Plate Xiii


This divinity, characterized by a hammer (cf. p. 9), was a ruler of the underworld (cf. the representation of Dispater with a hammer, Plate XIV). A benevolent god, his hammer is a symbol of creative force. The artistic type (for another instance of which see Plate XXVI) was influenced by that of the Alexandrian Serapis and the Classical HadesPluto. Cf. also Plate IX, B. The figure was found at Premeaux, France.

Another instance occurs in a Fionn story. Fionn and his men were hunting when there met them a huge and beautiful woman, whose finger-rings were as thick as three ox-goads. She was Bebhionn from Maidens' Land in the west, where all the inhabitants were women save their father (its king) and his three sons; and for the third time she had escaped from her husband, son of the King of the adjacent Isle of Men, and had come to seek Fionn's protection. As she sat by him and Goll, however, her huge husband came, and slaying her, eluded the heroes' pursuit, vanishing overseas in a boat with two rowers.3

The tradition of the Isle of Women still exists in Celtic folklore. Such an island was on|y a part of the divine land and may have originated in myth from actual custom — women living upon or going at certain periods to small islands to perform rites generally tabu to men, a custom to which reference is made by Strabo and Pomponius Mela.4

That the gods could create an Elysium on earth has been found in the story of Lug and Dechtire, and another instance occurs in the tale of Cormac mac Art, King of Ireland in the third century, of whom an annalist records that he disappeared for seven months in 248 a. d., a reference to the events of this story. To Cormac appeared a young man with a branch from which hung nine apples of gold; and when this was shaken, it produced strange music, hearing which every one forgot his troubles and fell asleep. He came from a land where there was nought save truth, and where was no age, nor decay, nor gloom, nor sadness, nor envy, nor jealousy, nor weeping; and Cormac said that to possess the branch he would give whatever was asked, whereupon the stranger answered, "give me then thy wife, thy son and daughter." Cormac agreed and now told his bargain to his wife, who, like her children, was sorrowful that he should have preferred the branch to them. The stranger carried off successively, daughter, son, and wife, and all Ireland grieved, for they were much loved; but Cormac shook the branch, and the mourning ceased. In a year desire to see his wife and children came to the King. He set off, and as he went, a magic mist surrounded him, and he saw a house in the midst of a wonderful plain. After witnessing many marvels, he reached another house where a huge and beautiful man and woman offered him hospitality. Cormac bathed, the hot stones going into the bath-water of themselves, and the man brought in a boar, while Cormac prepared the fire and set on a quarter of the beast. His host proposed that he should tell a tale, at the end of which, if it were true, the meat would be cooked, but Cormac asked him to begin first. "Well, then," said the host, "the pig is one of seven, and with them I could feed the whole world. When one is eaten, I place its bones in the sty, and next day it is alive again." This tale proved true, because the meat was already cooked. When a second quarter was placed on the fire, the host told of his corn which grew and gathered itself, and never grew less; and thus a second quarter was cooked. A third quarter was set on, and now the woman described the milk of her seven cows which filled seven tubs and would satisfy the whole world. Her tale also proved true, and now Cormac realized that he was in presence of Manannan and his wife, because none possessed such pigs as he, and he had brought his wife and her cows from the Land of Promise. Cormac then told how he had lost his wife and children — a true story, for the fourth quarter was found cooked. Manannan bade him eat, but when he refused, for he would never dine with two persons only, the god opened a door and brought in his wife and children, and great was their mutual joy. Manannan now assumed his divine form and related how he had brought the branch because he desired Cormac to come hither, and he also explained the mystery of the wonders seen by him. When they sat down to eat, Manannan produced a table-cloth on which appeared whatever food was demanded, and a cup. If one told a lie, it would break, but if truth was then spoken, it would be restored; and to prove this, he informed Cormac that his lost wife had had a new husband, whereupon the cup broke.' "My husband has lied," cried the goddess, and at her words the cup was repaired. Manannan then said that tablecloth, cup, and branch would be Cormac's and that he had wrought magic upon him in order that he might be with him that night in friendship. In the morning, after a night's sleep, Cormac and his family found themselves no longer in the divine land, but in their own palace of Tara, and beside him were the cup, branch, and table-cloth which had covered the board of the god.5 Cormac's recognition of the god through his swine shows knowledge of the myth of the gods' food — the Mucca Mhanannain, "to be killed and yet to be alive for evermore." 6

A story told of Mongan has some resemblance to that of Cormac. He commiserated a poor bardic scholar, bidding him go to the sid of Lethet Oidni and bring thence a precious stone of his, as well as a pound of silver for himself and a pound of gold from the stream beside the sid. At two sid on his way a noble-looking couple welcomed him as Mongan's messenger, and a similar pair received him at the sid of Lethet Oidni, where was a marvellous chamber. Asking for its key, he took thence the stone and silver, and from the river he took the gold, returning to Mongan, who bestowed the silver upon him.7 Another story of Mongan relates how he, his wife, and some others, entering a mysterious house during a storm, found in it seven "conspicuous men," many marvellous quilts, wonderful jewels, and seven vats of wine. Welcome was given to them, and Mongan became intoxicated and told his wife his adventures, or "frenzy," from the telling of which he had formerly asked a respite of seven years. When they woke next morning, they found that they had been in the house a full year, though it seemed but a night.8 In this instance, however, the house had not disappeared. Examples of beautiful places vanishing at daybreak are found in Fionn hi—9

tales and also in the Grail romances. The seeker of the Grail finds himself no longer in the Grail castle in the morning, and the castle itself has become invisible. Such creations of glamour were probably suggested by dreams, whose beauty and terror alike vanish "when one awaketh."

Fruit-bearing, musical trees, in whose branches birds are constantly singing, grow in the gods' land. In the sid of Oengus were three trees always in fruit; and there were also two pigs, one always living, and the other always cooked and ready for eating — the equivalent of the Mucca Mhanannain, or "Pigs of Manannan"—and a jar of excellent beer, Goib-niu's ale. None ever died there.9 The Elysian ale is doubtless a superlative form of the Irish cuirm or braccat, made from malt, of which the Gauls had a divinity, Braciaca;10 and it is analogous to the Vedic soma and the wine of Dionysos.11 Within the sid, or the gods' land, were other domestic animals, especially cows, which were sometimes brought thence by those who left it or were stolen by heroes or by dwellers in one jid from those of another. Where mortals steal them, there is a reminiscence of the mythical idea that the elements of civilization were wrested from the gods by man. Cauldrons were used by the Celts for domestic and sacrificial as well as other ritual purposes, and these also gave rise to myths of wonderful divine cauldrons like Dagda's, from which "no company ever went unthankful." Their contents restored the dead or produced inspiration, and they were stolen from the gods' land, e. g. by Cuchulainn and by Arthur.12 The cauldron rimmed with pearls which Arthur and his men sought resembles the basin with rows of carbuncles on its edge in which, according to another story, a fairy woman washed.13

The inspiration of wisdom was obtained in the gods' land, either by drinking from a well or by eating the salmon in it; but this knowledge was tabu even to some members of the divine land. Such a well, called Connla's Well, was in the Land under Waves, and thither Sinend, grand-daughter of

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