THE Druids had many rites of divination--from the entrails of their victims--from the flight of birds--from the waves of the sea--from the bubbling of wells-and from the neighing of white horses. By the number of criminals causes in the year they formed an estimate of the scarcity or plenty of the year to come. They also used divining rods, which they cut in the shape of twigs from an apple tree which bore fruit, and having distinguished them from each other by certain marks, threw them promiscuously upon a white garment. Then the Diviner would take up each billet or stick three times, and draw an interpretation from the marks before imprinted on them. The ordering of these divinations were usually placed in the hands of women who formed an order of Sibylls among these ancient prophets. It has been the belief of every age that women are more frequently blessed with the gifts of inspiration, and that the mists of the future hang less darkly before their eyes than before those of men. And thus it was that women were admitted to those holy privileges which none others could obtain except with the learning and struggles of a lifetime, thus it was that even the commonest women was admitted to that shrine from which the boldest warriors were excluded. There is, however, a tradition that at one period both in Gaul and Britain, the women were supreme, that they ruled the councils of state, that they led the armies of war. That the Druids by degrees supplanted them, and obtained the power for themselves. But to propitiate these women who had the blood of Albina in their veins, they admitted them into their order, and gave them the title of Druidesses. They were eventually formed into three classes. I. Those who performed the servile offices about the temple, and the persons of the Druids, and who were not separated from their families. II. Those who assisted the Druids in their religious services, and who, though separated from their husbands, were permitted to visit them occasionally. III. A mysterious sisterhood who dwelt in strict chastity and seclusion, and who formed the oracles of Britain. Such is the origin of Christian mummeries. In all important events the Britons repaired to their dwelling. Not even a marriage was consummated among them without consulting the Druidess, and her purin, the seic seona of the Irish, viz., five stones thrown up and caught on the back of the hand, and from which she divined. There are several instances recorded in classical history of predictions from these priestesses which came true. Alexander Severus had just set out upon an expedition when he was met by a Druidess, "Go on, my Lord," she said aloud to him as he passed, "but beware of your soldiers." He was assassinated by his soldiers in that same campaign. My next example is still more peculiar. When Dioclesian was a private soldier he had a Druidess for hostess, who found him every day reckoning up his accounts with a military exactitude to which the army in those days was a stranger. "You are niggardly," she said. "Yes," he answered, "but when I become an Emperor I will be generous." "You have said no jest," replied the priestess, for you will be Emperor when you have killed a wild boar--cum aprum occideris." In our language this prophecy loses its point, for there is a play upon the Latin word which cannot be translated. Aper means both the name of a man and a wild beast, and thus the prediction was wrapped in that wise ambiguity which has been the characteristic of all human prophecy. Dioclesian, whose ambition gave him faith, was much perplexed with the double meaning of the word, but hunted assiduously till he had killed so many wild boars, that he began to fear he had taken the word in its wrong acceptation. So he slew Aper, his stepfather, the assassin of Numerianus, and shortly afterwards sat upon the imperial throne. In marble, as well as in ink, there are memorials of the sect of Druidesses. The following inscription was discovered at Metz in Normandy: SILVANO SACR ET NYMPHIS LOCI APETE DRUIS ANTISTITA SOMNO MONITA. Of Druidic oracles we know only of one at Kildare in Ireland; of one at Toulouse which ceased when Christianity was introduced there by St. Saturnins; of one at Polignac dedicated to Apollo, or Belenus, or Baal; and most celebrated of all that in the island of Sena (now Sain) at the mouth of the River Loire. This island was inhabited by seven young women who were beautiful as angels, and furious as demons. They were married but their husbands might never visit them. The foot of man was not permitted to set foot upon their isle. When the mantle of night had began to descend upon the earth, seven dusky forms might be seen gliding to the shore, and springing into their wicker boats, which were covered with the skins of beasts, would row across to the main-land, and fondle with their husbands, and smile upon them as if with the sweet innocence of youth. But when the streaks of light began to glimmer in the East, like restless spirits summoned back to their daylight prison, strange fires would gleam from their eyes, and they would tear themselves from their husband's arms. To them came the sailors who fished and traded on the seas, and entreated them for fair winds. But as they came and as they spoke, they shuddered at the sight of these women whose faces were distorted by inspiration, whose voices seemed to be full of blood. When Christianity began to prevail in the north, it was believed that these women, by culling certain herbs at various periods of the moon, transformed themselves into winged and raging beasts, and attacking such as were baptized and regenerated by the blood of Jesus Christ, killed them without the visible force of arms, opened their bodies, tore out their hearts and devoured them; then substituting wood or straw for the heart, made the bodies live on as before and returned through the clouds to their island-home. It is certain that they devoted themselves chiefly to the service of the Moon, who was said to exercise a peculiar influence over storms and diseases-the first of which they pretended to predict, the latter to cure. They worshipped her under the name of Kêd or Ceridwen, the northern name for the Egyptian Isis. They consecrated a herb to her, called Belinuncia, in the poisonous sap of which they dipped their arrows to render them as deadly as those malignant rays of the moon, which can shed both death and madness upon men. It was one of their rites to procure a virgin and to strip her naked, as an emblem of the moon in an unclouded sky. Then they sought for the wondrous selago or golden herb. She who pressed it with her foot slept, and heard the language of animals. If she touched it with iron, the sky grew dark and a misfortune fell upon a world. When they had found it, the virgin traced a circle round it, and covering her hand in a white linen cloth which had never been before used, rooted it out with a point of her little finger--a symbol of the crescent moon. Then they washed it in a running spring, and having gathered green branches plunged into a river and splashed the virgin, who was thus supposed to resemble the moon clouded with vapors. When they retired, the virgin walked backwards that the moon might not return upon its path in the plain of the heavens. They had another rite which procured them a name as infamous and as terrible as that of the Sirens of the South, who were really Canaanite priestesses that lured men to their island with melodious strains, and destroyed them as a sacrifice to their Gods. They had a covered temple in imitation probably of the two magnificent buildings which the Greek colonists had erected at Massilia. This it was their custom annually to unroof, and to renew the covering before the sun set by their united labors. And if any woman dropt or lost the burden that she was carrying, she was immediately torn to pieces by these savage creatures, who daubed their faces and their white bosoms with their victim's blood, and carried her limbs round the temple with wild and exulting yells. It was this custom which founded the story told at Athens and at Rome, that in an island of the Northern seas there were virgins who devoted themselves to the service of Bacchus, and who celebrated orgies similar to those of Samothrace. For in those plays, performed in honor of Dionusus, there was always a representation of a man torn limb from limb. And in the Island of Chios, as in Sena, this drama was enacted to the life.