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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/228

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204 Ghost Lights of the West Highlands.

The only appreciable fact about a star is its light; and if " as often as a child dies God makes a new star,"^ so probably the light of a man's life passes away more or less visibly. Light and heat are naturally associated in the mind, and warmth and lifeĀ ; thus, when life leaves the body its heat departs, and what more natural than to suppose that the visible source of heat, light, should be evident at the same conjuncture. That some such reasoning has had a place in the mind of the Gael seems certain, but his asso- ciation of it with the stars is by no means proved. The common idea of a shooting star is well seen in the follow- ing incident from the story "Teann sios a Dhomhuill Oig." Four men are told to go and get the best and fattest beast in the herd to prepare as supper for a dozenĀ : " Leum ceathrar air am buinn cho ealamh 's ged a thuiteadh sgeith- runnaig bhar aghaidh nan speur, agus cha robh aig Dom- hull og ach sealladh a chul nan sailtean aca a mach an dorus." Four of them were on their feet as quick as a star' s-puke would fall from the face of the sky, and young Donald got but a sight of their heels out of the door. The Rev. Mr. McRury explains "Sgeith-runnaig" (literally, "the vomit of a star ") is the name commonly given to meteors, or shooting stars in general.^ Macpherson in his " Ossian " compares death to a falling star, but it is hardly judicious to quote him for an authority except as to his own day and generation, the more especially as in this instance we have not the Gael translation. " He fell not," Lamhor re- plied, "like the silent star of night when it flies through the darkness and is no more, but he was like a meteor that shoots into a distant land." Indeed, the Gael does not seem to take very much account of the stars in any connection.

Martin, writing 200 years ago, tells us^ "There were

' (irimm, quoted in Am Ur-Quell, vol. vi. p. 8. - Trans. Cae. Soc. Inverness, vol. xiv. p. iii. ' P. 334, and. ed.