Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/77

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The European Sky -God. 67

some meaning, now not easily discoverable.'^ I venture to believe that some at least of these kennings are intelligible enough as descriptions of a sacred tree. It was '« straight firm tree, \ a firm-strong god', the yew being here identified with the god {did) precisely as Daiir, an ' Oak ' was glossed by Dia, ' God.' ^ The bile, in fact, was Bile. In Christian times the oak of Mugna seems to have been connected with Christ ^ : similarly the yew of Ross came to be regarded as a figure of Christ — hence ' the Trinity s mighty one, . . . Mary's Son! But in pagan days it was, like the oak of Dodona, an oracular tree : * a word-pare man . . . judgment of origin | judicial doom . . . spell of knowledge! With this must be put the fact that for purposes of divination Irish druids often used rods of yew with ogham words cut upon them.* For example, when Etain, the queen of king Eochaid Airem, is carried off by the fairy king Midir, the druid Dalan, to find out where she is, ' made four rods of yew, and he writes an ogham thereon ; and by his keys of knowledge, and by his ogham, it is revealed to him that Etain is in the Fairy Mound of Breg Leith, having been carried into it by Midir.' Dr. Stokes^ compares the practice at Praeneste, where oracles were drawn from slips of oak engraved with ancient characters.

^Id. ib. xvi. 278 f. "^ Supra p. 53.

'^ ' The Rennes Dind'seiichas ' in the Revtie celtique xv. 420 has : ' Or Mugna from moo-gnia, that is, greatest of sister's sons, because gnia means a sister's son, as is said in the Bretha Nemed ("Judgments of the Notables") gnia sethar, that is a sister's son. He was indeed a son.' On which Dr. Stokes comments : ' Christ apparently is referred to. His Virgin mother is called "our sister" in the Felire, Dec. 14, and in Cormac's Glossary, s.vv. niae and sethor.' K. Meyer Contributions to Irish Lexico- graphy Halle 1906 i. 216 s.v. 'bile' cites the following usage 'of Christ: a bile an betha ! Hib. Min. 43, 10.'

  • Joyce Social History of Ancient Ireland i. 230, cp. ib. 248, 397 f.

■^Whitley Stokes in the Revue celtique xii. 440 f. The foregoing extract is cited by him from Egerton 1782, fo. 1 18* 2.