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The Religion of the Ancient Celts

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Author Topic: The Religion of the Ancient Celts  (Read 1391 times)
Rachel Dearth
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« Reply #105 on: April 23, 2010, 11:31:45 am »

"Granno, my friend; Granno, my father; Granno, my mother." 2 Another god of thermal springs was Borvo, Bormo, or Bormanus, whose name is derived from borvo, whence Welsh berw, "boiling," and is evidently connected with the bubbling of the springs. 3 Votive tablets inscribed Grannos or Borvo show that the offerers desired healing for themselves or others.
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« Reply #106 on: April 23, 2010, 11:31:57 am »

The name Belenos found over a wide area, but mainly in Aquileia, comes from belo-s, bright, and probably means "the shining one." It is thus the name of a Celtic sun-god, equated with Apollo in that character. If he is the Belinus referred to by Geoffrey of Monmouth 4 his cult must have extended into Britain from the Continent, and he is often mentioned by classical writers, while much later Ausonius speaks of his priest in Gaul. 5 Many place and personal names point to the popularity of his cult, and inscriptions show that he, too, was a god of health and of healing-springs. The plant Belinuntia






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http://sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/rac/rac06.htm
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« Reply #107 on: May 05, 2010, 01:15:02 pm »

was called after him and venerated for its healing powers. 1 The sun-god's functions of light and fertility easily passed over into those of health-giving, as our study of Celtic festivals will show.

A god with the name Maponos, connected with words denoting " youthfulness," is found in England and Gaul, equated with Apollo, who himself is called Bonus Puer in a Dacian inscription. Another god Mogons or Mogounos, whose name is derived from Mayo, "to increase," and suggests the idea of youthful strength, may be a form of the sun-god, though some evidence points to his having been a sky-god. 2

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« Reply #108 on: May 05, 2010, 01:15:16 pm »

The Celtic Apollo is referred to by classical writers. Diodorus speaks of his circular temple in an island of the Hyperboreans, adorned with votive offerings. The kings of the city where the temple stood, and its overseers, were called "Boreads," and every nineteenth year the god appeared dancing in the sky at the spring equinox. 3 The identifications of the temple with Stonehenge and of the Boreads with the Bards are quite hypothetical. Apollonius says that the Celts regarded the waters of Eridanus as due to the tears of Apollo--probably a native myth attributing the creation of springs and rivers to the tears of a god, equated by the Greeks with Apollo. 4 The Celtic sun-god, as has been seen, was a god of healing springs.

Some sixty names or titles of Celtic war-gods are known, generally equated with Mars. 5 These were probably local tribal






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« Reply #109 on: May 05, 2010, 01:15:29 pm »

divinities regarded as leading their worshippers to battle. Some of the names show that these gods were thought of as mighty warriors, e.g. Caturix, " battle-king," Belatu-Cadros--a common name in Britain--perhaps meaning "comely in slaughter," 1 and Albiorix, "world-king." 2 Another name, Rigisamus, from rix and samus, "like to," gives the idea of "king-like." 3

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« Reply #110 on: May 05, 2010, 01:15:35 pm »

Toutatis, Totatis, and Tutatis are found in inscriptions from Seckau, York, and Old Carlisle, and may be identified with Lucan's Teutates, who with Taranis and Esus mentioned by him, is regarded as one of three pan-Celtic gods. 4 Had this been the case we should have expected to find many more inscriptions to them. The scholiast on Lucan identifies Teutates now with Mars, now with Mercury. His name is connected with teuta, "tribe," and he is thus a tribal war-god, regarded as the embodiment of the tribe in its warlike capacity.

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« Reply #111 on: May 05, 2010, 01:15:46 pm »

Neton, a war-god of the Accetani, has a name connected with Irish nia, "warrior," and may be equated with the Irish war-god Net. Another god, Camulos, known from British and continental inscriptions, and figured on British coins with warlike emblems, has perhaps some connection with Cumal, father of Fionn, though it is uncertain whether Cumal was an Irish divinity. 5

Another god equated with Mars is the Gaulish Braciaca, god of malt. According to classical writers, the Celts were






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« Reply #112 on: May 05, 2010, 01:16:01 pm »

a drunken race, and besides importing quantities of wine, they had their own native drinks, e.g. κοῦρμι, the Irish cuirm, and braccat, both made from malt (braich). 1 These words, with the Gaulish brace, "spelt," 2 are connected with the name of this god, who was a divine personification of the substance from which the drink was made which produced, according to primitive ideas, the divine frenzy of intoxication. It is not clear why Mars should have been equated with this god.
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« Reply #113 on: May 05, 2010, 01:16:11 pm »

Cæsar says that the Celtic Juppiter governed heaven. A god who carries a wheel, probably a sun-god, and another, a god of thunder, called Taranis, seem to have been equated with Juppiter. The sun-god with the wheel was not equated with Apollo, who seems to have represented Celtic sun-gods only in so far as they were also gods of healing. In some cases the god with the wheel carries also a thunderbolt, and on some altars, dedicated to Juppiter, both a wheel and a thunderbolt are figured. Many races have symbolised the sun as a circle or wheel, and an old Roman god, Summanus, probably a sun-god, later assimilated to Juppiter, had as his emblem a wheel. The Celts had the same symbolism, and used the wheel symbol as an amulet, 3 while at the midsummer festivals blazing wheels, symbolising the sun, were rolled down a slope. Possibly the god carries a thunderbolt because the Celts, like other races, believed that lightning was a spark from the sun.

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« Reply #114 on: May 05, 2010, 01:16:18 pm »

Three divinities have claims to be the god whom Cæsar calls Dispater--a god with a hammer, a crouching god called Cernunnos, and a god called Esus or Silvanus. Possibly the




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native Dispater was differently envisaged in different districts, so that these would be local forms of one god.

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« Reply #115 on: May 05, 2010, 01:16:29 pm »

1. The god Taranis mentioned by Lucan is probably the Taranoos and Taranucnos of inscriptions, sometimes equated with Juppiter. 1 These names are connected with Celtic words for "thunder"; hence Taranis is a thunder-god. The scholiasts on Lucan identify him now with Juppiter, now with Dispater. This latter identification is supported by many who regard the god with the hammer as at once Taranis and Dispater, though it cannot be proved that the god with the hammer is Taranis. On one inscription the hammer-god is called Sucellos; hence we may regard Taranis as a distinct deity, a thunder-god, equated with Juppiter, and possibly represented by the Taran of the Welsh tale of Kulhwych. 2

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« Reply #116 on: May 05, 2010, 01:16:36 pm »

Primitive men, whose only weapon and tool was a stone axe or hammer, must have regarded it as a symbol of force, then of supernatural force, hence of divinity. It is represented on remains of the Stone Age, and the axe was a divine symbol to the Mycenæans, a hieroglyph of Neter to the Egyptians, and a worshipful object to Polynesians and Chaldeans. The cult of axe or hammer may have been widespread, and to the Celts, as to many other peoples, it was a divine symbol. Thus it does not necessarily denote a thunderbolt, but rather power and might, and possibly, as the tool which shaped things, creative might. The Celts made ex voto hammers of lead, or used axe-heads as amulets, or figured them on altars and coins, and they also placed the hammer in the hand of a god. 3




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« Reply #117 on: May 05, 2010, 01:16:51 pm »

The god with the hammer is a gracious bearded figure, clad in Gaulish dress, and he carries also a cup. His plastic type is derived from that of the Alexandrian Serapis, ruler of the underworld, and that of Hades-Pluto. 1 His emblems, especially that of the hammer, are also those of the Pluto of the Etruscans, with whom the Celts had been in contact. 2 He is thus a Celtic Dispater, an underworld god, possibly at one time an Earth-god and certainly a god of fertility, and ancestor of the Celtic folk. In some cases, like Serapis, he carries a modius on his head, and this, like the cup, is an emblem of chthonian gods, and a symbol of the fertility of the soil. The god being benevolent, his hammer, like the
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« Reply #118 on: May 05, 2010, 01:17:02 pm »

tool with which man forms so many things, could only be a symbol of creative force. 3 As an ancestor of the Celts, the god is naturally represented in Celtic dress. In one bas-relief he is called Sucellos, and has a consort, Nantosvelta. 4 Various meanings have been assigned to "Sucellos," but it probably denotes the god's power of striking with the hammer. M. D'Arbois hence regards him as a god of blight and death, like Balor. 5 But though this Celtic Dispater was a god of the dead who lived on in the under-






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« Reply #119 on: May 05, 2010, 01:17:12 pm »

world, he was not necessarily a destructive god. The underworld god was the god from whom or from whose kingdom men came forth, and he was also a god of fertility. To this we shall return.

2. A bearded god, probably squatting, with horns from each of which hangs a torque, is represented on an altar found at Paris. 1 He is called Cernunnos, perhaps "the horned," from cerna, "horn," and a whole group of nameless gods, with similar or additional attributes, have affinities with him.

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