網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

censis makes mention of two Indian nations, among whom it was an ancient custom to go round their idols with their hair torn off, naked, and howling, and to cast stones on a heap, which was raised to the honour of their gods. This they did twice a year, at the vernal and autumnal equinox. These were not fire worshippers, and therefore their actions could have no reference to the sun, or his motions, or ingresses : it is evidently the commemoration of a catastrophe. Al Kaswine, an Arabian author, relates, that when Mohammed came to Medina, and asked the Jews why they fasted on the day of Ashura, the tenth of Moharram, or seventh month, they told him it was because on that day Pharaoh and his people were drowned, Moses and those that were with him escaping ? : yet, Al Barezi says, it was observed by the Arabs before. Thus it is that ancient customs are sometimes preserved, but misunderstood. The Jews of Medina had adopted the Arabian usage, because it had some agreement with their own, although quite at variance with it on the most important points. The day of the

a little

corn.

1 The common people of Boutan make themselves domestic altar near the house, consisting of a pile of stones, about three feet high, before which they lay leaves, fruits, or blades of

- Trans. As. Soc. ii. 495. It is a mistake to call these piles altars ; for, if that was the intention, the offerings would have been laid, not before them, but upon

them. ? Sale's Preliminary Discourse, p. 151. The tenth day of Moharram (the first of the year), called Yom Ashoora, is held sacred, because it is believed to be the day on which Adam and Eve first met, after they were cast out of Paradise, and that on which Noah went out from the Ark, and because the ancient Arabs before the time of the prophet observed it by fasting, Lane's Modern Egyptians, ii. 166.

اور

Exodus was not the tenth, but the fourteenth of the month, and it was not a fast but a feast. “This day shall be unto you for a memorial, and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generation, ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.”! The truth is, the providence of God had so ordered the course of events, that the drowning of the Egyptian army exactly coincided in point of season with the drowning of the world; and the Jews of Arabia erroneously referred to the former event, and therefore adopted a pagan rite, which, in truth, belonged to the latter. A festival, called Beltane, or Beltein, is annually held in Scotland on the 1st of May, O. S. It is chiefly celebrated by the cowherds, who assemble to dine on boiled milk and eggs, and cakes, having small lumps in the form of nipples raised all over the surface.? These conical hills, though of such pigmy stature, are characteristic of diluvian customs. Another writer adds some further information on this subject. Be-il tin, says he, i.e. the tein or fire of Beil, was held on the beginning of May, and is still the Gaelic name for Whitsunday. It was at this time that the Celts began their year, as appears from the Gaelic name still used for the month of May, being Ceituin, or Ceud-uin, the first month, or time.

The Samh’in, or fire of peace, was kindled on Hallow Eve, which still retains the

This gives us a clue to the original 1 Exod. xii. 14. 2 Jamieson's Dictionary of the Scottish Language. 3 Smith's Gaelic Antiquities.

" 3 name.

meaning of these fires : they were fires of peace, imitations of the sacrificial fires that blazed on Noah's altar, when he stepped out of the Ark, and offered burnt offerings, and the Lord smelled a sweet savour, and said, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake. Upon the same principle the tumuli, or conical mounds on which these fires were made, were called Si'uns, or Mounts of Peace, and are still supposed by the vulgar to be inhabited by fairies, who derive their name from thence, Si-ichean or Daoine Si; the men who dwell in the Mount of Reconciliation. In Ireland the festival of Saman 3 was kept on the eve of Allsouls, November 1st, called Oidhche Shamhna. The peasantry went about collecting eggs and money for it. All fires were extinguished on that day, but the sacred fire, from which all others were kindled. That this was a memorial of the fire on the first postdiluvian altar, is strongly confirmed by a custom recently, if not still maintained by the people of the Western Isles. On this festival, says Martin“, “

Martin“, “ They wade into the sea to search of Shony, a sea god." The ale which Gen. viii. 21.

2 Smith's Gael. Antiq. 3 The month of November is called Mi Saman, or Mi Du, which is equivalent to Duw, or Dewa, and Deus, and Dieu ; or Naoi Mi, i. e. Noah's month. Vallancey interprets Saman, Affliction ; and affliction was certainly indirectly associated with the festival ; but it is also the same as Sommono in the East, a Saint : Samhain is Allsaintstide.—O'Brien, Shaw, Lhwyd. Bochart derives it from Sem, or Sam, the son of Noah, cum Semi nomen idolatris invisum esset, Deum quidem fecerunt, sed Inferorum Deum: hence the Chaldæan Samael. See Collect. de Reb. Hyb. vol. iii. The Afghans call him Sam.

4 Martin's Western Islands, p. 28.

1

they offered to him, and the speech which they made to him, are, of course, improvements of modern manufacture. The ancient Celts would as soon have thought of asking a steam-boat for their conveyance, and sea-weed to manure their land. On the 1st of May, two fires were lighted in every district in honour of Beal, and it was usual to drive the cattle between them, as a preservative against all distempers !' But it seems this Bealtinne, or Beal's fire, was lighted not only on the 1st of May, but at the vernal equinox, the summer solstice, the 1st of August, and the eve of the 1st of November. The observation of the 1st of August came from Persia; for Gjimshid is said to have instituted the Nauruz', or solemn observation of the new year, during six days, on the last of which a youth went about, crying,

« I am Al Mansur," i. e. August. It is said to be still customary in the neighbourhood of Giggleswick, in Craven, to make huge bonfires on the eve of St. Lawrence (10th of August). Kennel night, as it was called, was consecrated formerly to every species of rustic revelry round the Bale fires. There is an idle story of a defeat of the Danes, which is

| Vallancey's Vindication of the Ancient History of Ireland, p.345.

2 Beauford on the Ancient Topography of Ireland, p. 286.

3 Sir J. Malcolm states, that the first day of the solar year, as it was determined by Gemshid, the fourth king of Persia, when the festival called Nauroze was kept, coincided with the vernal equinox. - Hist. of Persia, p. 17. 4 Vallancey, iii. 184.

A writer in No. cxlviii. of Blackwood's Magazine.

5

thus commemorated: the origin of the Bale fire evidently belongs to a much more remote period.

That these Celtic festivals had a diluvian origin is confirmed by the etymology of the two principal places in Ireland, where they were celebrated. Tlachgo is the name of a place in the county of Eastmeath, supposed to be the tumulus of New Grange near Drogheda, where the Druids used to sacrifice on the eve of the first of November. Now Go, in Irish, means the Sea, and Tlach has two senses attributed to it, the Globe', or Fire.? The compound word, therefore, signifies either the inundated globe, or the diluvian fire, or altar on which the fire was placed. The first is the most probable; for all sacred tumuli were types of the Diluvian Mount. Uisneach, or Nuisneach, was the name of a mountain in Westmeath, where fires were kindled by the Druids on the first of May: here the states assembled ; criminals were burned; and cattle, as well as children, were purified by passing them between the two fires of Beal. : Now the meaning of the word is, obviously, Navis Noachi.“ It is worthy of remark, that the great banks of sand at the mouths of rivers are called

| By Mr. Beauford. - Ancient Topog. of Ireland, p. 420.
2 By Colonel Vallancey, from the Chaldee p57, Ardere.
3 Beauford, p. 426.

4 So also we discover the name of Noah in another Celtic appel. lation, Teach Naoi droma raithe, the house of the elder (i.e. Noah), at the rath of the cave or hollow mount. Upon this hollow mount was built the royal palace of Taragh, thence called Bruighen da darg, the habitation of the cave, p. 296. The hill of Taragh, or Taurus, was also called Laberus, from Labar, 735, Liburnica navis. Cedrenus says, that Noah died at Leabar. — Compend. Hist.

« 上一頁繼續 »