Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 14, 1903.djvu/44

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32 The Voice of the Stone of Destiny.

not hold kingly counsel together. The mode of election adopted was divination by means of a dream induced by certain ceremonies. The ceremonies began with a bull- feast. A bull was killed, and a man was gorged with its flesh and broth. We are told " he slept under that meal." It is not incredible. Then " a true oration," which I under- stand to mean an incantation, was pronounced over him by four Druids. He dreamed, and screamed out of his sleep, and related to the assembled kings that he had seen in his dream " a soft youth, noble, and powerfully made, with two red stripes on his skin around his body, and he standing at the pillow of a man who was lying in a decline at Emain Macha," the royal palace of Ulster. Messengers were accordingly sent thither, and the description was found to correspond with that of Lugaidh Reo-derg, the pupil of Cuchulainn, who was then lying ill. Lugaidh was brought to Tara, recognised as the subject of the vision, and pro- claimed as monarch of Ireland. i

This is not the only instance in Irish legend of election to the throne by incubatio, or divination by means of a dream. Conaire, whose tale is filled with incidents explic- able only by the comparative studies of ethnologists^ was thus elected. Though really begotten by a supernatural bird-man, he was regarded as the son of his predecessor, Eterscele. But this does not seem to have given him any title to succeed. A bull-feast was accordingly given ; and the bull-feaster in his sleep at the end of the night beheld a man stark-naked, passing along the road of Tara with a stone in his sling. Warned and counselled by his bird- relatives, Con .lire fulfilled these requirements. He found three kings (doubtless of the under-kings of Ireland) awaiting him, with royal raiment to clothe his nakedness, and a chariot to convey him to Tara. It was a disappoint-

' O'Curry, vol. ii., p. 199. From a reference in an Irish text translated by Professor Windisch from the Lebor na hUidre, it seems that the bull was required to be white. Irische Texle, ser. i., p. 200.