Danu was a mother goddess to the Tuatha Dé Danann. She was the most ancient of goddesses, associated with wisdom, knowledge and the learning. She is often associated with wind and rivers and the Earth. It is said she possessed the divine knowledge of shape shifting and shamanic travel.
Boann was a water goddess associated with fertility and abundance. According to legend, she owned a sacred well which contained the divine secrets of her tribe (it was also said to be a link to the other worlds of Irish mythology). All were forbidden to approach this well, with the exception of her husband Nuada (first king of the Tuatha Dé Danann).
Banbha was a warrior goddess who protected the land of the Irish. She was a Queen of the Tuatha de Danaan and possessed powerful magic which she used to battle invaders with (most notably the Milesian tribe). Legend says that it Banbha who found Ireland after a great flood, which she vowed to protect with her life.
Brigid was a goddess of fire, associating her with great magical power. Those with a mastery over fire could mould metal, infuse potions and bring light to the dark. This made her a benefactor of light, healing, smithing and sorcery.
Ernmas was a mother goddess who sired six girls and five boys, making her a figure of fertility and abundance. It was her strength and vitality that was said to have endowed her children with great battle prowess and magical power. Very little is mentioned about the father of her children, for it was she alone who was regarded the divine power behind her lineage.
Áine was a sun goddess, associated with love, midsummer and fertility. She had command over crops and animals and was also associated with healing and magic. Aine, beautiful, bright and glowing, was a muse to every poet. She could inspire great works of creativity or drive the artist to madness.
Morrigan was a goddess of war and fertility. Her name means the “Queen of Demons” or the “Phantom Queen”. It was said she possessed the powers of divination and prophecy and was one of the strangest deities in Irish mythology. She was a tripartite goddess of war: associated with Badb and Macha.
Badb was a war goddess who took the form of a crow, and was thus sometimes known as Badb Catha (“battle crow”). She often caused fear and confusion among soldiers in order to move the tide of battle to her favoured side. Badb would also appear prior to a battle to foreshadow the extent of the upcoming carnage. She would sometimes do this through wailing cries, leading to comparisons with the banshee.
Macha, a war goddess, was associated with the fate of the Irish. It was claimed she was a prophetess who appeared to those about to die. She is commonly shown washing bloody clothes at a river ford; when approached, She tells the enquirer the clothes are theirs. Like the bean sidhe (banshee), Whom She is believed related to, She is an omen of death.
Bé Chuille was a sorceress whose magic was used to conjure a host of warriors from the grass and leaves. Bé Chuille was also gifted with divination, and she foretold the number of Danann who would die in the battle against the Milesians.
Clíodhna was a Queen of the Banshees. Due to the betrayal of her husband Manannan, her soul was shattered. In the daytime she was known as goddess of love and beauty, but come nightfall she became the Banshee Queen, a goddess of vanity, jealousy and obsession.
Fand was a Celtic sea goddess also known as Queen of the Fairies and wife of Manannán. She made her home both in the Otherworld and on the Islands of Man. She was also a patron of health and earthly pleasures, known to the people of Ireland as “Pearl of Beauty”.
In Celtic mythology, the Tuatha De Danann (children of the goddess Danu) were the last race of gods to occupy and conquer the British Isles before men came and took the land away from them. The Tuatha De Danann were gifted warriors and learned in magic.
Dagda was one of the most powerful deities to set foot on Ireland. He was known as father of the Gods, the master of Druids and the keeper of arcane lore. He was also a formidable warrior who acted as both guide and father to the Tuatha De Danann.
One of his most first protégé was king Nuada (God of war and weaponry), It was said he possessed an invincible sword which he used to cleave his enemies in half. However, after Nuada lost his hand in battle, he was deemed ineligable to be king and was replaced by Bres.
Bres was a Celtic fertility god who took over the role of Nuada after his injury. He was a tyrannical ruler, which proved his undoing. In exchange for his life, Bres taught agriculture and turned Ireland into a fertile haven.
Aoi was the poet of the Tuatha de Danann. A druid foretold at his birth that he would grow up to become a master poet who was gifted with special powers. It was said he had he possessed sensational musical talent with an eloquent voice to match.
Lugh was a hero and High King of the Tuatha Dé Danann, associated with the sun. He was a highly skilled God, proficient in multiple arts such as the smithing, carpentry, poetry, music and combat.
Ogma was a hardened battle God who had mellowed with age. From this aged warrior came the gift of poetry and writing. An ancient Celtic script known as Ogham was named after him, reminding us how eloquent the Celts really were.
Bile was associated with the sacred tree (a prehistoric symbol associated with the heavens and the underworld). This made him a god of both light and darkness, life and death. However, he was mostly associated with summer and fertility, where it was said bring life and vitality to the world.
Aengus was a dark and mysterious God associated with love, poetry and romance. It was said that no woman could set eyes upon him without falling madly in love at the sound of his magical harp. He is sometimes called Angus the Young for he was conceived and born the same day.
Dian Cécht was the God of healing and physician to the Tuatha Dé Danann. One of his greatest feats was to construct a silver mechanical hand for the god of war, Nuada (after it was cut off in a bloody battle). It was said this prosthetic could move as well as a real hand.
Goibniu was the smith and brewmaster of the Tuatha Dé Danann. He was described as a master smelter whose weapons were always lethal, but he was more renowned for his brews which were said to give the drinker invulnerability. As a brewmaster he was unsurpassed and his beer gave the drinker divine immortality.
Luchtaine, Goibniu and Creidhne were known as the Trí Dée Dána, the three gods of art, who forged the weapons which the Tuatha Dé used to battle the Fomorians. It is said that Creidhne fashioned King Nuada’s silver hand, together with Dian Cecht.
These ancient deities were found in the Gaulish region of Europe (i.e. France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Austria). Their mythical roles were preserved by Romans scholars between 400 BCE and 200 CE. These authors, impressed by their god-like talents, wrote about the their prowess in battle, their legendary healing abilities and their creative skills in music and forging.
Rosmerta was a goddess of fertility and abundance. After Rome conquered her region, Rosmerta was adopted into the local Roman pantheon where she became a consort of the God Mercury. In Roman depictions of her she carries a caduceus wand, an indication that she was adept in the healing arts. Her name means “great provider”.
Andraste was a goddess of battle and victory. Legend says that Boudica invoked her when resisting the Roman occupation of Britain (60 CE). It was said Boudica raised her hands toward the heavens and said: “I thank you, Andraste, and call upon you as woman to woman… I beg you for victory and preservation of liberty.”
Epona was a goddess of domestication, focused on the protection of horses, donkeys, and mules. It has been suggested that she and her horses were spirit guides, carrying souls to their resting place in the afterlife. Epona occupied an important place in the Gallic religion, because the horse itself was important in the life of the Gauls.
Belisama means “Summer Bright”. She was associated with all forms of light, (firelight, sunlight and moonlight). She was also connected to the forge, which endowed her with a creative role in Gaulish traditions. Her prime element was fire, which connected her to light, medicine, smithing, arts and crafts.
Abnoba was a Gaulish goddess of hunting. Her name is linked to the rivers, forests and nudity. She was worshipped in the Black Forest area, revered as a goddess of childbirth as well as the Patroness of Waterways. She was the protector of woods, springs, rivers and wild animals.
Damona was a goddess of health, especially in the context of domestic animals such as dogs, sheep and cows. She was linked to hot srpings and healing waters, alluding to their healthful, warm quality. She was often called upon to heal pets and livestock, maintaining their health so that they would provide nourishment to the tribe.
Aveta was a mother goddess, associated with birth, fertility and fresh-water springs. She was the patron of midwifery, often portrayed as a woman with infants at the breast, a small lap dog and a basket of fruit.
Nehalennia was the goddess of seafarers. She was mostly worshipped at the point where travellers crossed the North Sea. Artistic representations of her depict a woman standing on a boat, holding an oar with a dog by her side. She was often seen carrying a basket of fish, suggesting she was also a goddess of abundance.
Catubodua was a warrior goddess known as the “Battle Crow”. It is believed she may have been the warrior aspect of a now lost triple goddess (much like the Morrigan from Irish mythology). Roman soldiers who fought the Gaul’s sometimes spoke a crows attacking them in the battlefield, who terrified by this divine intervention, were easily defeated.
Arduinna was a goddess of the wild, associated with forest regions. She was often represented as a huntress riding a boar side-saddle and holding a knife. She protected the animals of the forest, only allowing mortals a successful hunt if they made a decent offering to her first. She was also associated with the highlands, a sacred land that was said to be her homeland.
Sirona was a healing deity, associated with warm springs and healing pools. Her totem animal was the snake, a creature from the underworld (also linked to healing) Many of her temples and shrines were constructed around thermal springs or wells. Her name means star which also links her to the domain of astrology and divination.
Artio was a goddess associated with abundance and providence. She was known as a bear goddess, who awakens in the spring to announce the season and share fruit from Her storehouse. Similar to Arduinnam she lived in the wilderness, and was likely called on during hunting rituals.
The Gaulish gods were formidable figures in Celtic mythology. They refused to acknowledge Roman rule, inspiring tens of thousands of warriors to fight back using any means necessary. Their warrior culture managed to survive the Roman invasion, but it was the Christian movement that struck a powerful blow to their pagan ways.
Monotheism began to convert the Celtic people, replacing their many gods with figures of saints, and building over their sacred lands with chapels and monasteries.
Some mythologists believe the Christians cut down the sacred trees of the gods which were used as places of worship. Without these life giving shrines, legend says that the Celtic gods began to wither and age (reducing them to the status of fairies and trolls). They didn’t die however, for many European folk tales speak of ancient spirits who hid away in sacred grottos and hallowed grounds, waiting for their pagan followers to awaken them once again.
With current trends toward the resurrection of the Celtic pantheon, here is a list of twelve Gaulish gods that played a huge part in the Celtic world:
Taranis: God of thunder storms, known for his dual nature as a good humoured drinker of mead, and a ferocious warrior when called to battle.
Belenus: A solar deity who was invoked during war to insure that the fiercest, bravest battles fought were also won.
Toutatis: A warrior god who was summoned to protect his people from harm. The enemies of the Celts feared him, but his pagan followers adored this battle hardened hero.
Camalus: A champion god of combat, associated with battle prowess in the arena. It is possible he was a patron of Celtic gladiators.
Ogmios: A god of eloquence who had great charm and charisma. It was said he understood the secrets of the runes and was responsible for guiding souls to the afterlife.
Cerannous: This Celtic god wore antlers upon his head and was often invoked to assure plentiful crops and to bestow fortune upon his followers.
Borvo: A god of hot springs whose waters were said to possess great healing properties. Warriors would frequent his sacred spas for healing and relaxation.
Dispater: God of the underworld, associated with ancestral worship. He was called upon to mediate between the world of the living and the realm of the dead.
Esus: Known as the lord of magic, he was linked to druidism and the other worlds of Celtic mythology. His sacred shrine was the oak tree.
Lugus: A master artisan who was skilled in many crafts. He was associated with trade, commerce and trickery. He was invoked by travellers to grant them protection on the road.
Smetrios: God of endurance and martial combat. Smetrios has been likened to the great Herakles from Greek mythology, a tragic hero of unspeakable strength.
Succuless: A forest guardian who was invoked by farmers for plentiful crops. He was a festive spirit associated with heavy drinking and the coming of Spring.