The Magic Square

Monday, 9 July 2012

Eye of the Bull - Súil an tarbh Part Uno

Eye of the Bull - Súil an tarbh
I could get lost here...

The classical Greek writer Strabo (c. 63BC to AD21) tells us that the Ovates (or Seers) were concerned with “natural philosophy,” while the Druids were concerned with both natural and moral philosophy. This indicates a knowledge of the natural world that certainly goes beyond the superficial, from the Celtic sources that the ancient Druids and Fili (poets) called upon the assistance of the Nature Spirits in many of their magical endeavors. One such working is seen in The Song of Amergin

Am gaeth i m-muir,
Am tond trethan, 
Am fuaim mara,
Am dam secht ndirend,
Am séig i n-aill,
Am dér gréne,
Am cain lubai,
Am torc ar gail,
Am he i l-lind,
Am loch i m-maig,
Am brí a ndai,
Am bri danae,
Am bri i fodb fras feochtu,Am dé delbas do chind codnu,
Coiche nod gleith clochur slébe?
Cia on co tagair aesa éscai?
Cia du i l-laig fuiniud gréne?
Cia beir buar o thig tethrach?
Cia buar tethrach tibi?
Cia dám, cia dé delbas faebru a ndind ailsiu?
Cáinte im gai, cainte gaithe.
I am Wind on Sea,
I am Ocean-wave,
I am Roar of Sea,
I am Stag of Seven Tines,
I am a Hawk on a Cliff,
I am shining tear of the Sun,
I am Fairest among Herbs,
I am Boar for Boldness,
I am Salmon in Pool,
I am a Lake on a Plain,
I am a Hill of Poetry,
I am a Word of Skill,
I am the Point of a Weapon (that pours forth
I am God who fashions Fire for a Head.
Who knows the secrets of the
Unhewn Dolmen?
Who (but I) announces the Ages of the Moon?
Who (but I) know the place where falleth
the Sunset?
Who calls the Cattle from the House of Tethra?
On whom do the cattle of Tethra smile?
Who is the troop, the god who fashions edges
in a fortress of gangrene?
(I am) a Song on a Spear,
an Enchantments of Wind. 
The Sons of Mil had gone out beyond the ninth wave to await their battle with the Tuatha de Danann. The Druids of the Tuatha de Danann are said to have raised a great wind with their enchantments and so drove the Sons of Mil in their ships far from the shore. Amergin countered the damaging Druid wind with an invocation to the Land of Ireland:

“I invoke the land of Ireland
Much-coursed be the fertile sea,
Fertile be the fruit-strewn mountain,
Fruit-strewn be the showery wood,
Showery be the river of water-falls,
Of water-falls be the lake of deep pools,
Deep-pooled be the hill-top well,
A well of tribes be the assembly,
An assembly of the kings be Tara,
Tara be the hill of the tribes,
The tribes of the Sons of Mil,
Of Mil of the ships, the barks,
Let the lofty bark be Ireland,
Lofty Ireland, darkly sung,
An incantation of great cunning;
The great cunning of the wives of Bres,
The wives of Bres of Buaigne;
The great Lady Ireland,
Eremon hath conquered her,
Ir, Eber have invoked for her.
I invoke the land of Ireland.”

and via: Survivals in Belief Among the Celts, by George Henderson, [1911]
Transformation and Incarnation into Bull-form. The Divine Bull (Tarbhof the Epos and of Legend.—It may seem a strange thing to give a great tale in which the leading incidents turn on the possession of a bull the title of Táin Bó Cúalnge, the Foray (or Driving) of the Kine of Cualnge. But all Tána according to the old Gadhelic categories fall under the title of Táin Bó; and besides, the Bull sought is of super-animal origin; it is the seventh form assumed by the swine-herd of the gods, for the Donn Cualnge had (1) a human form, (2) the form of a raven, (3) that of a seal, sea-dog, (4) that of an eminent warrior, (5) the form of a phantom, (6) that of a worm or moth, (7) that of a bull. It is distinctly stated in the Táin that the Donn of Cúalnge had human reason: 'atchuala Dond Cualngi anní sein acus bae cíall dunetta aice' = 'the Dond of C. heard this, for it had human understanding.' The two bulls were incarnations of rival swine-herds from the Síd. 'The Begetting of the Two Swine-herds ' forms a tale in the Book of Leinster; Friuch and Riucht were their names, "and there was also friendship between them, viz., both possessed the lore of paganism, and used to shape themselves into any shape, as did Mongan the son of Fiachna." They underwent various transformations:
. . . they were two stags. . .
They were two champions wounding each other.
They were two spectres, either of them terrifying the other.
They were two dragons, either of them beating (?) the snow on the land of the other. They dropped down from the air and were two worms. One of them went into the well of Glass Cruind in Cualnge, where a cow of Dáre mac Fiachnai drunk it up; and the other went into the well of Garad in Connaught, where a cow of Medb and Ailill's drank it, so that from them sprang the two bulls, the Whitehorn Ai and the Donn of Cualnge.
I suggest that we have here to do with the Tarbh Boibhre of living Highland tradition. Boibre is given in O’Davoren's glossary and explained as from boabartach abairt amail in mboini.e. 'cow-behaviour, behaving like the cow.' It was conceived as a sort of hermaphrodite lusting to graze at a loch side along with cows. From recent tradition I know of the Tarbh Boibhre having been spoken of; the description given pointed to some mythic animal often emerging from deep inland lochs—for instance, Loch Bruiach in Inverness-shire--and capable of assuming the form of a bull or of a cow at pleasure, and of emitting a peculiar cry like to that of powerful birds in the night time. I have come across a fuller description in the Campbell of Islay MSS., which I reproduce. It is entitled The Boobrie, and is thus described in its three-fold manifestations or imaginary emanations.
(aThe Boobrie as Bird.—“This species of animal which within the last century was by no means rare in the districts of Upper Lochaber and Argyll, has for many years been totally extinct, the assigned cause being the extent to which heather burning has been practised in those districts for so many years past. Very long heather was the natural resting place and shelter of the Boobrie. According to the most authentic reports the animal was endowed with the power of assuming at pleasure the forms of three different animals, viz., those of a most enormous and ferocious water-bird (when he was designated the Boobrie), of a water-horse or each-uisg, and of a water-bull or tarbh-uisg. The first of these was the one which he preferred assuming. I intend giving a short description of him in these three various forms—first as the Boobrie from the report of an eye-witness, who not only saw him but waded up to his shoulders into a very large muir loch on a very cold morning in February in the hope of getting a shot at him, but when he had reached within eighty-five yards of him the animal dived, and my informant after waiting for three quarters of an hour where he was, returned on shore to watch for his reappearance, which, though my informant remained in his uncomfortable position for more than five hours and a half on the bank, did not take place. Although this man was not so fortunate as to get a shot at him, he was near enough to have been enabled to furnish me with a most satisfactory account of the animal's appearance and dimensions. In form and colour the Boobrie strongly resembles the Great Northern Diver, with the exception of the white on the neck and breast; the wings of both, bearing about the same proportion to the size of their bodies, appear to have been given them by nature more for the purpose of assisting them in swimming under water, than flying. In size of body he is larger than seventeen of the biggest eagles put together. His neck is two feet eleven inches long, and twenty-three inches in circumference, his bill is about seventeen inches long, black in colour, measuring round the root about eleven inches; for the first twelve inches the bill is straight, but after that assumes the shape of an eagle's, and of proportionate strength. His legs are remarkably short for his size, black in colour, but tremendously powerful, the feet are webbed till within five inches of the toes, which then terminate in immense claws of most destructive nature. The print of his foot on the mud at the east end of the lake (as accurately measured by an authority) covers the space generally contained within the span of a large wide-spreading pair of red deer's horns. The sound he utters resembles that of a large bull in his most angry humours, but much superior in strength. The favourite food of the Boobrie is the flesh of calves; failing them he feeds upon sheep or lambs, as suits him, or seizing his prey he carries it off to the largest neighbouring muir loch, swims out to the deepest part, where he dives, carrying his victim along with him, and there feeds, returning on shore at pleasure. He is also particularly fond of otters, which he swallows in great numbers, and with considerable avidity.
“It is a notorious fact that about sixty years ago a Boobrie frequented a loch named Loch Leathan,anglice 'the Broad Loch,' in the West of Argyllshire, and caused great consternation in the district.
"The clergyman of this parish was a remarkable man, not only for the assiduity with which he followed his calling, but for his talents and accomplishments. Whenever it was known that he was to preach, a large congregation was certain. On one occasion the parson had agreed to preach for a neighbouring clergyman who was absent on duty, and all the neighbouring gentry made a point of attending. As distances were great the heritors ordered dinner. [Here story tells of their chance of falling in with the Boobrie. . . . the minister and his servant fell over one another in a burn. Each thought the other was the Boobrie. Sandy, the servant, always thought they had been glamoured by the Boobrie!]"
(bThe Boobrie as Water-horse (Each-Uisge)." On the banks of Loch Freisa, a fresh-water loch on the property of Lochadashenaig, in the island of Mull, the tenant was ploughing some land that was so hard and strong that he was compelled to use four horses. Early one day one of the horses cast a shoe, they were nine miles from a smithy, and the nature of the ground prevented any possibility of the horse ploughing without one. 'Here's the best part of our day's work gone,' said the tenant to his son, who was leading the foremost horses. 'I am not sure,' replied the son. 'I see a horse feeding beside the loch, we'll take a lend of him, as we don't know who he belongs to.' The father approved of the proposal. The son went down and fetched up the horse, which appeared to have been quite used to ploughing, drawing first up bill, then down, perfectly steadily until they reached the end of the furrow, close to the Loch. On an attempt to turn the horses this borrowed one became rather restive, which brought the whip into use, though lightly; no sooner had the thong touched him than he instantly assumed the form of a most enormous Boobrie, and uttering a shout which appeared to shake the earth, plunged into the loch, carrying with him the three horses and plough. The tenant and his son had both the sense to let go their respective holds. The Boobrie swam out with his victims to the middle of the loch, where he dived, carrying them along with him to the bottom, where he apparently took his pleasure of them. The tenant and his son got a most awful fright (as well may be imagined), but remained hid behind a large stone for seven hours in the earnest hope of perhaps even one of their horses coming ashore. But no."
(c) Boobrie as Tarbh-Uisge.—"In the two preceding anecdotes we have described the Boobrie merely as a rapacious and predatory animal, causing general dismay from his frightful appearance and voracious appetite, but the following anecdote seems to give colour to the now generally received belief that this form in its different shapes was the abode of a spirit, condemned to such penance by way of expiation for the violation of certain ordinances of the superior spirits, and was in many instances friendly, if not beneficent to mankind."
The following abstract will explain the subsequent story:
[Scene in winter on west coast of Argyll, on west Lank of Loch nan Dobhran, where one Eachann suddenly came upon a large black bull which was lying down, apparently dying and groaning piteously: Eachann feeds him. Eachann's sweetheart Phemie had a rejected suitor, Murdoch MacPherson: Scene changes to summer, at the shieling beside Loch nan Dobhran.]
"Once or twice Phemie had been startled by the momentary vision of a shadow on the lake, one which made her shudder, for the fleeting outline reminded her of the rejected suitor. . . . One evening as she sat at some distance from the shieling and thought of Eachann, the shadow again crossed her, but this time when she looked around Murdoch himself was there. Before she could scream he threw his plaid over her head, bound down her hands. . . . Help came to her in a most unexpected form. The Tarbh Uisg came tearing along, and rushing at Murdoch, seemed to crush him to the earth before he had any time to make any resistance. . . . The Tarbh Uisg approached Phemie, and kneeled down, as if to invite her to mount upon his back, which she did. He immediately sped off, and with the quickness of thought she found herself safely deposited at her mother's door. The Tarbh Uisg was gone in a moment, but a voice was heard in the air calling out loudly:
Chaidh comhnadh rium le ògair caomh
S ri òigh rinn mise bàigh;
Deigh tri cheud bliadhna do dhaorsa chruaidh
  Thoir fuasgladh dhomh gun dàil
which may be thus translated:
I was assisted by a young man
And I aided a maid in distress;
Then after three hundred years of bondage
  Relieve me quickly
Since then the Tarbh Uisg has not been seen.
The above reveals the persistence in folk-belief of the idea of transformation, the Boobrie being the abode of a spirit, just as the Donn Cualnge had human reason. Sometimes the tarbh boidhbhre has been thought of as asexual, and the phrase has been rendered 'the bull of lust.' Calves with any peculiarities were once upon a time held to be from this stock, and corresponded to the Manx idea of the far-lheiy, which Cregeen's Dictionary defines as "a false conception of a calf, said to be generated between a cow and what is called a tarroo-ushtey." In parts of Inverness-shire it has been defined to me is a serpent-bull, further defined as a great fly, or as a big striped browngobhlachan or 'ear-wig,' as long as one's little finger, with a crave for sucking horse-blood. It was thought to be very rare, to appear only in great heat in August and September, and to have lots of tentacles or feelers (tha gràinne spògan air). In the same district the water-horse was thought of as at times like unto a man, similar to a carle in ribbons and rags; every one will not see it: to see it is an omen of drowning.
The water-horse (in t-ech usci) is spoken of in the Life of St. Féchin of Fore: "It came to them and was harnessed to the chariot, and it was tamer and gentler than any other horse." Cossar Ewart has lately spoken of the old species of horse of 30,000 years ago, and may be the wild-horse of Scotland is reflected in its folklore. Mr. D. M. Rose drew attention to this in the Scotsman, and as what he says of Sutherland holds further south, I cannot but quote his words:
“In the folklore of the north, extending over a wide area, from Caithness to Aberdeen, there is much concerning horses that at first sight seems fabulous. But a different complexion is put on these tales when it is taken into consideration that wild horses survived in the north until the sixteenth century. Through the progress of time folklore became invested with the supernatural. For instance, in Sutherland there are many legends about the wild horses of the interior, and from these yarns it would appear that later generations (in the absence of the real wild horse) entertained a belief that his Satanic Majesty must have assumed the shape of a horse to beguile wayfarers. A queer thing is that in folklore all these wild horses were lovely yellow coloured animals with bristling manes and long flowing tails. If yellow was the prevailing colour of the wild animal, it is somewhat singular that the yellow dun type of horse is somewhat rare in the north.
“Let me give the story of the golden horse of Loch Lundie. Two men from Culmailie went one Sunday to fish on Loch Lundie, and they saw, pasturing in a meadow, one of the most lovely golden coloured ponies they had ever seen. One of the men determined to seize the animal and bring it home. His companion, in a state of great alarm tried to dissuade him, assuring him that the animal was none other than the devil in disguise. The man, nothing daunted, began to stalk the pony, declaring that if he could get a chance he would mount on the beast, even if it were the Evil One. At length he managed to get within reach, and making a bound he seized the bristling mane, and leaped on the animal's back. In an instant the pony gave one or two snorts that shook the hills, fire flashed from its eyes and nostrils, and tossing its tail into the air, it galloped away with the man to the hills, and he was never again seen by mortal being.
“According to another version, the yellow horse of Loch Lundie was last seen in a meadow near Brora by two boys who broke the Sabbath. They tried to mount the animal, and one of them succeeded in doing so. The other boy, getting alarmed, tried to withdraw, but found to his horror that his finger had stuck in the animal's side. With great presence of mind, he immediately pulled out his knife and cut off his finger. The pony immediately gave an appallingly shrill neigh and galloped madly away with his rider, who was never seen again.
"Of course, in folklore the pony was undoubtedly regarded as Auld Nick, but the truth is that wild horses actually existed in the Sutherland hills until after 1545. This wild herd was claimed by the Bishops of Moray, but Sutherland of Duffus succeeded in making good his right to them. They are described as the herd of 'wild meris, staigs, and folis,' and they could hardly have been of the domesticated species, though possibly later on they were captured and tamed, or died away. In Aberdeenshire the same folklore exists regarding wild horses. There is a story told about a son of Rose of Tullisnaught, who was lost in the neighbouring Forest of Birse. When he and his servant went out hunting one day he suddenly came upon a beautiful yellow pony in a glade of the forest. The servant tried to persuade him that the pony was merely the devil in disguise, but Rose determined to capture and mount the animal. He managed to do this, but in a twinkling horse and rider disappeared and were never seen again. Now, the recently issued Records of the Sheriffdom of Aberdeen (vol. i. pp. 106-7), by the New Spalding Club, clearly establishes the existence of a herd of wild horses in the Forest of Birse in 1507. From the references they do not appear to have been of the domesticated species, though they were being dispersed and apparently broken in."
As regards the Boobrie as bird, this is the bird, Forbes gives as bubaire, 'the common bittern.' The upper parts of its body and wings are of a rich brown buff, with cross bars and shaft lines which give it colour-protection among the reeds of the marsh it frequents. The bittern boom, at the breeding season, is a strangely weird sound. Its early arrival was a good omen:
You may knaw there's na mair winter to cum
When the Bull o’ Prestwick beats his drum.
                               (Northumberland Lore.)
By Tweedside the bird was called the Miredrum; it is known as Botaurus stellaris, starred or speckled bird which bellows like an ox-bull. The French call it butor, or else bœuf du marais, 'ox of the swamp,' or taureau d’étang, 'bull of the pond.' Other English names are butter-bumpsbog-bull. It is its weird hollow cry at evening or at night that has led to its being regarded as an omen of disaster or death. Few retreats are left for it, comparatively, and its irregular visits have caused a good deal of confused belief regarding it. Burns calls it the bluitere.g.

The howlet cried from the castle wa’,
The bluiter from the bogie.

Scott's description is probably the best in poetry: it suggests the solitary habits and the aloofness of the bird:

Yet the lark's shrill fife may com
 At the daybreak from the fallow;And the bittern sound his drumBooming from the sedgy shallow,Ruder sounds shall none be near,Guards nor warders challenge here.

The sound is described as hollow; a booming sound, as that of a drum; a sort of bellow, but not so loud as that of a cow or bull, but suggestive of that sound. Its note during the breeding season is variously described as booming, bumping, bellowing, 'bumbling in the mire,' and Sir Thomas Browne refers to the belief that "a bitter maketh that mugient noyse, or as we term it bumping, by putting its bill into a reed." The Germans call it moosochsemooskuhe. It is questionable whether the Latinbotaurus has not been suggested by some survival of a Celtic *bo-tarvos, issuing in Old Englishbotor, perhaps also in the Gaelic bo’ithre, tarbh eithre, if we put O’Davoren's bo-oibre aside. A bird called a bull, which imitates the lowing of oxen is spoken of by Pliny: "est quae boum mugitus imitetur in Arelatensi agro taurus appellata" (Hist. Nat. x. 42). Its note has typified desolateness and gloom from of old: cf. Isaiah xiv. 23, xxxiv. 11; Zephaniah ii. 14. Though changed in the Revised Version to porcupine (hedge-hog), Principal G. A. Smith, for instance, renders the last passage: "Yea, pelican and bittern shall roost on the capitals," and points out that the other animals mentioned here are birds, and that it is birds which would naturally roost on capitals. By the Tigris the bittern abounds, as in the marshes of Syria. "No traveller," says Canon Tristram, "who has heard the weird booming of the bittern in the stillness of the night, while encamped near some ruined site, can ever forget it, or mistake any other sound for it. The bird belongs to the heron tribe, but is utterly different in its habits; always solitary, standing still and motionless through the day, with its beak upturned, looking like a tuft of weathered leaves, and only feeding at night." The sound is produced by the bird expelling the air from its throat while it stands with neck outstretched and holding its bill vertically upwards,—so Mr. J. E. Harting, who has observed the bird in the act. It is uncommon now in Scotland. One has been found at Taprain Law, East Lothian, on January 21, 1908. From a description given me over twenty years ago it was heard about Loch Bruiach, Inverness-shire, several years previously, and was known as the tarbh boidhre (bo’eithrebo-oibhre). I had made most of my investigation of the Boobrie over six years ago when, following on an article on the 'Bull o’ the Bog,' by Mr. J. Logie Robertson (Scotsman, March 1, 1910; cf. also that of Feb. 5, 1910, as to its rarity), there appeared this note, which I beg to insert as quite confirmatory of my suggestion:
"The Legend of the Water Bull.—When reading 'J. L. R.’s' interesting notes in The Scotsman of March 1st on the 'Bull o’ the Bog,' it occurred to me that possibly in that bird of nocturnal habits we might find a natural explanation of the water bull (sometimes called the water horse) of Celtic legend. The main facts, viz., that the bittern haunts damp and reedy quarters such as are quite common round so many of our Highland lakes, that its booming notes are not unlike the guttural bellowing of a bull, and more particularly that its voice is usually heard after night-fall, all seem to suggest that it may have been the natural source of the various mythological tales in which the water bull figures. Some twenty years ago I came across an old Highlander in the north-west of Argyllshire who thoroughly believed in the existence of the water bull (the Tarbh-uisge). He told me a long tale about it. It dwelt in a loch not far from his dwelling. It only appeared at night. He had heard its roaring more than once. It was the reputed sire of one of the calves in the next farm, and that particular calf had, on being sent out with the others, gone straight to the loch, and plunged into its waters, and disappeared—a sure proof of its paternity. At the time, knowing that old Donald's hut was on the edge of a deer forest, I came to the conclusion that he had attached a mythical significance to the sound of the stag's roaring in the rutting season—a weird melancholy sound when heard towards the gloaming, full of pathos, and most appealing to the imagination. Now, however, after reading 'J. L. R.’s' article on the bittern and its ways, I wonder if that nocturnal bird—presuming it frequented the Highlands of old—may not be responsible for some at least of the myths associated with the water bull.—B. B."
I may add that the long claw of a bittern's hind toe was once used as an amulet. Its boom is reserved for the pairing or breeding season, and less than a century ago it caused strange misgivings and mingled feelings to whole communities.
References to the divine bull of the Celts can be carried very far back. In the Banquet of the Sophists by Athenaeus, Ulpien, one of the interlocutors, speaking of the tiger, cites a verse from one of the lost comedies of Philemon, who, at the age of 99, died in 262 B.C.:
ὥσπερ Σέλευκος δεῦῤ ἔπεμψε τὴν τίγριν
ἥν ἴδομεν ἡμεῖς τῷ Σελεύκῳ πάλιν ἔδει
ἡμᾶς τι παῤ ἡμῶν ἀντιπέμψαι θηρίον
τρυγέρανον· οὐ γὰρ γίγνεται τοῦτ᾽ αὐτόθι.
                          Athenaeus, xiii. 57, p. 590 A.

 as Seleucus has brought hither the tiger which we have seen, we ought to send him back some animal in exchange, a trugeranos; there are none there. This, as Monsieur J. Vendryes has pointed out, is simply the Gaulis  Trigaranos, an epithet of the divine Tarvos, à trois grues, which figures on the altar of Notre Dame at Paris and on the bas-relief of Treves (Revue Celtique, 28, 124). The king referred to is Seleucus Nicator, one of the successors of Alexander the Great; having visited the confines of India he met the famous prince, Chandragupta, and brought back, in addition to some five hundred elephants, some exotic animals such as tigers, to which he fell a prey in the city of Athens. The Gauls about this time were invading Macedonia and Thrace; they were checked at Delphi in 279. The fear of the Gauls,—ὁ ἀπὸ Γαλατῶν φόβος,—was become proverbial; a decree of the year 278 B.C., discovered in the ruins of the Asklepeion at Cos, expresses the joy caused in the island by the tidings of the Gaulish defeat, and prescribes a festival in honour of Apollo, of Zeus Soter and of Nikē in celebration of the event.
The Celts had made three different expeditions in the Orient, and in the age of Alexander some of
them were in contact with Greek civilisation; the Greeks recovered some booty from their enemy, and it would have been an easy matter probably to have seen in the Celtic camp some such symbolic representations as are to be met with on the altar of Notre Dame at Paris, or on the bas-relief of Treves,—figured emblems of the Celtic Tarvos Trigaranos. A creature so bizarre was bound to excite curiosity among a people who noted that a Gaulish word for horse was marca (cf. Gaelicmarcach, rider'), and whose Pausanias describes the τριμαρκισία or group of three cavaliers fighting in unison.
That reverence was paid to the bull among the Celts is indicated by the frequency of river-names signifying 'bull'; for instance, the river Tarf, whence Abertarff, Gaelic Obair-thairbh, in Stratherrick, Inverness-shire; while Tarf is a stream name in the shires of Perth, Forfar, Kirkcudbright, Wigton. These Tarf names go back to Pictish times. Rivers of old were held in holy reverence: witness names like Boyne, *bo-vinda, 'white-cow,' appearing in legend as a personal female name; Dee; Aberdeen, G. Obair-dhea’on, 'the mouth or inver of the Devona,' a goddess-name; Affric, a river name, older Aithbhrecc, a female name Affrica, and suitable as a nymph name, which is also the case with Ness, from Pictish; Lōchy, the 'nigra dea,' or black goddess of Adamnan's Life of Columba. The early human attitude may be inferred from what is told regarding the Kaffirs asking permission of a river ere profaning it by crossing it. The Roman bridge-builder or pontifex was the intermediary between the divinity and man, hence our pontiff; cf. Virgil's pontem indignatus Araxes. The old Celt Viridomaros thought himself descended from the Rhine.
One meets also with the name Rhenogenos, 'born of the Rhine' god. Certain of the Gaulish inhabitants plunged their newly-born infants into its waters; if they survived the ordeal it was a token of their being protected by the common ancestor. Gaulish inscriptions likewise testify that rivers were the objects of a cult: e.gDEÆ SEQVAÆ (the Seine), DEÆ ICAUNI (the Yonne). In Scotland, too, the river names are mostly pre-Christian and testify to their having been looked on with more than sacred awe. Almost all of them have legends such as Hugh Miller tells of the water-wraith of the Conon River in his Schools and Schoolmasters, and Dr. Walter Gregor, of the water-spirit of Donside. Scott in his Journal (23rd Nov., 1827) tells of an attempt to bait the water-cow, while Mr. Dixon in his Gairloch (p. 162) tells a very similar story. A plaid has several times been made an offering to the water-spirit of the Dee, Aberdeenshire, which levied a heavy toll on human life, if we believe the rhyme:
Blood-thirsty Dee
Each year needs three,
But bonny Don
She needs non.

There are traces of a custom of throwing salt over the water and the nets to propitiate the Fairies of the Tweed. In Scott's Pirate we find the belief that whoever rescues a drowning man incurs the monster's wrath by cheating him of his victim: perhaps from this idea we may infer the belief, prevalent in the Highlands, in the unluck sure to come to the family of the man who is the first to find a victim of drowning: the unluck follows from robbing the spirit of the waters of its victim. The legends of water-horses in Loch Ness and in the Beauly River, indeed in all considerable streams, point to the spirit of the raging flood as an external soul in the waters. Indeed, other river names, such as Ness, Don, Nevis, Annan, go back to early Celtic nomenclature, which reveals them to be names of nymphs, especially divine water-nymphs.
One of the altars discovered at Paris in 1710, under the apsis of the Church of Notre Dame, has four interesting carvings, which represent:
1. Jupiter, in standing posture, holding a sceptre in his left hand, which is raised, the left side being covered with a tunic, which leaves the right shoulder exposed. To the right of the god, on the ground, is placed an eagle. The frame-work above the figure bears the inscription IOVIS.
2. Vulcan, in upright posture, clothed in working tunic, leaving the right side exposed, as also the lower left arm. The left hand holds or grips a tongs. The figure is inscribed VOLCANUS.
3. A woodcutter, clad in a tunic similar to Vulcan's, is shown as holding in his right hand, which is raised, an axe with which he is to give a blow to some stems on the gnarled trunk, while in his left hand he holds one of the branches. Inscribed above is ESVS.
4. A bull carrying on his back a dorsal covering above which is a tree, the foliage of which is the same as that on the tree in figure 3—in fact, the foliage of the tree seems to be portrayed here as in continuation of the preceding scene. On the bull's head is placed a crane, while two other cranes are portrayed back to back on the animal's croup. Above is the inscription TARVOS · TRIGARANVS.

In December, 1895, there was discovered on the left bank of the Moselle, above Trèves, on the road leading to Luxembourg and to Metz, another interesting sculpture, the first publication of which is due to Lehner in the Korrespondenzblatt der Westdeutschen Zeitschrift for 1896. It appeared next in the issue for 1897 of the Bonner Jahrbücher, and was carefully discussed by the celebrated savant, M. Salomon Reinach, in the Revue Celtique for that year. Though in very bad preservation, the monument seems to have been an altar-piece. One face of this sculpture portrays the Mercury and Rosmerta of the Gauls, according to Reinach. Beneath it is. inscribed:
which Lehner has restored thus: Indus Mediomatricus Mercurio votum libens merito (?) solvit. The face to the right is well preserved and shows, but on a much smaller scale than that on the principal face, a figure of a man, probably beardless, clothed in a short tunic; he holds in his hands the handle of a long implement which he is about to drive into a tree. This tree, the denticulated leaves of which call to mind the foliage on the altar found at Paris, supports a bull's head on the left; and three great birds, with long beak, are on the right thereof. We are in the presence of a representation of the same scene as is depicted on the altar of Notre Dame—it shows us the woodcutter, the tree, the bull, and the three cranes—with the sole difference that Esus and the Tarvos Trigaranos are depicted on one piece instead of on two, as in the other case. This tree, the foliage of which recalls that of the willow, is an essential element in the representation. The more one considers the bas-relief of Trèves, the more readily does one agree with Monsieur Reinach's conclusion that there exists a relation between the tree and the woodman, and the bull with the three cranes; that instead of four isolated figures, Vulcan, Jupiter, Esus, and Tarvos Trigaranos, of the altar at Paris, there are only three figures symbolised,—Esus and Tarvos Trigaranos being elements of one scene though shown in juxtaposition.

Reinach points out that the bull often personifies the forces of the sun and of the waters, and thinks that the god-bull prepared for sacrifice (Notre Dame) and shown as slaughtered at Trèves, may be the Gaulish Belenos, the Celtic Apollo-Hélios (Cultes, iii. 177).
The bull on the Trèves bas-relief is seemingly but an attribute in the scene of which the tree is the central and basic symbol. The bull represents some divinity conceived as inhabiting a tree: we have, in a word, a primitive representation of the tree-soul animating a tree which is about to be felled by some semi-divine hero known in legend surviving among, though not necessarily original to, the Celts. Or if among a Celtic people, it may have formed part of legendary belief among the forerunners of the Gauls, to wit, the Ligurians, whose speech has been called Celtican by Rhŷs, who has essayed recently to show it as most closely allied to Gadhelic. The Highland survival of the Boobrie has much that may be traced to a common origin with the root idea symbolised in bas-relief at Paris and at Trèves, and I see no reason why one might not expect to find among Gadhelic survivals some close parallels to the idea at the root of the tree-cutter portrayed on these reliefs. Hirschfield has agreed that certain Pyrenean gods of a non-Iberian type are to be attributed to the Ligurian predecessors of the Celts, or, as I should prefer to say, of the Gauls: he instances the oak-god (Fagus deus, the translation of the name of a local god), the gods SexarborSexarbores, and the nameless god on some coniferous tree represented on an altar found at Toulouse. Esus, on the Paris altar, may have been the local name in that district, and not at all Pan-Celtic. D’Arbois has tried to make out a close parallel for Cuchulainn. The primary creation of the root ideas in this myth may be due to precursors of the Celts alike in Gaul and Ireland, but they point to early tree-worship, and to survivals of dendrolatry among the Celts. May we not infer with Reinach the idea of a cosmic tree and of a cosmic bull? Maximus of Tyre relates that the Celts worshipped Zeus under the image of an oak—δρῦς ἄγαλμα Δίος—and Claudian in his praise of Stilicho says of Celtdom: robora Numinis instar barbarici. M. Reinach recalls the ideas associated with the Scandinavian Yggdrasil or world-ash, in the branches of which, as it covered the universe, sat an eagle cognisant of all things, while a serpent gnawed at the root. The parallel to the semi-divine wood-cutter is met with in the Kalevala and in the legends of Esthonia, in which a dwarf becomes transformed into a giant and fells the tree that obscured the light of sun and moon, shaking at its fall the whole heavens and earth. The bull appears in Gaulish art of the Hallstatt and Là Tène periods, and symbolises a religious idea at the stage when religious expression is at one with the myth. The legend, which associates a semi-divine hero with the cutting down of the tree which supports a bull with three cranes, must be of great antiquity among the Celts, and in some way emblemises, how rudely soever, the presence which pervades all thought and things. Certain of the Greeks expressed this when they conceived Dionysos, not only as tutelary divinity of the tree, but as in the tree, ἔνδενδρος, παρὰ Ῥοδίοις Ζεὺς καὶ Δίονυσος ἐν Βοιωτίᾳ—a gloss of Hesychius. As to a connection between death or transformation and eating the flesh of cranes, compare the obscure formula in West Highland Tales (i. 240); to cause the death of one who has lived too long it suffices to call thrice through the keyhole: "Wish you to go or wish you to stay, or wish you to eat the flesh of cranes?
Nor need the fact of the divine bull being prominent in Celtic belief surprise us. Elsewhere the bull, as the source of all wealth among a people of shepherds and hunters, became the object of religious veneration. "In the eyes of such a people the capture of a wild bull was an achievement so highly fraught with honour as to be apparently no derogation even for a god." Thus the bull-slaying Mithra, dragged along on the horns of the infuriated animal, was transformed until his painful journey became the symbol of human sufferings. "But the bull, it would appear, succeeded in making its escape from its prison, and roamed again at large over the mountain pastures." The sun then sent the raven, his messenger, to carry to his ally the command to slay the fugitive. Mithra received this cruel mission much against his will, but submitting to the decree of heaven he pursued the truant beast with his agile dog, succeeded in overtaking it just at the moment when it was taking refuge in the cave which it had quitted. and seizing it by the nostrils with one hand, with the other he plunged deep into its flank his 'hunting knife.' In the Mithraic religion, as Justin tells us, there was a 'baptism for the remission of sins': the bull being the recognised emblem of life, its blood constituted the recognised laver of regeneration. In the rite known as Blood-Baptism or Taurobolia, the person to be initiated, being stripped of all clothing, went into a pit covered with planks pierced full of holes, whereupon the hot blood of a newly-slaughtered bull was allowed down through the apertures, as in a shower bath, upon the person to be regenerated. To judge from the statement of Lampridius that the priest-emperor Heliogabalus submitted to it, the rite must have been an important one, and a pit for the purpose has been discovered within the precincts of the temple at Eleusis in Greece.
The Celtic personal name, Donno-taurus, 'noble-bull' (lord-bull), mentioned by Caesar, may contain a word cognate with Irish donn, explained in O’Davoren's Glossary by 'noble, judge, king,' and may come, according to Stokes, from *domno-s, and be cognate with L. dominus, 'lord, master.' This is most probably the same word that meets us in Donn, the name of the divine bull located in the Irish epic at Cualnge (Cooley). In course of time it easily got confused with an entirely different word, donn, 'dun.' In referring to this latter, de Jubainville seems to have forgotten the former word. 
To the Donn Cualnge one perhaps might compare the Minotaure, which also had a divine origin, its father having been a bull given by Poseidon to Minos, and its mother Pasiphae, daughter of the sun. During the Athenian war Minos exacted as a condition of peace that each year there should be sent to Crete seven youths and seven young maidens to be devoured by the Minotaure. The Minotaure was killed by Theseus, as we learn from Pherecydes. It has been suggested that the legend of Pasiphae and the Minotaure contains a reminiscence of a marriage ceremony in which the King and Queen of Cnossos figured in the disguise of a bull and cow respectively. Marrying a queen to a bull-god was portrayed by marrying her to a man disguised as a bull. The vine-god Dionysos was annually married to a queen at a building on the N.E. slope of the Acropolis at Athens, named the Cattle-Stall, whence Miss Harrison conjectured that Dionysos may have been represented as a bull at the marriage. "In that case the part of the bridegroom might be played by a man wearing a bull's head, just as in Egypt in similar rites the sacred animals were represented by men and women wearing the masks of cows, hawks, crocodiles, and so forth."
I recall the wake orgy in Ireland mentioned by Lady Wilde, in which a bull is married to a cow; compare Calluinn a’ Bhuilg ceremonies in the Highlands, wherein a hide figures. Add for Britain perhaps the Hobby Horse at Padstow.
Minos is suspected of having been murdered every nine years; his death was a secret. His going into the Labyrinth is equivalent to going into the Bull god's cave. On Gadhelic ground, when the Donn or Brown Bull of Cualnge triumphed over its rival the Find Bennach, it soon after died itself of its wounds, but paralleling the cruelty of the Minotaure it killed one hundred infants, or two-thirds of the one hundred and fifty children that came in groups of fifty to enjoy themselves after mid-day on its great and glossy back.
M. D’Arbois de Jubainville regards the Tarvos Trigaronos, now in the museum at Cluny, as identical with the Donn Cualnge, and further, the personage called Esus, who is about to apply his axe to the tree, appears to him identical with the hero Cuchulainn, who is portrayed as felling trees to arrest the march of the forces of Queen Medb: "At one blow Cuchulainn cut the chief stem of an oak, root and branch."
Again, Cuchulainn's divine father was Lug of the Long Hand, already referred to, and well remembered in Celtic myth. The name appears often in Gaul, for instance in the place-name Lugudunum, now Lyons, also in Leyden. His cult was widely diffused, to judge from the name being met with in the plural LugouesLugouibus, on inscriptions, one from Switzerland, another from Spain. He was the Gaulish Mercury in Caesar's time who speaks of him as the inventor of all the arts. The Irish Lug, according to the account in the 'Second Battle of Moytura,' was skilful as poet, warrior, physician, sorcerer, harpist, poet, and to him is given the epithet of 'master of all the arts.' Balor of the evil eye received his death at the hand of Lug, who thereupon is accorded the sovereignty of the Tuatha dé Danann on the death of Nuada their king.In the effort at filling up pre-Christian history, the Annalists of course make him figure as king in Ireland. I agree with M. D’Arbois in regarding Lug, in his continental aspects, as having been chief among the gods of Gaul, the god whom Caesar identified with Mercury: Deum maxime Mercurium colunt. The Mercury of the menhir of Kervadel, now preserved at Kernuz, D’Arbois identifies with Lug, while he recalls the exploit of Cuchulainn's youth when, on having slain the hound of Culann the Smith, he offered reparation by taking guard himself, on which account his name was changed from the Setanta (older form *Setantios?) of his boyhood to Cú-chulainn, Hound of Culann. The name Setanta is not Gadhelic: it existed probably among the Picts of Ulidia, and was an ethnic name in Britain,—the Setantii were a tribe near the River Mersey in Ptolemy's day. Among the near Gaulish kinsmen of the British tribes the god may have been simply designated by a personal epithet or title such as Esus, 'master, lord,' the name of the god on the altar-piece of Notre Dame now in the Museum of Cluny. Cuchulainn alone was exempted from the malady which befell the Ultonian heroes during the war of the Tāin, but at last there came a moment when, weary and fatigued with wounds, he felt unable to endure any longer. His hero's call was answered by the appearance of a wondrous warrior whom the Book of the Dun depicts as saying: "I come to succour thee, I am thy father come from the abode of the gods, I am Lug the son of Ethniu." If we examine the menhir of Kervadel in the light of comparative Celtic myth, it is most probable that it depicts the Gaulish Mercury and his avatar or son, in other words Lug (Lugos) and Esus. M. D’Arbois would go even further, and suggests that the myth of Cuchulainn and the story now worked up into the Tāin may have been brought from Britain by the Druids, who were there taught the existing lore at a time when as yet the story had not been entirely localised in Erin. But I cannot think that we are justified in assuming an entire absence of at least parallel tales in Gaul itself. The P-group of similar speaking tribes would have much in common, including what they may have imbibed from their predecessors of the Q-group, the Gadhelic Celts. For we must pre-suppose a time when both groups were not as yet, in their continental home, foreign to one another.

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