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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/65

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The European Sky -God. 55

As the cult of Nodons was carried on in a great forest of oaks, so St. Neot, the Cornish representative of Nodons, chose for his hermitage a spot surrounded by trees.^ Gorham, writing in 1820, says of St. Neot's springĀ : ' It is yet to be seen at the foot of a hill . . . some years since clothed with forest trees . . , About 60 years since, a venerable oak, bending forward from the bank above, spread its branches like a fan over this sainted well.' ^

Lot, the northern counterpart of Nodons, according to Geoffrey of Monmouth,^ married Anna. Professor Rhys speaks of her as ' the Celtic Anna . . . wife of Loth, that is to say of Lludd or Nudd, originally the Zeus of the Celts.' ^ Anna is elsewhere described as wife of Beli the Great.^ Now Professor Rhys regards Beli as a ' chthonian divinity,' ^ ' the god of death and darkness,' '^ ' the death-god,' ^ ' the dark god,' ^ ' the Dis of the ancient Celts.' ^^ And Professor D'Arbois de Jubainville finds in *Belios ' the god of death, the Celtic god whom Caesar called Dis pater' ^^ It appears probable, there- fore, that Anna was the partner of the Celtic Zeus in his dark or chthonian character. If so, we may have a survival of her in Black Anna, who still haunts a cave about a mile from Leicester. ' Black Anna was said to be in the habit of crouching among the branches of the old pollard oak (the last remnant of the forest) which grew in the cleft of the rock over the mouth of her cave or " bower," ever ready to spring like a wild beast on any stray children passing below.' ^^

^ Gorham Eynesbiiry and St. Neot's p. 29.

"^ Id. ib. p. 33 f. '^ Supra p. 51.

  • Rhys A7-thurian Lc^t-nd p. 336 f., cp. pp. 22, 169.

^ Id. ib. p. 336. ^ Id. Hibbert Lectures p. 168.

"^ Id. ib. p. 274. ^ Id. ib. p. 377, cp. p. 643.

^ Id. Arthurian Legend p. 337. ^^ Id. Hibbert Lectures p. 644.

^^ D'Arbois Cycle mythologique p. 225 f.

^^ County Folk-lore vol. i. Leicestershire and Rutland p. 8.