BeyondWeird Home
Index  Previous  Next 

                                      Celtic Deities? 

          Here is the promised beginning discussion of "The Gods" in
          Celtic religion.  The majority of this post is brought to you by
          Lorax, Small Furry Tree-Creature of the Gods <g>

                                 ****Extra-Long Posts Warning****

          I shall throw out the first hot caber by suggesting that use of the
          "Gods" within a Pagan Celtic context is totally useless, mislead-
          ing,and an example of the sloppy scholarship that Deartha'ir Isaac

          This notion has been long in coming for me, but was triggered this
          week when an ADF member noted the use of the word "God" [singular]
          several hundred times in a suggested reference work on pre-Christian
          Greek religion.  It made her somewhat nervous as it seemed to not be
          the best possible term in a polytheistic culture, given that a multi-
          tude of things, from entities to abstract concepts had been subsumed
          as "God".

          This, combined with my very recent reading of the Dunnaire Finn, the
          Book of Invasions, and the Tain has led me to be more discriminating.

          As my Priestess colleage, Brandy Williams, has often said, there are 2
          kinds of people: Splitters, and people who deny the existence of
          splitters. <g>

          So, let us take it from the very top, the creation of the world. At
          least, according to one translation of one version of the Book of

          The first inhabitants of Ireland were Cesair, daughter of Bith, son of
          Noe (Noah), and their 3 men + 50 women.  <Happy happy, joy joy!> 
          These people all drowned, and are therefore unimportant to this story,
          save that Fintan survived to recount tales of the beforetime.

          Partholan was the second discoverer, the chief of his people.  Par-
          brought with him the people that were first in many arts--brewing,
          cauldron making-first combat, farming, and a host of other things.

          Patholan chose a fertile place, cleared 4 plains, and homesteaded
          His wife slept with his retainer, which caused problems.  This resul-
          ted in the giving of the First Verdict, that of Delgnat.  Boan, Brea,
          Ban, Aine and 6 others were the "pure daughters" of Partholan, imply-
          ing perhaps that he had more, following the customs of the times.

          The generation of Partholan was the one responsible for first naming
          places in Ireland.  Partholan's generation was also long-lived, and no
          plants grew old in their time.  His generation largely died out after
          a plague.

          Both of these first generations are referred to as men and women, not
          deities.  People of Arts [Aes Da'na] maybe yes, but not deithe [deit-
          ies].  This, at least, according to the Christians who recorded the


          The third generation is that of Neimhedh (Nemed).  He came from
          Neimhedh had 4 chiefs with him.  Nemhed fought and won three battles
          over the Fomhoire.  Fo-mhor (over the sea, or something like that). 
          Despite this, the Fomorians seemed to be quite good at opressing the
          Nemedians, by demanding 2/3 of their agricultural output at Samhain,
          delivered to Magh Cetne.  The Nemedians went to Greece and collected
          an army, some drui and ban-drui, wolves and venemous animals.  A
          proper challenge was delivered, and the battles were engaged.  The
          Fomorians were defeated at last.  Only 30 Nemedians survived.

          The next group of invaders are the somewhat mysterious Fir Bolg, or
          Bagmen.  The Fir Bolg had 5 chiefs (one more than all of the previous
          invaders) as did the De Dannan.  The Fir Bolg divided Ireland into 5
          parts.  Previous invasions had separated Ireland into 4 parts.  Much
          is made of the poetic, noise-shakin skill of the Fir Bolg.  They were
          some jammin' magickal folk, alright.  The Fir Bolg have the distinc-
          tion of the first "riogh" (king) in Ireland. So we have division into
          5 parts, kingship, and the use of iron.

          Now, the Sons of Nemed had not been sitting still all of this time. 
          They had been off in Greece, learning draidheacht, cleverness, nice-
          ness, and Spiffy Things In General (slight gloss from bad 19th century
          Victorian english).  These folks were called "Tuatha De" " ... that
          is, they considered their men of learning to be gods, and their
          husbandmen non-gods, so much was their power in every art and every
          druidic occultism besides.  Thence came the name, which is Tuathe De,
          to them."

          Now, please note that their ancestors are PEOPLE.  The TdD became so
          virtue of their skills.  This is a process that would not be unfam-
          iliar to a good citizen of Republican (not Imperial) Rome.  One can
          become deific by proper actions, family and/or national devotion, and
          other things.  The TdD had been instructed in 4 cities in the North. 
          One has to infer that these cities are in Greece, where they are
          instructed in these arts.  Now, not all translations say this, exact-
          ly.  Greece and Spain are frequently glosses for the Otherworld, but
          not always.  The 4 Treasures were brought from Greece. As we have
          discussed the Treasures before, we shall pass in silence on them here.

          The TdD fought battles with the Athenians as their allies, and thru
          druidic demonry reanimated dead bodies that then rose up and fought as
          if they were living.  It is here that we learn that hazel or rowan
          twigs thru the neck do in reanimated corpses.  <Occult Factiod #912
          collect em all.)

          The TdD arrive in Ireland on a Monday, in the Calends of May, where
          burn their ships on the shore so they cannot return, or the Fomorians
          use the ships.

          The TdD fought with the Fir Bolg (it is, after all Ireland we  are
          talking about...), won, lost, won again, lost again, were healed,
          hurt, etc.  Nuada gets his silver arm and loses kingship in this
          process.  The TdD slew all but a few of the Fir Bolg, who then fled to
          the outermost isles of the seas.  Compare this with the more archaic
          traditions of the Hebrides and Northern Islands of Ireland...


          The genealogies up to this point are enough to make a kinship special-
          whimper, cringe, and fall to sleep the final sleep, so we will ignore
          them, but to say that aside from Cessair, everyone is related (or
          sleeping with someone who is) to everyone else.  Biblical begatting is
          easier, trust me.

          The TdD are referred to as goblins in the text.  So much for the great
          contrast between the demonic Fomorians and Deific TdD.  If you care to
          argue that to a medieval monk all deities are one deity and all are
          demonic, then there is even less reason to consider the Fomor demonic.


          That said, the text has Eochaid triumph, "without enchantment of
          shaped the distinction of good verses but as for knowledge of the
          warrior bands of whom we speak although we enumerate them we do not
          worship them."

          The picture is far more confused than ANY simple model, folks.  I have
          not even begun to discuss the "giant" stories. If I were to do so,
          then Finn and his buddies are giants, not unlike Jotuns.  But wait! 
          So is Cu!  And, if they are giants, then what are their parents?  Finn
          is descended from Baiscne, and Cu is descended (or a reincarnation) of
          Lugh.  So the Aes Dana=Giants?@(#*#*(@#_@

          If we get to the local spirits, worshipped well into the 18th century,
          and maybe later, (or the 20th, as Erynn thinks), any meaningful use of
          the term "God" has to be tossed out with the burnt brac after dinner.

          We have people, descended from the Trojans/Greeks learning heavy juju
          and becoming like Gods.  They fight, live, die, get reincarnated,
          stretch their influence far beyond a single generation, and are
          immortalized in song.  Remember, the Cauldron of Poesy, the only
          available text on the training of a fili (one who sees) reminds us
          that we are all more than our birth, at least potentially.

          As Patrick Ford has suggested, the written tales/sagas are probably
          just a sequencing of shorter oral bits, there is no real problem with
          dying on page 23, and having hot sweaty sex on page 25.

          They are also said to be immortal in the Otherworld.  Many of the
           tales have all of these survivors gathering in the Otherworld (some-
          where near Miami or Desert Springs, I suspect) and only sometimes
          coming out to see us mere mortals.

          Also note (this flash of awen just in) that most of the folks that
          wander into faery are Aes Dana!  Reverend Kirk, Thomas the Rhymer, Tam
          Lin and many others.

          The Path to Faery must be (therefore) paved with Excellence.

          Now, the above analysis depends strictly on my reading of the texts. 
          I am quoting from the handiest text, the one that unfortunately has no
           bibliographic data in it, but is well-reasoned, erudite, and foot-
          noted to death. This is a facing-page xlation, btw.

          I am NOT saying that some of these beings are not worthy of devotion. 
          I am saying that it is not ness. true that all of them were viewed as
          "Gods" at all times in history, particularly not in the omnipotent,
          omniscient Xian meaning of the word, nor in the usage common to

          It may be best to regard the Aes Dana as Shterpersavs, or "Short-Term-
          Personal-Saviors", in Dobbspeak.

          <Rant Modes Off>


          Lorax & Erynn


Next: Walking With My Friends (Masochistic Maiden)