Galic Gods


Little is known about the religious beliefs of the Celts of Gaul. They believed in a life after death, for they buried food, weapons, and ornaments with the dead. The druids, the early Celtic priesthood, taught the doctrine of transmigration of souls and discussed the nature and power of the gods. The Irish believed in an otherworld, imagined sometimes as underground and sometimes as islands in the sea. The otherworld was variously called “the Land of the Living,” “Delightful Plain,” and “Land of the Young” and was believed to be a country where there was no sickness, old age, or death, where happiness lasted forever, and a hundred years was as one day. It was similar to the Elysium of the Greeks and may have belonged to ancient Indo-European tradition. In Celtic eschatology, as noted in Irish vision or voyage tales, a beautiful girl approaches the hero and sings to him of this happy land. He follows her, and they sail away in a boat of glass and are seen no more; or else he returns after a short time to find that all his companions are dead, for he has really been away for hundreds of years. Sometimes the hero sets out on a quest, and a magic mist descends upon him. He finds himself before a palace and enters to find a warrior and a beautiful girl who make him welcome. The warrior may be Manannán, or Lugh himself may be the one who receives him, and after strange adventures the hero returns successfully. These Irish tales, some of which date from the 8th century, are infused with the magic quality that is found 400 years later in the Arthurian romances. Something of this quality is preserved, too, in the Welsh story of Branwen, daughter of Llyr, which ends with the survivors of the great battle feasting in the presence of the severed head of Bran the Blessed, having forgotten all their suffering and sorrow. But this “delightful plain” was not accessible to all. Donn, god of the dead and ancestor of all the Irish, reigned over Tech Duinn, which was imagined as on or under Bull Island off the Beare Peninsula, and to him all men returned except the happy few.

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica


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.


Other Names: Athena, Sequana, and Minerva
Belisama is a Celtic River goddess from ancient Gaul which is modern day France. She is the goddess of rivers and creeks, fire and forge, and light. She is the wife of the god Belenus and the Goddess of the Mersey River.


Roman Name: Mercury
Other Names: Carnunnos, Cernunnus
"The Horned One" was the Celtic god of fertility, life, animals, wealth, and the underworld. On a monument dedicated by Parisian sailors in the reign of Tiberius, the name is inscribed above the head and shoulders of a balding, bearded elderly god wearing antlers, from each of which hang a Torc (neck ring). In addition to the antlers, the god has the ears of a stag and is usually represented sitting cross-legged. He was worshipped all over Gaul, and his cult spread into Britain as well. Cernunnos is depicted with the antlers of a stag, and sometimes carries a purse filled with coin. The Horned God is born at the winter solstice, marries the Goddess at Beltane, and dies at the summer solstice. He alternates with the Goddess of the moon in ruling over life and death, continuing the cycle of death, rebirth and reincarnation. Paleolithic cave paintings found in France that depict a stag standing upright or a man dressed in stag costume seem to indicate that Cernunnos' origins date to those times. Romans sometimes portrayed him with three cranes flying above his head.

About the picture above...His most famous image is from the Gundestrap cauldron where he holds a serpent and torc, surrounded by a raven, dog, stage, and other animals in a scene strong with ritual but open to interpretation. That he is wearing an antlered cap and possibly an animal skin suit suggests the character is his priest. He sits in a yoga pose, recalling Hindu deities. Indeed, he may be linked to the Hindu stag-god Pashupati (< pashu, 'animals', + pati, 'lord').