Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/340

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326 The European Sky- God.

Brigit's life bears out the suggestion. Not only was she expressly compared with the sun,^ but, as Mr, Squire ^ puts it, ' she was born at sunrise ; a house in which she dwelt blazed into a flame which reached to heaven ; a pillar of fire rose from her head when she took the veil.' In short, I submit that the pagan deity, whose name and fame St. Brigit has usurped, was a great sun-goddess. Bres, king of the Tuatha De Danann, mated with her, just as Bran or Connla or Cuchulain or Oisin mated with the goddess who possessed the sun-tree ; for every king of Tara must needs wed the sun-goddess.^ Truly, St. Brigit was well called St. Bride. If I am right in my surmise, the Irish Brigit was strictly comparable to the Italian Diana, and her oak to the famous tree at Nemi. More- over, Brigit, like Diana,* was triformis : at least, she had two sisters also named Brigit, the three being regarded as patrons of bards, physicians, and smiths respectively.^ This triune character reappears in Brigit's children. She was the mother of three gods, who patronized art and literature, viz. Brian, lucharba or luchar, and luchair or Uar. But these three sons had a child in common called Ecn/, that is ' Science ' or ' Poetry.' ^ Finally, as Diana, originally the partner of a 'Bright' sky-god,^ became a goddess of fertility, who made the cattle to increase and the crops to grow,^ so too did Brigit. In the Hebrides her marriage was celebrated on Candlemas eve, she herself being represented by a sheaf of oats in woman's clothing, which was put to bed in a large basket with a wooden club^ — perhaps the last trace of Brigit's oak.

1 Douglas Hyde A Literary History of Ireland London 1899 p. 191.

"^ Squire Mythology of the British Islands p. 228.

^Folk-lore xvii. 163. ^ lb. xvi. 279.

5 Rhys Hibbert Lectures p. 74 f. ^D'Arbois Cycle mythologiqut p. 145.

■^ Folk-lore xvi. 270 f. , 289 n. 5.

^Frazer Golden Bough ed. 2. i. 230. ^ Id. ib. i. 223.