According to Lewis Spence, magic among the Celtic peoples in ancient times was so closely identified with Druidism that its origin may be said to have been Druidic. Celtic origin and its relation to Druidism, however, is a question upon which much discussion has been lavished. Some authorities, including Sir John Rhys, believe it to have been of non-Celtic and even non-Aryan origin; that is, the earliest non-Aryan or so-called Iberian or Megalithic people of Britain introduced the immigrant Celts to the Druidic religion.
Many of the ancient magical spells used among the Druids survived until a comparatively late period the names of saints being substituted for those of Celtic deities. In pronouncing incantations, the usual method employed was to stand upon one leg and point with the forefinger to the person or object on which the spell was to be laid, at the same time closing an eye, as if to concentrate the force of the entire personality upon that which was to be placed under the spell. All magic rites were accompanied by spells, and Druids often accompanied an army to assist by their magic in confounding the enemy.
A manuscript preserved in the Monastery of St. Gall, dating from the 8th or 9th century, contains magic formulas for preserving butter and healing certain diseases in the name of the Irish god of medicine, Diancecht. These bear a close resemblance to Babylonian and Etruscan spells, and this goes to strengthen the hypothesis often put forward that Druidism had an eastern origin.
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