Belenus

Symbol(s): Horse, Wheel

Belenus ("The Shining One"), later known as Beli Mawr, refers to the Continental Sun-God of the Celts. The term was an epithet or descriptive surname given to the Celtic Apollo in parts of Gaul, North Italy and Noricum (part of Austria). He is also a healer and associated with healing spings and the healing power of the Sun. His cult spread from northern Italy to southern Gaul and Britain. Belenus is in charge of the welfare of sheep and cattle. His wife is the goddess Belisama.

The fire festival Beltene is probably related to Belenus. They can be compared with the continental Apollo and Minerva, but but Belenus can also be identified with the Irish god Bile. His festival is Beltine ("Fire of Bel"), celebrated on May 1 and is remembered in our typical "May Day" activities. On this day, purifying fires were lit and cattle driven between them before being allowed out onto the open pastures. The Cult of Belenus possessed a particular status in that it is mentioned in a number of Classical Literary sources. The cult of Belenus was practiced in northern Italy, Noricum in the eastern Alps, southern Gaul and Britain.

The picture above of Belenus comes from a bronze coin dating to the first century of the Common Era. It was minted by Cunobeline, chief of the Trinovantes, one of the Celtic tribes. The reverse side of the coin depicts a boar, an animal which to the Celts symbolized warlike power, sovereignty, hunting, and hospitality.