Derived from the Gaelic can, meaning a mound, and applied thus to heaps of stones of a conical form erected by the Druids. Some suppose them to have been sepulchral monuments, others altars. They were undoubtedly of a religious character, since sacrificial fires were lighted upon them, and processions were made around them.
These processions were analogous to the circumambulations in Freemasonry, and were conducted, like them, with reference to the apparent course of the sun. Thus, Toland, in his Letters on the Celtic Religion, II, xvii, says of these mystical processions, that the people of the Scottish islands "never come to the ancient sacrificing and fire-hallowing Cams but they walk three times round them from east to west, according to the course of the sun. This sanctified tour, or round by the south, is called Deaseal, as the unhallowed contrary one by the north, Tuapholl"; and he says that Deaseal is derived from "Deas, the right (understanding hand), and soil, one of the ancient names of the sun, the right hand in this round being ever next the heap." In all this the Freemason will be reminded of the Masonic ceremony of circumambulation around the altar and the rules which govern it.
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