destroyed. Here Gawain fell asleep and next morning 
found himself on the shore, while the castle had vanished. 
Nevertheless the land was now fertile, because he had asked 
about the lance; had he asked about the Grail, it would have 
been fully restored. 

In Chrestien's Perceval there is a procession with a sword, 
a lance from which a drop of blood runs down, the Grail, shining 
so as to put out the candles' light, and finally a maiden with 
a silver plate. The Grail is of gold and precious stones; but 
in other versions it is the dish or cup of the Last Supper, or 
a vessel in which Joseph received the Saviour's Blood, or a 
chalice, or a reliquary, or even something of no material sub- 
stance, or a magic stone (Wolfram's Parzival). It provides 
food magically, with the taste which each one would desire, 
though sometimes it feeds those only who are not in sin. It 
gives perfume and light, heals the wounded, and, after the 
successful quest, removes barrenness from the land and cures 
its guardian or raises him from death. It prevents those who 
see it from being deceived or made to sin by devils, or it gives 
the seeker spiritual insight. In Peredur there is no Grail, 
but the hero sees a procession with a spear from which come 
three drops of blood, and a salver containing a head. 

The Grail and its accompanying objects have a twofold 
aspect and source, pagan and Christian. The Grail and lance 
are associated with events of Christian history, but they have 
pagan Celtic parallels — the divine cauldron from which none 
goes unsatisfied and which restores the dead, the enchanted 
cup in tales of Fionn which heals or gives whatever taste is 
desired to him who drinks from it, and which is sometimes the 
object of a quest. The head in Peredur recalls Bran's head, 
the lance and sword the spear which slew him and the sword 
by which he was decapitated, as well as Lug's unconquerable 



204 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

spear, Nuada's irresistible sword, Manannan's magic sword, 
Tethra's talking sword. The Stone of Fal suggests the Grail 
as a stone, and it, like Dagda's cauldron and the spear and 
swords of Lug, Nuada, and Manannan, belonged to the 
Tuatha De Danann. The Grail, sword, and spear have affinity 
with these as much as with the Christian symbols. Yet no 
theory quite accounts for the assimilation of the two groups, 
and while the Grail has magic properties, we should remember 
that miraculous food-producing and healing of the sick were 
works of our Lord, which might easily be associated with 
objects connected with Him, as a result of the belief in relics. 
Failing the discovery of an early manuscript in which the 
actual sources of the Grail story may be found, much is open 
to conjecture. 

A theory connected with the prevailing study of vegetation 
rituals sees in the objects and their effects survivals of Celtic 
ritual resembling that of Adonis or Tammuz, its aim being 
the preservation of the fertility of the land.^ There is no 
evidence, however, that at such rituals a miraculous food- 
supplying vessel had any part; such vessels belong to the 
domain of myth, and the story of the Grail has more the 
appearance of being derived from a myth which was possibly 
based on such rituals. It is in myth that magico-miraculous 
powers flourish, not in ritual; and such a myth could be 
Christianized. When, moreover, the theory makes the further 
assumption that the ritual was of the nature of a "mystery," 
there is again no evidence for this, for vegetation rituals are 
open to all in the fields, even where Christianity has been 
adopted. The theory, however, postulates a mystery-cult, 
with a plain and evident meaning for the folk — associated 
with powers of life and generation — and with other significa- 
tions for the initiate — phallic, philosophic, spiritual. The 
story of this pagan mystery, which expressed three planes or 
worlds — "the triple mysteries of a life-cult" — was gradually 
Christianized by those ignorant of its meaning and was finally 



PLATE XXV 

Horned God 

The deity, wearing a torque and pressing a bag 
from which escapes grain on which a bull and a 
stag feed, is supported by figures of Apollo and Mer- 
cury (cf. pp. 8-9). He may possibly be identical 
with Cemunnos, a deity of the underworld (Plate 
XVI). His attitude suggests the squatting god of 
Plates HI, 3, VHI, IX, and his cornucopia corre- 
sponds to the purse of the divinity of Plate IX, B, 
as well as to the cup held by Dispater (Plate XIV). 
For other gods of the underworld see Plates V, VII, 
XII, XIII, XXVI. From a Galio-Roman altar 
found at Rheims. 



THE HEROIC MYTHS 205 

worked up by Robert de Borron (twelfth century) in terms of 
a corresponding traditional esoteric Christian mystery. The 
procession with Grail, etc., was the presentation of the mystery, 
its meaning being divulged according to the degree of initiation; 
but though the quester is the initiate, yet he fails in his 
Quest.^^ The present writer is wholly unable to believe that 
such mysteries and initiations existed among the barbarous 
Celts or that they survived until the early middle ages, or 
that lance and cup have a phallic significance — "life symbols 
of the lowest plane" — or that there was a traditional esoteric 
Christianity, save in the minds of cranks of all ages. Why, 
again, should a mystery known only to initiates have been the 
subject of a story .^ Were initiates likely to reveal it,^ To 
regard the Grail story from a phallic, occult point of view and 
to interpret it by means of a mystic jargon is to degrade it. 
If the modern occultist possesses a divine secret, the world 
does not seem to be much the better for it; and such secrets are 
apt to be mere "gas and gaiters." The truth is that occultism 
renders squalid whatever it touches, be that Christianity, 
or Buddhism, or the romantic stories of the Grail. 

In spite of the numerous and important characters who 
enter into the saga, Arthur is the central figure, the ideal hero 
of Brythonic tribes in the past, to whom leadership at home 
and abroad might be assigned, and whose presence in all battles 
might be asserted. Originating as a champion, real or mythical, 
of northern Brythons in southern Scotland, his legend passed 
with emigrants to Wales, where it became popular. Like Fionn 
among the Goidels, so Arthur among the Brythons was located 
in every district, as numerous place-names show; and if Fionn 
was at first a non-Celtic hero adopted by Goidels, so Arthur 
was a Brythonic hero adopted by Anglo-Normans as their 
truest romantic figure.^^ 



CHAPTER XV 
PAGANISM AND CHRISTIANITY 

APART from the occasional Christianizing of myths or 
the interpolation of Christian passages in order to make 
the legends less objectionable, the Irish scribes frequently 
created new situations or invented tales in which mythical 
personages were brought into contact with saints and mission- 
aries, as many examples have shown. In doing this they not 
only accepted the pagan stories or utilized their conceptions, 
but sometimes almost contrasted Christianity unfavorably 
with the older religion. 

The idea of the immortality or rebirth of the gods survived 
with the tales in which it was embodied and was sometimes 
utilized for a definite purpose. The fable of the coming of 
Cessair, Noah's granddaughter, to Ireland before the flood 
was the invention of a Christian writer and contradicted 
those passages which said that no one had ever been in Ireland 
previous to the deluge. All her company perished save Finn- 
tain, and he was said to have survived until the sixth century of 
our era.^ The reason for imagining such a long-lived personage 
is obvious; in no other way could Cessair's coming, or that 
of Partholan and of the other folk who reached Ireland, have 
been known. Poems were ascribed to Finntain in which he 
recounted the events seen in his long life until at last he 
accepted the new faith. ^ 

Even at this early period, however, there was a story of 
another long-lived personage with incidents derived from 
pagan myths. Long life, excessive as Finntain's was, might 
have been suggested from Genesis, but the successive trans- 



PAGANISM AND CHRISTIANITY 207 

formations of Tuan MacCalrill could have their origin only 
in myth; and the wonder is that such a doctrine was accepted 
by Christian scribes. Tuan was Partholan's nephew and 
through centuries was the sole survivor of his race, which was 
tragically swept away by pestilence in one week for the sins of 
Partholan. Obtaining entrance to the fortress of a great war- 
rior by the curious but infallible process of "fasting against" 
him, St. Finnen was told by his involuntary host that he was 
Tuan MacCairill and that he had been a witness of all events 
in Ireland since the days of Partholan, When he was old and 
decrepit, he found on awaking one morning that he had become 
a stag, full of youth and vigour; this was in the time of Nemed, 
and he described the coming of the Nemedians. He himself, 
as a stag, had been followed by innumerable stags which 
recognized him as their chief; but again he became old, and 
now after a night's sleep he awoke as a boar in youthful 
strength and became King of the boars. Similarly he became 
a vulture, then a salmon, in which form he was caught by 
fishers and taken to the house of King Caraill, whose wife ate 
him, so that from her he was reborn as a child. While in her 
womb he heard the conversations which went on, and knowing 
what was happening, he was a prophet when he grew up, 
and in St. Patrick's time was baptized, although he had pro- 
fessed knowledge of God while yet paganism alone existed in 
Ireland.^ 

The mythical donnees of this story are sufficiently obvious. 
Metamorphosis and rebirth have frequently been found in 
the myths already cited, and these were used by the inventors 
of Tuan MacCairill, the closest parallels to him being the two 
Swineherds and Gwion.^ 

The conversion of pagan heroes or euhemerized divinities 
to Christianity is sometimes related. When Oengus took 
Elcmar's sid^^ the latter's steward continued in his office; and 
his wife became the mother of a daughter Ethne, afterward 
attendant to Manannan's daughter Curcog, who was born 



2o8 CELTIC AHTHOLOGY 

at the same time as she. Ethne was found to be eating none 
of the divine pigs nor drinking Goibniu's beer, yet she re- 
mained in health; a grave insult had been offered to her by a 
god, and now she could not eat, but an angel sent from God 
kept her alive. Meanwhile Oengus and Manannan brought 
cows from India, and as their milk had none of the demoniac 
nature of the gods' immortal food, Ethne drank it and was 
nourished for fifteen hundred years until St. Patrick came 
to Ireland. One day she went bathing with Curcog and her 
companions, but she returned no more to the sid with them, 
for through the power of Christianity in the land she had 
laid aside with her garments the charm of invisibility, the 
feth Fiada. She could now be seen by men and could no longer 
perceive her divine companions or the road to the invisible 
sid. Wandering in search of them, she found a monk seated 
by a church and to him she narrated her story, whereupon he 
took her to St. Patrick, who baptized her. One day, as she 
sat by the door of the church, she heard the cries of the in- 
visible j"t^-folk searching for her and bewailing her; she fainted 
and now fell into a decline, dying with her head on the Saint's 
breast.^ In this tale the general Christian attitude to the gods 
obtrudes itself — although the conception of their immortality 
and invisibility is accepted, they are demons or attended by 
these; Ethne had a demon guardian who left her when the 
angel arrived and as a result of her chastity. Not unlike this 
story is that of Liban, daughter of Eochaid, whose family 
were drowned by the bursting of a well. Liban and her lap- 
dog were preserved for a year in the water, but then she was 
changed into a salmon, save her head, and her dog into an 
otter. After three hundred years she was caught by her own 
wish and was baptized by St. Comgall, dying thereafter.^ 

In the Cuchulainn saga Conchobar was born at the hour 
of Christ's Nativity, and Cathbad sang beforehand a prophecy 
of the two births, telling also how Conchobar would "find his 
death in avenging the suffering God," though the hero did not 



PLATE XXVI 

SUCELLOS 

The hammer-god, also shown on Plate XIII, here 
has five small mallets projecting from his great 
hammer. Found at Vienne, France. 



PAGANISM AM; CMRISTIAMTY 209 

pass away until liC had bcliovcd in God, before: tfif: faii}i liarj 
y(;t reached J'>iri. He is said to have been i(ie- fir',r [;a^^an who 
went. lii'Tjre to heaven, ifiou^^h rioi. till afi.f;r \i'v, ^oul had jour- 
neyed to }if:ll, whence it wa-, carried with other souls by Christ at 
the I farrowing of J fades, he having died just after the Cruci- 
fixion.^ Cucfiulainn was a pagan to tfie last, but colncidentaily 
witfi his pas'j'ng thrice fifty queens who loved him saw hi-, 
soul floating in his spirit-chariot over f'irnain Macha, singing a 
song of Christ's coming, the arrival of l^atrick and the shaven 
monks, and tfie fJay of Doom.'' I.oegaire, King of I'.rin, refused 
to accept the faith unle'/. l*atrir.k called up Cuchulainn in 
all his dignity, and next day f.oegaire told how, after a pierc- 
ing wind from hell preceding the hero's coming, while the air 
was full of birds — the sods thrown up by Cuchulainn's 
chariot-horses — he had appeared as of old. He was In bodily 
form, more than a phantom, agreeably to the Celtic con- 
ception of immortality; and he was clad as a warrior, while 
his chariot was driven by I^oeg and drawn by hi-, famous 
steeds. Loegaire now desired that Cuchulainn should return 
and converse longer with him, whereupon he again appeared, 
performing in rnid-air his supernatural feats and telling of 
his deeds. He besought I^atrick to bring him with his faithful 
ones to f-'aradise and advised Loegaire to accept the faith. 
The king now asked Cuchulainn to tell of lii', adventures, and 
he did so, finishing by describing the pains of hell, still urging 
Loegaire to become a Christian, and again begging the saint 
to bring him and his to I^aradise. Then heaven was declared 
for Cuchulainn, and Loegaire believed."^ 

Some of the Feinn stories also show this kindly attitude 
toward the old paganism, especially The Colloquy with the 
Ancients^ which dates from the thirteenth century." When 
Oisin had gone to the sxd^ Caoilte with eighteen others sur- 
vived long enough to meet St. Patrick and his clerics. These 
were astonished at "the tall men with their huge wolf-dogs," 
but the saint sprinkled holy water upon them and dispersed 



210 CELTIC M\THOLOGY 

into the hills the legions of demons who floated above them. 
At Patrick's desire Caoilte showed him a spring and told him 
stories of the Feinn, the saint interjecting the words, "Success 
and benediction, Caoilte, this is to me a lightening of spirit 
and mind," although he feared that it might be a destruction 
of devotion and prayer. During the night, however, his 
guardian angels bade him write down all the stories which 
Caoilte told; and next morning Caoilte and his friends were 
baptized. The hero gave Patrick a mass of gold — Fionn's 
last gift to him — as a fee for the rite and "for my soul's and 
my commander's soul's weal"; and the saint promised him 
eternal happiness and the benefit of his prayers. ^^ The Colloquy 
describes journeys taken by Patrick and his followers with 
the Feinn, while Caoilte tells stories of occurrences at various 
spots. He also relates how Fionn, through his thumb of 
knowledge, understood the truth about God, asserted his 
belief in Him, and foretold the coming of Christian mission- 
aries to Ireland and the celebration of Mass there, adding that 
for this God would not suffer him to fall into eternal woe. 
The Feinn likewise understood of God's existence and of 
His rule over all because of certain dire events which befell 
many revellers in one night,^' a parallel to this being found 
in The Children of Ler^ where, through their sorrows, these 
children are led to believe in God and in the solace which 
would come from Him; so that in the sequel they received 
baptism after they had resumed human form.^'* 

Akin to these meetings of saint and heroes is one which is 
referred to in some verses from a fourteenth century manu- 
script and which concerns St. Columba and Mongan, either the 
pagan king of that name or his mythic prototype. Like Ma- 
nannan, whose son he was, he was associated with Elysium 
— "the Land with Living Heart" — and from that "flock- 
abounding Land of Promise" he came to converse with the 
saint. Another poem gives Mongan's greeting to Columba on 
that occasion, and nothing could exceed the gracious terms 



PAGANISM AND CHRISTIANITY 211 

in which he praises him; while a third poem tells how Mongan 
went to Heaven under the protection of the saint — " his 
head — great the profit! under Columcille's cowl." ^^ 

Not the least interesting aspect of the reverence with which 
Christian scribes and editors regarded old mythic heroes is 
found in the prophecies of Christianity put into their mouths. 
Some instances of this have been referred to, but a notable 
example occurs in The Voyage of Bran, where the goddess who 
visits Bran tells how "a great birth will come in after ages ": — 

"The son of a woman whose mate will not be known, 
He will seize the rule of many thousands. 

'Tis He that made the Heavens, 
Happy he that has a white heart. 
He will purify hosts under pure water, 
'Tis He that will heal your sicknesses." 

So, too, Manannan speaks of the Fall and prophesies how 

"A noble salvation will come 
From the King who has created us, 
A white law will come over the seas, 
Besides being God, He will be man." ^^ 

By such means, which recall the noble teaching of St. Clement 
and Origen, did Christian Celts make gods and heroes do 
homage to the new faith, while yet they recounted the mythic 
stories about them and preserved all "the tender grace of a 
day that is dead." Even more remarkable is one version of a 
story telling how the narrative of the Tain was recovered. 
It existed only in fragments until Fergus mac Roich, a hero of 
the Cuchulainn group, rose from his grave and recited it, 
appearing not only to the poets, but to saints of Erin who had 
met near his tomb, while no less a person than St. Ciaran wrote 
the story to his dictation. Among these saints were Columba, 
Brendan, and Caillin, and in company with Senchan and 
other poets they were fasting at the grave of Fergus so that 
he might appear, after which the tale was written down in 
Ciaran's book of cow-hide.^'' 



212 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

The same charitable point of view is seen in the fact that 
the gods and heroes still have their own mystic world in the 
sid and are seldom placed in hell. Yet there are exceptions, 
for Cuchulainn came from hell, as we saw, but St. Patrick 
transferred him to heaven. Even in hell, however, he had 
still been the triumphant hero, and when the demons carried 
off his soul to "the red charcoal," he played his sword and 
his gai holga on them, as Oscar did his flail,^^ so that the devils 
suffered, even while they crushed him into the fire.^^ Caoilte 
craved that his sister might be brought out of hell, and Patrick 
said that if this were good in God's sight, she and also his 
father, mother, and Fionn himself would be released. -° In 
other poems, however, the Feinn are and remain in hell, as 
has already been seen. 

Thus, while the Church set its face against the old cults, 
so that only slight traces of these remain, or gave a Christian 
aspect to popular customs by connecting them with saints' 
days or sacred places, it was on the whole rather proud than 
otherwise of the heroes of the past and preserved their memory, 
together with much of the gracious aspect of the ancient gods. 
Exceptions to this exist and were bound to exist, e. g. in many 
Irish and Scots Ossianic ballads; and there was, too, a tendency 
to confuse Elysium with hell, more especially in Welsh legend, 
this being inevitable where myths of Elysium were still con- 
nected with a local cult. Gwyn was lord of Annwfn, which was 
located on Glastonbury Tor, or king of fairy-land, and here 
St. Collen was invited to meet him. Seeing a wonderful castle 
and a host of beautiful folk, he regarded them as devils, their 
splendid robes as flames of fire, their food as withered leaves; 
and when he threw holy water over them, everything van- 
ished.^* Probably a cult of Gwyn existed on the hill. Gwyn 
was also thought to be a hunter of wicked souls, yet it is also 
said of him that God placed in him the force of the demons 
of Annwfn (here the equivalent of hell) in order to hinder 
them from destroying the people of this world. ^^ 



PAGANISM AND CHRISTIANITY 213 

We owe much to the Christian scribes and poets of early 
mediaeval Ireland and Wales, who wrote down or re-edited 
the mythic tales, romantic legends, and poems of the pagan 
period, thus preserving them to us. These had still existed 
among the folk or were current in the literary class, and 
that they were saved from destruction is probably due to the 
fact that Ireland and Wales were never Romanized. Causes 
were at work in Gaul which killed the myths and tales so long 
transmitted in oral forms; and since they were never written 
down, they perished. Elsewhere these causes did not exist, 
or a type of Christianity flourished which was not altogether 
hostile to the stories of olden time, as when Irish paganism 
itself was described symbolically as desiring the dawn of a new 
day. The birds of Elysium were "the bird-flock of the Land 
of Promise," and in one story were brought into contact with 
St. Patrick, welcoming him, churning the water into milky 
whiteness, and calling, "O help of the Gaels, come, come, 
come, and come hither! "^^ 

That is an exquisite fancy, more moving even than that 
which told how 

"The lonely mountains o'er 
And the resounding shore, 
A voice of weeping heard and loud lament" 

— the mournful cry, "Great Pan is dead," at the moment of 
Christ's Nativity. Celtic paganism, Goidelic and Brythonic, 
surely bestowed on Christianity much of its old glamour, for 
nowhere is the history of the Church more romantic than in 
those regions where Ninian and Columba and Kentigern and 
Patrick lived and laboured long ago. 



SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY 



BY 
JAN MACHAL, Ph.D. 

PROFESSOR OF SLAVIC LITERATURES, BOHEMIAN UNIVERSITY, PRAGUE 
WITH A CHAPTER ON BALTIC MYTHOLOGY BY THE EDITOR 



EDITOR'S PREFACE 

FOR obvious reasons it has not been possible to have the col- 
laboration of the author of this Slavic Mythology in seeing 
his work through the press. This duty has, therefore, devolved 
upon me, though the task has been lightened by constant refer- 
ence to his Bdjeslovi slovanske (Prague, 1907), on which his 
present study is largely based. Since the author supplied no 
Notes, and as they seemed to me desirable, I have added them. 
All responsibility for them is mine, not his; but I trust that 
they will not be displeasing to him. 

Professor Machal wrote, at my request, a chapter on the 
mythology of the Prussians, Letts, and Lithuanians. As this 
has not been received, I have endeavoured to supply it; but 
since I hope to prepare a study of the religion of these peoples 
to be published on another occasion, I have restricted myself 
rigidly to their mythology, discussing neither their religion, their 
ethnology, nor their history. That Professor Machal did not so 
limit his scope is to me a source of pleasure; for in those systems 
of religion where practically nothing is as yet accessible in Eng- 
lish it seems preferable to treat the theme without meticulous 
adherence to a theoretical norm. 

The excellent translation of Professor Machal's study has 
been made by his colleague. Professor F. Krupicka, to whom he 
desires to express his gratitude for his assistance in this regard. 

LOUIS H. GRAY. 

November 6, 1916. 



PRONUNCIATION 

THE vowels are pronounced generally as in Italian. In the 
Lithuanian diphthong ai the first element predominates 
almost to the suppression of the second. Russian e has the 
sound of the English word yea or of ye in yes; Lithuanian e (often 
written ie) is pronounced like yea, but with a slight <2-sound 
added (yd"), and u is equivalent to wo" (very like English whoa'^) ; 
Lettish ee is simply e (English a in fate) ; Polish ie is like Eng- 
lish ye in yes; Russian iy is practically the i in English pique. 
The Slavic i and il have only an etymological value, and are not 
pronounced; in the present study they are omitted when final, 
so that Perunii, e.g., is here written Perun. 

/ is like y (for convenience the Russian letters often tran- 
scribed /(X, etc., are here given as ya, etc.); of the liquids and 
nasals, r and / between consonants have their vowel-value, as 
in English betterment, apple-tree {bettrment, appltree) ; r is pro- 
nounced in Polish like the z in English azure, and in Bohemian 
like r followed by the same sound of z; Polish ^ is a guttural 
(more accurately, velar) /; n has the palatal value of ni in 
English onion. The sibilant? is like sh in English shoe (in 
Lithuanian this sound is often written sz), and z (Lithuanian 
z) is like z in azure. 

Of the consonants ? (often written cz in Lithuanian) has the 
value of ch in church; ch that of the German or Scottish ch in 
ach, loch; c that of the German z (is). 

The consonant-groups in the present study are pronounced 
as follows : cz like ch in church; dz and dj like j in judge; rz like 2 
in azure; sj like sh in shoe; and szcz like shch in fresh-chosen. 



INTRODUCTION 

SINCE those records of ancient Slavic life which have sur- 
vived are very superficial, it is not surprising that only 
scanty and fragmentary knowledge of Slavonic religions has 
come down to us. The native chroniclers, imbued with Chris- 
tian civilization, dealt shallowly and, it would seem, reluctantly 
with the life of their pagan ancestors; and while writers of 
other nationalities have left much more thorough accounts of 
the religions of the Slavic peoples, yet, being ignorant of the 
Slavic dialects and insufficiently familiar with the lives and 
customs of the Slavs, their documents are either very confused 
or betray a one-sided Classical or Christian point of view. 
It must further be borne in mind that the extant data treat of 
the period immediately preceding the introduction of Chris- 
tianity, when the Slavic nations, inhabiting a wide-spread 
region and already possessed of some degree of civilization, 
had made considerable progress from their primeval culture. 
Hence no inferences may be drawn from the mythology of one 
Slavic nation as to the religion of the Slavs as a whole. 

The most ample evidence, relatively speaking, is found 
regarding the religion of the Elbe Slavs, who adopted Christi- 
anity as late as the twelfth century. Thietmar, Bishop of 
Merseburg, gives the earliest accounts of their religion (976- 
1018),^ and the description of the rites of the Slavic tribe of 
the Lutici by Adam of Bremen, in his Gesta Hammaburgensis 
ecclesiae pontificum (eleventh century),^ is founded chiefly on 
Thietmar's report. Helmold, a German chronicler of the 
twelfth century, who had seen the countries of the Elbe Slavs 



222 INTRODUCTION 

with his own eyes, transmitted important evidence of their 
religion in his Chronica Slavorum;^ and in like manner the 
Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus, writing in the same cen- 
tury, spoke of the idolatry of the Elbe Slavs,"* his statements 
being confirmed by the Danish Knytlingasaga} Further de- 
tailed accounts of Slavic paganism may be found in the lives 
of St. Otto, a bishop of Bamberg, who was renowned as a 
missionary among the Pomeranian Slavs.® 

The most important evidence for Russian religion is con- 
tained in the Chronicle of Nestor (iioo);^ further fragments of 
pagan customs are preserved in the old Russian epic Slovo o 
pluku Igoreve ("Song of Igor's Band"), which dates from the 
twelfth century;^ and to these two main sources for a knowledge 
of the pagan period in Russia may be added some old religious 
writings directed against the heathenism which still lingered 
among the folk. 

Mention of the religions of the eastern and southern Slavs 
is made in the works of the Greek historian Procopius of 
Caesarea (sixth century) ^ and of the Arabian travellers al- 
Mas' udl ^° and Ibrahim ibn Vasifshah ^^ (tenth and twelfth 
centuries respectively), while allusions to ancient Slavic pagan 
rites and idolatry are found in the mediaeval encyclopaedias 
which were translated from Greek and Byzantine originals. 

The main source for the religion of the Czechs is the Chronicle 
of Cosmas (ob. 1125),^- supplemented by the Homiliary of the 
Bishop of Prague (twelfth century.) ^^ The chronicler Dtugosz 
(fifteenth century) records fairly detailed accounts of the old 
Polish religion, although they are not very reliable ;^^ and allu- 
sions of a more specific character occur in some fragments of 
old Polish literature, particularly in Polish-Latin homilies. ^^ 

These poor and scanty accounts of the mythology of the 
ancient Slavs are supplemented by old traditions which still 
live among the people, these legends being very rich and con- 
taining ample survivals of the past, since even after their 
conversion to Christianity the common folk clung to their 



INTRODUCTION 223 

pagan beliefs. Thus ancient national tales, preserved to this 
very day, contain distinct traces of the early faith, and these 
traditions, verified by old evidence, are of such prime impor- 
tance that they will form the basis of our description of Slavic 
mythology. 



SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY 

PART I 
THE GENII 



SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY 

CHAPTER I 
BELIEF IN SOUL AND GENII 

IN Slavic belief the soul is a being quite distinct from the 
body, which it is free to leave even during life, so that there 
are many stories of human souls coming forth from the bodies 
of sleeping persons and either dwelling in trees or, in the shape 
of white birds, fluttering about in the world and finally return- 
ing to their normal habitations. It is inadvisable to go to 
bed thirsty, lest the soul, wearied by its search for water, may 
weaken the body. If a man faints, his soul leaves his body 
and uneasily flutters about the world; but when it returns, 
consciousness is likewise restored. Some individuals have lain 
like dead for three days, during which time their souls dwelt in 
the other world and beheld all that might be seen either in 
heaven or in paradise. A soul which leaves the body when 
asleep and flies about in the world is called Vjedogonja or 
Zduh, Zduhacz ("Spirit") by the Serbs; and not only the 
souls of sleeping persons, but even those of fowls and domestic 
animals, such as cats, dogs, oxen, etc., may be transformed into 
Zduhaczs. These genii, regardless of nationality, sex, or age, 
assemble on mountain-tops, where they battle either singly or 
in troops, the victors bringing to their countrymen a rich har- 
vest and success in breeding cattle; but if a man's soul perishes 
in this fight, he will never awake. In Montenegro a distinction 
is drawn between Zduhaczs of land and sea, the former causing 
drought, and the latter rain, so that the weather depends on 
which of these two wins. A sudden storm points to a battle 



228 SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY 

among such Zduhaczs; but in all other respects these genii are 
considered good and sensible and stand in high repute. 

The Montenegrins personify the soul as Sjen or Sjenovik 
("Shadow"), this being a genius which has charge of houses, 
lakes, mountains, and forests, and which may be a man or a 
domestic animal, a cat, a dog, or — more especially — a snake. 

It is a general Slavic belief that souls may pass into a Mora, 
a living being, either man or woman, whose soul goes out of 
the body at night-time, leaving it as if dead. Sometimes two 
souls are believed to be in such a body, one of which leaves it 
when asleep; and a man may be a Mora from his birth, in 
which case he has bushy, black eyebrows, growing together 
above his nose. The Mora, assuming various shapes, ap- 
proaches the dwellings of men at night and tries to suffocate 
them; she is either a piece of straw, or a white shadow, or a 
leather bag, or a white mouse, a cat, a snake, a white horse, 
etc. First she sends refreshing slumber to men and then, when 
they are asleep, she frightens them with terrible dreams, 
chokes them, and sucks their blood. For the most part she 
torments children, though she also throws herself upon ani- 
mals, especially horses and cows, and even injures and withers 
trees, so that various means are employed to get rid of her. 

In Russia the Moras, or Kikimoras, play the role of house- 
hold gods (penates). They are tiny female beings who live 
behind the oven; and at night they make various noises, 
whining and whistling, and troubling sleeping people. They are 
very fond of spinning, hopping from place to place all the time; 
and they tangle and tear the tow of women who rise from the 
spinning-wheel without making the sign of the cross. They 
are invisible and do not grow old; but manifestation of their 
presence always portends trouble. 

Among the Slavs, as well as among many other peoples, 
there is a wide-spread belief that certain persons can assume 
the form of wolves during their lifetime, like the English 
werewolf, the French loupgarou, the Lithuanian vilkakis, etc., 



BELIEF IN SOUL AND GENII 229 

such a man being termed Vlkodlak (Vukodlak, Vrkolak, 
Volkun, etc.). A child born feet foremost or with teeth will 
become a Vlkodlak; and a man may undergo transformation 
into such a being by magic power, this happening most fre- 
quently to bride and bridegroom as they go to the church to 
be married. A person turned into a Vlkodlak will run about 
the village in the shape of a wolf and will approach human 
dwellings, casting plaintive glances at people, but without 
harming anyone; and he will retain his wolf-like shape until 
the same person who has enchanted him destroys the charm. 

Among the Jugo-Slavs ("Southern Slavs") there still lingers 
an old tradition, dating from the thirteenth century, of a 
Vukodlak who followed the clouds and devoured the sun or 
the moon, thus causing an eclipse; and accordingly, on such 
an occasion, drums were beaten, bells rung, and guns fired, all 
this being supposed to drive the demon away. 

The Vlkodlak can transform himself not only into a wolf, but 
also into hens and such animals as horses, cows, dogs, and cats. 
At night he attacks cattle, sucks the milk of cows, mares, and 
sheep, strangles horses, and causes cattle to die of plague; 
he may even assail human beings, frightening, beating, and 
strangling them. The Slavs in Istria believe that every single 
family has its own Vukodlak, who tries to harm the house; 
but the house also possesses a good genius, the Krsnik (Kresnik, 
Karsnik), who protects it from the Vukodlak and battles with 
him. In popular tradition the Vlkodlak is frequently identified 
with the Vampire, and similar stories are told concerning 
both beings. 

The Slavs universally believe that the soul can leave the 
body in the form of a bird (a dove, a duck, a nightingale, a 
swallow, a cuckoo, an eagle, a raven) or else as a butterfly, a 
fly, a snake, a white mouse, a hare, a small flame, etc. For this 
reason, whenever a man dies, the window or the door is left 
open, thus freely enabling the soul to come and go so long as 
the corpse remains in the house. The soul flutters about the 



230 SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY 

cottage in the shape of a fly, sitting down, from time to time, 
upon the stove and witnessing the lamentations of the mourners 
as well as the preparations for the funeral; and in the court- 
yard it hovers around as a bird. 

That the soul of the dead might suffer neither hunger nor 
thirst, various kinds of food or drink were put into the coffin or 
the grave; and besides other presents, small coins were given 
to the deceased, thus enabling him to buy a place of his own 
beyond the tomb. At the banquet celebrated after the burial 
a part of the meal was put aside for the soul, which, though 
invisible, was partaking of the feast; and during the first night 
after the funeral the soul returned to the house to see it once 
more and to refresh itself. Accordingly a jug of water was 
placed under the icons, and on the following day it was in- 
spected to ascertain whether the soul had drunk or not, this 
practice sometimes being continued for six weeks. In Bulgaria 
the head of the grave is sprinkled with wine the day after the 
funeral, in order that the soul may not feel thirsty; while in 
Russia and in other Slav countries wheat is strewn or food is 
put upon the place of burial. 

For forty days the soul dwells on earth, seeking for places 
which the deceased used to frequent when alive; it enters his 
own house or those of other persons, causing all sorts of trouble 
to those who had been enemies to the departed, and it is either 
invisible or else appears in the form of an animal. Bulgarian 
tradition speaks of the soul as approaching the body on the 
fortieth day, trying to enter it and to live anew; but being 
frightened by the disfigured and decaying corpse, it flies away 
into the world beyond the grave. The belief that the soul 
remains for forty days in the places where it had lived and 
worked is universal among the Slavs. According to Russian 
tradition it then flies upward to the sun, or the moon, or the 
stars, or else it wanders away into forests, or waters, or moun- 
tains, or clouds, or seas, etc. 

The souls of the deceased often appear as jack-o'-lanterns 

III — 15 



BELIEF IN SOUL AND GENII 231 

flickering about in churchyards or morasses, leading people 
astray in swamps and ponds, or strangling and stupefying 
them. Woe to him who ridicules them or whistles at them, 
for they will beat him to death; but if a wanderer courteously 
asks their guidance, they will show him the road that he must 
follow. 

In Slavic belief the souls of the departed maintained, on the 
whole, friendly relations with the living, the only exceptions 
being the ghosts of those who had been either sorcerers or 
grievous sinners in their lifetime, or who had committed'suicide 
or murder, or who had been denied Christian burial. The souls 
of sorcerers, whether male or female, are loath to part with 
their bodies and cannot leave in the usual way by door or 
window, but wish to have a board in the roof removed for 
them. After death their souls take the shapes of unclean 
animals and enter houses at night, worrying the inmates 
and seeking to hurt them, the same enmity toward the liv- 
ing being shown by the souls of those who have committed 
suicide, since they endeavour to revenge themselves for not 
having been properly buried. In ancient times the bodies of 
suicides, as well as criminals, drowned persons, and all who 
had met with a violent death or were considered magicians, 
were refused interment in the churchyard, their corpses being 
buried without Christian rites in forests or swamps, or even 
thrown into pits. The lower classes believed that the souls of 
such persons caused bad harvests, droughts, diseases, etc.; and, 
therefore, a stake was run through their hearts, or their heads 
were cut off, despite the efforts of the ecclesiastical and secular 
authorities to put an end to this sort of superstition. 

The belief in Vampires (deceased people who in their lifetime 
had been sorcerers, bad characters, or murderers, and whose 
bodies are now occupied by an unclean spirit), which may be 
traced back as far as the eleventh century, is still widely cur- 
rent among the Slav population. The name, which also appears 

as Upir, Upior, etc., is probably derived from the Turkish uher 
III — 16 



232 SLAVIC IVRTHOLOGY 

("enchantress"); but other designations are likewise used, such 
as Wieszczy and Martwiec (Polish), Vedomec (Slovenian), 
Kruvnik (Bulgarian), Oboroten (Russian), etc. 

The Southern Slavs believe that any person upon whom an 
unclean shadow falls, or over whom a dog or a cat jumps, may 
become a Vampire; and the corpse of such a being does not 
decay when buried, but retains the colour of life. A Vampire 
may suck the flesh of his own breast or gnaw his own body, 
and he encroaches even upon the vitality of his nearest rela- 
tions, causing them to waste away and finally die. 

At night the Vampires leave their graves and rock to and 
fro upon wayside crosses, wailing all the time. They assume 
every sort of shape and suck the blood of people, whom thus 
they gradually destroy, or, if they have not time to do that 
(especially as their power ends at cock-crow), they attack do- 
mestic animals. Various means of riddance, however, are 
known, and there is ample evidence of exhuming the corpse of 
a man supposed to be a Vampire, of driving a stake of ash- 
wood (or wood of the hawthorn or maple) through it, and of 
burning it, these acts being believed to put a definite end to 
his evil doings. 



CHAPTER II 

WORSHIP OF THE DEAD, ESPECIALLY 

ANCESTORS 

AT first the pagan Slavs burned their dead, but later they 
practised burial as well as cremation.^ With singing and 
wailing the corpse was carried to the funeral-place, where a pyre 
had been erected; and this, with the dead body laid upon it, 
was set on fire by the relatives. The pyre and the body having 
been consumed by the flames, the ashes, together with the 
charred remnants of bones, weapons, and jewels, and with all 
sorts of gifts, were collected in an urn and placed in a cairn. 
If the chieftain of a tribe had died, one of his wives was burned 
along with him, as is amply attested by the traditions of the 
Elbe Slavs, the Poles, the Southern Slavs, and the Russians; 
and in similar fashion animals that had been especial favourites 
of his were killed and cremated. At the grave there were 
obsequies of a martial character {tryzna), followed by a noisy 
banquet {strava). 

A vivid description of a Russian chieftain's funeral was 
given by the Arabian traveller Ahmad ibn Fadlan (922).^ 
When a nobleman died, for ten days his body was laid pro- 
visionally in a grave, where he was left until his shroud was 
prepared for him. His property was divided into three parts; 
one third was given to the family, another served to defray the 
funeral expenses, and the remainder was spent on the intoxi- 
cating drinks which were served at the funeral banquet. On 
the day appointed for the final obsequies a boat was taken out 
of the water, and round it were placed pieces of wood shaped 
to the form of human beings. Then the corpse was removed 



234 SLAVIC M\THOLOGY 

from its provisional grave and, being clad with a costly gar- 
ment, was seated in the boat on a richly ornamented arm- 
chair, around which were arranged the weapons of the deceased, 
together with intoxicating beverages; while not only bread and 
fruit, but also flesh of killed animals, such as dogs, horses, cows, 
cocks, and hens, were put into the boat. That one of his wives 
who had voluntarily agreed to be burned together with her dead 
husband was led to the boat by an old woman called "the 
Angel of Death," and was stabbed at the side of the corpse, 
whereupon the wood piled up under and around the boat was 
set on fire. After the boat with the dead bodies and all the 
other articles placed upon it had been consumed, the ashes were 
collected and scattered over the cairn; and a banquet, lasting 
for days and nights without interruption, closed the ceremony. 

We know from the evidence of the Arabian writer Mas'udi ' 
that this cremation of the dead existed among most of the 
Slavs and that they worshipped the departed. Mules, weapons, 
and precious articles were burned, and when the husband died, 
his wife was cremated with him, a man who died a bachelor 
being married after his decease.^ Wives are said to have 
chosen death in the flames because they wished to enter 
paradise together with their husbands; and there are also 
reports that slaves, or even many of a prince's retinue, were 
killed and put into the grave with their masters. 

In Bohemia a certain sort of games (scenae) were performed 
according to pagan rites at places where roads met or crossed 
each other; and "profane jokes" {ioci profani) were practised 
at the grave by masked men; while the Polish chronicler Vin- 
centius Kadlubek (thirteenth century) tells ^ how virgins 
tore out their hair, matrons lacerated their faces, and old 
women rent their garments. 

The idolatry of the ancient Prussians, Lithuanians, and 
Russians in 1551 is described by Jan Menecius, who tells ^ 
of the funeral ceremonies, the banquet in the house of the 
deceased, the lamentations at the grave, and the gifts devoted 



WORSHIP OF THE DEAD 235 

to the departed. Those on horseback galloped beside the hearse, 
and brandishing their swords, drove the evil spirits away, 
while bread and ale were placed in the grave to protect the 
souls against hunger and thirst. 

The memory of deceased members of the family was held 
in pious honour everywhere. During the first year after the 
death of one of the household funeral ceremonies were held, 
and are still held, in numerous places. These usually take place 
on the third, seventh, twentieth, and fortieth day after the 
funeral, and also half a year and a year later, the final fete 
being the most touching of all. The members of the family 
and the nearest relations assemble at the grave of the departed 
with many sorts of food and drink, a part of the viands being 
put aside for the deceased at the banquet which follows. On 
the other hand, the White Russians for the most part celebrated 
their funeral feasts at home, a portion of the food being sent 
to the grave afterward. 

Besides these family feasts most Slavs celebrate general 
festivals in commemoration of the dead, these recurring on 
fixed days thrice or even four times a year. The festivals held 
in White Russia stand forth most prominently by reason of 
their ancient character, and they are called dziady, or some- 
times also chautury, the latter name derived from Latin 
chartularium ("charter, record"). Dziadys are deceased an- 
cestors, male and female, and their memory is usually com- 
memorated four times annually. 

The autumnal dziadys are held on St. Demetrius's Eve 
(October 26, according to the Russian calendar), ^ when work in 
the fields has been finished, and a rich harvest fills the barns. 
On the Friday preceding the dziady, the courtyard is swept 
clean, the agricultural implements are stowed away, and 
everything is put in order. Some cattle, set aside for that 
purpose in the spring by the master of the house, are killed; 
and the women prepare food (from nine to fifteen dishes) and 
scrub tables and benches, devoting special care to the corner 



236 SLAVIC M\THOLOGY 

behind the oven, the most Important place in the room. 
Abundance of good food and a neat and tidy house are sup- 
posed to attract the souls and to fill them with pleasure. In 
the evening the members of the household bathe, and having 
put a pail of fresh water, with a wisp of straw in it, for the 
Dziadys to wash in, the family, together with the relations 
who have been invited, assemble in the room arrayed in their 
Sunday best. The head of the house lights a candle in a corner 
of the room, and having said a prayer, extinguishes it; after 
which, with all the people sitting round a table covered with 
dishes and drinks of various kinds, he solemnly invites the 
"holy Dziadys" to partake of their meal. He then pours 
water into a cup so as to make a few drops flow over the brim 
and stain the table-cloth, and empties it, whereupon all the 
others drink, likewise allowing a small portion to fall. Before 
beginning to eat, the householder sets aside a portion of every 
dish on a separate plate, which he then puts in the window; 
and whenever a dish is finished, the spoons are laid upon 
the table for the forefathers to help themselves. While eating, 
silence is observed, except for abrupt whispers, in which the 
ancestors and their deeds are the chief theme; and any slight 
motion of the air, any rustling of dry leaves, or even the 
appearance of an emperor-moth is taken to be the coming of 
the forefathers. The ample supper finished, the Dziadys are 
bidden adieu and requested to fly back to heaven, while the 
food appointed for them Is left on the table and distributed 
among the poor on the following day. 

The winter dziadys are celebrated In a similar way on the 
Saturday preceding Quinquageslma Sunday. 

The spring dziadys, or radunica (derived from Greek poSoivia, 
"meadow of roses"), fall on Tuesday in Easter-Week. The 
housewife prepares two sorts of dishes, one for the members of 
the household, the other for the forefathers; and after a short 
prayer before the icons, the members of the family betake 
themselves with food and drink to the churchyard, where the 



PLATE XXVII 

Zadusnica 

The zadusnica, celebrated in Bulgaria in honour 
of deceased ancestors, corresponds closely to the 
Russian dziadys (pp. 235-37) and also finds an ana- 
logue in the commemoration of the dead among the 
ancient Letts and Lithuanians in October. After a 
picture by Professor Morvicka. 



WORSHIP OF THE DEAD 237 

women chant dirges of a peculiar sort, while the men roll eggs 
blessed* by the priest. A cloth is then spread over the family 
grave, and the provisions and a bottle of vodka are placed 
upon it, after which the family sit in a circle round it and invite 
the forefathers to join their banquet. All present eat and 
drink, talking about the dead; and what is left of the food is 
distributed among the beggars, a great number of whom 
assemble at the cemetery, or else it is left on the graves. Egg- 
shells and even whole eggs are buried in the grave, and lamen- 
tations and funeral dirges conclude the ceremony. 

The summer dziadys are kept in a similar way on the Satur- 
day preceding Whitsunday, when the graves are swept clean 
with sprigs of birch, this being called "giving the Dziadys a 
steam-bath." 

All who desire to avoid the anger of the forefathers and 
thus guard their family against misfortune should keep the 
dziadys, the only persons exempt being those families that 
have removed to a new dwelling erected in another place. 
As soon, however, as a member of the household dies in the 
new home, the dziadys ought to be celebrated; and if the family 
has moved into a house where the dziadys were previously 
observed, it is necessary for them to inquire as to the way in 
which this was done, since any deviation from the usual 
ceremony, as in the serving of the dishes, may rouse the anger 
of the forefathers and bring misfortune. 

Other designations of the funeral ceremonies (pominki) 
are found in Russia: the autumnal rites are termed roditelskiye 
suboty ("parental Saturdays"), the vernal are navskiy velik- 
den or naviy den ("great death-day," or "death-day"), and 
the summer semik ("Whitsunday"). 

In Bulgaria the common obsequies (zadusnica) are celebrated 
five or four times annually, but mostly thrice, i. e. on the 
Saturday before St. Demetrius, before the Great Fast (Lent), 
and before Whitsunday, the commemorations being similar 
to the spring dziadys in Russia. Besides these, there are rites 



238 SLAVIC M^T^HOLOGY 

in some parts of Bulgaria which remind us of the autumnal 
dziadys in White Russia, and these are called stopanova gozba 
("the householder's festival"). In the opinion of the common 
people a Stopan (Stopanin) is a deceased ancestor who guards 
the house of the family, and the feast in his honour is cele- 
brated in the following way. The whole house, especially 
the common living-room, is carefully scrubbed and cleaned, 
after which the members of the family put on their Sunday 
clothes and adorn themselves with flowers, while candles are 
lit on either side of the hearth (where a fire is kept burning) 
and near the door. The oldest woman brings a black hen, 
kills it, and lets the blood flow into the hollow on the hearth, 
which is then smeared over with clay; and next she roasts 
the flesh of the hen, while two others bake cakes of flour 
prepared especially for this purpose. When everything has 
thus been made ready, the head of the family, taking a cup of 
wine, pours half of it into the fire; and then, putting a cake 
upon his head, he cuts it into four parts, springing about the 
room all the time. Butter and honey being spread upon one 
quarter, the left leg of the hen and three small cups of wine are 
added, whereupon all these presents for the Stopan are placed 
in three corners of the loft. Then all sit down to table, but 
before beginning to eat, the old woman, with all others present, 
pours some wine into the fire. The next rite is prayer to the 
Stopan to bestow health and long life upon the family, to pro- 
tect and guard the flocks, and to take care of the meadows, the 
vineyards, etc.; after dinner songs are sung, and the benefit 
that the Stopan bestows upon the household is extolled. Two 
weeks later the crone looks after the dishes destined for the 
Stopan, and great is the joy of the family if any of the viands 
on them have been eaten. 

Among the other Slavs only traces of these ancient ceremonies 
have been preserved, for the Roman Catholic Church made 
every endeavour to suppress them, whereas they were per- 
mitted by the Orthodox Church. 



WORSHIP OF THE DEAD 239 

That the worship of ancestors was widely spread among the 
Slavs may be considered an established fact: the Slavs looked 
upon their forefathers as guardian penates who were deeply 
concerned about the happiness both of the family and of their 
dwelling; and the origin of many mythological beings, especially 
the penates^ may be traced back to this kind of ancestor-cult. 



CHAPTER III 
THE HOUSEHOLD GODS 

THE Slavic belief in household gods is confirmed by old 
reports. Helmold alludes ^ to a wide-spread cult of 
penates among the Elbe Slavs; and Cosmas relates ^ how 
Czech, one of the forefathers, brought the "penates" on his 
shoulders to the new country and, resting on the mountain of 
the Rzip, said to his companions: "Rise, good friends, and 
make an offering to your penates, for it is their help that has 
brought you to this new country destined for you by Fate 
ages ago." 

Various names were given to the household gods by the 
Slavs, but the terms ded, dedek, deduska, i. e. an ancestor 
(literally "grandfather") raised to the rank of a family genius, 
clearly shows that the penates had their origin in ancestor- 
worship.^" 

Deduska Domovoy ("Grandfather House-Lord") is well 
known in Russia, and many vivid reports are circulated con- 
cerning him. He is commonly represented as an old man with 
a grizzled, bushy head of hair and with flashing eyes; his 
whole body is covered with a thick, soft coat of hair; and his 
garments consist of a long cloak girded about his waist with a 
light red belt, or sometimes only of a red shirt. He often 
appears in the shape of a well-known person belonging to the 
people in whose home he lives, most usually in that of the 
master of the house or that of an older member of the family, 
whether dead or alive. The belief that he resembles some one 
of the ancestors in the colour of his hair, his dress, his attitude, 
his voice, and even his manner shows that he is closely con- 



THE HOUSEHOLD GODS 241 

nected with the family, so that the same cow, for example, 
that was the favourite of this ancestor is the favourite of the 
Domovoy as well. 

The household spirit has the further power of appearing in 
the shape of animals, such as cats, dogs, bears, etc., the colour 
of such an animal's coat being identical with that of the hair 
of the master of the house. While as a rule the Domovoy is 
invisible, there are many means of getting a glimpse of him; 
but there is a general reluctance to use such devices since he is 
very ready to punish inquisitive individuals who disturb him. 

Normally the Domovoy lives in the room behind the oven, 
or under it, or near the threshold of the house, or in the closet, 
or in the courtyard, or in the stable, or in the bath-room, or 
elsewhere. When in the bath-room, he creeps under the 
benches, where he lies hissing, rumbling, and giggling; and if 
a bath is being prepared, a pail of water is made ready for 
him to wash in. 

Every house has its own Domovoy, and only one, who is, 
as a rule, single, though sometimes he is believed to have a 
wife and children. These penates often fight with one another, 
each of them defending the welfare of its particular home; and 
the victors settle in the house of the vanquished, where they 
immediately begin to trouble the inmates, making all sorts 
of noises, injuring the cattle, turning the master out of his 
bed, choking people while asleep, etc. The people in the house 
thus invaded seek to expel the intruder, beating the hedges 
and the walls of the house with rods and crying, "Go home, 
we don't want other people's penates here!" In the evening, 
on the other hand, the members of the household don their 
finest array and walk out in the courtyard, seeking to lure the 
Domovoy to their home by saying, "Deduska Domovoy, 
come and live with us and tend our flocks." 

The Domovoy not only cares for the herds, but also protects 
the whole home and its inmates against misfortune, and pro- 
motes their well-being; he sees that everything is in proper 



242 SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY 

order; he supervises the servants and labourers, does all sorts 
of work for the master at night, and is especially fond of 
spinning. The householder who knows how to gratify him will 
meet with success in everything; he will buy cheap and sell dear, 
will have the best crops of all, and will never be visited by 
hail. In order to increase the property of such a master the 
Domovoy will not even shrink from robbing other people. 

The household spirit shares in the joy and sorrow of his 
home. If an inmate dies, he will show his grief by howling at 
night, while bitter sobbing and wailing forebode the death of 
the master of the house, and sorrowful moanings are heard if 
plague, war, conflagration, or some other calamity is threaten- 
ing. He is also able to foretell the future. 

It is only rarely that the Domovoy shows the evil and 
demoniac side of his character; and then the fault usually lies 
with the people themselves, who fail to render him due honour, 
or who give offence by cursing or by bad language, whereupon 
the infuriated spirit takes vengeance on the cattle, or quits 
the house and leaves the family unprotected. After his de- 
parture the inmates fall ill and die, and even the cattle perish. 

People court the favour and satisfaction of the Domovoy 
by putting aside for him what is left of their evening meal, 
and the White Russians have a peculiar way of rendering hom- 
age to him by placing white linen in the passage leading to 
the chamber which is his favourite haunt, this being meant as 
an invitation to join in the meals of the family. 

There are different modes of reconciling an angry Domovoy. 
A cock, for example, will be killed at midnight, and all the 
nooks and corners of the common room or the courtyard will 
be washed with its blood. Sometimes a slice of bread strewn 
with salt will be wrapped in a piece of white cloth and put in 
the hall or in the courtyard, while the members of the house- 
hold bow toward all four quarters, uttering certain aphoristic 
sentences and entreating the Domovoy to cease his anger 
and be reconciled. 



THE HOUSEHOLD GODS 243 

No house can live without the help of its genius, and this 
accounts for various customs connected with the building of a 
new residence and with removing to another home, etc. There 
is a belief that happiness and well-being cannot establish 
themselves in a newly built home until after the death of the 
head of the family, who then becomes its guardian; and when 
a house has been erected, the master of it, and even those 
who first enter it, are threatened with premature death. 
Similar customs connected with the erection of new buildings 
are practised by all Slavs. 

Rites of a peculiar character are observed in case of removal 
into a newly built house. Before entering, the members of 
the family throw a cat, a cock, a hen, etc., inside, or on the 
threshold of the new home they cut off the head of a hen and 
bury it below the first corner of the room; while the first slice 
of bread cut during the first dinner is buried in the right- 
hand corner of the loft with the words, "Our supporter, 
come into the new house to eat bread and to obey your new 
master." 

If the family moves into a new home, they never forget 
to take their Domovoy with them, and for this purpose they 
proceed in the following way. An old woman heats a stove 
in the old house and scrapes the cinders out upon the fender, 
putting these at noon into a clean pan and covering it with a 
napkin. Opening the window and turning toward the corner 
of the room where the oven stands, she invites the Domovoy to 
come into the new house, after which she takes the pan with 
the coal into the new home where, at the open gate, he is 
awaited by the master and the mistress with bread and salt 
in their hands. Bowing low, they again invite him into the 
new dwelling, and the old woman, with the master of the house, 
first enters the room, carrying bread and salt in their hands. 
The old woman puts the pan by the fireside, and removing the 
cloth, shakes it toward all the corners to frighten away the 
Domovoy and then empties the coals into the oven, after which 



244 SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY 

the pan is broken in pieces and buried below the front corner 
of the room. 

The Little Russians call their family genius Didko (Did, 
Diduch) or Domovyk, their beliefs about him being similar 
to those which the Russians hold concerning the Domovoy. 

The ancient Czechs termed their penates Dedeks, and in 
Silesia traditions are still current about the Djadeks, or guard- 
ian genii of the family. Small statues were made of clay or 
stone, and in earlier times were placed in niches near the doors, 
although later they were set on the mantelpieces above the 
oven. They generally represented an old man, bowed with age, 
whose attire distinctly showed the costume of a certain tribe 
of the respective people. 

The old Bohemian word Setek or Sotek may be compared, 
in point of meaning, with the Ded or Deduska. The betek is 
believed to resemble a small boy with claws, instead of nails, 
on his hands and feet, and he generally stays in the sheep-shed, 
though he also hides in the flour, or in the peas, or on a wild 
pear, while in winter he sits on the oven and warms himself. 
The Setek protects the flocks from disease and brings good 
harvests and money; and he is also said to be able to go without 
eating and drinking for nine years, returning, after the lapse 
of this time, to the place of his birth, where he annoys the 
inmates. He may be bred out of an t%^ carried for nine days 
in the arm-pit. 

In the belief of the Styrian Slovenians the Setek of olden 
times was a good spirit, about the size of a thumb, who gen- 
erally haunted places where salt was kept, or lived in stables 
near young cattle. Unless a portion of all that was boiled or 
roasted was put aside for him, he caused the fire in the oven 
to go out, or made the pans crack, or caused the cows to yield 
blood instead of milk, etc. Being of very small size, he could 
hide in any place and play tricks on those who teased him. 

Another designation of the family genius was Skritek ("Hob- 
goblin"), a term which was derived from the German Schrat 



PLATE XXVIII 

DjADEK 

Like the Russian Deduska Domovoy (pp. 240-43), 
the Czech Djadek is in reality an ancestral spirit 
raised to the dignity of guardian of the household. 
After clay statues found in Silesia. 







c3 



PLATE XXIX 

V 

Setek 

While the Djadek (Plate XXVIII) is an ancestral 
spirit, the Setek, like the Skfitek (pp. 244-45), 
though now degraded to the low estate of a hobgoblin, 
is in origin a divine being who was the special pro- 
tector of the household. 



THE HOUSEHOLD GODS 245 

or Schratt. This goblin, who appeared in the shape of a small 
boy, usually lived behind the oven or in the stable, favouring 
the household and sharing the joys and sorrows of the family; 
and he liked to do some work in the home, such as weaving on 
the loom, sweeping the floor, or tending the flocks. 

In order to court his favour the household set aside a portion 
of their meals for his consumption, especially on Thursdays 
and at Christmas dinner, when three bits from every dish were 
assigned to him. If they failed to do this, he was angry and 
stormed about, worrying people, damaging the flocks, and 
doing all sorts of harm to the master of the house. 

His memory still lives in popular tradition, and he was 
represented by a wooden statue, with arms crossed on its 
breast and wearing a crown upon its head. This image stood, 
as a rule, on a chiff^onier in a corner behind the table; and in 
any absence of the family the Skfitek was placed on a chiffonier 
or on a table to guard the house. The Slovaks call this spirit 
Skrata or Skriatek and conceive him as a drenched chicken; 
while in Poland he is known as Skrzatek, Skrzat, or Skrzot, 
and is represented as a bird (again most frequently a drenched 
chicken) dragging its wings and tail behind it. He often trans- 
forms himself into a small bird emitting sparks from its 
body, and he may be bred from an egg of a peculiar shape 
carried for a certain length of time beneath one's arm-pit. 
He haunts the corn-loft and steals corn; in bad weather he also 
visits human dwellings; and those who give him shelter under 
their roofs will profit by his presence, for he brings the house- 
holder grain and will make him rich. 

The Slovenians in Styria likewise believe that the Skrat 
(Skratec) brings money and corn. He assumes difl^erent shapes, 
looking now like a young lad, and now like an old man or 
woman, or he can transform himself into a cat, dog, goose, etc.; 
but since he is covered with hair, he takes great pains to hide 
his body. He likes to dwell in mountains and dense forests, 
and does not allow people to shout there; by day he perches on 



246 SL.\VIC MYTHOLOGY 

a beech-tree or takes his rest in dark caves; at night he haunts 
villages and smithies, where he forges and hammers until the 
dawn. 

This goblin may be hired for one's services or bred from an 
egg of a black hen; but to gain his assistance it is necessary to 
promise him one's own self, as well as one's wife and chil- 
dren, and such an agreement must be signed in one's own 
blood. In return for all this the Skrat will bring whatsoever 
a man may wish, placing these things on the window-sill, al- 
though when he carries money, he comes in the shape of a 
fiery broom, flying down the chimney. Since millet gruel is his 
favourite dish, it must be placed on the window-sill whenever 
he brings anything. 

The Russians call the Domovoy Chozyain or Chozyainusko 
("Master of the House"), the Bulgarian appellation Stopan 
and the Bohemian Hospodaricek having a similar meaning. 

The Bulgarians believe that every house has its own Stopan, 
who is descended from an ancestor distinguished for valour 
and bravery. The Stopan guards his family, securing them 
health, long life, and numerous progeny; he makes the sheep 
multiply and yield abundance of wool and milk; he promotes 
rich harvests and causes the vineyards to produce heavy grapes 
and the orchards to bear plenty of fruit, the only reward which 
he asks being that the family hold him in high honour and give 
him sufficient food. If they shirk this duty, he will have his 
revenge: fields and vineyards may be damaged by hail; do- 
mestic animals and even persons may contract all sorts of 
disease; and whole families may go to ruin. 

The Bohemian Hospodaricek is believed to bring food and 
money and to warn the householder of impending danger. 
His symbol is the snake, which is also often called Hospodar, 
Hospodaricek, or Domovnicek. Such a snake lives behind the 
oven or below the threshold; whoever kills him destroys the 
happiness and well-being of the family; and if he dies, the life 
of the master of the house must also end. He is very much 



THE HOUSEHOLD GODS 247 

attached to the family, especially to children; and in time of 
harvest, when there is no one in the house, he keeps watch over 
the home and looks after the cattle. Frequently two snakes 
live in the house, a male and a female; and similar ideas con- 
cerning snakes called Zmek, Smok, or Cmok are widely current 
among other Slavs as well. 

The worship of family genii is often closely associated with 
myths about dwarfs, those about the Ludki ("Little People") 
being particularly common. In the belief of the Lusatian 
Serbs these Ludki were the first inhabitants of Lusatia (Lausitz), 
where they lived in ages long past and had their own king. 
They were pagans and could not endure the ringing of bells, 
but later they left the country, so that now they are rarely 
seen. They were small in stature, their heads were dispro- 
portionately large, and their eyes protruded; they dressed 
gaily and wore big hats or red caps upon their heads. They 
spoke their own language, which was a much altered form of 
Serbian, and had a peculiar mode of talking by following up any 
positive assertion by a negative expression of the same idea. 
They lived partly in human dwellings and partly in woods, on 
mountains, and also underground, their abodes resembling 
bakers' ovens and being furnished like an ordinary house. 
The Ludki grew corn, picking the kernels with an awl; 
and when the ears had been thrashed, the grain was ground 
between two stones. This coarse and sandy flour was made 
into bread by placing the dough between two smooth stones 
and keeping it underground till it became hard; but it was 
necessarily sandy, coarse, brown, and doughy. Moreover they 
consumed roots of plants and wild fruit; in case of need they 
borrowed bread from human beings; and they often cut grain 
in time of harvest, stole pods and turnips, and carried away 
anything suitable for food. They were familiar with all sorts 
of handicraft, especially with the smith's trade; and it was 
they who taught mankind the art of building houses. 

Fond of music and singing, the Ludki knew how to play 
III — 17 



248 SLAVIC AnTHOLOGY 

upon an Instrument resembling a cymbal; and being endowed 
with the art of prophecy, they often foretold things that were 
to happen. They lived In families and had pompous feasts 
at their weddings and christenings; but the Ludki households 
were hostile to each other and waged violent internecine wars. 
Toward human beings, on the other hand, they were well 
disposed, and they borrowed kneading-troughs, churns, and 
pots from men, doing their best to recompense those who 
willingly complied with their requests, but cruelly punishing 
those who oflFended them. Their friendly relations, however, 
were restricted to one special human household, which gave 
them food, mostly millet, and conversed with them. 

When such a Ludek died, his relatives burned his body, put 
the ashes Into vessels, and burled the latter In the earth. 
During the funeral ceremonies the friends and relatives of the 
dead wept copiously, collecting the tears in small jars which 
they held under their eyes and burled when filled, whence the 
urns, pots, and lachrymatories found In ancient graves still 
remind us of these Ludki. The Poles in Prussian Poland call 
similar beings KrasnoludI or Krasnoludkl; and among the 
Slovaks In Hungary the Lutky are small spirits who live on 
mountains and in mines. 



CHAPTER IV 
GENII OF FATE 

INTERESTING evidence of fatalism Is recorded by the 
Greek historian Procopius,^^ who asserts that the Slavs 
knew nothing about fate and denied that it had any sort of 
influence on man; when threatened by death or overcome by 
illness, or when preparing for war, they vowed to offer a 
sacrifice to the gods, should the peril be luckily passed. 

This evidence may be considered as proof that the Slavs 
were not blind fatalists, but believed In a higher being who 
dealt out life and death, and whose favour might be won 
by sacrifices. Many reports about these beings have been 
preserved. 

Among the ancient Russian deities written tradition makes 
mention of Rod and Rozanice,^^ to whom the ancient Slavs 
offered bread, cheese, and honey. This worship of Rod and 
Rozanice points to the fact that, In the belief of the ancient 
Slavs, the fate of man depended, first of all, on his descent, 
viz. his male forefathers and ancestors and on his mother 
(rozanice). The function of the ancestors as the dispensers of 
fate having gradually disappeared from the belief of the people, 
the Rozanices alone kept their place, this being easily explained 
by the fact that the connexion between a new-born child and 
its mother is much more intimate and apparent than that 
with the whole line of ancestors. Similarly the Roman Junones 
(protectors of women) were originally souls of the dead,^^ 
while the Disirs of Scandinavian mythology are spirits of 
deceased mothers that have become dispensers of fate. 

Among the Croatlans and Slovenians the original appellations 



250 SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY 

of Rodjenice, Rojenlce (from roditi, "to give birth") are still 
much in vogue. As they were believed to predestine the fate 
of new-born children, they were also called Sudice ("Givers 
of Fate"), Sudjenice, Sujenice (Croatian), Sojenice, Sujenice 
(Slovenian), Sudzenici (Bulgarian), or Sudicky (Bohemian). 

The Bulgarians have their own name for them, viz. Narucnici 
{narok, "destiny") or they call them Orisnici, Urisnici, Uresici 
(from the Greek 6pi!^ovTe<;^ "establishing, determining"); and 
in northern Russia they go by the name of Udelnicy, i. e. 
"Dispensers (of Destiny)." 

These genii of fate are usually regarded as pretty lasses or 
as good-natured old women. The Southern Slavs speak of 
them as being beautiful like fairies, with white, round cheeks, 
and attired in white garments; their heads are covered with 
a white cloth, their necks are adorned with gold and silver 
trinkets and with jewellery, and In their hands they hold 
burning candles, so that on moonlit nights their ethereal figures 
may easily be seen. The Czechs entertain similar ideas: the 
goddesses of destiny appear like white maidens or old women; 
they are tall in stature, and their bodies are well-nigh trans- 
parent; their cheeks are pale, but their eyes sparkle and may 
bewitch people. Their garments are white, and their heads 
are covered with white kerchiefs, although sometimes their 
whole faces are shrouded with a white veil. According to other 
traditions they wear a glistening robe, and their hair is adorned 
with precious stones; yet, on the other hand, they are also 
described as being very plainly attired with only a wreath of 
silvan flowers on their heads. The Bulgarian Narucnici wear 
a white dress. 

Although definite forms are thus ascribed to the fate-spirits, 
they are very seldom visible. Whoever catches a glimpse of 
them will be stupified with horror and will be unable to move 
a single step. The members of a family very rarely see them, 
this experience usually being reserved for a visitor or a beggar. 

The Bohemians believe that after sending deep sleep upon 



GENII OF FATE 251 

a woman lying in childbed, the Destinies put the infant upon 
the table and decide his or her fate. Usually three Destinies 
appear, the third and oldest being the most powerful; but 
mention is also made of one, four, five, seven, or nine, with a 
queen at their head. Their decisions often thwart one another, 
but what the last says is decisive and will be fulfilled. The chief 
matters which they determine are how long the child will live, 
whether it will be rich or poor, and what will be the manner of 
its death. According to a wide-spread belief, the first spins, 
the second measures, and the third cuts off the thread whose 
length signifies the duration of life of the new-born mortal. 

It is generally held that the Destinies may be Induced to give 
a favourable verdict by means of presents and sacrifices; and 
on the night after the birth the Croatians and Slovenians are 
in the habit of placing wax candles, wine, bread, and salt upon 
the table of the room where the woman lies; should this be 
omitted, an evil fate would be in store for the child. The 
Slovenians of Istria bring bread to the caves where the 
Rodjenices live and put it under stones near the entrance; 
while in Bulgaria a supper Is prepared for the Oresnicis, and 
the relations are Invited to partake of It. In Bohemia a table 
covered with a white cloth was made ready for them, chairs 
were placed around It, and on It were laid bread, salt, and 
butter, with the occasional addition of cheese and beer; and 
at the christening feast, in similar fashion, remnants of the 
meal were left on the table in order to propitiate the spirits 
of destiny. 

Russian tradition personifies the fate bestowed upon a man 
at his birth as a supernatural being called Dolya, who is de- 
scribed as a poorly dressed woman capable of transforming her- 
self Into various shapes. She usually lives behind the oven and 
Is either good or evil. The good Dolya protects her favourite 
by day and by night and serves him faithfully from his birth 
to his death. She takes care of his children, waters his fields 
and meadows with dew, works for him, drives fish Into his 



252 SLAMC MYTHOLOGY 

nets and swarms of bees into his hives, protects him against 
wild beasts, guards his flocks, gets purchasers for his goods, 
increases the price of his crops, selects good, full ears from 
other people's sheaves for him, and bestows good health upon 
him. No one will succeed unless she helps him, and without 
her assistance all his efi"orts will be in vain. Woe to him who 
gets an evil Dolya (Nedolya, Licho) for his share! All his toil 
and all his endeavours will be of no avail; his evil Dolya does 
nothing but sleep or dress herself or make merry, never think- 
ing of ofl"ering him any aid. Her power has no limits, so that a 
proverb says, "Not even your horse will get you away from 
your Dolya," i.e. it is impossible to get rid of her; all attempts 
to sell her, or make her lose herself in woods, or drown her in 
the sea are bound to fail. 

The Russian Dolya has a Serbian counterpart in the Sreca, 
her relation to the Dolya being the same as that of the Latin 
fors to Jortuna and of sors to fatum. She is described as a 
beautiful girl spinning a golden thread, and she bestows wel- 
fare upon the mortal to whom she is assigned, caring for his 
fields and grazing his flocks. In national songs and traditions 
the Sreca frequently occurs as an independent being by the 
side of God. 

The SreCa is, however, not only good, but also evil, in which 
latter case she is misfortune personified and may be called 
Nesreca. In this aspect she is represented as an old woman 
with bloodshot eyes, always sleeping and taking no notice of 
her master's aff"airs, although she is also said to be engaged in 
spinning. Unlike the Dolya, a man may get rid of her and 
drive her away. 



CHAPTER V 
NAVKY AND RUSALKY 

THE souls of children that have died unbaptized, or are 
born of mothers who have met a violent death, are per- 
sonified as Navky, this term being cognate with Old Slavic 
navi, Russian navie, Little Russian navk (" dead "),^^ and being 
found throughout the Slavic languages — Bulgarian Navi, 
Navjaci; Little Russian Nejky, Mavky, Majky; Slovenian 
Navje, Mavje; etc. 

In the traditions of the Little Russians the Mavky, who are 
children either drowned by their mothers or unbaptized, have 
the appearance of small babies, or of young, beautiful girls 
with curly hair. They are either half-naked or wear only a 
white shirt; and on moonlit nights they rock on branches of 
trees, seeking to attract young people either by imitating the 
crying of infants or by laughing, giggling, and clapping their 
hands. Whoever follows their enticing voices will be bewitched 
by their beauty, and at last will be tickled to death and drawn 
into deep water. They live in woods and on steppes. Very often 
they may be seen in young corn; and by day they walk along 
the fields, crying and wailing. In summer they swim in rivers 
and lakes, beating the water merrily; during the fairy-week they 
run about fields and meadows, lamenting, "Mother has borne 
me and left me unbaptized." They are angry at those who al- 
lowed them to die unchristened, and whosoever chances to hear 
their wailing voices should say, " I baptize thee in the name 
of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit." 
This will set them free; but if for seven years they find no one 
to take pity on them, they are turned into water-nymphs. 



254 SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY 

According to Bulgarian tradition in Macedonia, the Navi 
and Navjaci are invisible genii soaring in the depths of the 
firmament, appearing in the shape of birds, and crying like 
infants. They are the souls of children who have died un- 
baptized, and in their search for their mothers they attack 
and trouble women in childbed. They may be set free, however, 
if the baptismal formula is said over them. The Slovenian 
Navje, in like manner, are believed to fly about in the form of 
huge, black birds, who plead to be baptized. If any one is 
moved to pity by their wailing and baptizes them, he will be 
their great benefactor; but if he ridicules them or whistles at 
them, he will rouse their anger. The Poles call such beings 
Latawci. A child that has died unchristened wanders about 
the world for seven years and begs for baptism; but if it 
meets no one to take compassion on it, it will be turned into 
one of these spirits. 

Very similar to the Navky are the Rusalky ("Water- 
Nymphs"), whose name is derived from the Rusalye, of which 
more will subsequently be said.'^ Belief in them is most widely 
spread among the Russians, who hold that they are children 
who have died unbaptized, or have been drowned or suffocated, 
or else that they are girls and young wives who have met an 
unnatural death, or have been cursed by their parents. Some- 
times the Rusalky appear as girls seven years old, sometimes 
as maidens in the full bloom of youth. They cover their beau- 
tiful bodies with green leaves, or with a white shirt without a 
belt; and at Whitsuntide they sit on trees, asking women for 
a frock and girls for a shirt, whence women hang on the branches 
strips of linen or little shreds torn from their dresses, this being 
meant as a sacrifice to propitiate these water-nymphs. 

The Rusalky live in woods, meadows, fields, and waters. 
Generally appearing when the corn begins to ripen in the 
fields, and concealed amidst it, ready to punish him who 
wantonly plucks the ears, they dance and make merry, 
adorned with the many-coloured blossoms of the poppy and 



NAVKY AND RUSALKY 255 

with their hair flying loose. At Whitsuntide they run about the 
meadows, or they frolic among the high-standing corn and, 
rocking upon it, make it wave to and fro. Whole bevies of 
them live on lonely spots along the streams, or in deep places 
and under rapids. Sitting in the depths of brooks and rivers, 
they entangle the fishermen's nets; by breaking the dikes they 
flood the adjoining fields and wreck the bridges; and they may 
also cause fatal storms, dangerous rains, and heavy hail. 
Rising to the surface of the stream on clear summer nights, 
they bathe, sprinkling the water around them and frolicking in 
the waves; they like to sit on the mill-wheel, splashing each 
other, and then they dive deep, crying, "Kuku." In late spring 
especially they come out of the water, and run about the 
neighbouring woods and thickets, clapping their hands and 
turning somersaults upon the grass, while their laughter re- 
sounds far and wide in the forests. In the evening they like 
to rock upon slender branches, enticing unwary wanderers; 
and if they succeed in leading any one astray, they tickle him 
to death, or draw him down into the depths of the stream. 

The Rusalky are extremely fond of music and singing; and 
their fine voices lure swimmers to deep places, where they 
drown. The water-nymphs also divert themselves by dancing 
in the pale moonlight, and they inveigle shepherds to play with 
them, the places where they dance being marked by circles 
in which the grass is particularly luxuriant and green. Fond of 
spinning, they hang their yam on trees; and after washing 
the linen which they weave, they spread it on the banks to 
dry. If a man treads on such linen, he becomes weak and lame. 

It is during Whitsuntide that the Rusalky display their 
greatest activity, and then, for fear of them, people do not stay 
outdoors by night more than is necessary, do not bathe in 
rivers, do not clap their hands, and avoid all work in the fields 
that might anger the water-nymphs, while on the banks of 
rivers and brooks lads and lasses place bread, cheese, butter, 
and other kinds of food for them. 



CHAPTER VI 
VILY 

THE Greek historian Procopius ^^ testifies to the ancient 
Slavic worship of beings similar to the Greek nymphs, 
and he also tells us that the Slavs offered sacrifices to them. 
The most common designation of these beings is "Fairy" 
(Vila), and they are frequently mentioned in the ancient writ- 
ten traditions of the Russians, the Southern Slavs, and the 
Czechs, although their worship flourished most among the 
Southern Slavs, where they were made to unite many features 
of other fabled beings. 

The signification of the word Vila " (Bulgarian Samovila, 
Samodiva) has not yet been explained in a satisfactory manner, 
but it seems to come from the root vel ("perish") and to be 
cognate with Lithuanian veles ("spirits of the deceased"). 

According to popular tradition the fairies are souls of the 
departed, and Serbian legends declare that originally they 
were proud maidens who incurred the curse of God. The Bul- 
garians believe that the Samovily are girls who have died 
unbaptized, and among the Slovaks there is a wide-spread 
story that the fairies are souls of brides who died after their 
betrothal, and finding no rest, are doomed to roam about at 
night. The Poles think that the Wili are souls of beautiful 
young girls who are condemned to atone for their frivolous 
life by floating in the air midway between sky and earth; 
they do good to those who have favoured them during their 
lifetime, but evil to those who have offended them. 

A close relationship is held to exist between the fairies and 
the souls of the deceased, as is evidenced by the belief that 



VILY 257 

they may often be seen dancing by moonlight near the graves 
of those who have died a violent death. The festivals for the 
Rusalky, which are meant to recall the memory of the souls 
of the deceased, are, at the same time, festivals of the Vily, 
in whose honour all sorts of ceremonies are performed; and 
young people of both sexes betake themselves to the meadows, 
picking flowers, making them into bouquets, and singing songs 
about the fairies. 

The Vily are believed to have lived originally in close con- 
tact and friendship with human beings. In the happy days of 
yore, when the fields produced wheat and other sorts of cereals 
without the help of man, when people lived In peace and con- 
tentedness and mutual goodwill, the fairies helped them to 
garner their harvests, to mow their grass, to feed their cattle, 
and to build their houses; they taught them how to plough, 
to sow, to drain meadows, and even how to bury the dead. 
But so soon as men had departed from their old virtues, when 
the shepherds had thrown away their flutes and drums and 
songs, and had taken whips into their hands and commenced 
to crack them in their pastures, cursing and swearing, and 
when, finally, the first reports of guns were heard, and nations 
began to make war against each other, the Vily left the country 
and went to foreign lands. That is why only very few chance 
to see them dancing in the fields, or sitting upon a bare rock 
or a deserted cliff^, weeping and singing melancholy songs. 

In like manner the Slovenians believe that the fairies were 
kind and well disposed toward human beings, telling them what 
times were particularly suitable for ploughing, sowing, and har- 
vesting. They themselves also took good care of the crops, 
tearing out weeds and cockles; and In return for all this they 
asked for some food, which they ate during the night. So long 
as their anger was not aroused, they would appear every sum- 
mer; but when mankind commenced to lead a sinful life, and 
when whistling and shouting and cracking of whips began to 
Increase In the fields, the Vily disappeared, never to return 



258 SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY 

until a better day has dawned. The belief that a Vila may 
become a man's sister also points to the existence of close rela- 
tions between them and human beings; and it is a popular con- 
viction that not only every young lad and, indeed, every honest 
man has a fairy for his sister who helps him in case of need, but 
even some animals, such as stags, roes, and chamois, for whom 
the Vily have a special liking, may possess such supernatural 
kindred. The fairies will aid their brothers in danger, will bless 
their property, and will bestow all sorts of presents upon them. 
In numerous folk-tales Vily are married to young men. They 
are dutiful wives and excellent housekeepers, but their hus- 
bands must not remind them of their descent, or they will 
disappear forever, though they still continue to keep secret 
watch over the welfare of their children. 

The Vily are pictured as beautiful women, eternally young, 
with pale cheeks, and dressed in white. Their long hair is 
usually fair or golden, and their life and strength are believed 
to depend upon it, so that if a fairy loses a single hair, she will 
die. The Slovenians, however, assert that a Vila will show 
herself in her true shape to any one who succeeds in cutting 
off her hair. Their bodies are as slender as the stem of a pine, 
and as light as those of birds; and they are frequently provided 
with wings. A man who robs a fairy of her pinions will bind 
her to himself; but so soon as she has regained possession of 
them, she will disappear. The eyes of the Vily flash Hke 
lightning, and their voices are so fine and sweet that to hear 
them once is to remember them forever. Men are often fa- 
scinated by their beauty; he who once chances to see a Vila, 
will yearn for her from the depths of his soul, and his longing 
will kill him at last. 

The fairies like to ride horses and stags, and they have the 
power of transforming themselves into horses, wolves, snakes, 
falcons, or swans. They live in the clouds, on forest-clad 
mountains, and in the waters. The first kind sit among the 
clouds, sleeping, singing, and dancing. They may cause winds 



VILY 259 

and storms, and have eagles for their helpers; now and then, 
transforming themselves into birds, they float down to the 
earth to prophesy the future and to protect mankind against 
disaster. They also live in the stars, while the Vily of the 
forests dwell on high mountains, in caves, and in ravines, be- 
sides having magnificent castles for their abodes. Roaming 
about the woods on horseback or on stags, the fairies of the 
forests chase the deer with arrows; they kill men who defy 
them; and they like to perch on trees with which they are 
inseparably united. The Water-Vily live in rivers, lakes, 
springs, and wells, although for the most part they stay outside 
the water. When, on moonlit nights, they leave their abodes, 
the waters rise and foam; and the fairies, dancing on the banks, 
drown young men who happen to be bathing there. If they 
perceive a man on the opposite bank, they grow in size so as 
to be able to step across the stream. They bathe their children 
in the water, or throw things in to poison it; and whoever 
quenches his thirst there must die, just as they will punish any 
one who drinks of their springs without their permission. 

The fairies are fond of singing and dancing; and enticing 
young lads and shepherds or singers to dance with them, they 
distribute happiness or misfortune among them. Places where 
the fairies have been dancing may be recognized from afar, 
being distinguished by thick, deep, green grass (fairy-rings); 
and if any one presumes to step inside, he must expect punish- 
ment. Their voices are so wonderfully sweet that a man might 
listen to them for many days without eating or drinking; but 
no one knows what language they use in singing, and only 
those who enjoy their friendship can understand them. They 
are remarkable for their strength and bravery; and when 
fighting with each other, as they often do, the forest resounds 
with din and clamour, while the ground shakes. They have 
the power of foretelling the future and of curing diseases. 
When free, they give birth to children, but are apt to foist 
them upon mortal women; such offspring are remarkable for 



26o SLAVIC iMYTHOLOGY 

their excellent memory and wonderful cleverness. On the other 
hand, they kidnap children, feeding them with honey and 
instructing them in all kinds of knowledge. 

Though the fairies are, on the whole, good-natured and 
charitable beings, they may also do evil to people; and accord- 
ingly they may be classed as white (beneficent) or black (malef- 
icent) fairies, the latter sending cruel maladies upon people, or 
wounding their feet, hands, or hearts with arrows. 

Many kinds of offerings are still dedicated to the Vily. 
In Croatia young girls place fruits of the field, or flowers, or 
silk ribbons upon stones in caves as offerings to them; and 
in Bulgaria gay ribbons are hung on trees, or little cakes are 
placed near wells. 

The Judy of Macedonia and of the Rhodope Mountains 
strongly resemble these Samovily. They are female beings with 
long tresses, snake-like and disgusting bodies, and vile natures, 
living in rivers and lakes. If they see a man in the water, they 
will undo their hair, and throwing it around him, will drown 
him. They may be seen sitting on the banks, combing their 
hair, or dancing on meadows; and they destroy those whom 
they induce to dance with them. 



PLATE XXX 

LesnI Zenka 

As in so many mythologies, the wood-nymphs of 
Slavic belief have both kindly and dangerous 
qualities, and their love, like that of divine beings 
generally, is apt to be dangerous to mortals. Origi- 
nally the Lesni Zenka and similar Slavic minor god- 
desses may have corresponded to the Lettish forest- 
goddess Meschamaat. After a picture by N. Ales. 
For other idealizations by this artist see Plates 
XXXIII-XXXVI. 



K\ ^■ 



flvfv^'. 







' 'f/V -s'"'* 6 /^^ >-^v V^iii / 




CHAPTER VII 
SILVAN SPIRITS 

THE Russians call a silvan spirit Lesiy, Lesovik (cf. Russian 
/(fjw, "forest, wood"), and such a being shows himself 
either in human or in animal guise. When he appears in the 
former shape, he is an old man with long hair and beard, with 
flashing green eyes, and with his body covered by a thick coat 
of hair. His stature depends on the height of the tree, etc., 
which he inhabits: in the forests he may attain the size of 
high trees; in the fields he is no taller than grass. In the 
woods the Lesiye frequently appear to travellers as ordinary 
people or as their friends; but at other times they take the 
shapes of bears, wolves, hares, etc. They live in deep woods 
and in fields; forests, fields, and meadows are the realm over 
which they rule. Usually there is only one Lesiy in each wood; 
but if there are several, a "silvan czar" is their lord. Some 
Lesiye remain alone by themselves in forest solitudes and 
in caves, while others are fond of society and build in the 
woods spacious dwellings where they live with their wives 
and children. 

The principal business of the silvan spirits is to guard the 
forest. They do not allow people to whistle or to shout there; 
they drive away thieves, frightening them by their cries and 
playing pranks upon them. The deer and the birds enjoy 
their protection; but their favourite is the bear, with whom 
they feast and revel. 

When the Lesiy walks through the forest to look after his 
property, a rustling of the trees accompanies him; he roams 
through the wood, rocks upon the boughs, whistles, laughs, 



262 SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY 

claps his hands, cracks his whip, neighs like a horse, lows like 
a cow, barks like a dog, and mews like a cat. The echo is 
his work; and since a strong wind constantly blows around 
him, no man has ever seen his footsteps either in sand or in 
snow. 

He is of a mocking and teasing disposition, and is fond of 
misleading those who have lost their way, removing boundary- 
stones and signposts, or taking the shape of a wanderer's 
friend to confuse him and lure him into thickets and morasses. 
He also entices girls and children into his copses, where he 
keeps them until, long afterward, they escape with their 
honour lost; and he likewise substitutes his own offspring for 
human children, such a changeling being ugly, stupid, and 
voracious, but strong as a horse. If a man suddenly falls ill 
while in the forest, he believes that this affliction has been 
sent upon him by the Lesiy; to recover his health he wraps a 
slice of salted bread in linen and lays it in the woods as a 
present for the silvan spirit. 

Shepherds and huntsmen gain the Lesiy's favour by presents. 
The former make him an offering in the shape of a cow and 
thus secure his protection for their flocks; while the latter 
place a piece of salted bread on the stump of a tree and leave 
for him the first game which they take. Moreover, the recita- 
tion of certain formulae secures his services, and there are 
many ways to obviate the danger of being led astray by him, 
as by turning one's garments inside out, putting the right 
shoe on the left foot, bending down to look between one's 
legs, etc. 

Nymphs and dryads likewise show themselves in the woods, 
and are pictured as beautiful girls, wearing a white or green 
gown, and with golden or green hair. In the evening, when 
stillness reigns in nature, they divert themselves by dancing 
and singing; and they also dance at noon, when it is dan- 
gerous to approach their circles, since they dance or tickle 
to death those who allow themselves to be attracted by their 



SILVAN SPIRITS 263 

songs. They are most perilous to young lads, whereas they 
often feel pity for girls and richly reward them. 

The dryads punish children who shout in the woods while 
gathering mushrooms; but, on the other hand, if they are 
courteously asked, they show where these fungi grow in abund- 
ance. The forest where they live usually contains a magic 
well whose waters cure all diseases. Sometimes they marry 
country lads, but they will not permit themselves to be insulted 
or reminded of their descent. 

Woods and mountains are the home of "Wild Women" 
(Bohemian Divozenky, Lusatian Dziwje Zony, Polish Dziwo- 
zony, Slovenian Divje Devojke, Bulgarian Divi-te Zeni), good- 
looking beings with large, square heads, long, thick hair 
(ruddy or black in colour), hairy bodies, and long fingers. 
They lived in underground burrows and had households like 
mankind. They either gathered ears in the fields or picked 
them from the sheaves, and having ground the grain on a 
stone, they baked bread which spread its odour throughout 
the wood. Besides bread they ate the root of the liquorice and 
caught game and fish. They were fond of combing hemp, 
which they wove into frocks and shirts. 

The "Wild Women" knew the secret forces of nature, and 

from plants and roots they prepared unguents with which 

they anointed themselves, thus becoming light and invisible. 

They were fond of music and singing; and storms were believed 

to be caused by their wild frolicking. Lads and lasses were 

invited to dance with them and afterward reaped rich rewards. 

They maintained a friendly intercourse with human beings, 

frequently entering their villages and borrowing kneading- 

troughs and other necessaries. Those who did not forget to 

reserve some dish for them were well repaid, for the "Wild 

Women" kept their houses in order, swept their rooms and 

courtyards, cleared their firesides of ashes, and took care of 

their children; in the fields they reaped the corn, and gathering 

up the grain, tied it into sheaves ; for the women they not only 
III— 18 



264 SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY 

spun hemp, but also gave them crops that never diminished. 
Many stories are told about their marriages with country lads. 
They were model wives and housekeepers, but they vanished 
if any one called them "Wild Women," and uncleared firesides 
or unscrubbed kneading-troughs were also apt to drive them 
away. 

They were dangerous to any person whom they might meet 
alone in the forest, turning him round and round until he lost 
his way. They lay in wait especially for women who had just 
become mothers and substituted their own offspring for the 
human children, these changelings, called Divous ("Wild 
Brats") or Premiefi ("Changelings"), being ugly, squalling, 
and unshapely. The "Wild Women" did much harm to avari- 
cious and greedy persons, dragging their corn along the fields, 
bewitching their cows, and afflicting their children with whoop- 
ing-cough, or even killing them. It was during Midsummer 
Night that they were most powerful. 

The Lusatian Serbs believe that the Dziwje Zony ("Wild 
Women") are white beings who reveal themselves at noon or 
at evening. They like to spin hemp; and if a girl spins or 
combs it for them, they reward her by leaves that become 
gold. 

In Polish superstition the Dziwozony are superhuman 
females with cold and callous hearts and filled with passionate 
sensuality. They are tall in stature, their faces are thin, and 
their hair is long and dishevelled. They fling their breasts 
over their shoulders, since otherwise they would be hindered 
in running; and their garments are always disarranged. Groups 
of them go about woods and fields, and if they chance upon 
human beings, they tickle the adults to death, but take the 
young folk with them to be their lovers and playmates. For 
this reason young people never go to the woods alone, but only 
in groups. In the belief of the Slovenians the Divje Devojke, 
or Dekle, dwell in the forests; at harvest-time they come down 
to the fields to reap the corn, and the "Wild Men" bind it 



SILVAN SPIRITS 265 

into sheaves, the farmers' wives bringing them food in return. 
Where they came from no one can tell, and the cracking of 
whips has driven them away at last. The Divja Zena is a 
woman of tall figure, with an enormously large head and long 
black hair, but very short feet; she dwells in mountain caves. 
If a woman does not nurse her child properly, the "Wild 
Woman" comes and either substitutes a changeling for it or 
carries it away. 

w 

The Bulgarian Diva-ta Zena lives in the woods and Is covered 
with a thick coat of hair; she throws her long breasts over 
her shoulders and thus nurses her children. She is strong and 
savage, and her enunciation is defective. 

More rarely mention is made of "Wild Men." They live in 
forests, and their entire bodies are covered with hair or moss, 
while a tuft of ferns adorns their heads. If they catch a young 
girl, they take her to wife; and If she runs away from them, 
they tear her child to pieces. They appear to lonely wanderers 
and, accompanied by terrible gusts of wind, they frighten 
them and lead them into morasses. The "Wild Men" like to 
tease gamekeepers and forest-rangers by Imitating the hewing, 
sawing, and felling of trees; and they chase deer in the woods, 
hooting horribly all the while. In Slovenian tradition the 
Divji Moz ("Wild Man") lived In a deep forest cave and was 
possessed of terrible strength. The peasants of the neighbour- 
hood who wished to avoid being harmed by him had to carry 
food to the cottage that was nearest his cave; but he was well 
disposed toward the peasants who cooked their meals in his 
hut and advised them how to set to work. 

Besides these silvan spirits there are similar beings of various 
names. The ancient Czechs were familiar with Jeze and 
Jezenky ("Lamias"), who were said to have the faces of 
women, the bodies of sows, and the legs of horses. People 
still believe In Jezinky who, living In caves, put out the eyes 
of human beings after lulling them to sleep, and who kidnap 
small children, whom they feed on dainty morsels in their 



266 SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY 

caverns. The ancient Poles, too, knew of them and still tell 
stories of Jendzyna, who figures in popular fairy-tales as 
Jaga-baba, Jezibaba, Jendzibaba, etc. 

In Moravia the "Wild Beings" are small and ungainly, 
live in fields, and may transform themselves into all sorts of 
animals. Since their own children are ugly, they steal those of 
mankind and treat them very well; but the changelings whom 
they foist on human beings are hideous and bald, with huge 
heads and stomachs; they neither grow nor talk, but eat a 
great deal, whining and whimpering constantly. The Slovaks 
have their Zruty, or Ozruti, who are wild and gigantic beings, 
living in the wildernesses of the Tatra Mountains. 



CHAPTER VIII 
FIELD-SPIRITS 

IN the fields there appears, usually at the time of harvest, 
the Poludnica, or Polednica ("Midday Spirit"). According 
to Bohemian tradition she has the appearance of an airy, 
white lady, or of an old woman who wanders about the fields 
at noon and haunts the dwellings of men. She also floats, 
amid violent gusts of wind, high up in the air; and whomsoever 
she touches will die a sudden death. Sometimes she is slight 
and slim like a girl twelve years old and has a whip in her 
hand with which she strikes any one who crosses her path, 
such a man being doomed to meet an early death. 

She is peculiarly fond of ambushing women who have re- 
cently borne children and who go out into the street at midday. 
If a mother leaves her child alone in the fields at harvest-time, 
it may be stolen by a Poludnica, whence crying children are 
hushed by the threat that this spirit will come and carry them 
away. 

In Moravia the Poludnica is represented as an old woman 
clad in a white gown and said to have horses' hoofs, an ugly 
face, slanting eyes, and dishevelled hair. 

In Polish belief the Poludnica (Poludniowka, Przypotudnica) 
manifests herself in the shape of a tall woman, dressed in a 
white robe reaching to her feet, and carrying a sharp sickle 
in her hand. During the summer she stays either in the fields 
or in the woods, giving chase to the people who work there. 
Frequently she propounds hard questions to them, and if 
they are unable to answer, she sends grievous maladies upon 
them. Sometimes she appears, during a storm, in cottages; 



268 SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY 

and various natural phenomena, such as the fata morgana, 
are ascribed to her by the peasants. When she leaves the 
fields or the forests, she is accompanied by seven great black 
dogs; and women and children are her favourite victims. 
Among the Lusatian Serbs the Pripotdnica (Prezpotdnica) 
is the subject of many stories, being represented either as a 
tall old woman dressed in a white gown and carrying a sickle 
in her hand, or else as a young female. Coming out of the 
woods at midday, she appears to those who may be working 
there; and any person whom she meets in the fields at that 
time of the day must talk with her for fully an hour about one 
and the same thing, those who fail to do this either forfeiting 
their heads or having some illness sent upon them. Frequently 
she herself puts questions to them, e. g. concerning the growing 
of fiax and hemp, and punishes those who are unable to answer. 
Her most usual victims, however, are young women who either 
have children at home or are still in childbed. At noon she 
guards the com from, thieves and punishes children who tread 
upon the ears. 

The Russians believe that the Poludnica has the shape of 
a tall and beautiful girl dressed in a white gown. She not only 
lures small children into the corn, but walking about the 
fields at harvest-time, she seizes the heads of those whom she 
finds working there at midday, and twisting their necks, causes 
them violent pain. The Siberian Russians picture her as an 
old woman with thick, curly hair and scanty clothing; she lives 
among the reeds, or in the dense thickets of nettles, and kid- 
naps naughty children. In other parts of Russia she appears 
as guardian of fields. 

Besides the Poludnica the Russians have a field-spirit 
named Polevik or Polevoy (cf. Russian pole, "field") who is 
about the height of a corn-stalk until harvest-time, when he 
shrivels to the size of stubble. He runs away before the swing 
of the scythe and hides among the stalks that are still standing; 
when the last ears are cut, he gets into the hands of the reaper 



FIELD-SPIRITS 269 

and Is brought to the barn with the final sheaf. The Polevik 
appears at noon or before sunset; and at that time It is unsafe 
to take a nap in the field, for the Polevik, roaming about on 
horseback, will ride over those who are sleeping there, or will 
send disease upon them. 

The White Russians, again, tell stories about the Belun, 
an old man with a long white beard and gown, who helps the 
reapers and bestows rich presents upon them. He shows him- 
self only during the day and guides aright those who have lost 
their way. 



CHAPTER IX 
WATER-SPIRITS 

A SPIRIT living in the water is called Vodyanik or Deduska 
Vodyanoy ("Water-Grandfather") by the Russians, Vod- 
nik by the Bohemians, Vodeni Moz ("Water-Man") by the 
Slovenians, Topielec ("Drowner") by the Poles, etc. He is 
a bald-headed old man with fat belly and puffy cheeks, a 
high cap of reeds on his head, and a belt of rushes round his 
waist. He can transform himself in many ways, and when in 
a village, he assumes the form of a human being, though his 
true nature is revealed by the water which oozes from the left 
side of his coat. He lives in the deeper portions of rivers, 
brooks, or lakes, mostly in the neighbourhood of mills; and 
there he possesses stone-built courtyards in which he keeps 
numerous herds of horses, cattle, sheep, and pigs, driving them 
out at night to graze. During the day he usually lies concealed 
in deep places, but rises to the surface at night, clapping his 
hands and jumping from the water like a fish; or sometimes 
he sits on the mill-wheel, combing his long green hair. 

The Vodyanik is the master of the waters; but although he 
is endowed with terrible strength and power so long as he is 
in the water, he is weak when on dry land. He likes to ride 
a sheat-fish, or saddles a horse, bull, or cow, which he rides 
till it falls dead in the morasses. All that happens in the 
waters is done by his will. When in good humour, he drives 
the fish into the fisherman's net and guides sailors to safe 
places in stormy weather; but when his mood is irritable, he 
lures them to dangerous coasts and upsets their boats. He 
tears the spikes out of the mill-wheels, diverts the water from 



WATER-SPIRITS 271 

its course, and floods the mill; and if the miller wishes to 
succeed, he should bury some living being in the foundations 
of his mill, such as a cow, a sheep, or even a man. There is 
also a wide-spread belief that the Vodyanik drowns those who 
bathe at midday or at midnight. 

The Vodyanik is married and is the father of a family, being 
said to have one hundred and eleven beautiful daughters who 
torture and torment the drowned. He marries water-nymphs 
or drowned and unhappy girls who have been cursed by their 
fathers or mothers; and when the waters of a river or a lake 
overflow their banks, he is believed to be celebrating his 
wedding, for on that occasion he is apt to get drunk, to make 
the waters rise, and to tear down dikes, bridges, and mills. 
When his wife is about to be confined, he comes to the villages 
in human shape to get a midwife and sponsors whom he after- 
ward richly rewards with gold and silver. 

He likes to visit markets, and his appearance foretells the 
price of corn; if he buys dear, there will be a bad harvest, if 
cheap, a good crop may be expected. During the winter he 
remains in his dwelling; and in early spring, when he wakes 
from his slumber, he is hungry and troublesome, breaking the 
ice, setting the waves in commotion, and frightening the fish. 
To propitiate him a horse, smeared with honey, is sacrificed, 
and for three days he impatiently awaits this off"ering, betraying 
his greediness by making the waters heave and by howling 
dismally. Fishermen pour butter into the water as a sacrifice 
to him, while millers kill a black, well-fed sow and offer it in 
his honour that he may not tear down their dams or trouble 
their sleep. In order to make the dam durable and to prevent 
the Vodyanik from destroying it the Ukranians bury a horse's 
head in it. 

The "Water-Nymphs" (Vodni Panny), often called "White 
Women" (Bile Pani) as well, are tall, sad, and pale, and are 
dressed in green, transparent robes. They live under the 
water in crystal palaces which may be approached by paths 



272 SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY 

strewn with gold and silver gravel. They like to rock on 
trees and lure young lads by their wonderful singing. In the 
evening they leave their hiding-places and betake themselves 
to villages to join the dancing and other amusements of the 
village folk. A water-nymph who has been captured will 
help people wash their linen and tidy their rooms; but she 
will disappear if presented with a new robe. 



CHAPTER X 
SUN, MOON, AND STARS 

EARLY writers mention Slavic sun-worship. Arabian 
travellers ^^ speak of the Slavs as adoring the sun and 
assert that many renounced the Christian faith, preferring 
to worship the sun and other heavenly bodies. These passages 
might be multiplied considerably, but here it must suffice to 
note that an old Bohemian homilist records ^^ that the pagan 
Czechs not only worshipped sun, moon, and stars, but also 
adored water, fire, mountains, and trees. 

We have no detailed accounts to tell us whether the ancient 
Slavs possessed real solar gods which were represented by idols; 
and it is only among the pagan Russians that the existence 
of a god of the sun may be regarded as proved. ^'^ 

This adoration of the sun implies that the moon likewise 
received worship from the Slavs. There was a wide-spread 
conviction that the luminary of night was the abode of the 
souls of the departed; and later she came to be regarded as 
the dwelling-place of sinful souls which had been transported 
thither by way of punishment. Popular belief still ascribes 
to the moon great influence upon the growth and development 
of both the vegetable and the animal worlds. 

All Slavs maintain that there is a close relationship between 
stars and men. There are as many men on earth as there are 
stars in the sky. At his birth each man receives a star of his 
own; and when his end is drawing near, that star falls to earth, 
the man dies, and his soul floats upward to the clouds. 



PART II 
THE DEITIES OF THE ELBE SLAVS 



THE DEITIES OF THE ELBE SLAVS 

THE religion o£ the ancient Slavs was not restricted to a 
belief in genii, but was further developed into the worship 
of gods. They made themselves idols, in which they thought 
their deities were embodied, and they prayed to them. 

There are two records which show how the pagan Slavs 
came to adopt the worship of one chief deity. The Greek 
historian Procopius writes as follows concerning Slavs and 
Antae:^ "They believe that there is one single god who is the 
creator of the lightning and the sole lord of all things, and 
to him they sacrifice cattle and all sorts of animals. . . . 
They also worship rivers, nymphs, and some other deities; 
they sacrifice to all and foretell the future in these offerings." 
A similar account concerning the Elbe Slavs is given by the 
chronicler Helmold:^ "Among the multiform divine powers 
to whom they ascribe fields, forests, sorrows, and joys they do 
not deny that one god rules over the others in heaven and that 
he, pre-eminent in might, cares only for things celestial; 
whereas the rest, obeying the duties assigned them, have 
sprung from his blood and enjoy distinction in proportion to 
their nearness to that god of gods." 

The name of the chief god of the Slavs has not come down to 
us. There is, however, a well-founded belief that it was Svarog, 
who, in old chronicles, is often identified with Hephaistos;' 
and we have more certain evidence regarding his sons, one of 
whom is called Dazbog, and the other Svarozic ("Son of 
Svarog").^ Lack of historical data renders it impossible to 
say what gods were worshipped by the Slavs while they were 
still living in their ancient homes ;^ and our only documents 



278 SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY 

of a really precise character concern solely the religion of the 
Elbe Slavs and the Russians. 

For the idolatry of the former the record of the chronicler 
Thietmar is of the greatest importance. He cays ^ that in 
those regions there were as many temples as there were dis- 
tricts, and that these shrines served the worship of their 
particular demons. 



PLATE XXXI 

SVANTOVIT 

This statue, supposed to represent the great 
Slavic deity Svantovit, who may again appear in 
the divinity Triglav (see pp. 284-85), was found in 
1848 near the river Zbrucz on the Russo-Galician 
frontier. This figure may be contrasted with the 
modern idealized conception of the god shown in 
Plate XXXIV, i. 




mc/iaat sc 



CHAPTER I 
SVANTOVIT 

AMONG the numerous deities of the Elbe Slavs the most 
prominent place was occupied by Svantovit. The centre 
of his worship was in Arkona, on the island of Riigen; and in 
the middle of the town, which towers on the summit of a lofty 
cliff, stood his temple, skilfully built of wood and richly adorned 
with embossed ornaments. Within the sanctuary, which was 
enclosed by two fences, arose a gigantic statue of Svantovit, 
surpassing in size all human dimensions, and having four 
necks and four heads, two of them facing in front and two 
behind. The beard was shaved, and the hair was cut short, 
as was the custom among the people of Riigen. In the right 
hand was a horn inlaid with various metals, and this was 
annually filled with mead by a priest well versed in the cere- 
monies due to the divinity, the harvest of the following year 
being predicted from the hquor. The left hand was set akimbo. 
The mantle, reaching to the idol's knees, was made of another 
sort of wood and was so closely fitted to the figure that even 
the most minute observation would not enable one to tell 
where it was joined. The legs touched the floor, and the base 
was hidden in the ground. 

Not far from the statue lay the bridle and the saddle of the 
god, as well as many other appurtenances of the deity, special 
attention being attracted by a sword of wonderful size, whose 
edge and scabbard were richly chased and damascened with 
silver. In addition to all this, the temple contained a sacred 
flag which was carried in front of the .army on military expedi- 
tions as ensuring victory. 
Ill — 19 



28o SLAVIC AIYTHOLOGY 

A beautiful white horse was consecrated to Svantovit and 
was fed and groomed by the head priest, to whom the people 
of Riigen showed the same respect that they manifested for 
the king himself. They believed that Svantovit, mounted on 
this steed, fought those who opposed his worship; and in the 
morning the horse was often found bathed in sweat after 
having been ridden during the night. Success or failure in 
weighty projects was foretold by means of this animal. When- 
ever a warlike expedition was about to be undertaken, three 
rows of palings were erected by the priests in front of the 
temple, each consisting of two lances thrust into the ground 
with a third lance laid across the top. After solemn prayer, 
a priest brought the horse to the palings; if it stepped across 
with the right foot first, it was considered a favourable omen, 
but if the order was reversed, the enterprise must be aban- 
doned. 

Since Svantovit was more famous for his victories and more 
renowned because of his prophecies than any other divinity, 
he was held in high honour by all the neighbouring Slavs, being 
regarded as the god of the gods; compared with him, the other 
deities were but demigods. From far and near prophecies were 
sought from him, and to win his favour the neighbouring 
nations sent tribute and gifts to his sanctuary. Even the 
Danish King Sueno, though a Christian, offered a precious 
goblet to him; foreign merchants who came to Riigen were 
obliged to dedicate a part of their merchandise to the treasury 
of his temple before being allowed to offer their wares for 
sale; and every year a captive Christian was chosen by lot 
to be sacrificed to him. 

A retinue of three hundred horsemen was set aside for the 
service of Svantovit, and whatsoever they won by war or by 
freebooting was given to the priest, who expended It in the 
purchase of all sorts of adornments for the temple. In this 
way treasure of Incredible value, Including huge quantities 
of gold, was accumulated, and the fame of the shrine spread 



PLATE XXXII 
Festival of Svantovit 

This much modernized conception of Svantovit's 
festival may be compared with the similar idealiza- 
tion of an ancient Slavic sacrifice in Plate XXXVI. 
After a painting by Alphons Mucha. 







>ft<' 


'(^ ^ 




- 4 






*. 





SVANTOVIT 281 

far and wide, while so numerous were its old and precious 
vestments that they were rotting with age. 

When, in 1168, Valdemar, the Danish King, conquered 
Arkona after strong resistance, he first seized the treasure of 
the temple and then ordered the destruction of the sanctuary. 
A vast multitude of the native inhabitants assembled, expect- 
ing every moment that Svantovit would annihilate their 
enemies, but finally even his statue was torn down, whereupon 
the demon is said to have left it in the shape of a black animal 
which disappeared before the eyes of the spectators. Then the 
Danes, casting ropes around the idol, dragged it to the ground 
in sight of the Slavs; and at last, smashed in pieces, it was 
burned. 

Not only in Arkona, but also in many other places, there 
were sanctuaries of Svantovit which were under the care of 
an inferior class of priests. 

Shortly after harvest a great festival was held in honour of 
Svantovit, and on this occasion people assembled from all 
quarters of the island of Riigen to sacrifice cattle and to join 
in the rites. On the day before the ceremonies began the sanctu- 
ary was carefully swept by the priest, who alone had access 
to it. While he remained inside, he was very careful not to 
breathe; and when he could no longer hold his breath, he 
hastened to the door lest the presence of the deity be desecrated 
by the exhalation of a mortal man. On the following day, 
while the people were waiting before the entrance, the priest 
took the vessel from the hands of the god to see whether the 
liquid had diminished in quantity; if such was the case, he 
foretold a bad harvest for the ensuing year and advised his 
hearers to reserve some grain for the coming time of dearth. 
Then, having poured the old wine at the feet of the divinity 
by way of sacrifice, he filled the vessel again and offered it to 
the deity, asking him to bestow upon himself and his country 
all the good things of this earth, such as victory, increase of 
wealth, and the like. When the prayer was finished, he emptied 



282 SLAVIC M\THOLOGY 

the cup at one draught, and refilling it with wine, he placed it 
in the god's right hand. 

After this ceremony a festal cake was brought in, flavoured 
with honey and as large as a man. Placing it between himself 
and the people, the priest asked whether he was visible to 
them, and if they answered in the affirmative, he expressed 
the wish that they might not see him next year, this ceremony 
being believed to ensure them a better harvest for the coming 
season. Finally, when he had admonished them to do dutiful 
homage to the god and to oflFer to him sacrifices which would 
secure them victory both by land and by sea, the rest of the 
day was devoted to carousing, and it was considered a proof 
of piety If a man became drunk on this occasion.^ 

The festival, as described above, shows a remarkable resem- 
blance to the autumnal dziady in Russia,^ especially to those 
held in the Government of Mohilev. On the eve of the dziady 
the courtyard is carefully cleaned and 'put in order, while the 
women scrub the tables, benches, vessels, and floor. Lenten 
dishes are served that day, and on the following morning the 
women cook, bake, and fry all sorts of dishes, at least twelve 
in number. One of the men takes these to church; and when 
he returns, all the family assemble in the common room, the 
householder boiling a drink with pepper, while his wife lays 
a clean cloth on the table, adjusts the icons, lights a candle, 
and puts a pile of cakes on the table. After a long and fervent 
prayer the family sit down, and the farmer, hiding behind 
the cakes at a corner of the table, asks his wife, who sits at 
the extreme farther end of it, "Can you see me.'*" whereupon 
she answers, "No, I cannot," his reply being, "I hope you 
may not see me next year either." Pouring out a cup of vodka 
and making the sign of the cross, he now invites the Dziadys 
to partake of the feast; he himself, imitated by his wife and 
all the members of the family, empties the cup; and then 
they eat and drink till they can do so no longer. 

The custom of foretelling the future from cakes is also 



SVANTOVIT 283 

preserved among the White Russians In Lithuania, being 
performed In some districts at the harvest feast, whereas in 
other Slavic countries it is celebrated on Christmas Eve. 

The appellations of other deities worshipped in the Island 
of Riigen were closely connected with the name of Svantovit. 
In the sanctuary of the town of Korenice (the modern Garz) 
stood a colossal oaken idol, called Rugievit (or RInvit), which 
was so high that Bishop Absalon, though a very tall man, could 
scarcely reach its chin with his axe when he was about to 
break it in pieces. The image had one head with seven faces, 
seven swords hung In Its belt, and it held an eighth blade In Its 
hand.^ Another sanctuary was the shrine of Porevit (or 
Puruvit), who had five heads and was unarmed ;^° and worship 
was also given to Porenutius (or Poremltius), whose idol had 
four faces and a fifth in its breast; its left hand was raised to 
its forehead, and its right touched Its chin.^^ The Pomeranians 
in Volegost (Hologost) worshipped a war-god named Gerovit 
(or Herovit), In whose sanctuary hung an enormous shield, 
skilfully wrought and artistically adorned with gold. This 
was carried before the army and was believed to ensure victory; 
but it might be taken from Its place In the shrine only in case 
of war, and it was forbidden for mortal hands to touch it.^^ 

All the idols just considered — Rugievit, Porevit, Porenutius, 
and Gerovit — seem to have been nothing more than local 
analogues of the chief Elbe deity, Svantovit. 



CHAPTER II 
TRIGLAV 

IN the town of Stettin were three hills, the central one being 
dedicated to Triglav, the chief local deity. This idol was of 
gold and had three heads, while its eyes and lips were covered 
with a golden veil. The pagan priests declared that Triglav 
("Three-Heads") was tricephalous because he wished to make 
it known that he ruled over three realms, i. e., heaven, earth, 
and the underworld; and he covered his face because he would 
not see the sins of men. 

In Stettin were four temples, the most important of which 
was built with wonderful skill. On the inner and outer sides 
of the walls were various embossed figures of men, birds, and 
animals, so well made that they seemed to live and breathe. 
Their colour was always fresh and durable, and could be 
damaged neither by rain nor by snow. According to the cus- 
tom of the ancestors one tenth of all booty was stored in the 
treasury of the temple, and there was, moreover, an abundance 
of gold and silver vessels used by the chieftains on festive occa- 
sions, as well as daggers, knives, and other rare, costly, and 
beautiful objects. In honour of and in homage to the gods 
colossal horns of wild bulls, gilded and adorned with precious 
stones, were kept there, some serving for drinking-vessels, 
and some for musical instruments. The other three temples 
did not enjoy so high a reputation and were, therefore, less 
richly ornamented. They contained only tables and chairs for 
assemblies and meetings, and on certain days and at certain 
hours the inhabitants of Stettin gathered there to eat, drink, 
or discuss matters of importance. 



TRIGLAV 285 

A horse of noble stature and black colour also played a part 
in the worship of Triglav. No mortal man was allowed to 
mount this steed, and it was used in divination like the horse 
of Svantovit.^^ In front of the temple, whenever a warlike ex- 
pedition was about to be undertaken, the priests placed nine 
lances about a yard apart. The head priest then led the horse, 
adorned with a gold and silver saddle, thrice across these 
lances; if he stepped over without touching any of them, it 
was considered a favourable omen, and the expedition was 
decided upon. 

Another idol of Triglav stood in the town of Wollin. When 
Otto, Bishop of Bamberg, was destroying heathen temples and 
breaking pagan idols, the Slav priests are reported to have 
taken this statue secretly and to have given it to a woman 
living in a lonely place in the country. She hid it in the hollow 
of a large tree, but let herself be deceived by a German who 
told her that he wished to thank the god for having saved 
him from death in the sea. The woman then showed him the 
idol, but being unable to take it from the tree, the German 
stole the god's old saddle, which was hanging from a branch. 

Triglav's statue in Stettin was broken by Bishop Otto him- 
self, and its head was sent to the Pope. The pagan temples 
were burned to the ground, and churches were built in honour 
of St. Ethelbert and St. Peter on the hill that had once been 
sacred to Triglav. 

Triglav was also worshipped by the Slavs of Brandenburg. 
When, in 1154, Prince Pribyslav of that country was baptized, 
he ordered "his three-headed, unholy, and ugly statue" to be 
broken in pieces.^* 

It is practically certain that Triglav was not the real name 
of the god worshipped in Wollin and Stettin, but merely an 
appellation of one of his idols which possessed three heads; 
and since the cult of this divinity shows a striking resemblance 
to that of Svantovit, it may be assumed that Triglav was 
merely a local form of the great deity of the Elbe Slavs. ^^ 



CHAPTER III 

SVARAZIC 

THE Rhetarii,^® a division of the Lutices (between the 
Elbe and the Oder), worshipped a god named Svarazic 
(" Son of Svarog"), and the chronicler Thietmar testifies ^^ that 
their castle of Radigast (Radgost) contained a wooden temple 
in which were numerous statues of divinities made by the 
hands of men. These idols, wearing armour and helmets, 
struck terror into those who beheld them; and each of them 
had his name carved on his image. The most important of 
them was Svarazic (Zuarasici), whom St. Bruno, the apostle of 
the Prussians, writing to Emperor Henry H,^^ terms "Zuarasiz 
diabolus." 

Further evidence of a deity worshipped in Radgost is given 
by Adarh of Bremen ^^ and his follower, Helmold.^° This idol 
stood in a spacious sanctuary among other gods, was made of 
gold, and had its base adorned with brocade. It wore a helmet 
resembling a bird with outstretched wings, and on its breast 
was the head of a black bison, the national emblem of the 
Rhetarii; the divinity's right hand rested on this symbol, 
while the left grasped a double-edged axe. 

When Adam of Bremen terms this Lutician deity "Radigast" 
or "Redigast," he seems to be in error and to have confused 
the name of the town (Radigast) with the divinity worshipped 
there, especially as the older evidence shows this god to have 
been Svarazic himself,-' 

The temple of Radigast was much visited by all the Slavic 
nations in their desire to avail themselves of the prophetic 



PLATE XXXIII 

Radigast 

This god may have been in reality only a form of 
Svaraiic and the special patron of the city of Radi- 
gast. After a picture by N. Ales. 



SVARAZIC 287 

power of the gods and to join in the annual festivities. 
Human beings were likewise sacrificed there, for in honour of 
a victory won in 1066 the head of John, Bishop of the Diocese 
of Mecklenburg, who had been captured in battle, was offered 
up to this divinity. ^^ 



CHAPTER IV 
CERNOBOG 

THE evidence of Helmold shows ^^ that at banquets the 
Slavs were wont to offer prayer to a divinity of good and 
evil; and being convinced that happiness comes from the god 
of good, while misfortune is dispensed by the deity of evil, 
they called the latter Cernobog or Zcernoboch ("Black God"). 

V 

The conception of Cernobog as the god of evil in contrast 
to the god of good is probably due to the influence of Chris- 
tianity. The western Slavs, becoming familiar, through the 
instrumentality of the clergy, with the ideas of the new faith 
and with its conception of the devil, transferred to the latter 
many features of the pagan deities, worshipping him as a 
being who was very powerful compared even with the god of 
good. He was regarded as the cause of all calamities, and the 
prayers to him at banquets were in reality intended to avert 
misfortunes. 



PLATE XXXIV 

Idealizations of Slavic Divinities 

I . Svantovit 

This modem conception of the great deity of the 
Elbe Slavs (see pp. 279-83) should be compared with 
the rude statue supposed to represent him (Plate 
XXXI). 

V 

2. ZiVA 

While the ancient Slavs, like the Baltic peoples, 
worshipped many female divinities, the name of 

V 

only one of them has been preserved, Ziva, the god- 
dess of life. 

3. Cernobog and Tribog 

V 

Cernobog, or "the Black God," was the Slavic 
deity of evil, and Tribog, or the "Triple God" (cf. the 
deity Triglav, pp. 284-85, and possibly the three- 
headed deity of the Celts, Plates VII, XII), is re- 
garded by later sources as the divinity of pestilence. 

After pictures by N. Ales. 




BPiOiii 




>.^ ■> 







iaiA 




CHAPTER V 
OTHER DEITIES 

IN addition to the deities mentioned above, the names of 
other divinities of the Elbe Slavs have come down to us, 
although wd possess no details concerning them. 

Pripegala is mentioned in a pastoral letter of Archbishop 
Adelgot of Magdeburg in iioS,^* where he is compared with 
Priapus and Baal-peor (the Beelphegor of the Septuagint and 
Vulgate). 2^ This comparison, however, seems to have no 
foundation except the similar sound of the syllables pri and 
p{h)eg. 

The Idol Podaga is mentioned by Helmold,^^ while the names 
of Turupid, Pisamar (Besomar.''), and Tiernoglav (Triglav.'') 
occur in the Knytlingasaga}'^ 

The Elbe Slavs worshipped goddesses as well as gods, and 
Thietmar not only states ^^ that the walls of the temples in 
Riedegast (Radgost) were adorned with various figures of 
deities both male and female, but elsewhere ^^ he tells how the 
Lutices angrily resented an affront done to a goddess. The 
only female divinity actually mentioned by name, however, is 
Siva (=Ziva, "the Living"), the Zywie of Polish mythology, 
whom Helmold ^° calls goddess of the Polabians. 



PART III 
THE DEITIES OF THE PAGAN RUSSIANS 



CHAPTER I 
PERUN 

THE chief god of the pagan Russians was Perun, whose 
wooden idol, set by Prince Vladimir on a hill before his 
palace at Kiev in 980, had a silver head and a golden beard. 
Vladimir's uncle, Dobrynya, erected a similar image in Nov- 
gorod on the river Volkhov, and the inhabitants of the city 
sacrificed to it.^ 

Perun was held in high honour by the Russians. In his name 
they swore not to violate their compacts with other nations, 
and when Prince Igor was about to make a treaty with the 
Byzantines in 945, he summoned the envoys in the morning 
and betook himself with them to a hill where Perun's statue 
stood. Laying aside their armour and their shields, Igor and 
those of his people who were pagans took a solemn oath be- 
fore the god while the Christian Russians did likewise in the 
church of St. Iliya (EHas),- the formula directed against those 
who should violate the treaty being, "Let them never receive 
aid either from God or from Perun; let them never have pro- 
tection from their shields; let them be destroyed by their own 
swords, arrows, and other weapons; and let them be slaves 
throughout all time to come." ^ 

In many old Russian manuscripts of the twelfth, fourteenth, 
fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries mention is made of Perun in 
connexion with other Slavic deities, such as Chors, Volos, Vila, 
Rod, and Rozanica,^ but nothing certain is known about his 
worship. 

When Prince Vladimir received baptism in 988, he went to 
Kiev and ordered all idols to be broken, cut to pieces, or thrown 



294 SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY 

into the iire. The statue of Perun, however, was tied to a 
horse's tail and was dragged down to a brook where twelve 
men were ordered to beat it with rods, not because the wood 
was believed to feel any pain, but because the demon which 
had deceived men must be disgraced. As the idol was taken 
to the Dnieper, the pagans wept, for they had not yet been 
baptized; but when it was finally thrown into the river, Vladi- 
mir gave the command: "If it stops, thrust it from the banks 
until it has passed the rapids; then let it alone." This order 
was carried out, and no sooner had the idol passed through the 
rapids than it was cast upon the sands which after that time 
were called "Perun's Sands" {Perunya Ken). Where the image 
once stood Vladimir built a church in honour of St. Basil; ^ 
but it was not until the end of the eleventh century that 
Perun's worship finally disappeared from the land. 

Similarly the pagan idols of Novgorod were destroyed by 
Archbishop Akim Korsunyanin in 989, and the command went 
forth that Perun should be cast into the Volkhov. Binding the 
image with ropes, they dragged it through the mire to the river, 
beating it with rods and causing the demon to cry out with 
pain. In the morning a man dwelling on the banks of the 
Pidba (a small stream flowing into the Volkhov) saw the idol 
floating toward the shore, but he thrust it away with a pole, 
saying, "Now, Perunisce ['Little Perun,' a contemptuous 
diminutive], you have had enough to eat and to drink; be off 
with you!" ^ 

The word "Perun" is derived from the root per- ("to strike") 
with the ending -ww, denoting the agent of an action; and 
the name is very appropriate for one who was considered the 
maker of thunder and lightning, so that Perun was, in the first 
place, the god of thunder, "the Thunderer," like the Zeus of 
the Greeks.^ The old Bulgarian version of the Alexander- 
romance actually renders the Greek Zeu<? by Perun; and in 
the apocryphal Dialogue of the Three Saints Vasiliy, when 
asked, "By whom was thunder created?" replies, "There 



PERUN 295 

are two angels of thunder: the Greek Perun and the Jew 
Chors," thus clearly pointing to the former as the originator 
of thunder.^ 

Though history proves only that the worship of Perun 
existed among the Russians, there are, nevertheless, data to 
show that It was known among other Slavs as well, the most 
important evidence being the fact that the word perun Is a 
very common term for thunder {pjeron, pioru7i, parom, etc.). 
In addition to this numerous local names in Slavic countries 
remind us of Perun. In Slovenia there is a Perunja Ves and a 
Perunji Ort; in Istria and Bosnia many hills and mountains 
go by the name of Perun; In Croatia there Is a Peruna Dubrava, 
and In DalmatIa a mountain called Perun; while a Perin 
Planlna occurs In Bulgaria. Local names, such as Peruny and 
Piorunow in Poland, Perunov Dub in Little Russia, or Perun 
and Peron among the Elbe Slavs, are further proof that not 
only the name, but also the worship, of Perun was known In 
these regions. It is even believed that some appellations of 
the pagan deities of the Elbe Slavs, such as Porenutlus, Prone, 
Proven, etc.,^ may be closely connected with Perun, being, in 
fact, merely corruptions of the original name, due to foreign 
chronicles; and In this connexion special attention should be 
called to Helmold's mention ^° of a great oak grove on the way 
from Stargard to Liibeck as sacred to the god Proven. 

In the Christian period the worship of Perun was trans- 
ferred to St. Illya (Ellas) ; " and, as we have already seen,^^ 
Nestor tells how the Christian Russians took oath in the 
church of St. Illya, while the pagans swore by Perun. On 
July 20 St. niya's Day is kept with great reverence in Russia 
to the present time; in some places they still cling to the an- 
cient custom of preparing a feast and slaughtering bulls, 
calves, lambs, and other animals after consecrating them in 
church; and it is considered a great sin not to partake of such 
banquets. 

The Serbians call St. Illya Gromovnik or Gromovit ("the 



III — 20 



296 SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY 

Thunderer") and pray to him as the dispenser of good har- 
vests. Among the Southern Slavs Tlijevo, Tlinden ("St. 
Iliya's Day") is most reverently celebrated; no man does 
any work in the fields at that time, and no woman thinks of 
weaving or spinning. He who dared to labour then would 
make St. Iliya angry and could not expect him to help in 
garnering the crops; on the contrary, the Saint would slay 
him with his thunderbolt. In the Rhodope Mountains the 
festival is kept on a lofty summit, and a bull or a cow is killed 
and prepared for the solemn banquet. All this is doubtless 
nothing less than a survival of the feasts that, long before, 
were celebrated in honour of Perun.^' 



CHAPTER II 
DAZBOG 

THE statue of the divinity Dazbog, or Dazdbog, whose 
name probably means "the Giving God," ^^ stood on a 
hill in the courtyard of the castle at Kiev, and beside it were 
the idols of Perun, Chors, Stribog, and other pagan deities. ^^ 
In old chronicles Dazbog is termed "Czar Sun" and "Son of 
Svarog;" ^^ and the fact that early Russian texts frequently 
translate the name of the Greek god Helios ^"^ by Dazbog ^^ 
may be taken as proof that he was worshipped as a solar deity. 
In the old Russian epic Slovo o pluku Igoreve ^^ Vladimir and 
the Russians call themselves the grandchildren of Dazbog, 
which is easily explicable since the ancient Slavs often derived 
their origin from divine beings. ^° 

Dazbog was known not only among the Russians, but also 
among the Southern Slavs; and his memory is preserved in 
the Serbian fairy-tale of Dabog (Dajbog), in which we read, 
"Dabog, the Czar, was on earth, and the Lord God was in 
heaven," ^^ Dabog being here contrasted with God and being 
regarded as an evil being, since in early Christian times the 
old pagan deities were considered evil and devilish. 



CHAPTER III 
SVAROZIC AND SVAROG 

O VAROZIC was worshipped by the Russians as the god of 
k3 fire; ^^ and his name, being a patronymic, means "Son of 
Svarog." 2^ This latter deity, however, is actually mentioned 
only in an old Russian chronicle ^^ which identifies him with 
the Greek Hephaistos ^^ and speaks of him as the founder of 
legal marriage. According to this text, Svarog made it a law 
for every man to have only one wife, and for every woman to 
have only one husband; and he ordained that whosoever tres- 
passed against this command should be cast into a fiery fur- 
nace — a tradition which seems to imply the importance of 
the fire (fireside, hearth) for settled family life. 

That Svarazic, worshipped by the Elbe Slavs,^^ had the 
same signification as the Russian Svarozic may be considered 
very probable, though the identity is not yet fully established. ^^ 



CHAPTER IV 
CHORS 

AMONG the Idols which Vladimir erected in Kiev mention 
is made of the statue of Chors (Chers, Churs, Chros).^^ 
Nothing certain is known about the functions of this deity; 
but since old Slavic texts ^^ seem to identify him with the 
Greek Apollo,^° he is supposed to have been a god of the sun, 
this hypothesis being supported by a passage in the Slovo o 
pluku Igoreve ^^ which tells how Prince Vsevolod outstripped 
great Chors (I. e. the sun) Hke a wolf. 

There is no explanation for the word Chors in Slavic, and 
the name is apparently of foreign origin. The most plausible 
supposition Is that It comes from the Greek 'x^pva6<i ("gold"), 
so that originally It may have been simply the name of a 
golden or gilt idol ^^ erected in Kiev and probably representing 
Dazbog. If this be so, Chors and Dazbog were, In all likelihood, 
merely different names applied to one and the same deity. 



CHAPTER V 
VELES, VOLOS, AND STRIBOG 

VELES, the god of flocks, was held in high honour by the 
Russians, who swore by him as well as by Perun when 
making a treaty; ^^ and old Russian texts often mention him in 
connexion with the more famous divinity.^* When Vladimir 
was baptized in 988, he caused the idols of Veles to be thrown 
into the river Pocayna;^^ another stone statue of the same deity, 
worshipped by the Slavic tribes in the neighbourhood of Fin- 
land, was destroyed by Abraham of Rostov, who preached Chris- 
tianity on the banks of the Volga in the twelfth century; ^^ and 
the Slovo pluku Igoreve^'' calls the minstrel Boyan "the grand- 
son of Veles." 

The memory of Veles still lives among the Russian people. 
In southern Russia it is customary at harvest-time to tie the 
last handful of ears Into a knot, this being called "plaiting the 
beard of Veles" or "leaving a handful of ears for Veles's 
beard"; and in some districts a piece of bread is put among 
such ears, probably as a reminiscence of the sacrifices ofl"cred 
to Veles. 

Veles was well known among the ancient Bohemians like- 
wise, and his name frequently occurs in old Bohemian texts, 
although its original meaning has so utterly disappeared that 
the word now signifies simply "the devil." ^^ 

After the introduction of Christianity the worship of Veles 
was transferred to St. Blasius, a shepherd and martyr of 
Caesarea in Cappadocia, whom the Byzantines called the guar- 
dian of flocks. ^^ In this capacity the saint is still venerated in 
Russia, Bulgaria, and even in Bohemia; and the shepherds, 



PLATE XXXV 

Veles 

This deity of flocks corresponds to the Ganyklos 
(D^vas), or "(God) of Pasture," of the pagan 
Lithuanians. This representation, from a picture 
by N. Ales, is highly idealized (cf. his conception 
of Svantovit, Plate XXXIV, i, as contrasted with 
the ancient statue reproduced in Plate XXXI). 



VELES, VOLOS, AND STRIBOG 301 

when driving their floclis to pasture, recite ancient prayers 
which are expected to secure his protection.^" 

Stribog, whose idol stood on the hill in Kiev beside that of 
Perun,^^ was most probably the god of cold and frost; and in 
the Slovo pluku Igoreve ^^ the winds are called the grandsons 
of Stribog. The conception of the winds as the result of cold 
and frost is easily understood. 

The chronicler Cosmas testifies "^^ that the Bohemians wor- 
shipped deities similar to Jupiter, Mars, Bellona, Ceres, etc., 
and that they made idols of them; but the names of these 
gods have not been preserved, and nothing positive is known 
concerning their worship. Numerous names of divinities wor- 
shipped by the pagan Poles are recorded by the chronicler 
Dlugosz,^^ but his report, belonging to a later period, seems to 
be influenced by Classical and Christian thought. 



PART IV 
CULT AND FESTIVALS 



PLATE XXXVI 

Ancient Slavic Sacrifice 

Idealized representation of a Slavic priest in- 
voking a divinity. Cf. another modem artist's 
conception of the festival of Svantovit in Plate 
XXXII. After a picture by N. Ales. 



PLATE XXXVII 

The Sacred Oak of Romowe 

The great centre of the cult of the ancient Prus- 
sians was at Romowe, a place of uncertain localiza- 
tion. Here lived the head priest, the Kriwe, and 
here a perpetual fire was maintained. According to 
the historian Simon Grunau, who wrote in the early- 
part of the sixteenth century, a triad of gods — 
Perkunas, Potr>'mpus, and Patollus, deities of thunder 
(see pp. 293, 319, 325), rivers and springs (and hence 
of vegetation and good fortune), and of the under- 
world respectively — received adoration in this 
place. His conception is here reproduced (cf. his 
Preussische Chronik, H. v. 2). In the oak, which 
remained green summer and winter, and which was 
screened from profane gaze, were the idols of the 
gods, each with his emblem before him: the head of 
a man, a horse, and a cow before Patollus; a perpetual 
fire of oak before Perkunas (cf. Part HI, Note 10 on 
the oak as his sacred tree); and a pot containing a 
serpent, carefully fed by the priests, before Potrym- 
pus (the cult of the household snake, probably the 
harmless common ringed snake of Europe, was an 
important part of ancient Baltic religion). In the 
open spaces are piles of wood for the sacred fire, and 
the houses of the Waidelots, or ordinary priests, 
surround the whole. We have, however, no evi- 
dence that the ancient Prussians possessed idols 
of their gods, and in many respects the statements 
of Grunau are open to grave doubt. After a picture 
in C. Hartknoch, Selectae dissertationes historical de 
variis rebus Prussicis, appended to his edition of 
the Chronicon Prussiae of Peter of Dusburg (Frank- 
fort and Leipzig, 1679). 



CHAPTER I 
WORSHIP OF THE GODS 

SACRIFICES of animals, grain, and food were offered to the 
gods and genii; and in time of war captives were slaugh- 
tered in their honour,^ These sacrifices were performed by 
fathers of families, by chieftains of clans, and by princes; 
but the existence of a special and highly developed priesthood 
is proved only among the Elbe Slavs, where the head priest 
received the same honour as the king himself.^ 

The Elbe Slavs worshipped their idols ^ in temples adorned 
with great taste and splendour; ^ and in addition to this, 
trees and groves were consecrated to the gods, both among 
the Elbe Slavs and among the Russians.^ Such a svatobor, for 
example, was on the island of Riigen;^ while between Star- 
gard and Lubeck stretched a great oak grove, guarded by a 
wooden fence provided with two gates. This grove was full 
of idols in whose honour sacrifices and feasts were held; and 
whoever concealed himself there when threatened by death 
was considered inviolable, being under the protection of the 
gods.'' In Bohemia it was not until 1092, in the reign of 
Bfetislav II, that the sacred groves, held in high honour by 
the people, were hewn down and burned.^ The pagan Rus- 
sians, so far as historical evidence goes, did not build special 
temples for their gods, but erected their idols in the open on 
slopes and hills. ^ Besides trees and groves, sanctity also at- 
tached to mountains, ^° as well as to rivers and fountains. ^^ 

Among the annual festivals, that of Svantovit in Arkona, 
which reminds us of the autumnal dziadys,^^ is described at 
considerable length, ^^ whereas the other feasts, which in the 



3o6 SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY 

main consisted of games, dancing, and carousing, are dis- 
missed with brief remarks. In April the Slavs on the banks of 
the Havola (Havel) used to celebrate a national festival in 
honour of Gerovit; ^^ in Wollin the populace assembled for a 
pagan festival in early summer; ^^ and in 1092 Bretislav sup- 
pressed certain feasts observed about Whitsuntide, when 
oblations were offered to springs. ^^ 

Popular tradition, however, still preserves many customs 
and ceremonies whose origin may be traced back to the pre- 
Christian period; and these we shall briefly consider in our 
concluding chapters. 



CHAPTER II 
THE KOLEDA 

THE word koleda {koleda) is derived from the Latin calendae 
("first day of the month " ; borrowed in Greek as KaXdvhat) 
and denotes certain days at Christmas ^'' and Easter when 
children go from house to house, singing songs and expecting 
all sorts of small presents In return. During the Middle Ages 
the festa calendarum was celebrated almost everywhere in 
Europe with pageants, games, songs, mummlngs, and the 
like. 

Besides the word koleda there are a number of other names 
for the principal days of Christmastlde which are worth men- 
tioning. In Russia Christmas Eve is called Kutiya, or Kuccya 
(Polish Kucyja) ; the day preceding New Year Is " Rich Kutiya," 
and that before Twelfth Night is "Hungry Kutiya," since meat 
is eaten on the former, while lenten dishes are preferred on the 
latter. In similar fashion the Letts term Christmas Eve Kukju 
Vakar, and the Lithuanians call it Kuclu Vakaras. The word 
Kutiya, Kuccya, etc., is derived from the name of the dish 
which, in addition to many others, is prepared on that day. 
Among the White Russians it is a sort of pudding composed 
of barley groats and honey; the Little Russians make it of 
wheat groats, pounded poppy seeds, and honey; the Lithuanians 
prepare It of peas and wheat, or of barley and beans; the Letts 
of peas and honey, etc. The other Slavs likewise have similar 
names for the holiday dinners on Christmas Eve. 

Before supper the farmer walks about the house carrying 
the kutiya, while his wife, having tidied up the room with the 
help of her servants, spreads some hay over the table, and lay- 



3o8 SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY 

ing the cloth, places on It the food prepared for the evening 
meal. The master of the house then says grace and brings to 
remembrance those of the family who happen not to be pres- 
ent, after which all sit down, the head of the household tak- 
ing his place in a corner under the icons. Before beginning to 
eat, the householder pours out a cup of vodka, and letting a 
few drops fall upon the cloth, he empties it, whereupon all the 
others do the same. During the meal a portion of the food is 
set aside for the deceased, and finally the kutiya is served. 
After supper all rise, the master of the house alone keeping his 
seat and hiding behind his pot of kutiya as he asks his wife 
whether she sees him.^^ Many other prophecies concerning 
the coming harvest and the prospects of cattle-breeding are 
attempted; and the girls, in like manner, tell their fortunes, 
the kutiya playing an important role in all these ceremonies. 
The hay placed under the kutiya and beneath the cloth on the 
table is given to the animals kept in the house; and the fire is 
kept burning constantly on the hearth. It is considered im- 
proper to do heavy work on this day, when various disguises 
are assumed, and village friends are visited, while in the even- 
ing the young people meet to play various games, of which 
dancing and singing are important features. 

The Southern Slavs call Christmas Eve Badnji Dan, 
Badnjak, or Budnik ("Vigil"), hadnjak or budnik being also 
the log of wood which is burned on the hearth. Various 
ancient customs connected with these festivities are still in 
vogue. 

Before sunrise either the head of the house or some other 
member of the family goes to the forest in search of a tree, 
either oak, beech, or ash, which will serve his purpose; and 
after all preparations have been made for the dinner, doffing 
his cap, he carries the hadnjak into the room. During this rite 
he clucks like a hen, while all the children, who stand in a row 
behind him, cheep like chickens. Passing through the door, on 
either side of which candles are burning, he walks, with the 



THE KOLEDA 309 

badnjak in his hands, into every corner of the room, saluting 
the members of the household, who throw corn upon him. 
Then he lays the badnjak and a ploughshare by the fireside, to- 
gether with some honey, butter, and wine, as well as a portion 
of every dish prepared for supper; and finally he addresses the 
log with the words, "Welcome! Come and eat your supper!" 
Sometimes the badnjak is dressed in a new shirt, or is adorned 
with red silk, golden threads, flowers, etc. After all this, the 
householder lays the badnjak on the hearth, where a fire has 
been kindled, and adds some more logs of wood which likewise 
are often called badnjaki or badnjarice. 

When the badnjak is burning well, the farmer takes in one 
hand a special sort of bread, decked with various animals 
made of dough and covered with salt and wheat; while in the 
other he holds a cup of wine. He now walks toward the corn- 
loft, the children following him and imitating the sounds of 
domestic animals; and after a portion of the bread and wine 
has been left on the window of the loft, the rest is put on the 
table in the room. He then fills a glove with kernels of wheat, 
and adding a silver coin, he strews the grain upon the floor, as 
if sowing. The children throw themselves upon the wheat, 
picking it up like poultry; and the one who succeeds in finding 
the coin will have good luck. Around the hearth straw is 
spread and covered with sweets for the whole family; and the 
farmer, hiding behind it, thrice asks the household if they can 
see him. 

During or before supper the farmer's wife places a portion 
of the food in a separate pan; and these viands remain in her 
charge until the evening before Twelfth Night, when every 
member of the household gets a bit of it. 

All these ceremonies show that the pagan festival of which 
the Koleda still retains traces was a purely domestic celebra- 
tion, and that It was closely connected with the worship of the 
penates, who were believed to exercise a profound influence 
upon the household. The badnjak may certainly be regarded 



3IO SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY 

as a special symbol of the genius of the house in his capacity 
of protector of the hearth, which is rekindled on this day. Ac- 
cordingly the kutiya is the favourite dish, not merely at the 
Koleda, but also at the funeral feast and on All Souls' Day 
(November 2) in Russia. 



CHAPTER III 
THE RUSALYE 

AMONG the Slavs the Rusalye are celebrated at the Whit- 
sun holidays. The word itself is of foreign origin (from 
the Greek povadXia, "feast of roses"), and so are many cere- 
monies connected with the festival, although numerous in- 
digenous customs have been preserved side by side with these 
rites. 

In Russia the Rusalye were celebrated in the following way. 
On Whitsun Monday a small shed, adorned with garlands, 
flowers, and fragrant grasses, was erected in the centre of an 
oak grove; a straw or wooden doll, arrayed in holiday gar- 
ments, was placed inside; and people assembled from all 
quarters, bringing food and drink, dancing round the shed, 
and giving themselves up to merriment. In the Great Russian 
Governments people leave the towns and villages for the forests 
on the Thursday preceding Whitsunday (Semik), singing an- 
cient songs and picking flowers which they make into wreaths. 
Then the lads fell a nice young birch-tree which the lasses 
dress in woman's robes, trimming it with gay-coloured ribbons 
and gaudy pieces of cloth. As they carry this tree along, they 
sing festive songs; and then follows a dinner of flour, milk, 
eggs, and other provisions brought for the occasion, while 
wine and beer are purchased by voluntary contributions. 
After dinner they take the birch, and singing merry songs, 
they carry it In procession to the village, where they put it 
down In a house chosen for the purpose, leaving it there till 
Sunday. 

The doll which, in the course of these ceremonies, is finally 

1 1 1 — 2 1 



312 SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY 

thrown into the water or burned, Is usually called Rusalka; ^^ 
and the ceremony itself is probably meant as a second funeral, 
i. e. to secure the favour of the Rusalky, the spirits of those 
who, dying a violent death, have not been buried with religious 
rites. The same signification may be attached to the so-called 
"Driving out of Death" before Easter,^" a custom which, 
though prohibited as early as the fourteenth century, has not 
yet entirely disappeared in Bohemia and other countries. 

The Bulgarians in Southern Macedonia keep the Rusalye 
during Christmastide, the chief characteristic of the festival 
here being warlike games which remind us of the ancient 
funeral combats {trizna, tryzna).^^ 



CHAPTER IV 
THE KUPALO AND JARILO 

THE festival called Kupalo now coincides with the Chris- 
tian feast of St. John the Baptist (June 24). Originally, 
however, it may have been a purely domestic celebration when 
marriages were performed, and new members were admitted 
into the family, thus accounting for the erotic elements of the 
customs still connected with St. John's Day. In the course of 
the family feast the memory of the deceased ancestors, under 
whose protection individuals were received into the household, 
was revived, and this, in its turn, may explain the funereal 
elements of the commemoration. 

During the Kupalo the girls go to the woods or the fields 
early in the morning to pick flowers of which wreaths are ' 
made; and at the same time they amuse themselves by trying 
to foretell their future in the following fashion. Choosing the 
prettiest girl among them, they take her into the forest, sing- 
ing and dancing. Blindfolding her and decking her with gar- 
lands, they seize her hands and dance around her, while the 
girl, who is now called kupaljo, picks up the garlands, one 
after the other, and distributes them among her dancing com- 
panions. Those who receive a wreath of fresh flowers will be 
fortunate in their wedded life; but those whose flowers are 
withered are doomed to unhappiness. After all the garlands 
have been distributed, the girls run away, doing their best to 
avoid being caught by the kupaljo, since any maiden whom 
she touches is fated to remain unwed for the year. 

Another way of prophesying the future is as follows. The 
young people meet near the river and bathe till twilight, when 



314 SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY 

a fire is kindled, and the lads and lasses, taking each other's 
hands, jump over the flame, two by two. Those who do not 
loosen their hands v/hile jumping will become husband and 
wife, the same thing being predicted by a spark which comes 
out of the fire after them. 

Funereal elements may be found in the fact that in many 
parts of the country figures of Kupalo and Marena are made 
and afterwards drowned and burned like a Rusalka;22 while 
in some places Jarilo and Kostroma are buried in a similar 
way instead of Kupalo. ^^ 



PART V 

BALTIC MYTHOLOGY 
By the Editor 



BALTIC MYTHOLOGY 

THE closest kindred of the Slavs are the Baltic peoples — 
the Prussians and Yatvyags (both long extinct), the Lithu- 
anians, and the Letts. Their early history is unknown, but we 
have reason to believe that they are the Aestii of Tacitus ^ and 
Jordanes;^ and two divisions of them, the Galindae and Sudeni, 
are mentioned by the geographer Ptolemy ^ as living south of 
the Venedae, i. e. the Slavs who were later driven from the Bal- 
tic shores. Like the Slavs, the Baltic peoples seem to have been 
part of the Aryan hordes of Sarmatians who formed a portion 
of the ethnological congeries somewhat vaguely termed Scyth- 
ians;'* and since those Scythians with whom we are here con- 
cerned were very closely related to the Indo-Iranian race, in 
certain regards Baltic religion is strikingly similar to the Ira- 
nian, as it is set forth in our earliest documents. Arrived on the 
Baltic coast, these peoples became subject, like so many other 
invaders, to the influences of the races whom they found set- 
tled there, this being especially marked in the case of the 
Letts, who, near neighbours of the Finno-Ugric Esthonians, 
received marked changes in their religion; while Scandina- 
vian elements, from Norse sojourners and traders, must not 
be overlooked. 

The territory of the Baltic peoples stretched, roughly speak- 
ing, from the Vistula to the Dvlna, and occupied approximately 
the districts now known as East Prussia, Courland, Kovno, 
Pskov, Vitebsk, Vilna, Suwalki, and Grodno, though the 
boundaries have fluctuated widely and have shown a constant 
tendency to contract. With the exception of the Lithuanians, 
who erected a considerable kingdom In the Middle Ages, only 
to share the unhappy fate of Poland, the Baltic peoples have 



3i8 BALTIC MYTHOLOGY 

played little part in history. In a backwater of civilization, 
retaining in extraordinary measure the primitive forms of their 
tribal organization, their mode of life, their religion, and their 
language,^ they were no match for those who sought to subdue 
them, though they fared less hardly at the hands of the Slavs 
than at those of the Germans. 

If, then, we find a paucity of Baltic mythology, we are jus- 
tified in assuming that it was destroyed by the oppressor. 
Undoubtedly it once flourished, in simple form, perhaps, as 
became a rude folk; and among the Letto-Lithuanians, where 
fate was less cruel than in Prussia, we still have a number of 
ddinos (folk-songs) of mythological content.^ For Baltic re- 
ligion we have a fair amount of material, though recorded by 
hostile observers who utterly failed to comprehend its spirit 
and ignorantly misinterpreted it, and who, in all likelihood, 
omitted much of value that is now irretrievably lost;^ for Baltic 
mythology we have little more than fragments of sun-myths, 

Prussian mythology has vanished, leaving not a trace behind. 
We are, therefore, restricted to the Lithuanians and the Letts. 
Even here our older sources record but two myths, both lamen- 
tably meagre. Drawing his information from the Camaldolite 
hermit Jerome, who had long been active as a missionary in 
Lithuania, Aeneas Sylvius de' Piccolomini (afterward Pope 
Pius II, who died in 1464) tells us ^ of a Lithuanian people 
"who worshipped the sun and with a curious cult venerated 
an iron hammer of rare size. When the priests were asked what 
that veneration meant, they answered that once upon a time 
the sun was not seen for several months, because a most mighty 
king had imprisoned it in the dungeon of a tower right strongly 
fortified. Then the signs of the zodiac bore aid to the sun, 
broke the tower with a huge hammer, and restored to men the 
liberated sun, so that the instrument whereby mortals regained 
the light was worthy of veneration." This is probably, as 
Mannhardt suggested,^ a myth of the darkening of the sun in 
winter and his reappearance during the storms of spring. In 



BALTIC MYTHOLOGY 319 

Russian and Slovak folk-tales the sun is represented as a ruler of 
twelve realms, or as served by twelve maidens,'ever young and 
fair.^° The real destroyer of the tower was Perkunas, god of 
thunder and the chief Baltic deity; and in this connexion it 
may be noted that the Lithuanian name for a prehistoric celt 
is Perkuno kulka ("Perkunas's ball"), a term which, like 
Perkuno akmu ("Perkunas's stone"), is also applied to a 
belemnite. The parallel with the hammer of Thor in Eddie 
mythology at once suggests itself. 

The other myth is still briefer. Perkune Tete, "mother of 
lightning and thunder," we are told," receives at night the 
weary, dusty sun, whom she sends forth on the morrow, bathed 
and shining. 

We have seen the difficulties with which Baltic national 
consciousness was forced to contend. It was not until the rise 
of the Lithuanian poet Christian DonaHtius (1714-80) that 
any real literature could be created either in Lithuanian or in 
Lettish; Prussian was long since dead.^^ Then attention was 
directed to the rich store of folk-songs in both the living lan- 
guages, and their treasures became available for mythological 
investigation,^^ the foremost name in this study being that 
of Wilhelm Mannhardt." Late as these ddinos are, the myth- 
ological material which they contain is very old, far antedating 
the introduction of Christianity and presenting a point of view 
prior to the thirteenth century ;^^ and though, as we shall see, 
certain Christian changes and substitutions have been made, 
these are not sufficient to cause serious confusion. Unfortu- 
nately our material is restricted to myths of the sun, moon, 
and stars, although surely there had once been myths of other 
natural phenomena, especially as we are told that when the 
Aurora Borealis appears, the Murgi or lohdi (spirits of the air 
and souls of the dead) are battling, or that the souls of warriors 
are engaged in combat. ^^ It is inconceivable that, with the 
wealth of Baltic deities of very diverse functions, no myths 
were associated with at least some of them. 



320 BALTIC MYTHOLOGY 

Of the Baltic sun-myths perhaps the most famous is con- 
tained in the following daind:^'' 

"Home the Moon once led the Sun 
In the very primal spring; 
Early did the Sun arise, 
But the Moon from her withdrew. 
Leaving her, he roamed afar, 
And the Morning Star he loved; 

Perkuns then was filled with wrath. 
With his sword he smote the Moon. 
'Wherefore hast thou left thy Sun.^ 
Wherefore roam'st alone by night.'' 
Wherefore lovest Morning Star?' 
Full of sorrow was his heart." 

Here we see the myth of the conjunction of sun and moon; 
their gradual divergence till at last the latter is in conjunction 
with the morning star; the wrath of Perkunas, who is not 
merely the god of thunder,^^ but the great Baltic deity; and the 
explanation of the moon's changing form as he wanes. The 
poem is told of early spring,^^ but the phenomenon which it 
describes is not peculiarly vernal. 

In the Baltic languages the sun is feminine (Lithuanian 
sdule, Lettish sa^ule), and the moon is masculine (Lithuanian 
menu, Lettish menes). The feminine Morning Star and Evening 
Star of the Lithuanians (Ausrine, Vakarine), however, appear 
among the Letts as masculine, the "sons of God" {Deewa 
dehli), who, we shall see, woo the "Daughter of the Sun," whose 
Lithuanian suitor, as in the daind just given, is the moon; 2° 
yet, with the frequent inconsistency of myth, these feminine 
stars have masculine doublets in Lithuanian itself in the D'evo 
sunelei, or "Sons of God." 

A Lettish variant of this myth^^ carries the story a little 
further. The sun and the moon have many children, the stars ;^ 
and the betrothed of the masculine Lettish Morning Star is 
none other than the sun's own daughter, the fruit of a tem- 
porary union with Pehrkon himself — a clear personification 



BALTIC MYTHOLOGY 321 

of a thunder-storm at dawn. The moon, in shame and anger, 
avoids his spouse, and is visible only by night, while she ap- 
pears by day in the sight of all mankind. 

The wooing of Morning Star brought grief to her as well as 
to the moon, as is related in another daind.^^ 

"When Morning Star was wedded, 
Perkuns rode through the door-way 
And the green oak ^'^ he shattered. 

Then forth the oak's blood spurted, 
Besprinkling all my garments, 
Besprinkling, too, my crownlet. 

With streaming eyes, Sun's daughter 
For three years was collecting 
The leaves, all sear and withered. 

Oh where, oh where, my mother, 

Shall I now wash my garments. 

And where wash out the blood-stains? 

My daughterling, so youthful. 
Swift haste unto the fountain 
Wherein nine brooks are flowing. 

Oh where, oh where, my mother, 
Shall I now dry my garments. 
Where dry them in the breezes? 

My daughter, in the garden 
Where roses nine are blooming. 

Oh where, oh where, my mother, 
Shall I now don my garments 
Bright gleaming in their whiteness? 

Upon that day, my daughter, 
When nine suns shall be shining." 

Here the fountain with nine brooks, the garden with nine roses, 
and the day with nine suns symbolize the rays of the sun,^^ as 
does the apple-tree with nine branches in another daind?^ The 
role of Perkunas receives an explanation in the marriage custom 



322 BALTIC MIlTHOLOGY 

that he who conducts the bride to the groom should appear 
armed and, as he rides forth, should strike at the door-post, the 
door, the roof, or even the air, probably to exorcize the demons.^' 
On the other hand, it is possible that his association with dawn 
or sunset is secondary and due to the likeness of evening and 
morning glow to the lightning's fire;^^ and it is equally possible 
that his splitting of the tree, of which we shall soon hear more, 
represents the evening twilight, the oak's blood being the red 
rays of the setting sun.^^ 

All our sources for Baltic religion agree in stating that Per- 
kunas, god of thunder and lightning, was the chief deity of 
these peoples. The thunder was his voice, and with it he re- 
vealed his will to men; it was he who sent the fertilizing rains; 
he was to the Prussians, Lithuanians, and Letts what Indra 
was to the Indians of Vedic days.^*' Moreover he has still an- 
other resemblance to Indra which is equally striking. When 
he smites a devil with his bolt, he does not kill the fiend, but 
merely strikes him down to hell for seven years, after which 
the demon again appears on earth, just as Indra and his Iranian 
doublets (especially Thraetaona) do not slay their antagonist, 
the storm-dragon, but only wound him or imprison him so in- 
securely that he escapes, so that the unending battle must 
constantly be renewed.^^ 

In the ddinos the role of Perkunas is relatively a minor one, 
for sun-myths deal only incidentally with storms, whether in 
their beneficent, fertilizing aspects, or in their maleficent, de- 
structive functions. Still, he is there, under a relatively ten- 
uous disguise. For "God," "God's horses," "God's steers" 
(the darkening clouds of evening), ^^ and — above all — "God's 
sons" are frequently mentioned; and "God" (Old Prussian 
deizuas, Lithuanian dhas, Lettish deews) can have meant in 
Baltic none other than Perkunas, who was the deity par excel- 
lence^ just as in Greece "from Homer to the dramatic poets 
the unqualified use of ©eo'?, 'god,' invariably refers to Zeus."^^ 
•His sons are nine in number: three shatter in pieces, three 



BALTIC MYTHOLOGY 323 

thunder, and three lighten; or, in other poems, he has onl7 five; 
but in any case they all live in Germany, in other words, in the 
darkening west, whither (or across the sea) he himself goes to 
seek a bride. He smites the demonic lohdi; he strikes the sea 
in which the sun is drowned at evening; but, on the other hand, 
where he goes with his gentle, smoke-grey horses (the clouds), 
the meadows flourish; the sun rises through the saddle of his 
steed, and the moon through the bit, while at the end of the 
rein is the morning star; he gives the moon a hundred sons 
(the stars) — in a word, he is the sky-god in process of elevation 
to all-god.^^ 

In the ddinos, however, as we should expect from their theme, 
the sun is the important figure. We cannot enter here into all 
the rich details elaborated by Mannhardt, nor can we repeat the 
wealth of description and allusion in the folk-songs them- 
selves. One example must suffice to show how delicate the 
shading is. We think of the sun as golden, and rightly so. Yet 
in the ddinos we read that, wearing silver shoes, she dances on 
the silver mount, or sails over a silver sea, or scatters gifts of 
silver, or sows silver, or is herself a silver apple, or a boat of 
silver, bronze, and gold, or one half of gold and half of silver — 
all referring to the various shadings caused by her diff'erent 
positions in the sky.^^ Her hundred brown horses are her rays,^^ 
or she has two golden horses;" "God's" horse and the waggon 
of Mary (the planet Venus?) stand before her door while her 
daughter (the evening twilight) is being wooed; and in the east, 
where she rises, lives a gold and diamond steed. ^^ She even 
quarrels with "God" because his sons (the evening and morn- 
ing stars) stole the rings from her daughters (twilight and 
dawn).^^ 

The red berries in the forest are the dried tears of the sun 
(the red clouds of sunset?), and the glow on the green tips of 
the wood at sunset is her silken garment hung out to air; when 
she sets, she gives a golden crown to the linden, a silver coronet 
to the oak, and a golden ring to each little willow.^° She weeps 



324 BALTIC MYTHOLOGY 

bitterly because the golden apple has fallen from the tree (a 
myth of sunset), but "God" will make her another of gold, 
brass, or silver."*^ She is herself an apple, sleeping in an apple- 
garden, and decked with apple-blossoms (the fleecy clouds of 
dawn).*^ Disregarding the counsel of Perkunas, she betroths 
her daughter to Morning Star, though first she gives the 
maiden to the moon, who takes the young girl to his home, i.e. 
at twilight the moon is the first to become visible, thus pre- 
ceding the morning star, which bears away the dawn.^ 

She strikes the moon with a silver stone; in other words, 
her rising orb obliterates the moon, this being the cause of 
three days' battle with "God." ^^ She dwells on a mountain 
(the vault of heaven), and standing in mid-sky, she reproves 
her daughters because one had not swept the floor, while the 
other had failed to wash the table.^^ 

She, "God's daughter" {Devo dukryte), watches over all 
things, as is set forth in a charming little daind.^^ 

"O thou Sun, daughter of God, 
Where delayest thou so long, 
Where sojoumest thou so long. 
Since thou hast from us withdrawn? 

O'er the sea, beyond the hills. 
Wheat there is that I must watch, 
Shepherds, too, that I must guard; 
Many are my gifts in sooth. 

O thou Sun, daughter of God, 
Tending thee at morn and eve, 
Who doth make for thee thy fire, 
Who prepares thy couch for thee? 



Morning Star and Evening Star: 
Morning Star doth make my fire. 
Evening Star prepares my couch; 
Many are my kin in sooth." 



In comparison with the sun the moon is a very minor figure,^^ 
and his chief importance is his connexion with the sun. When 
his spouse reproaches him for his pale colour, he replies that 



BALTIC MYTHOLOGY 325 

while she shines for man by day, he can only look at himself by 
night in the water.^^ He wears a mantle of stars ^^ and, like the 
sun, is liable to be destroyed (i.e. eclipsed) by dragons, ser- 
pents, and witches.^" 

The sun, as we have seen, has daughters, and "God" (i.e. 
Perkunas, the deity of thunder and storm, yet — at least in 
germ — the sky-god) has sons. Though the latter are some- 
times given as nine or five in number,^^ only two have any real 
individuality, and they are "God's sons" {D'evo sunelei) par 
excellence, just as the sun has only one daughter or two daugh- 
ters {Sdules duktele),^'^ according as the twilights of evening and 
morning are considered as separate phenomena or as the same 
phenomenon in twofold manifestation.^^ The "sons of God" 
are the morning and the evening star (sometimes combined as 
the planet Venus), the former being by far the more impor- 
tant;^"* the "Sun's daughters" are the morning and the evening 
twilight; and their close association is a common theme in the 
ddinos. They are the Baltic counterparts of the Vedic Asvins 
and Usas, or of the Greek Dioskouroi and Helen.^^ 

We may begin our study of these figures with a daind which 
has at least a partial resemblance to the familiar "Jack and 
the Beanstalk" cycle.^^ 

"O Zemina, flower-giver, 
Where shall I now plant the roses? 
'On the lofty mountain-summit, 
By the ocean, by the sea-side.' 

Zemina, flower-giver, 

Where shall I find father, mother, 
I, deserted and a pauper? 
* Haste thee to the lofty mountain, 
By the ocean, by the sea-side.' 

Forth then from the rose-trunk springing, 

Grew a mighty tree and lofty 

Till its branches reached the heavens; 

1 will climb up to the heavens 
On the branches of the roses. 



326 BALTIC M\THOLOGY 

There I found a youthful hero 
Who was riding on God's charger. 
'O fair youth, O valiant horseman, 
Hast thou not seen father, mother?' 

'O my maiden, O my youngling, 
Seek the region of the valley; 
There thy father, there thy mother 
Plan the marriage of thy sister.' 

So I hasted to the valley; 
'Father, good day and good morning; 
Mother, good day and good morning; 
Why did ye leave me, an infant, 
To the mercy of the stranger ? 

'Grown to be a sturdy maiden, 
I alone have found the cradle 
Where in childhood I was happy.'" 

Here sun and moon have departed from their daughter, the 
morning twilight. Yet, though so heartlessly abandoned, she 
seeks them, climbing the sun-tree. There she finds "a youth- 
ful hero, mounted on God's charger," who is plainly the evening 
star; and he tells her that she will find her parents "in the val- 
ley," i.e. at the place of sunset in the darkening west.^'^ The 
sun also seems to have had a night-tree, in addition to the 
rose-tree of day.^^ 

The "youthful hero" introduces us to a veritable love-myth 
of "God's sons" with the "daughters of the sun." We have 
already had ^^ some fugitive allusions to the wooing and we may 
now trace the story in more detail. Seeking to win the " daugh- 
ter of the sun," "God's son" makes for her an island in the midst 
of the sea (i. e. either the first dark shadows of evening or the 
first bits of light at dawn);^° or the two sons kindle two lights 
in the sea, awaiting her, and in the centre of the ocean they 
build a bridal chamber, which she enters tremblingly; and she is 
urged to awake early, for "God's sons" are coming to roll 
apples.®^ When "God's son" rides a grey steed in his wooing, 
he is the evening star, since greyness covers the sky at even- 
ing; but when from the golden bushes he watches the sun's 



BALTIC MYTHOLOGY 327 

daughter as she bathes, he is the morning star, gazing on the 
beauty of the rising dawn.^^ When all the other stars are visible, 
the morning star is absent, for he has gone to woo the daughter 
of the sun; she hastens toward him; and they are wedded in 
Germany beyond the sea.®^ Of course lovers occasionally quar- 
rel, and so the daughter of the sun breaks the sword of "God's 
son" (dawn surpasses the brightness of the morning star); and, 
in their turn, "God's sons" deprive her of her ring (the solar 
disk) at evening, though, as we shall see, they presently fish it 
from the sea (at dawn) when it falls from her finger at evening.^^ 
But "lovers' quarrels are love's renewal," and since evening 
star and evening twilight, morning star and morning dawn, 
are inseparably associated, "God's sons" dance in the moon- 
light beneath an oak by the spring with "God's daughters," 
as the following daind tells. ^^ 

"'Neath a maple lies a fountain 
Whither God's sons hast'ning 
Go to dance with God's own daughters 
While the moon shines o'er them. 

In the fountain by the maple 

I my face was laving; 
While my white face I was bathing, 

Lo, my ring I washed off. 

Will the sons of God come hither 

With their nets all silken.'' 
Will they fish my ring so tiny 

From the depths of water .^ 

Then there came a hero youthful, 

His brown charger riding; 
Brown the colour of the charger, 

And his shoes were golden. 

* Hither come, O maiden, 

Hither come, O youngling! 
With fair words let us be speaking. 
With fair counsel let us counsel 

Where the stream is deepest, 

And where love is sweetest.' 
Ill— 22 



328 BALTIC MYTHOLOGY 

'Nay, I cannot, hero, 

Nay, I cannot, youngling. 
For my mother dear will chide me, 
Yea, the aged dame will chide me 

If I tarry longer.' 

'Speak thus to her, maiden, 
Speak thus to her, youngling: 
"Thither came two swans a-flying 
And the water's depth they troubled; 
Till it cleared I waited."' 

"T is not true, my daughter, 

For beneath the maple 
With a young man thou wast talking 
With a youth thou wast exchanging 

Words of love's sweet language.'" 

Life is not all love, unfortunately, and both "God's sons" and 
the daughters of the sun have their tasks to perform. Some of 
these we already know.^^ In Germany the morning star must 
prepare a coat of samite (i.e. the rich hues of dawn); "God's 
sons " must band the broken solar orb after the summer solstice; 
they must heat the bath (of dawn) ; as the workmen of Sun and 
Moon, or as the servants of Perkunas, they are reproved for 
not mowing the meadows, etc. (i.e. preparing for the dawn); 
but after uprooting the birch-forest (i.e. dissipating the last 
traces of day) they go to Germany to play games. ^^ As for the 
sun's daughter, the golden cock crows on the edge of the 
"Great Water" (Daugawa) ^^ to rouse her that she may spin 
the silver thread, i.e. the rays of the rising sun.^^ Her chief 
task, however, is to wash her golden jug (the solar disk) at 
evening. This she loses, and she herself is drowned ;^° or else 
she falls into a golden boat, which remains behind her on the 
waves, or "God's sons" row the boat which rescues her as she 
wades in the sea, so that she can reappear at dawn."^ Occasion- 
ally, however, "God's son" stands passively on the mountain 
while she sinks; or, instead of wedding her, he merely escorts 
her to Germany.^2 Behind this mountain stands an oak (the 
tree, no doubt, beneath which the lovers dance), and on this 



BALTIC MYTHOLOGY 329 

"God's son" hangs his girdle, and the sun's daughter her 
crown. '^^ When, in other ddinos, the solar jug is broken by "little 
John," this obviously refers to the waning strength of the sun's 
rays after Midsummer Night's Eve (St. John's Eve, June 23).^^ 

When the sun is drowned in the sea,^^ her daughter is natu- 
rally regarded as an orphan; and thus we are enabled to under- 
stand a daind that tells how "God" makes a golden hedge 
(the sunset) to which his sons (strictly speaking, here only the 
evening star) come riding on sweating horses. Here they find 
an orphan girl (twilight) whom they make its guardian, charg- 
ing her not to break off the golden boughs (the rays of the set- 
ting sun); but she disobeys and flees to the valley of "Mary's" 
bath-chamber (the darkness of night). Thither "God" and his 
sons come, but refuse forgiveness for her transgression of their 
commands. "Mary" is perhaps, as we have suggested in an- 
other connexion, ^^ a Christianized substitute for the planet 
Venus as the evening star. 

In the story of the daughters of the sun we have found fre- 
quent mention of a sea, and the sun herself sails, as we know,'^ 
across a silver sea. This sea, like the brooks and springs which 
have also occurred, ^^ is none other than the celestial ocean, 
rivers, etc., which are so prominent a feature of Indo-Iranian 
mythology; ^^ and the "Great Water" (Daugawa), though now 
identified by the Letts with the river Dvina, is to be interpreted 
in similar fashion.^" This Daugawa flows black at evening be- 
cause it is full of the souls of the departed, and at midnight a 
star descends to "the house of souls." ^^ Very appropriately, 
therefore, the sun's daughter has the key to the realm of the 
dead; and at evening "Mother Earth" (Semmes Mate), from 
whom one asks whatever may be lost or hidden, ^^ is besought 
to give this key.^^ In the afternoon "God's children" shut the 
door of heaven, so that one should be buried in the morning; 
and, accordingly, the sun's daughter is entreated to give a key 
that an only brother's grave may be unlocked. ^^ 

We have a few ddinos in honour of a deity Usching, whom 



330 BALTIC MYTHOLOGY 

a Jesuit mission report of 1606 declares to have been a horse- 
god worshipped in the vicinity of Ludzen and Rossitten, in the 
extreme south-east of Lithuania. ^^ These are not, however, of 
mythological value, and the only Baltic figure remaining for 
our consideration here is that of the celestial smith. This smith 
has his forge in the sky, on the edge either of the sea or of the 
Daugawa; and there he makes spurs and a girdle for "God's 
son," and a crown and ring for the sun's daughter ^® — in other 
words, from his smithy come the rays of the rising sun and the 
solar disk itself. Mannhardt regards this smith as the glow of 
dawn or of sunset, and compares him to the Finno-Ugric II- 
marinen, the Teutonic Wieland, and the Greek Hephaistos.^^ 
A still closer analogue, however, is the Vedic Tvastr, who 
wrought the cup which contains the nectar of the gods;^^ and 
it is even possible that he is ultimately the same as the Slavic 
deity Svarog.^^ His name is given as Telyaveli or Telyavelik 
in the Russian redaction (dating from 1261) of the Byzantine 
historian John Malalas, which says that he "forged for him 
(Perkunas) the sun as it shines on earth, and set the sun in 
heaven." ^° 

Such are the pitifully scanty remnants of what must once 
have been a great mythology. Yet, fragmentary though they 
are, they possess a distinctive value. They help to explain the 
migrations of important divisions of our own Indo-European 
race — a problem into which we cannot enter here; they cast 
light upon, and are themselves illuminated by, the mythologies 
of far-off India and Iran; they reveal the wealth of poetic imag- 
ery and fantasy inherent in the more primitive strata of our 
race; they show how baseless is the charge of gross materialism, 
selfishness, and fear to which so many shallow and prejudiced 
thinkers would fain trace the origin of religious thought. We 
may lament the paucity of the extant Baltic myths; yet let us 
not forget to be grateful and thankful that even a few have 
survived. 



NOTES 



CELTIC 

Introduction 

Citation by author's name or by title of a text or a volume of a series refers to the 
same in the various sections of the Bibliography. Where an author has written 
several works they are distinguished as [a], [b], etc. 

1. Caesar, De bello Gallico, vi. 14. 

2. See especially OIL, CIR. 

3. 3 vols., Leipzig, 1896 ff. 

4. See infra, pp. 157-58. 

5. The exact meaning of simulacra in this passage Is a little un- 
certain. Possibly they were boundary stones, like the Classical herms 
(cf. Mythology of All Races, Boston, 1916, i. 194-95); but they were 
probably "symbols" rather than "images" (see MacCuUoch [b], 
pp. 284-85), and may have been standing-stones (see infra, 
pp. 158-59). 

6. De bello Gallico, vi. 17. 

7. ib. vi. 18. 

8. MacCulloch [b], pp. 29 ff. 

9. Argonautica, iv. 609 f. 

10. Diodorus Siculus (first century b. c), ii. 47. 

11. Herakles, i ff. 

12. Solinus, xxii. lo. 

13. Giraldus Cambrensis, Topographia Hiberniae, ii. 34 ff. 

14. Pharsalia, iii. 399 ff. 

15. De bello Gallico, vi. 17. 

16. Livy, V. xxxix. 3. 

17. Pausanias, X. xxiii. 7. 

18. Avienus (fourth century a. d.), Ora maritima, 644 ff. 

19. zap i. 27 (1899). 

20. ib. 

21. Justin (probably third century a. d.), XXIV. iv. 3. 

22. Diodorus Siculus, V. xxiv. i. 

23. See infra, p. 117. 

24. Diodorus Siculus, iv. 19. 

25. Propertius, V. x. 41. 

26. Pliny, Historia naturalis, xxix. 3. 

27. Lucan, Pharsalia, i. 455 ff.; Diodorus Siculus, v. 28. 



334 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

28. a. Mythology of All Races, Boston, 1916, i. 6-8. 

29. Plutarch, De defectu oraculorum, 18, De facie lunae, 26. 

30. See infra, pp. 54, 90, 95-96, 119-20, 122, 127, 132, 192. 

31. Procopius, ed. W. Dindorf, Bonn, 1833, ii. 566 f. 

32. Cf. Mythology of J II Races, Boston, 1916, i. 145-46. 

33. Claudian, In Rufinum, i. 123. 

34. Villemarque [a], i. 136; Le Braz [a], i. p. xxxix. 

35. Pliny, Historia naturalis, iv. 13; Strabo, ii. 4 (= p. 104, ed. 
Casaubon). 

36. Historia naturalis, Ii. 98. 

37. So called from the Greek Euhemerus (fourth century b. c), 
who, in a philosophical romance, of which only scanty fragments 
have survived, showed how the gods had been actual men and their 
myths records of actual events (see E. Rohde, Der griechische Roman 
und seine Vorldufer, 2nd ed., Leipzig, 1900, pp. 236-41, and J. Geff- 
cken, "Euhemerism," in ERE v. 572-73). 

38. Cited as LL and LU . They have been edited at Dublin 
in 1880 and 1870 respectively, but neither has been completely 
translated. 

39. See Bibliography of Irish Philology and of Printed Irish Litera- 
ture, Dublin, 1913, pp. 80-122. 

40. See Wentz, passim. 

Chapter I 

1. Keating, i. 141 flf. {ITS). 

2. MS H 2, 18; text and translation in £riu, viii. i ff. (1915). 

3. Harleian MS. 5280, text and translation by W. Stokes, in 
RCelxn. 61 ff. (1891). 

4. ib. XV. 69 (1894). 

5. LL 169 a, 214 b. 

6. RCel XV. 439 (1894). 

7. Harleian MS. 5280, § 39 f. 

8. ib. §§ 25 f., 165. 

9. E. O'Curry, in Atlantis, iv. 159 (1863). 

10. Harleian MS. 5280, §§ ii, 33 f. 

11. ib. § 53 f. 

12. The "Land of Promise" Is a name for Elysium, perhaps bor- 
rowed by Christian editors from Biblical sources. 

13. E. O'Curry, in Atlantis, iv. 159 ff. (1863). 

14. Harleian MS. 5280, § 74 f. 
15- ib. §84f. 

16. ib. § 88 f. 

17. ib. §§ 96, 122; see also infra, pp. 51, 120. 



NOTES 335 

i8. See Mythology of All Races, Boston, 1917, vi. 50. 

19. Harleian MS. 5280, §§ 100, 122, LL 11 a, W. Stokes, in RCel 
XV. 541 (1894). 

20. Harleian MS. 5280, §§ 102, 122, S, H. O'Grady, ii. 219. 

21. Harleian MS. 5280, § 123, W. Stokes, in RCel xvi. 59 (1895). 

22. Harleian MS. 5280, § 125 f. 

23. ib. § 129 f. 

24. MacNeiU, i. 135 (/rS). 

25. Harleian MS. 5280, §§ 137, 149 f. 

26. Book of Fermoy, 24 b. 

27. Harleian MS. 5280, § 162 f. 

28. Loth, Mabinogion, i. 306. 

29. Harleian MS. 5280, § 166 f. 

30. W. Stokes, in RCel xv. 311 f. (1894). 

31. LL 9 b. 

32. There is some connexion between Manannan and Eogan, for 
Fand says that she dwelt in Eogan's bower. 

33. Cf. supra, pp. 14-15, on Plutarch's myth of Elysium. 

34. LL 275 b; d'Arbois, Cours, ii. 356 ff. 

35. W. Stokes, in RCel xvi. 273 (1895). 

36. D'Arbois, Cours, ii. 145. 

37. W. Stokes, in RCel xii. 129 (1891). 

38. L. C. Stern, in Festschrift Whitley Stokes . . . gezuidmet, 
Leipzig, 1900, p. 17. 

39. Text and translation by E. O'Curry, in Atlantis, iv. 159 ff. 
(1863). 

40. Harleian MS. 5280, § 3 f. 

Chapter H 

1. Annals of Tigernach, ed. and tr. W. Stokes, in RCel xvi. 394, 
404 ff. (1895). 

2. TOS V. 234 (i860). 

3. Dindsenchas, ed. and tr. W. Stokes, in RCel xv. 446 (1894). 

4. LLgfi.; Keating, ii. 79 ff. (ITS). 

5. S. H. O'Grady, ii. 260. 

6. ib. ii. 171. 

7. See MacNeill, i. introd., pp. xxv, xxxviii f. (ITS), and his 
articles in New Ireland Review, xxv-xxvi (1906). 

8. LL 245 b. 

9. W. Stokes, in RCel xvi. 35 (1895). 

10. LL 7 a. 

11. D. Fitzgerald, in RCel iv. 187 ff. (1879); cf. S. H. O'Grady, in 
TOSm. 114 (185s). 



336 CELTIC IvmrHOLOGY 



Chapter III 

1. E. Windisch, in IT i. 14; Stokes, Tripartite Life of Saint 
Patrick, p. 314. 

2. Ed. and tr. W. M. Hennessy, in RU.TLS i. 3 (1889). 

3. O'Curry [a], i. 505. 

4. LL 246. 

5. Book of Fermoy, iii f.; E. O'Curry, in Atlantis, iii. 385 (1862); 
RIA:IMS i. 45 f. (1870). 

6. Text and translation by E. O'Curry, in Atlantis, iv. 113 fF. 
(1863). 

7. L. C. Stem, in ZCP v. 523 (1905); Stirn, in RCel xxvii. 332, 
xxviii. 330 (1906-07). 

8. A. Nutt, in RCel xxvii. 328 (1906). 

9. LL 209 b; text and translation by L. Gwynn, in Eriu, vii. 210 f. 
(1914). 

10. See Mythology of All Races, Boston, 1916, i. 5-8. 

11. MacCulloch [b], p. 81. 

Chapter IV 

1. Caesar, De bello Gallico, vi. 14. 

2. S. H. O'Grady, ii. 203. 

3. E. O'Curry, in Atlantis, iii. 387 f. (1862). 

4. S. H. O'Grady, ii. 243. 

5. S. H. O'Grady, in TOS iii. 113 f. (1855); see infra, pp. 171-72. 

6. For other instances see infra, pp. 59, 62-63, 80, 154, 184-85. 

7. Skene [a], i. 532; J. G. Evans, Llyvyr Taliesin, p. 26. 

8. Guest, iii. 356 ff. 

9. E. Windisch, in IT III. i. 235 f. 

10. W. Stokes, in RCel xv. 444 (1894). 

11. Larminie, p. 82. 

12. Book of Fermoy, 131 a; Nutt [c], i. 64 ff. 

13. MacNeiU, i. 119 {ITS). 

14. W. Stokes, in RCel xv. 307 (1894). 

15. W. Stokes, ib. xvi. 65 (1895). 

16. ib. p. 69. 

17. W. Stokes, ib. ii. 200 (1874). 

18. S. H. O'Grady, ii. 311 ff. 



NOTES 337 



Chapter V 

1. LU 133 <2, Harleian MS. 2, 16; text and translation in Nutt 
[c], i. 42 ff. 

2. Book of Fermoy, 85 a; Nutt [c], i. 58 ff. 

3. Nutt [c], ii. 24 f. 

4. See infra, pp. 73-74. 

5. Windisch, Tain, pp. 342, 366. 

6. N. O'Kearney, in TOS ii. 80 (1855). 

7. Windisch, Tim, p. 550. 

8. E. Windisch, in IT iii. 2. 

9. S. H. O'Grady, in TOS iii. 87 ff. (1855). 

10. "The Gilla Backer," in S. H. O'Grady, ii. 300. 

11. "Diarmaid and Grainne," in TOS iii. 69 ff. (1855). 

12. ib. p. 179. 

13. LU 63 b; W. Stokes, in RCel xvi. 139 (1895); J. F. Campbell 
[c], p. xxxix. 

14. W. Stokes, in RCel xvi. 62 (1895). 



Chapter VI 

1. Text and translation by K. Meyer, in RCel x. 212 ff. (1889); 
cf. W. Stokes, ib. xv. 465 (1894). 

2. E. Windisch, in IT II. ii. 241 f. 

3. For the meaning of this phrase see MacCuUoch [b], p. 67, 
note I. 

4. LU J^ a, yj a; Windisch, Tain, pp. 306, 312 f. 

5. LL 119 a; text and translation by W. Stokes, in RCel iii. 175 

(1877). 

6. Loth, Mabinogion, i. 302. 

7. See infra, p. 165. 

8. Text and translation by R. I. Best, in Eriu, iii. 149 f. (1907). 

9. See infra, p. 89. 

10. W. Stokes, in RCel xvi. 42 (1895). 

11. J. O'B. Crowe, in JRHAAI IV. i. 94 ff. (1871); W. Stokes, in. 
RCel XV. 482 (1894), xvi. 152 (1895); see also i7ifra, p. 121. 

12. W. Stokes, in RCel xiii. 426!. (1892). 

13. D'Arbois, Cours, v. 370; W. Stokes, in RCel xvi. 45 (1895). 

14. See infra, pp. 156, 179. 

15. See infra, pp. 80-82, 

16. Book of Bally mote, 139 b. 

17. See supra, p. 70. 



338 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

i8. Text and translation by \V. Stokes, in RCel xxii. 9 fT. (1901); 
for the relation of the different accounts of Conaire to each other, 
see M. Nettlau, ib. xii. 229 if. (1891). 



Chapter VII 

1. Leahhar Breac, Dublin, 1872-76, p. 242; O'Curry [a], pp. 
426, 632. 

2. Text and translation from Egerton Manuscript 1782 (British 
Museum) by E. Miiller, in RCel iii. 342 f. (1877). 

3. O'Curry, loc. cit. 

4. LU 129 b. 

5. W. Stokes, in RCel xv. 463 (1894). 

6. W. Stokes, ib. p. 291 ; E. Gwynn, in RIJ.TLS vii. 3, 70 (1900). 
For the text and translation of the story of Etain see Leahy, i. iff.; 
L. C. Stern, in ZCP v. 524 (1905); E. Miiller, in RCel iii. 350 (1877); 
A. Nutt, ib. xxvii. 334 (1906). 

7. Code of Manu, ix. 8 (tr. G. Biihler, in Sacred Books of the 
East, XXV, 329 [1886]); J. A. MacCulloch, "First-Bom (Introductory 
and Primitive)," in ERE vi. 34. 

8. LU 60 a. 

9. Text and translation by L. Duvau, in RCel ix. i ff. (1888); 
d'Arbois, Cours, v. 22; E. Windisch, in 77 i. 134 ff. 

10. LU 120 a, text also in Windisch, Kurzgefasste irische Gram- 
matik, p. 120, translation by d'Arbois, Cours, v. 385, where the gods' 
land is wrongly regarded as the realm of the dead (see MacCulloch 
[b], p. 374). 

11. W. Stokes, in IT iii. 335. 

12. Lais de Marie de France, ed. K. Wamke, pp. 86-112. 

13. LU 25 h; text and translation by W. Stokes, in RCel x. 63 f. 
(1889); see also d'Arbois, Cours, v. 485. 

14. See supra, p. 36. 

15. Z,f/ 43 f.; E. Windisch, in IT 1. 205 f.; text and translations 
in Leahy, i. 51 f., E. O'Curry, in Atlantis, i. 362 f., ii. 98 f. (1858- 
59); cf. d'Arbois, Cours, v. 170 f. 

16. S. H. O'Grady, ii. 196. 

17. Text and translations of the versions by W. Stokes, in RCel 
xvi. 151 (1895) and FL iii. 510 (1892). 

18. W. Stokes, in RCel xv. 437-38 (1894). 

19. For instances see M. Jastrow, Religion of Babylonia and As- 
syria, Boston, 1898, p. 550; Homeric Hymn to Demeter, 399; G. Mas- 
pero, Etudes de mythologie egyptienne, ii. 226, Paris, 1893; J. Muir, 
Original Sanskrit Texts, London, 1858-72, v. 320; G. Brown, Melane- 
sians and Polynesians, London, 1910, p. 194; C. G. Seligmann, Mel- 



NOTES ' 339 

anesians of British New Guinea, Cambridge, 1910, pp. 656, 734; 
L. Spence, in ERE iii. 561 (Chinook) ; cf. J. A. MacCulloch, ib. iv. 
653, V. 682 (1911-12); see also E. Westermarcic, Origin and De- 
velopment of the Moral Ideas, London, 1906-08. 

20. W. Stokes, in RCel xvi. 148 (1895). 

21. LU s^ b;V^. Stokes, in RCel xv. 332, xvi. 73 (1894-95); d'Ar- 
bois, Cours, ii. 364. 

22. See pp. 37, 181. 

23. S. H. O'Grady, ii. 204, 213, 220. 

24. W. Stokes, in RCel xv. 312 (1894). 

25. W. Stokes, ib. p. 441. 

26. W. Stokes, in RCel xvi. 78 (1895). 

Chapter VIII 

1. Holder, s. v.; W. Stokes, in RCel xv. 279 (1894). 

2. Loth, Mabinogion, i. 81 f.; Guest, iii. 7. 

3. E. Anwyl, in ZCP i. 288 (1899). 

4. Skene [a], i. 264; J. G. Evans in his Llyvyr Taliesin trans- 
lates the lines which Rhys and Skene agree as referring to an 
imprisonment of Gweir by Pwyll and Pryderi in Caer Sidi as 
follows — 

" Complete was his victory at Whirlpool's Fort [Caer Sidi], 
By reason of extraordinary thought and care." 
Skene's rendering is — 

"Complete was the prison of Gweir in Caer Sidi, 
Through the spite of Pwyll and Pryderi." 
Rhys renders "spite" as "messenger." The text is Bu gweir gyvrang 
yng Haer sidi, drwy oi chestol bwyll a phryderi. Evans does not re- 
gard Gweir, Pwyll, and Pryderi in the text as proper names. 

5. Loth, Mabinogion, i. 301. 

6. ib. i. 173 f.; Guest, iii. 189 f. 

7. Loth, Mabinogion, i. 195. 

8. Rhys [a], p. 276. 

9. Cf. Mythology of All Races, Boston, 1916, i. zj'^-jS. 

10. Rhys [c], p. 157; J. G. Evans, Llyvyr Taliesin, p. 63. 

11. Skene [a], i. 543, ii. 145. 

12. ib. i. 282, 288; Rhys [a], p. 387. 

13. Loth, Mabinogion, i. 301. 

14. Skene [a], i. 286-87. 

15. Loth, Mabi7iogion, i. 300. 

16. Skene [a], i. 275, 278; Myrvyrian Archaiology, i. 167. 

17. Guest, iii. 255. 

18. Loth, Mabinogion, i. 119, 151 f.; Guest, iii. 81, 143 f. 



340 CELTIC AHTHOLOGY 

19. FLR V. I f. (1878). 

20. Loth, Mabmogion, i. 331; Geoffrey of Monmouth, Historia 
Britanniae, ii. 1 1. 

21. Loth, Mabinogion, i. 327. 

22. Bathurst, p. 127. 

23. E. Anwyl, in ZCP ii. 127 (1899). 

24. Nutt [c], ii. 17. 

25. Skene [a], ii. 51; J. G. Evans, Llyvyr Taliesin, p. 54. 

26. See supra, p. 51. 

27. Loth, Mabinogion, i. 307. 

28. Elton, p. 291. 

29. Skene [a], i. 302. 

30. MacCulloch [b], p. 242. 

31. Rhys [a], p. 94 f., [c], ch. ii; cf. MacCulloch [b], p. 33. For 
Yama see Mythology of All Races, Boston, 1917, vi. 68-70, 159-60. 

32. Skene [a], i. 298. 

33. Geoffrey of Monmouth, Historia Britanniae, iii. i f. 

34. Loth, Mabinogion, i. 119, 360. 

35. Geoffrey of Monmouth, Historia Britanniae, iv. i f. 

36. Skene [a], i. 431. 

37. Rhys [a], p. 90, et passim. 

38. Geoffrey of Monmouth, Historia Britanniae, iii. 20. 

39. Loth, Mabinogion, i. 131 f. 

40. See supra, pp. 24-25. 

41. Loth, Mabinogion, i. 233. 

42. Rhys [a], p. 609. 

43. Itinerarium Cambriae, i. 8. 

44. See infra, p. 194. 

45. Skene [a], i. 293. 

46. Loth, Mabinogion, i. 284, 315, 331. 

47. Train, ii. 118. 

48. See supra, p. 57. 

49. E. Anwyl, in ZCP i. 293 (1899). 

50. See supra, p. 57. 

51. Guest, iii. 356 f. 

52. Skene [a], i. 260, 274 f., 278, 281 f., 286 f.; J. G. Evans, Llyvyr 
Taliesin, pp. 10 ff., 27 ff. 

53. See supra, p. 104; J. G. Evans, op. cit. p. 64 f. 

54. See infra, p. 166. 

55. Skene [a], i. 265; J. G. Evans, op. cit. p. 127. 

56. MacCulloch [b], p. 118. 

57. Cf. Mythology of All Races, Boston, 1916, x. 5-7. 

58. See supra, p. 100. 

59. Skene [a], i. 275. 



NOTES 341 

60. Skene [a], i. 260, 498, 500, il. 5, 234; W. O. Pughe, Dictionary 
of Welsh, London, 1803, s. v. 

61. N. Thomas, in RHR xxxviii. 339 (1898). 

62. J. Rhys, "Welsh Fairy Tales," in Y Cymmrodor, iv. 163 ff. 
(1881); cf. also Rhys [d], passim. 

63. S. H. O'Grady, ii. 94 f. 



Chapter IX 

1. Text and translation in Nutt [c], i. 2 f. 

2. S. H. O'Grady, ii. 198 f.; see also supra, p. 89. 

3. S. H. O'Grady, ii. 238. 

4. Strabo, iv. 6 (= p. 198, ed. Casaubon); Mela, lii. 6; see Mac- 
Culloch [b], p. 385 f. 

5. E. Windisch, in IT iii. 183 f.; S. H. O'Grady, in TOS iii. 213 f. 

(1857). 

6. E. O'Curry, in Atlantis, iii. 387 (1862). 

7. Nutt [c], i. 52 f. 

8. ib. i. 56 f. 

9. LL 246 a. 

10. Holder, s. v. "Braciaca." 

11. Cf. Mythology of All Races, Boston, 1 91 6-1 7, x. 46-48, i. 
218 ff. 

12. See pp. 95-96, 151, 192. 

13. Z)<j Derga's Hostel, ed. W. Stokes, in RCel xxii. 14 (1901). 

14. W. Stokes, in RCel xv. 546 (1894); O'Curry [b], ii. 142 f. 

15. W. Stokes, in FL iii. 506 (1892). 

16. W. Stokes, in RCel xv. 315 (1894); S. H. O'Grady, ii. 519; LL 
209 b. 

17. S. H. O'Grady, ii. 390. 

18. ib. ii. 253. 

19. See supra, p. 29. 

20. O'Curry [a], pp. 388, 621. 

21. Skene [a], i. 285. 

22. See infra, pp. 194-95. 

23. MacDougall, p. 261. 

24. Hyde [c], p. 440. 

25. Cf. Mythology of All Races, Boston, 1916, i. 147-48. 

26. Nutt [c], i. 276, 289. 

27. MacCulloch [b], p. 373. 



342 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 



Chapter X 

1. Holder, s. v.; cf. also MacCulloch [b], ch. xiv. 

2. E. Windisch, in IT i. 96 f.; W. Stokes, in RCel xvi. 63 (1895). 

3. See infra, pp. 187-88. 

4. See infra, p. 177. 

5. K. Meyer, in RIA:TLS xvi. 65 (1910). 

6. W. Stokes, in RCel xv. 426, 474 (1894). 

7. W. Stokes, ib. xiii. 449 (1892), xv. 470 (1894). 

8. J. O'Daly, in TOS vi. 133 (1861). 

9. J. F. Campbell [b], i. 53. 

10. W. Stokes, in RCel xv. 421, 471, 473 (1894). 

11. S. H. O'Grady, ii. 574. 

12. LL 6g a; LU 64. b; Windisch, Tain, pp. 184, 188. 

13. O'Curry [a], p. 388. 

14. Leahy, ii. 105; W. Stokes, in IT iii. 295. 

15. Rhys [d], passim. 

16. J. O'Daly, in TOS vi. 223 (1861). 

17. W. Stokes, in RCel xii. 104 (1891); S. H, O'Grady, ii. 199; E. 
O'Curry, in Atlantis, iv. 163 (1863). 

18. S. H. O'Grady, ii. 292 f. 

19. Fled Bricrend, ed. G. Henderson, London, 1899, p. 38 {ITS). 

20. W. Stokes, in RCel xii. 347 (1891). 

21. Loth, Mabinogion, i. 303; Guest, ii. 269 f. 

22. S. H. O'Grady, ii. 123, 

23. See Plates VHI, XH, XVI, XXV. 

24. See supra, pp. 24-25, 47, 107-08. 

25. Text and translation by A. O. Anderson, in RCel xxiv. 126 ff. 
(1903); Leahy, ii. 3 ff.; G. Henderson, in J. F. Campbell [c], p. i ff.; 
J. O'B. Crowe, in RIA:IMS i. 134 ff. (1870). 

26. Dean of Lismore^s Book, ed. and tr. T. McLauchlan, Edin- 
burgh, 1862, p. 54 f.; G. Henderson, in J. F. Campbell [c], p. 18 f. 

27. See supra, pp. 54-55, 66. 

28. Cf. Mythology of All Races, Boston, 1916, i. 87-88. 

29. See supra, p. 11. 

30. N. O'Keamey, in TOS ii. 51, 69 (1855); for parallel instances 
of the "swallow" motif among the North American Indians see 
Mythology of All Races, Boston, 1916, x. 69, 79, 139. 

31. LU 113; J. O'B. Crowe, in JRHAAI IV. i. 371 f. (1870). 

32. W. Stokes, in RCel xv. 304 (1894); S. H. O'Grady, ii. 523. 

33. S. H. O'Grady, in TOS iii. 125 (1855). 

34. W. Stokes, in RCel xvi. 32 (1895). 



NOTES 343 

35. W. Stokes, ib. xv. 326 (1894). 

36. W. Stokes, ib. xvi. 72 (1895). 

37. W. Stokes, ib. p. 77. 

38. W. Stokes, ib. xv. 295 (1894). 

39. W. Stokes, ib. p. 434. 

40. W. Stokes, ib. i. 256 (1870). 

41. LL 82 b, 86 b; Windisch, Tain, pp. 477, 547 (cf. also pp. 338, 
366). 

42. Fled Bricrend, ed. G. Henderson, London, 1 899, p. 84 (ITS). 

43. N. O'Kearney, in TOS i. 107 (1853). 

44. Cf. supra, p. 34.. 

45. LL 76 a, 69 a; Windisch, Tain, pp. 338, 191. 



Chapter XI 

1. Sebillot [a]; cf. also the same scholar [b]. 

2. See supra, p. 73, and cf. p. 135. 

3. For these see the Rennes Dind'senchas, ed. and tr. W. Stokes, 
in RCel xv. 429 f., 483 (1894), xvi. 50, 65, 146, 153, 164 (1895). 

4. W. Stokes, ib. xv. 302 (1894). 

5. See MacCulloch [a], pp. 167 if. 

6. Windisch, Tain, pp. 869, 886. 

7. D'Arbois, Cours, v. 10. 

8. W. Stokes, in RCel xv. 460, 284, xvi. 44, xv. 279 (1894-95). 

9. LL 16 b. 

[O. See supra, pp. 42, 81. 
:i. W. Stokes, in RCel xii. 95 (1891). 
[2, W. Stokes, ib. p. 71. 

[3. O. Connellan, in TOS v. 96 (i860); S. O'Grady, i. 84. 
[4. W. Stokes, in RCel xv. 279 (1894). 
[5. See supra, p. 75. 
[6. W. Stokes, in RCel xvi 51 (1895). 
[7. See supra, pp. 54-55j 87, 131. 

[8. W. Stokes, in RCel xv. 421 (1894), xvi. 279 (1895). 
[9. D. Fitzgerald, ib. iv. 185 (1879). 
20. See supra, pp. 9-17. 



Chapter XII 

1. E. Windisch, in IT i. 210. 

2. D'Arbois, Cours, v. 14; K. Meyer, in RCel vi. 174 (1884). 

3. Coir Anmann, ed. W. Stokes, m IT iii. 393. 

4. See supra, pp. 64-65, 83. 
Ill— 23 



344 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

5. LL 58 a; W. Stokes, In IT iii. 282. 

6. E. Windisch, in IT \. 211. 

7. LU loi b; LL 123 b. 

8. Windisch, Taxn, pp. 345, 669. 

9. ib. p. 106 f. 

10. LU 59 b. 

11. Windisch, Tain, p. 118. 

12. For the meaning of this term cf. Mythology of All Races, 
Boston, 1916, X. 17 fT. 

13. Eriu, vii. 208 (1914). 

14. Cf. Fled Bricrend, ed. G. Henderson, London, 1899, p. 67 
{ITS); Caesar, De bello Gallico, vii. 47. 

15. Windisch, Tain, p. 130 f. 

16. In his conversation with Emer, Cuchulainn boasted of his 
greatness, trustworthiness, and wisdom, and said that, taught by 
Cathbad, he was "an adept in the arts of the god of Druidism." 

17. Cf. Mythology of All Races, Boston, 1916, i. 34-35. 

18. Two versions are here combined — "The Wooing of Emer" 
(Tochmarc Entire), ed. K. Meyer, in RCel xi. 442 f. (1890), and "The 
Training of Cuchulainn" {Foglaim Chonculaind), ed, W. Stokes, ib. 
xxix. 109 f. (1908). 

19. W. Stokes, ib. xvi. 46 (1895). 

20. See Mythology of All Races, Boston, 1917, vi. 332. 

21. See supra, pp. 124-25; E. Windisch, 'm. IT \. 96 f.; A. H. Leahy, 
i. 41. 

22. Athenaeus, Deipnosophistai, iv. 40. 

23. Poseidonius, in Athenaeus, Deipnosophistai, iv. 40. 

24. Fled Bricrend, ed. G. Henderson, London, 1899 {ITS); E. 
Windisch, in / 7" i. 235; d'Arbois, Cours, v. 81 f. 

25. See Mythology of All Races, Boston, 1917, xii. 41, 49. 

26. E. Windisch, in IT ii. 173; d'Arbois, Cours, v. 149 f. 

27. G. Keating, ii. 223 {ITS); O'Curry [b], iii. 81. 

28. J. O'B. Crowe, in JRIIAAI IV. i. 371 f. (1870); cf. supra, 
pp. 131-32. 

29. Keating, ii. 223 f. {ITS). 

30. W. Stokes, in RCel xv. 449 (1894); Keating, ii. 235 {ITS). 

31. R. Thumeysen, in ZCP ix. 189 f. (1913); J. Baudis, in Eriu, 
vii. 200 f. (1914); cf. MacCuIloch [a], ch. v. 

32. Skene [a], i. 25^; cf. Loth, Mabinogion, i. 261. 

33. R. I. Best, in Eriu, iii. 163 (1907)., 

34. O'Curry [b], ii. 97. 

35. See supra, p. 127. 

36. See supra, pp. 73-74. 

37. See supra, p. 71. 



NOTES 345 

38. See supra, pp. 64-65. 

39. See JM^ra, pp. 130-31. 

40. Text and translation of the version in LL by Windisch, Tain; 
text of the version in LU and Book of Lecan, ed. J. Strachan and 
J. G. O'Keeffe, in Eriu, i. (1904), translation by L. Winifred Faraday, 
The Cattle Raid of Cualnge, London, 1904. See also Hull [c]. For 
references in the Dindsenchas see W. Stokes, in RCel xv. 464, xvi. 
156 (1894-95). 

41. See supra, pp. 31, 100. 

42. Text and translation by W. Stokes, in RCel iii. 175 f. (1877); 
cf. d'Arbois, Cours, v. 330 f.; Hull [c], p. 253 f. 

43. O'Curry [a], p. 479. 

44. ib. 

45. W. Stokes, in RCel xv. 472 (1894); S. H. O'Grady, ii. 525. 

46. W. Stokes, in RCel viii. 49 f. (1887); O'Curry [a], p. 637; Hull 
[c], pp. 87, 267. 

47. Rhys [e], p. 316. 

48. D'Arbois [b], pp. 25, 65 f., RCel xx. 89 (1899). 

49. D'Arbois [b], p. 63, RCel xix. 246 (1898), xxviii. 41 (1907); cf. 
S. Reinach, in RCel xviii. 253 f. (1897). 

50. Caesar, De bello Gallico, vii. 65; d'Arbois [b], p. 49, and RCel 
xxvii. 324 (1906). 

51. Diodorus Siculus, iv. 56; for the Dioscuri see Mythology of All 
Races, Boston, 191 6, i. 26-27, 247, 301-02. 

52. D'Arbois [b], p. 57 f.; cf. supra, p. 129. 

53. See supra, pp. 28-29. 

54. Caesar, De bello Gallico, vi. 17; d'Arbois [b], p. 39 f., and RCel 
xxvii. 313 f. (1906); cf. S. Reinach, in RCel xi. 224 (1890). 

Chapter XHI 

1. N. O'Kearney, in TOS i. 32 f. (1853). 

2. Maclnness and Nutt, p. 407; MacNeill, i., p. xxvi (ITS). 

3. MacNeill, i., p. xxxii {ITS). 

4. LU 16 b; LL 4 b, 127 a; W. Stokes, in RCel xv. 300 (1894). 

5. Ed. and tr. D. Comyn, Dublin, 1902, and J. O'Donovan, in 
TOS iv. 281 ff. (1859). 

6. S. H. O'Grady, ii. 203. 

7. Comyn, p. 18 f. 

8. LU 41 b; W. M. Hennessy, in RCel ii. 86 f. (1873). 

9. See supra, p. 25. 

10. S. H. O'Grady, ii. 131, 225, 245. 

11. D'Arbois [b], p. 53; Holder, s. v. "Camulos"; K. Meyer, in 
RCel xxxii. 390 (1911). 



346 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

12. MacNeill, i. 33, 133 (ITS). 

13. Comyn, p. 23 f. 

14. MacNeill, i. 134 (ITS). 

15. S. H. O'Grady, ii. 142 f. 

16. LU 41 b. 

17. Comyn, p. 41 f.; cf. K. Meyer, in RCel v. 201 (1882); N. 
O'Kearaey, in TOS ii. 174 (1855). 

18. See supra, pp. 109-10. 

19. J. Grimm, Teutonic Mythology, London, 1879-89, p. 690; J. 
G. Frazer, in JR i. 172 f. (1888); M. R. Cox, Cinderella, London, 
1893; Miss Buckland, in JJI xxii. 29 (1893); W. H. Dall, Third 
Annual Report of the Bureau oj American Ethnology (1884). 

20. K. Meyer, in RCel xxv. 345 (1904). 

21. Comyn, p. 50. 

22. Curtin [a], p. 204. 

23.J. F.Campbell [b],i.33 f., [a], iii. 348 f.; J.G.Campbell [c],p. 16 f. 

24. S. H. O'Grady, ii. 172. 

25. N. O'Keamey, in TOS i. 13 (1853); S. H. O'Grady, ii. 221. 

26. J. F. Campbell [b], i. 198. 

27. S. H. O'Grady, ii. 163. 

28. W. Stokes, in RCel xv. 333 (1894). 

29. N. O'Kearney, in TOS ii. 167 f. (1855). 

30. K. Meyer, in RIA.TLS xvi. 22 f. (1910); cf. supra, p. 145. 

31. N. O'Keamey, in TOS ii. 161 (1855). 

32. Text and translation by W. Stokes, in RCel vii. 289 (1886); 
cf. MacNeill, i. 28, 127 (ITS). 

33. Joyce [a], p. 177. 

34. J. G. Campbell [c], p. 74. 

35. O'Curry [b], ii. 345; MacNeill, i. 207 (ITS). 

36. MacNeill, i. p. xxxvii (ITS). 

37. J. G. Campbell, in SCR i. 115, 241 (1881); J. F. Campbell 
[b], i. 68; J. G. Campbell [c], p. 131. 

38. J. G. Campbell, in SCR loc. cit.; A. MacBain, in CM ix. 130 
(1884). 

39. Aristotle, Nicom. Ethics, iii. 77, Eud. Ethics, IIL i. 25; Sto- 
baeus, Eclogae, vii. 40; iElian, Varia Historia, xii. 22. 

40. A. Kelleher and G. Schoepperle, in RCel xxxii. 184 f. (191 1). 

41. MacNeill, i. 30, 130 {ITS). 

42. ib. i. 38, 140; see supra, pp. 68-69. 

43. See supra, p. 128. 

44. S. H. O'Grady, ii. 292 f.; Joyce [a], p. 253 f. 

45. See supra, p. 102. 

46. S. H. O'Grady, ii. 222-31. 

47. ib. ii. 247 f. 



NOTES 347 

48. S. H. O'Grady, ii. 141, 146. 

49. ib. ii. 300; O. Connellan, in TOS v. 69 (i860). 

50. MacNeill, ii. 5, loi {ITS). 

51. S. H. O'Grady, ii. 331; W. Stokes, in RCel xvi. 147 (1895). 

52. MacNeill, i. 21, 118 {ITS)\ Comyn, p. 20. 

53. See supra., p. 29; MacNeill, ii. 34, 134 {ITS). 

54. Cath Finntrdga, ed. and tr. K. Meyer, Oxford, 1885, pp. 13, 32. 

55. J. F. Campbell [b], i. 65; MacDougall, p. 268. 

56. K. Meyer, in RU.TLS xvi. 51 (1910). 

57. ib. p. xxiii. 

58. J. H. Lloyd, O. J. Bergin, and G. Schoepperle, in RCel xxxiii. 
40 f. (1912). 

59. J. H. Lloyd, O. J. Bergin, and G. Schoepperle, ib. p. 160. 

60. ib. p. 157. 

61. According to Keating, the Tuatha De Danann, when in 
Greece, quickened dead Athenians by their lore, sending demons 
into them. 

62. Text and translation by S. H. O'Grady, in TOS iii (1857). 

63. MacNeill, i. 45, 149 {ITS). 

64. J. F. Campbell [a], iii. 49. 

65. W. Stokes, in RCel xv. 448 (1894). 

66. J. G. Campbell [c], p. 53 f. 

67. K. Meyer- in RCel xi. 131 (1890). 

68. MacNeill, i. 120, 121, 165, 200 {ITS);]. F. Campbell [b], i. 164. 

69. N. O'Kearney, in TOS i. 68 f. (1853); J. F. Campbell [b], i. 182. 

70. S. H. O'Grady, ii. 98. 

71. K. Meyer, in RU.TLS xvi. 69 (1910); cf. introd., p. xxv. 

72. S. H. O'Grady, ii. 167. 

73. J. F. Campbell [a], iv. 242, [b], i. 195; MacDougall, pp. 73, 283. 

74. Nutt [c], i. 51. 

75. S. H. O'Grady, ii. 1:02, 158-59. 

76. J. F. Campbell [b], i. 198. 

77. J. O'Daly, in TOS iv. 233 (1859). 

78. Curtin [a], p. 327 f. 

79. N. O'Kearney, in TOS i. 20 f. (1853); J. O'Daly, ib. iv. 243 f. 

(1859)- 

80. N. O'Kearney, ib. i. 131 f. (1853). 

81. S. H. O'Grady, ib. iii. 230 f. (1857). 

82. N. O'Kearney, ib. i. 93 (1853); S. H. O'Grady, ib. iii. 257, 
291 (1857); for other poems see the other volumes of this series, as 
well as K. Meyer, in RU.TLS xvi (1910); Dean of Lismore's Book, 
ed. and tr. T. McLauchlan, Edinburgh, 1862. 

83. D. Hyde, in RCel xiii. 417 f. (1892). 



348 CELTIC M^TTHOLOGY 



Chapter XIV 

1. Historia Britonum, § 50. 

2. De excidio Britanjiiae, § 26. 

3. Historia re gum Britaimiae, viii. 19 ff.) 

4. See supra, pp. 62-63. 

5. See supra, pp. 66-67. 

6. E. Anwyl, in ^'i?^ ii. i. 

7. Holder, j. w. "Artaios," "Artos"; Rhys [c], p. 39 f. 

8. Loth, Mabinogion, i. 243 f. 

9. See supra, p. 181, on the king of Tir na nOg. 

10. See supra, pp. 28-29. 

11. Loth, Mabinogion, i. 256. 

12. Maclnness and Nutt, p. 53. 

13. Skene [a], i. 261 f., ii. 458; Loth, Mabinogion, i. 310. 

14. Skene [a], i. 295. 

15. See supra, p. iii. 

16. Loth, Mabinogion, i. 328, 337. In Geoffrey (ix. 4) Prytvvenn 
is Arthur's shield. 

17. Skene [a], i. 265; J. G. Evans, Llyvyr Taliesin, p. 127. 

18. See supra, p. 151. 

19. Loth, Mabinogion, i. 307, 334. 

20. ib. i. 305; see also supra, pp. 112, 120. 

21. ib. i. 259, 269. 

22. ib. i. 278. 

23. ib. i. 260. 

24. Cf. supra, pp. 130-31, 154. 

25. Weston [f], ii. 205 f. 

26. Rhys [c], p. 335. 

27. See supra, pp. 180-81. 

28. Weston [f], ii. iii. 

29. Layamon, Brut, ed. F. Madden, ii. 144, 384. 

30. Otia Imperialia, ed. F. Liebrecht, p. 12. 

31. Stuart-Glennie [a]; Hartland [a], p. 207; Nutt [b], p. 198. 

32. Cf. E. Anwyl, in ERE ii. 5. 

33. Weston [f], i. 287. 

34. ib. i. 288 f., ii. 250, [e], p. 81 f.; Loth, Mabinogion, i. introd., 

P- 72. 

35. See Windisch, Tain, p. xxxix. 

36. Loth, Mabinogion, i. 288. 

37. Weston [a], p. 32 f. 

38. ib. ch. viii, [b], p. 46 f. 



NOTES 349 

39. F. Madden, Sir Gawayne, p. xxxll. 

40. Rhys [c], p. 21; Malory, Morte (T Arthur^ i. 19. 

41. Loth, Mabinogion, i. 274, 286. 

42. ib. i. 286 f., 318 f. 

43. lb. i. 330, 338. 

44. Rhys [c], p. 59. 

45. Historia regum Britanniae, ix. 1 1, x. 3. 

46. Loth, Mabinogion, i. 286. 

47. Historia regum Britanniae, x. 3, 9. 

48. Historia Britonum, § 40 f. 

49. Gildas, De excidio Britanniae, § 25. 

50. Geoffrey, Historia regum Britanniae, vi. 17-viu. 20. 

51. Weston [f], ii. 112. 

52. See supra, p. 165. 

53. See supra, pp. 72, 52. 

54. Weston [g]. 

55. Weston [f], i. 330 f., ii. 249 f.; cf. also [e], p. 75 f. 

56. K. Meyer, "Eine verschollene Artursage," in Festschrift Ernst 
Windisch . . . dargebracht, Leipzig, 1914, pp. 63-67, believes that 
he has found allusions to Arthur in Irish literature. 



Chapter XV 

1. LL 4 h, 12 a. 

2. LL 4 h; J. O'Daly, in TOS iv. 244 f. (1859); d'Arbois, Cours, 
ii. 76 f. 

3. LU 15; Harleian MS. 3. 18, p. 38. 

4. See supra, pp. 109-10, 112, 57-59. 

5. See supra, pp. 51-52. 

6. Book of Fermoy, p. iii f.; in RIA:IMS i. 46 f. (1870). 

7. J. O'B. Crowe, in JRHAAI IV. i. 94 f. (1870). 

8. D'Arbois, Cours, v. 18; Hull [c], p. 4; O'Curry [a], p. 637 f,; 
K. Meyer, in RIA.TLS xiv. 17 (1906). 

9. W. Stokes, in RCel iii. 185 (1877). 

10. LU 37 a; J. O'B. Crowe, in JRHAAI IV. i. 371 f. (1870). 

11. Text and translation by S. H. O'Grady, and by W. Stokes, in 
IT IV. i. I ff. 

12. S. H. O'Grady, ii. 103 f., 107, 179. 

13. ib. ii. 136, 147, 168; other prophecies of Fionn's are given by 
O'Curry [a], p. 393 f. 

14. E. O'Curry, in Atlantis, iv. 115 f. (1863); see supra, p. 51. 

15. Text and translation in Nutt [c], i. 87 f., cf. ii. 8, 30 f. 

16. ib. i. 14, 22. 

17. E. O'Curry [a], p. 30 f. 



350 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

i8. See supra, p. 183. 

19. J. O'B. Crowe, in JRHAAI IV. i. 371 f. (1870). 

20. S. H. O'Grady, ii. 179. 

21. Guest, iii. 325. 

22. Kulhwch and Olwen, in Loth, Mabinogion, i. 314. 

23. W. Stokes, in RCel xv. 468 (1894). 



SLAVIC 



Introduction 

1. Chronicon, i. 3, 7, 14, iii. 19, v. 23, vi. 17-18, 23-25, 38, vlii. 
59, 64-65, 69. 

2. ii. 18-19, iii- SO5 5^) 605 Descriptio insularum Aquilonis, 18. 

3. i. 2, 6, 13, 21-23, 38. 52, 69, 83, 93, 163, ii. 12. 

4. Gesta Danorum, pp. 444-45, 505, 564 ff., 574-75» 577> 578- 

5. Ixxxvi, cxxi— cxxii. 

6. Herbord, ii. 31-33, 35, iii. 6-7, 22-23, 26; Ebbo, ii. 13, iii. 
I, 8. 

7. X, xxxviii-xxxix, Ixv (tr. Leger, pp. 9-10, 61-68, 148-53). 

8. Ed. and tr. A. Boltz, Berlin, 1854, tr. H. von Paucker, Berlin, 
1884, ed. O. Partytzkiy, Lwow, 1884. 

9. De hello Gothico, iii. 14. 

ID. Les Prairies d'or, ed. and tr. C. Barbier de Meynard and 
Pavet de Courteille, Paris, 1861-77, especially ii. 9, iii. 63-64, iv. 
58-60. 

11. UAhrege des merveilles, tr. Carra de Vaux, Paris, 1898, pp. 
115-16. 

12. i. 4, ii. 8, iii. I, 8, 136. 

13. Homiliar, pp. 4, 54, 57, 74, 79. 

14. Opera, Cracow, 1873, x. 47-48 (cf. the discussion of the pas- 
sage by A. Briickner, in ASP xiv. 170-82 [1892]). 

15. See A. Briickner, in ASP xiv. 183-91 (1892). 

Part I 

1. Cf. Krek, Einleitung, pp. 424-39; Leger, Mythologie, pp. 204- 
10; O. Schrader, "Death and Disposal of the Dead (Slavic)," in 
Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, iv. 508-09. 

2. C. M. Frahn, Ihn Foszlan's und anderer Araher Berichte uber 
die Russen dlterer Zeit, Petrograd, 1823, pp. 10-21; cf. also Leo 
Diaconus, Historia, ix. 6. 

3. Les Prairies d^or, ii. 9, iii. 63-64. 

4. On this custom and its significance see 0. Schrader, Toten- 
hochzeit, Jena, 1904. 



352 SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY 

5. Chronica Polonum, ed. A. Przezdziecki, Cracow, 1862, pp. 
28-29. 

6. De sacrificiis et idolatria veterum Borussorum, Livonum, aliar- 
umque vicinarum gentium, Konigsberg, 1551; the most generally ac- 
cessible text is in SRL ii. 389-92. 

7. With this we may compare the Baltic feast of the dead which 
was held from about September 29 to October 28, whence October 
was called Walla IVIanes ("Month of Wels," Wels being a god of 
the dead), Semlicka Manes (Lettish semme likt, "to lay [sacrifices] 
on the earth "), or Deewa Deenes ("God's Days "). In Lithuania 
the festival was termed Ilgi (Lithuanian ilgas, "long"). Cf. Ein- 
horn (t 1655), Historia Lettica, iv, v, xiii (ed. in SRL ii. 585, 587, 
598), Reformatio gentis Letticae, vii (ed. ib. p. 630); Guagnini, f. 
61 a. 

8. i. 83. 

9. i. s. 

10. Cf. Leger, Mythologie, pp. 158-62. 

11. De bello Gothico, iii. 14. 

12. Cf. Leger, Mythologie, pp. 164-65, and the passages collected 
by Krek, Einleitung, pp. 384, note i, 407-08. 

13. See, however. Mythology of All Races, Boston, 1916, i. 291. 

14. Cf. Leger, Mythologie, pp. 201-03. 

15. See infra, pp. 311-12. 

16. De bello Gothico, iii. 14. 

17. See the references collected by Krek, Einleitung, pp. 384, 
note I, 407, note i, and cf. Leger, Mythologie, pp. 166-77. 

18. Ibrahim ibn Vaslfshah, UAbrege des merveilles, p. 115. 

19. Homiliar, p. 4. 



20. See infra, p. 297. 



Part II 



1. De bello Gothico, iii. 14; for the Antae cf. Krek, Einleitung, 
pp. 292-96. 

2. i. 83.^ 

3. e. g. in the Chronicle of Hypatius (an Old Slavic paraphrase of 
the Byzantine historian Georgios Hamartolos), cited by Krek, 
Einleitung, p. 378, note 2. 

4. See infra, pp. 297-98. 

5. Cf. S. Zaborowski, "Les Origines des Slaves," in Bulletins et 
memoires de la societe d' anthropologie de Paris, V. v. 671-720 (1904); 
abridged English translation in Smithsonian Report, 1906, pp. 399- 
422. 

6. vi. 18. 



NOTES 353 

7. Saxo Grammaticus, pp. 564 ff. 

8. See supra, pp. 335-36. 

9. Saxo Grammaticus, p. 577; Knytlingasaga, cxxii. 

10. Saxo Grammaticus, p. 578; Knytlingasaga, cxxii. 

11. Saxo Grammaticus, p. 578. 

12. Herbord, iii. 6; Ebbo, iii. 8. 

13. See supra, p. 280. 

14. Chronicle of Pulkawa^ in Fontes rerum Bohemicarum, v. 89, 
Prague, 1893. 

15. The chief sources for Triglav are Herbord, ii. 31; Ebbo, ii. 13, 
iii. i; Monk of Priefling, Fita Ottonis episcopi Babenhergensis, iii. I. 

16. The name appears in various forms, Rhetari, Redarii, Riaduri, 
Riediries, etc., as does that of their capital, Riedegost, etc. 

17. vi. 23. 

18. Epistola Brunonis ad Henricum regent, ed. A. Bielowski, in 
Monumenta Poloniae historica, i. 226, Lwow, 1864. 

19. ii. 18. 

20. i. 2, 21, 52. 

21. For the opposite view, that there actually was a deity Radi- 
gast, see Leger, Mythologie, pp. 144-51. 

22. Adam of Bremen, iii. 50; Helmold, i. 23. 

23. i. 52. 

24. Cited by A. Bruckner, in ASP vi. 220-22 (1882). 

25. Priapus was a Grseco-Roman deity of fertility who was repre- 
sented in obscene form and worshipped licentiously; for Baal-peor 
cf. Numbers xxv. 1-5, Hosea ix. 10, as well as Numbers xxxi. 16, 
Revelation ii. 14. 

26. i. 83. 

27. cxxii. Leger, Mythologie, p. 22, regards Tiemoglav as an error 
for *Carnoglovy ("Black-Headed"). 

28. vi. 17. 

29. ib. vii. 47. 

30. i. 52. 

Part III 

1. Nestor, xxxviii (tr. Leger, p. 64). 

2. ib. xxvii (tr. Leger, p. 41). 

3. ib. (tr. Leger, p. 37)- 

4. See the passages collected by Krek, Einleitung, p. 384, note I. 

5. Nestor, xliii (tr. Leger, pp. 96-97, 98). 

6. Ed. Petrograd, 1879, pp. 1-2. 

7. Cf. Mythology of All Races, Boston, 1916, i. 153, 159-60. 

8. Afanasiyev, i. 250. 



354 SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY 

9. Cf. Saxo Grammaticus, p. 57S; Helmold, i. 83. 

10. i. 83. For the oak as sacred to Perun see Leger, Mythologie, 
pp. 73-75; cf. also the Lithuanian association of Perkunas and the 
oak, infra, p. 321. Guagnini, f. 83 a, states that a perpetual fire of 
oak burned before Perun's idol in Novgorod, death being the penalty 
of any priests who might carelessly allow the flame to be extinguished. 

11. In the Oriental Churches many of the great figures of the Old 
Testament rank as saints, quite unlike the rule in the West. 

12. See supra, p. 293. 

13. For the blending of Perun and St. Iliya see Leger, Mythologie, 
pp. 66-73. The Biblical basis for the identification is sought in such 
passages as I Kings xvii. i, xviii. 24 if., xix. 11-12, 11 Kings i. 10-12, 
ii. II, Luke ix. 54, James v. 17-18. 

14. Cf. Krek, Einleitung, p. 391, note 2, Leger, Mythologie, p. 121. 
The deity is, accordingly, plainly to be compared with the Samogi- 
tian god "Datanus l*Datanus, "Inclined to Give"; see T. von 
Grienberger, in ASP xviii. 19-20 (1896)] donator est bonorum, seu 
largitor," of Lasicius, ed. Mannhardt, p. ii. 

15. Nestor, xxxviii (tr. Leger, p. 64). 

16. Cf. supra, pp. 286-87, on Svarazic and infra, p. 298, on Svarozlc. 

17. See Mythology of All Races, Boston, 1916, i. 241-43. 

18. Chronicle of Hypatius, ed. V. Jagic, in ASP v. i (1881). 

19. Tr. Boltz, pp. 17, 20. 

20. Cf. Krek, Einleitung, p. 393; Leger, Mythologie, pp. 5-6, 121, 
note 2, is very sceptical as to the mythological value of this epic. 

21. Cf. V. Jagic, in ASP v. 11-12 (1881). 

22. See Krek, Einleitung, p. 395, note i. 

23. Cf. the Elbe god Svarazic, supra, pp. 277, 286-87, and the 
similar statement regarding Dazbog {supra, pp. 277, 297). 

24. Cf. V. Jagic, in ASP iv. 412-27 (1880). 

25. See Mythology of All Races, Boston, 1916, i. 205-08. 

26. See supra, pp. 277, 286-87. 

27. If, as V. Jagic has suggested (ASP iv. 426 [1880]), the author 
of the Chronicle connected the name Svarog with Russian svariti, 
svarivati ("to weld, braze, forge"), the deity may be identical with 
the celestial smith of Baltic folk-songs (see infra, p. 330). For older 
explanations of the name see Krek, Einleitung, pp. 378-82. 

28. Nestor, xxxviii (tr. Leger, p. 64). 

29. Leger, Mythologie, p. 117. 

30. See Mythology of All Races, Boston, 1916, i. 175-82. 

31. Tr. Boltz, pp. 34-35- 

32. In similar fashion an idol (in this instance carved of stone) 
worshipped at the mouth of the Obi was called Zolota Baba ("Golden 
Gammer ") by the Russians (Guagnini, IT. 85 ^-86 a). 



NOTES 355 

33. Nestor, xxi, xxxvi (tr. Leger, pp. 24, 59). 

34. Cf. the passages collected by Krek, Einleitung, p. 384, note I. 

35. Zitiye hlazenago Volodimera, ed. Makarii, Istoriya russkoi 
cerkvi, i., 3rd ed., 257-61, Petrograd, 1889. 

36. Povy^est vodvorenii Christianstva v Rostove, ed. G. Kushelef- 
Bezborodko, Pamyatniki starinnoi russkoi literatury, i. 221-22, 
Petrograd, i860. 

37. Tr. Boltz, p. 8. 

38. Cf. the passages quoted by Krek, Einleitung, p. 454, and Leger, 
Mythologie, p. 114. 

39. Cf. J. Bolland, in Acta Sanctorum, Feb. I, pp. 357-58; J. Mar- 
tinov, Annus ecclesiasticus Grceco-Slavicus, Brussels, 1863, p. 61; 
Leger, Mythologie, pp. 1 12-16; Krek, Einleitung, pp. 468-69, where 
the theory maintained by the present writer is disputed. 

40. Cf. Leger, Mythologie, p. 116. 

41. Nestor, xxxviii (tr. Leger, p. 64). 

42. Tr. Boltz, p. 13. 

43. i. II. 

44. See A. Briickner, in ASP xiv. 170 if. (1892). Dtugosz, followed 
by Guagnini, f. 9 b, identifies Yesza with Jupiter, Lyada with Mars, 
Dzydzilelya with Venus, Nyja with Pluto, Dzewana with Diana, 
and Marzyana with Ceres; he also knows of an air-god, Podoga, and 
a deity of life, Zywie. 

Part IV 

1. Helmold, i. 23, 52, 83, ii. 12; Adam of Bremen, iii. 50; Saxo 
Grammaticus, pp. 565 if.; Procopius, De bello Gothico, iii. 14; Cosmas, 
i. 4, iii. i; Nestor, xxxviii, xxxix, xliii (tr. Leger, pp. 64, 67-68, 98). 

2. Helmold, i. 6, 52, 69, ii. 12. 

3. Thietmar, vi. 17; Helmold, i. 83, ii. 12; Adam of Bremen, ii. 
18; Herbord, ii. 31; Ebbo, ii. 13, iii. i; al-Mas'udI, Les Prairies 
(Tor, iv. 58-60; Saxo Grammaticus, p. 577; Knytlingasaga, cxxii; 
Zitiye hlazenago Volodimera, ed. Makarii, Istoriya russkoi cerkvi, i., 
3rd ed., 259, Petrograd, 1889; Povyest vodvorenii Christianstva v 
Rostov^, ed. G. Kushelef-Bezborodko, Pamyatniki starinnoi russkoi 
literatury, i. 221-22, Petrograd, i860; Leger, Mythologie, pp. 34, 
98-104. 

4. Thietmar, vi. 17-18; Helmold, i. 52, 83, ii. 12; Adam of Bre- 
men, ii. 18; Herbord, ii. 32, iii. 6; Saxo Grammaticus, pp. 564 ff.; 
al-Mas'iJdi, Les Prairies d'or, iv. 58-60. 

5. Helmold, i. 83; Herbord, ii. 31; Constantinus Porphyrogenitus, 
De administrando imperio, ix; Cosmas, i. 4, iii. i; Homiliar, pp. 4, 79. 

6. Thietmar, vi. 26. 



356 SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY 

7. Helmold, i. 83. 

8. Cosmas, iii. i. 

9. Nestor, xxvi, xxxviii, xxxix, xliii (tr. Leger, pp. 41, 64, 66, 
96-97); cf. also the Russian saying, zili v I'ese, molilis pnyam ("they 
lived in the forest and prayed to stumps"). The Lithuanians are 
frequently charged with worshipping stocks of trees as well as idols 
(see the material collected by Buga, i. 3-9). 

10. Cosmas, i. 4; Homiliar, p. 4. 

11. Thietmar, i. 3; Procopius, De hello Gothico, iii. 14; Homiliar, 

PP- 4, 57, 79- 

12. See supra, pp. 235-36, 281-82. 

13. Saxo Grammaticus, pp. 565 ff. 

14. Ebbo, iii. 3. The Baltic peoples likewise celebrated a feast 
in honour of "Pergrubrius " (probably *devas pergubrios, "god of 
return or renewal"; cf. T. von Grienberger," in ASP xviii. 72-75 
[1896]) about St. George's Day (April 23) (Menecius, in SRL ii. 389- 
90). Herbord, iii. 6, and Ebbo, iii. 8, regard Gerovit as a war-god. 

15. Ebbo, iii. i. 

16. Cosmas, iii. i. 

17. The regular Lithuanian word for "Christmas " is kaledos. 

18. Cf. supra, p. 282. 

19. See supra, pp. 254-55. 

20. See A. Bruckner, in ASP xiv. 175-78 (1892), and cf. Guag- 
nini, f. 10 a. 

21. Cf. Krek, Einleitung, pp. 432-33; Leger, Mythologie, pp. 42, 
205-06. 

22. See supra, pp. 311-12. 

23. Cf. Krek, Einleitung, pp. 403, 415; Leger, Mythologie, p. 158, 



Part V 

1. Germania, xlv. 

2. De origine actibusque Getarum, v. 

3. IIL V. 21-22. 

4. For the Sarmatians see E. H. Minns, Scythians and Greeks, 
Cambridge, 1913, passifn. They are doubtless the Sairima of the 
Avesta (Yasht, xiii. 143-44; cf. C. Bartholomac, Altiranisches fVorter- 
buch, Strassburg, 1904, col. 1566), where they are mentioned together 
with the Aryans, Turanians (i. e. nomadic Iranians), Saini (Chinese[?]; 
cf. J. J. Modi, Asiatic Papers, Bombay, 1905, pp. 241-54), Dahi 
(the Adai, or Dahae, of the Classics, dwelling along the south-east 
shore of the Caspian), and "all lands." For the Yatvyags see A. 
Sjogren, "Ueber die Wohnsitze und die Verhaltnisse der Jatwagen," 



NOTES 357 

in Memoires de Vacademie imperiale des sciences de St.-Petersbourg, 
Sciences politiques, VI. ix. 161-356 (1859). 

5. It is well known that Lithuanian is, of all European languages, 
the one most similar to the Indo-Iranian group. 

6. For the etymology of the Lithuanian word daind, probably 
cognate with Vedic Sanskrit dhend, see S. G. Oliphant, in Journal of 
the American Oriental Society, xxxii. 393-413 (1912). 

7. The writer is collecting the material on Baltic religion with a 
view to discussing it, in its presentational and comparative aspects, 
in a separate volume. 

8. De Lithuania, ed. T. Hirsch, in SRP iv. 238. 

9. ZE vii. 292-95 (1875). 

10. Cf, also the folk-tale recorded by J. Wentzig, JVestslavischer 
Mdrchenschatz, Leipzig, 1857, pp. 20-26, summarized by the present 
writer in Encyclopcedia of Religion and Ethics, iii. 138. 

11. Lasicius, ed. W. Mannhardt, p. 11. Mannhardt {ZE vii. 86 
[1875]) prefers to translate Tete "aunt" (cf. modern Lithuanian 
tetd, "aunt") rather than "mother." In his reproduction of the 
myth T. Hiarn (Ehst-, Lyf- und Lettldndische Geschichte, ed. O. E. 
Napiersky, in Monumenta Livoniae antiquae, i. 33, Riga, 1835) calls 
her the wife of Perkunas. In a Lettish folk-song (Ullmann, no. 152, 
Mannhardt, no. 6) the Virgin Mary is substituted for Perkune Tete. 
Mannhardt, pp. 289, 317, identifies her with the planet Venus, or 
with the morning and the evening star. 

12. For convenient summaries of Lithuanian and Lettish litera- 
ture see the relevant sections by A. Bezzenberger and E. Wolter in 
Kultur der Gegenzvart, I. ix. 354-78, Leipzig, 1908. The last person 
speaking Prussian died in 1677. For the scanty remnants of the 
Prussian language see R. Trautmann, Die altpreussischen Sprach- 
denkmdler, Gottingen, 1 9 10. 

13. The chief collections of value in the present connexion are 
L. J. Rhesa, Dainos oder litauische Volkslieder gesammelt, iibersetzt, 
etc. (Konigsberg, 1825; 2nd ed. by F. Kurschat, Berlin, 1843); G. H. 
F. Nesselmann, Litauische Volkslieder gesammelt, kritisch hearbeitet 
und metrisch iibersetzt (Berlin, 1853); A. Schleicher, Litauisches Lese- 
buch (Prague, 1857; translated in his Litauische Mdrchen, Sprich- 
worte, Rdtsel und Lieder, Weimar, 1857); A. Juskevic, Lietuviskos 
Dainos (3 vols., Kazan, 1880-82); V. Kalvaitis, Prusijos Lietuviu 
Dainos (Tilsit, 1905); K. Ullmann, Lettische Volkslieder (Riga, 1874); 
K. Baron and H. Wissendorff, Latwju Dainas (7 vols., Mitau, 1894- 
1910). 

14. "Die lettischen Sonnenmythen," in ZE vii. 73-104, 209-44, 
261-330. References in these Notes simply to "Mannhardt" refer 
to this study. 



358 SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY 

15. Mannhardt, p. 87. 

16. Stender, pp. 233, 262, 266, 

17. Nesselmann, no. 2; Rhesa, no. 27; Schleicher, no. i; Mann- 
hardt, no. 76 (cf. also Mannhardt, no. 73). 

18. Cf. such Lithuanian words as perkunyja, "thunder-storm," 
perkunuti, "to thunder," perkuno musimas, "thunderclap" ("Per- 
kunas's stroke "), and Lettish terms like pehrkona lohde, "thunder- 
bolt " ("Pehrkon's ball"), pehrkona spehreens, "thunderclap." 
The ordinary Prussian word for "thunder " is given as percunis (for 
the etymology see R. Trautmann, Die altpreussischen Sprachdenk- 
mdler, Gottingen, 1910, pp. 395-96). 

19. Mannhardt, p. 317, suggests that "in the very primal spring" 
may refer to the first springtime of the world. 

20. Mannhardt, p. 298. 

21. Andrejanoff, pp. 63-64. 

22. Only the earliest stars are really the offspring of this union; 
the later stars are born from the wedlock of the elder ones (Stender, 
p. 270). 

23. Nesselmann, no. 4; Rhesa, no. 62; Schleicher, no. 4; Mann- 
hardt, no. 78. Cf. also Mannhardt, nos. 72-75, 79, and for the Let- 
tish version see Ullmann, pp. 145, 186, 195-96. 

24. For the oak as sacred to Perkunas see the Jesuit report of 
1 61 8 (Rostowski, p. 251); and for the sanctity of the tree see the re- 
ports of 1583 (ib. p. in), 1606 (ed. K. Lohmeyer, in MlilG iii. 390, 
394 [1893]), and 161 8 (ed. in Mittheilungen aus dem Gebiete der Ge- 
schichte Liv-, Ehst- und Kurland's, iv. 494-501 [1874]); cf. also an 
official report of 1657, ed. in NPPBl III. x. 159 (1865). 

25. Mannhardt, pp. 222-25. 

26. Mannhardt, no. 72. For nine as a sacred number in Indo- 
European see A. Kaegi, "Die Neunzahl bei den Ostariem," in 
Philologische Abhandlungen Heinrich Schzveizer-Sidler . . . gewidmet, 
Zurich, 1 891, pp. 50-70. 

27. Von Schroeder, i. 532. 

28. Mannhardt, p. 318. 

29. ib. p. 232. 

30. See Mythology of All Races, Boston, 1917, vi. 32-35, and E, 
W. Hopkins, " Indra as the God of Fertility," in Journal of the Ameri- 
can Oriental Society, xxxvi. 242-68 (1917). 

31. J. Bassanovic and A. Kurschat, in MlilG ii. 342 (1887); Myth- 
ology of All Races, Boston, 1917, vi. 33, 35, 264-66, 323, 350. 

32. Mannhardt, p. 308. 

33. Mythology of All Races, Boston, 1916, i. 157. 

34. Mannhardt, pp. 91, 306-09, 316-19, nos. 13-15, 39-40, 44. 

35. ib. nos. 22, 24, 42, 26, 28, 32, and pp. 97, 100, 103. 



NOTES 359 

36. Mannhardt, no. 44, and p. 97. 

37. UUmann, p. 146. 

38. ib. p. 147; cf. Mannhardt, nos. 42-43, Kohl, ii. 29. In Mann- 
hardt, no. 44, the moon's grey horses stand at "God's " door while 
the sun's daughter is being wooed, although "folk say the moon has 
no horses of his own; they are the morning and the evening star " 
(ib. no. 46). 

39. Ullmann, p. 147; cf. also Mannhardt, no. 59. 

40. Mannhardt, nos. 11, 12, 16, and p. 287. 

41. ib. no. 32. 

42. ib. nos. 28-31, and pp. 103-04. 

43. ib. nos. 71 ^-73, 75, and p. 298. 

44. ib. nos. 70, 71 a, and p. 287. 

45. ib. no. 62, and p. 97. 

46. Nesselmann, no. i; Rhesa, no. 78; Schleicher, no. 2; Mann- 
hardt, no. 4 (cf. also Mannhardt, no. 76). When, however, the sun 
cares for the orphans behind the mountains, these would seem to be 
the stars, regarded as the children of Sun and Moon (Mannhardt, 
nos. 3-7, and pp. 303-04; cf. supra, p. 320). 

47. The attempts of Siecke, pp. 21-49, to lunarize these Baltic 
sun-myths are unworthy of serious consideration. 

48. Mannhardt, no. 17. 

49. ib. nos. 47-48. 

50. Stender, pp. 233, 265-66. 

51. See supra, pp. 322-23. 

52. The sun's daughter is often called "God's daughter" {D'evo 
duktel'e). This depends on the point of view, according as the twi- 
lights are associated with the sun or with the sky. 

53. Mannhardt, p. 295. 

54. ib. nos. 50, 74. 

55. ib. pp. 306, 309-14; Mythology of All Races, Boston, 1916-17, 
vi. 30-32, i. 24-27, 246-47. For the concept of twin gods see J. Ren- 
del Harris, The Cult of the Heavenly Twins, Cambridge, 1906, and 
Boanerges, Cambridge, 1913. 

56. Nesselmann, no. 7; Rhesa, no. 84; Schleicher, no. 10; Mann- 
hardt, no. 84. In a Lettish version (Mannhardt, no. 83) the maiden 
is told that her parents are in Germany (i. e. the west), drinking to 
the marriage of the (other?) sun-daughter (i. e. evening twilight). 
In reality this daind bears only a superficial likeness to the "Jack 
and the Beanstalk " cycle, for which see the admirable discussion by 
J, A. MacCulloch, Childhood of Fiction, London, 1905, ch. xvi. 

57. Mannhardt, p. 230. 

58. ib. nos. 58, 80, and pp. 97, 234. 

59. See supra, pp. 321, 323, 325. 
1 1 1 — 24 



360 SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY 

60. Mannhardt, no. 56, and p. 308. 

61. ib. nos. 52-54, 56, 29. 

62. ib. nos. 42, 63. Occasionally "God's sons " are themselves the 
moon's horses (ib. no. 46). 

63. ib. nos. 50, 67, 15. 

64. ib. nos. 70, 36, 59, 60, 80, and pp. 299-300. 

65. Nesselmann, no. 5; Rhesa, no. 48; Schleicher, no. 12; Mann- 
hardt, no. 80. 

66. See supra, p. 324. 

67. Mannhardt, nos. 51 (cf. also nos. 16, 72, 75, 78, 79, and p. 
219), 57, 81-82, 65-66, 68-69, and pp. 299, 302. 

68. See infra, p. 329. 

69. Mannhardt, no. 64, and p. 302, 

70. ib. nos. 34-35, 39-40, and p. loi. 

71. ib. nos. 33-34, and p. 308. 

72. ib. nos. 35, 15. 

73. ib. no. 55. 

74. ib. no. 57, and p. 102. 

75. See supra, p. 323, and Mannhardt, nos. 79, 82, and pp. 302- 
03 (cf. ib. no. 74, where an orphan maid, with none to give her in 
marriage, calls the sun her mother, the moon her father, the star her 
sister, and the Pleiades [literally "sieve-star," s'etas] her brother; cf. 
also ib. no. 81). 

76. See supra, p. 323 and Note II. 

77. See supra, p. 323. 

78. Cf. supra, pp. 321, 327. 

79. Cf. Mythology of All Races, Boston, 1917, vi. i, 25, 36-37, 43, 
48, 263, 267. A similar idea occurs elsewhere, as in Egyptian myth- 
ology; cf. ib. xii. 25, 34, 113, 194. 

80. Mannhardt, pp. 98-99. He also compares the Lettish riddles 
"A brother and a sister go daily through the sea " (sun and moon) 
and "A casket at the bottom of a spring " (the moon). 

81. ib. p. 324, and no. 86. In similar fashion a child implores the 
setting sun to give his mother a hundred greetings (ib. no. 90). 

82. ib. no. 84; Stender, pp. 233, 269. 

83. Mannhardt, no. 89, and p. 324. 

84. ib. 

85. This report is edited by K. Lohmeyer, in MlilG iii. 389-95 
(1893); for the text and translation of the ddinos see Wissendorff de 
Wissukuok, in RTP vii. 265 ff. (1892). 

86. Mannhardt, nos. 36-38. 

87. ib. pp. 319-24. 

88. See Mythology of All Races, Boston, 191 7, vi. 50, 93. In this 
connexion we may recall the conclusions reached by Mannhardt 



NOTES 361 

(p. 329): "On the whole the Lettish [i.e. Baltic] sun-myth agrees so 
exactly with the ancient Aryan [i.e. Indian] in the Veda and with the 
ancient Greek that one would scarcely meet with contradiction if he 
ventured to suggest that here he had before him a fairly accurately 
preserved copy of pro-ethnic, Indo-European solar mythology." 

89. See supra, p. 298, and Part III, Note 27. 

90. The meaning of the name is unknown. For the passage see 
E. Wolter, in ASP ix. 635-42 (1886) and Litovskii katichizis N. 
Dauksi, Petrograd, 1886, pp. 176-77. The name is also found in the 
form Telyavel in the Galicio-Volhynian Chronicle referring to Men- 
dowg's baptism in 1252, this portion of the text being written before 
1292 (ed. A. Bruckner, in ASP ix. 3 [1886]). The divine smith also 
recurs in the Irish Goibniu {supra, p. 31; cf. the divine cerd, or 
brazier, Creidne, ib. pp. 28, 31-32). The Ossetes of the Caucasus 
likewise have a celestial smith, Kurdalagon (H. Hiibschmann, in 
Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenldndischen Gesellschajt, xli. 535 [1887]; 
for myths concerning him see ib. pp. 541-42, 545, 547) or Safa 
(E. Delmar Morgan, in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, xx. 
383 [1888]). 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 



CELTIC 



I. ABBREVIATIONS 

AR .... Archaeological Review. 

BB .... Book of Ballymote. (See Section V {a).) 

CIL ..... Corpus inscriptionum Latinarum. 

CIR .... Corpus inscriptionum Rhenanarum. 

CM Celtic Magazine. 

CR Celtic Review. 

EETS . . . Early English Text Society. 

ERE .... Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics. 

FL Folk-Lore. 

FLJ .... Folk-Lore Journal. 

FLR .... Folk-Lore Records. 

IT Irische Texte. (See Section V {h).) 

ITS .... Irish Text Society. (See Section V (b).) 

JAI .... Journal of the [Royal] Anthropological Society. 

JRHAAI . . Journal of the Royal Historical and Archaeological 
Association of Ireland. 

KAJ .... Kilkenny Archaeological Journal. 

LL Leabhar Laignech ("Book of Leinster"). (See Sec- 
tion V {a).) 

LU Leabhar na hUidhri. (See Section V (a).) 

OfVT .... Old Welsh Texts. (See Section VI.) 

RA Revue archeologique. 

RCel .... Revue celtique. 

RHR .... Revue de I'histoire des religions. 

RIA: IMS Royal Irish Academy: Irish Manuscripts Series. 

RIA: TLS . Royal Irish Academy: Todd Lecture Series. (See 
Section V {b).) 

SCR .... Scottish Celtic Review. 

SdATF . . . Societe des anciens textes fran^ais. 

STS .... Scottish Text Society. 

TCHR . . . Transactions of the International Congress of the 
History of Religions. 

TGSInv . . . Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Inverness. 

TOS .... Transactions of the Ossianic Society. (See Section 
V {b).) 



366 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 



YBL 
YCym 
ZC'P . 
ZDA . 
ZVS 



Yellow Book of Lecan. (See Section V (a).) 
Y Cymmrodor. 

Zeitschrift fiir celtische Philologie. 
Zeitschrift fiir deutsches Altertum. 
Zeitschrift fiir vergleichende Sprachforschung. 

IL COLLECTIONS 



D'Arbois de Jubainville, H., (and Loth, J.), Cours de litteraturr 
celtique. 12 vols. Paris, 1 883-1 902. 
i. Introduction a r etude de la litter ature celtique. 1883. 
ii. Le Cycle mythologique irlandais et la mythologie celtique, 
1884. (English translation by R. I. Best. Dublin, 1903.) 
iii-iv. Le Mabinogion. Tr. J. Loth. 1889. (See Section VI.) 
V. U Epopee celtique en Irlande. 1892. 

vi. La Civilisation des Celtes et celle de V epopee homerique. 1899. 
vii-viii. Etudes sur le droit celtique. 1895. 

ix-xi. La Metrique galloise. By J. Loth. 1900-02. 

xii. Principaux auteurs de Vantiquite a consulter sur Vhistoire des 
Celtes. 1902. 

Daremberg, v., and Saglio, E., Dictionnaire des antiquites grecques 
et romaines. Paris, 1877 ff. 

DiNAN, W., Monumenta historica Celtica, i. London, 191 1. 

Holder, A., Altceltischer Sprachschatz. Leipzig, 18961!. 

Pauly, a. F. von, Realencyclopddie der classischen Altertumswissen- 
schaft. New ed. by G. Wissowa. Stuttgart, 1904 ff. 

III. CLASSICAL AND EARLY CHRISTIAN 
AUTHORITIES 

Some of these contain merely brief references to Celtic religion or 
custom. The more important are marked.* 

Aelian, De natura animalium. 
Ammianus Marcellinus. 
Apollonius, Argonautica. 
Appian, Romanorum historiarum fragmenta. 
Aristotle, Ethica Nichomachea. 
Athenaeus, Deipnosophistai. 
Augustine, De civitate Dei. 
AusoNius, Professores. 

AviENUS. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 367 

*Caesar, De hello Gallico. 

Cicero, De divinatione. 

Claudian, Carmina. 

Clement of Alexandria, Stromata. 

Dio Chrysostom, Orationes. 
*DiODORUS SicuLUS, BibHothectt historica. 

Diogenes Laertius, De vitis philosophorum. 

HiPPOLYTUS, Philosophumena. 

Isidore, Orationes. 

Justin, Epitome historiae Philippicae. 

LiVY, Historia. 
*Lucan, Pharsalia. 

Lucia N, Herakles. 

Pausanias, Descriptio Graeciae. 
*Pliny, Historia naturalis. 

*Plutarch, De dejectu oraculorum; De facie lunae. 
*PoMPONius Mela, De situ orbis. 

Procopius, De hello Gothico. 

Propertius, Carmina. 

Pseudo-Plutarch, De fluviis. 

SoLiNUS, Collectanea rerum memorabilium. 

Stobaeus, Eclogae physicae et ethicae. 

Strabo, Geographia. 

Suetonius, Claudius. 

Tacitus, Annales ; Historiae. 

Valerius Maximus. 

Most of the Classical passages relating to the Celts are collected 
by dArbois, Cours, xii, and by W. Dinan. See also Monumenta 
historica Brittanica, ed. H. Petrie, i. London, 1848. 

IV. MEDIEVAL REFERENCES 

Adamnan, Vita Sancti Columhae. 

Aelred, Fita Sancti Niniani. 

Geoffrey of Monmouth, Historia Britonum; Vita Merlini; Pro- 
phetia Merlini. 

Gervase of Tilbury, Otia imperialia. 

Gildas, De excidio Britanniae. 



368 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

GiRALDUs Cambrensis, Opera. 

JocELYN, Vita Sancti Kentigerni. 

Nennius, Historia Britonum. (The Irish version ed. by J. H. Todd, 
Dublin, 1848. See also Section V {b), RIA:TLS vi, and Sec- 
tion VIII, ZiMMER, [b].) 

Patrick, Saint. {&] Tripartite Life. Ed. W. Stokes. London, 1887. 

[b] Writings. Ed. W. Stokes and C. H. H. Wright. London, 

1887. 

V. IRISH TEXTS AND TRANSLATIONS 

{a) Collections 

Ancient Laws and Institutes of Ireland. 6 vols. Dublin, 1 865-1901. 

Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland by the Four Masters. Ed. and tr. 
J. O'Donovan. 7 vols. Dublin, 1848-51. 

Annals of Tighernach. Ed. and tr. W. Stokes, in RCel xvi. 374-419, 
xvii. 6-33, 116-263, 337-420, xviii. 9-59, 150-303, 374-91 
(1895-97). 

Book of Ballymote. Ed., with introd., etc., by R. Atkinson. Dublin, 
1887. 

Book of Fermoy. The work as a whole exists only in manuscript. 
Portions are tr. by J. H. Todd, Descriptive Catalogue of the Book 
of Fermoy. Dublin, 1873. {RIA:IMS \. \.) 

Leabhar Laignech ("Book of Leinster"). Ed., with introd., etc., by 
R. Atkinson. Dublin, 1880. 

Leabhar na hUidhre ("Book of the Dun Cow"). Ed. J. T. Gilbert. 
Dublin, 1870. 

Yellow Book of Lecan. Ed., with Introd., etc., by R. Atkinson. 
Dublin, 1896. 

{b) Single Texts (Irish and Scots Gaelic) 

Aislinge Meic Conglinne ("Vision of Mac Conglinne"). Ed. and tr. 
K. Meyer. London, 1892. 

Acallamh na Senorach ("Colloquy with the Ancients"). Ed. and 
tr. S. H. O'Grady, Silva Gadelica. 2 vols. London, 1892. 

Cath Finntrdga ("Battle of Ventry"). Ed. and tr. K. Meyer. Ox- 
ford, 1885. 

Cormac^s Glossary. Ed. and tr. J. O'Donovan and W. Stokes. Cal- 
cutta, 1868. 

Courtship of Ferb. Tr. A. H. Leahy. London, 1902. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 369 

Cuchullin Saga in Irish Literature. Tr. E. Hull. London, 1898. 

Dean of Lismore's Book. A Selection of Ancient Gaelic Poetry. From 
a Manuscript Collection made by Sir James McGregor, Dean of 
Lismore, in the Beginning of the Sixteenth Century. Ed. and tr. 
T. McLauchlan. Edinburgh, 1862. 

Dindsenchas. [a] (Bodleian). Ed. and tr. W, Stokes, in FL iii. 467- 
516 (1892). 

[b] (Edinburgh). Ed. and tr. W. Stokes, in FL iv. 471-97 

(1893)- 

[c] (Rennes, supplemented by YBL and LL). Ed. and tr. W. 



Stokes, in RCel xv. 272-336, 418-84, xvi. 31-83, 135-67, 269- 
312 (1894-95). (Cf. also infra, RIA.TLS vii-x.) 

Dragon Myth, The Celtic. By J. F. Campbell. Edinburgh, 191 1. 
(Contains also The Geste of Fraoch and the Dragon [Tain Bo 
Frdich], tr. G. Henderson.) 

Heroic Romances of Ireland. Ed. and tr. A. H. Leahy. 2 vols. 
London, 1905-06. (i. "Courtship of Etain," "Mac Datho's 
Boar," "Sick-Bed of Cuchulainn," "Exile of the Sons of Us- 
nach," "The Combat at the Ford"; ii. "Tain Bo Fraich," "The 
Raid for Dartaid's Cattle," "The Raid for the Cattle of Re- 
gamon," "The Driving of the Cattle of Flidais.") 

Irische Texte. Ed. E. Windisch and W. Stokes. 4 vols. Leipzig, 
I 880-1 909. 

Irish Text Society, Publications. London, 1899 ff. 

i. The Lad of the Ferule. Ed. and tr. D. Hyde, 1899. 
ii. Fled Bricrend. The Feast of Bricriu. Ed. and tr. G. Hender- 
son. 1899. 
iii. G. Keating, History of Ireland. Ed. and tr. D. Comyn and 

P. Dinneen. 3 vols. 1902-08. 
iv. Book of the Lays of Finn. Ed. and tr. J. MacNeill. i. 1908. 

Leabhar na Feinne. Heroic Gaelic Ballads Collected in Scotland 

Chiefly from 1512 to 1871. Ed. J. F. Campbell, i. London, 

1872. 
Mael Duin, Voyage of. Ed. and tr. W. Stokes, in RCel ix. 447-95, 

x. 50-95, 265 (1888-89). 
Mag Tured, Battle of. [a] "The Second Battle of Moytura," ed. 

and tr. W. Stokes, in RCel xii. 52-130, 306-08 (1891). 
[b] "The First Battle of Moytura," ed. and tr. J. Eraser, in 

Eriu, viii. 1-63 (191 5). 
Royal Irish Academy, Todd Lecture Series. Dublin, 1889 if. 

i. Mesca Ulad: or. The Intoxication of the Ultonians. Ed. and 
tr. W. M. Hennessy. 1899. 



370 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

iv. Cath Ruis na Rig for Boinn. Ed. and tr. F, Hogan. 1892. 
vi. The Irish Nennius from Leabhar ne Huidre. Ed. and tr. E. 

Hogan. 1895. (Cf. also Section IV^) 
vii. Poems from the Dindshenchas . Ed. and tr. E. Gvvynn. 1900. 
viii-x. The Metrical Dindshenchas. Ed. and tr. E. Gwynn. 3 vols. 
1903-13. (Cf. also Dindsenchas.) 
xiii. The Triads of Ireland. Ed. and tr. K. Meyer. 1906. 
xiv. The Death Tales of the Ulster Heroes. Ed. K. Meyer. 1906. 
xvi. fia7iaigecht, Being a Collection of Hitherto Inedited Irish Poems 
and Tales Relating to Finn and his Fiana. Ed. and tr. K. 
Meyer. 1910. 

Sagen aus dem alteri Irland. By R. Thumeysen. Berlin, 1901. 

Sick-Bed of Cuchulainn. Ed. and tr. E. O'Curry, in Atlantis, i. 362- 
92, ii. 98-124 (1858-59). 

Silva Gadelica. A Collection of Tales in Irish. Ed. and tr. S. H. 

O'Grady. 2 vols. London, 1892. (i. Text; ii. Translation and 

Notes.) 
Tain Bo Cualnge. [a] Die altirische Heldensage Tain Bo Cualnge nach 

dem Buch von Leinster. Ed. and tr. E. Windisch. Leipzig, 1905. 

[b] Tain Bo Cualnge. Enlevement (du taureau divin et) des 

vaches de Cooley. Tr. H. d'Arbois de Jubainville. Paris, 191 1. 
(Reprinted from RCel xxviii. 17-40, 145-77, 241-61, xxix. 153- 
201, XXX. 78-88, 156-85, 235-51, xxxi. 5-22, 273-86, xxxii. 30- 
42, 377-90-) 

[c] The Cattle Raid of Cualnge {Tain Bo Cuailnge). An Old 



Irish Prose-Epic, Translated for the First Time from Leabhar na 
hUidhri and the Yellow Book of Lecan. By L. Winifred Fara- 
day. London, 1904. 
Three Irish Glossaries. Ed. W. Stokes. London, 1862. 

Three Most Sorrowful Tales of Erin. Ed. and tr. E. O'Curry, in 
Atlantis, iii. 377-422, iv. 113-240 (1862-63). ("The Exile of 
the Children of Uisnech," "The Fate of the Children of Lir," 
"The Fate of the Children of Tuireann.") 

Tochmarc Emire ("Wooing of Emer"). Tr. K. Meyer, in AR 1. 
68-75, 150-55, 231-35, 298-307 (1888). 

Togail Bruidne Da Derga ("Destruction of Da Derga's Hostel"). 
Ed. and tr. W. Stokes. Paris, 1902. (Reprinted from RCel 
xxii. 9-61, 165-215, 282-329, 390-437, xxiii. 88.) 

Transactions of the Ossianic Society. 6 vols. Dublin, 1853-61. 
i. The Battle of Gabhra. Ed. and tr. N. O'Keamey. 1853. 
ii. Festivities at the House of Conan. Ed. and tr. N. O'Keamey. 
1855. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 371 

iii. The Pursuit after Diarmuid O^Duibhne and Grainne. Ed. and 
tr. S. H. O'Grady. 1857. 
iv, vi. Laoithe Fiannuigheachta; or, Fenian Poems. Ed. and tr, J. 
O'Daly. 2 vols. 1859-61. 
V. Imtheacht na Tromdhaimhe; or, The Proceedings of the Great 
Bardic Institution. Ed. and tr. O. Connellan. i860. 

Voyage of Bran. Ed. and tr. K. Meyer, with essays by A. Nutt. 
2 vols. London, 1895-97. 

Youthful Exploits of Fionn. Ed. and tr. D. Comyn. Dublin, 1881. 
Numerous other texts and translations are contained in Eriu 
and RCel. For collections of folk-tales see Section VIII. 



VI. WELSH TEXTS 

Aneirin, Book of. [a] Facsimile ed. by J. G. Evans. Pwllheli, 1908. 

{OWT) 
[b] Gododin. Ed. T. Powel, tr. T. Stephens. London, 1888. 

Bruts. Ed. from the Red Book of Hergest by Sir J. Rhys and J. G. 
Evans. Oxford, 1890. {OWT) 

Cf. also Mabinogion, [e]; Myrvyrian Archaiology ; and Sec- 
tion VII, Layamon; Wage. 

Caermarthen, Black Book of. [a] Facsimile ed. by J. G. Evans. 
Pwllheli, 1888. (OWT) 

[b] Diplomatic text, with notes and introd. by J. G. Evans. 

Oxford, 1906. (OWT) 

lolo Manuscripts. Ed. and tr. T. Williams. Llandovery, 1848. 
Llan Ddu, Book of. Facsimile ed. by J. G. Evans and Sir J. Rhys. 
Oxford, 1893. {OWT) 

Mabinogion. [a] The Mabinogion from the Llyfr Coch Hergest and 

Other Ancient Welsh Manuscripts. Ed. and tr. Lady Charlotte 

Guest. 3 vols. London, 1849. 2nd ed., without Welsh text. 

I vol. London, 1877. Another ed., with notes by A. Nutt. 

London, 1902. 
[h\ Les Mabinogion. Ed. and tr. J. Loth. 2 vols. Paris, 1889. 

(= d'Arbois, Cours, iii-iv. See Section II.) 
[c] Les Mabinogion du Livre Rouge de Hergest, avec les variantes 

du Livre Blanc de Rhydderch. Tr. J. Loth. 2 vols. Paris, 1913. 

(This forms an entirely new edition of the previous work.) 

[d] The White Book Mabinogion: Welsh Tales and Romances^ 

Reproduced from the Peniarth Manuscripts. Ed. J. G. Evans. 
Pwllheli, 1907. {OWT) 



372 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

Mabinogion. [e] The Text of the Mahinogion and Other Welsh Tales 
from the Red Book of Hergest. Ed. Sir J. Rhys and J. G. Evans. 
Oxford, 1887. {OJVT) (Contains also the Bruts and Triads.) 

Myvyrian Archaiology of Wales, Collated out of Ancient Manuscripts. 
By O. Jones, E. WilUams, and W. O. Pughe. London, 1801. 
2nd ed. Denbigh, 1870. (Contains the Bruts and Triads.) 

Skene, W. F., The Four Ancient Books of Wales (with English ver- 
sions by D. S. Evans and R. Williams). 2 vols. Edinburgh, 
1868. 

Taliesin. [a] Llyvr Taliesin: Poems from the Book of Taliesin. Fac- 
simile, with text, introd., notes, and translation, by J. G. Evans. 
Tremvan, Llandeborg, North Wales, 1914. iOWT) 

[b] Taliesin, or Bards and Druids. A Translation of the Re- 
mains of the Earliest Welsh Bards, and an Examination of the 
Bardic Mysteries. By D. W. Nash. London, 1858. 

[c] Text and tr. in Skene, Four Ancient Books of Wales. 



VIL TEXTS OF THE ARTHURIAN CYCLE 

Albrecht von Scharffenberg, Der jiingere Titurel. Ed. K. A. 
Hahn. Quedlinburg and Leipzig, 1842. 

Arthur, [a] The Vulgate Version of the Arthurian Romances. Ed. 
from manuscripts in the British Museum by H. O. Sommer. 
3 vols. Washington, 1 908-1 1, (i. Lestoire del Saint Graal; 
ii. Lestoire de Merlin; iii. Le Litre de Lancelot del Lac.) 

[b] Arthur and Gorlagon. Ed. G. L. Kittredge, in Studies and 

Notes in Philology and Literature, viii. 150-275 (1903). Also ed. 
F. A. Milne, with notes by A. Nutt, in FL xv. 40-67 (1904). 

[c] Arthour und Merlin. Ed. from the Auchinlech Manu- 
script by E. Kolbing. Leipzig, 1890. 

[d] Le Morte d' Arthur. By Sir T. Malory. Original ed. of 

Caxton reprint, with introd. by H. O. Sommer. 3 vols. Lon- 
don, 1889-91. 

[e] Le Morte Arthur. Ed. from Harleian Manuscript 2252 in 



the British Museum by F. J. Furnivall. London, 1864. New 
ed. by J. D. Bruce. London, 1903. [LETS]. 
See also Lancelot; Ulrich von Zatzighoven. 

Bruts. See Section VI; also Layamon; Wage. 

Chretien de Troyes. [a] Sdmtliche erhaltene Werke. Ed. W. Forster. 

4 vols. Halle, 1884-99. (^- Cliges; ii. Yvain; iii. Eric und Enide; 

iv. Der Karrenritter {Chevalier de la Charette), Das Wilhelms- 

lehen.) 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 373 

Chretien de Troyes. [b] Le Conte del Graal. In C. Potvin, Per- 
ceval le Gallois, oti le Conte del Graal. 6 vols. Mons, 1866-71. 
(Contains also Gautier [Wauchier], Gerbert, and Manessier.) 
See also Section VIII, Weston, [f]. 

Dream of Rhonabzvy. See Section VI, Mabinogion. 

EiLHART VON Oberge, Tristan. Ed, F. Lichtenstein. Strassburg, 

1877. 
Gautier de Doulens [or Wauchier de Denain]. See Chretien 

DE Troyes, [b], and Section VIII, Weston, [f]. 

Gawain. [a] Syr Gawayne, a Collection of Ancient Romance Poems. 
Ed. Sir F. Madden. London, 1839. 

[b] Syr Gawayne and the Grene Knight. Ed. R. Morris. 

London, 1864. (EETS) 
[c] Syr Gawayne and the Grene Knight, Retold in Modern 

Prose. By J. L. Weston. London, 1898. 

[d] Sir Gawain at the Grail Castle. Tr. J. L. Weston. London, 



1903. 

See also Grail. 

Geoffrey of Monmouth. See Section IV. 

Geraint ap Erbyn. See Section VI, Mabinogion. 

Gerbert. See Chretien de Troyes, [b]. 

Gottfried von Strassburg. [a] Tristan. Ed. R. Bechstein. Leip- 
zig, 1877. 

[b] Tristan and Iseult (prose tr. of the foregoing). Tr. J. L. 

Weston. 2 vols. London, 1899. 

Grail, [a] La Queste del Saint Grael. Ed. F. J. Fumivall. London, 

1864. 
[b] Y Saint Greal. Ed. and tr. R. Williams. London, 

1876. 

[c] Le Saint-Graal, ou le Joseph d'Arimathee. Ed. E. Hucher, 



3 vols. Le Mans, 1875-78. 

See also Arthur, [a]; Chretien de Troyes; Gawain, [d]; Per- 
ceval; Robert de Borron. 
Guingamor and Other Lays. Tr. J. L. Weston. London, 1910. 

Hartmann von Aue, ed. F. Bech. 3 vols. Leipzig, 1870-73. 
(i. Erec; ii. Lieder, Der arme Heinrich; iii. Iwein.) 

Heinrich von DEM TuRLiN, Diu Krone. Ed. J. H. F. Scholl. Stutt- 
gart, 1852. 

Kulhwch and Olwen. See Section VI, Mabinogion. 
Lady of the Fountain. See Section VI, Mabinogion. 



374 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

Lancelot^ Roman van. Ed. W. J. A. Jonckbloet. 2 vols. The Hague, 
1846-49. 

See also Arthur, [a], iii; Ulrich von Zatzighoven. 

Layamon, Brut. Ed. and tr. Sir F. Madden. 3 vols. London, 

1847. 
Manessier. See Chretien de Troyes, [b]. 
Marie de France, [a] Lais. Ed. K. Warnke. Halle, 1886. 

[b] Poesies. Tr. B. de Roquefort. 2 vols. Paris, 1820. 

[c] Seven of her Lays. Tr. E. Sickert. London, 1901. 

Merlin, [a] Le Roman de Merlin. Ed. H. O. Sommer. London, 1894. 
[b] Merlin, reman en prose du xiii" siecle d^apres le manuscrit 

apparteyiant a A. H. Huth. Ed. G. Paris and J. Ulrich. Paris, 

1886. 

[c] Merlin, or the Early History of King Arthur (Middle Eng- 



lish tr. of Le Roman de Merlin). Ed. H. B. Wheatley. 4 vols. 
London, 1899. (EETS) 
See also Arthur. 

Myvyrian Archaiology. See Section VL 
Nennius. See Sections IV; V {b), RIA.TLS vi. 
Paris, A. P., Les Romans de la table ronde, mis en nouveau langage. 
5 vols. Paris, 1868-77. 

Paris, G., Romans en vers de la table ronde. Paris, 1888. {Histoire 
litter aire de la France, xxx.) 

Perceval, [a] Perceval (prose romance). See Grail, [c], iii. 

[b] Perceval li Gallois (Perlesvaus) (prose romance). See 

Chretien de Troyes, [b], i. 

[c] The High History of the Holy Grail (tr. of foregoing). Tr. 



S. Evans. 2 vols. London, 1898. 

See also Chretien de Troyes, [b]; Thornton Romances; 
Wolfram von Eschenbach; and Section VIII, Weston, [f]. 

Peredur. See Section VI, Mabinogion. 

Robert (or Robiers) de Borron, [a] Seynt Graal, or the Sank Royal, 
partly in English verse by H. Lonelich, and Wholly in French Prose 
by Robiers de Borron. Ed. F. J. Furnivall. 2 vols. London, 
1861-63. 

[b] The History of the Holy Grail, English about iJ^^o by H. 

Lonelich from the French Prose of Sires Robiers de Borron. Re- 
ed, by F. J. Furnivall. 5 parts. London, 1874-1905. [EETS] 
See also Grail ; Merlin. 

Sir Cliges. Tr. J. L. Weston. London, 1902. 

Sir Morien. Tr. J. L. Weston. London, 1907. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 375 

Thornton Romances, the Early English Metrical Romances of Perceval, 
Isumbras, E glamour, and Degrevant. Ed. J. O. Halliwel!. Lon- 
don, 1844. 

Trisirem, Tristan, [a] Le Roman de Tristan, par Beroul, poeme du xii" 
siecle. Ed. E. Muret. Paris, 1903. [SdATF] 

[b] Le Roman de Tristan, par Thomas, poeme du xii^ siecle. 

Ed. J. Bedier. 2 vols. Paris, 1902-05. [SdJTF] 

[c] Sir Tristrem (attributed to Thomas the Rhymer). Ed. 

G. P. MacNeiU. London, 1886. [STS] 

[d] Le Roman en prose de Tristan, etc., analyse critique d'apres 



les manuscrits de Paris. By E. Loseth. Paris, 1890. 

See also Eilhart von Oberge; Gottfried von Strassburg. 
Ulrich von Zatzighoven, Lanzelet. Ed. K. A. Hahn. Frankfort, 
1845. 

See also Arthur, [a], iii; Lancelot. 
Wace, Le Roman de Brut. Ed. Le Roux de Liney. 2 vols. Rouen, 
1836-38. 

See also Layamon and Section VI, Briits. 

Wauchier de Denain. See Chretien de Troyes, [b], and Section 

VIII, Weston, [f]. 
Wolfram von Eschenbach, [a] Parzifal, etc. Ed. A. Leitzmann. 

5 vols. Halle, 1902-06. 
[b] Parzival. Tr. into verse by J. L. Weston. 2 vols. Lon- 
don, 1894. 

See also Chretien de Troyes, [b]; Perceval. 

For works on the Arthurian cycle see Section VIII. 

VIII. GENERAL WORKS 

Allen, J. R., Celtic Art in Pagan and Christian Times. London, 

1904. 
Anderson, J., [a] Scotland in Pagan Times. 2 vols. Edinburgh, 

1883-86. (i. Bronze and Stone Ages; ii. Iron Age.) 
[b] Scotland in Early Christian Times. 2 vols. Edinburgh, 

1881. 
Anwyl, Sir E., [a] Celtic Religion in Pre-Christian Times. London, 

1906. 
[b] "The Four Branches of the Mabinogi," in ZCP i. 277-93, 

ii. 124-33, iii. 123-34 (1897-1901). 

[c] "Ancient Celtic Deities," in TGSInv xxvi. 411 ff. (1906). 

[d] "Celtic Goddesses," in CR iii. 26-51 (1907)- 



III— 25 



376 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

Anwyl, Sir E., [e] "Wales and the Britons of the North," in CR iv. 

125-52, 249-73 (1908). 
[f] "The Value of the Mabinogion for the Study of Celtic 

Religion," in TCHR ii. 234-44. 

[g] "Keltic Heathenism in the British Isles," in Cambridge 



Medieval History, ii. 472-79. Cambridge, 1913. 
See also Section IX. 
Arnold, M., On the Study of Celtic Literature. London, 1867. 

Bartholomew, J. C, "Arthurian Localities," in Literary and His- 
torical Atlas of Europe, p. 132. London, no date (1910). 

Bathurst, W. H., Roman Antiquities at Lydney Park. London, 1879. 

Baudis, J., "Mabinogion," in FL xxvii. 31-68 (1916). 

Bertrand, a., Nos origines. 4 vols. Paris, 1887-97. 
i. Archeologie celtique et galloise. 
ii. La Gaule avant les Gallois. 
iii. Les Celtes dans les vallees du Po et du Danube. (In collaboration 

with S. Reinach.) 
iv. La Religion des Gaulois, les druides et le druidisme. 

BiRCH-HiRSCHFELD, A., Die Sage vom Gral. Leipzig, 1877. 

Blanchet, J. A., Traite des monnaies gauloises. 2 parts. Paris, 1905. 

Bloch, G., [a] Religion des Gaulois," in Revue internationale de 
Venseignement, xxix. 533-54, xxx. 145-61 (1895). 

[b] Les Origines: la Gaule independante et la Gaule romaine. 

Paris, 1901. (Vol. i, part 2, of E. Lavisse, Histoire de France.) 

Borlase, W. C, The Dolmens of Ireland. 3 vols. London, 1S97. 

Brand, J., Observations on Popular Antiquities. Ed. with additions 
by W. C. Hazlitt. 3 vols. London, 1870. 

Brown, A. C. L., [a] "The Round Table before Wace," in Notes and 
Studies in Philology and Literature, vii. 183-205 (1900). 

[b] "Iwain," in Studies and Notes in Philology and Literature, 

viii. 1-147 (1903). 
Campbell, Lord A., Craignish Tales. London, 1889. 
Campbell, J. F., [a] Popular Tales of the West Highlands, Orally 

Collected. 4 vols. Edinburgh, 1890-93. 

[b] Leabhar na Feinne. See Section V (b). 

[c] See Section V (b), Dragon Myth, The Celtic. 

Campbell, J. G., [a] Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands of 
Scotland. Glasgow, 1900. 

— [b] Witchcraft and Second Sight in the Highlands and Islands 
of Scotland. Glasgow, 1902. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 377 

Campbell, J. G., [c] The Fians. London, 1891. 

[d] Popular Tales and Traditions Collected in the West High- 
lands. London, 1895. 

Carmichael, a., Carmina Gadelica, Hymns and Incantations, with 
Notes. 2 vols. Edinburgh, 1900. 

Coffey, G, New Grange {Brugh na Boinne) and Other Incised Tumuli 

in Ireland. Dublin, 1912. 
Courcelle-Seneuil, J. L., Les Dieux gaulois d'apres les monuments 

figures. Paris, 1910. 
Croker, T. C, [a] Fairy Legends of the South of Ireland. 3 parts. 

London, 1825-28. New ed. London, 1882. 

[b] Irische Elfenmdrchen. Tr. of the foregoing by the brothers 

Grimm, with an important introduction, "Ueber die Elfen." 

Leipzig, 1826. 
Crowe, J. O'Beirne, "Religious Beliefs of the Pagan Irish," in 

JRHAAI III. i. 307-34 (1868-69). 
Curtin, J., [a] Hero Tales of Ireland. London, 1894. 
[b] Tales of the Fairies and Ghost World, Collected in South- 

West Munster. London, 1895. 
D'Arbois de Jubainville, H., [a] Cours de litterature celtique. See 

Section 11. 
[b] Les Celtes depuis les temps les plus anciens jusqu'en Van 

100 avant notre ere. Paris, 1904. 1 

[c] Les Druides et les dieux celtiqties a forme d'animaux. 

Paris, 1906. 

[d] La Famille celtique: etude de droit comparatif. Paris, 



1906. 

— [e] Tain Bo Cualnge. See Section V {b). 

— [f] Numerous articles in RCel. 



Davies, E., [a] Celtic Researches. London, 1804. 

[b] Mythology and Rites of the Druids. London, 1809. 

Dechelette, J., Manuel d'archeologie prehistorique celtique et gallo- 
romaine. 2 vols. Paris, 1908-13. 

DicKENSiN, W. H., King Arthur in Cornwall. London, 1900. 

DiNAN, W. See Section II. 

DoTTiN, G., [a] Contes irlandais, traduites du Gaelique. Rennes, 1901. 

[b] Manuel pour servir a Vetude de Vantiquite celtique. Paris, 

1906. 

[c] "La Religion des Gaulois," in RHR xxxviii. 136-52 



(1898). 



378 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

DoTTiN, G., [d] "La Croyance a rimmortalite de I'ame chez les 
anciens Irlandais," in RHR xiv. 53-66 (1886). 
See also Le Braz, [a], and Section IX. 

Elton, C. I., Origins of English History. London, 1882. 2nd ed., 
1890. 

Erbutt, M. I., Hero Myths and Legends of the British Race. London, 
1912. 

Evans, Sir J., Coins of the Ancient Britons. London, 1864. Sup- 
plement, 1890. 

Fletcher, R. A., Arthurian Matter in the Chronicles. Boston, 
1906. 

Flouest, E., Etudes d'archeologie et de mythologie gauloises. Paris, 
1885. 

Frazer, J. G., The Golden Bough. 3rd ed. 11 vols. London, 1907- 
12. 
i, ii. The Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings. 2 vols. 191 1. 
iii. Taboo and the Perils of the Soul. 191 1. 
iv. The Dying God. 191 1. 
V. Adonis, Attis, and Osiris. 2nd ed. 1907. 
vi, vii. Spirits of the Corn and of the Wild. 2 vols. 3rd ed. 191 2. 
viii. The Scapegoat. 191 3. 
ix, X. Balder the Beautiful. 2 vols. 1913. 
xi. Index. 
Gaidoz, H., [a] "Gaulois (Religion des)," in Encyclopedie des sciences 
religieuses, v. 428-41. 

[b] Le Dieu gaulois du soleil et le symholisme de la roue. Paris, 

1886. 
GoMME, Sir G. L., Ethnology in Folk-Lore. London, 1892. 
See also Section IX. 

GouGAUD, DoM L., Les Chretientes celtiques. Paris, 191 1. 

Gregory, Lady A., [a] Gods and Fighting Men: the Story of the Tuatha 
De Danann and of the Fianna of Ireland. London, 1910. 

[b] Cuchulain of Muirthemne: the Story of the Men of the Red 

Branch of Ulster. London, 1902. 
Grimm, J., Deutsche Mythologie. 2nd ed. 2 vols. Gottingen, 1843- 

44. English tr. by J. S. Stallybrass, Teutonic Mythology. 4 vols. 

London, 1879-89. 

See also under Croker, T. C. 

Grupp, G., Kultur der alten Kelten und Germanen. Munich, 1905. 

Guest, Lady C. See Section VI, Mabinogion, [a]. 

Hagen, p., Der Gral. Strassburg, 1900. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 379 

Hartland, E. S., [a] The Science of Fairy-Tales. London, 1891. 

[b] Ritual and Belief. London, 1914. 

See also Section IX. 

Henderson, G., [a] Norse Influence on Celtic Scotland. Glasgow, 
1910. 

[b] Survivals in Belief among the Celts. Glasgow, 191 1. 

[c] See Section V (^), Dragon Myth., The Celtic. 

Herbert, A., [a] Britannia after the Romans. London, 1804. 

[b] Neo-Druidic Heresy. London, 1838. 

HiGGiNS, G., The Celtic Druids. London, 1829. 

Holder, A. See Section 11. 

Holmes, J. R. E., [a] Ancient Britain and the Invasions of Julius 
Caesar. Oxford, 1907. 

[b] Caesar's Conquest of Gaul. London, 1899. 2nd ed., re- 
vised and rewritten. Oxford, 191 1. 

Hull, Eleanor, [a] Pagan Ireland. London, 1904. 

[b] Early Christian Ireland. London, 1905. 

[c] The Cuchullin Saga. See Section V {b). 

[d] "Old Irish Tabus, or Geasa" in FL xii. 41-66 (1901). 

[e] "The Silver Bough In Irish Legend," in FL xii. 431-45 

(i9oO- 

[f] "The Development of the Idea of Hades in Celtic Litera- 



ture," in FL xviii. 121-65 (1907). 
See also Section IX. 
Hyde, D., [a] An Sgealuidhe Gaedhealach [with French tr. by G. 
Dottin]. London, no date. (The tr. is published separately, 
see DoTTiN, [a].) 

[b] Beside the Fire: A Collection of Irish Gaelic Folk Stories. 

With additional notes by A. Nutt. London, 1890. 

[c] A Literary History of Ireland., from the Earliest Times to 



the Present Day. London, 1899. 
See also Section IX. 

John, Ivor B., The Mabinogion. London, 1901. 

Jones, W. L., King Arthur in History and Legend. Cambridge, 191 1. 

Joyce, P. W., [a] Old Celtic Romances. Translated from the Gaelic. 

2nd ed. London, 1894. 
[b] Origin and History of Irish Names of Places. 4th ed. 

London, 1901. 

[c] A Social History of Ancient Ireland. 2 vols. London, 1903. 

[d] The Story of Ancient Irish Civilization. London, 1907. 



3 So CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

JuLLiAN, C, [a] Recherches sur la religion gauloise. Bordeaux, 1903. 

[b] Histoire de la Gatde. 4 vols. Paris, 1908-13. 

[c] " Keltic Heathenism in Gaul," in Cambridge Medieval 

History, ii. 459-71. Cambridge, 1913. 

Keating, G. See Section V (Z>), ITS iii. 

Kempe, D., The Legend of the Holy Grail, Its Sources, Character, etc. 
Part 5 of Grail, [a]. See Section VH. 

Kennedy, P., Legendary Fictions of the Irish Celts. London, 1866. 
KiTTREDGE, G. L., A Study of Gazvain and the Green Knight. Oxford, 
1916. 

Kirk, R., The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies. 
London, 1691. New ed., with a commentary by A. Lang. 
London, 1893. 

Larminie, W., West Irish Folk-Tales and Romances. London, 1893. 

Leahy, A. H. See Section V {b). Heroic Romances of Ireland. 

LeBraz, a., [a] La Legende de la mort en Basse-Bretagne. Paris, 
1892. (Introd. by L. Marillier.) 2nd ed., La Legende de la mort 
chez les Bretons armoricains. 2 vols. Paris, 1902. (With notes 
by G. Dottin.) 

[b] Le Theatre celtique. Paris, 1905. 

Lefevre, a., Les Gaulois, origines et croyances. Paris, 1900. 

Leflocq, J., Etudes de mythologie celtique. Paris, 1869. 

Lot, F., [a] "Glastonbury et Avalon," in Romania, xxvii. 529-73 
(1898). ^ 

[b] "Etudes sur la provenance du cycle arthurien," in Ro- 
mania, xxiv. 497-528, XXV. 1-32, xxviii. 1-48, 321-47, xxx, 1-21 
(1895-1901). 

Loth, J., [a] "Nouvelles theories sur I'origine des romans arthuriens," 
in 7?C^/ 475-503 (1892). 

[b] " Contributions a I'etude des romans de la Table Ronde," 

in RCel xxxiii. 258-310 (1912). 

See also Section H, D'Arbois de Jubainville, and Sec- 
tion VI, Mabinogion, [b], [c]. 

MacBain, a., [a] "Celtic Mythology," in CM ix. 36-44, 65-71, 

124-31, 167-72, 210-16, 275-82, 323-29, 427-34, 460-62 

(1884). 
[b] "Hero Tales of the Gaels," in CM xiii. 1-19, 69-77, 129- 

38, 185-89, 280-87, 319-26, 351-59, 424-30, 512-16, 563-66 

(1888). 

[c] Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language. Inver- 



ness, 1896. 2nd ed. Stirling, 1911, 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 381 

MacBain, a., [d] Celtic Mythology and Religion. Stirling, 191 7. 
(With introductory chapter and notes by W. J. Watson.) 

[e] "Heroic and Ossianic Literature," in TGSInv xii. 180- 

211 (1886). 

MacCulloch, J. A., [a] The Childhood of Fiction: A Study of Folk- 
Tales and Primitive Thought. London, 1905. 

[b] The Religion of the Ancient Celts. Edinburgh, 191 1. 

[c] "The Druids in the Light of Recent Theories," in TCHR 

ii. 226-30. 

[d] "The Celtic Conception of the Future Life," in Actes du 



quatrieme congres international des religions, pp. 143-44. 
See also Section IX. 

MacDougall, J., Folk and Hero Tales. London, 1890. (With 
notes by MacDougall and A. Nutt.) 

MacInness, D., Folk and Hero Tales. London, 1891. (With notes 
by MacInness and A. Nutt.) 

MacKinlay, J. M., Folk-Lore of Scottish Lochs and Springs. Glas- 
gow, 1893. 

MacLean, M., [a] The Literature of the Celts, its History and Romance. 
London, 1902. 

[b] The Literature of the Highlands. London, 1904. 

See also Section IX. 

MacNeill, J. See Section V {b), ITS iv, 

MacPherson, J., The Poems of Ossian, in the original Gaelic, with a 
Literal Translation into English. 2 vols. Edinburgh, 1870. 

Marillier, L., "La Doctrine de la reincarnation des ames et les 
dieux de I'ancienne Irlande," in RHR xl. 60-123 (i899)- 
See also Le Braz [a]. 

Martin, Dom, La Religion des Gaulois. 2 vols. Paris, 1727. 

Martin, H., Etudes d'archeologie celtique. Paris, 1872. 

Martin, M., Description of the Western Isles. 2nd ed. London, 
1716. 

Maury, L. F. A., Les Fees du moyen-dge. Paris, 1843. 2nd ed. in 
Croyances et legendes du moyen-dge. Paris, 1896. 

Meyer, K., "Eine verschoUene Artursage," in Festschrift Ernst 
Windisch, pp. 63-67. Leipzig, 1914. 
See also Section V {b), Voyage of Bran. 

Moore, A. W., Folk-Lore of the Isle of Man. Douglas, 1891. 

MoTT, L., "The Round Table," in Publications of the Modern Lan- 
guage Association of America, xx. 231-64 (1905). 



382 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

Myvyrian Archaiology. See Section VL 

Newell, W. W., King Arthur and the Table Round. 2 vols. Boston, 

1897. 
Nicholson, E. W. B., Keltic Researches. London, 1904. 
NuTT, A., [a] "Mabinogion Studies," in FLR v. 1-32 (1882). 
[b] Studies on the Legend of the Holy Grail. London, 1888. 

[c] "The Happy Otherworld: The Celtic Doctrine of Rebirth," 

in Voyage oj Bran. See Section V {b). 

[d] Celtic and Mediceval Romance. 2nd ed. London, 1904. 

[e] Ossian and the Ossianic Literature Connected with his 

Name. London, 1899. 

[f] The Fairy Mythology of Shakespeare. London, 1900. 

• [g] Cuchulainn, The Irish Achilles. London, 1901. 

[h] The Legends of the Holy Grail. London, 1902. 

[i] "Critical Notes on the Folk- and Hero-Tales of the Celts," 

in CM xii. 457-64, 503-10, 548-5? (1887). 

[)■] "Celtic Myth and Saga," in AR ii. 110-42 (1889). 

[k] "Les Demlers Travaux allemands sur la legende du saint 



graal," in RCel xii. 181-228 (1891). 

[1] Numerous articles in RCel and FL. 

See also MacDougall, MacInness, and Section VI, Mabi- 
nogion, [a]. 

O'CuRRY, E., [a] Lectures on the Manuscript Materials of Ancient Irish 
History. Dublin, 1 861. 

[b] Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish. Ed. W. K. 

Sullivan. 3 vols. London, 1873. 

O'Grady, S., The History of Ireland. 2 vols. London, 1878-80. 
(i. The Heroic Period; ii. Cuchulain and his Contemporaries.) 

O'Grady, S. H. See Section V {b), Silva Gadelica. 
Parkyns, E. a.. An Introduction to the Study of Prehistoric Art. 
London, 191 5. (Chapter on Celtic art.) 

Paton, Lucy A., [a] "Merlin and Ganieda," in Modern Language 
Notes, xviii. 163-69 (1903). 

[b] Studies in the Fairy Mythology of Arthurian Romance. 

Boston, 1903. 

Petrie, H. See Section III. 

Reinach, S., [a] Cultes, mythes, et religions. 4 vols. Paris, 1905-12. 

[b] Epona, la deesse gauloise des chevaux. Paris, 1895. 

[c] Bronzes figures de la Gaule romaine. Paris, 1900. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 383 

Reinach, S., [d] Numerous articles in RCel and RA. 

See also Bertrand. 
Renan, E., "De la poesie des races celtiques," in his Essais de morale 

et de critique. 4th ed. Paris, 1890. 
Renel, C, Religions de la Gaule. Paris, 1906. 

Rhys, Sir J., [a] Origin and Grozvth of Religion as Illustrated by Celtic 
Heathendom. London, 1888. 

[b] "Mythographical Treatment of Celtic Ethnology," in 

Scottish Review, xvi. 240-56 (1890). 

[c] Studies in the Arthurian Legend. Oxford, 1 891. 

[d] Celtic Folklore, Welsh and Manx. 2 vols. Oxford, 1901. 

— [e] Celtic Britain. 4th ed. London, 1908. 

[f] "The Nine Witches of Gloucester," in Anthropological 

Essays Presented to E. B. Tylor, pp. 285-93. Oxford, 1907. 

[g] President's Address to Section 7, Religions of the Germans, 

Celts, and Slavs, International Congress for the History of Re- 
ligions, 1908, in TCHR ii. 201-25. 

[h] Celtae and Galli. Oxford, 1905. 

[i] The Celtic Inscriptions of France and Italy. Oxford, 1906. 

[j] Celtic Inscriptions of Gaul. Oxford, 191 1. 

[k] Celtic Inscriptions of Cisalpine Gaul. Oxford, 191 3. 

[1] Gleanings in the Italian Field of Celtic Epigraphy. Oxford, 



1914. 

Rhys, Sir J., and Brynmor-Jones, D., The Welsh People. London, 
1900. 

RiDGEWAY, W., The Date of the First Shaping of the Cuchulain Saga. 
London, 1905. 

RoLLESTON, T. W., Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race. London, 
1911. 

San Marte [pseudonym of A. Schulz], [a] Sagen von Merlin. Halle, 
1853. 

[b] Die Arthursage. Halle, 1842. 

[c] Parzifal-Studien. 3 vols. Halle, 1861-62. 

ScHROEDER, L. voN, "Der Himmelsgott bei den Kelten, Littauem 
und Letten, Slaven und Phrygern," in his Arische Religion, i. 
524-54. Leipzig, 1914. 

Scott, Sir W., [a] Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft. London, 
1830. 

[b] Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border. London, 1839. Ed. 

T. F. Henderson. 4 vols. Edinburgh, 1902. 



384 CELTIC M\THOLOGY 

Sebillot, p., [a] Gargantua dans les traditions populaires. Paris, 1883. 

[b] Le Folk-lore de France. 4 vols. Paris, 1904-07. 

Skene, W. F., [a] Four Ancient Books of Wales. See Section VI. 

[b] Celtic Scotland. 3 vols. Edinburgh, 1876-80. 

Spence, L., Legends and Romances of Brittany. London, 1917. 
Squire, C, [a] The Mythology of the British Islands. Glasgow, 1905. 

[b] The Mythology of Ancient Britain and Ireland. London, 

1903. 
Stephens, T., The Literature of the Kymry. Llandovery, 1849. 

2nd ed. London, 1876. 

Stern, L. C, "Eine ossianische Ballade aus dem xii. Jahrhundert," 
in Festschrift W. Stokes zum siebzigsten Geburtstage . . . gewidmet, 
pp. 7-19. Leipzig, 1900. 

Stokes, W., [a] Goidelica. 2nd ed. London, 1872. 

[b] Urkeltischer Sprachschatz. Gottingen, 1894. (Vol. ii. of 

F. C. A. Fick, Vergleichendes Worterbuch der indogermanischen 
Sprachen, 4th ed.) 

[c] Numerous texts and translations in RCel. 



Stuart-Glennie, J. S., Arthurian Localities. Edinburgh, 1869. 
New ed. in Merlin, ed. H. B. Wheatley, i. See Section VII. 

Thomas, N. W., "Survivance du culte totemique des animaux et les 
rites agraires dans le pays de Galles," in RHR xxxviii. 295-347 
(1898). 
See also Section IX. 

Thurneysen, R. See Section V (b), Sagen aus dem alten Irland. 

Train, ]., Historical Account of the Isle of Man. 2 vols. Douglas, 1845. 

TuNisoN, J. S., The Graal Problem from Walter Map to Richard 
Wagner. Cincinnati, 1904. 

ViLLEMARQUE, T. H. DE LA, [a] Barzaz-Breiz : chants populaires de la 
Bretagne. 2 vols. Paris, 1846. 

[b] Contes populaires des anciens Bretons, precede d'essai sur 

I'origine des epopees de la tdble-ronde. Paris, 1842. 

[c] Myrdhinn, ou Merlin, son histoire, ses ceuvres. Paris, 1862. 

[d] Les Romans de la table-ronde et les contes des anciens 



Bretons. 3rd ed. Paris, i860. 

Watson, W. J. See MacBain, [d]. 

VVechssler, E., Die Sage vom heiligen Graal. Halle, 1898. 

Wentz, W. Y. E., The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries. London, 1911. 

Weston, Jessie L., [a] The Legend of Sir Gazvain: Studies upon its 
Original Scope and Significance. London, 1897. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 385 

Weston, Jessie L., [b] The Legend of Sir Lancelot du Lac: Studies 
■upon its Origin, Development, and Position in the Arthurian 
Romantic Cycle. London, 1901. 

— [c] The Three Days^ Tournament: A Study in Romance and 

Folklore. London, 1903. 

[d] King Arthur and his Knights, London, 1905. 

[e] The Quest of the Holy Grail. London, 191 3. 

[f] The Legend of Sir Perceval: Studies upon its Origin, Develop- 
ment, and Position in the Arthurian Cycle. 2 vols. London, 
1906-09. (i. Chretien de Troyes and Wauchier de Denain; 
ii. Prose Perceval According to the Modena Manuscript.) 

[g] "The Grail and the Rites of Adonis," in FL xviii. 283- 



305 (1907). 

See also Section VII. 
Wilde, Lady, Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of 

Ireland. 2 vols. London, 1887. 
WiNDiscH, E., Kurzgefasste irische Grammatik. Leipzig, 1879. 

See also Section V. (b), Irische Texte ; Tain Bo Ciialnge, [a]. 
Wise, T. A., Paganism in Caledonia. London, 1884. 
Wood-Martin, W. G., [a] Pagan Ireland. London, 1895. 
[b] Traces of the Elder Faiths of Ireland. 2 vols. London, 

1902. 
Wright, T., The Celt, the Roman, and the Saxon. London, 1852. 
Yeats, W. B., [a] "Prisoners of the Gods," in Nineteenth Century, 

xliii. 91-104 (1898). 
[b] "Ireland Bewitched," in Contemporary Review, Ixxvi. 

388-404 (1899). 
ZiMMER, H., [a] Keltische Studien. 2 vols. Berlin, 1881-84. 
[b] Nennius Vindicatus. Berlin, 1893. 

[c] "Keltische Beitrage; i. Germanen, germanische Lehn- 

worter und germanische Sagenelemente in der altesten Ueber- 
lieferung der irischen Heldensage; ii. Brendan's Meerfahrt," in 
ZDA xxxii. 196-334, xxxiii. 257-338 (1888-89). 

[d] "Ueber dem compilatorischen Charakter der irischen 

Sagentexte in sogenannten Lebor na h-Uidhre," in ZVS xxviii. 

417-689 (1887). 
[e] " Bretonische Elemente in der Arthursage des Gottfried 

von Monmouth," in Zeitschrift fiir franzosische Sprache und 

Litteratur, xii. 231-56 (1890). 

[f] "Beitrage zur Erklarung irischer Sagentexte," in ZCP 



i. 74-101, iii. 285-303 (1897-99). 



386 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

IX. ARTICLES ON CELTIC SUBJECTS IN THE ENCY- 
CLOPEDIA OF RELIGION AND ETHICS (vols, i-x) 

Anwyl, Sir E., "Arthurian Cycle," ii. 1-7. 

"Asceticism (Celtic)," ii. 71-73. 

"Bards (Breton)," ii. 412-14. 

"Bards (Welsh)," ii. 416-20. 

"Children (Celtic)," iii. 529-32. 

"Communion with Deity (Celtic)," iii. 747-51. 

"Crimes and Punishments (Celtic)," iv. 261-69. 

"Demons and Spirits (Celtic)," iv. 572-76. 

"Family (Celtic)," v. 728-30. 

"Inheritance (Celtic)," vii. 297-99. 

"Law (Celtic)," vii. 828-30. 

"Merlin," viii. 565-70. 

AsTLEY, H. J. DuKiNFiELD, " Cup- and Ring-Markings," iv. 363-67 
Barns, T, "All Fools' Day," i. 331-33. 

"Candlemas," iii. 189-94. 

"Disease and Medicine (Celtic)," iv. 747-49. 

"Michaelmas," viii. 619-23. 

Brown, G. Baldwin, "Art (Celtic)," i. 837-45. 
Crawley, A. E., "Cursing and Blessing," iv. 367-74. 

"May, Midsummer," viii. 501-03. 

D'Alviella, Count Goblet, " Circumambulation," iii. 657-59. 

"Cross," iv. 324-29. 

Dottin, G., "Architecture (Celtic)," i. 692-93. 

"Cosmogony and Cosmology (Celtic)," iv. 138. 

"Divination (Celtic)," iv. 787-88. 

"Marriage (Celtic)," viii. 432-37. 

Gerig, J. L., "Blood-Feud (Celtic)," ii. 725-27. 

"Ethics and Morality (Celtic)," v. 456-65. 

"Hospitality (Celtic)," vi. 799-803. 

"Images and Idols (Celtic)," vii. 127-30. 

"Love (Celtic)," viii. 162-64. 

GoMME, Sir G. L., "Folklore," vi. 57-59. 

Gray, L. H., "Altar (Celtic)," i. 337. 

"Ancestor-Worship and Cult of the Dead (Celtic)," i. 440. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 387 

Gray, L. H., "Birth (Celtic)," ii. 645. 

"Cock," iii. 694-98. 

GwYNN, E. J., "Fosterage," vi. 104-09. 

Hartland, E. S., "Foundations and Foundation Rites," vi. 109-15. 

Hull, Eleanor, "Cuchulainn Cycle," iv. 353-57. 

"Fate (Celtic)," v. 782-83. 

"Hymns (Irish Christian)," vli. 25-28. 

Hyde, D., "Bards (Irish)," ii. 414-16. 

Keane, a. H., "Europe," v. 591-97- 

Keith, A. B.. "Numbers (Aryan)," §5, ix. 411. 

Knight, G. A. F., "Bridge," ii. 848-57. 

Lehmann, E., "Christmas Customs," iii. 608-IO. 

MacCulloch, J. A., "Baptism (Ethnic)," ii. 367-75. 

"Blest, Abode of the (Celtic)," ii. 689-96. 

"Branches and Twigs," ii. 831-33. 

"Cakes and Loaves," iii. 57-61. 

"Calendar (Celtic)," iii. 78-82. 

"Celts," iii. 277-304. 

"Changeling," iii. 358-63- 

"Charms and Amulets (Celtic)," iii. 412-13. 

"Door," iv. 846-52. 

■ "Druids," v. 82-89. 

"Dualism (Celtic)," v. 102-04. 

"Earth, Earth-Gods," v. 127-31. 

"Fairy," V. 678-89. 

"Festivals and Fasts (Celtic)," v. 838-43. 

"Head," vi. 532-40. 

"Heart," vi. 556-59- 

"Horns," vi. 791-96. 

"Hymns (Celtic)," vii. 4-5. 

"Invisibility," vii. 404-06. 

"Landmarks and Boundaries," vii. 789-95. 

"Light and Darkness (Primitive)," viii. 47-51. 

"Lycanthropy," viii. 206-20. 

"Magic (Celtic)," viii. 257-59. 

"Mountains and Mountain-Gods," viii. 863-68. 

"Mouth," viii. 869-71. 



388 CELTIC MYTHOLOGY 

MacCulloch, J. A., "Music (Celtic)," ix. 15-16. 

"Nameless Gods," ix. 179-81. 

"Nature (Primitive and Savage)," ix. 201-07. 

"Ordeal (Celtic)," ix. 514-16. 

"Picts,"x. 1-6. 

MacLean, M., "Feinn Cycle," v. 823-27. 

MacRitchie, D., "Giants," vi. 189-93. 

MuNRO, R., "Death and Disposal of the Dead (Europe, Prehis- 
toric)," iv. 464-72. 

"Lake-Dwellings," vii. 773-84. 

Robinson, F. N., "Deae Matres," iv. 406-11. 

Ross, J. M. E., and Ross, M., "Grail, The Holy," vi. 385-89. 

ScHRADER, 0., "Aryan Religion," ii. 11-57. 

Thomas, N. W., "Animals," i. 483-535. 

Williams, H., "Church (British)," iii. 631-38. 



SLAVIC 



JPM 

AR 

ASP 

BM 

CCM 

FRB 

MGH: 

MlilG 



SRG 



NPPBl 
PPBl 
RTP 
SRL . 
SRP . 
SWAW 

ZE . . 



I. ABBREVIATIONS 

Altpreussische Monatschrift. 

Archiv fiir Religionswissenschaft. 

Archiv fiir slavische Philologie. 

Baltische Monatschrift. 

Casopis ceskeho Museum. 

Pontes rerum Bohemicarum. 

Monumenta Germaniae historica: Scriptores (rerum 

Germanicarum) . 
Mitteilungen der litauischen litterarischen Gesell- 

schaft. 
Neue preussische Provinzial-Blatter. 
Preussische Provinzial-Blatter. 
Revue des traditions populaires. 
Scriptores rerum Livonicarum. 
Scriptores rerum Prussicarum. 
Sitzungsberichte der Wiener Akademie der Wissen- 

schaften. 
Zeitschrift fiir Ethnologie. 



II. BIBLIOGRAPHY 

Adam of Bremen, Gesta H ammahurgensis ecclesiae pontificum. Ed. 
in MGH. SRG vii. 280-389. Also ed. L. Weiland. Hanover, 
1876. 

Aeneas Sylvius de' Piccolomini, De Lithuania. Ed. T. Hirsch, in 
SRP iv. 237-39. 

Afanasiyev, a., Poeticeskiya vozzreniya Slavyan na prirodu. 3 vols. 
Moscow, 1865-69. 

Andrejanoff, V. VON, Lettische Mdrchen. Leipzig, no date. (Re- 
clam's Universal-Bibliothek, no. 3518.) 

Anickov, E. v., "Vesennyaya obryadovaya pesnya na zapade i y 
Slavyan," in Sbornik otdeleniya russkago yazyka i slovesnosti 
imperatorskoi akademii nauk, Ixxiv, part 2 (1903). 



390 SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY 

Anickov, E. v., Yazycestvo i drevnaya Rus. Petrograd, 1914. 
Anonymous, Gottesidee und Cultus bei den alien Preussen. Berlin, 

1870. 
AuNiNG, R., Ueber den leitischen Drachen-Mythus. Mitau, 1892. 
Bender, J., De veterum Prutenorum diis. Braunsberg, 1865. 
"Zur altpreussischen Mythologie und Sittengeschichte," in 

APM ii. 577-603 (1865), iv. 1-27, 97-135 (1867). 
Bernhardy, W., "Bausteine zur slawischen mythologie," in Jahr- 

biicher Jiir slawische Literatur, Kunst und Wissenschajt, i. (1843). 

Bezzenberger, a., "Mythologisches in altlitauischen Texten," in 
Beitrdge zur Kunde der indogermanischen Spracheji, i. 41-47 

(1877)- 
Litauische Forschungen, pp. 61-94. Gottingen, 1882. 

Bielenstein, a., "Das Johannisfest der Letten," in BM xxiii. 1-46 

(1874). 
Bielenstein, A. E., and H., Studien aus dem Gebiete der leitischen 

Archdologie, Ethnographie und Mythologie. Riga, 1896. 

Bishop of Prague, Das Homiliar des Bischofs von Prag. Ed. F. 

Hecht. Prague, 1863. 
Boguslawski, W., Dzieje Slozvianszczyzny pofnvcno-zachodniej do 

poiowy xiiiw. 3 vols. Posen, 1887-92. 
Brosow, a., tjber Baumverehrung, Wald- und Feldkulte der littauischen 

Volkergruppe. Konigsberg, 1887. 
Bruckner, A., "Pripegala," in ASP vi. 216-23 (1882). 
"Beitrage zur litauischen Mythologie," in ASP ix. 1-35 

(1886). 

" Mythologische Studien," in ASP xiv. 1 61-91 (1892). 

"Wierzenia religijne," in Encyklopedja polska, iv. 

Starozytna Littva. Ludy i bogi. Warsaw, 1904. 



Buga, K., Medziaga Lietuvit^, Latviu ir Priisu Mytologijai. 2 parts. 

Vilna, 1908-09. 
Cerny, a., Mithiske bytosce luziskich Serbov. Budysin, 1893 ff. 

Clagius, T., Linda Mariana, sive de beata virgine Lindensi libri 

quinque. Cologne, 1659. 
CosMAS, Chronica Boemorum. Ed. in MGH.SRG ix. 132-209. Also 

ed. in FRB ii. 1-370. 

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III. PRINCIPAL ARTICLES ON SLAVIC RELIGION IN 
THE ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF RELIGION AND ETHICS 
(vols, i-ix) 

Bezzenberger, a., "Lithuanians and Letts," viii. 1 13-16. 

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466. 

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398 SLAVIC MYTHOLOGY 

Leger, L., "Festivals (Slavic)," v. 890, 

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"Human Sacrifice (Slavic)," vi, 865, 

MacCulloch, J. A., "Blest, Abode of the (Slavonic)," ii. 706-07. 
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Magnus, L. A., "Magic (Slavic)," viii. 305-07. 

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Mansikka, V. J., "Demons and Spirits (Slavic)," iv. 622-30. 
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"Charms and Amulets (Slavic)," iii. 465-67. 

"Chastity (Teutonic and Balto-SIavic)," iii. 499-503. 

"Crimes and Punishments (Teutonic and Slavic)," iv. 

300-05. 

"Death and Disposal of the Dead (Slavic)," iv. 508-09. 

"Divination (Litu-Slavic)," iv. 814-16. 

"Family (Teutonic and Balto-Slavic)," v. 749-54. 

"Hospitality (Teutonic and Balto-Slavic)," vi. 818-20. 

"King (Teutonic and Litu-Slavic)," vii. 728-32.' 

"Law (Teutonic and Slavic)," vii. 887-89. 



Seaton, Mary E., "Images and Idols (Teutonic and Slavic)," vii. 

155-59. 
"Ordeal (Slavic)," ix. 529-30. 

Welsford, Enid, "Nature (Lettish, Lithuanian, and Old Prussian)," 

ix. 240-42. 

"Old Prussians," ix. 486-90. 



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