This post was inspired by an interesting twittercon with @Huk_fin about the role of the white stallion in ancient kingship rituals.
Geraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales, 1146-1223, Archdeacon of Brecon) wrote in his Topographia Hibernica (Topography of Ireland, 1187) of a ceremony among the Irish:
“There is in a northern and remote part of Ulster, among the Kenelcunil, a certain tribe which is wont to install a king over itself by an excessively savage and abominable ritual. In the presence of all the people of this land in one place, a white mare is brought into their midst. Thereupon he who is to be elevated, not to a prince but to a beast, not to a king but to an outlaw, steps forward in beastly fashion and exhibits his bestiality.
“Right thereafter the mare is killed and boiled piecemeal in water, and in the same water a bath is prepared for him. He gets into the bath and eats of the flesh that is brought to him, with his people standing around and sharing it with him. He also imbibes the broth in which he is bathed, not from any vessel, nor with his hand, but only with his mouth.
“When this is done right according to such unrighteous ritual, his rule and sovereignty are consecrated.”
Although we have to accept that the values of ancient civilisations may have differed from our own, this does sound particularly brutal and hideous, doesn’t it?
Read more at https://aliisaacstoryteller.com/2016/05/09/the-white-horse-in-irish-mythology/