Saturday, 2 October 2010

The Celtic Pantheon


The Christian church did a thorough job eradicating traces of earlier religions. This is especially true in the case of the Celtic pagan religion. Following the Roman conquest of Gaul and Britain, the Celtic religion was marginalized and Romanized. This means that that there are few reliable historical records of it. Also, the Celtic lands, including Ireland, were among the first to be Christianized. These factors mean that the ancient pagan religion of the Celts is shrouded in mist, with only the occasional glint of sunlight.



Oddly, one gleam of light is provided by Julius Caesar, the conqueror of Gaul. In his account of his military campaigns, he mentions the Gallic religion, but putting it into Roman terms:

"They worship as their divinity, Mercury in particular, and have many images of him, and regard him as the inventor of all arts, they consider him, the guide of their journeys and marches, and believe him to have very great influence over the acquisition of gain and mercantile transactions. Next to him they worship Apollo, and Mars, and Jupiter, and Minerva; respecting these deities they have for the most part the same belief as other nations: that Apollo averts diseases, that Minerva imparts the invention of manufactures, that Jupiter possesses the sovereignty of the heavenly powers; that Mars presides over wars. To him when they have determined to engage in battle, they commonly vow those things they shall take in war…

"All the Gauls assert that they are descended from the god Dis (Pluto), and say that this tradition has been handed down by the Druids. For that reason they compute the divisions of every season, not by the number of days, but of nights; they keep birthdays and the beginnings of months and years in such an order that the day follows the night."

The question then arises which gods does Caesar mean by these Roman names? After some thought and investigation, I have come up with the following list, which equates the Roman deities to well-known Gallic deities of the period:

Mercury = Lugus
Jupiter = Taranis
Minerva = Sulis
Apollo = Grannus/ Belenus
Mars = Teutates
Dis (Pluto) = Cernunnos

These gods are also known by other names according to time and place. For example. Lugus is later the Irish Lugh and the Welsh Lleu Llaw Gyffes from the Mabinogion. Also there is some speculation that Lugus may have been a triple deity, comprising Teutates, Taranis, and Esus, who in this case would be equivalent to Mercury.

Thanks to the cultural genocide perpetrated by The Roman Empire and Christianity, it is now difficult to be sure.


4 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for posting this

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  2. I hope that we can be loving and understanding of one another. The Christian's didn't go to face pagan nation's out of hatred but out of love. Their intentions were genuine although their methods may have been wrong at times. When they faced pagan gods and saw festivals such as Bartane where servants we're put in boats and burned alive in pillars of fire on the river, or where children and babies were burned alive as a sacrifice to pagan gods for a better harvest. The christians couldn't help but stand up for the children, the , the orphans, the powerless, the servants, and widows. The important distinction is that they did not go forth to destroy culture, they went forth to teach ethics, to teach love. Sometimes they failed at this, but it was their intention. Look at Boniface, he did not wage war on people, he did not set out to harm people. He set himself up against God's, powers in the heavens, principalities. Powers that were causing humans to murder their children as sacrifices, forces that were causing humans to burn those they disliked alive. That is, who Boniface was waging war against. He is fighting pagan dieties to remove their grip on humankind. He doesnt lay a hand on people, instead he holdshup his bible and takes his last breath as a peacemaker one who refuses to lay a hand of harm on other humans. Remember this, o beloved of God. He is for you not against you. The forces of pagan dieties that create corruption in the human heart cannot make the human unlovable to the God of the heavens and the earth, the God of all creation

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