Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/169

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157
The European Sky-God.

the subject by the Irish tract known as the Bailé an Scáil or 'Ecstasy of the Champion.'[1] Conn, king of Ireland, who died in 157 A.D. or thereabouts,[2] used to repair every day at sunrise to the battlements of the royal rath at Tara, along with three druids, for fear lest any aerial foes should descend upon Erin unperceived by him. One morning he happened to tread upon a stone, which screamed under his feet. Conn asked the cause, and, at the end of fifty-three days, one of the druids replied that the stone was named Fal, that it came from Inis Fáil or the Island of Fal, and that the number of the shrieks uttered by it was the number of kings who should succeed Conn to the end of time.[3] While the king pondered this intelligence, he suddenly found himself and his companions enveloped in a mist. A horseman drew near and thrice cast a spear towards them, each

    bough belongs to the presiding goddess of the unseen world and enables a favoured mortal to enter that world during his life-time. But Miss Hull wrongly (to my thinking) discredits the connexion of Virgil's Golden Bough and, by implication, of the Irish Silver Bough, with the branch plucked by the would-be king at Nemi. In my next article I shall hope to set in a clearer light the substantial similarity of all three. Again, Miss Hull is content to regard the Silver Bough as 'the magic talisman insuring safety and nourishment in the invisible world.' She offers no solution to the questions—Why should the goddess of the Otherworld have had a silver tree with golden apples? And why should a mortal monarch have been privileged to bear a branch of it? Indeed, these questions could hardly have been solved without a much wider survey of facts than Miss Hull allowed herself to take.
    I ought to add that I did not read Miss Hull's paper until my present paper was complete, so that my collection of evidence is independent of hers.

  1. Edited and translated by O'Curry Manuscript Materials pp. 387 ff., 618 ff., from a fifteenth century MS. (Harleianus 5280) in the British Museum. The tract itself may have been composed about 1000 a.d. (O'Curry ib. p. 419). There is a French rendering of it in D'Arbois Cycle mythologique p. 301 ff. See also A. Nutt Voyage of Bran p. 186 ff.
  2. D'Arbois Cycle mythologique p. 301 n. 1.
  3. With this shrieking stone cp. 'the conspicuous stone, From which arise a hundred strains' at Emhain of the Apple-trees (supra p. 145), and perhaps the Blowing Stone in White Horse Vale (vide my next article).