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wind it on the reel within, convinced that if they repeat the Paternoster backwards, and look at the ball of yarn without, they shall then also see his apparition. Those who celebrate this feast have numerous other rites derived from the Pagans. They dip for apples in a tub of water, and endeavour to bring up one with their mouths ; they catch at an apple when stuck on at one of the end of a kind of hanging beam, at the other extremity of which is fixed a lighted candle, and that with their mouths only, whilst it is in a circular motion, having their hands tied behind their backs. *
* There is no sort of doubt that Baul and Fire were principal objects of the ceremonies and adoration of the Druids. The principal season of these, and of their feasts in honour of Baal, was new year's day, when the sun began visibly to return towards us ; the custom is not yet at an end, the country people still burning out the old year and welcoming in the new by fires lighted on the top of hills, and other high places. The next season was the month of May, when the fruits of the earth began, in the Eastern countries, to be gathered, and the first fruits of them consecrated to Baal, or to the Sun, whose benign influence had ripened them; and one is almost persuaded that the dance round the May pole, in that month, is a faint image of the rites observed on such occasions. The next great festival was on the 21st of June, when the sun, being in Cancer, first appears to go backwards and
On this occasion the Baalim used to call the people together, and to light fires on high places, and to cause their sons, and their daughters, and their cattle to pass through the fire, calling upon Baal to bless them, and not forsake them.
THE BRITISH MAGI.
The Druids, who were the magi of the Britons, had an infinite number of rites in common with the Persians. One of the chief functions of the Eastern magi, was divination ; and Pomponius Mela tells us, that our Druids possessed the same art. There was a solemn rite of divination among the Druids from the fall of the victim and convulsions of his limbs, or the nature and position of his entrails. But the British priests had various kinds of divination. By the number of criminal causes, and by the increase or diminution of their own order, they predicted fertility or scarcity. From the neighing or prancing of white horses, harnessed to a consecrated chariotfrom the turnings and windings of a hare let loose from the bosom of the diviner (with a variety of other ominous appearances or exhibitions) they pretended to determine the events of futurity.*
Of all creatures the serpent exercised, in the most curious manner, the invention of the Druids. To the famous anguinum they attributed high virtues. The anguinum or serpent's egg, was a congeries of small snakes rolled together, and incrusted with a shell, formed by the saliva or viscous gum, or froth of the mother serpent. This egg, it seems was tossed into the air, by the hissings of its dam, and before it fell again to the earth (where it would be defiled) it was to be received in the sagus or sacred vestment. The person who caught the egg was to make his escape on horseback, since the serpent pursues the ravisher of its young, even to the brink of the next river. Pliny, from whom this account is taken (lib. 29. C. 3.) proceeds with an enumeration of other absurdities relating to the anguinum. This anguinum is in British called Glain-neider, or the serpent of glass ; and the same superstitious reverence which the Danmonii universally paid to the anguinum, is still discoverable in some parts of Cornwall. Mr. Llhuyd informs us that “ the Cornish retain a variety of charms, and have still towards the Land's-End, the amulets of Maen-Magal and Glain-neider, which latter they call Melprer, and have a charm for the snake to make it, when they find one asleep, and stick a hazel wand in the centre of her spiræ,” or coils. We are informed by Cambden that,
* In Devonshire and Cornwall it is still considered ominous if a hare crosses a person on the road.
" in most parts of Wales, and throughout all Scotland and Cornwall, it is an opinion of the vulgar, that about midsummer-eve (though in the time they do not all agree) the snakes meet in companies, and that by joining heads together and hissing, a kind of bubble is formed, which the rest, by continual hissing, blow on till it passes quite through the body, when it immediately hardens, and resembles a glass-ring, which whoever finds shall prosper in all his undertakings. The rings thus generated are called Gleiner-nadroeth, or snakestones. They are small glass amulets, commonly about half as wide as our finger rings, but much
thicker, of a green colour usually, though sometimes blue, and waved with red and white."
Carew says, that “ the country piople, in Cornwall, have a persuasion that the snake's breathing upon a hazel wand produces a stone ring of blue colour, in which there appears the yellow figure of a snake, and that beasts bit and envenomed, being given some water to drink wherein this stone has been infused, will perfectly recover the poison.*
From the animal, the Druids passed to the vegem table world ; and these also displayed their powers, whilst by the charms of the misletoe, the selago, and the samopis, they prevented or repelled diseases. From the undulation or bubbling of water stirred by an oak branch, or magic wand, they foretold events that were to come. The superstition of the Druids is even now retained in the western counties. To this day, the Cornish have been accustomed to consult their famous well at Madem, or rather the spirit of the well, respecting their future destiny. Hither,” says Borlase,
impatient, and superstitious, and by dropping pinst or pebbles into the water, and by shaking the ground round the spring, so as to raise bubbles from the bottom, at a certain time of the year, moon and day, endeavour to remove their uneasiness : yet the supposed responses serve equally to encrease the gloom of the melancholy, the suspicions of the jealous, and the passion of the enamoured. The Castalian fountain, and many others among the Grecians were supposed to be of a prophetic nature. By dipping a fair mirror into a well, the Patræans of Greece received, as they supposed, some notice of ensuing sickness or health from the various figures pourtrayed upon the surface. The people of Laconia cast into a pool, sacred to Juno, cakes of bread corn : if the cakes sunk, good was portended ; if they swam, something dreadful was to ensue. Sometimes the superstitious threw three stones into the water, and formed their conclusions from the several turns they made in sinking.” The Druids were likewise able to communicate, by consecration, the most portentous virtues to rocks and stones, which could determine the succession of princes or the fate of empires. To the Rocking or Logan stone, several of which remain still in Devonshire and Cornwall, in particular, they had recourse to confirm their authority, either as prophets or judges, pretending that its motion was miraculous. These religious rites were celebrated in consecrated places and temples, in the midst of groves. The mysterious silence of an ancient wood diffuses even a shade of horror, over minds that are yet superior to superstitious credulity. Their temple was seldom any other than a wide circle of rocks perpendicularly raised. An artificial pile of large flat stone usually composed the altar ; and the whole religious mountain was usually enclosed by a low mound, to prevent the in
* See Carew's Survey of Cornwall. p. 22. Mr. Carew had a stone-ring of this kind in his possession, and the person who gave it to him avowed, that “ he himself saw a part of the stick sticking in it,”—but “ Penes authorem sit fides," says Mr. Carew.
+ The same superstition still exists in Devonshire.