This page is intended as a reference guide for students of Celtic mythology. When completed, it will hopefully be a compilation of all the known deities in the various national mythologies of the early Celtic peoples. The format will consist of a Name, the culture that divinity arose out of, and a description of the divinity. The description will include areas of authority, attributes, images, appearance, and selected comments or stories which might help characterize the divinity better. As I implied above, this is an ongoing work which, at the moment, is incomplete. I most certainly solicit comments and contributions; if you have additional information for me (or complaints, for that matter), I ask only that you try to supply documentation in support of what you have to say.
In addition to the roll-call of
purely Celtic divinities, I intend to provide similar information regarding
mythological and heroic figures from the Isles who post-dated the era of
Celtic paganism to one degree or another. These form something of a pantheon
in their own right, and I believe it would be of interest to examine them
Traditional Celtic.Here is a catalogue, hopefully reasonably complete, of known Celtic God-forms. In a number of instances, the same Deity will be referenced in more than one location, since I am trying to include known names from all the identifiable Celtic cultures. Thus, the same figure will sometimes show up with a Welsh name, and an Irish name, or even more in a few instances. In such cases, I have tried to put the actual information under the best known name, and refer to that under alternative names in other languages. The information here is necessarily brief; a full accounting of all these entities would be a massive book in its own right. What is included here is:
a Name, (A translation, in parentheses, of the name if I know it)the culture that Name appears within, any important epithets or sobriquets that are associated with the Name, and a basic description of spheres of influence, attributes, and/or descriptive stories.
Aedh (fire).Irish. A son of Ler. He is a Lord of fire, and may thus be considered as a male aspect of the Brigit. He is one of the children of Ler transformed into a swan by a wicked stepmother, see Conn for fuller details.
Aengus (unique strength).Irish. Son of the Daghda. Associated with birds, particularly songbirds. An accomplished musician, He is considered a God of Beauty and perfection of form.
Aeron (slaughtering). Welsh. A war-god, a male Aspect of the Irish Morrigan. He is a later-period male counterpart to Agrona, of earlier British belief.
Afagddu (utter darkness). Welsh. The ill-favoured child of Ceridwen, whose name means "Dark" or "Ugly", for whom the Potion of Knowledge is intended. This Archetype reappears in the Arthurian cycle as a mortal warrior whose unsurpassed ugliness prevents him from ever being struck at by an opponent, for fear that he might be the Devil.
Agrona (slaughtering). British. A warrior Goddess, seemingly a version of the Irish Morrigan, in that she is associated with rivers as well. Later this archetype became masculinized among the Cymri as Aeron, which see, above.
Aife I (pleasant, beautiful). Irish Third wife of Ler, the evil stepmother of Aedh, Conn, Fiachra, and Finnguala, who transforms them into talking swans in a heat of jealous spite (she being childless). Her deed discovered, she herself is transformed into a vulture, and made to stay eternally in the winds.
Aife II (pleasant, beautiful). Irish Lover of Ilbrech, she is transformed into a crane by a jealous rival. In such form, and as a water-bird, she becomes a part of Manannan's Realm; when at length she dies, he makes of her remains the fabulous Crane Bag, in which he stores his chief treasures.
Aife III (pleasant, beautiful). Scottish A warrior Goddess associated with horses and chariots - She may be a distant northern British cognate to Epona. She is the eternal opponent of Scathach, and vies with Her to gain the affection of CuChulainn. Some Irish versions of Her tale identify Her as Aife (I), and thereby give Her aerial associations as a cloud-witch and the source of winds.
Aine (brightness, glow, splendour, glory). Irish.A Faery Goddess of love and desire, she is also the tutelary Goddess of Knockany, Munster. In that her name derives from the root for "fire", She may be considered as an aspect of the Brigit. She is sister to Grian; her father is either Fer Í or Eogabal.
Ancamna. Gaulish. A Goddess known from inscriptions in the Moselle valley, near Trier. Apparently recognized as a Consort to a divinity identified by the Romans as Mars.
Andarta ( ... bear). Gaulish. An obscure continental Goddess known from inscriptions in Berne and in the south of France. Apparently a Patroness of the Vocontii tribe, and perhaps a counterpart or Aspect of Artio. She may also have a connection with Andrasta (see immediately below).
Andrasta. British. A warrior Goddess of the Iceni tribe, who accepted sacrifices of hares and, perhaps, humans. She is perhaps best known as the deity invoked by the Iceni warrior-queen Boudicca in her rebellion against Rome. See also, Andarta immediately above, for a possible continental connection.
Angus. Scottish The Scottish version of Aengus, and also a God of youthful vigour and perfection of form. Much of His tale revolves around conflicts with Cailleach Bheur, who attempts to deny Him His consort, Bride.
Arawn. Welsh. Lord of Annwn, the underworld and realm of departed spirits. He makes a pact with Pwyll, to exchange places with him for one year, in order that Pwyll might defeat an enemy, King Hafgan. Though Arawn set no conditions upon the exchange, when the pact was successfully concluded and each had returned to his own heritage, Arawn discovered that Pwyll had denied himself of his own accord the rights of a husband to Arawn's Lady. Thus Arawn swore an eternal vow of friendship and support toward Pwyll.
Arduinna. Gaulish. An Artemis/Diana-like figure, the tutelary Goddess of the Ardennes Forest region. She seems to be a particular protectress of wild boars, and is imaged as riding upon one at least once. Often conflated with the Roman Diana.
Arecurius (one who stands before the assembly, lawgiver?). British. A Tutelary God of northern Britannia during the Roman occupation.
Arianrhod (silverwheel). Welsh. The mother of Llew, the tale of how she needed to be guiled into granting him a name and arms is a mainstay of the Mabinogion. She is associated with Night, with the star Polaris, and her hall is said to be the aurora borealis. As her name clearly implies, she may very well be a late version of a Moon-Goddess.
Artio (she-bear). Gaulish. A Goddess of Bears, a protector and nurturer of ursine virtues. Closely associated with the Helvetican city of Berne. See also, Andarta.
Badb (raven). Irish. One of the three Valkyrie-aspects of the Morrigan. As such, she is a primary opponent of Cuchulainn.
Balor. Irish. A King of the Fomorians, He is described as a one-eyed giant of surpassing ugliness. His other eye, hidden beneath a drooping lid, has the power to destroy an army if the eyelid is raised (it takes four strong men to do so). He is slain by the son of his daughter Eithne, Lugh.
Banbha (pig, sow). Irish. One of the triplicity of Goddesses who are patronesses of all Ireland (for whom, see Eriu and Fotla). Her Name derives from the same root as "sow", or "pig". Banbha is the wife of the Tuatha King MacCuill.
Banghaisghidheach (white ...). Irish. Chief of the cats of Kilkenny, who defeats Luchtigern, Lord of the Mice, in Dunmore Cave.
Banshee Irish and Scottish. Any of a class of female spirits with a variable appearance - sometimes as pale, ghostly maidens, sometimes as dark hags. They foretell (but do not cause) death in a particular locale or among a particular family or group by appearance and by a wailing shriek. See also Cyhiraeth.
Belatucadros (shining one, bright). British. Apparently an early version of Bran the Blessed, and clearly cognate with Beli. He was honoured by common soldiers in the north of Britain during the Roman occupation.
Belenus (bright). Gaulish. The continental version of Beli, conflated by classical authors with Apollo.
Beli (bright). Welsh. Brother, or perhaps precursor, of Bran the Blessed, and reputed to be father of all the Gods in some cycles. Quite possibly a solar deity in early times.
Bendigeidfran. Welsh. The Cymric equivalent of Bran.
Blodeuedd (flowerface). Welsh.A woman created by Math out of flowers (those of Oak, Broom, and Meadowsweet) to be a wife to Llew Llaw Gyffes. The match proved unfortunate as she encompassed his death through infatuation with another. For this, she was cursed by Gwydion to perpetual abhorrence of sunlight, and transformed into an owl, a bird vilified and detested by all other birds.
Boand (she of the white cattle). Irish. Wife of Nechtain, and mother by the Daghda of Aengus Og. She is associated with the river Boyne.
Bodb Dearg (Bodb the red). Irish. A daughter of the Daghda, and the tutelary God over southern Connacht and part of Munster.
Borvo. Gaulish. A divinity of healing springs, dressed as a warrior. His consort is Damona.
Boudicca (victory). Irish/British. A female personification of Victory, especially in a martial sense. A very appropriate personification of her is seen in the historical Boadicca, Queen of the Iceni, who fought the Romans to a standstill in the first century CE. Although she ultimately lost, this original Victoria resembles her namesake very strongly.
Bran (raven, crow). Irish. A master of the Isle of Britain, he is a cauldron-God, associated with a cauldron of regeneration which would revive the slain while leaving them voiceless. His cauldron destroyed, and he mortally wounded in a war to rescue his sister Branwen, he instructed his adherents to decapitate him and, after many travels, bear the head to London and bury it, where it would become a defense and a protection to the whole Isle.
Branwen (white raven, white crow). Welsh. In the Mabinogion, She is a central figure in being wed to the High King of Ireland and thereby encompassing the doom of both the Irish and Britons, when her brother Bran invades Ireland to rescue her from the degradation she experiences at the hands of a vengeful Court.
Breas. Irish. A solar deity, and ruler for a time of the Tuatha de Danaan. Replacing Nuada after the latter's loss of his hand, Breas was noted for his cruelty and arbitrary governance. He was harried from his throne by being disfigured from a particularly scathing bardic endictment by Cairbre.
Brianan ( ? ) Scottish A very obscure figure, apparently a Divinity whose Name is used in oaths and exclamations, often as an invoking force with which to hurl fortune (sometimes good, but more usually bad) toward another.
Bride Scottish Consort of Angus, a Scottish variant on Brigit.
Brigit (exalted one).Irish and British. A triplicity of Goddesses associated with Fire and smithcraft, with poetry, and with motherhood and childbirth. As an individual, she is a daughter of the Daghda. In pre-Roman Britain, she was the tutelary Goddess of the Brigantes tribe, and like so many Celtic Goddesses, she has some riverine associations. She was conflated into Christian mythology as Saint Brigit.
Cailleach Beara (Crone of Beare). Irish. A giantess associated with mountains. She holds in her apron huge boulders with which to add to mountainous realms. She is a Tutelary to southwest Munster. She also appears in tales describing a knight being importuned by an old hag for love, acceptance of which transforms her into a beautiful maiden.
Cailleach Bheur (Blue Crone) Scottish A giantess associated with Winter. She is said to be blue in color, and a peculiarity of hers is that she emerges on Samhain as a ancient hag, gradually ages in reverse, and disappears at Beltain (when she places Her staff under a holly bush) as a young and beautiful maiden.
Cairbre Irish. Divine bard, son of Oghma and Etan. The power of his poetic eloquence raised welts upon the face of Breas, King of the Tuatha de Danaan, resulting in the loss of his throne (Kings must be unblemished physically) when he insulted Cairbre.
A spirit of the harvest, especially associated with Samhain-Eve (All-Hallows
Eve) as a protector against evil spirits - in elder times, well before an age with
the Halloween costume store
(deadlink) and kids spending the evening trick or
treating, images of Carlin made from ears of grain were placed in windows on Hallowe'en night as a
sign of his presence in the house, directed toward "ghoolies, ghosties,
long-leggedy beasties, and things that go 'bump' in the night".
Ceridwen (... white) Welsh. A cauldron-Goddess associated with the brewing of a potion of Knowledge which she created for the benefit of her child, Afagddu. When the boy Gwion inadvertently tastes the brew instead, she pursues him in a transformation hunt which is a thinly glossed description of an initiatory rebirth. See also, Taliesin.
Cernunnos (horned one) Gaulish. The horned God associated with the Wild Hunt. A lord of the natural world, of animal and vegetive strength. See also, Gwynn and Herne.
Cian (distant, enduring (in time or space)). Irish. A fairly obscure divinity, possibly the son of Dioncecht, and certainly the father of Lugh. He has some associations with swine, and could shape-shift into that form.
Conn (wolf ?, hound?). Irish. A son of Ler, and twin brother of Fiachra. He, his twin, and two other siblings (Aedh and Finnguala) are transformed into swans who can speak and sing by a jealous and spiteful stepmother, Aife. They spend many centuries in this form, and are eventually brought into the household of a Christian missionary, who binds them together with a silver chain. A Queen of Ireland hears of the remarkable birds and, coveting them, attempts to seize them. In the ensuing struggle, the chain breaks, and they become pillars of dust, representing human bodies many centuries old.
Crearwy (light, beautiful). Welsh. The favoured child of Ceridwen, sibling to Afagddu.
Credne (craftsman). Irish. One of a triplicity of Smithy-Gods. He is an artisan of worked metal, usually bronze, brass, or gold. The others are Goibhniu and Luchta.
Cruacha.Irish. An obscure figure, maidservant to Etain.
Cúchulain (Hound of Culann, Colin's Dog).Irish. Doubtlessly the best-known of the early Irish Heroes; ultimately mortal, but of partially divine parentage; his father is Lugh. Literature on Cúchulain is extensive, and he figures in a great many tales and heroic cycles. Originally called Sétanta (and thereby establishing a possible connection to an early Celtic tribe living in Britain, the Setantii), he receives his name when, as a child of 7 he inadvertantly kills the watchdog of the smith Culainn. He offers to take the dog's place for a time, and is known as Culann's Hound ever after. Described as short and dark, his battle-frenzy was legendary, shaking him and distorting his features until it seemed certain he would explode. Trained in martial skill (and love) by Scathach , he is the quintessential Celtic hero, leading a frantically active life in constant battle with enemies and seducing countless women. He is primarily an Ulster tutulary, his home being what is now County Louth. Early in his career, he was given a choice between a long and peaceful life or a short but heroic one, and he chose the latter. Thereafter, he finds himself often in conflict with one or another aspect of Morrigan. In his final battle, he has himself strapped to a pillar so that he might die standing. Afterwards, Morrigan sees to it that his blood is scattered over the soil of Ireland.
Cyhiraeth. British-Welsh A water spirit, one especially associated with fountains, brooks, and small streams. She had some attributes in common with the Scottish Banshee, in that She was known to utter a piercing cry foretelling a death.
Cylenchar. British A name (derivation unknown) sometimes applied to a woodland and meadow spirit of Springtide, rebirth, and renewal, most commonly referred to as Jack-in-the-Green. This spirit is fairly often conflated with the Green Man.
Cymidei Cymeinfoll. Welsh. A War-Hag, said to give birth every six weeks to a fully armed warrior. Wife to Llasar, keeper of the Cauldron of Regeneration.
(the) Daghda (lord of skill). Irish. An important figure associated with a sacred well, and water in general. Also a fertility God. Various names and epithets (Eochaid Ollathair, all-father; Ruadh Rofhessa, master of knowledge; Deirgderc, redeye, the sun) of his seem to link him to horse-cults, fire, and knowledge. He is the father of many of the others, including Brigit, Mider, Aengus, Oghma, and Bodb Dearg. Interestingly enough, he is often portrayed as a rather sly but bumptious rustic, one who can be fooled, defeated, or bargained with by plying some idiosyncrasy or personal trait. His favoured weapon is a giant club, or maul.
Dáire MacDedad (based on a root for "fruitful, fertile"). Érainn. A tutulary divinity among a people known as the Érainn, a Celtic folk inhabiting some parts of Ireland before the arrival the Goidelic Celts who form the basis for the Classic-age population, and who may be the basis for tales of the Fomorians and Fir Bolg. There is some type of connection between Him and a figure known as Bolg (Lightning) - whether they are relatives or aspects of one another is not clear. For another Erainn divinity, see also Mór Muman.
Damona. Gaulish. A female divinity possibly associated with cows. Her consort is Borvo.
Danu. Irish, Celtic, and general Aryan.A river Goddess whose name appears across the face of Europe, the tutelary deity of many nations and places (cf. Don River, Danube River, Denmark, etc.). In the isles, she was the Mistress of the Tuatha De Danaan, the race of divine and semi-divine inhabitants of Ireland before the coming of the Milesians.
Dia Greine (Sun Lady) Scottish A daughter of the Sun, and companion to the Cailleach Bheur when They were captives in the Land of Giant Women (Tìr naBoireannachan Móra).
Dioncecht (swift ...).Irish. God closely associated with healing and mending of physical ills.
Don. Welsh. The Cymric equivalent of Danu, which see, above. There seems to have been some conflation between Don and St. Anne within Mediaeval times.
Donn (lord, master). Irish. A God of the underworld, and of the dead. Associated territorially with western Munster. The Romans recognized him as an aspect of their own Dis Pater. Expectedly enough from his attributes, He is a silent and solitary figure, unusual enough among the often tumultuous and extroverted Irish divinities.
Druantia Gaulish ? A forest Goddess, Patroness to coniferous trees, especially Firs. She is said to be the "mother" of the Celtic Tree Calendar.
Ecne (Wise, enlightened). Irish. An early divinity of wisdom and understanding, with possible connections to poetry as well. He is said to be the grandson of Danu.
Efnisien (unpeaceful). Welsh. Maternal half-brother to Bendigeidfran (Bran) and full brother to Nisien. Quarrelsome and a natural antagonist, he is said to be able to cause strife between two brothers when they were most loving. He it is that is responsible for the heinous insult to the Irish leading to Branwen's punishment; he it is that slays her son Gwern at the feast of reconciliation. When the Irish begin using the Cauldron of Regeneration to overwhelm Bran's forces, he feels remorse and, pretending to be a slain Irish warrior, is cast alive into the Cauldron, breaking it and killing himself.
Eochaid (horse-rider). Irish. A very early Aspect of the Daghda, A solar deity associated with lightning. Usually spoken of as one-eyed, and often refered to by an epithet of Daghda's, Deirgderc, redeye, the sun.
Eogabal Irish. An obscure figure, father (or perhaps grandfather) of Aine and Grian, brother (or possibly father) to Fer Í.
Epona (divine horse). Gaulish. Female associated with sovereignty and rulership. Aspect is as a horse, which are sacred to her.
Eriu. Irish. One of the triplicity of Goddesses who are patronesses of all Ireland (for whom, see Banbha and Fotla). She it was whose name was applied to all Ireland. Eriu is the wife of the Tuatha King MacGreine.
Ernmas. Irish. Maternal divinity, the mother of the Morrigan triplicity and of the Eriu triplicity.
Etain. Irish. Second wife of Mider., and transformed by his jealous first consort, Fuamnach, into a fly. By Eochaid She is the mother of Liban. She has associations with horses, and may be a later period aspect of an early sun goddess.
Etan. Irish. Sometimes confused with Etain, above. The daughter of Dioncecht and the wife of Oghma; she is considered a Patroness of craftsmanship and artisans.
Fand (tear; but also Fann, weak or helpless person). Irish. Wife of Manannan and a lover of Cuchullain. Her name apparently derives from the same Aryan root that produces "Venus".
Fer Í (Man of Yew). Irish. Divine harpist, seated and playing in his tree beside or above a waterfall. Brother (or possibly son) of Eogabal, and uncle (or possibly father) of Aine and Grian. His music had the power to make all who heard it laugh, weep, or slumber, depending on His wish.
Fiachra. Irish. A son of Ler, and twin brother of Conn, which see for a fuller telling of their tale.
Fionn MacCumhaill (Finn MacCool) (Fionn = Fair, Light-haired). Irish. Fionn is an Irish Hero, ultimately mortal but inhabiting a grey region between mortality and divinity; he is, as it happens, a maternal grandson of Nuada. The subject of thousands of tales, he appears to be primarily a Leinster tutulary, and it has been suggested that he evolved out of a time when clans living in Ulster and worshipping a very obscure entity named Find were driven south into Leinster by the Ui Niall. His character in the tales varies from telling to telling; at times he is a paragon of the martial and huntsman virtues, and in other contexts he is presented as bumptious, crude, and oafish. In either case, he leads an incessently active, vigorous, and frenetic life - constantly wooing maidens, fighting various opponents, or getting involved in complex adventures. He has connections to divine knowledge as well - one important tale has him encountering while still a child a druid who has caught the Salmon of Knowledge and is roasting it on a spit; Fionn reaches out to take a piece but, burning his thumb, sucks it and thereby receives inner wisdom. Note that his possible prototype, Find, was evidently a divinity of wisdom and understanding.
Finnguala Irish A daughter of Ler, sister to Aedh, Conn, and Fiachra and, like them, a victim of Aife. She is also known as Nuala, as such regarded in some legends as Queen of Faerie (connected thereby into English mythology as Una).
Flidais (... deer).Irish. A Celtic Artemis; a huntress figure associated with archery, the sanctity of forests and the wildlife therein, and the chase. Unlike Artemis, however, Her lustiness and sexual appetite is legendary. She can be seen in forest, driving a chariot pulled by deer, and accompanied by stags.
Fotla (Under-Earth). Irish. One of the triplicity of Goddesses who are patronesses of All Ireland. The others are Banbha and Eriu. Fotla is the wife of the Tuatha King MacCeacht.
Gilfaethwy (servant of ...). Welsh. The brother of Gwydion, his doom is encompassed by his uncontrolled lust for Goewin.
Goewin. Welsh. The footmaiden of Math, and the object of Gilfaethwy's uncontrolled desires.
Goibhniu (smith). Irish. A God of smithcraft, one of a trio (see also Credne and Luchta ). Aside from his craftsmanship, he is known as the provider of the Fled Goibnenn, a Sacred Feast. Associated, among other things, with brewcrafting, he is said to have formulated a draught of immortality; note the similarity with the Greco-Roman Hephaestus/Vulcan, a divine smith who was also a brewer. His name survives in Abergavenny (Goibhniu's River).
The Gorics Breton Any of a class of minor cthonic Earth spirits, normally described as "Gnomes", who indwell within dolmens and other megalthic remains. The ruins at Tresmalouen host a subvariety, locally called Crions.
Grian. Irish. Tutulary Deity of Cnoc Greine, Limerick. She has solar associations, and is sister to Aine; her father is either Fer Í or Eogabal. She also has some manner of association with Macha.
Gwydion. Welsh. The Cymric equivalent of Goibhniu. In Welsh sources his hall is the Milky Way; he was a magician of high repute, and the tutor and mentor of Llew.
Gwynn ap Nudd. (Southern) Welsh. A Cthonic divinity, leader of the Wild Hunt, in chase of the White Stag. Closely parallelling the Gaulish Cernunnos and British Herne, he also has affiliations with the northern Welsh Arawn.
Hafgan.Welsh. A lord in Annwyn, and a mortal enemy of Arawn, he may only be slain if struck a single killing blow; to strike a mercy-blow to his mortally wounded body would be to revive him again. This is accomplished by Pwyll when he comes to Arawn's aid, as related in the First Branch of the Mabinogi.
Hafren.Welsh. Another river Goddess, she is the tutulary of the River Severn.
Ilbrech. Irish. A son of Manannan, he rules over a section of County Donegal.
Kelpie Scottish. A malevolent water spirit, or perhaps a God of lakes and rivers. He appears as a horse, usually half-submerged in water and struggling to get out - in such a fashion enticing the unwary to straddle Him to control Him and free Him from the water; when they do, He dives into the depths and they drown.
Ler. Irish. A God of the sea. Father of Bran, Fiachra, Aedh, Manannan, and numerous others.
Liban. Irish. A water-spirit, the daughter of Eochaid, by Etain.
Llasar Llaes Gyfnewid. Welsh. The husband of Cymidei, and bearer of the Cauldron later taken by Bran.
Llew Llaw Gyffes (bright one of the steady hand). Welsh. The Cymric equivalent of Lugh. In the Mabinogion, he is portrayed as a youth who struggles against a series of malign geases cast by his mother, Arianrhod, and is assisted by Gwydion. He is later severely injured out of circumstances arising from his wife Blodeuedd'sinfidelity. In all of this he displays a rather feckless naivete, and does not appear as a pantheon Chieftain.
Llyr. Welsh. The Cymric equivalent of Ler.
Luchta. Irish. One of a triplicity of Smithy-Gods, his aspect is that of the wright, a mechanic and artificer. The others are Credneand Goibhniu.
Luchtigern (mouse-lord). Irish. Chief of the mice of Kilkenny, slain by Banghaisghidheach.
Lugh (light, brightness). Irish. Son of Cian, and considered the chief Lord of the Tuatha De Danaan, the Celtic Zeus. His archetype appears to derive from an early solar deity, and he has many epithets and sobriquets, among which: Lamhfhada, Long-arm, refering to his skill with spear or sling; Samildanach, much-skilled, having many talents; Ildanach, seer; and Maicnia, boy-warrior.
Mabon (son, youth). Welsh. The God associated with youthfulness, he is sometimes conflated with Pryderi. His full name is "Mabon Ap Modron", which simply means "Son, son of Mother".
MacCeacht (Son of the Plow). Irish. Child of the Daghda, husband of Fotla, ruler of the Tuatha de Danaan.
MacCuill (Son of the Hazelwood). Irish. Child of the Daghda, husband of Banbha, ruler of the Tuatha de Danaan.
MacGreine (Son of the Sun). Irish. Child of the Daghda, husband of Eriu, ruler of the Tuatha de Danaan.
Macha (field, plain). Irish. One of the three Valkyrie-aspects of the Morrigan.
Maeve. Irish. A War-Goddess, tutulary divinity of the Sovereignty of Ireland and of Tara, the mystical heart of the island.
Manannan (he of the [Irish] sea). Irish. A child of Ler, and the principal sea-God; his name seems to derive from an earlier form of the Isle of Man. He possesses among other things, the fabulous Crane-Bag, holder of all his treasures, including Language. As with many Aryan Sea-Gods, he has a close association with horses.
Manawydan.Welsh. The Cymric equivalent to Manannan.
Maponus. British. Lord of poetry and music; revered during the Roman occupation of Britain.
Maree Scottish A Goddess of northern Britain associated with wells, stands of trees, and certain standing stones. Inasmuch as there is a similar mother-Goddess with the same name in Minoan culture, it has been suggested that there is a remote connection.
Math.Welsh. Uncle to Llew. Tutelary to Gwynedd, in North Wales. He is considered the premier sage of Britain: old beyond reckoning, most skilled in Magick, and knowledgeable beyond measure. It was said that he could hear anything spoken that was uttered in the presence of the slightest breeze; the wind would carry the words to him.
Mathonwy. Welsh. Father to Math.
Mider (central one). Irish.His Name derives from the root for "middle", and implies judgement or negotiation. Among the Tuatha De Danaan, he is a chieftain, and known for his stinginess and misplaced pride. His first consort was Fuamnach, who transformed his second, Etain, into a fly.
Modron (mother). Welsh, British, and Gaulish. Often conflated with the Roman Matrona, she is the Tutelary of the Marne in Gaul. In Britain, she appears as a washerwoman, and thus there would seem to be a connection with the the Morrigan.
Mór Muman (The Great One of Munster).Érainn. A tutulary divinity among a people known as the Érainn, a Celtic folk inhabiting some parts of Ireland before the arrival the Goidelic Celts who form the basis for the Classic-age population, and who may be the basis for tales of the Fomorians and Fir Bolg. She has solar connections and sovereignty associations, and seems also to be one basis for the Morrigan triplicity. Mysterious and not well understood, most tales of Her are late accretions from the Middle Ages. See also, Dáire.
(the) Mórrigan (great queen).Irish. A triplicity of Valkyries (see Badb, Macha, and Nemain), exalting in battle frenzy, chaos, and the gore of slaughter. She/they have a particular role in being the Choosers of the Slain; selecting, severing from the body, and guiding to the afterworld the spirits of fallen warriors. She has, however, many and diverse aspects and functions. She has been closely associated with water in general, and rivers in particular. She seems in this latter aspect to be a chooser of the slain as well, in that she is seen by those whose fate it is to die in an upcoming battle as a crone, washing their clothing beside a river. See also Morgan le Fay, for a late version.
Nechtain (?, but cf. the Latin "Neptune").Irish. Another water-spirit, He is associated with a sacred Well within which live the Salmon of Knowledge. He is closely associated with the Daghda, and has been conflated with him.
Nehalennia (steerswoman ?).Gallo-Belgic. Primarily associated with protection of travelers over the sea. Her known temple locations are always on the coast, and surviving inscriptions often praise her for successfully completed voyages, or implore her for similar journeys to come. She is invariably associated with a large dog as a companion. She has occasionally been conflated with the Roman Goddess Fortuna. Note also the Anglo-Saxon Elen.
Nemain (frenzy). Irish. One of the three Valkyrie-aspects of the the Morrigan.
Nemetona (she of the sacred grove). Gaulish. A Continental Deity revered during Roman times; her name may be cognate with the Irish Valkyrie Nemain, and in fact the Romans seem to have regarded her as having some connection with Mars.
Nisien (peaceful).Welsh. Maternal half-brother to Bendigeidfran (Bran) and full brother to Efnisien. Well-favored, he was a natural diplomat of whom it was said that he could make a peace between two embattled armies at the height of their fury. He spent much of his time repairing the damage done by Efnisien.
Noudens. Gaulish. A derivation from Nuadu, and as such revered during Roman times.This name has the somewhat unenviable distinction of being borrowed by H. P. Lovecraft to play a bit part in his famous Cthulhu Cycle.
Nuadu (cloud maker or catcher). Irish. A warrior God, He was twice king over the Tuatha De Danaan. He lost his office when his arm was severed in combat with the Fomorians; as Kings must be physically whole, he could not resume his kingship until Dioncecht fashioned a silver arm for him, whereupon he was restored to the throne in replacement to the ousted Breas.
Nudd. Welsh. Another form of Nuadu.
Oghma. Irish. A child of the Daghda, a warrior God who is closely connected to knowledge, magick, and eloquence. He is the inventor of Ogham script, the Celtic variety of runes; and note well, he is said to have designed the letters as a way of encoding knowledge--- they were not granted to him by mystical vision.
Ogmios. Gaulish. The continental equivalent of Oghma, portrayed as a bald old man leading a contented group of followers by chains attached to their ears.
Pryderi (care, thought). Welsh. The son of Pwyll, whom he succeeds in his lands. He is stolen away as a newborn infant by a nameless Fiend who, on a horse-thieving expedition, drops him once more into the world when it is struck a blow by the guardian of the horses. Note the equine connection with his mother, Rhiannon.
Pwyll (wisdom, prudence). Welsh. Lord of Arberth. Father of Pryderi, Husband of Rhiannon, trusted associate of Arawn as related in the first book of the Mabinogi.
Rhiannon. Welsh. Wife of Pwyll, mother of Pryderi. Unjustly accused of destroying Her newborn son (who had been kidnapped by a nameless Fiend; see above), She is compelled to take on the role of a horse, until Her son is unexpectedly returned to her. She is considered as an aspect of the Gaulish Epona, and the Irish Morrigan.
Scathach (Shadowed) Irish/Scottish. "Lady of Shadows", or, "of the Shadowy Isle". She is a warrior, with additional associations in smithcraft and oracular wisdom. She dwells in Albannach (Scotland), on (most tales agree) the Isle of Skye (Scaith), and is best known as the tutor of Cuchulainn in the arts of both love and war.
Sequanna. Gaulish. Patron Goddess of the River Seine.
Silvanus. A woodland spirit associated with parks, villas, and fields, and at an earlier date associated with the forest beyond the settlements, the wildwood. He is a Roman Deity, but so closely did He resonate with Celtic notions that He is often combined with other Celtic Deities of similar attributes. But note well one difference: to the Roman, the Forest was a place of fear, a nightmare land of chaos, and thus Silvanus had for them a shadowy or darker side; to the Celt, however, the Forest was Home, and as such held no mystery or fear.
Sinann. Irish. Patron Goddess of the River Shannon.
Sirona (divine star).Gaulish. A Continental divinity of healing and fertility.
Tailltiu. Irish. Tutulary Goddess of the Telltown region of Ulster.
Taliesin (radiant-brow).Welsh.A semi-mythical figure whose life has become deeply intertwined with the Divinities of the Celts. He apparently lived in the 6th century CE, and was regarded as the premier bard, or poet of his or any other time. A book of his work exists, set down in the 13th century; several of the works within it are regarded as genuine. He figures in many tales, but chief among them is the story that he began as the boy Gwion, was asked by the Cauldron-Crone Ceridwen to watch the vessel in which she brewed a Knowledge potion, inadvertently tasted it himself, was pursued by her in a chase involving many shapeshifts, and was at length swallowed by Her, to be reborn nine months later as the Divine bard Taliesin.
Taran (thunder). Welsh/Continental. A war god who may very well be the source of the image I describe as the God of the Wheel, below.
Tuireann. Irish. Son of Oghma and Etan, Husband to the Brigit.
Uathach (Spectral).Irish/Scottish. Daughter of Scathach and, like Her, a lover of CuChulainn.
The Four Cities and the Four Treasures of the Tuatha Dé Danaan The Tuatha Dé Danaan were a divine folk who, according to the Lebor Gabála Érenn (Book of Invasions), seized Ireland from the Fomorians in early times. They were said to have emerged from the uttermost West, stepping down onto Ireland from a dark cloud or mist - perhaps not coincidentally, an alternate version has them as a Central European people, worshippers of the Pan-European river goddess Danu, who arrived in the Isle from ships which they burned, so as to not be able to retreat. This archive references a number of their leaders: see Aedh, Aengus, Aife (I), Badb, Banbha, Boand, Bodb Dearg, Breas, Brigit, Conn, Credne, Daghda, Eochaid, Eriu, Etain, Etan, Fand, Fer Í, Fiachra, Finnguala, Fotla, Goibhniu, Ilbrech, Ler, Luchta, Lugh, MacCeacht, MacCuill, MacGreine, Macha, Manannan, Mider, the Mórrigan, Nechtain, Nemain, Nuadu, Oghma, Sinann, Tailltiu, Tuireann. They are said to have originally dwelt in four magical cities, each of which was the home of a treasure - these are:
Unknown. By "unknown" I mean to reference recognized deities who for one reason or another have become nameless, or whose attributes and functions are so sketchy as to be basically unremembered. In a typical case, this would involve a God of which a number of altars and images survive, and who may show characteristic attributes and/or insignia, but who remains unidentified archaeologically or in surviving literature.
Esus. Gaulish/Continental. A divinity revered before and during the Roman occupation of Gaul, most of our information about him comes from the Roman author Lucan, who speaks of dark and savage human sacrifices to this woodland God. Although a number of altars and memorial stones of Esus survive, his attributes have become mysterious and his story has more-or-less vanished. He is often portrayed in the act of cutting willow branches, and his images often connect him with waterbirds, particularly storks or cranes.
The God of the Hammer.Gaulish/Continental.This is a figure of which a number of images and icons survive. The consort of Nantosuelta, He is invariably represented as a bearded male of pleasant and friendly aspect. He always bears a large, usually long-handled maul. Almost always, he also carries a cup or pot. A number of representations give him a leafy crown, and he is often accompanied by a dog. A few inscriptions survive; some of these name him as "Sucellus" ("Good Striker"), and he is occasionally merged with Silvanus (see above; although note well, the Roman Silvanus never is seen with a maul). Because of his attributes, an identification with Daghda has also been made. He seems to have a number of functions: protector, woodland spirit, healer, and presiding spirit of harvests and, especially, wine-making.
The God of the Wheel.Gaulish/Continental. This figure is nearly always represented as a fierce-appearing, nude male. He bears in striking position a thunderbolt, and he very often has an armlet from which are attached more bolts. He invariably holds in his left hand, or at least has his hand resting upon, a chariot wheel. This may very well be a representation of Taranis (which see, above), mentioned by the Roman author Lucan.
"Mercury".Gaulish/Continental. This is a native Celtic divinity who was identified by the Romans as the Celtic version of their own Mercurius/Hermes. His Celtic Name was ignored and has not survived. He seems to have been a God of prosperity, and skill in artisanship. He is closely associated with Rosmerta, which see just below, although the Latin Mercurius had no Consort. His attributes, and what little is known of his worship, and an analysis of the location of his shrines, all suggest fairly strongly that He may be the Gallic version of Lugh/Llew Llaw Gyffes.
Mogons. British/Continental. A number of altar stones survive with dedications to this name, a masculine divinity worshipped in Roman times. His story and influence are almost entirely obscured at this point, though, and it is not even entirely certain that the name applies to a specific God, or is rather a descriptor applicable to a class of Gods.
Nantosuelta.Gaulish/Continental. Consort of the God of the Hammer, Her story has become obscured. She always holds in Her right hand a container - often a saucer, sometimes a cup or small pot. In Her left hand She holds a long staff which has a small model of a building, perhaps a house, hanging from it's tip. She is associated with ravens, and thus is perhaps connected with the Morrigan in one way or another.
Rosmerta.Gaulish/Continental. A Celtic Goddess whose name has not survived, except for Her Latin nomen, which means "Good Provider". She is essentially a Goddess of success and prosperity, and her chief attribute is an inexhaustable Purse of Plenty. She is almost invariably associated with "Mercury", which see just above.
Sheela-na-Gig (Cæcelia-of-the-Paps) Irish. This Name is associated with a stonework or statuary image found in various parts of Ireland, and to a lesser extent in Scotland, England, and even France. The figure is that of a recumbant female, legs spread in such a frankly open position that I need to be careful in my description, lest this file get red-flagged by internet censor programs present in most libraries and schools. An unusual aspect of this figure is that it is generally found in close association with churches. Despite the temptation to feel that it would naturally have been disfigured, it often has not been. Explanations of this image are many but tentative. It has been suggested that She is a fertility figure and specifically associated with folk rituals designed to alleviate barrenness. It has been suggested that She is the icon of any of a number of Irish Goddesses, but which one has eluded recognition (my intuition would be the Morrigan as Consort of the Daghda, or possibly Flidais - but I have no specific documentation for such an opinion). Some commentators have seen in Her a Mediaeval image warning of the sin of lust. Others have found Her to be an archetype of the Earth-Mother, mistress of birth and death. One argument is that She represents the Primal Female, at one and the same time absorbing and giving birth to the universe.
Teutates (he of the tribe). Gaulish/Continental. Another pre-Roman Gaulish deity commented on by the Roman author Lucan, Teutates seems to have been a war god, but is also connected in obscure ways with Cauldrons. Lucan claims that human sacrifices were due to the God, in this instance by drowning. The name is meaningless, it simply means "Tribe" or "Nation" (cf. Irish Tuatha).
Vitiris. Northern British A divinity known of in northern Brittania, honored by men, and especially troops, during the Roman occupation. The names is a plural form, and thus a triplicity has been suspected of Him. His altars sometimes provide decorative motifs of a boar and a serpent, but His story and area of influence is almost entirely forgotten.
Late British.These are figures of myth and legend who seem to be either based on earlier divine forms, or seem to have been accruing an aura of divinity about them in their own right. Nearly without exception, they appear in the twilight region of the 5th and 6th centuries CE, at least in their basic forms; and, more often than not, are connected to the Arthurian cycle in one way or another.
Arthur Based on a historical Welsh warlord of the first quarter of the 6th century CE, indirect evidence points toward a Lord of Britain circa 496-537 CE as the basis for the legend. King Arthur is certainly the best-known and most revered figure in British folklore. The story of a flawed prince, conceived in perfidy, raised in obscurity, succeeding to a vacant throne in sudden splendour, unifier of Britain, seeker of the Grail, and victim of treachery the circumstances to which he himself brought about, is as timely and compelling today as it has ever been.
The Fisher King A confused but powerful set of tales coalesce in the Arthurian mythos to create this figure. Stripped of all the divergent threads and inconsistencies, the essence of the story seems to be that of a Guardian of a sacred treasure (the Grail, in the Arthurian cycle), who is injured with an incurable but unfatal wound, brought about by his own misconduct or inability to maintain the superhuman standards of his office. Though imperfect, and in continual suffering, he nevertheless continues to exert himself in the service of Good, and seems to be redeemed in the end. Note the common thread with Arthur and Merlin of the Flawed Hero.
The Four Grieving Queens These are the Ladies who attended Arthur after his final battle, when he lay mortally wounded, and they are the ones who carried him off to Avalon. Two are mentioned below, Morgan Le Fay as chief amongst them, and Nimue, a Lady of the Lake. The other two are unnamed; they are the Queen of Norgales and the Queen of the Waste Lands. Each is encountered elsewhere in the cycle; Norgales is a Sorceress of great power, perhaps lesser than only Morgan and Nimue. The Queen of the Waste Lands seems to be a Christian anchorite and mystic of much wisdom; she gives good advice to Galahad, Lancelot, and Percival on various occasions. Her presence among a triplicity of distinctly Pagan Ladies at the conclusion of the cycle is significant, indeed, and tends to reinforce the idea that Arthur was being prepared by representatives of the Old Path and the New for duty as Champion of Britain.
The Green Man One of the most ancient figures in European tradition, pre-dating perhaps even the Aryan invasions. He seems to be a God of vegetative strength, a masculine figure of fertility and life-energy. He is usually imaged as a large or giant male, clad entirely, or perhaps actually composed entirely, in green leaves. He appears on the fringes of popular awareness in a bewildering number of guises: his archetype may be recognized in as widely divergent sources as the central figure in the 14th century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight on the one hand, and on the other as the basis behind the modern commercial image of the Jolly Green Giant. See also, Cylenchar.
Herne the Hunter The late British equivalent of Cernunnos, the horned God of the Wild Hunt (which see, above). He has a particular association in literature, at least, with Windsor Forest. Note also the South Welsh Gwynn.
The Lady of the Lake This is simply a conflation of all the multitudinous lake, river, and water spirits so prevalent in Celtic mythology. Nevertheless, common threads do appear; one of the best documented is that of relic-guardian, holder of the sacred sword Excalibur, who gives it to Arthur, and takes it back at the end of the stories. There seem to be two or perhaps three Named Ladies. Nimue is specifically named as a Lady of the Lake; she is the defeater, or perhaps simply replacer, of Merlin at Arthur's Court. Nineve seems to be the Keeper of Excalibur, and her name may be a variant on Nimue, but she is slain by Sir Balin, and her personality is at variance to Nimue's. There is also a French Lady of the Lake, Viviane. There are, in addition, other unnamed Ladies as well.
Merlin The tutor and companion of Arthur in his earlier years, Merlin the Magician is nearly as well known as his protege, whose life he parallels in many instances. He is also said to have been conceived in infamous circumstances, and he too falls ultimately to treachery brought on by his own weaknesses. He is well-known for having fallen under the enchantment of a Lady of the Lake, Nimue, said to have imprisoned him "under a stone"; but is important to note that his fate is ambiguous in the early sources, and it may be that Nimue simply replaced him, rather than suborning him.
Morgan le Fay The final incarnation of the Irish valkyrie Morrigan, Morgan plays a critical but ambiguous role in the Arthurian cycle. Portrayed as a mortal female deeply learned in Magick and a close relative of Arthur's (maternal half-sister), she is always at odds with Arthur, and is responsible for any of a number of attempts to drag him down. Once he is mortally wounded though, and his cause a pyyrhic and ultimately futile victory, it is Morgan who appears at his side, nursing him and taking him off to the Isle of Avalon, to rest until his presence is needed once more. One gets the distinct impression (at least, I do...) that she somehow engineered the rise of Arthur to the status of Hero, in order to create an Eternal Champion of Britain. This notion is supported somewhat by the earlier Morrigan's ambiguous relationship with CuChulainn, in which she took him up on his desire for a short but glorious life, and violently opposed him until, at his doom, she used his blood to nourish the soil of Eire.
Puck Also known as Robin Goodfellow. He is a mischieveous imp who delights in pranks and hazings. Boastful and immature, at his best he resembles a kind of Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn figure, if you can imagine those two endowed with supernatural powers. His name is an Anglicised version of the Irish Puca, Cymric Pwcca, ancient Celtic hobgoblish spirits having the same general attributes as the later figure.
Tristan and Yseult Not divinities as such, the tale of Tristan and Yseult has had such a major impact on subsequent European culture and the concept of Courtly Love that its inclusion here is inevitable. Tristan apparently actually existed - there is a memorial stone inscribed with a form of his name at Fowey, Cornwall, some 30 miles south of Tintagel. His name is given as "Drustanus", which is not a Brythonic construction, but rather Pictish in character. Indirect evidence suggests (but does not confirm) that he was a ruler of Dumnonia (modern Devonshire) in the 570's CE. The tale for which he is so well known is to the effect that he was sent by his father, King Mark, to Ireland to escort a new bride for Mark, Princess Yseult. Her mother, in an effort to provide love into an arranged marriage, entrusts the Princess' faithful attendent with a love potion to be given to her on her wedding night. But Yseult and Tristan imbibe it accidentally, and consummate a union. Thereafter they are imperishably united, despite all opposition. After numerous hairsbreadth escapes and adventures, Mark is reconciled to his son who in turn agrees to exile in Brittany. There he marries (but does not consummate the union) another Yseult (of the White Hands). Wounded in such a manner that only the original Yseult can save him, he is lied to by his jealous wife, tricked into believing that his true lady will not redeem him; he dies in despair and Yseult, discovering him too late, dies by his side. Buried together, two trees emerge from their graves and interwine inextricably. Similar tales of this sort can be found throughout Celtic sources - the Deirdre story, and the Pursuit of Diarmait and Gráinne come to mind immediately. References and versions of the Tristan tale begin appearing in the 11th and 12th centuries, throughout much of western Europe - probably the best-known one is the Tristan of Gottfried von Strassburg c. 1210. This is exactly the period in which the southern French traditions of Courtly Love began taking hold in western Europe - thus the melding of this tale cycle with that culture, and the blending of it into the emerging Arthurian mythos, with Tristam and Lancelot as rival knights of the Round Table, was inevitable.
Weyland the Smith Not British as such, he was imported by the Anglo-Saxons from the continent. He is known in Teutonic sources, Frankish sources, and in Scandinavia, where he is called Volund. The gist of his tale is that he loved a swan-maiden who lived with him for seven years, but disappeared at length. He pines for her, but awaits her return, making wondrous jewelry and artifacts in the meantime. Set upon by an outlaw king and his sons, he is hamstrung and marooned on a small island with a smithy at his disposal. He encompasses the death of the sons, the violation of their sister (who wears the ring he gave to his own love, stolen from him), and escapes the isle on a pair of contrived wings... He became a byword for the art of the smith, and the forging of miraculous objects; and he seems to have had a geas placed upon him with respect to his craft, to the effect that he could not refuse any commission, no matter how impossible the task, once he had been offered a payment.. Note the very typical thread of the maimed smith.
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