Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/171

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The Etiropean Sky -God. 159

a celestial or solar tree. This agrees well with certain conclusions that we have already reached. For we have seen reason to think that the apple-tree was a Celtic equivalent of the oak as the tree of the sky-god/ nay more, that in the ritual of Samain the apple may have symbolised the sun itself,^ Further, we thus obtain strong confirmation of the solar powers of Manannan;^ since in the stories of Bran and Cnchulain the silver tree was expressly said to grow beside the palaces of Manannan and of Fand. In this connexion it is to be noticed that Giraldus Cambrensis* speaks of a lake in north Munster containing two islands, one large, the other small. ' In the smaller island,' says he, ' no one ever dies, was ever known to die, or could die a natural death. It is con- sequently called the Isle of the Living ... I have thought it right to notice this because it is mentioned in the first pages of the Scholastic History, which treats of the inhabitants of islands of this description. The tree of the sun is also there (Petrus Comestor hist. scJiol. I. 24), spoken of, concerning which king Alexander writes to Aristotle, that whoever eats of the fruit prolongs his life to an immense period.' Giraldus does not definitely state, but he surely implies, that on the small island in the Munster lake such a sun-tree was growing. Other evidence of sun-trees in Ireland will be forthcoming.^

Bran who bore a branch of the silver apple-tree,® Cormac who carried a silver branch with nine golden apples on it, Mael-Duin whose branch was topped by three apples,^ and Connla who subsisted on a golden apple,^ were on this showing just mortals exercising the rights of the sun-god. This exalted claim was no ex- ceptional prerogative ascribed to a few privileged heroes,

^Folk-lore xvii. 56 ff. "^ lb. xvii. 58. ^ Supra p. 141.

  • Giraldus Cambrensis top. Hib. 2. 4 trans. T. Wrighl London 1905 p. 61 f.
  • Vide my next article. ^ Supra p. 144. "^ Supra p. 151.

^ Supra p. 156. ^ Supra pp. 147, 154.