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Celtic Deities: A to C

    Abarta, Aine, Amaethon, Andraste, Arawn, Arianrhod, Balor, Bile, Bel, Bloudeuedd, Boann, Bran the Blessed (Bendigeidfran), Bres, Brigid, An Cailleach, Camuolos, Cernunnos, Cerridwen, Cliodhna, Creidhne
    Danu (Anu), An Dagdha, Dian Cecht, Don, Donn, Dylan, Epona, Goibniu (Govannan), Gwydion, Gwynn ap Nudd
    Lir, Luchtaine, Lugh, Mabon, Mac Cecht, Macha, Manannan mac Lir (Mananwyddan ap Lyr), Math ap Mathonwy, The Morrighna (Badb and Nemhain)
    Nantosuelta, Nechtan, Nemglan, Nuadha Airgetlamh, Oenghus, Ogma, Rhiannon, Sucellus, Sovereignty (Banba, Fodla and Eriu), Tailtu, Taranis, Tiernon

    Abarta [Abartach, Abhartach]
    Abarta is the son of the king of Tir Tairngire (Land of Promise) and the father of the unnamed beloved of the warrior Cael (MacKillop, 1998). In the Fenian cycle, concerning the deeds of Finn Mac Cumaill, Abarta, as one of the Tuatha de Danann, leads Finn and 14 members of the Fianna journey to the Otherworld on a wild gray horse. His name means "feat-performing one," or "doer of deeds."
    Aine is the Irish Goddess of love, fertility and agriculture. She is sometimes referred to as the "fire" aspect of Brighid. Daughter of Eogabail, who was the foster son of the Manx sea god Manannan mac Lyr, Aine's main responsibility was to encourage human love. King Ailil Olom of Munster, one of Aine's mortal lovers, attempted to force himself on her, but was slayed by her magick. Her festival is Alban Heruin, or "The Light of the Shore," which also is referred to as Litha or Midsummer's Day.
    Amaethon, whose name means "labourer," or "ploughman," is the Welsh god of agriculture and son of the goddess Don. He is responsible for the war between Arawn, Lord of the Otherworld, and the Tuatha de Danaan. Amaethon stole a hound, a deer and a bird from Arawn, thus starting the Cad Goddeu (Battle of Trees). In this battle, Amaethon's brother, Gwydion, transformed trees into warriors.
    Andraste (Andarta [Gaulish])
    The Briton war-goddess invoked by the Iceni Queen Boudicca when she revolted against the Romans. Often is associated with the hare, Andraste is the only native Celtic war-goddess mentioned by contemporary Roman and Greek writers. Her name most likely means "unconqerable," or possibly "victory." Boudicca's name also is said to mean "victory" and some believe she may the warrior aspect of this goddess. (Green, pg. 31) Some evidence exists to link the appeasement of Andraste to female blood sacrifice as was done to Boudicca's Roman female prisoners after her sack of London. 
    Welsh god of the Annwn, the Otherworld, a paradise of peace and plenty. When Amaethon stole from him, it led to the Cad Goddeu. Later, the Dyfed chieftain Pwyll and he changed places, Pwyll agreeing to kill Arawn's rival, Hafgan. Arawn leads a pack of wild, white hounds with red-tipped ears. He is considered a powerful protector of dangerous places.
    "Of the Silver Wheel," Arianrhod is the Welsh mother- and star-goddess, her palace, or spiral tower is called Caer Arianrhod (Aurora Borealis). She is the goddess of destiny, reincarnation and the wheel, and also the Mother aspect of the Triple Goddess in Wales. A goddess of the moon, Arianrhod is the daughter of Don and Beli, and mother of Llew Llaw Gyffes and Dylan.
    Balor was the one-eyed Fomorii god of death and king, often called the Irish cyclops. Husband of Cethlenn and son of Buarainech, a look from his one eye could kill, and the eyelid had to be held up by four servants. It was prophesied that he would be slain by his own grandson. Despite his tactics to avoid this, Balor was killed by the sun-god Lugh in the Second Battle of Magh Tuireadh. Lugh was son to Balor's daughter, Ethlinn, and the Danann Cian.
    Bel (Belenus, Belinos, Belanos [Gaul], Beli [Briton & Cymru])
    The Celtic god of light, fire and healing is depicted as 'Apollo Belenus' ('Brilliant Apollo') at a shrine at Sainte-Sabine in Burgundy. (Green, 1991, p. 110) His name means "bright" or "brilliant"
    or in Irish Gaelic, the name "bile" translates to "sacred tree." It is thought that the waters of Danu, the Irish All-Mother goddess, fed the oak and produced their son, The Dagda. As the Welsh Beli, he is the father of Arianhrod by Don.
    Patron of sheep and cattle, Bel's festival is Beltane, one of two main Celtic fire festivals. Beltane celebrates the return of life and fertility to the world -- marking the beginning of Summer and the growing season. Taking place on April 30, Beltane also is sometimes referred to as "Cetsamhain" which means "opposite Samhain." The word "Beltaine" literally means "bright" or "brilliant fire," and refers to the bonfire lit by a presiding Druid in honor of Bile.
    It has been suggested that the mythological king, Beli Mawr, in the story of Lludd and Llefelys in The Mabinogion, is a folk memory of this god. (Ross, Folklore of the Scottish Highlands, pg. 135) In Irish mythology, the great undertakings of the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Milesians -- the original supernatural inhabitants of Eiru and their human conquerors, respectively -- began at Beltane. The Milesians were led by Amairgen, son of Mil, in folklore reputed to be the first Druid.
    Some believe this deity is the equivalent of Belatucadros, the consort of Belisama, another patroness of light, fire, the forge and crafts. Belatucadros, whose name means "fair shining one" or possibly "the fair slayer," is the god of destruction and war and transports the dead to Danu's "divine waters." Celtic deities often reign over seemingly contradictory themes. In the case of Belatucadros, death was simply a pathway to rebirth in the Otherworld, thus linking the two themes together. However, according to Ross's Pagan Celtic Britain, historically the worship of Belatucadros among the Celts was confined only the northwestern region of Britain and has never been associated with the festival of Beltane, healing or with a consort (pg. 235).
    Bile (possibly related to Bilomagus [Gaul])
    Often mistakenly associated with Bel, Bile was one of the Milesians mentioned in the pseudo-historical Leabhar Gaba/la (Book of Invasions). He also is often considered to be a god of darkness and death from the underworld, but this is an opinion not shared by many contemporary scholars. "Bile," or "billi," also can mean "large tree, tree trunk" in Irish and is thought to be the name of a special tree in Ireland that was the home of deities or elemental spirits.
    Blodeuedd (Blodeuwedd)
    Her name means "born of flowers," or "flower face," Blodeuedd was conjured from the blossoms of oak, broom and meadowsweet by Math and Gwydion for Llew Llaw Gyffes. She betrayed him with Gronw Pebyr (Goronwy), the lord of Penllyn, and planned his murder. When attacked, Llew changed into the form of an eagle and escaped. Gwydion turned her into an owl, bird of the night.
    Irish water-goddess and mother of Aonghus, the Irish god of love. Her name means "she who has white cows." Sometimes consdidered a fertility and sovereignty goddess, Boann was married to Nechtan or to Elcmar, depending on the myth. As the wife of Nechtan she misused the well that he served as guardian and the well poured over, drowing her and creating the River Boyne. The Dagda, chief god of the Tuatha de Danann, was Boann's lover and father of Aonghus.
    Bran the Blessed (Bendigeidfran)
    Bendigeidfran was a god of the Otherworld, a British king and son of the sea god Llyr. He allowed his sister Branwen to marry the Irish king Matholwch, without the consent of her half-brother Efnisien. Hostility broke out between the Irish and the Britons as a result, but Bran avoided war by presenting Matholwch with a magic cauldron that would bring men back to life, but without restoring their speech. Still, Branwen was made a work in the palace kitchens despite the fact that she had given Matholwch a son, Gwern. Bran raised and army and sailed to Ireland to save his sister. Bran and his army massacred the Irish, but he died in the process from a poisoned arrow. He told his followers to cut off his head (which is where the Celts believed the soul resides) – which still talked and ate on the voyage home – and bury it beneath White Hill in London facing Europe to ward off invaders. It is thought this site is now the land where the Tower of London is built.
    Demigod of fertility and agriculture, Bres was the son of Elatha, a Fomorian prince, and of Eriu, part of the triple Sovereignty goddess. He also was the husband of Brighid. After the First Battle of Mag Tuireadh, Bres became the tyrannical ruler of the Tuatha de Danaan. He was replaced by Nuadha when his lost hand was replaced with a silver one, which precipitated the Second Battle of Mag Tuireadh. To save his life Bres promised to instruct the Tuatha de Danann in agriculture and made Ireland a fertile land.
    Brigid (Breo Saighead, Brid, Brighid [Eriu], Brigindo, Brigandu [Gaul], Brigan, Brigantia, Brigantis [Briton], Bride [Alba])
    Breo Saighead, or the "Fiery Arrow or Power," is a Celtic three-fold goddess, the daughter of The Dagdha, and the wife of Bres. Known by many names, Brighid's three aspects are (1) Fire of Inspiration as patroness of poetry, (2) Fire of the Hearth, as patroness of healing and fertility, and (3) Fire of the Forge, as patroness of smithcraft and martial arts. She is mother to the craftsmen Sons of Tuireann: Creidhne, Luchtaine and Giobhniu.
    Excalibur, King Arthur's sword, was forged by the Lady of the Lake, a figure sometimes associated with Brighid because of her fire and forgery aspect. Like the Arthurian Avalon, or "Isle of Apples," Brigid possessed an apple orchard in the Otherworld to which bees traveled to obtain it's magickal nectar.
    Brigid, which means "one who exaults herself," is Goddess of the Sacred Flame of Kildare (derived from "Cill Dara," which means "church of the oak"). She was Christianized as the "foster-mother" of Jesus Christ, and called St. Brigit, the daughter of the Druid Dougal the Brown. She sometimes also is associated with the Romano-Celtic goddess Aquae-Sulis in Bathe.
    Brighid's festival is Imbolc, celebrated on or around February 1 when she ushers Spring to the land after An Cailleach's Winter reign. This mid-Winter feast commences as the ewes begin to lactate and is the start of the new agricultural cycle. During this time Brigid personifies a bride, virgin or maiden aspect and is the protectoress of women in childbirth. Imbolc also is known as Oimelc, Brigid, Candlemas, or even in America as Groundhog Day.
    As the foundation for the American Groundhog Day, Brigid's snake comes out of its mound in which it hibernates and its behavior is said to determine the length of the remaining Winter.
    An ancient Irish story tells of how on the eve of this day, The Cailleach, or White Lady, drank from the ancient Well of Youth at dawn. In that instant, she was transformed into her Maiden aspect, the young goddess called Brigid. Wells were considered to be sacred because they arose from oimbelc (literally "in the belly"), or womb of Mother Earth.
    Because of her Fire of Inspiration and her connection to the apple and oak trees, Brighid often is considered the patroness of the Druids.
    An Cailleach
    The personification of Winter, this sovereignty figure's name means "old woman" or "veiled one." In Scottish folklore, An Cailleach is born old and ugly and grows younger as the year turns to Spring and Summer. On the Isle of Man, she was a weather-spirit said to come out to warm herself at Imbolc. If she found a wet day, she would return to her hiding, a precurssor to the American Groundhog Day. Across the British Isles she has several names, including:
    • Cailleach Mhor Nam Fiadh
    • Cailleach Mhor A Chilibric (Great Hag of Clibric)
    • Cailleach Beinne Bric (Old Woman of Speckled Mountain)
    • Cailleach Bheirre (Nun of Beare)
    • Cailleach Bheur (Genteel Old Lady)
    • Cailleach Uragaig
    Camulos was the god of the Remi, a Celtic tribe from Belgium. Camulos was said to weild an invincible sword. He also was worshipped as a war-god in northern Britain, his name forming the etymological basis for the city of Camelot.
    Cernunnos (sometimes associated with Bile)
    Usually depicted sitting cross-legged and possessing a stag's antlers, Cernunnos is the Gaulish version of the pan-Celtic "Horned God. " In Welsh mythology he is the Consort of the Great Goddess and god of the Underworld, nature, virility, fertility, animals, sex, reincarnation and shamanism. Sometimes called the Hunter God, he is the god of plenty, wild animals, and the forest. In medieval times his image, as well as that of the gods Herne and Pan, were transferred to that of the Devil, possibly due to their close association with the "wild hunt" – as the Lord of the Otherworld – in which spirits of the dead are carried to the Otherworld.
    Cerridwen is the Welsh Goddess of Nature, associated with the Sacred Cauldron of Wisdom that allowed Taliesin to become enlightened. This cauldron of the Underworld is where inspiration and divine knowledge are brewed. When she discovered that Gwion had tasted of her cauldron, she chased him through a variety of shape changes until at last she caught and consummed him as a grain of wheat. Gwion was reborn to Cerridwen as the Druid Taliesin.
    Cliodhna is the Irish Otherworld goddess of beauty. It is said her three magickal birds can sing the sleep and cure them. At one point she fled to Glandore to live with her the mortal lover, Ciabhan. One day on the shore near Cork, after Ciabhan had gone hunting, Mannann Mac Lir, the sea-god, put Cliodhna into a magickal sleep and sent wave to carry her home.
    Demigod of metalworking, Creidhne is the goldsmith of the Tuatha de Dannan and the brother of Giobhniu, the smith god, and Luchtar, the carpenter. During the Second Battle of Magh Tuireadh, when the Dannans defeated the Fomorii, the three brothers were on the battlefield repairing spears with magickal speed, specifically forgin weapons for Lugh.

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