« PreviousContinue »
navians, as well as the Gauls and tom, which is practised in many Britons, attributed to the M1s. provinces of France. Young perSELTOE a certain divine power. sons go, at the beginning of the This plant, particularly such of it year, and strike the doors and as grew upon the oak, hath been windows of houses, crying Gutby!, the object of veneration, not a- which signifies Misseltoe. (See mong
the Gauls only, (as hath Keysler. Antiq. Sept. and Celt. p. been often advanced without just 304, et seq.) Ideas of the same grounds), but also among all the kind prevailed among the ancient, Celtic nations of Europe. The inhabitants of Italy. Apuleius people of Holstein, and the neigh- hath preserved some verses of the bouring countries, call it at this ancient poet Lælius, in which Mis, day Marentaken, or the “ Branch seltoe is mentioned as one of the “ of Spectres;” doubtless, on ac. ingredients which will convert a count of its magical virtues. In man into a magician. (Apul. A. some places of Upper Germany, polog. Prior.) the people observe the same cus
Pliny is the writer of antiquity, from whom we learn the particular account of the veneration paid to this plant by the Druids of Gaut. Nat. Hist. lib. 1.6. c. 44. Non est omittende in ea re et GALLIARUM admiratio, Nibil babent DRUIDE (ita suos appellant Magos) Visco et arbore in qua gignatur (si modo sit RoBUR) sacratius. Fam per se Roborum eligunt Lucos, nec ulla sacra sine ea fronde conficiunt, et inde appellati quoque interpretatione Greca possint DRUIDE videri. Enimvero quidquid adnascatur illis, e cælo missum putant, signumque esse electee ab ipso Deo Arboris. Est autem id rarum admodun inventu, et repertum magna religione petitur: et ante omnia sexta Lunâ, quæ principia mensium annorumque bis facit, et seculi post trisesimum annum, quia jam virium abunde babeat, nec sit sui dimidia. OMNIA-SANANTEM appellantes suo vocabulo, sacrificiis epulisque rite sub arbore præparatis duos admovent candidi coloris tauros, quorum cornuç tunc primum vinciantur. Sacerdos candida veste cultus arborem scandit. Falce aurea demittit. Candido id excipitur sago. Tum deinde victimas immolant, precantes, ut suum donum Deus prosperum faciat bis quibus dederit. FÆCUNDITATEM eo poto dari cuicunque animali sterili arbi
trantur, controque venena omnia esse REMEDIO.' Tanta gentium in rebus frivolis plerânque religio est.”. So again in lib. 24. C. 4.
« Viscum e robore præcipuum diximus baberi, et quo conficeretur modo, &c. Quidam id religione efficacius fieri putant, prima luna collectum e Robòre sine ferro. Si terram non attigit, comitialibus MEDERI. Conceptum fæmi. narum ADJUVARE, si omnino secum babeant. Ulcera commanducato impositoque efficacissimè' SANART.”
To return, KEPSLER says, (p. 305.), that there are “ plain ves“ tiges of this ancient Druidical reverence for the MissELTOE still “ remaining in some places in Germany'; but principally in Gaul and “ Aquitain: in which latter countries it is customary for the boys « and young men, on the last day of December, to go about through " the towns and villages, singing and begging money, as a kind of
New-year's gift, and crying out, Au Gur! 1' AN NEUP! To the 6. Misseltoe! The New Year is at hand!" This is a curious and striking instance; and to it may be added, that rural custom, still observed in many parts of England, of hanging up a Misseltoebush on Christmas Eve, and trying lors by the crackling of the leaves and berries in the fire' on Twelfth Night.-All these will easily be admitted to be reliques of Druidical superstition, because all practised in those very countries in which the Druids were formerly established. - KEYSLER then proceeds to attribute to the same Druidic origin, a custom practised in Upper Germany by the vulgar at Christmas, of running through the streets, &c. and striking the doors and windows (not with MISSELTOE, for that plant does not appear to be at all used or attended to upon casion, but) with Hammers, (Malleis, Lat.) crying, GUTHYL, GUthyl. —Now Gutbyl, or Gut Heyl *, he owns, is literally Bona Salus; and therefore might most naturally be applied to the birth of Christ, then celebrated : but, because the words have a distant resemblance in meaning to the Omnia-Sanans, by which the Gauls expressed the MiSSELTOE; according to Pliny, therefore he will have this German term Gutbyl, to be the very Gallic name meant that author: And his reasons are as good as his authority: viz..“ Be. cause, (1st) he says, The language of the Gauls, Germans, Britons, and northern nations, were only different dialects of ONE COMMON tongue; (2dly) Because the German name for this plant, Mistel, as well as our English Misseltoe, are foreign words, and BOTH DERIVED from che Latin Viscum.”That the ancient language of the Gauls, still preserved in the Welsh, Armoric, &c. is, or ever was, the same with those dialects of the Gothic, the Saxon, German and Danish, &c. believe who will. But that our English name Misseltoe, as well as the German Mistel, are words of genuine Gothic original, underived from any foreign language, is evident, from their being found in every the most ancient dialect of the Gothic tongue : viz. Ang-Sax. Mirtiltan. Island. [in LDDA) Mistilteinn. Dan. et Belg. Mistel, 66 66
Anglicè, Good Heal; or Good Health.
THE TWENTY-NINTH FABLE.
Hermode's Journey to Hell.
ALDER having thus perished, FRIGGA, his mo:
ther, caused it to be published everywhere, that whosoever of the Gods would go to Hell in search of Balder, and offer DEATH such a ransom as she would require for restoring him to life, would merit all her love. HERMODE, surnamed the Nimble, or Active, the son of Odin, offered to take this commission upon him. With this view, he took Odin's horse, and mounting him, departed. For the space of nine days, and as many nights, he travelled through deep vallies, so dark, that he did not begin to see whither he was going, till he arrived at the river of Giall; that he passed, over a bridge which was all covered with shining gold. The keeping of this bridge was committed to a damsel named Modguder, or Audacious War. When she saw Hermode, she demanded his name and family, telling him, that the preceding day she had seen pass over the bridge five squadrons of dead persons, who altogether did not make the bridge shake so much as he alone; and besides, added she, you have not the colour of a dead corpse : what brings you then to the infernal regions ? Hermode answered, I go to seek Balder: Have not you seen him pass this way? Balder, said she, hath passed over this bridge ; but the road of the dead is there below, towards the north. Hermode then pursued his journey, till he came near to the entrance of Hell, which was defended by a farge grate. Hermode now alighted, and girthed his saddle tighter; then' mounting again, clapped both spurs to his horse ; who immediately leaped over the grate, without touching it the least in the world with his feet. Entering in, he saw his brother Balder seated in the most distinguished place in the palace; and there he passed the night. The next morning he besought HELA (or DEATH) to suffer Balder to return back with him, assuring her that the Gods had been all most severely afflicted for his death. But Hela told him, she would know whether it was true that Balder was so much beloved by all things in the world, as he had represented : she required, therefore, that all beings, both animate and inanimate, should weep for his death; and in that case she would send him back to the Gods: but, on the other hand, she would keep him back, if one single thing should be found which refused to shed tears. Upon this Hermode got up, and BALDER re-conducting him out of the palace, took off his ring of gold, and gave it to convey to Odin as a token of remembrance. NANNA also sent FRIGGA a golden Die, and many other presents. Hermode then set out back again for Asgard ; and as soon as he got thither, faithfully reported to the Gods all he had seen and heard.
The Gods, upon this, dispatched messengers throughout the world, begging of every thing to weep, in order to deliver Balder from Hell. All things willingly complied with this request, both men, and beasts, and stones, and trees, and metals, and earth: and when all these wept together, the effect was like as when there is a universal thaw. Then the messengers returned, concluding they had effectually performed their commission : but as they were travelling along, they found, in a cavern, an old witch, who called herself Thok; the messengers having besought her that she would be so good as to shed tears for the deliverance