If we talk about the term “Celtic”, we must know that it means to the people that existed approximately in the fourth century BC, people that was located in the northwest of the European continent, near the British islands. Celtic culture and customs are very different in each of its regions, in addition to having a very different religion to what we have today, had a set of divinities that worshiped and venerated, each focused on a special area.
This town existed for the Iron Age. They consisted of several Celtic people, which had its own leader, where there were differences between them; however, the religious beliefs were the same.
Before the Roman conquest, celtic cult was in charge of the Druids, who were priests who undertook their vocation from their youth. These cults were carried out in their localities, in the mountains, forests and waters, worshipping their different divinities, where the cultural process known as “syncretism” had been presented. They worshipped mountains, forests and waters because they believed that in each of them resided a God and therefore were sacred areas.
For example, the God of the mountain was called “Dumias“, in the water lived the Goddess “Viva“, “Deva“, “Devona” or “Divina“. In addition, within the trees, which were also venerable, their God was called “Vosges”. Therefore, the Gauls believed that the great oak tree was a supreme and respected being. Likewise, they had a deep respect and adoration for horses, bulls, wild boar, as well as the crow.
It should be noted that Celtic mythology is a group of fables and legends that relates the religion and customs of this people. During their times the Celts maintained a polytheistic mythology. However, this mythology was left behind before Christianity, so it was the same with their languages.
Celtic Gods have a slight resemblance in terms of their roles with the Roman and mythological Gods, it is said that even Julius Caesar wrote a little about Celtic Gods and to make them known and understood their text, each God compared it with his closest equal according to Roman beliefs, so he points out each of their roles. Julius Caesar, in his text, spoke about 5 Gods. However, Julius Caesar only mentions the roles and beliefs of the Celts, about each God, but does not mention them with their Celtic names, only Romans.
Likewise, Celtic beliefs were divided according to two groups that were the main ones, we have the continental mythology, and the Irish mythology. Therefore, we present a brief explanation of the roles and beliefs that resided in each God, depending on each continent, as well as their Celtic names:
Gods and Goddesses of the continent:
- Cernnunnos (The Horn): This is the oldest of the Gods, it has horns and deer ears, it is said that is the patron of animals, in addition to being able to become one of them, so it changed continuously. Many also affirm that he was the God of abundance, besides that his appearance represents power and strength.
- Dea Dama (Mother Goddess): All saw her as the mother of all Gods, and she was represented by three women who held different things, whether food or animals. It should be noted that the number 3 was a sacred number for all Celts.
- Sucellus: Many say that he was the king of the Gods, personifies fertility and used a hammer with a large handle, it is said that with this hit the earth when spring began.
Belenus (Luminous and brilliant): This is the God of agriculture, although today there is doubt whether or not it was a divine figure.
- Epona: She was the Goddess of the earth and was commonly accompanied by a horse, so they also took as a symbol this animal to describe her, the vigorousness and momentum of the horse represented the power of the earth and its fertility.
- Taranis: He was the God of thunder, sky and storm. Because he was one of the most adored Gods, it is said that in order to avoid his wrath, all kinds of sacrifices were offered to him. He formed a triad together with Esus and Teutates. This God, Taranis, is very much compared to the Nordic God Thor, and to the Roman God Jupiter.
- Teutates: He was a God who personified the protection of tribes and war. He is compared to Roman Mars, and Ares of Greek mythology. He was called along with Esus and Taranis “The Gods of the night”.
- Esus: He was a God who symbolized blood and forests, so he was known as a savage being, so the Druids made constant sacrifices to contain their anger.
Gods and Goddesses of Ireland:
- Dagda: He is the sovereign God of the other Gods, it is said that he is God of the Druids, and besides the elements, of the knowledge, and a great warrior, so he was very feared.
- Lugh: He was the most important God, his appearance was that of a young boy, and it is said that his importance lies in that he was very powerful and was a great warrior, his appearance was very luminous and radiant and it is said that he was a creator of magical weapons. It was he who killed Balar, his weapons were javelins.
- Balar: It is said that he was part of the Fomoré race. Besides that, physically, he had an eye on his forehead and behind his head. It is believed that he was a perverse being who killed with his glances.
- Morrrigan: She was the queen of ghosts, goddess of war also, it is said that she caused warriors to fight. She could take the form of a crow, crow, and many other animals.
- Brigid: She was the Goddess of fire and the arts of poetry, daughter of Dagda.
Dian Cecht: Who was the God of medicine, with herbs helped to bring back to life the fallen warriors.
- Angus: Also Dagda’s son, he was the God of love.
Galician Celtic Gods
One of the many influences of the Celtic people that we can still find in Spain is the survival of Galician Celtic gods. Some remain in the memory and in the legends, but others you will find them even in the most unsuspected places.
Celtic mythology and its gods
Although there are many well-known names from Celtic mythology and their gods in northern Europe, such as Epona, Cernunnos or Taranis, there are some of Celtic origin that are especially important in the Iberian Peninsula. So that you can get to know the Celtic gods of Spain in depth, we bring you four of the most important: Deva, Navia, Aramo and Segono. The Gods used to associate with the tribe and the home while the Goddesses associated with the land and territory.
It is one of the most important Galician Celtic gods of all, in this case female. It comes from an Indo-European root which means “goddess”. Etymology makes it clear that this is an entity of paramount importance.
Although it is a goddess that personifies life and health, the truth is that it is also closely related to water. Many small rivers are named after Celtic origin, both in Galicia and in other areas in the north of the Iberian Peninsula.
Once again, we find a goddess whose entity is very attached to water. The legends related to Navia, unlike Deva, identify water as the intermediary between life and death. This makes the goddess a sort of boatman between them. It is possible that the river Navia, which rises in Galicia and flows into an estuary in Asturias, bears this name of Celtic origin in honour of the Celtic goddess.
The Galician gods are closely related to the Celtic gods astures and Aramo is a perfect example of this. It is a deity related to the crossroads, places where the Celts often erected small monuments as signage. In the Sierra de Aramo, in Asturias, we not only keep the name of the god, but also an old cemetery that could be erected in memory of the deity.
Another of Spanish Celtic gods is Segono, whose presence was especially strong in Asturias, around Cangas de Onís. Apparently, this god had the shape of a snake, an animal with a wide mythology in the north of Spain. From petroglyphs, the snakes of Celtic mythology can be winged or not. They hide in caves and frighten people who live near their homes. However, according to legends, they also hold great treasures.
These are four examples of Celtic gods in Galicia. As you can see, some of them can still be traced to the present day, as the influence of this people has been very great in northern Spain.