Book: Celtic Mythology and Religion
Author: Alexander Macbain

Celtic Mythology and Religion By Alexander Macbain

Format: Global Grey free PDF, epub, Kindle ebook
Pages (PDF): 120
Publication Date: 1885

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Considered one of the greatest of the Scottish Celtic scholars, Macbain really delves into the beliefs of the Celts. A short but informative book. Chapters include: Celtic Mythology; Character Of Myth; Cause Of Myth; Spread Of Myth; The Aryan Nation; Aryan Myths; Results Of The General Principles; Sources Of Information; The Celts; Welsh And Gaels; Celtic Characteristics; The Gaulish Religion; Druidism; Celtic Religion In Britain And Ireland; British Religion; The Gaelic Gods In History; Gods Of The Gaels; The Celtic Elysium; Welsh And Gaelic Elysium; Celtic Worship And Rites; Celtic Burial Rites; and, The Heroic Tales Of The Celts.

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“There was once a farmer, and he had three daughters. They were washing clothes at a river. A hoodie crow came round, and he said to the eldest one, 'M-pos-u-mi-—Will you marry me—farmer’s daughter?’ ‘I won’t, indeed, you ugly brute; an ugly brute is a hoodie,’ said she. He came to the second one on the morrow, and he said to her, "M-pos-u-mi— Wilt thou wed me?’ ‘Not I, indeed,’ said she; ‘an ugly brute is a hoodie.’ The third day he said to the youngest, ‘’M-pos-u-mi —Wilt thou wed me—fanner’s daughter?’ ‘ I will wed thee,’ said she ; ‘ a pretty creature is the hoodie.’ And on the morrow they married.

“The hoodie said to her, ‘ Whether wouldst thou rather that I should be a hoodie by day and a man at night; or be a hoodie at night and a man by day ?’ ‘ I would rather that thou wert a man by day and a hoodie at night,’ says she. After this he was a splendid fellow by day and a hoodie at night. A few days after he got married he took her to his own house. “ At the birth of the first child, there came at night the very finest music that ever was heard about the house. Every one slept, and the child was taken away. Her father came to the door in the morning, and he was both sorrowful and wrathful that the child was taken away.

“The same thing, despite their watching, happened at the birth of the second child: music—sleep—and stealing of the child. The same thing happened, too, at the birth of the third child, but on the morning of the next day they went to another house that they had, himself and his wife and his sisters-in-law. He said to them by the way, ‘ See that you have not forgotten something.’ The wife said, ‘ I forgot my coarse comb.’ The coach in which they were fell a withered faggot, and he flew away as a hoodie!

“Her two sisters returned, and she followed after him. When he would be on a hill-top, she would follow to try and catch him; and when she would reach the top of a hill, he would be in the hollow on the other side. When night came, and she was tired, she had no place of rest or dwelling. She saw a little house of light far from her, and though far from her, she was not long in reaching it.

“When she reached the house she stood deserted at the door. She saw a little laddie about the house, and she yearned after him exceedingly. The house-wife told her to come in, that she knew her cheer and travel. She lay down, and no sooner did the day come than she rose. She went out, and as she was going from hill to hill, saw a hoodie, whom she followed as on the day before. She came to a second house; saw a second laddie; pursued the hoodie on a third day, and arrived at night at a third house. Here she was told she must not sleep, but be clever and catch the hoodie when he would visit her during night. But she slept; he came where she was, and let fall a ring on her right hand. Now, when she woke, she tried to catch hold of him, and she caught a feather of his wing. He left the feather with her, and went away. In the morning she did not know what to do till the house-wife told her that he had gone over a hill of poison, over which she could not go without horse shoes on her hands and feet. She gave her man’s clothes, and told her to learn smithying till she could make horse shoes for herself.

“This she did, and got over the hill of poison. But on the day of her arrival, she found that her husband was to be married to the daughter of a great gentleman that was in the town. As festivities were in progress, the cook of the house asked the stranger to take his place and make the wedding meal. She watched the bridegroom, and let fall the ring and feather in the broth intended for him. With the first spoon he took up the ring, with the next the feather. He asked for the person who cooked the meal, and said, ‘ that now was his married wife.’ The spells went off him. They turned back over the hill of poison, she throwing the horse shoes behind her to him, as she went a bit forward, and he following her. They went to the three houses where she had been. These were the houses of his three sisters; and they took with them their three sons, and they came home to their own home, and they were happy.”

Such is a good specimen of the folk-tale, and the folk-tales are merely the modern representatives of the old Mythology— merely the detritus, as it were, of the old myths which dealt with the gods and the heroes of the race. In the above tale we are in quite a different world from the practical and scientific views of the 19th century; we have birds speaking and acting as rational beings, and yet exciting no wonder to the human beings they come in contact with ; supernatural spells whereby men may be turned into animals; a marriage with a bird, which partially breaks these spells, and the bird becomes a man for part of the day; supernatural kidnapping, ending in the disappearance of the man-bird ; and pursuit of him by the wife through fairy regions of charms and spells and untold hardships—a pursuit which ends successfully. It looks all a wild maze of childish nonsense, unworthy of a moment’s serious consideration; it would certainly appear to be a hopeless subject for scientific research ; for what could science, whose object is truth, have to do with a tissue of absurdities and falsehoods ? But this view is a superficial one, though it is the one commonly held.