Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/175

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The European Sky -God. 163

It is also highly significant that Bran^ and Connla- and Cuchulain,^ to say nothing of Oisin* and Mael-Duin,^ all mated with the queen, or rather goddess, who possessed the sun-tree, while Laegaire's bride bore the appropriate name Deorgreine, ' Tear of the Sun,'*^ Another most remarkable case of this union between a mortal hero and a sun-goddess will be considered later.'^ Meantime it is to be observed that marriage with the goddess of the sun-tree was the high destiny of every human king in Tara : this is implied by the crowned queen of the golden tree,^ who in the Baile an Scdil pledges each monarch in succession, and is herself described as the sovereignty of Erin for ever.^

Another deduction of equal importance may be drawn from the same story. The husband of the crowned queen representing the sovereignty of Erin sat upon a king's throne and made two strangely contradictory statements — on the one hand, that he was a dead man (' It is after death I have come, and I am of the race of Adam ') ; on the other hand, that he was the sun-god (' Lug, son of Edlenn, son of Tighernmas, is my name ')}^ The contradiction vanishes, if we suppose that the kings of Tara were once regarded as re-incarnations of Lug the sun-god. Mr. A. Nutt in the second volume of his Voyage of Bran has con- vincingly demonstrated the large part played by re-birth legends in Irish mythology,^^ and in particular has shown that Cuchulain, the greatest of Irish heroes, was, according to variant versions of the tale, held to be^^ —

(i) a re-birth of Lug by Dechtire, sister of Conchobar :

"^ Supra p. 145. '^ Supra pp. 146, 154. ^ Supra p. 149 f. ^ Supra p. 147 f.

^ Supra p. 156. ^ Supra p. 150 n. I. ^ Vide my next article.

^ A folk-tale from the Highlands tells of a king, who had a wife named Silver-tree and a daughter named Gold-tree (J. Jacobs Celtic Fairy Tales p. 88 ff). These names may be referred to the practice noted in the text.

^ Supra ^. 158. ^^Stipraib.

"Nutt Voyage of Bran ii. 1-97. '^'^ Id. ib. ii. 38 ff.