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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/71

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The European Sky- God. 6i

the Poet cast it down in the time of Domnall son of Murchad King of Ireland, who had refused (?) a demand of Ninine's. ... Or it may have been in the time of the sons of Aed Slane that this tree and the Bile Tortan fell together.'^ Conn came to the throne in 177 A.D., Domnall in 743 A.D., the sons of Aed Slane in 656 A.D.,^ so that the tree was some 500 years old. Further, we read in another passage : ' Now the tree of Mugna is an oak, and it fell due southward, over Mag n-Ailbe, as far as the Pillar of the Living Tree.'^ This suggests that, as in ancient Crete,* so in ancient Ireland a baetylic column stood in close relation to the sacred tree. But the most wonderful feature of the Mugna oak has still to be told : ' nine hundred bushels was its crop of acorns, and three crops it bore every year, to wit, apples goodly, marvellous, and nuts round, blood -red, and acorns brown, ridgy.' ^ Here we have a most definite statement to the effect that the sacred oak-tree bore not only acorns, but apples and nuts as well. In fact, it united in itself the merits of precisely the three trees that we have so far seen reason to associate with the sky-god of the Insular Celts. I conceive that the oak of Mugna was the sky- god's tree ; and that this is the meaning of the phrase in the Rennes Dinnsenchiis : ' Berries to the berries the strong (guiding?) Upholder put upon his tree.'^ I would further support this conception by pointing out that the

' /(i. Revite celtique xv. 420, cp. ib. xv. 445, Folk-lore iv. 485.

-Joyce Social History of Ancient Ireland i. 70 f-

^Whitley Stokes ' The Rennes Dind'senchas ' in the Revue celtique xvi. 279.

  • See A. Evans ' JMycenaean Tree and Pillar Cult' in \k\Q. Journal of Hellenic

Studies 1901 xxi. 99 ff. Dr. Evans remarks {ib. p. 106) : ' In the Druidical worship of the West, the tree divinity and the Menhir or stone pillar are associated in a very similar manner, and lingering traditions of their relation- ship are still traceable in modern folklore.' This is a point which I shall have occasion to illustrate at a later stage of my argument.

  • Whitley Stokes ' The Rennes Dind'senchas ' in the Revue celtique xvi. 279.

^ Id. ib. XV. 420.