The life of the Irish-speaking peasant is in- separably associated with mysticism. A study of the peculiar customs and beliefs of the existing representatives of the ancient Gaelic race will afford ample proof of this. Ordinary people usually speak of two worlds, " this world " and "the next," and their actions are regulated by the laws relating thereto. The Gael, however at least the Gaelic peasant has, besides these two, a great mystic world, which exercises a most potent influence upon every action of his life. This mysterious world is invisible, as are also the inhabitants thereof, except on rare occasions. It is connected with the earth, and extends from our globe to the region of bliss in one direction, and to the region of misery in another. It is thickly populated, and its entire community is divided, according to popular belief, into two great classes the "good" and the "bad," there being no intermediate grade. Of our invisible contemporaries for we may regard them as such, since it is confidently asserted that they frequently mingle with us, and that they pass and repass us everywhere, particularly at night some are hurtfully disposed unless properly guarded against by certain rules or rites. If those rules are observed they cannot, as is said, "harm ye"; if not observed " somethin' bad 'it surely happin ye." Others, again, of the unseen and as is piously believed the great majority are friendly, and give the necessary warning whenever danger threatens. Certain individuals on this earth are supposed to be in communication, for some wicked purpose, with the " bad class " of the mystic world. Red-haired people, especially red-haired women, are in this connection regarded with suspicion. It is " not lucky " to meet a red-haired woman in the morning; nothing you may do for the rest of the day will be " right," misfortune of some kind or other is sure to light upon you. Indeed, in the Irish vocabulary there are no words as sacred as adh (luck) and ceart (right). The warning voice of the unseen inhabitants of the invisible, mystic world is constantly ringing in Gaelic ears solemnly enjoining the ceremonies to be performed, and the precautions to be adopted, in order that what is " lucky " and right may be performed and the reverse avoided.

 

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Peasant Lore from Gaelic Ireland - D Deeney 1901

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