Spirits

From Irish Druids and Old Irish Religions, 1894

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With so imaginative and ignorant a people, a supposed spiritual set of creatures played a great part in daily life, and those ancient ideas are not entirely driven off by the march of the school-master. Scotland, with its centuries of parish schools, retained many superstitions to a very late date, as the clergyman of Kirkmichael, Perthshire, declared he found there in 1795.

Some spirits answered to those described by Plato, as—"Between God and man are the daimones, or spirits, who are always near us, though commonly invisible to us, and know our thoughts." The Rev. R. Kirk left on record, in 1691, that "the very devils, conjured in any country, do answer to the language of the place;" and yet he ascertained that when the Celt left his northern home, they lost power over him, as they were Demones Loci. In some cases they were ghouls, feeding oh human flesh, causing the man or woman gradually to waste away, unless exorcism were practised in time.

Would that men had found as much comfort in the belief of good spirits, as they have suffered fears from the belief in evil ones! There is still, alas! in this world, more thought of a jealous and an avenging Deity than of one benevolent and paternal.

Subterranean spirits might dwell in burning mountains, or occupy themselves in mining, and the storing of treasure. Many Irish legends relate to such. They may appear as Daome-Shi, dressed in green, with mischievous intent. Others presented themselves restlessly moving over water. Not a few sought amusement by destroying at night what parts of a church had been constructed in the day. Hence the need, in certain cases, to bury alive a man, woman, or child under the foundations. Tradition says that St. Columba, thus tormented, buried St. Oran, at his own request, under the monastery of Iona.

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