Celtic Gods

The earliest Celtic Gods had names that could not be spoken. Some appear to be ancestors who have grown into legend. There are two that come to mind for me:

Cernunus, "the Horned One," God of the forest and the Hunt. Cernunus is Latin for horned one, so this is not a Celtic name. He resembles the Greek Pan, god of forests, pastures and flocks. In medieval times, his name was shortened into Herne. He was know for energy and lust, and he was used as a model for the Christian devil.

This image is from the Gundestrup Cauldron dating from 150 B.C.E.

Dagda is the Irish-Celtic "good god" of the earth and treaties, and ruler over life and death. He is one of the most prominent gods and the leader of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the faerie folk. He is a master of magic, a fearsome warrior and a skilled artisan.

The Dagda is portrayed as possessing both super-human strength and appetite. His attributes are a cauldron with an inexhaustible supply of food, a magical harp with which he summons the seasons, and an enormous club, with one end of which he could kill nine men, but with the other restore them to life. He also possessed two marvelous swine---one always roasting, the other always growing---and ever-laden fruit trees.

The attributes of Dagda are comparable to those attributed to Brigid. Often there are Celtic gods and goddesses with matching powers.

Image from JPC Artworks.

Lugh is a hero God and perhaps evolved from an ancestor. His feast is Lughnassadh, the festival of the first harvest August 1. In Wales, his symbol is a white stag. Lugh had a magick spear and rod-sling. He is also associated with ravens and the harp.

He was a carpenter, mason, warrior, poet, physician and goldsmith. He rules over commerce, journeys, reincarnation, lightning, magick, arts and crafts, poets, harpers and sorcerers. Lugh is the Master of Crafts.

Lugh was sometimes depicted riding dragons, elementals of Earth Energy. In Christian times, his sacred sites were later re-dedicated to Saint Michael, who is pictured as slaying dragons. St. Michael's Day is September 29th.

Among the Celts, self-sacrifice for the good of the community by a God or mortal was highly respected behavior. This is one of the reasons that a shift to to Celtic Christianity was a short leap for them. I contrast Lugh with the Christian Jesus.

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