The God-Idea of the Ancients (or Sex in Religion)
By Eliza Burt Gamble
Public Domain Books
Chapter XV. Christianity in Ireland
According to the accounts in the New Testament, the wise men of the East, meaning Persia, had foretold the coming of Christ. The fulfilment of the ancient Persian prophecy as applied to Jesus, together with the reference to the “star” which the Maji saw, and which went before them till it came and stood over where the young child lay, furnishes a striking illustration of the manner in which Eastern legends and ancient sacred writings are interwoven with the doctrines relating to Christianity.
In the sacred books of the East it is prophesied that “after three thousand and one hundred years of the Caligula are elapsed, will appear King Saca to remove wretchedness from the world.” We have seen that at the birth of Christ the time had arrived for a new solar incarnation.
Regarding the introduction of Christianity into Ireland it is claimed by certain writers that the Irish did not receive the “new religion” from Greek missionaries; but when at the close of the cycle, a new solar deity, an avatar of Vishnu or Crishna was announced, and when missionaries from the East proclaimed the glad tidings of a risen Savior, the Irish people gladly accepted their teachings, not, however, as a new system, but as the fulfilment to them of the prophecy of the most ancient seers of the East, and as part and parcel of the religion of their forefathers. Therefore when the devotees of the Romish faith, probably about the close of the fifth century of the Christian era, attempted to “convert” Ireland, they found a religion differing from their own only in the fact that it was not subject to Rome, and was free from the many corruptions and superstitions which through the extreme ignorance and misapprehension of its Western adherents had been engrafted upon it.
Concerning the form of religious worship in Great Britain, and the fact that phallic worship prevailed there, Forlong writes: “The generality of our countrymen have no conception of the overruling prevalence of this faith, and the number of its lingham gods throughout our Islands.” These symbols were always in the form of an obelisk or tower, thereby indicating the worship of the male energy. Although emblems of the female element in the deity were present, they were less pronounced and of far less importance than those of the male.
These monuments were erected on knolls, at crossroads and centers of marts or villages, and were placed on platforms which were usually raised from five to seven steps. A few years ago the shires of Gloucester, Wilts, and Somerset still claimed over two hundred of these crosses, though all of them were not at that time in a perfect state of preservation.
It would seem that in Britain and Ireland the seed of the “new" doctrine, that which involved a recognition of the mother element in the god-idea, had fallen on more congenial soil, for within three centuries after the birth of Christ, the various original monuments typifying the male principle had all been ornamented with the symbols representing the female in the deity. The ancient religious structures of the Lingaites still continued as recognized faith shrines, changed only by the emblems of the new religion which had been engrafted upon them.
The earliest Greek and Roman missionaries knew full well the significance of these symbols, and we are given to understand that “a few of the more spiritual of the Christian sects made war upon them and all their ephemeral substitutes, such as Maypoles, holy-trees, real crosses, etc.” It is declared also that, as “later” Christians were unacquainted with the significance of these emblems, “they adopted them as their own, employing them as the mystic signs of their own faith.”
Although the earliest Greek and Roman missionaries understood the signification of these faith shrines, the complaints against them seem soon to have ceased, and the “fierce wars” waged over them appear to have left little trace of their ravages, except that the female emblems with which these monuments had been supplied by those who had received the new faith direct from the East, were all removed. As the male monuments and symbols were all permitted to remain undisturbed, this fact of itself would seem to indicate that the “pagan abominations” against which these pious devotees of a “spiritual religion” thundered their denunciations, included only the female emblems.
The fact must be borne in mind that the Western Church, which was rapidly usurping the ecclesiastical authority of Britain and Ireland, had not itself at this time adopted the worship of the Virgin Mary.
A set of iconoclastic monks whom the Christian world is pleased to designate as St. Patrick, and who probably early in the fifth century of our era amused themselves by chiseling from the Irish monuments many of the symbols of the female power, removed also the figures of serpents which had for ages appeared in connection with the emblems of woman, and by this act won the plaudits of an admiring Christian world; chiefly, however, for the skill manifested in “banishing snakes from Ireland.” In addition to this dignified amusement, we find that the same person or set of persons ordered to be burned hundreds of volumes of the choicest Irish literature, volumes which contained the annals of the ancient Irish nation, and in which, it is believed, was stored much actual information concerning the remote antiquity of the human race.
The extent to which the worship of the male emblems of generation prevailed in the Christian Church even as late as the 16th century, proves that it was not the particular symbols connected with the worship of fertility upon which the Western Christian missionaries made war, but, on the contrary, that it was the recognition by them of that detested female element against which, even before the erection of the Tower of Babel, there had been almost a constant warfare. The rites of Potin, or Photin, Bishop of Lyons, who was honored in Provence, Languedoc and the Lyonais as St. Fontin, also the rites performed in many of the Christian Churches as late as the 16th century, prove that the devotees of the Christian system were not at this time a whit behind their Pagan predecessors in their zeal for “heathen abominations.” The only difference being that the Druids, a people who still retained a faint conception of ancient Nature worship, had not become entirely divested of the purer ideas which in an earlier age of the race had constituted a creative force.
That the war of the sexes was revived, and that for many centuries much strife was engendered over the exact importance which should be ascribed to the female element in the Deity may not be doubted.
An ancient homily on Trinity Sunday has the following: “At the deth of a manne, three bells should be ronge as his kuyl in worship of the Trinitie, and for a woman, who was the Second Person of the Trinitie two bells should be ronge.” Upon this subject Hargrave Jennings remarks: “Here we have the source of the emblematic difficulty among the master masons who constructed the earlier cathedrals, as to the addition, and as to the precise value of the second (or feminine) tower of the Western end or Galilee of the Church."
 Rosicrucians, vol. i., p. 206.
The fact that the religion of the ancient Irish, who, were phallic worshippers, was modified but not radically changed by the introduction of Christianity, is believed by at least one of the Irish historians of that country. He says:
“The church festivals themselves, in our Christian calendar, are but the direct transfers from the Tuath-de-danaans’ ritual. Their very names in Irish are identically the same as those by which they were distinguished by that early race. If, therefore, surprise has heretofore been excited at the conformity observable between our church institutions and those of the East, let it in future subside at the explicit announcement that Christianity, with us, was the revival of a religion imported amongst us many ages before by the Tuath-de-danaans from the East, and not from any chimerical inundation of Greek missionaries–a revival upon which their hearts were lovingly riveted, and which Fiech, the Bishop of Sletty, unconsciously registers in the following couplet, viz.:
“The Buddhists of Irin prophesied That new times of peace would come."
 The Round Towers of Ireland, p. 493.
The conditions surrounding the ancient inhabitants of the “White Island,” or Ireland, a remnant of which people may be observed in the Highlanders of Scotland, furnish an example of the fact that a much higher standard of life had been preserved among them than is known to have prevailed either among the Jews or the Greeks. The comparatively advanced stage of progress which is now known to have existed in Ireland at the beginning of the present era, which even the bigotry and falsehood of Roman priestcraft have not been able wholly to conceal, is seen to have been a somewhat corrupted remnant of a civilization which followed closely on ancient Nature worship.
 It is thought by certain writers that when the Tuath-de- danaans emigrated from Persia to the “White Island” they found it inhabited by the Fir-Bolgs, a colony of Celts. After conquering the island they engrafted upon it the religion, laws, learning and culture of the mother country. In a later age the Scythians, whose religion was similar to that of the Fir-Bolgs, united with them and succeeded in making themselves masters of the situation.
Hence the intermingling of races and tongues among the ancient Irish. The Druids adopted, or appropriated, the religion and culture of the Tuath-de-danaans, who, it is claimed, were the real Hibernians. The Scythians changed the name of Irin to Scotia–the latter being retained until the 11th century. According to the annals of the ancient Irish, Scotland was formerly called Scotia Minor to distinguish it from Scotia Major, or Ireland.
Because of their isolated position, or for some cause at present unknown, these people do not seem to have degenerated into a nation of sensualists. It is true they had departed a long distance from the early conditions of mankind under which altruism and the abstract principle of Light or Wisdom were worshipped under the form of a Virgin Mother and her child, but they never wholly rejected the female element in their god-idea, nor never, so far as known, attempted to degrade womanhood. Women were numbered among their legislators, at the same time that they officiated as educators and priestesses. In fact wherever the Druidical order prevailed women exerted a powerful influence in all departments of human activity. Among the Germans, Valleda, a Druidess, was for ages worshipped as a deity.
It is recorded that St. Bridget planted a monastery for women at Kildare and entrusted to its inmates the keeping of the sacred fire, and that in later times the Asiatic missionaries founded there a female monkish order. After the establishment of Western Christianity, however, no woman was permitted to enter into the monasteries, and we are assured that this ridiculous affectation of purity was extended even to the grave. During the earlier ages of Christianity, in many portions of Ireland there were cemeteries for men and women distinct from each other. “It had been a breach of chastity for monks and nuns to be interred within the same enclosure. They should fly from temptations which they could not resist.”
Although volumes have been written to prove that Christianity was carried to Britain by Paul, and although the energies of scores of Romish writers have been employed in attempting to prove that Ireland was in heathen darkness prior to its conversion by the priests of the Romish Church, yet these efforts so vigorously put forward seem only to strengthen the evidence going to show that the Christianity of the British Isles antedates that of either Paul or Rome.
According to Scripture, Claudia, the wife of the Senator Pudens of Britain, was a Christian, as was also Graecina, the wife of Plautus, who was governor of Britain in the first century. The latter, it is related, was accused before the Roman senate of “practicing some foreign superstition.” Although Lingard, in his History and Antiquities of the Anglo-Saxon Church, has endeavored to annul the force of the evidence which places two Christian women from Britain in Rome during the first century of our era, he is nevertheless constrained to use the following language: “We are, indeed, told that history has preserved the names of two British females, Claudia and Pomponia Graecina, both of them Christians, and both living in the first century of our era."
 2 Timothy, iv., 21.
 Vol. i., p. 1.
According to the Romanists, between the years 177-181 of the Christian era, a British king named Lucius sent a messenger to the authorities at Rome, with a request that he with his people be admitted into the bosom of the “Holy Catholic Church.” By those not prejudiced in favor of the Romish hierarchy, this bit of amusing “evidence” shows the anxiety manifested lest the facts concerning the religious history of the British Isles become known. Regarding this embassy of King Lucius there is an extant version which is far more in accordance with reason and with the known facts concerning this people.
When we remember the advanced stage of civilization which existed in Ireland prior to the Christian era, and when we bear in mind the fact that, as in the case of Abarras mentioned by various Greek writers, the people of the British Isles were wont to send emissaries abroad for the sole purpose of gathering information relative to foreign laws, customs, usages, manners, and modes of instruction, we are not surprised to learn that the message to Rome sent by Lucius, instead of containing a request for admission to a foreign church, embodied an enquiry into the fundamental principles underlying Roman jurisprudence; and especially does this appear reasonable when we remember that the remodeling of the Roman code on principles of equity and justice had for several centuries employed the energies of the best minds in Rome.
Concerning the planting of Christianity in Ireland, we have the following from Ledwich:
“Thus Bishop Lawrence in Bede tells us Pope Gregory sent him and Austin to preach the Gospel in Britain, as if it never before had been heard, whereas the latter met seven British Bishops who nobly opposed him. In like manner Pope Adrian commissioned Henry II. to enlarge the bounds of the church, and plant the faith in Ireland, when it had already been evangelized for eight hundred years. The faith to be planted was blind submission to Rome and the annual payment of Peter’s pence."
 Antiquities of Ireland, p. 78.
Of the exact time at which Romish and Greek missionaries first went to Ireland we are not informed, but there is ample evidence going to prove that a regular hierarchy had been established in that island before the beginning of the fifth century, and that this religion which had been brought in through the efforts of missionaries from the East was, by the legendary writers of the later Christian Church, ascribed to Romish monks.
The Jealousy of the Romish priests, and the means employed by them to usurp the ecclesiastical authority of the Irish people, is shown in the history of their councils. The 5th canon of the Council of Ceale-hythe requires
“that none of Irish extraction be permitted to usurp to himself the sacred ministry in any one’s diocese, nor let it be allowed such an one to touch anything which belongs to those of the holy order. . . .; neither must he administer the eucharist to the people because we are not certain how or by whom he was ordained.”
After quoting the above Ledwich queries thus: If St. Patrick had been a missionary of the Romish Church, would the Anglo-Saxon clergy have abjured the spiritual children of that see? In the year 670 Theodoret, Archbishop of Canterbury, decreed that they who were consecrated by Irish or British Bishops should be confirmed anew by Catholic ones.
 Ledwich, Antiquities of Ireland, p. 81.
It is observed that as early as the fourth century A.D. there were three hundred bishops in Ireland, and to account for so large a number, it is declared that ignorant legendary writers had recourse to the fable of St. Patrick.
The remarkable “conversion” of the Irish to Romish Christianity, which it is said took place in the latter part of the fourth century or the beginning of the fifth, is to be explained by the fact that a number of Romish priests or monks which in later ages came to be designated as St. Patrick, claimed all the monasteries, bishops, and priests already there as a result of the remarkable power and pious zeal of this miracle-working saint. It is claimed that St. Patrick founded over three thousand monasteries, consecrated three hundred bishops, and ordained three thousand priests.
According to Ledwich and other writers, this St. Patrick was not heard of earlier than the ninth century A.D., and the legend concerning him “was not accepted until the twelfth century, at which time his miracles are set forth with great gusto.”
Nothing, perhaps, which is recorded of this monk will go farther toward proving him a myth than the miracles ascribed to his saintship.
While yet an infant he raised the dead, brought forth fire from ice, expelled a devil from a heifer, caused a new river to appear from the earth, and changed water into honey.
“These were but the infant sports of this wonder-working saint. The miracles recorded in holy writ, even that of creation itself, are paralleled, and, if possible, surpassed by those of our spiritual hero."
 Ledwich, Antiquities of Ireland.
Concerning St. Patrick, Forlong writes:
“Various Patricks followed from Britain and Armorika, but even the Catholic priest, J. F. Shearman, writes that he is forced to give up the idea that there ever was a real St. Patrick. Thus the name must be accepted only in its Fatherly sense, and with the fall of the man Patrick all the miraculous and sudden conversions of the kings, lords, and commons of Ireland must vanish."
 Rivers of Life, vol. ii., p. 417.
The Irish Church bishoprics differed from the Romish in that they were held by hereditary succession, after the custom of ancient nations. All bishops were married.
Prior to the introduction of the Christian system in Ireland the Sabian ceremonial had been succeeded by the Druidical, upon which had been engrafted that of the Culdees, and notwithstanding the fact that the Romish Church gradually usurped the ecclesiastical functions in Ireland, the last named people who for ages had been regarded as the depositaries of the ancient faith and the ancient system of laws, were highly respected by the people for their sanctity and learning. Many of the Greek and Roman writers who have dealt with this subject agree in ascribing to the Druids a high degree of scientific knowledge and mechanical skill. The principles of justice set forth in their judicial system, their love of learning, and the standard attained in the sciences and arts, prove the early people of Ireland to have been equal if not superior to any of the early historic nations.
In referring to the number and magnitude of the monumental remains in Ireland, and while commenting on the mechanical skill of the Druids, the Rev. Smedley says:
“I was present at the erection of the Luxor Obelisk in Paris, and yet I think that I would have felt greater emotion if I had witnessed the successful performance of the old Celtic engineer who placed on its three pedestals of stone the enormous rock which constitutes the Druidical altar here at Castle May.”
It is believed that this people understood the art of mining and that they were acquainted with the use of iron. The following is an extract from one of Hamilton’s letters on the Antrim coast:
“About the year 1770 the miners, in pushing forward an adit toward the bed of coal, at an unexplored part of the Ballycastle cliff, unexpectedly broke through the rock into a narrow passage, so much contracted and choked up with various drippings and deposits on its sides and bottom, as rendered it impossible for any of the workmen to force through, that they might examine it farther. Two lads were, therefore, made to creep in with candles, for the purpose of exploring this subterranean avenue. They accordingly pressed forward for a considerable time, with much labor and difficulty, and at length entered into an extensive labyrinth branching off into numerous apartments, in the mazes and windings of which they were completely bewildered and lost. After various vain attempts to return, their lights were extinguished, their voices became hoarse, and, becoming wearied and spiritless, they sat down together, in utter despair of an escape from this miserable dungeon. In the meanwhile, the workmen in the adit became alarmed for their safety, fresh hands were incessantly employed, and, in the course of twenty-four hours, the passage was so open as to admit the most active among the miners . . . On examining this subterranean wonder, it was found to be a complete gallery, which had been driven forward many hundred yards to the bed of coal: that it branched off into numerous chambers, where miners had carried on their different works: that these chambers were dressed in a workmanlike manner: that pillars were left at proper intervals to support the roof. In short it was found to be an extensive mine, wrought by people at least as expert in the business as the present generation. Some remains of the tools, and even of the baskets used in the works, were discovered, but in such a decayed state that, on being touched, they immediately crumbled to pieces. From the remains which were found, there is reason to believe that the people who wrought these collieries anciently, were acquainted with the use of iron, some small pieces of which were found; it appeared as if some of their instruments had been thinly shod with that metal.”
Through various means the fact has been ascertained that although in the sixth century the buildings in Ireland were mean and wholly without artistic merit or skilful design, in an earlier age they were magnificent. Of the causes which produced the decay of architecture, the extinction of the arts and sciences, and the general degradation of the people of this island the devotees of St. Paul and of the Romish Church are alike silent.
For ages after the subjection of Ireland, in open defiance of the English, the people continued to dispense justice, and to enforce the old Brehon laws of the country.
The lack of regard shown for English law in Ireland, even as late as the sixteenth century, is set forth by Baron Fingles, who wrote in the time of Henry VIII. He says:
“It is a great abuse and reproach that the laws and statutes made in this land are not observed nor kept after the making of them eight days, while diverse Irishmen cloth abuse and keep such laws and statutes which they make upon hills in this country, firm and stable, without breaking them for any favor or reward.”
By a statute of Parliament enacted at Kilkenny, it was made high treason to administer or observe these old Brehon laws. The two enactments especially obnoxious to the English were Gahail Cinne, and Eiric. The former of these enactments was that which in opposition to the English law of primogeniture declared that the estate of a parent should descend in equal proportion to all members of the family. There was another law, or custom, among this people, which provided that the chief of the tribe or people should be elected by general suffrage.
We have something more than a hint of the condition of ancient Ireland and its people in a description given by the Greeks of one of its inhabitants. Abarras, who visited Greece about six hundred years before Christ, and who was called by the Greeks a Hyperborean, was a priest of the Sun, who went abroad for the purpose of study and observation, and to renew by his presence and his gifts the old friendship which had long existed between the Celts and the Greeks. Strabo remarks concerning Abarras that he was much admired by the learned men of Greece. Himerius says of him that he came
“not clad in skins like a Scythian, but with a bow in his hand, and a quiver on his shoulders and a plaid wrapped about his body, a gilded belt encircled his loins, and trousers reaching from his waist downward to the soles of his feet. He was easy in his address, agreeable in conversation, active in dispatch and secret in the management of great affairs; quick in judging of present occurrences, and ready to take his part in any sudden emergency; provident, withal, in guarding against futurity; diligent in quest of wisdom, fond of friendship; trusting very little to fortune; yet having the entire confidence of others, and trusted with everything for his prudence. He spoke Greek with so much fluency that you would have thought that he had been bred or brought up in the Lyceum and had conversed all his life with the Academy of Athens. He had frequent intercourse with Pythagoras whom he astonished by the variety and extent of his knowledge.”
From the descriptions given of the native country of Abarras by the Greeks, it is evident that it could have been none other than Ireland.
Although at this time in their history, Apollo the sun-god was the Deity worshipped in Greece and in Ireland, still both nations honored Latona his mother. The same as in the mother country (Persia, or Phoenicia), the oracles, or sybils of Ireland, had prophesied a “Savior,” and three hundred years before Greek emissaries visited that country, its people, through the preaching of Eastern missionaries, had substituted for the worship of Latona and Apollo that of the new solar incarnation–the third son of Zarathustra, whose appearance had been heralded by a star.
The identity of the symbols used by the early people of Ireland who were sun worshippers, and those employed in that country for ages after the Romish Church had usurped the ecclesiastical authority, has been a subject for much comment. After describing the peculiar form of the early Christian Churches and the attention paid to the placing of the windows which were to admit the sun’s rays, Smedley says: “It is possible, in an age of allegory and figures, this combination and variety expressed some sacred meaning with which we are unacquainted at present.”
The similarity observed in the sacred festivals and religious seasons of the ancient inhabitants of Ireland and those of the early Christians, the extent to which large stone crosses, lighted candles, the yule log and the various other symbols belonging to fertility, or sun worship, were retained by Christianity, furnish strong evidence of the fact that the latter system is but part and parcel of the former.