Druidesses

From Irish Druids and Old Irish Religions, 1894

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Druidesses were not necessarily wives of Druids, but females possessed of Druidical powers, being often young and fair.

Some names of Druidesses have been preserved; as Geal Chossach, or Cossa, white-legged, of Inisoven, Donegal, where her grave is still pointed out to visitors. There was Milucradh, Hag of the Waters, reported to be still living, who turned King Fionn into an old man by water from Lake Sliabh Gullin. Eithne and Ban Draoi were famous sorcerers. Tradition talks of Women's Isles of Ireland, as of Scotland, where Druidesses, at certain festivals, lived apart from their husbands, as did afterwards Culdee wives at church orders. On St. Michael, on Sena Isle of Brittany, and elsewhere, such religious ladies were known. Scotch witches in their reputed powers of transformation were successors of Druidesses.

Several ancient nunneries are conjectured to have been Druidesses' retreats, or as being established at such hallowed sites. At Kildare, the retreat of St. Brigid and her nuns, having charge of the sacred fire, there used to be before her time a community of Irish Druidesses, virgins, who were called, from their office, Ingheaw Andagha, Daughters of Fire. The well-known Tuam, with its nine score nuns, may be an instance, since the word Cailtach means either nun or Druidess. On this, Hackett remarks, "The probability is that they were pagan Druidesses." Dr. O'Connor notes the Cluan-Feart, or sacred Retreat for Druidical nuns. It was decidedly dangerous for any one to meddle with those ladies, since they could raise storms, cause diseases, or strike with death. But how came Pliny to say that wives of Druids attended certain religious rites naked, but with blackened bodies? Enchantresses, possessed of evil spirits, like as in ancient Babylon, or as in China now, were very unpleasant company, and a source of unhappiness in a family.

The Rev. J. F. Shearman declared that Lochra and Luchadmoel were the heads of the Druids' College, prophesying the coming of the Talcend (St. Patrick), that the first was lifted up and dashed against a stone by the Saint, the other was burnt in the ordeal of fire at Tara, that the Druid Mautes was he who upset the Saint's chalice, and that Ida and Ona were two converted Druids.

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