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CELTIC-L  December 1996

CELTIC-L December 1996

Subject:

Celtic Religion - what information do we really have - Part 4

From:

Raimund Karl <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

CELTIC-L - The Celtic Culture List.

Date:

Tue, 3 Dec 1996 18:04:45 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (167 lines)

Ok, let's continue where I stopped yesterday. We still are dealing
with the Celtic gods.

EARTH MOTHER

The Earth mother (surprise, she actually exists in Celtic mythology).
It is usually this godess which was, together with the Sky father,
parent of all the other gods. This godess appears as a separate
godess in some IE pantheons (for instance Gaia in the greek
mythology), but also can meld with other female godesses, most often
with the female Upper Realm godess. In the Irish mythology s separate
Earthmother figure seems to be preserved in the figure of Danu and Tailtiu.
She was usually also the mother of three godesses associated with
rivers or springs which are the female godesses of the Upper, Middle
and Lower realm.

THE GODESS OF THE LOWER REALM

The godess of the Lower Realm seems to have had a cowlike nature. It
was probably called *Guououinda "White cow" (from IE *guou- +
*uind-), *Matrona "Mother" (from IE *mater) or *Mororegni "Great
Queen" (from IE *moro- + *regni-) She was also capable of shifting
her form to an eel, snake, serpent or wolf, more or less the animal
godess. Additionally, she seems to be one of the aspects of the
"godess of sovereignity". Her Gaulish names seem to have been
S(t)irona "Heifer", Damona "Cow", but also Brigantia "the High, the
ealted pure one", Rigana "the Queen", Matrona "mother", but also
Sequana "the Flowing" and Bovinda "white Cow". Her Irish equivalents
are for instance Boand (the Irish form of Bovinda), Brigit
(equivalent of Brigantia) and Mo/rri/gan (the Irish version of Rigana).
Her Welsh equivalent is Mordron (the mother).
Through intercourse with the skyfather this godess begets a god named
"son", who later marries his aunt, the godess of the middle realm.
This son is the Gaulish *Maponos "Son", in Welsh this is his cognate
*Mabon "Son", and, as expected, Boand is the mother of the Irish Mac
ind O/c "young Son". This god seems to be assoviated with fire.

THE GODESS OF THE MIDDLE REALM

The godess of the middle Realm apparently had the byname *Medhua
"Intoxicatress" (from IE *medhu-). She seems to appear human in form,
and definitly is also part of the "godess of sovereignity". Her
Gaulish name probably was *Meduana "Intoxicatress" or *Comedova
(same meaning), and possibly also *Aveda  "the flowing (Water)" Her
Irish form is known as Medb or Aife (one of Mebd's bynames).
This godess also has a son with the skyfather, called *nepots
"Nephew" (alternatives *Nepotulos, *Neptionos) or *Nebhtunos "God of
Waters", or Irish Nechtain-Freach (the son of Medb), who latrer
marries his Aunt, the Lower Realm godess (as Nechtain does with
Boand). This god seems to be associated with water.

THE GODESS OF THE UPPER REALM

This godess is usually depicted as a horse. Her Gaulish name is Epona
"Horse Godess" (from IE *ekuo-na), but she has as her bynames also
the names *Rigana "Queen" (See also above for the Lower Realm godess)
and possibly some others like ?Catona? "Battle Godess" and ?Imona?
"Swift One". Her Irish equivalent is Macha (which is also called
Rigana "Queen"and Roech "Great Horse", essentially a cognate of
Epona). The byname ?Imona? of Epona could also explain the name Emain
Macha, as ?Imona? is cognate with Emain (from *Imonis). Her Welsh
equivalent is Rhiannon "Queen" (from *Riganona).
The name Macha may also indicate that here we have a melding of the
Earth godess with the Upper Realm godess (see Latin *Maia "the Great,
the Mother but also Sanskrit *Mahi "the Earth").
This godess as well is part of the "Godess of Sovereignity".

A FEW THOUGHTS ON THE "GODESS OF SOVEREIGNITY"

As we have seen above, all those four godesses are very interwoven in
their functions. In fact, it is questionable if they are to be
considered as separate godesses at all, or if they are not all only
aspects of the Earth Mother/Godess of Sovereignity complex. Simply
said, this is not decideable at the moment. It is also possible that
due to the very scarce evidence and a constant intermixture, these
godesses became, even though separate godesses, mixed to a certain
extent by the Celts themselves.

THE GOD OF THE TREE FRUIT

This god is depicted as a bull. It is a twin god as far we can say,
who has a white and a black form. The two twins seem to be fighting
each other, starting out as humans and going through a series of
shapechanges until finally, when both are bulls, the dark one rips
the white one apart besides a sea. Its gaulish names are Tarvos
Trigaranus "Bull with three cranes", Tarvos "Bull" or Donnotaurus
"Black bull", the last one being a cognate of Donn Tarbh, another
name for the Donn Cuailnge, who fights the Finnbenach "White
horned one" in one of the preludes rto the Tain, also going through
the shapechanges. In this, this figure fits with the Avestan Tistrya
and Apaosa and, more perfectly even, with the Greek Zagre/ous-
Dio/nysos.

THE GODESS OF WAR

Well know as a triplicate godess from Irish mythology in the forms of
Mo/rri/gan "Great Queen", Nemain "Battle Frenzy" and Babd "Crow".
These three godesses are also refered to as the tres Mo/rri/gna "The
three Great Queens", therefore the Mo/rri/gan may not be identical
with the Lower Realm godess, but also these might be three other
aspects of the tripartite godess/three godesses that are responsible
for the respective realms. The three battle godesses can shift into
the form of a raven
At least the Babd, who is also referred to as Babd catha
"Battlecrow", also in this form has a cognate in Gaulish gods names
in [C]athubodva.

THE GOD OF ORATORY - THE CELTIC HERCULES

Apparently there existed a god in Gaul named Ogmios who was equated
with the Roman Hercules as statet in Lucianus's Dialogi Deorum
(Hercules 1,7). This god is cognate with the Irish Ogma mac Elathan
of the Tu/atha De/ Danann in Cath Maige Tuired, who is refered to as
the champion of the TD and credited with the invention of the Ogam
alphabet. He seems to have functioned as a god of oratory as well,
Gaulish coins depict his audience as tied by silver chains to him
which connect his tongue with their ears.

DEA LOCI - GODESS OF A PLACE

Additionally there existed godesses which were "place-specific" in
that they were seen as protectoresses and/or mothers of certain
places. They are considered to fall in the group of Gaulish Matres,
Matrones. We know such godesses for instance for *Genava (todays
Geneva in Switzerland), Vienna (todays French Vienne) and numerous
other places. A function of the Irish Macha in that kind for Emain
Macha is also likely

SPRING "NYMPHS" - GODESSES OF SPRINGS

There also exist numerous godesses responsible for springs. We know
of an *Acionna "?Water Godess?", *Arvolcia "the very Wet", *Cobba
"Prosperity" and others. Equal functions were probably fulfilled by
the godesses after which rivers were named like the Sequana, Matrona,
Boand. We know for instance that at the spring of the Sequana
offerings were made to that godess.

WOOD "NYMPHS" - GODESSES OF THE LANDS

Equal to spring godesses we also know of godesses which were
attributed to certain parts of the countryside. For instance we know
of a godess *Ardbenna "Godess of the Ardbenna, the High Hills",
whichs name still is clinging to the Ardennes forest on the
German/French border and similar.

THE GENII - LESSER GODS / SPIRITS

The last type I'll be mentioning here are the socalled Genii,
sometimes also know as Genii cucullati "Hooded Spirits" which could
have had numerous functions. We know of Genii of the "Neighbourhood",
Gaul. *Contrebis which is probably cognate with Irish contreb
"community", Genii of the family, Gaul. *Vinotonos from the
Celtic stems *veni- "family" and the cognate of Irish tonn "wave,
surface, land, earth, skin" as well as placename genii like Artio
"god of the Bear (forest)", *Alisanos "god of Alesia", *Brixantus
"god of Brixantion", but also for tribes or their subunits like
*Allobrox "God of the Allobroges, *Menapos "God of the Menapii".

________________________________
Here I finish for today. I am through with the gods now and will
continue, as soon as possible, with the sacred places, hopefully this
will be tomorrow.

RAY
_________________________________
To be continued ...

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