Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/183

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The Etivopean Sky -God. 171

'Wounded men would sink in sleep, Though ever so heavily teeming with blood, With the warblings of the fairy birds From the eaves of her sunny chamber \^Gnanan\

Its portico is thatched With wings of birds both blue and yellow ; Its lawn in front, and its well, Of crystal and of carmogal.

There is in it a vat of royal bronze. Whence flows the pleasant juice of malt ; An apple-tree stands overhead the vat With the abundance of its weighty fruit.

When Crede's goblet is filled With the ale of the noble vat. There drop down into the cup directly Four apples at the same time.

The four attendants [distributors] that have been named Arise and go to the distribution ; They present to four of the guests around, A drink to each man, and an apple.'

A tree thus growing within a castle was deemed sacred to the sky-god ; for any ancient tree growing in a fort was called bile} a name identical with that of Bile who was one form of the Celtic sky-god.'^ The king, as human representative of that god, was intimately associated with the tree. Under it he was inaugurated. ' One of the greatest triumphs,' says Dr. Joyce,^ ' that a tribe could achieve over their enemies, was to cut down their inauguration tree, and no outrage was more keenly resented, or when possible, visited with sharper retribution. Our Annals often record their destruction as events of importance ; at 981 for example, we read in the Four Masters, that the bile of Magh-adhar [Mah-ire] in Clare

■* Folk-lore xvii. 6o, 69. ^ lb. xvii. 59 ff.

^ P. W. Joyce The Origin and History of Irish Navies of Places ed. 2 Dublin 1870 p. 481 f.