Druids' Dress

From Irish Druids and Old Irish Religions, 1894

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Much has been written about Druids' dress, their ornaments, and the mysteries of their craft,—as the glass boat, the cup, the cross, &c. Archdruid Myfyr, at Pontypridd (not Dr. Price), explained to the present writer, his processional cross, with movable arms; his wonderful egg, bequeathed from past ages; his Penthynen , writing rods, or staff book; his rosary,—used by ancient priests, not less than by modern Mahometans and Christians; his glass beads; his torque for the neck; his breastplate of judgment; his crescent adornments; his staff of office, &c.

The staff or Lituus was of magical import. Wands of tamarisk were in the hands of Magian priests. The top of such augur rods were slightly hooked. One, found in Etruria, had budded in the hand. The barsom, or bundle of twigs, is held by Parsee priests. Strabo noted twigs in hand at prayer. The Thyrsus had several knots. Prometheus hid the fire from heaven in his rod.

Glass was known in Egypt some three or four thousand years before Christ. Amber beads—Hesiod's tears of the sisters of Phoebus—were in use by Phoenicians, brought probably from the Baltic. Torques have been found in many lands. As Bacon remarked, "Religion delights in such shadows and disguises."

Nash, in his remarks upon the writings of Taliesin, writes:—"The only place in Britain in which there is any distinct evidence, from the Roman authorities, of the existence of Druids, should be the Isle of Anglesey, the seat of the Irish population before the migration (from Scotland) of the Cambrian tribes, the ancestors of the modern Welsh." He thus fixes the Irish Druids in Wales.

While history and philology are tracing the great migration of Cambrians into North Wales from Scotland , where their language prevailed before the Gaelic, why is North Britain so little affected with the mysticism associated with Welsh Druidism? A natural reply would be, that this peculiar manifestation came into Wales subsequent to the Cambrian migration from the Western Highlands through Cumberland to the southern side of the Mersey, and did not originate with the Cambrian Druids. It must not be forgotten that two distinct races inhabit Wales; the one, Celtic, of the north; the other, Iberian, dark and broad-shouldered, of the south. Some Iberians, as of Spain and North Africa, retain the more ancient language; others adopted another tongue. Many of the so-called Arabs, in the Soudan, are of Iberian parentage.

No one can read Morien's most interesting and suggestive Light of Britannia , without being struck with the remarkable parallel drawn between the most ancient creeds of Asia and the assumed Druidism of Wales. The supposition of that industrious author is, that the British Druids were the originators of the theologies or mythologies of the Old World.

Ireland, in his calculation, is quite left out in the cold. Yet it is in Ireland, not in Wales , that Oriental religions had their strongest influence. That country, and not Wales, would appear to have been visited by Mediterranean traders, though tradition, not well substantiated, makes Cornwall one of their calling-places.

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