BOOK THE FIFTH.
VESTIGES OF DRUIDISM.
IN THE CEREMONIES OF THE CHURCH OF ROME.
THERE is no religion so pure and simple, and yet so mystic and divine as
the religion of the Christians. What need is there of arguments to prove
that it is derived from heaven, for what mortal mind could have conceived
so grand and touching a principle, as that of a God who filled with love
and pity could descend from His throne of bliss and honor to save from
destruction this one poor star, this one faint mote in the vastness of
To twelve men the dear Jesus left his precepts and commands. From the
children of these men and of their disciples sprang a noble flock who,
like their great Master, suffered harsh words and cruel torments, and death
itself in a holy cause.
When God rewarded them by shedding peace upon the church from without,
dissensions from within played Satan's work with her chastity and her love.
Swords were then drawn for the first time by Christians against each other--swords
which never thence till now have been for a moment sheathed. The Christian
religion is divided into three established churches, the Church of Rome,
the Church of Greece, and the Church of England. Besides these, there are
sects whose origins have been abuse upon the one hand, and ambition upon
the other hand, and whose very titles it would occupy pages to enumerate.
Between the vulgar members of these three churches burns a heathenish
and diabolical hatred. Its root is jealousy. Each church affects to be
the only ladder to heaven, and damns all such souls as refuse to ascend
They are barbarians and place themselves in the same scale with the
tribe of the Cherokee Indians, who firmly believe that the Black Hawks
will not be admitted to the pleasures of the happy hunting grounds because
they are not Cherokees.
Between the doctrines and ceremonies of the Greek and Romish Churches,
there are but a few delicate and unimportant distinctions. Yet the Patriarch
of the Church, every Holy Thursday, solemnly excommunicates the Pope and
all his followers.
The Church of England, and the Church of Rome worship the same Christ.
Between these two churches, as between two armies, is waged a scandalous,
vituperative war, and each fresh convert is a battle won.
The Romish Church was sullied by many abuses, which authorized a schism
and a separation among its members. Since many of those plague-spots still
remain, it is right that this separation should continue. But a dark and
dangerous heresy has long been creeping silently into the heart of our
religion, and converting its ministers into false vipers who, warmed and
cherished by the bosom of this gentle church, use their increasing strength
in darting black poison through all her veins.
They wish to transmit to our church those papist emblems and imagery,
those ceremonies and customs which are harmless in themselves, but which
by nourishing superstition elevate the dangerous power of the priests.
We can at present be proud of our priesthood. They constitute a body
of pious, honorable, hardworking men. It is because they can exercise no
undue power. Give them supreme power, and they will be Neros who will fasten
us with iron chains, and murder us if we disobey them.
The priesthood of the Druids stands almost alone in the history of the
past. It was directed by men, with minds elevated by philosophy and learned
in the human heart. But read the religious history of other nations, and
you will discover how frightfully the power of the priests has been abused.
The priests invented a thousand Gods; the priests told a thousand lies;
the priests instituted a thousand absurd and horrible customs. Who first
taught nations to be idolaters, to be murderers but the priests. Who instituted
the festival of the juggernaut, the Inquisition, the massacre of St. Bartholomew,
but the priests.
Calvin, a priest of the Reformation, ordered his victims to be burnt
with green wood--a truly Christian refinement of cruelty!
Aaron, a priest, manufactured a golden calf and taught the Jews to insult
their God. And it was Caiaphas, a high priest, who committed that murder
of which the more virtuous heathen Pilate washed his hands.
Look everywhere, look everywhere, and you will see the priests reeking
with gore. They have converted popular and happy nations into deserts,
and have made our beautiful world into a slaughter house drenched with
blood and tears.
Englishmen! they are planting images, they are performing ceremonies
in your houses of worship which you find it impossible to understand. They
are hidden from your eyes by a dark veil; it is the veil of a Pagan goddess;
it is the veil of Isis.
I would not raise this veil, and disclose the heathen origin of emblems
and ceremonies which so many sanctify and revere, were it not to answer
some good purpose.
I write then in the hope that the church may be preserved in its simplicity--and
its priesthood in that honor and integrity which now, as a body, they possess
to an extent unequalled in any instance that the priest-history of the
past or the present can afford. It is indeed seldom that an English clergyman
becomes a wolf clothed in lamb-skin, and preys upon his flock under words
and looks of religion.
But we know that power presents temptations, which minds fortified only
by three years education at a college are often unable to resist.
Before letters were invented, symbols were necessary to form a language;
and it is still an argument of the Greek and Romish Churches that pictures
and images are the books of those who cannot read.
They say also that since man is not a disembodied spirit like the angels,
it is also impossible that he can worship the Deity with his heart alone.
And it cannot be denied that dim and shadowy lights, sweet perfumes, majestic
processions and strains of music will elevate the soul towards God and
prepare the mind to receive heavenly and sublime impressions.
Without objecting to the use of such aids to devotion, I wish to guard
people from attaching a peculiar sanctity to the bare aids in themselves,
which is nothing less than idolatry. This I can best prevent by showing
them how they first came into a Christian Church. And in doing so, I shall
depart little from the original design of this chapter which is to investigate
the vestiges of Druidism in the ceremonies of the Roman Catholic Religion.
Not only the ceremonies, but also the officers and many of the doctrines
of the Church of Rome may be traced to heathen sources.
The Pope of Rome exactly resembles the Secular High-Priest of ancient
Rome, and in Latin his title is the same--Pontifex Maximus. The
office was probably an imitation of that of the Arch-Druid, who, as I have
described, had supreme power over secular as well as ecclesiastical affairs,
and who was surrounded by a Senate of the Chief Druids, as the Pontifex
Maximus was by Flamines, and the Pope by Cardinals.
The distinguishing sign of the flamen was a HAT; and "the cardinal's
hat" is a European proverb.
The Arch-Druid held his foot to be kissed on certain occasions by the
common people. Julius Cæsar who had observed this custom, on being
made Pontifex Maximus, compelled Pompey to do the same; in this he was
followed by Caligula and Heliogabalus, whom the Pope also has wisely imitated.
The tonsure of the Romish priests is the same as that of the priests
of Isis whose heads were shaved, a practice forbidden by God: (Levit.
xx. 1. Ezek xliv. 20).
Their celibacy is also heathenish. Origen when emasculated himself,
only imitated the Hierophantes of Athens who drank an infusion of hemlock
to render themselves impotent. St. Francis who, when tempted with carnality,
would throw himself naked on the snow making balls which he applied to
his body calling them his maid and his wife, did but copy Diogenes who
lived in a tub-a cloak, his covering--a wallet, his kitchen--the palm of
his hand, his bottle and cup; who in the searching heat of summer would
lie naked on the hot gravel, and in the harshest frost would embrace stone
statues covered with snow.
Plato, Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Democritus and Zeno, the prince of Stoics,
imposed celibacy upon their disciples. The priests of Cybele, the Megabyzes
of Ephesus and the priests of Egypt maintained the vow of chastity. Eneas
(Æneid lib vi.) in passing through the infernal regions saw
no priests there but such as had passed their lives in celibacy.
It need not be proved that there were many hermits and orders of monks
among the heathen. Even the begging friars of the Romish church are not
original. There was a tribe of lazy mendicant priests among the heathens,
against whom Cicero wrote in his Book of Laws, who used to travel from
house to house with sacks on their backs, and which were gradually filled
with eatables by the superstition of their hosts.
Pythagoras established an order of nuns over whom he placed his daughter.
The Roman vestals were nuns who took a vow of chastity, and who, like Christian
nuns that we have heard of, were punished with death if they disgraced
There was a sisterhood of Druidesses at Kildare in Ireland, whose office
it was, like the Roman Vestals, to preserve a holy fire ever burning. They
devoted themselves to the service of Brighit, the Goddess of Poetry, of
Physics, and of Smiths, and who is spoken of in the old Irish MSS. as the
Care. When Druidism was abolished, these priestesses became Christian
nuns, and Brighit became St. Bridget, the tutelary saint of Ireland. The
fire was still preserved in honor of this Christian saint, and though extinguished
once by the Archbishop of London, was relighted and only finally extinguished
at the suppression of the monasteries in the reign of King Henry the Eighth.
The dress and ornaments of the Romish priest are borrowed from the heathens.
The Phnician priests wore surplices. Lambskin was worn by the Persian
priests. The pelt, which the canons wear with the fur outward, is
a memorial of the custom of the early heathens, who having killed the beasts
for sacrifice, flayed them and taking the skins put them over their head
with the fur outwards. On the saccos, or episcopal garment of the
Russian bishops are suspended small silver bells, which were also worn
on the robes of the priests of Persia and of the High-Priest of the Jews.
The crosier, or pastoral staff of the Pope was also used by the
Druids, and answers to the lituus of the Roman augurs and the hieralpha
of the Hindoos.
The Arch-Druid wore bands precisely resembling those which the Romish
and English clergy wear now, and which a short time ago the students of
our universities were compelled to wear in their public examinations.
Votive offerings and pilgrimages are known by all to be of Pagan extraction.
The fasts, penances and self-tortures of the Romish priests find a parallel
among the Yogees or Gymnosophists of India, who wandered about the world
naked as they had been born, sometimes standing on one leg on the burning
sands--passing weeks without nourishment, years without repose--exposed
to the sun, to the rain, to the wind--standing with their arms crossed
above their heads till the sinews shrank and their flesh withered away--fixing
their eyes upon the burning sun till their moisture was seared and their
When a Brahmin became a grandfather he gave up the management of his
affairs to his son, and quitted the city for the desert, the company of
men for eternal solitude. He dressed in the bark of trees; he was not permitted
to wear linen nor to cut his nails. He bathed nine times a day; he read
and meditated ever on the Holy Vedas. At night alone he slept, and then
on the bare ground. In the summer months he sat in the full blaze of the
sun, surrounded by four fires; in the four months of rain, he dwelt in
a stage raised above the water by four poles but unroofed; during the four
winter months he sat all night in the cold water.
And always performing the fast of Chanderayan.
Soon his spirits would sink, and tired of life he was allowed to commit
suicide, which was considered the sure passport to heaven. Some burn themselves,
some drowned themselves, some flung themselves from precipices, and some
walked, walked, walked till they dropped down dead.
The fast of Chanderayan consisted in eating one mouthful a day, and
increasing a mouthful every day for a month, and then decreasing a mouthful
every day for the same length of time. A tribe of the Egyptian priests
fasted perpetually, abstaining from eggs which they considered liquid meat,
and from milk which they esteemed a kind of blood.
The members of the Greek Church are more scrupulous than those of Rome,
for they will not eat eggs or fish when fasting.
The religious rites of the Romish Church are closely assimilated to
those of the heathens.
In the Dibaradané or offering-of-fire, the officiating
Brahmin always rang a small bell. Also the women-of-the-idol, the dancing
girls of the Indian pagodas had golden bells attached to their feet.
The wax tapers which are constantly kept burning in Roman Catholic churches
remind us of the practice of most of the ancient nations who preserved
fires continually burning in their temples; for instance in the pagodas
of the Brahmins; in the sanctuaries of Jupiter Ammon; in the Druidic temple
at Kildare; in the Capitol at Rome; and in the temple of the Gaditanian
Hercules at Tyre.
The Egyptians used lamps in the celebration of their religious services.
They had one festival which they called The Feast of Lamps, which
they used to celebrate by sailing down the Nile to the temple of Isis at
Sais by torchlight. Those who were unable to attend, lighted the lamps,
which were small cups filled with salt and oil, and a lighted wick floated
It is curious that this Pagan observance should be still preserved by
the Papists. A few years ago I was in the house of a Roman Catholic at
vesper time. "I cannot attend vespers to-day," he said, "so I do this."
And he fetched a glass saucer which was filled with oil, and lighted a
wick which was floating in the midst. After some few minutes the light
died out, "Now," said he, "vespers are over."
The Persians used a kind of holy water which was named zor. But
it is needless to produce such instances. Water, as a principle of generation,
and as one of the four elements was revered by all heathendom. The very
or sacred water-pot which the ancient Romans. used for their temple, may
be found among the implements of their successors.
Their turnings and genuflexions are copied from the deisuls of
the Druids. The Druidic religious dances which were performed in a circle,
in imitation of the revolution of the heavenly bodies, are preserved to
posterity by the cardinals who advance to the Pope in a circle, by the
Turkish dervishes, and by the French and English peasantry in various rural
The heathens were not without their liturgies.
The Persians used a long form of prayer for the ceremony of marriage,
and the use of the ring on the third finger of the left hand was known
to a the ancients as Tertullian himself admits. In the Greek Church of
Russia the couple are crowned with garlands which are removed on the eighth
day. This, an ancient Roman observance, is not a traditional superstition
of the Russians, but a ceremony authorized by their religion, and a service
in their liturgy. The veil which our brides wear is also a remnant of ancient
--Dudum sedet illa parato
Flammeolo.--Juv. Sat. X.
As is also the superstition among Papist that it is unlucky to marry in
the month of May. Ovid records it in a distich.
Nec viduæ tdis eadem nec virginis apta
Tempora. Quæ nupsit non diuturna fuit.
Hac quoque de causâ si te proverbia tangunt
Mense malas Maio nubere vulgus ait.
Our funeral practice of throwing three handfuls of earth on the coffin,
and saying : earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, was in
use among the ancient Egyptians, and our mutes resemble the hired mourners
of all the ancient nations.
The Vedas are full of exorcisms against those evil spirits which, as
the Hindoos supposed, crowded about the sacrifice and impeded the religious
rites. There are forms of exorcism used by Romish priests, and in the first
liturgy of Edward VI, there was a form of exorcism in the baptismal service
which since has been erased.
The Romans used to consecrate their temples, when first built, with
prayers and sacrifices, and sprinklings of holy water.
The mass is acknowledged by the Catholic priests to be a sacrificial
service, and the host made of wheat flour is an exact imitation of the
consecrated cakes which were used by the heathens.
The ancient Persians carried their infants to the temple a few days
after they were born, and presented them to the priest who stood before
the holy fire in the presence of the burning sun. He took the child and
plunged it into a vase full of water for the purification of its soul.
After which it was anointed, received the sign of the cross, and was fed
with milk and honey.
Such is the origin of infant baptism, of the font, and of the ceremony
of signing the forehead with the figure of the cross-none of which are
derived from God or from His Holy Scriptures.
When the child had arrived at the age of fifteen years, the priest invested
him with the robe called Sudra and with the girdle, and initiated
him into the mysteries of their religion.
This is plainly the same as the Christian confirmation, before which
the church does not permit us to receive the sacrament.
We first hear of the sacramental offering of bread and wine as used
by Melchisedek. I have described it among the ceremonies of Druidism. Among
the Hebrews it was called qum whence our word "communion."
I have now to consider the great symbol of the Christian religion--the
cross. Were it regarded as a mere emblem of our Lord's suffering I should
be silent upon the matter; but since it is an object of actual idolatry
in the Roman Catholic church, and threatens to become the same in our own,
I must endeavor to correct the abuse by exposing its Pagan origin.
This cross which the Roman Catholics worship on Good Friday by taking
off their shoes and approaching it on their knees, and reverently kissing
it, was once as common a symbol among Pagans as the circle, the serpent
or the bull.
In Ezekiel, IX. 4-6, we read that God directed the six destroyers to
kill all whom they found in the city of Jerusalem, except those on whose
forehead the Taw was inscribed. This letter Taw is the last in the Hebrew
alphabet, and according to its ancient method of writing, exactly resembles
a cross, as St. Jerome remarked 1400 years ago.
The crux ansata of the Egyptians, according to Ruffinus and Sozomen,
was hieroglyphic, and imparted the time that was to come.
The was a
phallic emblem in Egypt. Thereby also the Syrians and Phoenicians represented
the planet Venus. On some of the early coins of the latter nation, we find
the cross attached to a chaplet of beads placed in a circle so as to form
a rosary, such as the Lamas of Thibet and China, the Hindoos and the Roman
Catholics now tell over as they pray.
On a Phnician medal discovered by Dr. Clarke in the ruins of Citium,
are inscribed the cross, the rosary and the lamb.
were the monograms
of Osiris, Venus and Jupiter Ammon.
of the Scandinavian
Teutates or Tuisco.
The Vaishnavas of India mark one of their idols with crosses, thus and
On the Egyptian
monuments in the British Museum may be seen the mystic cross in great numbers
of places, and upon the breast of one of the mummies in the Museum of the
London University is a cross exactly in this shape.
The two principal pagodas of India, those of Benares and Mathura are
built in the form of a cross. The Mexican temples are built in the form
of a cross and face the four cardinal points.
Crosses have been discovered on the Scandinavian "Mark" stones in the
Scottish Isles, and there are many ancient monuments in Great Britain which,
but for the cross engraved upon them, would be considered Druidical.
That the Druids, like the aborigines of America and the ancient conjurers
of Lapland, revered the form of the cross can hardly be doubted. Schedius
de Mor. Germ. informs us that it was their custom to seek studiously
for an oak tree large and handsome, growing up with two principal arms
in the form of a cross beside the main stem. If the two horizontal arms
were not sufficiently adapted to the figure, they fastened a cross beams
to it. Then they consecrated it by cutting upon the right branch in fair
characters the word Hesus, upon the middle stem, the word Taranis,
upon the left branch Belenus, and over them the word Thaw.
The tree so inscribed, they would make their Kebla like the Jewish Jerusalem,
the Turk's Mecca, and the Christian's altar to which they would direct
their faces when they prayed.
I can best explain the adoration of this symbol by deriving it from
that constellation The Southern Cross, which appears only in tropical
skies and which perhaps the heathens, attracted by its beauty, learned
to worship, as they worshipped the sun for its God like grandeur, and the
moon for its beneficent light. The idolatry of the Roman Catholics is not
confined to emblems. They have deified martyrs and other holy men, and
render them a worship that is only due to God.
It is true that they draw a distinction between the adoration which
they pay to God, and the homage which they pay to Saints, calling the one
in the language of the schools Latria, from
worship due to God only, and the latter Dulia, from
an inferior kind of worship. But this distinction is too delicate for the
illiterate to understand.
A plurality of Gods I have shown to be one of the abuses of ancient
heathenism. In this abuse, they have been imitated by the modern idolaters
of Rome, not only in the abstract but in the concrete: there is not only
assimilation, but a reproduction.
The Romans ridiculed the Gods of Egypt whom they themselves adored but
under different names. They burnt Serapis, Anubis, and Isis; they revered
Pluto, Mercury and Ceres.
So the Roman Catholics while pretending to abjure the Gods of heathenism
have actually adopted many of them.
The petty divinities of the Pagans were deified men, and were intercessors
with Osiris, Zeus or Jupiter, as the canonized saints of the Catholic Church
are with the God of the Christians.
The Chaldees divided the year into twelve months with an angel over
each month. The saints perform the same office in the Romish Calendar,
and in several of the Greek churches there are twelve pictures for the
twelve months representing the twelve principal saints.
The divi, or inferior Gods of the Romans worked miracles; altars
were erected in their honor with lights continually burning before them;
their relics were worshipped; convents were formed of religious men and
women who took the name of divus or inferior God, to whom they devoted
themselves, such as the Quirinals from Quirinus or Romulus; the Martiales
from Mars; the Vulcanates from Vulcan. So also the Augustines from Augustine;
the Franciscans from Francis; the Dominicans from Dominic.
The Roman divi were tutelary Gods over various vocations--as
Neptune over mariners--Pan over shepherds--Pales over husbandmen--Flora
over courtezans--Diana over huntsmen. So the seamen, among Catholics, pray
to St. Nicholas--the shepherds to St. Windoline--the husbandmen to St.
John the Baptist--the courtezans to St. Magdalene--and the huntsmen to
The saints too have received the equipage of the divi. To St.
Wolfgang, the hatchet or hook of Saturn--to Moses, the horns of Jupiter
Ammon--to St. Peter, the keys of Janus.
In the same way as the Pagans worshipped these divi but stigmatized
them--Apollo as a rake, Mercury as an arrant thief, and Venus as a courtezan;
there are things recorded by pious Catholics themselves of those Popes
which are infallible and of saints which are said to be in heaven, quite
as little to their credit.
Minutius Felix jeers the Pagans for the vile drudgery they have put
upon their Gods. "Sometimes," says he, "Hercules is set to empty dung;
Apollo turns cow-herd to Ametus; Neptune hires himself to Laomedon as bricklayer
to build up the walls of Troy, and is cheated out of his wages."
So among the glorious miracles of the Holy Virgin, we find that she
descends from heaven to bleed a young man in the arm; to take the place
of a naughty abbess who has eloped with a monk; to mend the gown of St.
Thomas of Canterbury who had torn it on a nail, and to wipe the sweat off
the faces of the monks of Chevraux whilst they were at work.
But as I have said before, there has been something more than imitation.
There has been adoption. The Roman Catholics have canonized several of
the pagan gods. Bacchus, the God of topers, has become St. Baccus, a worshipful
saint of the perennial calendar; and Brighit, the Goddess of the Druids,
St. Bridget, a patron saint of Ireland.
The most distinguishing feature of the Roman Catholic religion is the
idolatrous worship of the Virgin Mary. It is idolatrous, for to this woman
whom it is palpable from Scripture that Christ treated as a being inferior
to himself, are rendered prayers and honors as numerous and high as those
which are rendered to Him, and in all instances they are placed upon a
level with each other.
They have made her immaculate, although she was the wife of a carpenter,
and although the. brethren of Jesus are more than once mentioned in the
And as there was no mention made in Scripture of her death, they inferred
that, like Enoch and Elijah and her Holy Son, she had been taken up into
Heaven. Upon this bare conjecture, the doctrine was assiduously inculcated
into the minds of the ignorant, and a service was introduced into the liturgy
called "The Assumption of the Virgin Mary."
Bonaventura who was canonized a saint, and who is spoken of by his brother-catholics
as the Seraphic Doctor, wrote a book called "The Imitation of the Virgin
Mary," after St. Thomas-a-Kempis' well-known work, in which he exhorts
all faithful catholic; to pray to the Virgin Mary by whose intercession
their souls may be saved.
In the Psalter which St. Bonaventura edited, he changes in each of the
150 Psalms the word Lord or God, for that of Lady or Mary, interspersing
in some much of his own composition, and adding the Gloria Patri to each.
For instance in the 148th Psalm-(page 491 of the Psalter).
"Praise our Lady of Heaven, glorify her in the highest. Praise her all
ye men and cattle, ye birds of the heaven and fishes of the sea. Praise
her sun and moon, ye stars and circles of the planets. Praise her Cherubin
and Seraphin, thrones and dominions and powers. Praise her all ye legions
of angels. Praise her all ye orders of spirits on high.
"Let everything that hath breath praise our Lady."
Theophilus Raynaud, a Jesuit of Lyons, in his work entitled Diptycha
Mariana thus writes:--
"The torrents of Heaven and the fountains of the great deep, I would
rather open than close in homage of the Virgin. And if her son Jesus
has omitted anything, as to the pre-eminence of the exaltation of his own
mother, I a servant, I a slave, not indeed with effect, but with affection
would delight in filling it up."
"In like manner are her feet to be blessed with which she carried the
Lord, the womb in which she carried him, the heart whence she courageously
believed in him and fervently loved him, the breasts with which she gave
him suck, the hands with which she nourished him, the mouth and tongue
with which she gave to him the happy kisses of our redemption, the nostrils
with which she smelled the sweet-smelling fragrance of his humanity, the
ears with which she listened with delight to his eloquence, the eyes with
which she devoutly looked upon him, the body and soul which Christ consecrated
in her with every benediction. And these most sacred members must be saluted
and blessed with all devotion, so that separate salutations must be addressed
to the several members separately, namely, Hail Mary! two to the
feet, one to the womb, one to the heart, two to the breasts, two to the
hands, two to the mouth and tongue, two to the lips, two to the nostrils,
two to the ears, two to the eyes, two to the soul and body. And thus in
all there are twenty salutations which after the manner of a daily payment
with separate and an equal number of kneelings, if it can be done before
her image or altar, are to be paid to the glorious Virgin according to
that psalm, (144). Every day will I give thanks unto thee and praise THY
name for ever and ever."
In the following extract from a little work published at Dublin, 1836,
and entitled "The Little Testament of the Holy Virgin," God and
the Virgin are placed upon an equality.
"Mary! sacred name under which no one should despair. Mary! sacred name
often assaulted but always victorious. Mary! it shall be my life, my strength,
my comfort. Every day shall I invoke it and the divine name of Jesus. The
Son shall awake the recollection of the mother, and the mother that of
the son. Jesus and Mary! this is what my heart shall say at my last
hour if my tongue cannot. I shall hear them on my death-bed, they shall
be wafted on my expiring breath, and I with them to see THEM, know THEM,
bless and love THEM for eternity. Amen."
But she is sometimes made even greater than God.
"My soul," says the blessed Eric Suzon, is in the hands of Mary, so
that if the judge wishes to condemn me, the sentence must pass through
this clement Queen, and she knows how to prevent its execution."
It even became a custom at one time in their church to date the Christian
era not from the birth of the Christ, but from the virgin mother of God.
See Emanuel Acosta's Acts of the Jesuits in the East. Dilingæ. 1571.
annum usque a Deipara Virgine, 1568.
The question now naturally arises, why does the Virgin Mary receive
this worship and these honors which are only due to God.
You will be surprised when I tell you that this also is a remnant of
In all nations, long before the Christian era, a female with a child
in her arms had been worshipped. Among the Egyptians it was Isis, among
the Etruscans it was Venus, among the Phrygians it was Atys.
In fact as Isis was the original of the Proserpine, the Venus, the Diana,
the Juno, the Maia and the Cere of ancient Rome, so she was the original
of the Virgin Mary of the Roman Catholic Church.
In Montfaucon we find several plates of Isis giving suck to the boy
In the year 1747, a Mithraic monument was found at Oxford--a female
nursing an infant-which Dr. Stukeley proved to be a representation of the
Goddess of the Year nursing the God Day.
It is indeed not improbable that Oxford with its seven hills, its river
Isis, and the bull in its coat of arms had been established by priests
who, like the Druids, were acquainted with Egyptian lore.
An ancient Etruscan monument was discovered at Rome, the precise model
of those pictures of the Madonna and her child so common in Italy and throughout
In many churches on the continent, the Virgin Mary is represented with
a lily or lotus in her hand. This plant was sacred to Isis, and was held
in reverence by the priests of Egypt and of India.
Isis was the wife of Osiris, as the moon was called the wife of the
In the hymn of the Assumption, the Virgin is entreated "to calm the
rage of her heavenly husband."
The month of May was sacred to Isis.
It is called by the Papists "Mary's month."
Venus, the Isis of the Romans, was born from the foam of the sea.
In the form of prayer called Litaniæ Lauritanæ, there
are more than forty addresses to the Virgin, invoking her as the star of
the sea, as the mystical rose, and by a variety of other heathen epithets.
In another prayer she is named amica stella, naufragis,
and in Sanval's Historie des Antiquités de Paris, étoile
eclantante de la mer.
The chief title of Venus was Regina Cæloium.
And the Holy Virgin is repeatedly invoked in the Romish liturgy as the
Queen of Heaven.
Finally, on the 25th of March the ancient Phrygians devoted a festival
to the mother of the Gods, which very day still bears among Catholics and
their Protestant imitators the name of Lady's Day.
All this does not impeach one iota or tittle of the truth of Christianity.
I do not say that the Christians invented a personage, and called her the
Virgin Mary. I merely prove that the Roman Catholics pay those idolatrous
tributes to the Virgin Mary which their ancestors rendered to Isis in Egypt,
or to Venus in Rome, and that they represent her in the same manner.
For instance, in the pictures of the Madonna and the Child, we see the
Virgin's head encircled by a crescent halo of light, and the child's by
many luminous rays.
The one is a symbol of the new moon sacred to Isis, the latter an imitation
of the radiance of the sun of whom Horus was the offspring.
The spires and towers of our churches are also imitated from the pyramids
and obelisks of antiquity. These were erected as emblems of the sun's beams
which fall pyramidically upon the earth.
Many of the heathen festivals are still celebrated by Christians. In
the liturgy of the Greek Church there is a ritual named "The Benediction
of the Waters." A wooden temple, richly gilt and hung round with sacred
pictures, is erected upon the Neva at St. Petersburg when it is frozen,
and a procession is formed by the clerks, the deacons, the priests and
the bishops dressed in their richest robes, and bearing the tapers and
the sacred pictures, and the service is read within the temple.
This is not unlike "The Feast of Lamps" before described, which the
Egyptians partly celebrated on the Nile, a river which in one of the prayers
of the Greek Church is called "The Monarch of the Floods."
The conception of the Virgin Mary is represented on the same day (the
2nd of February) as that of the miraculous conception of Juno by the ancient
Romans. This, says the author of the Perennial Calendar, is a remarkable
It is also a remarkable coincidence that the Feast of All-Saints, which
is celebrated by the Roman Catholics on the 2nd of November and which retains
its place in the Protestant calendar, should have been on the same day
as the Festum dei Mortis of the Romans, and should still be annually
kept by the Buddhists of Thibet, and by the natives of South America and
as a Druidic custom by the rustic classes of Ireland.
It is also a remarkable coincidence that the Romans should have had
their Prosipernalia, or Feast of Candles or Candlemass in February-their
or shepherd's feast on Midsummer Day which is sacred to St. John the Baptist,
and that the Romish Carnival should be held at the same time as the ancient
Saturnalia, and should resemble so closely those orgies which were of a
Thus we see that the Roman Catholics have been in the habit of celebrating
Christian festivals upon days which were held sacred by the heathens. Whether
this was from mere slavish imitation, or from a fondness for old associations,
or from a desire to sanctify those days unhallowed by paganism it is impossible
One of the most extraordinary examples of this custom is to be found
in our grand festival of Christmas.
All will allow, I think, that there is no evidence to prove that the
twenty-fifth of December was the actual day upon which Christ was born.
And that He really arose on Easter Day can scarcely be believed, since
the fixing of that day was not arranged among the early Christians till
after swords as well as words had been used in the conflict, and several
fierce battles had been fought.
I hope that I shall not weaken the genial feelings with which Christmas
Day, that holiday of the year, is greeted by the nation if I expose the
real origin of the festival. But that I feel sure is impossible. It would
need something more than a few facts from old books to blot out all those
happy associations which crowd around that glorious festival, which though
it may be celebrated on the wrong day is kept in the right manner.
I may, however, show those Christians who worship the letter and not
the spirit, who attach more sanctity to the day than to the festival, who
set their children over grave books and who forbid them to laugh on that
day when there is a smile even on the poor man's lips, I may show those
word-mongers, those silly Puritans, those harsh blunderers in religion
what honor they have paid to heathenism all their lives.
The festival of the twenty-fifth of December, which we call Christmas,
was observed by the Druids on that day by lighting great fires on the tops
of hills. The festival was repeated on the twelfth day afterwards, which
we call old Christmas Day.
And even now there are certain rites performed under the sacred mistletoe
on Christmas Day which certainly have little to do with Christianity.
The Jews also celebrated a festival on the twenty-fifth of December
which -they called
or the feast of light, and which Josephus believed to have been instituted
by Judas Maccabaeus.
The twenty-fifth of December too was the birthday of the God Mithra,
and it was an old custom of the heathens to celebrate the birthdays of
And now I will explain when this day was first established as the birthday
of Christ. The Cnobite monks finding that in their monasteries (most of
which were pagan seminaries built before the Christian era) a day had been
from time immemorial dedicated to the God Sol as his birthday, and that
he bore the name of Lord--this Lord they conceived must be
their Lord, and after many disputes the twenty-fifth of December was established
as the anniversary of Christ, and so the Druidic festival of the winter
solstice became a Christian ceremony.
The origin of Sunday is very similar; but while the heathen festival
of Christmas has received a Christian name, this has retained its Pagan
Such was the abhorrence which the early Christians felt for their persecutors,
the Jews, that they were wont to reject all that was Jewish, as the first
Puritans rejected all that was Romish without considering its intrinsic
God had ordained the seventh day for man's rest and recreation. He had
given forth that edict from Mount Sinai not to the Israelites only, but
to the whole world. But since the Jews faithfully kept this commandment,
the Christians hated the Sabbath and took a step which was wholly unauthorized
by their Master, or by any of his Apostles. They changed the day.
They called this new day the Lord's Day, or the Day-of-the-Sun.
The word Lord is heathen, and is equivalent to Baal in Chaldee
and to Adonis in Phoenician. It first crept into the Scripture thus:
The Jews, in obedience to the law "thou shalt not take the name of Jehovah
thy God in vain," never wrote or spoke His name except on the most solemn
occasions. And the first translators to avoid the frequent repetition of
the word, first used this hieroglyphic and
afterwards the term which the Pagans applied to their God Sol, which in
Greek was in
Latin dominus, in Celtic adon, in Hebrew adoni.
Now the Persians set apart every month four of these Lord's days or
lesser festivals to the Sun. On these days, they had more solemn service
in their temples than on other days, reading portions of their sacred books
and preaching morality.
But the most curious point of resemblance is that on these days alone
they prayed standing. And in the sixteenth canon of the Council
of Nice to kneel in prayer on Sundays is forbidden.
Constantine, after pretending to be converted to Christianity, ordered
the day Domini invicti Solis to be set apart for the celebration
of peculiar mysteries in honor of the great god Sol.
The early Christians were accused by the heathens of worshipping the
sun, and Justin, as if loathing the very name of the Jewish Sabbath, preferred
writing of it
Since it would be now almost impossible to restore our weekly day of
rest to that day which God thought fit to appoint, and which man thought
fit to alter, I may be blamed for having made these disclosures which certainly
do not redound to the honor of our religion.
But I have had my reason. It is to show the folly of those who go word-mongering,
to make triumphant comparisons between the Day-of-the-sun as observed by
Christians, and God's Sabbath as observed by Jews; who bring out their
religion, their consciences, their bibles, their sternest faces and their
best clothes upon this day, and who believe or seem to believe that God
sleeps all the week, and that if they go to church on Sunday they succeed
in deceiving him.
It is not at this hour or at that hour that God is to be worshipped.
Lip-services resemble the treacherous kisses of a Judas, and the heart
does not naturally aspire towards heaven at the striking of a clock or
at the ringing of a church bell.
Before concluding this chapter, I should wish to exculpate myself from
the supposition that I have written in an unjust spirit against the members
of the Roman Catholic Church.
I know that they can boast of many devout disciples-of many enterprising
missionaries-of many conscientious priests. I know that they are not now
more foolish and bigoted than the members of the Protestant churches, as
in former times the murderers of St. Bartholomew were no worse than the
cruel Calvin, nor Bloody Mary than James the First. In those days a remnant
of the horrible custom of human sacrifice was preserved by all alike. They
martyred those of the same religion as themselves but not of the same sect,
burning them, drowning them, tearing them limb from limb like the Pagans
of old, as offerings to a kind and gracious God.
It is true that the Roman Catholics were the most ruthless in barbarity
and the most ingenious in torture, but it was because they possessed the
I know that Roman Catholic priests do not really worship those images
of the saints to which they bend their knees. But though they are not idolaters
themselves, it cannot be denied that they have taught their disciples to
I do not suppose that men of genius or even of education ever yet were,
or ever could be image worshippers.
Listen to these words of the Emperor Julian, written in an age that
is supposed to have been enslaved in idolatry :
"The statues of the gods, the altars that are raised to them, and
the holy fires that are burnt in their honor have been instituted by our
fathers as signs and emblems of the presence of the Gods, not that we should
regard them as Gods, but that we should honor the Gods in them."
I might quote fifty other passages to prove that in all idolatrous nations
the priests and philosophers, though affecting to be image-worshippers,
have in their hearts scorned those pieces of wood and stone to which their
dupes so devoutly kneeled.
In papistry, there are as many dupes and as much idolatry as ever existed
in Egypt, in Italy, or in Greece.
Witness a Roman Catholic service, and you will see heads bowed before
stone-images and prayers, murmured not in mere reverence but in actual
Study the doctrine of Transubstantiation. Is not that an instance of
the emblem being forgotten in the God?
These abuses are melancholy to contemplate, for these alone it is which
hold two Christian churches asunder. These with the Platonic dogma of purgatory
upon which no man can decide, and upon which therefore it is foolish for
man to contend.
English priests beware how you nurse idolatry; for those who do so,
enchain not only others but themselves.
In the reign of Peter the Great, a law was passed by a synod of the
Greek Church in Russia enacting that the use of pictures in churches was
contrary to the principles in Christianity, and that all such should be
removed from places of worship.
The Emperor sanctioned this law, but feared to put it into execution
lest it should cause a general insurrection.
Superstition, born of Satan, fed and fostered by priests, like a hideous
cuttle-fish has cast its white and slimy arms around the Harlot of Babylon,
and. has bedaubed her with its black blood. Now she loves this blood and
knows not that it defiles her; she loves these embraces and knows not that
they enslave her. But some day aspiring to be free, she will attempt to
rise from her grave of sand and foul weeds; and then seizing her in its
horrible arms, that demon who so long has triumphed over her will sink
with her forever beneath the waves.
IN THE EMBLEMS OF FREEMASONRY.
THERE is a divine and hidden science whose origin can only be discovered
by the wavering lights of tradition, whose doctrines and purposes are enveloped
in sacred mysteries.
It is now degenerated into a society of gluttons and wine-bibbers, who
yawn while their Masters expound to them those emblems which have excited
the wonder of the greatest philosophers of the past, and who deem that
the richest gem of freemasonry, is the banquet which closes the labor of
And yet this order can boast of some learned and intellectual men, who
endeavor to find the key to the hidden language of symbols, and who appreciate
at its true value the high honors which the initiated are permitted to
In spite of the abuses with which it has been degraded, in spite of
the sneers with which the ignorant revile it, this institution still possesses
much that is holy and sublime.
No feelings can be compared with those which a young man feels when,
attired in strange array, blind-folded, the dagger pointed to his naked
left breast, he is led through the mystic labyrinth, whose intricate ways
are emblematical of the toilsome wanderings of his soul.
The strains of solemn music-the mysterious words-the low knock at the
portal--the sudden blaze of light--and the strange sight which await his
eyes feeble and fluttering from their long imprisonment.
What awe he feels, as kneeling on his right knee, his left hand placed
upon the Book of the Law, encircled by the Masters in their robes of office,
and the two white wands held over his head in the form of a cross, he takes
the oath of secrecy and faith, "to hail, conceal and never reveal the hidden
mysteries of the fellowship" to which he is now admitted.
And what pride flushes in his heart when the secret signs and key-words
are imparted to him, and when the white apron, a badge more glorious than
the fabled Golden Fleece, or the Roman Eagle is tied round his waist.
Surrounded by all those signs and symbols by which the ancient nations
were wont to express the power and presence of God, the Mason's Lodge resembles
a scene of enchantment in the midst of this wilderness which we call the
world. And those who are thus assembled together in mystic robes, seem
spirits of another age, who have returned to hold their hidden meetings
once more in the catacombs of the Egyptian pyramids, or in the cavern-temple
sacred to Mithra, or in the subterranean labyrinths of the holy Druids.
The brethren seated in a circle, one of the Masters arises and advances
to the midst. He relates to them a tradition of the origin of their craft.
"After the sun had descended down the seventh age from Adam before the
flood of Noah, there was born unto Methusael, the son of Mehujael, a man
called Lamach who took unto himself two wives. the name of the one was
Adah, of the other Zillah. Now Adah his first wife, bare two sons--the
one named Jabel and the other Jubal. Jabal was the inventor of geometry
and the first who built houses of stone and timber, and Jubal was the inventor
of music and harmony. Zillah, his second wife, bare Tubal Cain, the instructor
of every artificer in brass and iron, and a daughter called Naamah who
was the founder of the weaver's craft.
"All these had knowledge from above, that the Almighty would take vengeance
for sin either by fire or by water, so great was the wickedness of the
world. So they reasoned among themselves how they might preserve the knowledge
of the sciences which they had found, and Jabal said that there were two
different kinds of stone of such virtue that one would not burn and the
other would not sink--the one called marble and the other latres.
They then agreed to write all the science that they had found upon these
"After the destruction of the world, these two pillars were discovered
by Hermes, the son of Shem. Then the craft of masonry began to flourish,
and Nimrod was one of the earliest patrons of the art. Abraham, the son
of Jerah, was skilled in the seven sciences and taught the Egyptians the
science of grammar. Euclid was his pupil, and instructed them in the art
of making mighty walls and ditches to preserve their houses from the inundations
of the Nile, and by geometry measured out the land, and divided it into
partitions so that each man might ascertain his own property. And he it
was who gave masonry the name of geometry.
"In his days, it came to pass that the sovereign and lords of the realm
had gotten many sons unlawfully by other men's wives, insomuch that the
land was grievously burdened with them. A council was called but no reasonable
remedy was proposed. The king then ordered a proclamation to be made throughout
his realms, that high rewards would be given to any man who would devise
a proper method for maintaining the children. Euclid dispelled the difficulty.
He thus addressed the king: 'My noble sovereign, if I may have order and
government of these lord's sons, I will teach them the seven liberal sciences,
whereby they may live honestly like gentlemen, provided that you will grant
me power over them by virtue of your royal commission.'
"This request was immediately complied with, and Euclid established
a Lodge of Masons."
This tale is curious as being the earliest account of an educational
There are various traditions of minor interest relating to the patriarchal
ages and to the wanderings of the Israelites in the wilderness.
The Freemasons claim descent from that body of builders who, some from
Phnicia, and some from India, came to Jerusalem to erect the temple of
Solomon. They also assert that these masons were governed by the same laws,
and united by the same ties as those of the modern order, and in the initiation
of a Master-mason the following tradition is related respecting the death
of the Phnician Hiram Abiff, the master architect who directed the building
of the temple:
"There were fifteen fellow-craftsmen, who finding that the temple was
almost finished, and that they had not received the master's word because
their time was not come, agreed to extort it from their master, the skilful
Hiram Abiff, on the first opportunity, that they might pass for masters
in other countries and have masters' wages. Twelve recanted and the other
three determined to carry out the plot. Their names were Jubela, Jubelo,
and Jubelum. These three crafts knowing that it was always the master's
custom at twelve at noon, when the men were called off to refreshment,
to go into the sanctum sanctorum to pray to the true and living
God--they placed themselves at the three entrances to the temple, viz.,
at the west, south and east doors. There was no entrance in the north,
because thence the sun darts no rays. Thus they waited while he made his
prayer to the Lord, to have the word or grip as he came out, or his life.
So Hiram came to the east door, and Jubela demanded the master's word.
Hiram told him he did not receive it in such a manner but he must wait,
and time and a little patience would bring him to it, for it was not in
his power to deliver it except the three Grand Masters were together, viz:
Solomon, King of Israel, Hiram, King of Tyre, and Hiram Abiff.
"Jubela struck him across the throat with a 24-inch gauge. He fled thence
to the south door where he was accosted in the same manner by Jubelo to
whom he gave a similar answer, and who gave him a blow with a square upon
his left breast. Hiram reeled but recovered himself, and flew to the west
door where Jubelum gave him a heavy blow upon the head with a common gavel
or setting maul which proved his death.
"After this they carried him out of the west door and hid him in a heap
of rubbish till it was twelve at night, when they found means to bury him
in a handsome grave, six feet east and west, and six feet in height.
"When Hiram was missed, King Solomon made great inquiry after him, and
not hearing anything of him supposed him to be dead. The twelve crafts
that had recanted hearing the said report, and their consciences pricking
them, went and informed King Solomon with white aprons and gloves as tokens
of their innocence. King Solomon forthwith sent them in search of the three
murderers who had absconded, and they agreed to make the pursuit in four
parties, three going north, three south, three east, and three west.
"As one of these parties traveled down to the sea of Joppa, one of them
sitting himself down to rest by the side of a rock, heard the following
lamentations proceed from a cleft within:--
"'O that I had my throat cut across, and my tongue torn out by the root,
and buried in the sands of the sea at low water a cable length from the
shore, where the tide doth regularly ebb and flow twice in the course of
the twenty-four hours, than that I had been concerned in the death of our
And then another voice:
"'Oh! that I had my heart torn from under my naked left breast, and
given to the vultures of the air as a prey, rather than I had been concerned
in the death of so good a master.'
"'But oh!' cried Jubelum. I struck him harder than you both, for I killed
him. Oh! that I had had my body severed in two, one part carried to the
south, and the other to the north, my bowels burnt to ashes and scattered
before the four winds of the earth, rather than I had been concerned in
the death of our master Hiram.'
"The brother that heard these sorrowful lamentations hailed the other
two, and they went into the cleft of the rock and took them and bound them,
and brought them before King Solomon, when they owned what had passed,
and what they had done, and did not desire to live, therefore King Solomon
ordered their own sentences to be executed upon them, saying, 'They have
signed their own deaths, and let it be upon them as they have said.'
"'Jubela was taken out, and his throat cut across, and his tongue torn
out by the root, and buried in the sands of the sea at low water, a cable
length from the shore, where the tide did regularly ebb and flow twice
in the course of the twenty-four hours.
"Jubelo's heart was torn from under his naked left breast, and was given
to the vultures of the air as a prey.
"Jubelum's body was severed in two, one part was carried to the north,
the other to the south, his bowels were burnt to ashes and scattered to
the four winds of the earth."
The real secret of Freemasonry, viz., its origin and purport, as yet
remain an enigma and will probably ever remain so.
There are some authors who have fixed the source of this sacred and
mysterious fountain within the oaken groves of the extinguished order of
Who assert that when Druidism was proscribed, its priests adopted various
disguises and carried their learning into various professions. Some became
school-masters and taught science to the youth of Britain, as they had
once done in the forest seminaries of Mona. Some fortune-tellers, the parents
of the tribes of gypsies who still retain a kind of brotherhood united
by oaths and secret signs, and who at one time possessed so strange an
ascendancy over the minds of the vulgar.
And others who formed themselves into a community resembling, if not
in their power, at least in their unanimity, that ancient body of priests
who had once been the sovereigns of Britain.
At first I was inclined to believe that such was really the case, and
that Freemasonry was no more than a reproduction of Druidism in the Middle
Ages. On searching for materials, I met with evidence in limine
which tended to confirm me in this conviction. There was a manuscript discovered
in the Bodleian Library at Oxford in 1696, which was supposed to have been
written about the year 1436. It purports to be an examination of one of
the brotherhood by King Henry VI, and is allowed by all masonic writers
to be genuine.
Its title is as follows: "Certain questions with answers to the same
concerning the mystery of masonry written by King, Henry the Sixth and
faithfully copied by me John Leylande, antiquarian, by command of his highness."
I give an extract modernizing the English of the original, which, though
quaint, would be unintelligible to all but antiquaries:--
"What mote it be? It is the knowledge of nature, and the
power of its various operations; particularly the skill of reckoning, of
weights and measures, of constructing buildings and dwellings of all kinds,
and the true manner of forming all things for the use of man.
"Where did it begin ?-it began with the first men of the
East, who were before the first men of the West, and coming with it, it
hath brought all comforts to the wild and comfortless.
"Who brought it to the West?--the Phoenicians who, being
great merchants, came first from the East into Phoenicia, for the convenience
of commerce, both East and West by the Red and Mediterranean Seas.
"How came it into England?--Pythagoras, a Grecian, traveled
to acquire knowledge in Egypt and in Syria, and in every other land where
the Phoenicians had planted masonry; and gaining admittance into all lodges
of masons, he learned much, and returned and dwelt in Grecia Magna, growing
and becoming mighty wise and greatly renowned. Here he formed a great lodge
at Crotona, and made many masons, some of whom traveled into France, and
there made many more, from whence, in process of time, the art passed into
This, I need not remind the reader, is a story very similar to those
current respecting the first planting of Druidism in Britain.
I also discovered as I thought, a key to the tradition of Hiram Abiff,
which I have just related, viz., that it was simply the story of Osiris
(killed by Typhon the Evil Spirit, buried in a coffin and found by Isis)
so corrupted by modern Masons.
In the continuation of the story of Hiram, it is stated that the twelve
crafts on discovering his body were unable to raise it, and that King Solomon
ordered a lodge of master-masons to be summoned and said, "I will go
myself in person and try to raise the body by the master's grip or the
By means of this grip the Grand-Master Hiram was raised.
Now in a figure painted on a mummy at the Austin Fryar's of La Place
des Victores, representing the death and resurrection of Osiris, is
seen an exact model of the position of the master-mason as he raises Hiram.
Jubela, Jubelo, Jubelum are merely variations from the Latin
word jubeo, I command. The pretended assassins are represented as
demanding the master's grip and word from Hiram in an imperious manner.
A more satisfactory proof of the truth of this statement is contained
in an astronomical notion of the Hindoos, whose Chrisna is the same
as the Osiris of the Egyptians.
The Decans, or Elohim, are the gods of whom it is said
the Almighty created the Universe. They arranged the order of the zodiac.
The Elohim of the summer were gods of a benevolent disposition:
they made the days long, and loaded the sun's head with topaz. While the
three wretches that presided in the winter at the extreme end of the
year, hid in the realms below, were, with the constellation to which they
belonged, cut off from the rest of the zodiac; and as they were missing,
were consequently accused of bringing Chrisna into those troubles which
at last ended in his death.
Even allowing these premises to be true, it does not necessarily follow
that the traditionary account of the building of Solomon's Temple by masons
was also allegorical.
And indeed there is so much that is purely Hebrew in ceremonial masonry,
that one is almost forced to believe that the Freemasons of the present
day are really descended from a body of architects, who, like the Dionysiacks
of Asia Minor, were united into a fraternal association and who erected
the temple of Solomon.
In these ceremonies, however, and in their emblems there is much also
that is Druidic, and if Freemasonry did not emanate from Druidism, there
can be no doubt that it sprang from the same origin.
I will trace out the affinity between the Masonic Order of the Present,
and the Druid Order of the Past. It shall be for the reader to decide whether
these Masonic usages are vestiges of Druidism, or mere points of family
The initiations of Masons are so similar to those of the Druids, that
any Mason reading my article upon the subject must have been struck by
The ovade wore a gold chain round his neck. And the apprentice when
initiated has a silk cord, in masonic parlance a cable-tow, suspended
from his throat. Like the ovade, the apprentice is blindfolded, and as
the former was led through the mazes of a labyrinth, the latter is led
backwards and forwards, and in various directions.
Thunder and lightning were counterfeited in the initiation of a Druid,
and in that of the Royal Arch the Companions fire pistols, clash swords,
overturn chairs, and roll cannon balls across the floor.
The tiler stands at the door with a drawn sword.
And tests of fortitude though less severe than in former times are not
unknown among Masons. The following arduous trial was used in the Female
Lodges of Paris:--
"A candidate for admission was usually very much excited. During a part
of the ceremony she was conducted to an eminence, and told to look down
at what awaited her if she faltered in her duty. Beneath her appeared a
frightful abyss in which a double row of iron spikes were visible. No doubt
her mind was in a chaos of fanaticism, for instead of shrinking at the
sight, she exclaimed "I can encounter all," and sprang forward. At that
moment a secret spring was touched, and the candidate fell not on the spikes,
but on a green bed in imitation of a verdant plain. She fainted but was
soon recovered by her friends, when the scene having changed she was reanimated
and soothed by the sweet strains of choral music."
I have already shown, I trust conclusively, that the Druidic mysteries
were founded on those of the Egyptians, and were analogous to those of
Tyre, Persia and Hindostan; and that their moral doctrines and pristine
simplicity of worship were those of the Hebrew Patriarchs.
It will be easy to show that those of Freemasonry, if not a mere perpetuation
of the Druidic were derived from the same fountains, and that the secrets
of this science and philosophy are hidden from us by the veil of Isis.
To the Egyptian candidate on his- initiation, the Hierophant displayed
the holy volume of hieroglyphics which he then restored to its repository.
So when the eyes of the apprentice are first released from darkness,
he beholds the volume of the sacred law.
During the Persian initiations, the doctrine was enforced ex cathedra,
from the desk or pulpit. So the Grand Master sits on a throne before which
the candidate kneels, pointing a dagger to his naked left breast and two
white wands being crossed above his head.
On the seal of the ancient Abbey of Arbroath in Scotland, is a representation
which bears a curious resemblance to the engraving on a seal used by the
priests of Isis, and which Plutarch describes in his Essay on Isis and
Osiris--a man kneeling, his hands bound, and a knife at his throat.
In all the ancient mysteries before an aspirant could claim participation
in the higher secrets of the institution, he was placed within the pastos
or bed, or coffin, and was subjected to a confinement in
darkness for a certain time.
This I have described to be practiced by the Druids. In some of their
labyrinths, discovered in France, the remains of cells have been found,
and there was a dark cell of probation recently standing near Maidstone,
Kitt's Cotti House--from Ked (or Ceridwen) the British Isis, and
an ark, or chest.
So in the initiation of a Master Mason, the candidate is in some lodges
buried in a coffin to represent the death of the murdered Hiram Abiff.
The grand festival of Masonry is on Midsummer Day, which was also the
grand festival of the Druids.
The processional movements of the Masons as of the Druids were mostly
I have already instanced the symbol by which the Jews expressed the
word 'Jehovah.' This letter
jod was believed by them to denote the presence of God, especially when
conveyed in a circle.
Masons also have a word which they are not allowed to pronounce except
in the presence of a full lodge, and they pay peculiar reverence to a point
within a circle.
Some of the Druidic monuments are simple circles with a stone standing
in the midst, and the boss in the centre of their circular shields had
probably the same signification.
The Masonic Lodge, like all Pagan temples, is built due east and west.
Its form is an oblong square which the ancients believed to be the shape
of the world. In the west are two pillars surmounted by globes. The one
on the left is called Boaz, and is supposed to represent Osiris or the
sun, the other Jachin, the emblem of Isis or the moon. The floor is mosaic,
and the walls are adorned with the various symbols of the craft.
The cross is one of the chief emblems in Masonry as it was in Druidism,
and in all the Pagan religions. The Taw is
a badge in Royal Arch Masonry, and almost all the other varieties of the
symbol are used in Masonry.
The key and the cross-keys are also mosaic symbols. They are supposed
to be astronomical signs of Anubis, or the Dog-Star.
An ear-of-corn is a prominent emblem in Masonry, proving that the order
did not confine their intellects and their labors to the building of houses,
but devoted themselves also to agriculture.
A sprig of acacia is one of the emblems revered by the Masons, and answers
to the Egyptian lotus, to the myrtle of Eleusis, to the golden branch of
Virgil and to the Druidic mistletoe. It is curious that Houzza which
Mahomet esteemed an idol--Houzza so honored in the Arabian works of Ghatfân
Koreisch, Kenanah and Salem should be simply the acacia. Thence was derived
the word huzza! in our language, which was probably at first a religious
exclamation like the Evohe! of the Bacchantes.
The doctrines of Masonry are the most beautiful that it is possible
to conceive. They breathe the simplicity of the earliest ages animated
by the love of a martyred God.
That word which the Puritans translated "charity," but which is really
"love"--love is the key-stone of the Royal Arch upon which is supported
the entire system of this mystic science.
In the lectures of the French Lodges the whole duty of a Mason is summed
up in this one brief sentence: "Aimez-vous les uns les autres, instruisez-vous,
secourez-vous, voilà tout noire livre, toute noire loi, toule noire
"Love one another, teach one another, help one another. That is all
our doctrine, all our science, all our law."
Ah! rail against us bigoted and ignorant men, slander us curious and
jealous women if you will. Those who obey the precepts of their masters,
and those who listen to the truths which they inculcate can readily forgive
you. It is impossible to be a good Mason without being a good man.
We have no narrow-minded prejudices; we do not debar from our society
this sect or that sect; it is sufficient for us that a man worships God,
no matter under what name or in what manner, and we admit him. Christians,
Jews, Mahometans, Buddhists are enrolled among us, and it is in the Mason's
Lodge alone that they can kneel down together without feeling hatred, without
professing contempt against their brother worshippers.
IN RUSTIC FOLK-LORE.
IT is strange with what pertinacity the ignorant retain those customs which
their fathers observed, and which they hold sacred without understanding
either their origin or their purpose.
It is an attribute of human nature to hallow all that belongs to the
past. It is impossible to look without admiration upon a venerable building
which has lived through centuries, an immortal work of art; it is natural
that we should also revere those customs which have descended to us by
no written laws, by no kingly proclamations, but simply from lip to ear,
from father to son.
Before I enter the homes of our peasants however, come with me to the
mountains of Wales where we shall find the true descendants, not only of
the ancient Britons but also of the Holy Druids themselves.
I mean the Bards, or harpers, who still continue to strike melodious
notes in this land of music and metheglin, and who still convey to their
hearers the precepts of their great ancestors.
The Bards were always held in high reverence in Wales, and that is why
they have lived so long. When the priests had been swept away by the sword
of the new religion, this glorious association of musicians remained, and
consented to sing praises to Jesus Christ the Redeemer, instead of to HU
the pervading spirit.
Indeed it was said of Barach, who was chief Bard to Conchobhar Nessan,
King of Ulster, that he described the passion of Jesus in such moving words
that the king, transported with rage, drew his sword and fell to hacking
and hewing the trees of the wood in which he was standing, mistaking them
for Jews, and even died of the frenzy.
By studying the old Welsh laws of Howel the good king (A. D.,940), one
finds some curious matter respecting the position which the Bards held
at that time in the Court and country.
Y Bardd Teulu, or Court Bard (an appointment from which that
of our poet-laureate probably originated) on receiving his commission,
was presented by the king with a silver harp, by the queen with a gold
ring. He held the eighth place at Court. He possessed his land free. At
the three great festivals of the year, Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide,
he sat at the prince's table. On these occasions, he was entitled to have
the disdain's or steward-of-the-household's garment for his fee.
In addition to these perquisites, the king found him in woolen robes, and
the queen in linen, and he received a present from every maiden when she
married, but nothing at the bridal feasts of women who had been married
At regal feasts the guests were placed in threes; a tune called Gosteg
yr Halen, "the prelude of the salt," was sung as the salt-cellar was
placed before the king, and as they were served with meats, &c., upon
platters of clean grass and rushes, the harp played all the while.
When a song was called for after the feast, the Oadeir-fardd,
or the bard who possessed the badge of-the-chair sang a hymn to the glory
of God, and then another in honor of the king. After which, the Teuluwr,
or Bard of the Hall sang upon some other subject.
If the queen wished for a song after she had retired to her apartment,
the Teuluwr, might sing to her, but in a low voice, lest he disturb
the other performers in the hall.
If a Bard desired a favor of the king, he was obliged to play one of
his own compositions; if of a nobleman, three; and if of a villain, till
he was exhausted.
His person was held so sacred that whoever slightly injured him was
fined VI cows and CXX pence, and the murderer of a Bard was fined CXXVI
cows. The worst murder in those days, like criminal conversations in the
present age, only needed pecuniary atonement.
On a plundering expedition, the Bard received a large portion of the
spoil. He preceded the warriors to battle, reciting a poem called Unhenaeth
Prydain, "the glory of Britain."
An edict was issued by King Edward I. authorizing the massacre of the
Bards, one of them having prophesied the liberation of Wales. The murder
of the last Bard has been beautifully described by Gray in one of his poems.
Queen Elizabeth also issued a proclamation, but of a less sanguinary
character against certain wandering minstrels, who appear to have been
among the musicians of those days what quacks are among our modern M.D.'s.
It also commissioned certain gentlemen to inquire into the various capabilities
of the Welsh Bards, and to license those who were most fit to represent
the musical talent of their country.
This profound question was settled at an Eisteddfod, or a musical
meeting of the Bard who contested once a year for a silver harp. This practice
which had existed from time immemorial is still continued in Wales, and
the transactions of the Aberffraw Royal Eisteddfod were published
in the year 1849.
I know little of the peculiar character of Welsh music except that it
is executed mostly in B flat. Part-singing may be considered as a peculiarity
of the Welsh bards. Extempore performances were common to all the ancient
minstrels of the world.
A kind of extempore composition is still exercised among the Welsh peasantry,
and is called Penillion singing. The harper being seated, plays
one of his native airs while the singers stand round him and alternately
compose a stanza upon any subject they please.
There are many clerwyr, or wandering minstrels still in Wales.
Like their predecessors, they are in the habit of going from house to house,
and of officiating, as our gypsy fiddlers do at all rustic festivals and
They have a curious tradition, that Madoc, a brother of one of the Kings
of Wales, sailed from that country in the year 1171 A. D. and was the first
European settler in Mexico. Sir Thomas Herbert who wrote a scarce book
of travels in 1665, mentions it as a fact, and in Hackett's Collection
of Epitaphs (1757) is this one:--
FOUND AT MEXICO.
"Madoc wyf mwydic ei wedd
lawn genan Owain Gwynedd
Ni fynnwn dir fy awydd oedd
Na da mawr ond y Moroedd."
Madoc I am-mild in countenance
We have it on the authority of a Captain Davies, and Lieutenant Roberts
of Hawcorden in Flintshire, and from a MS. entry in William Penn's journal,
evidence collected by the famous Dr. Owen Pughe, that the tribes of the
Illinois, Madocautes, the Padoucas and Mud Indians spoke the Welsh language.
Of the right line of Owen Gwynedd
I wished not for land; my bent was
For no great riches, but for the seas.
Without entering into a useless dissertation upon this subject, I will
note a curious custom in which the American Indians resemble the Welsh,
viz., in the habit of carrying their canoes upon their backs from rapid
to rapid. Giraldus Cambrensis informs us that the Welsh used to carry their
triangular boats from river to river, which occasioned a famous dealer,
named Bledherc, to say: "There is amongst us a people who when they go
out in search of prey carry their horses on their backs to the place of
plunder; in order to catch their prey, they leap upon their horses, and
when it is taken, carry their horses home again upon their shoulders."
They worshipped the same symbols of God as the ancient British-the sun,
the moon, fire, water, the serpent, the cross, &c., and in the course
of this chapter I shall mention other customs common to both nations.
Among the peasantry of Great Britain and Ireland, there are observed
not only those traditional customs which are meaningless because they are
out of date, but actual idolatries.
It may surprise the reader that the worship of fire with which our preachers
and tract-writers jeer the inhabitants of Persia, is not yet extinct among
Spenser says that the Irish never lighted a fire without uttering a
prayer. In some parts of England it is considered unlucky for the fire
to go out. They have a peculiar fuel with which they feed it during the
night. The Scotch peat-fires are seldom allowed to die out.
There are three days in the year on which the worship of fire is especially
observed-May-day, Midsummer Eve and Allhallow E'en.
On the first of May which is called Beltan, or Beltein-Day
from the Druidic Beltenus, the Phnician Baal, the Highland
herdsmen assemble on a moor, They cut a table in the sod, of a round figure,
by casting a trench in the ground of such circumference as to hold the
whole company. They kindle a wood fire and dress a large caudle of eggs,
butter, oatmeal and milk, taking care to be supplied with plenty of beer
and whiskey as well. The rites begin with spilling some of the caudle on
the ground by way of a libation; on that, every one takes a cake of oatmeal,
upon which are raised nine square knobs, each dedicated to some particular
being, the supposed preserver of their flocks and herbs, or to some particular
animal the real destroyer of them. Each person then turns his face to the
fire, breaks off a knob and flinging it over his shoulder, says: This
I give to thee, preserve thou my horses; this I give to thee, preserve
thou my sheep, and so on. After that, they use the same ceremony to
the noxious animals. This I give to thee, oh fox! spare thou my lambs!
this to thee, oh hooded crow; this to thee, oh eagle!
They then knead another cake of oatmeal which is toasted at the embers
against a stone. They divide this cake into so many portions (as similar
as possible to each other in size and shape) as there are persons in the
company. They daub one of these portions all over with charcoal until it
is quite black. They put all the bits into a bonnet and every one, blind-folded,
draws. He who holds the bonnet is entitled to the last bit. Whoever draws
the black morsel is the devoted person who is to be sacrificed to Baal,
and is compelled to leap three times through the fire, after which they
dine on the caudle.
When the feast is finished, the remains are concealed by two persons
deputed for that purpose, and on the next Sunday they re-assemble and finish
This, you see, is a relic of the Druidic human sacrifices as well as
of their fire-worship. I will give two more examples of the former.
I have noticed the custom of the Druids in great extremities of constructing
a large wicker engine, of filling it with sheep, oxen and sometimes men,
and setting light to it, as a mammoth sacrifice. Dr. Milner in his History
of Winchester, informs us that at Dunkirk and at Douay there has existed
an immemorial custom of constructing huge figures of wicker-work and canvas,
and moving them about to represent a giant that was killed by their patron
saint. And St. Foix, in his Essay on Paris, describes a custom which is
not yet abolished in some of the small towns in France, viz., for the mayors
on the Eve of St. John to put into a large basket a dozen or two cats,
and to throw them into one of the festive bonfires lighted upon that occasion.
To return to May Day. In Munster and Connaught the Irish peasants drive
their cattle between two fires, as if for purposes of purification. In
some parts of Scotland they light a fire to feast by, and having thrown
a portion of their refreshments into the flames as a propitiatory sacrifice,
deck branches of mountain-ash with wreaths of flowers and heather, and
walk three times round it in a procession.
Precisely the same custom is observed by the natives of America and
at the same period, i.e., that of the vernal equinox.
In India there is a festival in honor of Bhavani (a Priapic personification
of nature and fecundity), which the Hindoos commemorate by erecting a pole
in the fields, and by adorning it with pendants and flowers round which
the young people dance precisely the same as in England.
The Jews also keep a solar festival at the vernal equinox, on which
occasion the Paschal lamb is sacrificed.
The Floridians and Mexicans erect a tree in the centre of their sacred
enclosures around which they dance.
On May Eve the Cornish erect stumps of trees before their doors. On
the first of the month the famous May-pole is raised, adorned with flowers
and encircled by the pretty country lasses who little know of what this
pole, or is
On Midsummer Eve an involuntary tribute is paid by the peasants of Great
Britain and Ireland to the shades of their ancient priests, and to the
Gods whom they worshipped, by lighting bonfires. The word bonfire, I may
observe, is by some called bonefire because they believe (without
any particular reason), that their fuel consisted of bones; by others boon-fire,
because the wood was obtained by begging. Utrum horum marvis accipe.
The cooks of Newcastle lighted fires on Midsummer Day in the streets
of that town; the custom is general almost all over Ireland, and as late
as the year 1786, the custom of lighting fires was continued in the Druidic
Temple at Bramham, near Harrowgate in Yorkshire, on the eve of the summer
In the Cornish tongue, Midsummer is called Goluan, which means
light and rejoicing. At that season, the natives make a procession through
the towns or villages with lighted torches.
The Irish dance round these fires, and sometimes fathers, taking their
children in their arms, will run through the flames.
In Hindostan it is the mother who performs this office.
On all sacred days among the Druids, they resorted to their different
kinds of divination, and I should tire the reader were I to enumerate half
the charms and incantations which are made use of in the country on Midsummer
I have always remarked that those divinations which were probably used
by priests to foretell the fate of a kingdom, or to decide upon the life
or death of a human being, have now become mere methods of love prophecies
with village sweethearts.
One will sow hemp-seed on Midsummer Eve, saying, Hemp-seed I sow,
hemp-seed I hoe, and he that is my true love come after me and mow.
She will then turn round, and expects to see the young man who will marry
Another will pick a kind of root which grows under mug-wort, and which,
if pulled exactly at midnight on the Eve of St. John the Baptist and placed
under her pillow, will give her a dream of her future husband.
Another will place over her head the orphine-plant, commonly called
the bending of the leaves to the right or to the left will tell her whether
her husband was true or false.
Bourne cites from the Trullan Council a species of divination, so singular,
that it is impossible to read it without being reminded of the Pythoness
on her tripod, or the Druidess on her seat of stone.
"On the 23rd of June, which is the Eve of St. John the Baptist, men
and women were accustomed to gather together in the evening at the sea-side
or in certain houses, and there adorn a girl who was her father's first-begotten
child after the manner of a bride. Then they feasted and leaped after the
manner of Bacchanals, and danced and shouted as they were wont to do on
their holy-days; after this, they poured into a narrow-necked vessel some
of the sea-water, and also put into it certain things belonging to each
of them. Then as if the devil gifted the girl with the faculty of telling
future things, they would enquire with a loud voice about the good or evil
fortune that should attend them; upon this the girl took out of the vessel
the first thing that came to hand and showed it, and gave it to the owner,
who, upon receiving it, was so foolish as to imagine himself wiser, as
to the good or evil fortune that should attend him."
The Druidic vervain was held in estimation on this day as we read in
Then doth ye joyfal feast of John ye Baptist take his
When bonfiers great with lofty flame in every town doe
And young men round about with maides doe dance in every
With garlands wrought of mother-wort, or else with verwain
The following extract from the Calendar of the Romish Church, shows
us what doings there used to be at Rome on the Eve and Day of St. John
the Baptist--the Roman Pales--the Druidic Belenus.
23. The Virgil of the Nativity of John the Baptist.
Spices are given at Vespers.
Fires are lighted up.
A girl with a little drum that proclaims the garland.
Boys are dressed in girl's clothes:
Carols to the liberal: imprecations against the avaricious.
Waters are swum in during the night, and are brought
in vessels that hang for purposes of divination.
Fern in great estimation with the vulgar on account of
Herbs of different kinds are sought with many ceremonies.
Girl's Thistle is gathered, and a hundred crosses by
24. The Nativity of John the Baptist.
Dew and new leaves in estimation.
The vulgar solstice.
It was on Hallow-E'en that the Druids used to compel their subjects
to extinguish their fires, which, when the annual diies were paid, were
relighted from that holy fire which burnt in the clachan of the Druids,
and which never died.
Even now all fires are extinguished on HallowE'en, and a fire being
made by rubbing two sticks together they are relighted from that, and from
The same custom is observed among the Cherokee Indians.
At the village of Findern in Derbyshire, the boys and girls go every
year on the 2nd of November and light a number of small fires among the
furze growing there, which they call Tindles. They can give no reason for
Throughout the United Kingdom there are similar divining customs observed
to those which I have just described as exercised on Midsummer Eve.
There are miscellaneous vestiges of fire-worship besides those already
In Oxfordshire revels, young women will sometimes tuck their skirts
(twisting them in an ingenious manner round the ankles, and holding the
ends in front of them) into a very good resemblance of men's trousers,
and dance round a candle placed upon the floor, concluding by leaping over
it three times. The name of this dance, too coarse to be written here,
as the dance is to be described, betrays its phallic origin.
Then there is the "Dance round our coal fire," an ancient practice
of dancing round the fires in the Inns of Court, which was observed in
1733, at an entertainment at the Inner Temple Hall on Lord Chancellor Talbot's
taking leave of the house, when "the Master of the Revels took the Chancellor
by the hand, and he Mr. Page, who with the Judges, Sergeants and Benchers
danced round the Coal Fire, according to the old ceremony three times;
and all the time the ancient song with music was sung by a man in a bar
Last and most singular of all the Tinegin, or need-fire of the
To defeat sorceries, certain persons appointed to do so are sent to
raise the need-fire. By any small river or lake, or upon any island a circular
booth of turf or stone is erected, on which a rafter of birch-tree is placed
and the roof covered over. In the centre is set a perpendicular post, fixed
by a wooden pin to the couple, the lower end being placed in an oblong
groove on the floor, and another pole placed horizontally between the upright
post and the leg of the couple into both of which the ends being tapered
are inserted. This horizontal timber is called the auger, being provided
with four short spokes by which it can be turned. As many men as can be
collected are then set to work. Having divested themselves of all kinds
of metals, they turn the pole two at a time by means of the levers, while
others keep driving wedges under the upright post so as to press it against
the auger, which by the friction soon becomes ignited. From this the need-fire
is instantly procured, and all other fires being quenched, those that are
rekindled both in dwelling houses and offices are accounted sacred, and
the diseased and bewitched cattle are successively made to smell them.
This contrivance is elaborate and its description not unnaturally awkward.
It is however worthy of remark that in the initiation of Freemasons all
metals are taken from them.
Water was worshipped by the Druids, and was used by them for purification.
The Welsh peasantry hold sacred the rain-water which lodges in the crevices
of their cromleachs or altars, and the Irish proverb "To take a dip in
the Shannon," would seem to show that its waters were held in the same
superstitious reverence as are those of the Ganges by the natives of Hindostan.
The Druids besprinkled themselves with dew when they went to sacrifice,
and it is a belief among the English lasses that those who bathe their
faces in the dew on May Day morning will have beautiful complexions.
It is a belief in Oxfordshire that to cure a man bitten by a mad dog,
he should be taken to the sea and dipped therein nine times.
The regard still paid, however, to wells and fountains by the peasantry
is the most extraordinary feature of water-worship. In the early ages it
prevailed with such strength, that the Roman Catholics fearing to combat
the custom christianized it by giving the holy wells the names of popular
saints, and by enjoining pilgrimages after the Pagan fashion to their shrine.
In some parts of England it is still customary to decorate these wells
with boughs of trees, garlands of tulips, and other flowers placed in various
At one time, indeed it was the custom on Holy Thursday, after the service
for the day at the church, for the clergyman and singers to pray and sing
psalms at these wells.
Pilgrimages are still made by invalids among the poor Irish to wells,
whose waters are supposed to possess medicinal properties under the influence
of some beneficent saint.
The well of Strathfillan in Scotland is also resorted to at certain
periods of the year. The water of the well of Trinity Gask in Perthshire
is supposed to cure any one seized with the plague. In many parts of Wales
the water used for the baptismal font is fetched from these holy wells.
Not only a reverence, but actual sacrifices are offered to some of these
wells and to the saints which preside over them, or to the spirits which
are supposed to inhabit them.
In a quillet, called Gwern Degla, near the village of Llandegla
in Wales there is a small spring. The water is under the tutelage of St.
Tecla and is esteemed a sovereign remedy for the falling sickness. The
patient washes his limbs in the well, makes an offering into it of fourpence,
walks round it three times, and thrice repeats the Lord's prayer. If a
man, he sacrifices a cock; if a woman a hen. The fowl is carried in a basket
first round the well, after that into the churchyard and round the church.
The votary then enters the church, gets under the communion table, lies
down with the Bible under his head, is covered with a cloth and rests there
till break of day. When he departs, he offers sixpence and leaves the fowl
in the church. If the bird dies, the cure is supposed to have been affected
and the disease transferred to the devoted victim.
The custom of sticking bits of rag on thorns near these wells is inexplicable,
as it is universal. Between the walls of Alten and Newton, near the foot
of Rosberrye Toppinge, there is a well dedicated to St. Oswald. The neighbors
have a belief that a shirt or shift taken off a sick person and thrown
into the well will prognosticate his fate. If it floats the person will
recover, if it sinks he will die. And to reward the saint for his intelligence,
they tear a rag off the shirt and leave it hanging -on the briars thereabouts,
"where" says Grose, citing a MS. in the Cotton Library, marked Julius F.
vi. "I have seen such numbers as might have made a fayre rheme in a
That the Highlanders still believe in spirits which inhabit their lakes
is easily proved. In Strathspey there is a lake called Loch nan Spiordan,
the Lake of Spirits. When its waters are agitated by the wind and its spray
mounts whirling in the air, they believe that it is the anger of this spirit
whom they name Martach Shine, or the Rider of the Storm.
The Well of St. Keyne in the parish of St. Keyne, in Cornwall, is supposed
to possess a curious property which is humorously explained in the following
THE WELL OF ST. KEYNE.
A well there is in the west country,
And a clearer one never was seen
There is not a wife in the west country
But has heard of the Well of St. Keyne.
An oak and an elm tree stand beside,
And behind doth an ash tree grow,
And a willow from the bank above
Droops to the water below.
A traveler came to the Well of St. Keyne,
Pleasant it was to his eye;
For from cock-crow he had been traveling,
and there was not a cloud in the sky.
He drank of the water so cool and clear,
For thirsty and hot was he;
And he sat him down upon the bank,
Under the willow tree.
There came a man from a neighboring town,
At the well to fill his pail;
On the well-side he rested it,
And bade the stranger hail.
Now, art thou a bachelor, stranger? quoth he,
For an if thou hast a wife,
The happiest draught thou hast drank this day
That ever thou didst in thy life.
Or has your good woman, if one you have,
In Cornwall ever been?
For an if she have, I'll venture my life,
She has drunk of the Well of St. Keyne.
I have left a good woman who never was here,
The stranger he made reply;
But that my draught should be better for that,
I pray thee tell me why.
St. Keyne, quoth the countryman, many a time,
Drank of this chrystal well;
And before the angel summoned her,
She laid on the water a spell.
If the husband, (of this gifted well),
Shall drink before his wife,
A happy man thenceforth is he,
For he shall be master for life.
But if the wife should drink of it first,
God help the husband then!
The stranger stooped to the well of St. Keyne,
And drank of its waters again.
You drank of the well I warrant betimes?
He to the countryman said,
But the countryman smiled as the stranger spoke,
And sheepishly shook his head.
I hastened as soon as the wedding was done.
I must not omit to mention a method of divination by water, which is practiced
at Madern Well in the parish of Madern, and at the well of St. Ennys, in
the parish of Sancred, Cornwall. At a certain period of the year, moon
or day, come the uneasy, impatient and superstitious, and by dropping pins
or pebbles into the water, and by shaking the ground round the spring so
as to raise bubbles from the bottom, endeavor to predict the future. This
practice is not indigenous to Britain. The Castalian fountain in Greece
was supposed to be of a prophetic nature. By dipping a mirror into a well
the Patræans received, as they supposed, omens of ensuing sickness
or health from the figures portrayed upon its surface. In Laconia, they
cast into a lake, sacred to Juno, three stones, and drew prognostications
from the several turns which they made in sinking.
And left my wife in the porch,
But i'faith I found her wiser than me,
For she took a bottle to church.
I will translate at length a pretty French story which I have met with,
and which will adorn as well as illustrate the present subject:--
THE LEGEND OF THE PIN.
In the West of France the pin is endowed with a fabulous power, which
is not without a certain interest. One of its supposed attributes is the
power of attracting lovers to her who possess it, after it has been used
in the toilet of a bride. Consequently it is a curious sight in La Vendeé
or Les Deux-Sèvres, to see all the peasant girls anxiously placing
a pin in the bride's dress: the number being often so considerable that
she is forced to have a pin -cushion attached to her waist-band to receive
all the prickly charms. At night, on the threshold of the bridal chamber,
she is surrounded by her companions, each one easily seizing upon the charmed
pin, which is kept as a sacred relic.
In Brittany the pin is regarded as the guardian of chastity, a mute
witness which will one day stand forth to applaud or condemn in the following
Some days before the wedding, the betrothed leads his future bride to
the edge of some mysterious current of water, and taking one of her pins
drops it into the water. If it swims, the girl's innocence is incontestable--if
on the contrary it sinks to the bottom, it is considered the judgment of
heaven; it is an accusation which no evidence can overcome. But as the
peasant girls in Brittany never use any pins heavier than the long blackthorn,
which they find in the hedges, the severity of the tribunal is not very
On the 7th of December, a young peasant mounted on a strong cob, full
of hope and gaiety, was seen urging his way towards Morlaix with a handsome
girl of twenty on a pillion behind him, her arm tenderly clasping his waist.
It was easy to see in their happy faces that they were two lovers, and
from the direction which they took, that they were going on a pilgrimage
to try the charm of the pin at the fountain of St. Douet. Jean's father
was one of the richest land-holders in the neighborhood, but above all
the young ladies round him, he had chosen Margaret, whose sole wealth consisted
in her beauty and virtue.
Through all the glades of the wood with wild thyme and violets beneath
their horses feet, they journeyed on till they came to a wild and deserted
plain, whence they plunged once more into the dark forests of Finisterre
filled with Druidical memories. It might have been those sombre shades
which saddened them for a moment, but it was only for a moment. jean feared
not the trial, for he loved Margaret, and believed her to be an angel.
And Margaret feared it not, for she knew that she was innocent.
Now they were close to the sacred fountain, which burst through the
crevices of a rock overgrown with moss into a natural bason, and thence
like a thread of silver through the forest.
They dismounted, and Margaret, kneeling down, prayed fervently for some
moments. Then rising, she gave her left hand to her lover, and full of
confidence, advanced toward the well. Alas! she had too much faith in the
virtue of the legend. Instead of a thorn pin, she took from a neckerchief
one with a silver head which he had given her. He pressed her fingers affectionately
as he took it from her hand and dropped it into the well. It disappeared
instantaneously. Margaret sank to the ground with a heart-broken groan.
He raised her and placed her on his horse, but he did not speak to her,
he did not caress her. In mournful silence he walked by her side. Her arm
could no longer embrace him. She was not his Margaret now. She was a guilty
wretch who had dared to tempt the judgment of God.
He placed her down at her father's door, and stooping he kissed her
on the forehead. It was a silent adieu he was bidding her; it was his last
kiss -it was the kiss of death.
Next morning her corpse was found underneath his window. There were
no marks of violence upon her body; the wound was in her heart; she had
died a victim to a destestable superstition.
To the element of air we do not find our peasants pay any particular
homage, unless the well-known practice of sailors of whistling for the
wind in a dead calm, and of the Cornish laborers when engaged in winnowing
may be regarded as such.
But the worship of the heavenly bodies has not yet died out among us'
The astrologists of the middle ages were but copyists of the ancient Chaldeans,
and the lower classes to this day draw omens from meteors and falling stars.
General Vallancey, by the way, records a curious instance in his Collectanea
de rebus Hibernicis, of an Irish peasant who could neither read nor
write but who could calculate eclipses.
When we consider how universal and how prominent was the worship of
the sun in the world, it is almost surprising that we do not find more
vestiges of this idolatry. There are some few however.
It was once a custom of the vulgar to rise early on Easter Day to see
the sun dance, for they fancied that the reflection of its beams played
or danced upon the waters of any spring or lake they might look into.
In the British Apollo, fol. Lond. 1708, vol. i. No. 40, we read:
Q. Old wives, Phbus, say
That on Easter day,
To the music o'the spheres you do caper,
If the fact, sir, be true,
Pray let's the cause know,
When you have any room in your paper.
A. The old wives get merry,
The sun shining on the bride as she goes to church is a good omen. The
cloudy rising of the sun is a presage of misfortune. The Highlanders, when
they approach a well to drink, walk round it from east to west, sometimes
With spic'd ale or sherry,
On Easter, which makes them romance
And whilst in a rout,
Their brains whirl about,
They fancy we caper and dance.
The Orkney fishermen, on going to sea, would think themselves in imminent
peril, were they by accident to turn their boat in opposition to the sun's
course; and I have seen many well-educated people seriously discomfited
if the cards from the pack, the balls from the pool-basket, or the decanters
at the dining-table had not been sent round as the sun goes.
All the ancient dances were in imitation of the revolutions of the heavenly
bodies, and were used in religious worship. Such were the circular dances
of the Druids--the slower and statelier movements of the Greek strophe--the
dances of the Cabiri or Phoenician priests, the devotional dances of the
Turkish dervishes, the Hindoo Raas Jattra or dance-of-the-circle,
and the war dances of the American and other savage nations round their
camp-fires, lodges, or triumphal poles.
Such also is the Round About, or Cheshire Round, which is referred to
by Goldsmith in his Vicar of Wakefield, and which is not yet extinct in
But the best instance of sun-worship is found in the fires lighted by
the common Irish on Midsummer's Eve, and which they tell you candidly are
burnt "in honor of the sun."
The fires which the Scotch Highlanders light on May Day are to welcome
back the sun after his long pilgrimage in the frosts and darkness of winter.
Crantz in his History of Greenland, informs us that the natives of that
country observe a similar festival to testify their joy at the re-appearance
of the sun, and the consequent renewal of the hunting season.
In matters of divination, the moon is supposed by the vulgar to possess
a peculiar power. She was supposed to exercise an influence not only over
the tides of the sea, and over the minds of men, but also over the future,
in weather, cookery, and physic.
When the moon is encircled by a halo, or is involved in a mist, when
she is called "greasy," it portends rain--when she is sharp horned, windy
weather. It is also a general belief among all classes that as the weather
is at the new moon, so it will continue during the whole month.
In many of the old almanacs and books of husbandry, it is directed to
kill hogs when the moon is increasing, and the bacon will prove the better,
in boiling; to shear sheep at the moon's increase; to fell hand-timber
from the full to the change; to fell frith, coppice, and fuel at the first
quarter; to geld cattle when the moon is in Aries, Sagittarius, or Capricorn.
In The Husbandman's Practice, or Prognostication for ever, the
reader is advised "To purge with electuaries the moon in Cancer, with pills
the moone in Pisces, with potions the moone in Virgo," and in another place,
"To set, sow seeds, graft, and plant, the moone being in Taurus, Virgo
or Capricorn, and all kinds of corne in Cancer, to graft in March, at the
moone's increase, she being in Taurus or Capricorn."
Werenfels in his Dissertation on Superstition, speaking of a superstitious
man, writes, "He will have his hair cut either when the moon is in Leo,
that his locks may stare like the lion's shag, or in Aries that they may
stare like a ram's horn. Whatever he would have to grow he sets about when
she is in the increase; for whatever he would have made less he chooses
her wane. When the moon is in Taurus, he can never be persuaded to take
physic, lest that animal which chews its cud should make him cast it up
again; and if at any time he has a mind to be admitted to the presence
of a prince, he will wait till the moon is in conjunction with the sun,
for 'tis then the society of an inferior with a superior is salutary and
The islanders of Sky will not dig peats (which is their only fuel) in
the increase of the moon, believing that they are less moist, and will
burn more clearly if cut in the wane.
In the parishes of Kirkwall and St. Ola, Orkney, none marry or kill
cattle in the wane.
In Angus it is believed that if a child be put from the breast during
the waning of the moon, it will decay all the time that the moon continues
to wane. I will mention two more instances of divination, one from Thomas
Hodge's Incarnate Divells, viz., "That when the moone appeareth
in the springtime, the one horn spotted and hidden with a blacke and great
cloude from the first day of her apparition to the fourth day after, it
is some signe of tempests and troubles in the aire the summer after."
When the new moon appears with the old moon in her arms, or in other
words when that part of the moon which is covered by the shadow of the
earth is seen through it, it is considered not only an omen of bad weather,
but also of misfortune, as we learn from the following stanza in the ballad
of Sir Patrick Spence:
Late, late yestreen
I saw the new moone
Wi'the auld moone in her arme;
And I feir, I feir, my deir master,
That we will come to harm.
One might enumerate examples of this kind to volumes, and I fear I have
already passed the limits of human endurance; I must, however, write a
few words upon the subject of moon-worship.
The feminine appellation is traditionally derived from the fable of
Isis, who was entitled the wife of the sun. The superstition of the man-in-the-moon,
is supposed to have originated in the account given in the Book of Numbers,
XV. 32 et seq. of a man punished with death for gathering sticks
on the Sabbath Day, though why, it is difficult to explain. In Ritson's
Ancient Songs we read, "The man-in-the-moon is represented leaning upon
a fork, on which he carries a bush of thorn, because it was for 'pycchynde
stake' on a Sunday that he is reported to have been thus confined." And
in Midsummer Night's Dream, one of the actors says, "All I have to say
is to tell you that the lantern is the moon, I the man-in-the-moon, this
thorn bush my thorn bush, and this dog my dog." Vide also Tempest,
act. ii. sc. 2.
The new moon still continues to be idolatrously worshipped by the vulgar
of many countries.
On the night of the new moon, the Jews assemble to pray to God under
the names of the Creator of the planets, and the restorer of the moon.
The Madingoe Tribe of African Indians whisper a short prayer with their
hands held before their face; they then spit upon their hands and religiously
anoint their faces with the same.
At the end of the Mahometan Feast of Rhamadan (which closely resembles
the Romish Carnival) the priests await the reappearance of the moon, and
salute her with clapping of hands, beating of drums and firing of muskets.
In the 65th Canon of the 6th council of Constantinople, A. D. 680, is
the following interdiction: "Those bone-fires that are kindled by certaine
people on new moones before their shops and houses, over which also they
are most foolishly and ridiculously to leape by a certaine antient custom,
we command them from henceforth to cease. Whoever therefore shall do any
such thing, if he be a clergyman let him be deposed-if a layman let him
No bonfires are now lit in honor of the new moon, but the common Irish
on beholding her for the first time cross themselves, saying:
May thou leave us as safe as thou hast found us.
English peasants often salute the new moon, saying: "There is the new
moon, God bless her," usually seating themselves on a stile as they do
They also believe that a new moon seen over the right shoulder is lucky,
over the left shoulder unlucky, and straight before good luck to the end
of the moon.
That if they look straight at the new moon (or a shooting star) when
they first see it, and wish for something, their wish will be fulfilled
before the end of the year.
The peasant girls, in some parts of England, when they see the new moon
in the new year, take their stocking off from one foot and run to the next
stile; when they get there, they look between the great toe and the next,
and expect to find a hair which will be the color of their lover's.
In Yorkshire, it is common enough for an inquisitive maid to go out
into a field till she finds a stone fast in the earth, to kneel upon this
with naked knees and looking up at the new moon to say:
All hail, new moon, all hail to thee,
I prithee, good moon, reveal to me
This night, who shall my true love be,
Who he is, and what he wears,
And what he does all months and years.
She then retires backwards till she comes to a stile, and goes to bed directly
without speaking a word.
The Irish believe that eclipses of the moon are effected by witchcraft,
and this occasions me to narrate a curious custom of the ancient Peruvians
who were the Egyptians of the New World.
When the moon became eclipsed, they imagined that she was ill and would
fall down and crush the world. Accordingly as soon as the eclipse commenced,
they made a noise with cornets and drums, and tying dogs to trees beat
them till they howled in order to awake the fainting moon who is said to
love these animals, for Diana and Nehalenna are seldom represented without
a dog by their side.
Since we find in a book, called Osborne's Advice to his Son, p. 79,
that "the Irish and Welch during eclipses ran about beating kettles and
pans, thinking their clamor and vexations available to the assistance of
the higher orbes," it is probable that they made use of the same canine
resources as the natives of Peru, and that such is the origin of the Irish
proverb that "dogs will bark at the moon."
Having thus considered the worship of the elements and of the heavenly
bodies extant among us, let us pass on to those minor idolatries which
are still retained among the lower orders.
There is no religious custom of the Russians so celebrated as that of
presenting each other with eggs dyed and stained, saying, "Christ is risen."
To which the other replies "He is indeed," and they exchange kisses.
An egg was the Egyptian emblem of the universe, and it was from the
Egyptians that all the Pagan nations, and afterwards the Greek Christians
derived this ceremony. They are used also by the Roman Catholics and by
the Jews in their Paschal festival.
It is probable that it was also a Druidic ceremony, for it prevails
in Cumberland and many other counties of England. On Easter Monday and
Tuesday the inhabitants assemble in the meadows, the children provided
with hard boiled eggs, colored or ornamented in various ways, some being
dyed with logwood or cochineal; others tinged with the juice of herbs and
broom-flowers; others stained by being boiled in shreds of parti-colored
riband; and others covered with gilding. They roll them along the ground,
or toss them in the air till they break when they eat them-a part of the
ceremony which they probably understand the best. They are called pace-eggs
or paste-eggs, probably corrupted from pasche.
This reminds us of the strange fable of the serpent's egg. As I mentioned
in an earlier chapter many of these eggs or adder-stones are preserved
with great reverence in the Highlands. There are also some traditions upon
this subject which are worth narrating.
Monsieur Chorier in his Histoire de Dauphiné informs us
that in the divers parts of that county, especially near the mountain of
Rochelle on the borders of Savoy, serpents congregate from the 15th of
June to the 15th of August for purposes of generation. The place which
they have occupied after they have gone, is covered with a sticky white
foam which is indescribably disgusting to behold.
Camden relates that in most parts of Wales and throughout Scotland and
Cornwall, it is an opinion of the vulgar that about Midsummer Eve the snakes
meet together in companies, and that by joining heads together and hissing,
a kind of bubble is formed which the rest by continual hissing blow on
till it quite passes through the body, when it immediately hardens and
resembles a glass ring which will make its finder prosperous in all his
undertakings. The rings thus generated are called gleinu madroeth,
or snake stones. They are small glass amulets commonly about half as wide
as our finger rings, but much thicker, of a green color usually though
sometimes blue and waved with red and white.
Careu in his Survey of Cornwall says that its inhabitants believe
that snakes breathing upon a hazel wand produce a stone ring of a blue
color, in which there appears the yellow figure of a snake, and that beasts
which have been bit by a mad dog or poisoned, if given some water to drink
wherein this stone has been infused, will perfectly recover.
The following custom is evidently a dramatic representation of the rape
of the serpent's egg à la Pliny:
On Easter Monday, in Normandy, the common people congregate à
la motte de Pougard which they surround. They place at the foot a basket
containing a hundred eggs, the number of the stones of the temple of Aubury.
A man takes the eggs and places them singly on the top of the tumulus,
and then descends in the same manner to return them to the basket. While
this is doing, another man runs to a village half a league off, and if
he can return before the last egg is restored to the basket, he gains a
barrel of cider as a prize, which he empties with the co-operation of his
friends, and a Bacchanalian dance round the tumulus ends the proceedings.
Serpent-worship is almost extinct, if not entirely so; . and the belief
of the lower orders in Ireland that St. Patrick expelled all the snakes
and other reptiles from the island is perhaps derived from his having extinguished
However, it is considered unlucky in England to kill the harmless green
snake; and there is a superstition almost universally present, that it
will not die till the setting of that sun, of which it was an emblem.
Its tenacity of life is indeed something marvelous. Mr. Payne Knight,
in his work on Phallic worship, (which I read at the British Museum, but
which is somewhat absurdly excluded from the catalogue) states that he
has seen the heart of an adder throb for some moments after it had been
completely taken from the body, and even renew its beatings ten minutes
afterwards when dipped in hot water.
Many of our ladies wear bracelets in the shape of a snake, as did the
Egyptian dames of old. The lower orders believe that a serpent's skin will
extract thorns, and its fat is sold to London chemists at five shillings
a pound for its medicinal properties.
Most curious of all, is the superstition that by eating snakes one may
grow young, and of which the three following passages are illustrations.
"A gentlewoman told an ancient bachelor, who looked very
young, that she thought he had eaten a snake. No mistress, (he said) it
is because I never meddled with any snakes which maketh me look so young.
"--Holy State, 1642, p. 36.
He hath left off o' late to feed on snakes,
His beard's turned white again.
Massinger, Old Law. Act V. Sc. 1.
He is your loving brother, sir, and will tell nobody
But all he meets, that you have eat a snake,
And are grown young, gamesome, and rampant.
Ibid, Elder Brother, Act IV., Sc- 4-
Of stone worship there are still many vestiges. In a little island near
Skye is a chapel dedicated to St. Columbus; on an altar is a round blue
stone which is always moist. Fishermen, detained by contrary winds, bathe
this stone in water, expecting thereby to obtain favorable winds; it is
likewise applied to the sides of people troubled with stitches, and it
is held so holy, that decisive oaths are sworn upon it.
There is a stone in the parish of Madren, Cornwall, through which many
persons are wont to creep for pains in the back and limbs, and through
which children are drawn for the rickets. In the North, children are drawn
through a hole cut in the Groaning Cheese, a huge stone, on the
day they are christened.
To go into the cleft of a rock was an ancient method of penitence and
purification. It may be remembered that in the tradition of Hiram Abiff,
the assassins were found concealed in a hollow rock, in which they were
lamenting their crime.
To sleep on stones on particular nights is a cure for lameness with
our peasants, though perhaps a hazardous one, especially if the disease
originated from rheumatism.
A Druidic monument of great historical interest is to be seen under
the coronation chair in Westminster Abbey. Originally called Liag-fial,
the Fatal Stone, by others Cloch na cineamhna or the Stone of Fortune,
it was that upon which the Kings of Ireland used to be inaugurated, and
which, being enclosed in a wooden chair, was, by the ingenuity of the Druids,
made to emit a sound under the rightful candidate, and mute under a man
of bad title. It was superstitiously sent to confirm the Irish colony in
Scotland, and it continued at Scone as the coronation of the Scotch Kings,
from the commencement of the Christian Era till 1300 A. D.,when Edward
I. imported it into England. It is still a superstition in the Highlands
that those who lay their hands against the Druids' stones will not prosper.
Many of these monuments are approached with great reverence by the natives
of Scotland and the Isles, especially the Tighe nan Druidhneach
in the Isle of Skye, little arched, round stone buildings capable of holding
one, where the contemplative Druid sat when his oak could not shelter him
from the weather. The common people never pass these without walking round
them three times from east to west.
In Chartres, which teems with Druidic vestiges, a curious specimen of
stone worship remains. At the close of service in the cathedral, no one
leaves the church without kneeling and saying a short prayer before a small
pillar or stone--without polish, base or capital--placed in a niche, and
much worn on one side by the kisses of the devout. This stone is rumored
to be of high antiquity, even earlier than the establishment of Christianity--for
many centuries to have remained in a crypt of the cathedral where lamps
were constantly burning--but the stairs having been much worn on one side
by the great resort of pilgrims to the spot, the stone had been removed
from its original site, to avoid the expenses of repairs. It was said to
be a miraculous stone, and that its miracles were performed at the intercession
of the Virgin Mary.
There is a certain reverence paid by the peasantry to those caves in
which the Druids held their initiatory rites. Many of them are said to
be inhabited by spirits, and there is one in the neighborhood of Dunskey,
Scotland, which is held in peculiar veneration. At the change of the moon
it is usual to bring even from a great distance infirm persons, and particularly
rickety children whom they supposed bewitched, to bathe in a stream which
flows from the hill, and then to dry them in the cave.
As among the Druids it is still customary to place a platter of salt
and earth upon the breast of the corpse in many parts of Britain. Salt
was held in great reverence by the Eastern nations as an emblem of incorruptibility.
So among us to spill salt is considered unlucky; it was only the other
day that I saw a talented and well educated lady overwhelmed with consternation
at this mishap, but with admirable presence of mind she flung a pinch over
her left shoulder and so recovered her self-possession.
Hare was forbidden to the ancient Britons by their religion, and to
this day the Cornish eat it with reluctance. Boadicea also augured from
the running of a hare; and a hare that runs across a path (to any one but
a sportsman, or rather a pot-hunter) is an omen of ill-luck.
The onion was an emblem of the deity among the Egyptians, perhaps also
among the Druids, for it is a custom in some parts of England for girls
to divine by it, as Barnaby Googe in his translation of Naogeorgus' Popish
Kingdome informs us.
In these same days young wanton gyrles that meete for
Doe search to know the names of them that shall their
Four onyons, five, or eight, they take, and make in every
Such names as they do fancie most, and best to think
Thus nere the chimney them they set, and that same Onyon
That firste doth sproute, doth surely bear the name of
their good man.
In matters of dress, there are not many traces of the Druids and the
ancient Britons to be found.
The caps of rushes, however, which they wore tied at the top and twisted
into a band at the bottom, may still be seen upon the heads of children
in Wales and some parts of England. In Shetland, the ancient sandals of
untanned skins are worn, and also, by fishermen in cold weather, the Druidic
wooden shoes. I could not discover their real origin during my visit there:
some said they had been imported by the Dutch, others that the Dutch had
borrowed the idea from them; but in any case these wooden shoes, the sabots
of the lower orders of France, are derived from the Druids.
The best instance of dress however, is the Highland plaid, which was
the very garment worn by the Druid Abaris, on his visit to Athens, and
which is an extraordinary example of savage conservatism. From the breachan
of the Gauls and Britons, is derived our word breeches and also
that inelegant but necessary article of clothing.
Upon the subject of words I will also remark that our word fortnight
or fourteen nights, is derived from the Druidic habit of counting time
by nights instead of days; and the word dizzy from their deisul,
or circular dance, (in Hebrew dizzel). I could give a multitude
more, but ohe! jam satis est.
A very curious memorial of Druidism in the very bosom of victorious
Christianity was discovered a few years ago by the well-known French Antiquary,
M. Hersart de la Villemarqué. It is a fragment of Latin poetry which
all the children in the parish of Nizon, Canton de Pont-Aven, are taught
to sing at school and in church. The original poetry is almost the same
as its Latin adaptation, except that in the latter various biblical allusions
have been slipped in.
I will give the first strophe of the original, then its translation
in the French of M. Villemarqué which is too good for me to meddle
with, and then the Latin hymn as sung by the children
Daik mab gwerm Drouiz; ore;
Daik petra fell d'id-dei
Petra ganinn-me d'id-de.
Kan d'in euz a eur raun,
Ken a ouffenn breman.
Tout beau enfant blanc du Druide, tout beau réponds-moi;
que veux-tu? te chanterai-je?
Chante-moi la division du nombre un jusqu'à ce
que je l'apprenne aujourd'hui.
Pas de division pour le nombre un, la nécessitéuni
que; la mort père de la douleur; rien avant, rien après.
Tout beau, &c.
Chante-moi la division du nombre deux, &c.
Deux bufs attelés à une coque; ils tirent,
ils vont expirer--Voyez la merveille!
Pas de division, &c.
Chante-moi la division du nombre trois, &c.
Il y a trois parties dans le monde; trois commencements
et trois fins pour l'homme, comme pour le chêne; trois cêlestes,
royaumes de Merlin; fruits d'or, fleurs brillantes, petits enfants qui
Deux bufs, &c.
Pas de division, &c.
The christianized version in Latin is as follows:
Dic mihi quid unus,
Dic mihi quid unus.
Unus est Deus,
Qui regnat in Clis.
Dic mihi quid duo.
Dic mihi quid duo.
Unus est Deus,
Qui regnat in Clis.
Dic mihi qui sunt tres
Dic mihi que sunt tres.
Tres sunt patriarchæ,
Duo sunt testamenta;
Unus est deus,
Qui regnat in Clis.
Both of these dialogues are continued to the number twelve. In the Druidic
version containing precepts on theology, cosmogony, chronology, astronomy,
geography, magic, medicine and history. The Latin version teaching that
there is one God, two testaments, three prophets, four evangelists, five
books of Moses, six pitchers at the marriage of Cana, seven sacraments,
eight beatitudes, nine choirs of angels, ten commandments, eleven stars
which appeared to Joseph, and twelve apostles.
The resemblance of style and precept throughout is very striking, and
a discovery which I have made of the same nature renders it still more
There is a peculiar song of the Oxfordshire peasants, the meaning of
which had often perplexed me and which of course those who sung it were
the least able to explain.
It is sung in this manner. One of them begins:--
I will sing you my one O!
To which the rest sing in chorus.
What is your one O!
And he sings.
One is all alone,
And ever doth remam so.
The song continues to the number twelve, each verse repeated after each
as in the original versions above. Most of these verses are local corruptions,
and it is probable that in some parts of England a purer version is retained.
However, since the first refers to the One Deity, the second to "two white
boys clothed in green," the fourth to "four gospel preachers," the seventh
to the "seven stars," &c., there can be no doubt as to its origin.
There is so superstitious a reverence paid by the lower orders in many
parts of Britain to bees, that one is almost inclined to suppose that they
also were held sacred by the Druids.
The Cornishmen consider bees too sacred to be bought. In other counties,
on the death of their proprietor, a ceremonious announcement of the fact
is made to them and a piece of funeral cake presented to them. It is believed
that were this omitted they would fly away. In Lithuania a similar practice
There is no clue to this, except in the circumstance that the bee-hive
is one of the emblems of Freemasonry, and like many other Druidic and Masonic
symbols, e.g. the seven stars, the cross-keys, &c., a favorite
tavern sign. For instance the one at Abingdon, under which is written the
following jocose distich:
Within this hive were all alive,
Good liquor makes us funny,
So if your dry, come in and try,
The flavor of our honey.
From the apple-tree the Druids were wont to cut their divining rods. And
to this tree at Christmas, in Devon, Cornwall and other counties a curious
ceremony is paid. The farmer and his laborers soak cakes in cider, and
place them on the trenches of an apple tree, and sprinkling the tree repeat
the following incantation :
Here's to thee, old apple tree!
Whence thou mayst bud, and whence thou mayest blow.
Hats full! Caps full?
Bushel, bushel, sacks full!
And my pockets full too! Huzza!
After which they dance round the tree and get drunk on the cider which
remains. They believe that if they did not do this the tree would not bear.
I have now to consider the vestiges of mistletoe-worship extant among
the descendants of the Druids.
On Christmas Eve it was lately the custom at York to carry mistletoe
to the high altar of the Cathedral, and to proclaim a public and universal
liberty, pardon and freedom to all sorts of inferior and even wicked people
at the gates of the city towards the four quarters of heaven.
The mistletoe was considered of great medicinal virtue by Sir John Coldbatch
for epilepsy and other convulsive disorders. The mistletoe of the oak is
used by the common people for wind ruptures in children.
Like the houzza! of the East, the mistletoe would seem to have
a religious exclamation, as I judge from finding it so often the refrain
to old French songs, especially this one :
O gué la bonne adventure, O gué.
And in one celebrated English ballad:
O the mistletoe bough! and O the mistletoe bough!
It is still a custom in many parts of France for children to run down the
street on New Year's Day, and to rap the doors crying "Au gui l'an né,
or Au gui, l'an neuf."
In the island of Sein, there is a mistletoe feast which it is believed
has been perpetuated by the Bas Breton tailors who, strange to say,
have been formed from time immemorial into a fine association. They are
poets, musicians and wizards who never contract marriages with strangers,
and who have a language of their own, called lueache which they
will not speak in the presence of foreigners.
At this feast there is a procession. An altar covered with green boughs
is erected in the centre of a circular space of ground. Thence they start,
and thither marching round the island return. Two fiddlers form the vanguard;
they are followed by children carrying bill-hooks and oak-branches, and
leading an ox and a horse covered with flowers. After them a huge crowd
which stops at intervals crying Gui-na-né voilà le Gui.
There is one more mistletoe custom which I had almost forgotten. Let
us imagine ourselves in the hall of some old-fashioned country mansion.
Let it be Christmas- night, and at that hour when merriment and wine has
flushed every face, and glowed into every heart.
And now I will paint to you a young maiden who embraced in the arms
of her lover is whirled round the hall, her eyes sparkling, her white bosom
heaving and her little feet scarce seeming to touch the floor. They pause
for a moment. An old lady with an arch twinkle in her eye whispers something
to her partner, he nods and smiles; she blushes and turns her eyes, pretending
not to hear.
They join the dance again, when suddenly he stays her in the centre
of the hall. Above their heads droops down a beautiful plant with pale
white berries and leaves of a delicate green. He stoops and gives her the
kiss-under-the-mistletoe. All laugh and follow his example till the
scene vies the revels of the ancient Bacchanals.
It is this picture which awakes me from a reverie into which I have
long been buried. Reader! you have sought with me for the first germs of
religion in the chaos of youthful Time; you have dived with me into those
mysteries which the Veil of Isis held secret from our sight; you have sojourned
with me among the tombs of the past, and trod upon the dust of a fallen
Let us now return from these caverns of learning to the glorious day-light
of the Present, and to the enjoyments, of a real existence.