O, onn, furze.

The bird is airdhirdeog, the lapwing; the colour odhar, dun; the date, that of the vernal equinox. The number is four

OB, a creek, shallow pool, harbour, bay; derived from ON. hop, a small land-locked bay, the Scot. hope and the AS. hop, a valley. OB, OBACH, OBADH, OBAIDH, a charm, a spell, an incantation; see ubag. This word also implies refusal, denial, shunning or rejection. See next. OBAG, witch. This is a diminutive of the above word. The word is also used as “a spell.” a falcon; hurry, confusion, arbruptness. Obagag, an unimportant witch. OBAIR, obs., a confluence (of streams, roads etc.) The pronunciation “aber” has led to the form Aber- as seen in modern Gaelic place names, as Aberfoyle, Scotland. This word probably relates to ob. Water taken from a confluence was considered to have magical properties. OBAIR PHEALLAIDH, one of the urusig tribe of river spirits. This name has been anglicized as Aberfeldy. This sprite has a wide geographic range. His footprint, Caslorg Phellaidh, is seen in stone at Glen Lyon. The wild burn of Inbhir-inncoin was his as was the cataract known as Eas Pheallaidh. O-BREAS-IL, HY BREASIL, I-BRAZIL, "o", she (the) "y", "i", "hi", "hy", abbreviations for high above the sea or innis, an

island; perhaps also iar, west; bras, bold, active, rash; OIr. bras, great, after the parsimonious King Breas, who was, briefly high-king of Ireland in the time of the Tuatha daoine. The ending il indicates "diversity," thus references to "the multi-coloured land." See Breas, Breasil. OBALTAS, an omen. Related to obaidh. See ubag. OCHAIN, ACÉIN, “Moaner,” “Alas!;” literally, och ón, alas this! The enchanted shield of Conchobhar mac Nessa, king of Ulster. Whenever its carrier was endangered it moaned and was answered by the waves of the ocean. It was carried by Fiachra, Conchobhar’s son, and moaned when he led the attack on the Red Branch Hostel. This brought the king to his rescue. OCHDAMH, eighth; ochd, eight. Like many great festivals elsewhere, the Beltane embraced an octave of time, from the first to the eighth of May. The Scots considered it lucky to be born between “the two Beltanes (the first and last day),” saying that those who were would have “skills over man or beast.” O’CRONICERT, “Grandson of the Crazy Little Man.” A traveller to the Otherworld. By the time of King Brian mac Cenneidigh (see separate note), the fraternity of bards had degenerated into a “Sturdy Strolling Brotherhood of Beggars,” who followed the old tradition of “visiting” prominent Irishmen. They spent a year and a day with a knight named O’cronicert before he decided to complain to Brian. At Brian’s court he noted that the visitors had “eaten all my foodstuffs and made a poor man of me.” Seeing that this was the case, the king promised his visitor a hundred cows, and O’cronicert got another hundred by complimenting the queen. He then went a’roving hoping to add to his assets. In a wooded region (forests are seen as entrances to Otherworld) his dog started a deer, which shape-

the

changed into a woman who called out for the animal to be made to heel. O’cronicert said he would do this if the faywoman promised to marry him. She agreed on three conditions: that he should not invite company to dinner without asking in advance; that he would not mention that she was a shape-changer, and that she would not be left in the company of a single man while he was away from home. These taboos seemed nominal so the Irishman agreed. The hand-fasting was completed in the maiden’s ramshackle sheiling in the woods, and afterwards a rustic bed was laid and the two engaged in sex. In the morning, O’cronicert was surprised to find that he had become attached to a sovereign lady. He therefore found himself stretched out an a golden bed and outside heard the sounds of a host of farm animals. Back in good circumstances, the Irishman man now spent his time hunting with his dogs and before long wished to make display of his wealth in front of Brian ard-righ. Unfortunately, he neglected to tell his wife of his dinner engagement with the king, and at the meal, when she objected, he struck her and dismissed her as “a contemptible deer.” Later the couple opened an outbuilding for a dance in honour of the king and in the late evening, the dance-hall became vacated except for O’cronicert, his wife, and Cian mac Loy. The unwary husband now left the room to take the air, and with the third vow broken, the deerwoman became a huge mare, which sprang through the room and kicked mac Loy breaking his thigh. With one last fit of malevolence she burst through the gates of the palace and disappeared. In the morning, O’cronicert found that his grand home had become a hovel without sheep or cattle, and the king and his court were settled on straw rather than within golden beds. As for Cian, he was sent to Innnistruck and the healers, but they seemed incapable of dealing with his injury. One morning while he was there, a giant landed on the beach and introduced himself as Aod-an-athair. He was unable to restore O’cronicert to his former position but was able to

heal mac Loy’s broken thigh since he had studied medicine while on imrama in the western lands beyond the Atlantic. Mhorrigan is the prototype of this kind. OCTRIALLACH. The son of Indech, the Fomorian warrior who killed Ogma. In the course of battle he discovered that the Tuatha daoine were reviving their dead in the Cauldron of the Deep. He led some compatriots to the place where it was located and covered it with earth creating “The Cairn of Octriallach.” ODRAS. The daughter of Odarnatan, a keep of the hostel of Buchat Bussach in Ireland. She tended the cow herds. The goddess Mhorrigan mated one of her bulls with a cow from this herd, and then enticed the animal into the Cave of Cruachan. Attempting to regain the animal Odras followed but the deity enchanted her with son and turned her into a pool of water in the wood known as Falga. OENGHUS. An alternate form for the god Aonghas or Angus Og. OES. An alternate spelling of aes, which, see. OFRAIDEACH, offerer of a sacrifice, druidical priest. next. See

OFRAIL, offering. Said from Lat. offerendum. A gift made to the gods or a spirit. OG, youth, a young man, a young child, youthful, ogalachd, the season of youth, ogh, obs. pure, sincere, whole, entire; oghachd, virginity. OGE-MAGAN, literally, the youthful toad, or the youthful squatting beast; the lowland Hogmanay, also termed Huggeramonie Night. Also seen as Huggeranonie. The root of magan is màg, a paw (of a beast) a hand, a lazy bed, a ridge of tilled land ready for seed. EIr. man, hand, the Lat. manus. The Scand. maig comes from the Gaelic. Note also magadh,

mocking; magaid, a whim; magaire, testicles, from the EIr. magar, stones. The ultimate root is perhaps meg, great, powerful, capable of increase, and confers with the goddess Mhorrigan who is nicknamed Maag Molluch, the “Powerful Hairy One.” Some wordsmiths give the word as comprised of Ogemaidne., which Dr. George Henderson translates it as having reference to a “new morning.” but it can equally well have reference to a “new child.” The derivation of the word is unsettled. our version being that suggested and supported by Alexander Macbain. This word probably derives from the Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse tongues, and survives in words such as "hog", a young sheep, and "hog-shouther", a kind of horse-play involving jostling using the shoulders. S o m e prefer the French og gui mener, to “lead to the mistletoe,” but this seems cumbersome and unlikely. Sir James Murray said that Hogmanay referred properly, not to the night or the day, but to the gift given at this time. If so, an interesting analogy is found in Spain where the New Year’s Mass is still entitled the Aquinaldo Mass, the word being Spanish for a New Year’s gift, which the Scottish people would term a handsel. A.M. Williams noting the Hogmanay call, “T’is New Years’s Day, Hogunna!” thinks the call corresponded with the druidic shout of successful watchers after the new moon. In the elder days the New Year was not a fixed holiday but one tied to the coming of this phase of the moon. In the Shetlands the holiday is termed Newreven. Better known in Gaelic parts as the Oidhche Calluinn or “New Year’s Eve,” it was formerly celebrated on the evening of Samhuinn (October 31) but has been moved to January 1. This Quarter-Day marked the beginning of each New Year and consisted of evening and morning rites. In anticipation houses were decked with holly, hazel and rowan, plants prescribed to turn away evil spirits. On Hogmanay Eve, bands of young men carrying axes and ropes set off for the hills to bring back these plants which were

dried at the fire before being tacked up over and around entrances and windows. Some members of the household were designated to bring back water from a holy well or from one of the “dead and living fords.” In the early morning the household assembled to drink this magic elixir. The head of the house then sprinkled the remainder about the rooms, on beds and on any remaining occupants human or animal. This managed, the various windows, crevices and keyholes were all sealed and branches of burning juniper used to smoke the house. When the fumes were deemed to have put all evil spirits to rout the doors were opened and “latent disease was vented in copious expectorations.” The adults attempted to restore themselves with shots of whisky. Whoever finished this process early rushed to greet his neighbour for all dark-haired male first-footers were entitled to a gift. The fumes washed away, the family had breakfast. All these rites were also carried out in the cattle sheds if they happened to be separate from the farmstead. Before dawn the maidens rushed away to the local holy well eager to draw the first pail of water for the New Year. In the Highlands this pailful was termed the Cream of the North, and in the Borders, the Flower O’ The Well. It was claimed that the first lass to “cream the well” after midnight but before dawn would marry a desirable young man before the year was out. The lucky one always used some of her “cream” to wash out her dairy utensils, giving the remainder to the cows. This was understood to secure the house against witchcraft and guarantee a supply of milk and cream in the coming year. See tobar, for additional details of this well-rite. In sea-girt regions the men competed to bring back the first load of seaweed from the shore. The one who succeeded piled up a little at each door and cast the remainder over his fields thus guaranteeing prosperous farming and fishing. In the Highlands the Hogmanay Boys whipped one another with holly, believing that every drop of blood represented a year through which they would live. In

some households the calluin cabag or Hogmanay Cheese was placed under the pillow before sleep so that one might “dream on it.” Men sometimes carried this strange holed artifact to the roof, and peered through it down the chimney hole expecting to catch sight of a future spouse. The cheese was afterwards set aside as a good-luck amulet. Before going to bed on Hogmanay Night, the man of the house placed a silver coin on his stoop. If it was still there in the morning good luck was forecast, but if missing poverty lay ahead. In some places the “rist,” or fire, was covered with ash as the last act of the day. In the morning the ash was searched for supernatural footprints and if any pointed toward the doorway a family member was expected to die before the year was complete. If the fire burned vigorously on the Hogmanay Day good things were prognosticated; if a live coal rolled from the hearth it was thought that a family member would go journeying. To give away fire or kindling on this day was to give away the luck of the house (see Maigh for a similar belief), and this disaster could only be averted by throwing burning peat into a pail of water. Nothing was put out, or taken in on Hogmanay. The rise of a red sun on this morning was said to indicate strife in the coming year. This holiday is mentioned in the ON. Heimskringla where we are told that King Hacon, having conquered heathen Norway, attempted to bring it to Christ: “He made it a law that they should keep the Yule at the same time as Christian men, where formerly the first night of Yule was hogamanay night, which is to say midwinter night, when the Yule followed for three days and nights.” Erling Monsen, a recent editor of this work, suggests that this was the holiday that the Anglo-Saxons termed höggu nott “and it is supposed to take its name from hogging or hewing down cattle before the festival. Note that the dark elfs of Scandinavia were sometimes termed the hoggemaundr or “mound-dwellers.” The Hogmanay was also termed Dar-nacoille, which see. See also Oichche na Calluin

OGLUIDH, gloomy, awful, bashful, sometimes said based on the ON. uggligr, fearful, the Eng. ugly, but seems to relate to Og-luigh, the old sun-god Lugh. OGLUN, tumult, riotous behaviour, similar to the Norse uggligr and the English ugly. The result, if not the aim, of rites at the Quarter-Days. In lowland Scotland any of these times might be termed the “Daft Days." OGHMA, OGMA MAC ELATHU. His Gaullish counterpart was Ogmios. Often described as "the Hercules of Gaelic mythology." A son of the Dagda he was th patron of politicians and speech-makers, the inventor of the cryptic language and alphabet known as oghum. "Eloquence was valued as highly as bravery in battle and could sometimes stay the hand of the most berserkly inspired fighter." Ogma may very well be a form of Aonghas Óg, for he is also represented in Gaelic as Ogma grian-aineach, “an out-being with a sunny countenance.” Further og by itself confers with the more modern uibe, a mass or lump, a “ball” of matter, and hence the “sun.” This god was known to the people of Bitannius Major (England) as Ogmia, and fragments of pottery bearing his picture and name have been recovered from archaeological digs at Richborough. These show a figure with long curly hair, with sun rays radiating from his head. He also holds a whip identified in Latin as that of Sol Invictus, the “Unconquerable Sun.” Aside from being a warrior, Ogma was known for role in conducting souls to the Otherworld. He is usually listed as the god of eloquence and literature, in which case he is referred to as Ogma cermait, the “honeymouthed.” His powers of persuasion were such that it was sometimes said that he chained listeners to him with a golden fetters running from his tongue. He is credited with the invention of the Ogham, which was at once a cryptic druidic language and a means of magically embedding sounds on paper, wood

or stone. The children of Ogma are variously given: It was sometimes said that he married Étain , a daughter of the god of medicine Diancécht. If so, there offspring are given as Tuireann and Cairbre . But mac Cécht, mac Cumhail and mac Gréine are also listed as his offspring. Ogma passed through the second Battle of Magh Tuireadh and in it slew the giant named Indech, the Fomorian son of the prime goddess Domnu. After the battle he claimed the sword called Orna which had been held by the Fomorian king named Tethra. It had the capacity to speak, recounting all the killings it has performed. With the passing of the elder gods of the earth Ogma is supposed to have retired into side Airceltrai. Others say he was killed by his brother Aonghas Og to avenge an adultery. OGHUM, OGHAM, obs. the "writing" and "cryptic speech" given to men by Ogma, a son of the Dagda and king of the Daoine sidh. Also the occult sciences. EIr. ogum from Ogma mac Elathan, the last word “Knowledge.” The Gaullish Ogmios, conferring with Hercules, the classical god of eloquence. Oidheam, having secret meaning, properly oigheam. The Book of Ballymote notes that the alphabet originated in Hibernia “in the time of Breas, the son of Elathan, when he was King of all Ireland. The giver of the signs was Ogma, the son of Elathan, a brother to Breas...” Even then it was said to be “a secret speech for the learned, designed to be kept from the knowledge of the vulgar and the poor.” Great wooden blocks of Ogham existed in pagan Ireland, but what remains is now inscribed on stone. It is also recorded that the characters were carved upon stave tablets cut from wood, which could be opened like a fan. At the feast of Samhuinn in 166. King Art gathered his druids to read the annual books. Two tablets of great antiquity were placed before Art and as he was reading them, they slammed irrevocably shut, an omen which was taken as indicating the end of his kingship. The so-called “Saxon wands,” may have been based on early Celtic models.

Often spoken of as "the lore of the trees," since individual characters were named for trees, the Ogham was a secret language whose letters were seen as correponding with different parts of the human body. Thus by a bend of the hand here, and a flick of the left ring-finger, and a few other discrete motions men could "magically" communicate at a distance. "Such dactylogical codes could be quite useful in the feasting-halls and at night-long banquets where the protocol of the spoken word had pre-eminence. The written Ogham character consists of 25 letters, 20 designated by parallel strokes in sets of one to five, all drawn vertically or obliquely to a horizontal base line. There are 5 forfeda (extra letters) of more complex form. Where vowels are found, they are represented as dots below the vertical lines. The first inscribed stones in Ireland were found by Edward Lhuyd, a Welshman who visited Ireland and Scotland in the period 1699-1701. Eventually his untranslated copies of the inscriptions on 39 stones were deposited in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin. Now more available to scholars they were at last deciphered by Colonel Vallancey, an antiquarian who was able to relate them to certain key Irish manuscripts on paper. The Ogham is believed arranged in sets of eight trees, viz. the Royal or Gentle Trees; the eight Kiln Trees and the so-called Spiral suite. The Royal set included the Alder, Blackthorn, Furze, Hazel, Heath, Ivy, Oak and Vine. The Kiln or Peasant trees were the Apple, Ash, Birch, Hawthorn, Holly and Rowan, and the Spirals, the remaining trees in the full list. It is suspected that the “Shrub Trees,” were late additions to the alphabet. Each Ogham letter was assigned a bird totem, a colour and a time period in addition to its tree symbol. In addition, certain letters had relationships with compass points and with the equinoxes and solstice dates. These relationships may be studied by consulting the individual letters as the appear in this glossary. An example of the cryptographic significance is seen in the

symbol representing our letter “F.” It is called fearn and is symbolized by the alder. The bird totem for this letter is the faelinn or gull, and the day represented by it is Saturday. Its season was March 19 to April 14, a period dedicated to Aod, the Day god. The alder produces dyes useful in colouring clothing. The bark produced a red colour, symbolizing fire, the maker of daylight.. The flowers were seen to produce a green symbolizing water, and the twigs brown, like the earth. Bits of the tree were carried as proof against storms of fire, water or earth. The tree as a whole was seen as an aspect of the beach-loving crow family, sprung from the goddess Mhorrigan. Alder piles were see as appropriate foundations for sacred buildings built on flood plains, an example being Winchester Cathedral built on a-meadow. The year-time indicates the place where the sun will appear in portions of March and April. Considering all this interweaving of meanings it is suspected that the alphabet was used in divination, but all present systems using Ogham are modern inventions. See below. OG-MHIOS, the young month; the month of June, preceded by the article an t-. Ir. Meitheamh, month of the young. Marks the beiginning of summer. OGSANNA, mysterious, mysticism, secret teachings, sanas, whispers, secrets (of Oghma). "the knowledge of secret things imparted in pre-Christian teaching." Munster was the centre of the ancient Ogham cult. Nine-tenths of all such inscriptions found have been of Irish provenance. Of these five-sixths belong to the counties of Kerry, Cork and Waterford. Slighly more than two dozen inscriptions have been found in Britain and most of these are in northern Scotland. It is has been noted that the presence of such inscriptions falls within Gaelic realms so it is presumed thet appeared there with the Scottish invasions from Ireland after the withdrawal of the Romans from Britain. There is, however, a possibilty that that they pre-date that

time for the Ogham is thought distinctively pagan and is known to have been banned by the Church. The cult never had a strong foundation in Ulster and thus its markings are absent from the west of Scotland which was settled out of that part of Ireland. OIBEALAS, the foresight of a person condemned to death, usually evidenced on the eve of his execution. (see Highland Clans p.121.) OIBEAG, UBAG, a spell. Oibid, obs. Submission, obedience. OICHREO, funeral pyre. OICHILL OCHNE, the chief lieutenant to Bobd Dearg ard-righ, the first ruler of the Daoine sidh. He resided under Cruachan in Roscommon, a hollow hill later given to Mebd. The sithe were restricted by law to their individual hollow hills but on the "Rent-paying Days" were permitted to travel, exchange residences and visit, provided they moved between one place and another in straight lines. Oichill Ochne's train has been described: "Seven score chariots and seven score horsemen was their number. And of the same colour were all their steeds; they were speckled; they had silver bridles. There was no person among them who was not a son of a king or queen. They all wore green cloaks with crimson pendants to each cloak; and silver cloak-brooches in all their cloaks; and they wore kilts with red interweavings and borders and fringes of gold thread upon them, and pendants of white bronze upon their leggings or greaves, and shoes with clasps of white bronze; each of them had a collar of radiant gold (a "torc") around his neck with a gem worth a newly calved cow set in it. Each wore a twisted ring of gold around him measuring thirty ounces of this precious metal. All had white-faced shields, with ornaments of gold and silver. They carried flesh-seeking spears, with ribs of gold and silver and red bronze along the sides; and with rings of silver set upon the necks of the spears. They had gold hilted swords with the

form of serpents in gold and carbuncles set upon them. They astonished the whole assembly (the watching Milesians) by this display. (Story of the Irish Race, p. 11) This act caused the Milesians to bring down legislation which severely taxed the side-hill people, and in later years, they did not appear as a people so self-confidently wealthy. OIDHCHE BANNAL. Held on January fifth, this festival gives new meaning to banal. THe Night of the Bane or Bean, was also known in England as Twelfth Night, Twelfth Tide, or more recently as Epiphany Eve. The original Gaelic described a gathering of women, but the current translation of "bannal" is a crowd or company of either or both sexes. In English banal means trite or trivial, but the word relates to Old Norse forms once used to curse or call upon evil helpers in the supernatural world. In Gaelic, ban is used as a prefix for woman, suggesting that this might once have been a feminine ritual. In Greater Britain, this special day time is Twelfth Night, as it falls on the twelfth night following Yule. The Bane is a fitting end for Yuletide, its chief rite being the presentation of a Twelfth-cake. In Scotland, this was a rich plum or pound-cake, ornamented and bearing a "lucky" bean, the recipient of which became either the King or Queen of the Bane. Mary Beaton was one recipient, having served as Queen of Twelfth-Tide at Holyrood. F. Marian McNeill gives her opinion that the black bun, mentioned by Scott is St. Ronana's Well is a survival of the Bane-cake. Augustus Bejient has this to say of that festive Yule-cake: Thou trick shop king! Joy of our gourmand youth What days thou mark'st and what blood-curdling nights! Nights full of shapeless things, hideous, uncouth; Imp follows ghoul, ghoul follows jinn pell mell; Fierce raisin devils and gap currant sprites Hold lightsome leap frog in a pastry hell. The Scot's Currant Loaf, consisting of flour, sugar,

raisins, orange peel, mixed spices, black pepper, ginger, cream of tartar, soda, butter milk,baking-powder, butter and water is said to be a "poor relation of the Black Bun, which it replaces at the Hogamanay or Night of the Bean where expense is a consideration. In addition to use at these festivals, the Bun is appropriate fare for Samhainn. In the earliest times, the monarch of Bane was probably selected at the beginning of Yule through the medium of the carline or black-bean, which was drawn by lot or hidden in a food-stuff. In Celtic France, the king is proclaimed on the first Sunday in December and reigns until the morning of Twelfth Day. At that time, he is marched in "a procession of great pomp, wearing his crown and blue mantle (after the fashion of the god Odin), and carrying a sceptre. After high mass in the parish church, the king would visit the bishop, the mayor and the magistrates, collecting money for a "royal" banquet, which took place in the evening and ended with a dance." While this "Christian" king was in no danger, the entire Yule was once considered a hazardous time, the final night being especially one of risk and the proper time for exorcizing ghosts, witches and other powers of darkness. In general, the latter act was accomplished with much noisemaking using horns, whips and bells. Torches were lighted and carried about since light was known to repel the dark and its ilk. Bonfires were as much a part of Twelfth Night as the Samhainn or Yule Eve. In some parts of Scotland, the creation of the flame was definitely a fertility rite, Victorian tenant-farmers explaining that the crops grew in proportion to the light which could be provided when burning hay was tossed into the air. The King of Bane was sometimes called the Bishop of Fools or Merry Andrew in medieval Scotland. Elsewhere in Britain, he was the Abbott of Unreason, the Lord of Misrule or the Yule Fool, the titular head of all the daft-days. In this he resembles the Roman King of Saturnalia, whose

festivities occupied these same twelve days. The King of Bane was no mere harlequin, having charge of all preparations relating to food and entertainment of the nobility. He also had real power, being able to make demands of royalty. When he overstepped true reason, as occasionally happened, he was not invited to a return engagement. In pagan times, his power was somewhat circumscribed, since he was chosen by the "black bean" to be a scapegoat, whose death ritually removed all the ills of the land. For his brief "reign" he was allowed great liberties which ended after twelve days with a knife at the throat, a place in the bonfire or an appointment with the gallows-tree. In this, the "king" followed a long tradition of sacrificing god-spirits, or their human representatives, for the general good of the community. In more humane times, the position of the king or queen was still determined by lot, but his ashes were not spread on the field along with the Yule log. Epiphany, following Twelfth-tide Eve, on January sixth, was another deliberate attempt to confound the interests of the new God with that of older gods. It was generally said that this date honoured the coming of the Magi to visit Jesus at Bethlehem. A few claimed that it commemorated the first appearance of the star of the Magi, symbolizing the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles. OIDHCHE-BEALTAINE, BEALLTAIN, Beltane-Night. The first form given above is Irish Gaelic, the second, Scottish. The Beltane was celebrated on the last evening of the month called Giblean (the gutted or unfilled one), when food supplies were usually thin. This was the last day of winter and the final day of the rule of the Cailleach Bheur. With the exception of the Samhainn, all the fire-feasts of the year were subservient to the Beltane, which is a decidedly Celtic celebration. The Bealltain recognized the beal, bel, or baal. The bal, or baile (plural balim) was a Gaelic name sometimes used to refer to the gods collectively, but it also particularly distinguished sun-agricultural deities.

Often, the word was prefixed to a place-name. A few examples are: Bail 'an-luig, or Ballinluig, which translates as "baile" or place of the sun-god Lugh; and BaileChlorichride, now called Piltorchy, both located in Perthshire. Then there is Baile-nan-cailleach, which is now called Nun-town and is in Benbecula. The Gaelic form emerges as, the place of the old woman or the Winter Hag. The god is not always exactly identified, thus Balmoral, the place of the great god; Balmain, the chief hand of the god; Baldoon, the brown god. The gods are also remembered in places such as Belford, Bell and Belton. The nature of these gods is implicit in language. The Gaelic "beul" means a narrow pass between the mountains or a mouth (and thus a swallower of people as well as a gateway to better things). The similar word "bal" identifies a ball or a dance, and this was traditionally one of the rites of Beltane. All of these, relate to the English "bald", that is stripped, and "beal", which means to gather, to swell, to come to a head and burst (as a bud or a pimple). The Old English term "bealche" (belch) arises from this root as does the word "bell", a device used to create an assembly. The name of the baal who superintended the Beltane probably varied locally but in the most antique format, he was probably the Norse Orlog or Alfadur, who is perhaps represented by the Welsh god Nur and the Gaelic Ner or Nathair (serpent). In both Celtic languages, the shortened forms also serve as a negation suggesting that this elder god was not without failings. The Scottish Nathair, a name "best left unsaid", is a two part persona, which translates as the high god who is not the father, possibly distinguishing him from the Scandinavian Allfather. It is possible that these slighting connotations were suggested by the early Christians. Almost as dangerous as the Ner were the elementals, or elder-gods, who were direct agents of the Creator. Present before time, the god-spirits of fire, water, and air combined efforts to create the goddess the Anglo-Saxons called Urth (earth) and her domain, Middle Earth. The senior spirit was Aod or Kai, the keeper of subterranean fires.

The lord of the air was in some places called Wyn and in others Kari. Lir, or Llyr, was the immortal god-spirit of the waters. All are similar in their lack of a Christian name and in having control over a single department in nature. The old gods of nature are remembered in Scottish names such as Mackay (son of Aod) and Machugh, the Irish equivalent. Learmouth and Leary attach to Lir, the sea god, and Windram, Wingate, Winton and Winters to Wyn. The individual god-spirit who was central to Beltane worship may nave been Aod, who the Welsh called Hu, since the month which starts with this fire festival is the Ceitean, or fire-gathering month. This mythical individual came to Britain from the "Summer Country" or Near East "just after the Great Flood had left the land." Physically, his most interesting attributes were his far-sight or telescopic vision, and a very high body temperature, which boiled away falling rain and ocean-water. Because of this he was able to live beneath the sea for periods approaching seven days and seven nights, and in winter served as a source of warmth to his people. As this sun-god travelled across Europe, he gathered adherents in Germany, particularly in the province now called Hesse, where he was worshipped as Heus (an equivalent of the English Hugh and the Gaelic Huis). He was also a major deity in France and in the Cumric lands where he was called Duw or Hu. The former word is still in that country used to identify the Christian god, who supplanted him. The Scandinavians called him Odin and Gautr. Among the Finns, his equivalent was the musician-wizard called Wainoemoinen. All are unquestionably gods of fire, agriculture and war, although the emphasis might vary from one country to another. It was Aod or Hu who taught the aboriginals of Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England the "arts of civilized life, to build comfortable houses, to sow grain and reap, to tame the buffalo and the bison, and turn their mighty strength to profitable account, to construct boats

with wicker and the skins of animals. to drain pools morasses, to cut down forests, cultivate the vine encourage bees, make wine and mead, frame lutes and and play upon them, compose rhymes and verses, minerals and form them into various instruments weapons, and to move in masses against their enemies."

and and fifes fuse and

When the god-spirit first came to Britain "at the head of an immense multitude of his countrymen", who he led out of the "summer-country", he found a place in which, ""bears, wolves, and bisons wandered, full of morasses and pools full of deadly efync, or crocodiles, a country inhabited by a few savage Gauls, but which shortly after the arrival of Hu and his people became a smiling region, forests being thinned, bears and wolves hunted down, efyncs annihilated, bulls and bisons tamed, corn planted, and pleasant cottages erected. After his death, he was worshipped as the God of agriculture and war by the Cumry and the Gauls." (Borrow, 1862). The death of a god was not considered a loss in the theology of the Celts. Like fire, he might be extinguished for a spell, but was frequently renewed in the person of the various High-Kings of Ireland, Scotland and Wales. In Ireland, the matriarchal tribes worshipped Danu as the female counterpart of Hu. This earth goddess is frequently confounded with the Tuathan witch Diancecht, the wife of the Fomorian sea-giant known as Balor of the Evil Eye. This seems appropriate for a fire-goddess, as Balor's eye was the symbol of the sun at noon, which has blighting as well as beneficial qualities. The two lived on Tory Island, northwest of Ireland, in a crystal palace which concentrated the sun's rays as a devastating weapon. In Irish-Gaelic, "Dia" is the word still used to identify the current God, while Dianecht is understood to mean "unbridled power". In Celtic mythology, this lady was consulted as the goddess of medicine, having attributes of the Cumric, Branwyn; the Scandinavian, Eira; and the AngloRoman god, Nodens. Danu, herself, is described as the

mother of the Celtic gods, being cognate with the Cumric goddess Don. She is represented as the bringer of light and fire to men, the patroness of knowledge. Like Kai, she is described as an earth-goddess, a person applied to where the fertility of the soil or cattle was in question. The River Danube, and several European Rivers called the Don or Dan were probably named after her. Unlike Hu, who had little trouble with the aboriginal race of Wales and southern Scotland, Danu found the Emerald Isle peopled by the Firbolgs, or Fire-bolts, who worshipped the goddess Bolg. Ultimately, the Tuatha daoine, or people of Danu, subjugated the Firbolgs and altered the pagan religion of this western isle. The Tuathans also had to conquer the Fomorian sea-giants. Their principal god was LLyr or Ler, who ruled from an underwater kingdom. While the Firbolgs were quite ordinary folk, the Fomors, or sea-demons, were identified as "powers of darkness and ill, huge and deformed, some with animal heads, and gifted with malignant and blighting potencies." More specifically, it was said that members of this race could change shape at will and that they ate people. At first the Fomorians allied themselves with the warriormagicians who opposed the Firbolgs. One of their kin, named Bress or Breas, the son of a Hebridean chieftain called Elathu, married Brigit, the Tuathan "goddess" of hearth, home and poetry. His efforts to help the Tuatha daoine were rewarded when he was elected High King of the island. Unfortunately, he proved "inhospitable" and had to be deposed. In his attempt to recover the kingship, he roused the Fomorians to war and they were twice overthrown by the "gods", who were protected by the influence of Danu. These deities were essentially heads of fertility cults, so each was presumed to have a counterpart of the opposite sex, or at least some interest in mating and procreation. The equivalent of Danu was Dagda (the father of day), a gentleman who gives name to the Dawn Religion.

These latter-day gods had no prohibitions against incest and copulation outside of marriage, but they were not sophisticated perverts. Blasphemous travesties of the Christian rites had to await the birth of the Marquis de Sade and Aleister Crawley. The Dagda once mated with Morrigan, the Fomorian sea-giantess, producing a child called Mecha, he with "three serpents in his heart. This story is reminiscent of the fun-loving Scandinavian god Loki, who coupled with the giantess Angurboda, thus giving rise to Hel, the ravaging wolf, Fenris, and the encircling worldserpent.The Dagda's immediate "family" included Brigit, renowned as the patroness of conjugal love and poetry; Mider, the god of the underworld; Lugh, the god of free-love, light, and music; and Og, of the forked tongue, the god of politicians, the clergy, and other "tricksters". In each locale, some local baal was remembered at the Beltane along with latter day fire or day-spirits, added to the list by the Milesian conquerors. Among the Tuathans and the Milesians one late-blooming day-god was Crom, whose idol stood at Crom Cruachan, surrounded by a circle of twelve disciple stones. In legend, Patrick is supposed to have directed magic at the main stone so that it sank to its neck in the soil, while the others fell upon their side flaking off the god and silver with which they were encrusted. Several centuries before King Tighernmas and two-thirds of his people were wiped out as they assembled on the plain of Magh Slecht in Brefni to worship this god. Possibly this is why his name is preserved in Gaelic, where the uncapitalized form indicates something "twisted, bent, or crooked"? His female counterpart was Brigit, who came to Ireland, and later to Scotland, with the Brigantes. As we've said, all the later Celts considered her a fire goddess, the virgin attendants at her shrine being responsible for the forging of metals and the healing-arts. Agricultural fertility-spirits such as Cernu, the corn-god of Cornwall, Graine, Samh and Taillte of the Gaels; god-spirits of the hunt, as the Cailleach Bheur, or Winter Hag, and Skadi or

Skudi (and perhaps Scoti?); as well as those of war, notably Cu Chullain, Eochaid, and Nuada of the Silver Hand, became leaders of the sidh when the Christians became ascendent. With the proliferation of god-spirits under the Milesians, the origin of central figure in the Beltane became completely obscured. The Beltane fires, kindled with great ceremony on May Eve had to do with the deliberate killing and reincarnation of one or more of these pagan deities. After the physical death of the Kai, or Hu, in his own time, he was not available to serve as a scapegoat to each new generation, so a substitute was chosen by lot. Sir James Fraser says that traces of human sacrifice at the Beltane "were particularly clear and unequivocal". The custom of lighting these "bone-fires" lasted well into the eighteenth century so that descriptions of the lessobjectionable features of the rites survive. John Ramsay, the Laird of Ochertyre, a patron of Robert Burns and a chum of Sir Walter Scott said that the Beltane was "the most considerable of the Druidical festivals". Druidic religious rites date from at least one thousand B.C. when the Milesians routed the Tuathans. These were the first patently Gaelic people, although the Tuatha daoine, the Silurians of Wales, the Pits, and the Firbolgs may have been related peoples speaking other dialects of the Celtic tongue. The ancient Gaelic word "draoi" identified a practitioner of magic religious rituals, but the word "druid" is now understood to mean "a thrush or starling", these birds having once been identified as familiars of the magician-class. The verb form "druidh" has been retained to describe "that which penetrates deeply, or oozes into every corner". This insidious group comprised priests, physicians, wonder-workers, bards, and historians in various admixtures. The bards used poetry as an aid to memory, the vates were prophets of the clan, and the druids, proper, managed formal rites while acting as judges and medicine men. Druidism was their system of religion, philosophy and instruction.

It is uncertain whether this was a Celtic invention or a religion borrowed from an earlier people, perhaps the latter, since the Gaels said they obtained instruction in it from the Britons. The fact that they considered the mistletoe and the oak sacred has led to the suggestion that it was based on tree worship. This would be similar to the Scandinavian proposition that their god Thor frequently took the form of a giant tree. Transmigration of the soul was another basic belief and "human sacrifice was practised on a vast scale." Like other druidic functions, the Beltane fire was set on hills, or islands, or upon some other high place. It is known that the Celts felt that their gods would resent confinement, so all the ceremonies took place in the open air. Ramsay has said that the traditional high-places were forgotten in Victorian Scotland and in later days each hamlet practised its customs on the closest rise in the land, usually near the common, where herds were at pasture. "Thither the young people repaired in the morning and cut a trench (to prevent the fire from spreading through the heath), on the summit of which a seat of turf was formed for the company. And in the middle, a pile of wood or other fuel was placed, which of old they kindled with "teineiginn" (need-fire). Although for may years, they have been contented with common fire...it will hereafter appear that recourse is still had to the "tein-eiginn"." The killing of the fire-god was symbolized the night before, when the country fires were extinguished from every hearth. The next day, the materials for the need-fire were gathered. In the least complex case, a well-seasoned oak plank was obtained and a cone shaped hole-drilled partway through it. A vertical sharpened-pole, termed the "wimble" was fitted into this opening. The free end of the wimble was fitted with a spoked wheel, which was used to turn the axle generating a friction fire. In some places three people were thought the lucky-number needed to turn the wheel, in other places nine individuals were

conscripted. Whatever the magic number, the devotees had to have unblemished reputations. If any among the wimbleturners was guilty of theft or some other crime, it was supposed that the need-fire would not light and disease and witchcraft would then be rampant in the coming season. In Aberdeenshire, the great, or "muckle" wheel was used to start the "wild" or need-fire. This device differed in the fact that the wheel was extremely large and substantial. On the Isle of Mull, the fire-engine was always spun from east to west over nine splinters of oak wood. Sometimes it was prescribed that the cart-wheel and axle had to be newly constructed. In a few cases, the fire was kindled by simply rubbing two sticks together, or by using a bow and a rope to turn the wimble. If the latter was the case, it was specified that the rope should be new, and if possible woven from strands taken from a gallows rope used in a recent hanging. Various regional rules controlled those who were allowed to set the need fire. Sometimes those manning the fire-machine were expected to be brothers or share a first name. In some places it was enough that chaste young men operated the wheel, elsewhere every resident of the village was expected to take a hand in making the fire. In the western islands of Scotland, the fire was kindled and set by eighty-one married men and in North Uist, the chore went to eighty-one first-born sons. In Caithness, it was felt necessary for the operators to remove all coins and metals from their person. If after long rubbing, no fire erupted, it was concluded that some villager had left embers of the old fire upon his hearth. A strict search would then be carried out by the constables and the negligent householder was upbraided or even fined. The date of the setting of the need-fire might range from the evening of Beltane to the night of May second, depending on local preferences. The "bonnach Bealltain" or Beltane oatcake is the only survivor of the four quartercakes which were once cooked for periodic fire-festivals. In seventeen sixty-nine Pennant wrote, "On the first of May

the herdsmen (of Perthshire) hold their Bel-tien, a rural sacrifice. They cut a square trench on the ground leaving the turf in the middle; on that they make a fire of wood on which they dress a large caudle of eggs, plenty of beer and whisky, for each of the company must contribute something. The rites begin with the spilling of some caudle on the ground, by way of libation:on that, every one takes a cake of oatmeal, upon which are raised nine square knobs, each dedicated to some particular being, the supposed preserver of their flocks and herds, or to some particular animal, the destroyer of them. Each person then turns his face to the fire, breaks off a knob, and flinging it over his shoulder says, "This I give to thee, oh god-spirit preserve thou my horses." Having dealt with the beneficent spirits of the land, they then propitiate the noxious animals with such phrases as, "This I give thee oh fox, spare thou my lambs." With the ceremony over the assembly would dine on the caudle. Anything left of the feast was hidden until the Sunday following when the party would reassemble to "complete their lunch". This, of course, describes a late remnant of the Beltane rites, which were celebrated somewhat differently in the parish of Callender in Western Perthshire. The minister of that area witnessed somewhat different ceremonies in the eighteenth century. They did dig the usual sod table for their fire and fare, but afterwards created a repast of "eggs and milk in the consistency of custard." The observer continued, "They knead a cake of oatmeal into so many portions, as similar as possible to one another in size and shape, as there are persons in the company. They daub one of these portions all over with charcoal, until it is perfectly black. They put all the bits of cake into a bonnet. Every one, blindfold, draws out a portion. He who holds the bonnet is entitled to the last bit. Whoever draws the black bit is the "devoted" person who is to be sacrificed to Baal, whose favour they mean to implore...although they now pass from the act of sacrificing, and only compel the "devoted" person top leap three times

through the flames; festival are closed."

with

which

the

ceremonies

of

the

Another means of selection by lot is perhaps found in the custom of baking oatmeal "wheels" which were rolled down hill in some regions of the north. In recent times it was said that the person whose cake shattered as it rolled would die or be unfortunate during the year. In the remote past this was probably a certainty rather than a prediction. The "bal nan tuathanach", or rent-payers's ball, or farmer's dance was another mark of night-time activities of the Beltane. Once again, the participants danced in the round, three times "southways" about the bonfire. Sometimes they danced in multiple sets of the numbers three and nine. Considering the origins of this fire-festival it is not remarkable that people believed that demons and witches were abroad for the celebration, stealing milk from cows while the farmers were absent and generally damaging the countryside. To counteract this, each cotter carried old thatch, straw, furze, and bran to the communal fire to be burned in the light of new fire. This was undoubtedly good animal husbandry as well as viable ritual since parasites were eliminated in this material. Wherever these remnants were burned, they were tossed high in the air from pitchforks in the belief that the light of their burning benefitted the land wherever it penetrated. It was said that the new crops of the coming season would grow in proportion to the height to which the burning refuse could be thrown. In later days, when the god-spirit ceased to be a actual sacrificial victim, the younger people ran through the smoke, shouting, "Fire, fire, blaze and burn the witches; fire, fire, burn the witches." When the fuel was consumed, the celebrants scattered the ashes far and wide, continuing to demand, "Fire, burn the witches!" In the Hebrides, every fire was put out for the Beltane and cattle were driven "dessil" or sunward around it to "keep of murrain" (a disease of these animals). There, each man would take home new fire to kindle his hearth. In

Ireland, the festive-fires were still being lighted in nineteen twenty-one, but on June twenty-third, Midsummer's Eve, rather than at the Beltane. With torches from the common fire, crofters drew "the sacred circle of fire" around the growing crops, "to ensure both its protection and its fruitfulness." Through the dying embers, cattle were driven "for their blessing". MacManus notes, "These fires were are assuredly of pagan origin marking a great sun-feast, on that day when the sun-god was supposed to be longest above the horizon." Although the Irish of that day no longer remembered the significance of the earlier Beltane, they did say that these were the "fires of Bal". This was one of the practices which Saint Patrick disliked, saying, "All those who adore it, shall in misery and wretchedness be given over into punishment." The Welsh also held fires in May and at Midsummer, which they agreed, "protected the lands from sorcery, so that good crops would follow. The ashes were also considered as valuable charms." One Irish account suggests the fires were kindled "for Cormac or somebody like his name", a probable reference to the old day-god Crom. May Day in that country was called Lucky Fire Day or the Day of The Two Fires. The druids of the Emerald Isle once brought cattle to the two fires and "with great incantations" drove them between ":as a safeguard against the diseases of the year." Again according to MacManus, driving cattle between the fires persisted down to times within current memory. In all of this it should be remembered that the Beltane of Scotland is, elsewhere in Europe, the equivalent of the notorious Walpurgis Night, when witches were abroad in unseemly numbers. In Voigtland, they used to light bonfires on the high land and leap through the flames for good luck. Moreover, like the Scots, they tossed burning brooms high into the air and assumed that where light reached the fields, they were "blessed". The kindling of the fires on Walpuris Night was

called "driving out the witches" and when witch torching was in fashion, this was the preferred time for sending them to meet their master. While latecomers sacrificed witches to the "divine" fire. the first rites centred on the death and resurrection of the earth-spirit. Killing this spirit as a scapegoat aimed at expelling the accumulated evils of the village or town. This clearance of the ills of the land, whether real or imagined, was periodic and commonly preceded or followed a time of licence in which the ordinary restraints of society were ignored. In considering the reasons for sacrificing the Celtic god it must be remembered that earlier generations believed in the mortality of the gods, who differed from men only in their control of an aspect of nature. These mortal god-priest-kings aged, and it was therefore thought an act of good conduct to spare this divine person from the inconveniences of living on in a decaying body. Since they god had to die and be regenerated it seemed sensible to lay upon him all of the blights and suffering of the community, so that these could be carried into some other world beyond the grave. Killing the "god" was not, at first, an annual practice. The divinely reincarnated fire-spirits who appeared from time to time as high kings of the realm were allowed to remain in office for a magical number of years or as long as he remained free of "blemish", which included battle injuries, minor scars and defects of failing health or advancing age. It was then usual for the successor to the throne to arrange for the timely passing of the god king, sometimes ritually and or in the heat of battle. Since much of Celtic custom hinges on intervals of nine and thirty years, these may have served as terminal times for the ancient kings. Some Celtic king undoubtedly conceived the happier idea of dying by proxy. Scandinavian tradition hints that the old Swedish kings were only allowed a nine year life expectancy. Thus Aun, a king of that realm, offered nine of

his sons over a period of many years , and would have sacrificed a tenth except that his people were dissatisfied with the state of his health and hurried him to the bonepile. With the king no longer at risk, his stand-in was typically chosen from the general population by lot, hence the continuing tradition of picking people for unwelcome chores by a drawing for the carline or black bean. Since a lottery was unselective individuals of social or political importance were sometimes lost, depleting the strength of the clan. Fortunately, it was recalled that each community housed "broken men" or sassenachs in addition to "native men" and these were made "king for a day" if prisoners of war were unavailable for this draft. With the danger of death removed from clan members, it was suggested that multiple deaths would return more of the god-spirit to the soil, thus twice yearly fire-festivals were instituted. The burning of effigies containing larger numbers of people along with cats, dogs, snakes, and other uncanny creatures followed. One of the principles of imitative magic holds that as a man may stand in for a king, and a king for a god, so an image of a man may also serve to represent him. Thus in debased ritual, the "wicked" men and women were undone by being burned in facsimile, and this remains a popular way of "doing down" evil. In some parts of Scotland a straw woman known as the Cailleach Bheur, or Winter Hag was burned at the Beltane as a representative of the spirit of the cold season as well as other more common foes. In parts of Europe Christians continued the pagan practice of burning the god, or his representative, but they explained that the figure was a magical accessory to Judas Iscariot, Martin Luther, or a medieval witch. Fire cannot exist without fuel, and the material which was burned was not always a figure fashioned from the last sheaf of autumn. In many regions, the object placed at the centre of the bonfire was a rudelycarved figure or a tree, which might be burned either felled or on location. In these cases the god-spirit due to be

reincarnated was obviously a tree-spirit rather than an agricultural deity. If the scapegoat happened to represent a soil-spirit there were special reasons why he should die by fire. Light and heat were seen as necessary for vegetable growth, thus the application of heat and light to the "god" by fire was thought to secure abundant sun-light and heat in the following growing season. Almost the only remnant of human sacrifice in Scotland occurs on Hallowe'en when lads lie close to the fire, while allowing others to jump over them. The titular "king" at Aix, in France, who "reigned for a year and a day, and danced the first round at the midsummer fire, used to feed the fire where he now has the honour of lighting it. When human beings were preferred for the burning, some of the Celts reserved Skadi or Scati's lot (i.e. monies obtained from the hunt), to purchase criminals for the Beltane and Samhainn fires. If there were insufficient criminals to supply the need of the soil and men, fresh captives were obtained and immolated. Those victims whose background allowed them to understand the need for these rites went to earth without complaint or much fear being dispatched with druidic arrows. Individuals who were thought of as criminals were burned alive. Those who died contained within wicker-work effigies were often condemned to death on the grounds that they were foreign witches or wizards, with execution by fire being the only means of being certain that they might not reanimate themselves. Thus the fires eliminated potential enemies, trouble-makers, surplus wild animals, while guaranteeing the continued productivity of the community. The animals who died were probably seen as witches who had transformed themselves, and in medieval times cats were most frequently offered up as they were considered the familiars of witches. The earliest Beltane fires were probably lighted in pagan Ireland near the old Firbolg capitol of Tara, where there was, "In Cormac's time,

a house of virgins who kept constantly alive the fires of the Bel or sun, and Samain, the moon." The high-kingship of that land developed from the coherence of principalities in what is now County Meath. The possessors of that land were made wealthy by the fact that Tara overlooks grass-lands which have been famous for raising healthy cattle. This town had additional significance in the fact that it stood near bronze-age burial chambers and temples of the pagan gods. Prominent among these was the Brugh or dwelling place of Angus, a divinity of youth and love, The early priest-kings of the Scots, who ruled here, were representatives of a divinity whose office involved the performance of sexual rites in the interest of fertility. "The divine folk (i.e. the sidh or fairies as well as the godspirits) lived in the Brugh. From it came the brides of the king's ritual marriages..." Our forefathers personified almost everything as male or female, hence Og, the god of youth had a female counterpart in Ogma, and Angus in his "sister" Brigit. In addition to personifying the fire-god, our forbearers recognized a host of god-spirits, who were thought to be less powerful than the elementals of fire, water, air and earth, but more capable than the magical sidh, or seed-people. The god-spirits included Cernu, who gave his name to Cornwall, and was called Cernunnos by the Roman invaders. The Cailleach appears to have been a female counterpart for the hunting and herding tribes. At May-tide people were selected as king and queen of the May or as the Whitsun (white sun) bride and bridegroom, or as a pair carrying some similar name. It was reasoned that if representatives of the god-spirits coupled sexually, this should quicken the growth of everything in the animate world over which they held dominion. In this, rustic peoples of medieval times played out roles once reserved to the High-Kings and his virgins of the Brugh. The representations were not mere allegories, but actual acts intended to green the woods, cause fresh grass

to sprout, the oats to shoot, and the flowers to beal. It was held that the more closely this mock-marriage of leaf-clad and flower-decked mummers came to representing a complete consummation for god-spirits, the better the results. The high degree of peripheral sex which accompanied the central sex rites was not accidental excess but an allied attempt to guarantee the fruitfulness of the earth. It is ironic that the druids used magic to oppose magic, so that popular ideas concerning the Dawn Religion became interwoven with concepts of witchcraft. Many vestiges of that religion remain, the sacrificial cult of the divine king surviving in the Christian "blood of the Lamb", with other rituals being encased in poetic form to describe new and abstract meanings. Touching wood for good look is a survival of pagan rites as is the refusal to walk beneath a ladder. The last was formerly called Woden's Scaffold and was used to bind sacrificial victims while they were disembowelled. Keeping an animal mascot was, similarly, once the prerogative of High-Kings, that animal sometimes being a scape-goat for his human master. Power is at the base of all the magic religions, control over the rain and the sun through festival rites, and over human limitations through self-hypnosis or crowd control, being usual aims. It was natural for the savage Celt to assume that he had the potential to control the elements, as he thought of himself as an aspiring god. Since part of the magic of his world was shared by every being he felt certain that he could manipulate the physical world by dealing with that part of him which was supernatural. Witchcraft, being tied to magic, represents man's religious urges in a rudimentary state. The Christian religion seeks to transcend this world for the sake of the race, while magic wishes to control it for individual benefit. More simply, Christianity seeks communion with god, while witchcraft and the pagan religions considered that men were part of the godhood. Witchcraft, like the Dawn Religion, has been misunderstood. The present attitude is that witchcraft embraced poor

, old, hysterical, repressed women, who were subject to fantastic delusions. This view, which may be thought of as "rational disbelief" started in the mid eighteenth century and is related to the anti-Popery and pro-science movements of that time. The opposite position was that of the Roman Catholic Church which held that the witch-cult represented a vast secret network of malice and heresy. In 1921, Dr. Margaret Murray suggested that witchcraft might be a survival of a pre-Christian fertility-cult. If so, it was not the Dawn Religion, whose druids considered the "wiccans" foreign magicians who needed burning. There are two other popular ideas concerning the nature of witchcraft and the elder religion, both misleading. The first might be called "romantic diabolism", a cult-following which became fashionable in the late 1890's. The first Christian missionaries assimilated the old gods into their rituals sometimes giving them alternate names, thus Brigit, goddess of the lambent flame, became Saint Brigit, the helpmate of Saint Patrick. Where the character of an older god seemed defective he was banished, dismissed, or demoted to the rank of witch or fairy, or deliberately confounded with the Hebrew "antagonist" called Satan. The Black Mass had nothing to do with the old pagan rites, being instead a parody of the Christian mass. The idea of a reversed mass and the deliberate worship of Satan dates no earlier than the literary inventions of the Marquis de Sade in the eighteenth century. There is, also, a more common modern "witch", who has found favour with the "media". Whenever church tombstones are overturned, some member of a coven will appear to explain that they are not responsible, and not Satanists, but worshippers of the "Earth-Mother". Most of them take pains to emphasize the fact that their nude autumn dancing is asexual in intent. Clearly these individuals are not into the spirit of Samhainn and Beltane? The Dawn Religion, which is the source of the central dance figure, the ritual fire, and the "sacrifice" of witchcraft,

was never the club of a jaded elite. From its first days it held no interest for educated town-folk, but was the practice in remote country districts which stood closer to primitive models. However uncouth and ill-intentioned they were, the real witches of medieval Europe were a large body of fairly representative citizens of that time. Unlike self-styled Satanists, who upset conservative Christians, they were neither sexual perverts nor mental adolescents. Several centuries ago, life was almost terminally brutal; a time when Scottish clerics preached pre-destination for the few and certain damnation for the masses. It must have been comparatively easy for the uneducated, who perceived themselves as having very little to lose, to attempt a little of the craft in the hope of gaining temporary control over a bad situation. Modern "witchcraft" and even diabolism is practice without much notice from the law, and as such it is a feeble baroque affectation compared with older rites. Today the craft is dead, a condition created by its legal abolishment in 1736. OIDHCHE-CHALLAINN, CALLUINN, (aech-e chal-inn), Hogmanay, the eve of November 1. Literally the “Night of the Calluinn.” Caill, obs. to name, to call, obs. The testicle, to emasculate. Now: loss, suffer, lose, forfeit. Hogamanay, or Hogmanay, is the primary Scottish celebration during the Yuletide. Originally this fire-festival took place on the evening before a' Bhliadhn' Ur, or the New Year, Old Style (i.e. October 31). Pronounced "aech-a chal-inn", this night of the master of the dog, has been moved forward from the original eve of Samhainn to what is now known as New Year's Eve. Our guess is that the Hogamanay represents rituals which were once a part of Samhainn. Not very long ago, it was customary, in the Highlands of Scotland, for a man to dress himself in a cow's hide at this time, passing from house to house pursued by a company of youthful men, who struck out at their leader with cow-hide whips. Round each

hose, costumed "mummers" or "janneys" ran three times in the direction of the sun, keeping the house on their right. In pagan times, that direction would have been reversed. The company chased their Hog or Og-man beating the staff end of their whips against buildings as they ran. Hog may seem unrelated to cow, but the word originally meant a yearling animal of any species, but especially pigs and cattle. At the door they finally paused to demand Hogamanay, or money for the Old Hog (who we suspect was once the god Og, the deity of youth ,whose name translates as "young". If they were admitted, and lacking a treat they promised a trick, one of them pronounced a benediction as: May the gods bless this house and all within, stone, cattle and timber! In plenty be meat, bed, body clothes, and may the health of men ever abound." Afterwards, each of the party singed his whip in the fire, and applied a little charcoal to the face of every animal and person in the household to protect against disease and witchcraft. The ceremony was called calliunn, because of the great noise of the ceremony. The original attachment of Hogamanay to October thirty-first is seen in Scottish Atlantic Canada, where blackening the face is a common "Hallowe'een" disguise and "Hogmanay" is shouted instead of "Trick or Treat". The Victorian practice of asking for coins as part of the celebration has faded, but this was a continuation of the demand for "hog-money". The money collected in the name of Og, the god of youth, was originally pledged to a Samhainn feast but later went for food and drink to be consumed that same night. The solicitation of fruit, candies, and pennies on Hallowe'en is exactly in this pagan tradition. The tradition of beating out evil is found in the simpler forms of Guiser or Goloshan plays, which were performed in Scotland at anytime during the Yule season, but particularly on New Year's Eve or Day. Thomas Wilkie who saw an early version of this play at Bowden, Roxyburyshire wrote, "The Gysarts (or Disguisers) always

dress themselves in white. They appear like so many dead persons robed in their shrouds, who have just risen from their narrow home...their faces all being painted black or dark blue. Their mutches sometimes adorned with ribbons of diverse colours." Some wore masks and dunce-caps, "casques of brown paper shaped like a mitre." In these medieval plays there were five characters, expanded to seven in the Victorian version: Sir Alex (called the Black Night in some parts); Alex of Macedonian ; the Farmer's Son; Goloshan Galgacus; William Wallace; the Doctor (sometimes Dr. Brown); and Beelzebub or Judas. In former times the players passed the "rounds" of the village led by "Galgacus", who was once the actual leader of the Caledons against the Romans at the Battle of Mons Grapius. At each door these mummers intoned: Rise up guidwife and shake your feathers, Dinna think that we are beggars; We're only bairns come out to play, Rise up and gie's our Hogmanay. Five of us all, five merry boys are we. And we have come a rambling your house for to see. Your house for to see sir, and pleasure for to have, and what you freely give us, we freely will receive." Following, the crew enact an invariable playlet in which the Alex, or a character named the Admiral, sword-fights Goloshin and kills him. The Black Night accuses the Admiral but he lays blame on the Farmer's Son. The Doctor is called to revive the victim, and after haggling for his fee, he brings him back using the magic incantation " Inkey, Pinkey, a little medicine to his nose, a little more to his toes". The reincarnated character is now named Jack, who pledges the Black Night, "never to fight no more... But we will all gise as brethren as we have done before. We thank the master of this house, likewise the mistress too, and all the little bairns that round the table grew." Finally, the householders are troubled by a devil-figure who promises: "Here come I, old Beelzebub, Over my shoulder I carry a club. In my hand is a dripping pan, and I fancy myself a jolly old man. I've got a little box that can speak without a tongue. If you got any coppers, please pop one?"

Usually the head of the house exchanged a halpenny for the entertainment but humourless individuals were likely to turn upon the guisers and beat them from the house. Reminiscent of today's Hallowe'en, the costumed guisers were not always benign. Once they were heavily disguised peasants set on extorting money from their overseers, which explains why they were not always politely received. This business is still referred to as janneying in Newfoundland and belsnicking in Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia. It was called Home Visiting in Irish and Scottish parts of Atlantic Canada, but in most parts the rituals have devolved into "First-footing". This rite demands that the first individual who comes calling after midnight on New Year's Eve should be a dark-haired stranger. The first vikings were light-haired and bringers of extremely bad luck! For the good luck of the house, the newcomer exchanges symbols of food and fuel (e.g. a potato and coal) for "refreshments". OIDHCHE-CHOINNLE, The “Night of the Candle,” Candlemas Eve. The evening following the pagan Imbolg (February 1). “After the Day of Bridd comes that of Mary,” says the Gaels. The Night of the Candles seems to have been an attempt to downplay the earlier pagan fire-festival. Pope Sergius, noting that many converted men were still “drawn to such maumetry and untrue beliefs,” attempted to undo this “foule custom” by commanding that good Christians appear at the church to offer up lights “to our Lady and to her Sonne our Lord.” The Presbyterian reformists in Scotland proscribed the “Holy Candles,” just as the Catholics had the rural bonfires, but with indifferent results. “It remained customary,” we are told, “after the abolition of popery, to walk at Candlemas to the Chapel in the dead of night.” Further, tapers continued to be consecrated and taken home as proof against thunder or the malevolence of evil spirits. Candlemas ended the forty days of the month of Yule.

Divination was a logical addendum of this night, which ended winter’s entitlement, and in the north-east, the rites of Candlemas Eve drifted at last to Fastern’s Eve, which was at the beginning of Lent. See Latha Choinnle, “Candlemas Day.” OIDHCHE-LUGHNASAD. When the gods were reduced to demon status at the introduction of Christianity, Loki was deliberately confounded with the Roman god, Saturn and other pagan underworld deities. Stripped of their titles, these gods became the prototype for the Christian anti-god called Satan, or the Devil. The last day of the week used to be sacred to Loki and in Scandinavian it was called Lugardag or Lugar's Day in the Old Norse tongue. This is the day which we continue to call Saturday after Sataere, a Teutonic god of agriculture, who some equate with Loki, the god of bound or underground fire. In the beginning, Loki appears in myths as a personification of the hearth fire, but gradually he became, "god and devil combined", and in the end came to resemble the medieval Lucifer, the god of lies. His changed situation was indicated in his incarnation as the giant Utgard-Loki (under earth bound-fire). His Celtic counterpart was Lugh, who gave his name to the Lugnasal or Lunasdal, which used to be held yearly as a fire festival on or about August 4. This is one of the few cases where a god of the far north has been linguistically tied to one of Gaelic blood. An Eddaic name given Loki in the Danish ballads was Loki Lojemand (wildfire playman), because of his tendancy towards practical jokes and mischief. The Anglo-Saxon "lacan" or "loecan" is related to both words, and from Loki there arose the diminished god-spirit or fairy called the Lubberkin. In Gaelic the equivalent name was Lobaircin, and in the Ulster tongue Lucharman. This creature has several local variants the best known corruption being Leprachaun, which translates literally as OLd Lob, or Old Lugh, or Old Loki. Loki or Lugh is still remembered in the English speaking-world in the surnames

Lock, Locke, Lockwood, and the like, and in Gaelic names such as Lochlan and Maclaughlin. The Christians renamed Lugh's Day as Lammas, the mass of the first fruits of harvest, and even the Gaels now use "lugha" as an adjective in the sense of "smallest". The expression Auld Lob is still applied to the Devil, but the association of the Celtic god with this Hebrew deity is undeserved. The Great Lug, Lugg, or Lugh was once described as a foster son of the Dagda, the day-god of the Firbolgs of Tara in Ireland. His actual mother was said to be the daughter of a Fomorian sea-giant, while his father was Kian of Contje , one of the Tuathan warrior-wizards who conquered Tara. Kian obtained the help of Manannan MacLir, the immortal son of the Fomorian sea-god, in escaping from his father-in-law's castle on Tory Island with the child. As a condition for this assistance Lugh was fostered out to the undersea kingdom off the coast of the Isle of Man. In that place Manannan gave him the name Dul Dauna (one who is allied to the goddess Danu). Unfortunately, these names have gained other connotations, "dul" now having the sense of "foolish, mad, stupid, daft, or slow-witted". In other places he was called the High Lugh, but this is scarcely better since the word "lug" now means "to carry with extreme difficulty, or one who is a trouble or burden to others". Today the expression "lug-head" is still understood as derogatory, and in the elder days it indicated an individual who moved in a clumsy fashion, a haughty individual, or one who was in the habit of affecting showy clothing, in short, a fop or an oaf. Fortunately, his character received better treatment in his own day. As a youngster he applied for work at the palace of Eochaid, the High King of the Firbolgs. No one was admitted here without having a unique skill or craft and Lugh was at first rejected when he noted his abilities as a carpenter, a warrior, a smith, a harpist, a poet, antiquarian, physician, cupbearer, and goldsmith. The court, he was told, already possessed one each of these and needed no more. Finally, Lugh responded, "Then tell your master, the King, that one

stands without who is at once master of all these arts and professions to a degree surpassing all these others. If there is one among you who can claim this, I shall no longer seek admittance at Tara." The King was dubious but numerous tests confirmed Lugh as "Sab Ildanach", the stem of all arts. Eochaid, the horseman of heaven, welcomed Lugh to the chair of ard-ollam, or high bard, and made him chief professor of the arts and sciences, but perhaps lived to regret his largesse since the Tuathans eventually removed the Firbolgs from Tara. Having put down their land rivals, the Tuathans now turned against the sea-giants, or Fomors, who were eventually defeated on the plains of Sligo in western Ireland. In this fray, the secret weapon of the Fomorians was Balor, of the evil-eye, Lugh's grandfather on his mother's side of the family. Balor's castle on Tory Island has been described as constructed of a crystalline material which concentrated the sun's rays as a weapon, and this may have been the source of the rumour that his single eye was dangerous to both friend and foe. It was said that the lid was rolled up and down upon a wooden staff with the assistance of four "normal-sized" giants. When the lid was pulled back some claimed that poisonous vapours escaped from it while others said it liberated a fire-spell which turned those within his gaze to stone. In action at sea the Dul Dauna travelled with the Tuathan fleet against Balor Beimann. Lugh knew that he could not look directly upon his foe and so put a magical stone ring to his eye and seeing his grandfather on a neighbouring deck used a dart to penetrate the eye. Balor's end in this manner had been divined many years before, but the act was done without Lugh's realization that he had killed a relative. Following this, Lugh was considered a mortal-god of the Tuatha danann, a people eventually subjugated by the iron weapon-bearing Milesians, who constitute the bulk of current Irishmen. The Scots, who were of the Firbolg line, intermarried all of these races, and through the Tuathan connection gained this hero as part of their mythology. When the

Tuathans "went under the hill" and became the "little people" of Irish legend, Lugh is said to have led one branch of this great clann into the underworld, and in Ireland their remains a town named after him. In spite of the present connotation Lugaid, or Lug-head was a preferred throne name, frequently used by the Milesians, who appreciated Lughs heroism. One suspects that the decline in reputation had something to do with the reign of Lughaid MacCon, whose surname carried some problems and was indicative of his character. The nature of the Lugnasad, which occurred just after mid-summer, was somewhat like that of today's Highland Games. Lugnasad means the games of Lugh, and was first instituted by the god in memory of his foster mother Taillte. For this last reason, the sports-portion of the Lugnasad was sometimes called the Tailltean Games. The games were held yearly as part of the Fair of Taillte (a place now called Telltown) in County Meath. The main function of that fair was to showcase athletics, and it became famous throughout Eirinn, Alba, and medieval Britain as the place to participate in races and contests. In time, it also became known as a marriage market, where boys and girls were brought by the thousands to be matched for marriage, and where parents might bargain for the "tinnscra" (dowry), hiring marriage-brokers where they were unable to reach a settlement. The games typically started on the first day of August but continued for about a week. Naturally, the eve before, or following, the opening of the fair, was devoted to religous rites, hence the alternate designation, Lunastain, which points graphically to "staining" or the outpouring of blood. The oat-cake ceremonies at this time were the bonnach Lunastain, which was baked using the first harvested grains of the season. It should be noted that the Lugnasal is, in Scotland and Ireland, the principal movingday of the sidh or "little people". When the Tuatha danann became the Danann sidh they were held in their underground residences by laws and armed warriors with an effect as

great as that of any binding magic. Their only respite was found at the time of the great fire-festivals and later during the Daft Days, more recently called Christmas-tide. The Lunastain was one of these Highland Quarters, which the tenant farmers knew well as the time for rent-paying or moving. On this day, the sidh-people, who were able to meet their commitments were temporarily free to travel along their lei-lines in order to visit, or exchange residences, with others of their kind. Aside from the usual ritual fire and the burning of a representative "god-king", there was also a feast and this has become the principle Christian rite. The Lammas, as presently constituted, falls on August 12 and is the time of the first harvest, hence the name "loaf mass". In early times, in England, this day was kept as the initial harvest festival, loaves of bread from the first sheaves being consecrated at the mass.

OIDHCHE NAM BONNAGAN, “Bannock Night,” The “Night of the Cakes.” The time for the ritual baking of bannocks, now said to honour the Nativity. Christmas Eve, also known as “Singing Eve.” OIDHCHE-SHAMHNA, (aech-e- haun-e), the eve of Samh's end; “Summer's end,” Hallowe'en. New Years' Eve. Originally October 31. Termed the Hogamanay in Old Saxon, this "Night of the Samh" was the final fire of the Celtic Year, falling upon the eve of the special day called Samhainn. While most Europeans celebrated Midsummer Eve or Midsummer Day with a great fire, the Celtic people took little notice of the sun when it was highest in the sky, saving their energies until October 31st. AS we've said there were once only two seasons: summer and winter, demarcated by May Eve and Samhainn Eve. These dates are unrelated to astronomical events and it is coincidental that Harvest Home falls close to this evening in Scotland. There are a few places in central Europe where the year is bisected as it is in Scotland. In these cattle-herding places, May Day is

celebrated along with Valpurgis Nacht, or Walpurgis Night, the last coinciding with Samhainn. Beltane, or May Eve, has already been described and is much like Samhainn its essentials. Thus Hogmanay or New Year's Eve, OLd Style, saw mummers making the rounds, extorting cash, or kind, for a day-long feast to take place during the daylight hours of November 1st. There was "first-footing" and on the Eve of Samhainn, the dampening of hearth fires so that they might be rekindled from "newfire". Of the two feasts, that held on Samhainn Eve was the more important since the Celts dated their year from it rather than from Beltane. On the Isle of Man, where Celtic lore had a long battle against Saxon tales and myths, the first day of November was regarded as New Year's Day through the last century and the first quarter of the current one. The Manx mummers, dressed in animal skins, used to make the "rounds" on that evening (calculated from the Old Style calendar) shouting, "Tonight is New Year's Eve, Hogunnaa!" The style of divination practised at this time also suggests that they sought new beginnings. Finally, the Celts wherever they were found throughout Europe agreed that the following day marked the end of summer and the beginning of winter. "When autumn to pale winter resigns the year", it was thought natural that the "nach maireann", those no longer alive, might wish to assemble at the bonfires of men to seek a little comfort and the good cheer provided by former neighbours. Unfortunately it was not only the kin who were thought to be unbound at this time. In addition to "tamhasg" (spirits of the dead), the "baobh"(witches) and the "sidh" were at large. While the May-fires were a time for wholesale burnings, these late summer fires seem to have been more restrained with individual communities competing to see who could build the largest fires using more conventional materials. In the parish of Callender the fires blazed down through time until the late eighteenth

century, leaving us with some notion of the rites which accompanied them. When the fire was almost extinguished, the ashes used to be raked into a circle and stones were placed near the circumference by the families who had established the flame. Next morning, the stones were carefully examined to see if any had been heat crazed or displaced over-night. If this was the case it was presumed that an individual represented by the stone must be considered fay and incapable of survival for more than twelve months. In certain villages children begged peat from each householder with the exhortation, "G'e us peat t' burn the witches!" When they had collected enough, they added straw, furze and whatever other burnable matter they could find and played the game of jumping the smoke and flames. When the mass was reduced to ashes they scattered them as widely as possible becoming completely unrecognizable in the process. In most places it was considered ill mannered to leave the fire until the last ash was extinguished of its own accord. As the last ember flickered out the master of the fire would shout out, "May the cropped black sow take the hindmost" or more recently "The De'il take the hindmost". It can be suspected that some of these survivals point out former ways of selecting victims for the bone-fire, which once protected the community from the baneful influence of the sidh and the baobh. OIDHEAM, "end of the night", having secret meaning, a book. This word is the same as ogham, above. OIGH, virgin, aug, capable of increase; cf. og, young. The root is aug, increase, the Lat. augeo. Virgins were considered to have better powers of prognostication than more experienced people. OIGHEA MARA, a sea-maid, a morgan. See Daoine mara. The renewable “virgins.” It is said that “Nymph goddesses were much invoked in the region of Hadrian’s Wall.” Rice says that “A relief from High Rochester shows a trio of nymphs

perhaps related to the cult of Coventina at Carrawbrough. Derived from classical prototypes, this relief clearly reflects the widespread cult of springs and wells in the whole northern area, a cult extending from Roman times down to the present.” This is not the entire cloth for the Gaelic mermaids are connected with the open ocean. See An Domahin and Mhorrigan. OILBHREO, funeral pyre OILLPHEIST, oillt, horror disgust, from the root pal, to strike; pithir, thunderbolt; a mythic and metaphoric use of beithir, beast. Beasts that created earthquakes and faults by swimming through the earth. In a late legend Saint Patrick excommunicated one of these horned serpents which cut its way to the sea creating the river Shannon. On its way it swallowed a piper, but his playing so discomforted the beast he spit him out on the last headland. OILMELC, oillt, horror or disgust; mèil, bleating; the bleating of the “sheep.” Descriptive of the first calving of the year. An alternate name for the Quarter Day known as the Imbolg. OILPEIG, supernatural communication, telepathy. On North Uist two quarrelling septs of Macdonalds brought in Ian Murdock of Clanranald as an arbitrator. At Appeal Hill in Griminish. Murdock made a somewhat lop-sided judgement but as he was walking home encountered the baobh named Ni'n Ruairi (separate entry). She appeared to him as a young woman milking a cow. Seeing her he noted, "That's a fine cow you have there, I hope she will give you all the milk you wish." To this the lass made the enigmatic reply, "If justice were like this cow and her milk, it could be seen." Bemused the bachuill-carrier walked away but was soon surrounded on two sides by hostile-looking cattle. To avoid them he attempted to wade a ford, but soon found himself struggling "in an ocean of milk." Understanding something of ogsanna he put out a call to the milk-maid, who he thought to be the source of his troubles, saying "May there

never be limit to the drought for you." In his own head, he heard the reply, "May there never be a limit to justice for you." "He knew then where he had gone astray (in his rendering of the law) and immediately the flood of milk began to subside." He returned to re-convene the Appeal Court of Cnoc an Uma, and there he reversed his decision in favour of Clan Ferguson; thus perhaps the saying, "tha e limeach talmas a mhiontadh," roughly, "no one can deny the good sense of a fresh and wiser judgement." OIMAIN MHOR, the great Quarter-Day game of shinty. Iomain, the driving of cattle; tossing, driving, going around. Such games were once a part of magical druidic ritual. OINID, a fool, Ir. oinmhid, EIr. oinmit, from oin + ment, foolish + in the mind. The feminine termination gives oinnseach, a foolish woman, a Quarter-Day victim. Note the next entry. OINIGH, OINIDH, prostitute. magnaminous, generous, liberal, a

OIRBSEN. Alternate name for Manann mac Ler. Also the ancient name for Lough Corrib, County Galway, where he is said to have been drowned by his enemies. OIRTHIR, border, coast, the east. OIr. airther; oir, at the edge (of the world), tir, land. All territories east of the Celtic Isles. As opposed to erin, the west lands. OISINN, a corner, Ir. isinn, the temple. “The cornerstone.”A son of Fionn mac Cumhail and Sadb, the daughter of Boabd Dearg. The greatest poet and warrior of the Féinn. He married Eibhir of Sunshine Country and by her had Osgar. After the defeat of the Feinn, Oisin was standing with his father on the shores of Loch Lena, when they saw riding along the strand a maiden on a snow white steed, like those seen in the kingdom of Manann. It was said that she wore a dark brown mantle that had the look of silk, and that

the material was set with stars of metallic red gold. She wore a golden crown on her head and a crest of gold nodded on her horse’s head, while his hoofs were shod with silver. When she had come near Fionn asked her name, and she responded saying, “I am Nèamh (Heaven, the Scared Grove), she of the Golden Hair, and what brings me here is the love of this man Oisin.” Turning to Oisin she asked if he was ready to depart with her to her father’s land in the west, and he replied, “That I will, and to the ends of the world if thou wish it!” And it was said that he cared no more for earthly things so vital was the fairy spell which she projected. Then the two men stood transfixed as she spoke of Tir Tairnigri, the “Land of Promise.” Afterwards Fionn tried to recall all that was said on that breathless morning, and recalled that what had passed went something like this:

Delightful dreams,

in

promise

is

this

land

beyond

all

Fairer than any thine eyes have ever seen. There all year about fruit falls from the tree, And all the year long the bloom is on the flower. There with wild honey drip the forest trees; The stores of wine and mead shall never fail. Nor pain nor sickness known the dweller there, Death and decay come near him never more. The feast cloys not, of chase none tire, Nor music ceases though forever through the halls; The gold and jewels of the Land of Youth Outshine every treasure of this world of men. Thou shall have horses of the sigh-breed. Thou shall have hounds that run down the wind; A hundred chiefs shall follow thee in war, A hundred maidens sing thee to thy sleep. The crown of sovranty thy brow shall bear,

And by thy side a magic blade shall hang, And thou shalt be lord of all the Land of Youth And Lord of Neamh who wears the golden crown. Before any further words could pass, Neamh turned her sith-horse in the direction of the setting sun, shook the bells of the bridle, took up her man with her strong left arm, and fled down the wind. Although Oisin was never again seen by his father his association with men was not at an end. It is written that when the white horse of the sea reached the western ocean, it ran lightly upon that great plain away from Ireland. As they approached the distant sun,, it shone more fiercely, and the riders passed into a yellow haze in which Oisin lost all sense of time and place. At that, dream-like images floated by on either side: towers and palace gateways ebbed and flowed, and once a hornless deer-like animal chased by a white hound with one red ear was seen. Again, the travellers saw a young maid ride by on the water upon another white sea-horse, her left hand bearing a golden apple. After her, came a young horseman on a third white horse, his purple cloak floating soundlessly behind him on the wind. Oisin asked Neamh who these persons were and where they journeyed, but the golden-haired one warned him that such questions were dangerous, and that it was better for passers-by to ignore the phantoms they perceived on the way to the Land of Youth. In the Land itself, Oisin was the hero in many adventures as his princess had promised: He once rescued a beautiful maiden from the keep of an evil Fomor and begat several male children by the princess of that land including the famed Plur na mBan, the “Flower of Women.” After what seemed to him to be three weeks of intensive sensual delights, Oisin expressed his wish to be returned to Ireland so that he could visit his father and his old comrades. Neamh agreed on the promise that he would eventually return to the west, but she cautioned him that things might not be exactly as he had left them. With that she made him the loan of a white horse, strongly suggesting that he

remain mounted on her while in the land of men. In Ireland, he found nothing of the Féinn or the world he had known and at last came to the suspicion that several hundred years of time had elapsed in what had seemed to him less than a month. Seeking to help some workers remove a stone from a field, he fell upon the earth, and immediately aged. In Christian versions of the tale it was said that Oisin met and was entertained by Saint Patrick but he was never converted to the new religion, and presumably returned to Tir Tairnigri when he died. OITEAG SLUAGH, oiteag, breeze, puff of wind; sluagh, sluaigh, (pron. slew or slough), people, OIr. slôg, Cy. llu, people of the god Llew, corresponding with the Gaelic sungod Lugh. The root lug, to swallow, great eaters, giants, “aerial hosts... the spirits of men who have died. They travel about the air after the fall of night, and particularly about midnight.” Similar to the “Unsely (Unsilly, i.e. dangerous) Court” of the Scottish lowlands. “You’d hear them going in fine weather against the wind like a covey of birds...They fly about in great clouds up and down the face of the world like the starlings.” The “Unsely Court” of the Scottish lowlands. See sluagh. OL, OOL, drink, drinking, OIr. oul, drinking from the root po, to drink, the Lat. poto, and the Eng. potable, drinkable, same as Eng. ale, A drink taken at religious festivals and as a prelude to battle. See next entry. OLACH, a male castrated after ccommitting adultery, champion, hero, giant, eunuch. One trained to a set purpose, hospitable, liberal, beautiful, of low rank.

OLATHAIR, OOLATHAIR, Allfather, Ale-father; ol, drink, drinking, ale from Norse ol, the English ale. Olach, a hospitable person, a dispenser of ale. The creator-god, also called Don. The equivalent of the Norse Juulvater who is Odin. The source of the English Father Christmas. The word is related to ollamh, see below. OLC MIOSA, olc, bad; miosach, fairy. OIr. olcc, c. Lat. ulciscor, revenge, ulcus, a wound, Eng. ulcer; miosguinn, envy, malice, based on the Celtic mit, the Gaelic mith, an obscure or retiring person; mithean, weak, crazy; mithleann, sportive, fully of playfulness. One of the Daoine sidh or Daoine mara. OLLAMH, a learned man at the apex of his craft, art or profession, a doctor. OIr. ollam from the root oll, great. The modern Gaelic for professor. The first to bear this title was the sun god Lugh who came to Tara seeking employment and was only hired on when he made it apparent that he was "the master of all crafts." This name was also given to the son of Dalbaeth, a grandson of Ogma.

OLLAMH RI DAN, who the Romans called the filidh. A graduate or “docotor in poetry.” This gentleman had thirty inferior poets as attendants. These bards haed hereditary lands and titles which were hereditary within their families. OLLAMH FODHLA. According to some records the eighteenth Irish king, a successor to the first Milesian king Eremon. Other sources suggest he may have ruled much later (714 B.C.) In any case he is recognized as the founder of formal political bodies and the originator of a system of codified laws. he was the founder of the first great feast at Tara, which was originally held once in three years. He is known to be interred at Tailltinn, or Telltown in County Westmeath. OM, OIr. omun, fear, dread; uamhunn, horror, to be filled with uncomfortable awe. ""A mysterious entity who appears only in proverb is "Om" of whom it is said, "Om is most active in his morning." This phrase is used by anyone faced with a chore he wants to put off until much later in the day. Seems to correspond with Amadan na briona, the “Fiery Fool” of Irish mythology. ONFHADH, a blast, a storm, the raging of the sea, Ir. anfadh. from the earlier an + feth, “excess + wind,” the root being ve to blow from the elemental wind-god Ve. Lat. aer, Eng. air, Lat. ventris, the Eng. wind. OONA, OONAGH. The wife of Fionnbharr, relegated to the position of “queen of the Gaelic fairies,” in popular folklore. She and her mate lived in the sidh of Meadha, five miles west of Tuam, Ireland. They had seventeen sons. ORC TREITH, A lord’s boar. The name applied to the son of a king. The Celtic peoples admired the boar for his strength and ferocity and often used his figure as a decorative element for shields and helmets. Note also the ancient tribal name Orcoi. Thus perhaps Indse Orc, the “Island of

Orcs,” and the islands now called the Orkneys. The ancient name was i nOrcaib, “among the Orcs.” In modern Gaelic it is represented as Arcaibh. ORBISEN, “Young Bird of Increase.” An alternate name for Manann mac Ler. This was the ancient name for Lough Corrib, County Galway, where tradition claims that Manann met his death by drowning.

OR, gold. “Many remarkable cures are resorted t, such as healing sore eyes, by putting gold rings in the ears, by rubbing them with jewels of pure gold and by repeating certain rhymes.” 1 OR-CHEARD, goldsmith, or, gold, the English ore. A metal preferred by smiths of the Daoine sidh who could not, or would not, work in iron. ORC-TRIATH. The “King of Boars,” a “possession” of the goddess Bridd, daughter of Dagda. See as Torc Trwyth in Welsh mythology. An animal which could be hunted but never taken. Magh Treitherne in Ireland was named for this animal. This beast along with the oxen Fea and Femen, symbolized the destructive potential of the Otherworld. The totem-animal of the sun-god Lugh. “Traces of totemism can be seen in the tribal or clan names of the Picts...The name of the Orkney Islands, Orcades, is undoubtedly Keltic, in Irish literature the islands are called Inse Orc, Isle of the Orcs, i.e. Boars.” (Gordon Childe, Prehistory of Scotland). The boar was the cult animal par excellence of the Celts. These people favoured pork above all other meats and considered it to be the preferred diet of their deities. The Gaels considered the boar-hunt to be above all other sports, and the hunt for an Otherworld creature is a favourite them of their mythology. It is noteworthy that pigs are supposed to have been
1The

Celtic Magazine, Jan. 1898, p. 98.

introduced to Ireland by the gods, or by the Tuatha daoine, from a western Otherworld. Magical destructive pigs and legendary boars are common in Irish tales. Thus we hear of Torc Triach ri torcraide diata Mag Treitherne, the same “Orc-Triath” mentioned above, “the king of boars, from whom Mag Treitherne is named.” A similar mighty creature is seen in Failbhe Finnmaisech, “a black, shapely, dusky swine,” blue-black in colour. grey, horrible, without ears, without tail, without testicles, with a back so high plump wild apples could have been impaled on each of the bristles.” See muicce gentliuchta, for notes on the female of this species. ORAIN COISRIGEADH AN AODAICH, songs at the consecration of cloth. ORAIN A’ COINNLEACHADH AN AODAICH, songs for the folding of cloth. ORAIN A SINEADH ‘S A’ BASLACHADH AN AOIDAICH, “stretching and clapping songs,” used in the waulking of cloth to make certain the product was of even breadth. ORAIN SHUGRAIDH, the “frolic songs,” to give maidens the chance of recognizing or disavowing a potenntial lover. ORAIN TEANNACHAIDH, “tightening songs,” sung to “break the back of the days work!” ORAIN TEASACHAIDH, “heating-songs.” Slow songs intended to give the women time to work into the rhythms of the day. ORD FIANNA, ord, a hammer, ard, high, raised up, increase, Eng. hard, hurt. The “hammer of Fionn (variously pronounced feeun, een, eeun etc.) Campbell thought this might connect the god-hero with the Norse god Thor but this is generally taken to have been an assembly whistle which the leader of the Feinn carried. When it was blow, the sound could be heard pver all of Ireland.

ORIEL, also seen as AIRGIALLA, a “subject people.” the equivalent of Tuatha airthech. The kingdom of Oriel included the modern counties of Armagh, Monaghan, Tyrone and portions of Fermanagh and Derry. ORNA. Ogma passed through the second Battle of Magh Tuireadh and in it slew the giant named Indech, the Fomorian son of the prime goddess Domnu. After the battle he claimed the sword called Orna which had been held by the Fomorian king named Tethra. It had the capacity to speak recounting all the killings it has performed. With the passing of the elder gods of the earth Ogma is supposed to have retired into side Airceltrai. ORRAG, ORRAGANAS, wonder-working by evil spirits, orag, a sheaf of corn; anam, soul. Physical manipulation of objects by nature-spirits, God or the gods, when in a malevolent mood. Vulcanism, flood, explosion, the disappearance of objects, storms of wind, fire or water, earthquakes, etc. ORAN, a song, especially a eulogy in verse, from the original amhran. ORLAS GUN LOCAS, "golden glitter," words without substance. The trickery of wordsmiths; kings, clerics, politicians and salesmen. ORRA, ORTHA, ORR, OR, a charm or incantation. Ir. orrtha, a prayer or charm, EIr. orthain, a prayer typically in verse from the Latin orationem, the English word oration. OSA, trump, gaining an advantage using sorcery, osag, blast, breeze, from ve, the wind. Notice that Ve was one of the triad of elder gods of Norse mythology. He was the son of the immortal god Borr and the giantess Bestla, the others being identified as Lokki and Vili. He was present at the creation of man, bestowing upon him the gift of motion and the five senses.

OSAAIL, successful better, to harness.

divination.

See

osa,

above;

ail,

to

OSAGAIL, unsuccessful divination of strangers.” OSCAR, leap, bound, champion. See next.

divination,

gaill,

surly.

“The

guest,

traveller,

a

ruinous

fall,

OSCARACH, OSCARRA, OSGAR, bold, fierce, Ir. oscar, a champion, from Osgar son of Ossian. Perhaps derived from the ON. Asgeirr, the "spear of the gods," after Asa or Odin. Os, deer; car, lover. Men who held power cohabited with the sovereign bride of Ireland and one of these was the Fenian hero named Osgar, the “Deer-kin.” This name was given to him because his grand-mother was the shapechanging deer-woman named Sadb. He was described as the mightiest warrior of all the Féinn, a man with a heart, ”like twisted horn sheathed in steel.” As a youth he was physically uncoordinated, so that the Féinn usually refused to take him on their expeditions. One day, however, he followed the troop, and found them falling back before their enemies. He seized a piece of wood and went into a battle frenzy in which he killed two opposing kings and his own friend Linné . After that, he was given command of a battalion which was given the name “The Terrible Broom,” because it swept all enemies before it. Osgar lived to hear of the departure of his father Oisin for the west, and saw the death of Fionn mac Cumhail. Some say that his grandfather was killed putting down an internal revolt, but others claimed that he was not killed but retired to a long sleep in a cavern, from which he would rise when some great terror fell upon the future of his people. In any event the Feinn were now opposed by the new high-king. His daughter, Sgeimh Solais, the “Light of Beauty,” was about to be wed to the son of the king of the Dési. The Fiann demanded their usual tribute of twenty

ingots of gold for “travelling expenses,” so that they might attend the ceremony, but the king refused calling upon clann Morna to help him break the power of this great private army. Cairbre had personal command of the Morna, while the Fiann , who were largely drawn from clann Bascna , marched under Osgar. The two men met in single conflict to their mutual destruction. It was claimed that Fionn afterwards appeared upon the battlefield “in a ship” to lament the death of his grandson. This can only have been the craft of Manann mac Ler, which could sail the furrows of the earth as easily as it crested the waves of the ocean. When all was over it was said that there was hardly a man, or a boy, left alive in Ireland, but whatever the losses of Cairbre he had his posthumous wish for the Fiann na h-Eireann were gone forever. After Oisin’s departure for the Otherworld, his post of chief bard was filled by Caoilte, the “Thin man,” a cousin of Fionn. In some of the tales he is given as the warrior who struck down Ler when the Fiann assisted Midir in his war against the northerners and Boabbd Dearg. After the destruction of the Fionn he was forced to take refuge in a souterrain of the Daoine sidh. In a late Christian embellishment Caoilte , like Oisin, was forced to return to the world of men so that he could meet and be influenced by Saint Patrick. OS-CRABHACH, superstitious, os-crabhadh, superstition. OSSAR. The hound of Mac Da Tho, also known as Ailbe. Coveted by Mebd and Conchobhar it chased Ailill’s chariot and was killed by his charioteer. OSD, an inn, hostel; Perhaps from OFr. hoste. Retreats for men who were physically or spiritually injured. They were supposedly inviolate.