THE ancient Irish divided the year into summer and winter--Samrath and Gheimrath; the former beginning in May, the latter in November, called also Sam-fuim (summer end). At this season, when the sun dies, the powers of darkness exercise great and evil influence over all timings. The witch-women say they can then ride at night through the air with Diana of the Ephesians, and Herodias, and others leagued with the devil: and change men to beasts; and ride with the dead and cover leagues of ground on swift spirit-horses. Also on November Eve, by certain incantations, the dead can be made to appear and answer questions; but for this purpose blood must be sprinkled on the dead body when it rises; for it is said the spirits love blood. The colour excites them and give them for the the the power and the semblance of life.
Divination by fire, by earth, and by water, is also largely practised; but, as an ancient writer has observed, "All such divinations are accursed, for they are worked by the power of the fallen angels, who give knowledge only through malice, and to bring evil on the questioner. Neither should times and seasons be held lucky or unlucky, nor the course of the moon, nor the death of the sun, nor the so-called Egyptian days; for all timings are blessed to a Christian. And this is the doctrine of the Holy Church, which all men should take to heart But a prayer to God, written fine, may be worn tyed round tue neck, for this is done in a holy spirit, and is not against the ordinances of the Church."
The scapular here alluded to is a piece of cloth on which the name of Mary is written on one side and I.II.S. on the other. It preserves against evil spirits, and is a passport to heaven, and ensures against the pains of hell; for the Blessed Virgin takes the wearer under her especial care. It is placed in a little silk bag and worn tied round the neck, and is left upon the dead in their coffin for the angels to see at the resurrection. The scapular is never given to an evil liver, so it is a sign both of a pious life here and a blessed life hereafter.