TREE AND PLANT WORSHIP.
THE Celts had their own cult of trees, but they adopted local cults—Ligurian, Iberian, and others. The Fagus Deus (the divine beech), the Sex arbor or Sex arbores of Pyrenean inscriptions, and an anonymous god represented by a conifer on an altar at Toulouse, probably point to local Ligurian tree cults continued by the Celts into Roman times. 1 Forests were also personified or ruled by a single goddess, like Dea Arduinna of the Ardennes and Dea Abnoba of the Black Forest. 2 But more primitive ideas prevailed, like that which assigned a whole class of tree-divinities to a forest, e.g. the Fatæ Dervones, spirits of the oak-woods of Northern Italy. 3 Groups of trees like Sex arbores were venerated, perhaps for their height, isolation, or some other peculiarity.
The Celts made their sacred places in dark groves, the trees being hung with offerings or with the heads of victims. Human sacrifices were hung or impaled on trees, e.g. by the warriors of Boudicca. 4 These, like the offerings still placed by the folk on sacred trees, were attached to them because the trees were the abode of spirits or divinities who in many cases had power over vegetation.