>From: dooley6x <[log in to unmask]>
>To a Christian cleric pagan cult objects like the Crom Cruach stone
>would have been nothing more than na bréig-dhealbha "false images".
>I think that stories featuring the old deities would only have been
>by the monks after worship of those deities had died out. Pagan gods
>with active followers either would not be mentioned at all, or would be
>mentioned only in condemnation.
Nice in theory and if we use modern black-and-white standards as to what is
"pagan" vs. what is "Christian." The fact is, as I've noted in earlier
posts, that there are charms invoking both the Trinity and the "idol gods"
in virtually the same breath. Karen Louise Jolly, working primarily with
Anglo-Saxon materials, found similar charms in monastic stuff. Medieval
European religion was complicated, full of blending and greys, and so
was--is--"vernacular" practice of religion in Celtic-speaking countries.
So, I think you may be right that any stone cult object would have been
regarded with hostility and/or derision *if* it was regarded as a pagan cult
figure. But if the monastic scribes had waited for "worship" of the "pagan
gods" to "die out," the stories would never have been recorded. Christianity
became officially dominant, but it had to do a lot of adapting and
accommodating in the process. A lot of "pagan" objects were "converted" and
thus made acceptable for use. Stones placed in holy wells to activate them
were OK if they were "baptized" by being associated with a saint--a saint
who may be closely linked to an earlier deity figure. However, not all
objects were so clearly converted, yet they were not completely abandoned
either. Two centuries ago--maybe more recently--women were still lying on
"bed stones" to help them get pregnant. Priests didn't like it, so they
added stations of the cross to the well rituals.
In sum, I think the word "worship" should be used only with qualification in
discussions about the extent, duration, focus, and nature of the objects and
practices used in veneration and invocation. If invoking the name of a
figure and seeking their aid should be considered "worship," then that
"worship" was still taking place in the last two centuries when "Shoney" was
invoked for protection in Scotland and Manann/an in the Isle of Man. If
"worship" is wringing the neck of a bird and letting the blood drip into a
cup on certain days, then as recently as two generations ago saints like
Martin (the saint whose day coincides with "old Samhain") were being
"worshipped" in Ireland on the same days that the "idol gods" once were,
despite all the "official" distinctions between veneration and adoration and
the "official" definition of "worship" as something offered only to the
Trinity and the "official" teachings that the need to offer blood sacrifice
ended with the sacrificial death of Jesus.
Moreover, I think there needs to be an allowance for the fact that medieval
standards as to what was acceptable were not the same as modern ones, and
that there was some cultural variation as well. The hagiography doesn't have
any problem with saints' using curses and liturgical cursing--what might be
called magical practice today--was widely used by clerics in medieval times
(see Lester Little's _Benedictine Maledictions_). For example, the annalists
of Connacht clearly don't have any problem with poets using
lampooning--aerad to kill Lord John Stanley in 1414, though a hundred years'
earlier the English in Kilkenny were trying people and (burnt a woman)for
"heresy" because they allegedly used what was, by English clerical
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