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Unlocks th' embosomed odours, walk among
Abounds with mellow liquor. Hecate.-Of Fairies and Witches. In many parts of this Calendar we have recorded observations on the superstitions of the common people; and it may be amusing to some of our readers to have some account of Fairies, as these imaginary creatures still fill infantine publications, and become the subject of the nursery rhymes which assist us in the early practice of learning to read. With what propriety fables of this sort are introduced to the notice of children, we will not here pretend to decide; but we shall now relate some mythological particulars
Of airy Elves by moonlight shadows seen,
The silver Token and the circled Green. Bourne supposes this superstition of the existence of Fairies to have been conveyed down to us by tradition from the Lamiae, who were esteemed so mischievous as to take away young children and slay them; these, says he, together with the Fauns, seem to have formed the notion of Fairies.
Others deduce them from the Lares and Larvae of the Romans.
Dr. Percy tells us, that in Wales the existence of Fairies is alluded to by the most ancient British Bards, among whom their commonest name was that of the Spirits of the Mountains.
It is conjectured by some, that these little aerial people have been imported into Europe by the Crusaders from the East, as in some respects they resemble the oriental Genii. Indeed the Arabs and Persians, whose religion and history abound with relations concerning them, have assigned them a peculiar country to inhabit, and called it Fairy Land.
Milton's Description of Browny in his L'Allegro is fine:
Tells how the drudging Goblin swet,
We finish our account with Shakespeare's inimitable description of Queen Mab the Queen of Fairies :-
She is the Fairies' midwife; and she comes
September 25. St. Ceolfrid Abbot. St. Finbar,
called Bar, Bishop and Confessor. St. Firmin Bp. St. Aunaire Bp. St. Cleopas ?
o rises vi. 1'. and sets at v. 59. .
Veneri, Saturno, Maniae.—Rom. Cal. It seems, by the Julian Calendar, that this was one of the minor holidays, being a festival to Venus, to Saturn, and to the Manes. The grand festivals of the Saturnalia were celebrated on the 17th of December, continuing for seven days, during which time a feast to Ops, called Opalia, used to take place.
According to the mythology of ancient Rome, Saturn was the son of Coelus, called by the Greeks Uranus, and his wife Terra, otherwise called Thea. It seems that the said Coelus quarrelled with and confined all his children in Hell; but they were liberated by Saturn, at his mother's instigation, who made him a scythe out of the metal drawn from her own entrails, wherewith he took revenge of his father. After this, the sons of Coelus were restored to liberty, and Saturn obtained his father's kingdom by the consent of his brother, provided he did not bring up any male children. Pursuant to this agreement, Saturn always devoured his sons as soon as born, because, as some observe, he dreaded from them a retaliation of his unkindness to his father; till his wife Rhea, unwilling to see her children perish, concealed from her husband the birth of Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto, and, instead of the children, she gave him large stones, which he inmediately swallowed, without perceiving the deceit. Titan was some time after informed that Saturn had concealed his male children, therefore he made war against him, dethroned and imprisoned him with Rhea; and Jupiter, who was secretly educated in Crete, was no sooner grown up, than he flew to deliver his father, and, to replace him on his throne. Saturn, unmindful of his son's kindness, conspired against him, when he heard that he raised cabals against him; but Jupiter banished him from his throne, and the father fled for safety into Italy, where the country retained the name of Latium, as being the place of his concealment. Janus, who was then king of Italy, received Saturn with marks of attention, he made him his partner on the throne; and the king of heaven employed himself in civilizing the barbarous manners of the people of Italy, and in teaching them agriculture, and the useful and liberal arts. His reign there was so mild and popular, so beneficent and virtuous, that mankind have called it the Golden Age, to intimate the happiness and tranquillity which the earth then enjoyed. Saturn was father of Chiron, the centaur, by Philyra, whom he had changed into a mare, to avoid the importunities of Rhea. The worship of Saturn was not so solemn or so universal as that of Jupiter. It was usual to offer human victims on his altars ; but this barbarous custom was abolished by Hercules, who substituted small images of clay. In the sacrifices of Saturn, the priest always performed the ceremony with his head uncovered, which was unusual at other solemnities. The god is generally represented as an old man, bent through age and infirmity. He holds a scythe in his right hand, with a serpent which bites its own tail, which is an emblem of time, and of the revolution of the year. In his left hand he holds a child, which he raises up as if instantly
to devour it. Tatius, king of the Sabines, first built a temple to Saturn on the Capitoline Hill, a second was afterwards added by Tullus Hostilius, and a third by the first consuls. On his statues were generally hung fetters, in commemoration of the chains he had worn when imprisoned by Jupiter. From this circumstance all slaves that obtained their liberty, generally dedicated their fetters to him. During the celebration of the Saturnalia, the chains were taken from the statues, to intimate the freedom and the independence which mankind enjoyed during the golden age. One of his temples at Rome was appropriated for the public treasury, and it was there also that the names of foreign ambassadors were enrolled. Hesiod. Theog. Apollod. i. c. 1. Virg. Aen. viii. v. 319. Paus. viii. c. 8. Tibull. El. iii. v. 35. Hom. Iliad. Ovid. Fast. iv, v. 197. Met. i. v. 123. See December 17.
It is almost superfluous to add that the planet h takes his name from Saturn. The reader will find an account of Venus, also celebrated today, in our account of April 1,
Mania, likewise noticed this day, was the mother of the Manes and the Lares, and was considered by the ancients as a goddess. See February 18, p. 65. It may be observed here, for the use of the general reader, that the goddess Mania has no connexion with mania, a word betokening madness, which is more properly menia, as it comes from Mon the Moon, and signifies a disorder otherwise called Lunacy, because its periodical paroxysms are under the influence of the periods of full and new Moon.
September 26. SS. Cyprian and Justina Martyrs.
St. Eusebius Pope and Confessor. St. Colman Elo Abbot and Confessor in Ireland. St. Nilas the younger Abbot.
O rises at vi. 1'. and sets at v. 59'. Many of the published explanations of the Almanack and Calendar represent the festival of St. Cyprian of Carthage as being celebrated today; but the early Calendars, in fact, record today the martyrdom of St. Cyprian the magician, and St. Justina the beautiful martyr, a native of a small town called Antioch in Asia in the year 304. See Butler's Lives, September 16 and 26.
This is old Holy Rood Day, the ancient reckoning having got twelve days wrong at the change of style.
Hecate. - On Omens, Ghosts, Spectres, Forebodings of Good and Evil, and other Superstitions, particularly Witchcraft. - The popular opinion that various spiritual beings of multifarious natures are continually, by innumerable means, working good or evil to the human race, seems closely connected with the doctrine of guardian angels and the tutelary genii of antiquity, which we shall discuss on September 29 and October 2. That in human nature is to be found, almost universally, the germ of this natural credulity, is a matter of common observation; and though the causes of this or that superstition, prevailing in this or that particular country, are often of a local and accidental nature, yet the disposition in the mind to mystify and to abuse the perception of cause and effect, by imagining spurious causes for certain phenomena, has its deeprooted origin in a particular faculty common to most men in a greater or less degree, and which no education can so thoroughly counteract as to render folks devoid of superstition on all subjects. When Dr. Spurzheim first broached his phrenological opinions in this country, he enumerated only 32 faculties of the human mind - see Phrenology in our Index—and he would not allow the mystifying character of some people to emanate from a distinct organ. Dr. Forster contended that it did, and refused to accept Dr. Spurzheim's explanation of it as being an abuse of the organs of Hope and of Ideality. At last, however, the distinctness of the organ was admitted, and is now called by all Phrenologists the Organ of Supernaturality. From this faculty, variously influenced by external impressions and all the accidents and varieties of education, springs the belief in Witches, Ghosts, Evil Spirits, Necromancy, Astrology, and the whole host of Omens and Presages which make up the mythology of the superstitious, and fill the moody minds of the credulous with ten thousand imaginary terrors. Some Phrenologists have thought that the organ of the brain alluded to, like some other organs, had periodical returns of activity, and that these bappened at midnight, whence people oftener fancied they saw ghosts at that hour than at any other time. Of this, however, in the present state of our knowledge, nothing can be said. But be this as it may, there are three natural phenomena which have fostered the natural disposition to supernatural belief, namely :
1. The actual appearance of spectral Visions to certain individuals, in consequence of the imaginations of the mind assuming the force and distinctness of real impressions from without, which happens in consequence of a particular state of disorder in the cerebral parts, and of which we have said something in February 17, under our account of the Manes