10 Celtic Gods and Goddesses of the Firmament

There are many gods and goddesses in Celtic lore who might fit the description as a god or goddess of the firmament, or upper world, and it’s related phenomena (the stars, sun, and moon). However, here is a short list of a few notable deities.

Ard Greimme

He is a minor and little known sun god in Irish mythology (McCoy, 1995). Ard Greimme means “high power” or “high sun” (McCoy, 1995). He is the father of the mighty warrior sisters Aife and Scathach (McCoy, 1995). His daughter, Scathach, later trained the hero CuChulainn (McCoy, 1995). He is a fascinating figure who never seems to receive enough attention in modern books on Celtic myth and religion.

Belenus

He is a pan-tribal deity and evidence of his worship can be found in Italy, the British Isles, and Gaul (Macleod, 2012). He is a solar deity and is often identified with Beli (McCoy, 1995). He enters Welsh legend as the likely the father of Arianrhod (McCoy, 1995). He was known as “the Fair Shining One” and was often described as driving a solar chariot across the sky (Jones, 2004). He may also be the true identity of Mars Belatucadros (Jones, 2004). He is also associated with cattle (Jones, 2004), as well as the holiday Beltaine (Macleod, 2012). He was the patron of the Italian city of Aquileia (Akhan, 2019), where he was once spotted flying in a horse-drawn chariot overhead during a battle (Jones, 2004).

Sulis

A goddess of the sun and of hot springs, as well as healing (McCoy, 1995). Prince Bladud had a shrine to her built in Aquae Sulis, near where the modern spa is located (McCoy, 1995). She is often equated with Minerva or Athena (McCoy, 1995). The healing waters of Bath are associated with her (Macleod, 2012). Sulis was offered many objects at her shrine in Bath that included rings, metal vessels, spindle worls, and lead tablets inscribed with messages to her (Macleod, 2012).

Belisama

Belisama is a goddess associated with the sun, as well as lakes and rivers (Avalon, 2019). She is one of the wives of Belenus (Avalon, 2019). Her name likely means “Bright One” (Avalon, 2019). She is also frequently given martial attributes and equated with Athena (Klimczack, 2017). She may have been associated with inspiring warriors, as well as giving them new strategies (Klimczack, 2017). She was worshipped in ancient Britain, as well as Gaul (Klimczack, 2017).

Taranis

His name means “the Thunderer” (MacLeod, 2012). His name might be related to the Breton, Cornish, and Welsh taran or “thunder” (McGrath, 2017). He was described as a master warrior (McGrath, 2017). He is also thought to be fond of human sacrifice (Green, 2011). A verse from the Roman Lucan assisted in the building of this reputation, which he shares with Esus and Teutates (McGrath,2017),

And those who pacify with blood accursed
Savage Teutates, Hesus’ horrid shrines,
And Taranis’ altars, cruel as were those
Loved by Diana, goddess of the north;
Lucan (Pharsalia, Book 1) (Lucan & May, 1970)”

There are multiple images of him shown with a wheel symbol (MacLeod, 2012), as well as the thunderbolt (Widugeni, 2018). There are many altars dedicated to him in France (McGrath, 2017). He was frequently equated with Jupiter by the Romans (McGrath, 2017).

Arianrhod

The mother of Lleu and Dylan, her name means “Silver Wheel”, and she is a likely candidate to have been a goddess of the moon (Macleod, 2012). There are also many theories that she may be a goddess of the starry sky (Shaw, 2013). After Arianrhod’s children are born by accident, with Lleu taken to be raised by Gwydion, she presents herself as a challenging and remote persona. She places multiple obstacles to Lleu’s successful accomplishment of adulthood and Gwydion helps his charge overcome them all. There are Welsh sources that speak highly of Arianrhod, referring to her powers and her connection with the celestial realms (MacLeod, 2012). Her palace is the star-laden fortress of Caer Sidi (Shaw, 2013).

Grannus

He is a Gaulish deity of healing and the sun, often paired with Sirona (Widugeni, 2018). He was often equated with Apollo and held similar associations with the sun and healing (Green, 2011). He had a shrine at Aquae Granni (Green, 2011).

Nodons

Nodons was seen as a god of the weather and the sun, as well as healing. His name also underscores his role as a weather deity, often translated “Cloud-Maker” (Macleod, 2012). His name is cognate with the Irish Nuada (Macleod, 2012). His temple on the Severn river featured imagery of the sun, the water, and dogs (Macleod, 2012). Nodons was also associated with Mars (Widugeni, 2018).

Grian

She, along with Aine, is thought to be the owner of Cnoc Greine (Macleod, 2012). Her name means “Sun” (Macleod, 2012) and she is often equated with the winter sun, while her sister, Aine, is associated with the summer sun (Macleod, 2012). She is associated with the place names of Tuamgraney and Lough Graney (Akhan, 2019). She is thought to be a personification of the dark half of the year, while Aine was a personification of the light half (Macleod, 2012).

Cailleach

The Cailleach is a complex deity and legends associate her with forming the Scottish landscape (MacLeod, 2012). She may also be a sovereignty goddess (Macleod, 2012). She is also believed to be an ancestress to all the gods and goddesses of Scotland (Meiklejohn-Free, 2019) by some native practitioners. She is also often honored as a goddess of winter and of storms (Daimler, 2016).

Citations

Akhan, P. (2019, November 30). The Sun in Celtic Mythology. Retrieved February 12, 2021, from https://library.acropolis.org/the-sun-in-celtic-mythology/

Avalon, A. (2019). Water Witchcraft. Newburyport, MA: Weiser Books.

Daimler, M. (2016). Gods and Goddesses of Ireland. Alresford, Hants: Moon Books.

Green, M. (2011). The Gods of the Celts. Stroud, Gloucestershire: The History Press.

Jones, M. (2004). Belenos. Retrieved February 12, 2021, from https://www.maryjones.us/jce/belenos.html

Klimczack, N. (2017, April 1). Belisama: Who Was this Beautiful, Powerful, and Popular Gaulish Goddess? Retrieved February 12, 2021, from https://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends/belisama-who-was-beautiful-powerful-and-popular-gaulish-goddess-007826

Lucan, & May, T. (1970). Lucans Pharsalia, or, The civil-wars of Rome, between Pompey the Great, and Julius Cæsar. London, UK: Printed by William Bentley, for William Shears

MacLeod, S. P. (2012). Celtic Myth and Religion. Jefferson, London, North Carolina: MacFarland & Company.

McGrath, S. (2017, August 30). Taranis: Celtic Thunder. Retrieved February 12, 2021, from https://earthandstarryheaven.com/2017/08/30/taranis/

Meiklejohn-Free, B. (2019). Scottish Witchcraft: A Complete Guide to Authentic Folklore, Spells, and Magickal Tools. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications.

McCoy, E. (1995). Celtic Myth & Magick. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications.

Shaw, J. (2013, February 23). https://feminismandreligion.com/2013/02/23/arianrhod-celtic-star-goddess-2/. Retrieved February 12, 2021, from https://feminismandreligion.com/2013/02/23/arianrhod-celtic-star-goddess-2/

Widugeni, S. (2018). Ancient Fire. Amelia, OH: ADF Publishing.

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