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Published by Rodney Mackay

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Published by: Rodney Mackay on Mar 27, 2008
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B, beithe, birch. The second letter in the Ogham. The totembird for this letter is besan, the pheasant; colour ban,white; dates, December 24 to January 20. Associated withDi-domhnaich, the Day of the House of Don and the creator-god.BÀ. BÀTH, obs. good, simple-minded; now: foolish; deadlytalk, gossip, from bàs, death. Confers with Lat. faut. Seebas. Cf. Lat. fatuus.BACH, drunkeness, from Latin god Bacchus. Alcoholicbeverages were considered to be full of god-spirit and wereadjuncts of fertility rites.BACHALL, BACHUILL BUIDHE, AN, bachall, a shepherd's crook,a crozier, old shoe or slipper, from the Latin baculum, a rodof power. Confers with G. bac, a crook and bacach, lamed;buidehe, yellow, Latin badius, the English bay. The yellowstaff of magic. Confers with bach, drunkenness and the Lat.Bacchus, the staff-carrier, and a noted drinker.Wooden crooks were often carried by the Celtic gods,by druids and by the Daoine sidh as symbols of power and asdevices for directing the gisreag, or “fire-magic.” In morerecent times the aoghaire, or “shepherds” have beenconsidered uncanny because the carried the crooked staffpreferred by Cromm “the Crooked.” The goddess Macha, theBefind of future events, carried one of these in her guise asthe Cailleach Bheurr, or “Winter Hag.” Those who saw herpass said that the staff of power shed snow and storms ofice, and when she pointed it at men, her energies discharged
through it as life-taking lightning.The crooked rods of the ancient Gaels were seen to betoo potent to destroy, so Christian "saints" confiscatedthem, re-dedicated them to the use of An Tighernmas, "TheOne God", and represented them as pastoral staffs. Becausethey were remnants of "living-wood", housing the totem-spirits of their carriers, these rods had a limited life spanand only a few remain.One of their number was obtained by Saint Filian, whodied in Scotland about the year 703 A.D. It was consideredso highly as a relic it was entrusted to the Dewar family,the traditional keepers of magical implements. There wereonce five hereditary Dewars of Saint Filian, whosedescendants include the millionaire peer Evelyn Dewar,third Lord Fortevoit, of Perthshire. When Filian's staffbegan to crumble under use, the crooked head was encasedin bronze, and this was re-encased in silver.In 1336 the head of Clan Menzies declared DonaldMacSobreil, dewar Cogerach, the magic staff then beingknown as Coigreach, "A Stranger," "one who comes from aneighbouring province." This was because the staff wasoften carried into remote parts, for it was law that anyinhabitant of the parish of Glendochart could call for itshelp if his property was stolen. The Dewar of Coygerachwas required to have it come and "sniff out" the thief. Itwas well known that the crozier had the ability to followthe goods, or cattle, wherever they happened to be takenwithin the bounds of Scotland.In return for carrying the staff, the dewar was given ayearly supply of meal by the parish, and each applicantrewarded him with four pence, a pair of shoes, and food forthe first night on the trail. Apparently the fee was neveradjusted to allow for increases in the cost of living for thedewar who carried it in the reign of Charles II was soreduced, he sold the Coigreach itself to Macdonnell ofGlengarry, who venerated it as a Catholic relic.
Succeeding Dewars were not at rest until this thinlydisguised pagan device came back to Breadalbane. In 1782,the official dewar was a day-labourer but as late as 1795,Presbyterian highlanders were in the habit of coming infrom the hills to the town of Killin to procure water thathad been in touch with the crozier. In 1818 ArchibaldDewar emigrated to Canada and took the magic rod alongwith him. In this country he was persuaded to produce themagic-water which seemed helpful in treating the diseasesof cattle and men.In 1876, this dewar consented to transfer the oldpagan staff to the Society of Antiquities of Scotland, "ontrust to the benefit and enjoyment of the Scottish nation."All that remains for the current Dewars is their heraldicinsignia, featuring a pair of crossed pastoral rods. Anotherof this kind is the Bachuil Mor, or “Great Staff,” picked upat an early date by Saint Moluag and entrusted to the dewarsof Lismore in northern Scotland. It was, for many years,encased in corroded copper, thus its nick-name BachuilBuide, the Yellow Staff." At the old Samhuinn (Nov. 1) theBarons of the Bachuel , the Livingstones of the Isle ofLismore, hosted a gathering at which spring-water wassolemnly stirred using this staff. "...thereafter the waterwas carefully decanted into bottles which were distributedto the relatives present. The belief was current that thiswas "holy water" which would serve as a talisman againstall ills throughout the year."Interestingly, Molaug was a nick-name for SaintLughaidh, a Christian who died among the northern Picts in592 A.D. His name is a combination of Lugh and Aod, twopatently pagan sun-deities. It seems apropos that his"light" was extinguished on June 25 at an eclipse of the sun.His name translates, roughly as "the gleaming light of day."St. Molaug's bachuel was entrusted to the dewars of the clanMacleay or Livingstone.BACHAILLE NAN EILEANAN, "bachuill carriers of the islands."

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