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Thread: The Three Groups of Celtic Mythology

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    Post The Three Groups of Celtic Mythology

    Celtic mythology consists of three groups:

    1) The Goidelic, including Ireland, the Isle of Man, the western highlands of Scotland, and the people of ancient Galicia (NW Spain). In language, race, and tradition these form a homogenous block.

    2)The Insular Brythonic, including Wales and Cornwall, also inhabited by kindred people with a somewhat similar history.

    3) The Continental Brythonic, that is, Brittany. Though racially akin to the Welsh and Cornish, the Bretons have had a very differently history and enjoy a distinct culture.

    Aengus - Goidelic :
    Also known as "Angus the young", he was considered the Irish god of love. He was a young handsome god that had four birds flying about his head -- some say they symbolize kisses -- who inspired love in all who heard them. He was the son of Dagda and Boann ('the wife of Elcmar').

    Andraste - Insular Brythonic :
    The goddess of war in Celtic Britain. In 61 CE the leader of a rebellion against the Roman occupation, the Queen Boudicca (Latin Boadicea), sacriced captive Roman women to this goddess in 61 CE.

    Anu - Goidelic :
    An Irish/Celtic fertility goddess, venerated as the mother of the gods. The center of her cult was the fertile Munster in southeast Ireland. The two rounded hilltops near Killarny are called 'the two breasts of Anu'. Anu is occasionally confused with Danu.

    Arawn - Insular Brythonic :
    The Welsh god of the underworld. The god Amaethon stole from him a dog, lapwing and roebuck with led to the Battle of the Trees, in which his forces were defeated. A tale in the Mabinogion relates how he persuaded Pwyll to trade places with him for the span of a year and a day. In this period, Pwyll defeated Arawn's rival for dominion of the underworld Hafgan. Because Pwyll also refrained from sleeping with Arawn's wife, they became close friends.

    Badb - Goidelic :
    Badb is the Irish (Celtic) goddess of war. She often assumes the form of a raven or carrion-crow (her favorite disguise) and is then referred to as Badb Catha, meaning "battle raven". Not only did she take part in battles themselves, she also influenced their outcome by causing confusion among the warriors with her magic. The battle-field is often called 'land of Badb'.
    She formed one of the three subsduary aspects of the war-goddess, the Morrigan.

    Balor - Goidelic :
    In the Celtic-Irish mythology, Balor is the god of death and the king of the Fomorians, a race of giants. He was the son of Buarainech and the husband of Cethlenn. Balor had only one eye, which he kept closed because anything he looked at would die instantly.

    Banba - Goidelic :
    The goddess who represents the spirit of Ireland, and who is the wife of king MacCuill. She was thought to be the first settler in Ireland. She is part of a trinity of goddesses, the daughters of Fiachna, together with Fodla and Eriu. Amergin, son of Mile Espane, promised her the honor of naming the island after her. Banba is also a poetic name for Ireland.
    Initially, she could have been a goddess of war as well as a fertility goddess.

    Bile - Goidelic / Beli - Insular Brythonic / Belennus - Continental Brythonic :
    The Celtic god of light and healing, "Bel" means "shining one," 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 Arianrhod by Don.

    Branwen - Insular Brythonic & Goidelic :
    The Celtic goddess of love and beauty. Also of Manx and Wales. She is the sister of Bran the Blessed and Manannan mac Lir, daughter of Lir, and wife of the Irish king Matholwch. She is similar to the Greek goddess Aphrodite and the Roman goddess Venus. After the death of her brother Bran, due to a war caused by Matholwch, Branwen died of a broken heart

    Brigid - Goidelic & Insular Brythonic :
    Breo Saighead, or the "Fiery Arrow or Power," is a Celtic three-fold goddess, the daughter of The Dagda, 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.

    Crom Cruach - Goidelic :
    Accrding to legend, he was called upon by the Fir Bolg to aid them against the Tuatha De Danaan
    The chief idol of Eirin. This huge object stood on the plain of Mag Sleact (the plain of adoration or prostration) in County Cavan in Ulster. Situated around him were twelve smaller idols made of stone while his was of gold. To him the early Irish sacrificed one third of their children on Samain (November 1) in return for milk and corn and the good weather that insured the fertility of cattle and crops. The god was held in horror for his terrible exactions; it was even dangerous to worship him, for the worshippers themselves often perished in the act of worship.
    It is said that his cult was introduced by a pre-Christian king names Tigernmus. During the prostrations one Samhain night, he and three fourths of his followers destroyed themselves.
    The twelve lesser idols that encircle Crom have led to the assumption that he was a solar deity; certainly a fertility god. However, he has not been identified with any of the ancient Irish gods. According to legend, St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, cursed and destroyed it (the idol sunk back into the earth). The saint preached to the people against the burning of milk-cows and their first-born progeny.
    Crom Cruach, or Cromm Crúac means bloody crescent or bloody bent one and is mentioned as such in the 6th century Dinnshenchas in the Book of Leinster. It is also referred to as Cenn Crúaic (bloody head) in the Tripartite Life of Patrick. Another name is ríg-íodal h-Eireann, the king idol of Ireland.

    The Dagda - Goidelic :
    The Irish-Celtic god of the earth and treaties, and ruler over life and death. Dagda, or The Dagda, ("the good god") is one of the most prominent gods and the leader of the Tuatha Dé Danann. He is a master of magic, a fearsome warrior and a skilled artisan. Dagda is a son of the goddess Danu, and father of the goddess Brigid and the god Aengus mac Oc. The Morrigan is his wife, with whom he mates on New Years Day
    The Dagda is portrayed as possessing both super- human strength and appetite. His attributes are a cauldron with an inexhaustible supply of food, a magical harp with which he summons the seasons, and an enormous club, with one end of which he could kill nine men, but with the other restore them to life. He also possessed two marvellous swine---one always roasting, the other always growing---and ever-laden fruit trees.
    One of his epithets is Ollathir, which means "All-father". He is identified with the Welsh Gwydion and the Gallic Sucellos.

    Danu - Goidelic :
    The Irish/Celtic earth goddess, matriarch of the Tuatha Dé Danann ("People of the goddess Danu"). Danu is the mother of various Irish gods, such as the Dagda (also mentioned as her father), Dian Cecht, Ogma, Lir, Lugh, and many others. Her Welsh equivalent is the goddess Don.


    Dian Cecht - Goidelic :
    The great god of healing and the physician of the Tuatha Dé Danann. He made the silver hand for his brother king Nuada to replace the one he lost in battle. Dian Cecht had blessed the well Slane in which the wounded Tuatha Dé bathed. It healed all their wounds so they could resume their fighting. He had a son, Miach, whom he slew out of professional jealousy. Miach had replaced the silver hand Dian Cecht had made for Nuada with Nuada's own hand. Some claimed it was jealousy, while Dian Cecht said is was the disrespectful manner in which the replacement was done. He is also the grandfather of Lugh.

    Epona - Insular & Continental Brythonic :
    The Celtic horse goddess whose authority extended even beyond death, accompanying the soul on its final journey. She was worshipped throughout entire Gaul, and as far as the Danube and Rome. Her cult was eventually adopted by the Roman army and they spread her worship wherever they went. She was the only Celtic Goddess to be honored by the Romans with a temple in their capital city. Among the Gaulish Celts themselves, she was worshipped as goddess of horses, asses, mules, oxen, and, to an extent, springs and rivers.
    Epona is depicted sitting side saddle or lying on a horse, or standing with multiple horses around her. Her symbol is the Cornucopia ("horn of plenty") which suggests that she could (originally) have been a fertility goddess. She is also identified with the Celtic goddess Edain.

    Eriu - Goidelic :
    An Irish/Celtic goddess, the personification of Ireland. She belongs to the Fomorians and is the mother of Bres, king of Ireland. The name Ireland comes from her name (Eyre, Eire, or Eiriu).

    Fir Bolg - Goidelic :
    The Firbolg people are primordial inhabitants, or early gods, of Ireland. The third wave of invaders, they conquered Ireland and defeated the Fomorians. The name is usually translated as "Men of the Bags". As far as I'm aware, the word "Bolg" means "belly" or "Stomach" in Irish so I would question this.
    I have theorised that as they were said to have come from Greece at one point, they may be descendants of the Celtic King Bolgios (whom I mention in the thread Celtic invasions and the Celtic identity)

    Fomorians - Goidelic :
    In Irish-Celtic mythology, the Fomorians are a race of demonic giants, ancient occupants of Ireland (or sometimes mentioned as a mythical, prehistoric people who raided and pillaged Ireland from the sea). The first to invade Ireland were the Partholons, but after many battles the Fomorians afflicted them all with plague. After them came the Nemeds, who in their very first battle were defeated and enslaved. The third wave of invaders, the Firbolgs, were more successful and they subdued the Fomorians and managed to live peacefully with them.
    After a period of peace, the Tuatha Dé Danann, the Irish race of gods, arrived. They conquered the Firbolgs, but dealt more subtly with the Fomorians, although they destroyed their hegemony over Ireland for good in the second battle of Mag Tuireadh. The Fomorians were given the province of Connacht, and were even allowed to marry some of the Tuatha Dé. The king of the Fomorians is the one-eyed Balor. Other prominent members are: Bres, Eriu, and Tethra.
    The Fomorians are sometimes mythologically associated with the powers of nature which challenge man: fog, storm, winter, disease, crop-blight. The name comes from fomó, "giant", "pirate".

    Goibniu - Goidelic & Insualr Brythonic :
    An Irish/Celtic smith god, son of the goddess Danu. He manufactures swords that always strike true, and he possesses the mead of eternal life. He makes the arms for the Tuatha Dé Danann together with Credne and Luchtainel. As a brewmaster he was unsurpassed and his beer gave the drinker immortality. The Welsh called him Govannon.

    Llyr - Insular Brythonic & Goidelic :
    The Welsh sea god. Llyr (Lir Llyr) is the father of Bran, Branwen, and Manawydan. He is equal to the Irish god Lir.

    Lugh - pan-Celtic :
    Lugh is the Celtic lord of every skill. He was patron of Lugodunum (Lyons) in Gaul. He and his nature goddess consort (Rosmerta) were worshipped during the 30 day Lugnasad midsummer feast in Ireland. Fertility magic during this festival ensured ripening of the crops and good harvest. He was called Lamfhada or 'of the long arm' in Gaelic because of his great spear and sling. His animal attributes were the raven and the lynx. Lugh mirrors Hindu Karttikeya, the spiritual warrior, and Roman Mercury, the swift messenger. His exploits are recounted in the "Tain Bo Cuailnge", the Cattle-raid of Cooley.

    Macha - Goidelic :
    One of three aspects of the Morrigan, goddess of war. Macha feeds on the heads of slain enemies.

    Manannan mac Lir - Goidelic & Insular Brythonic :
    The Irish god of the sea and fertility, who forecasts the weather. He is older than the Tuatha Dé Danann, yet was considered to be one of them. He is the son of Lir and his name means "Manannan Son of the Sea". His wife is Fand and he is the foster-father of many gods, including Lugh. He is the guardian of the Blessed Isles, and the ruler of Mag Mell. Manannan has a ship that follows his command without sails; his cloak makes him invisible; his helmet is made of flames and his sword cannot be turned from its mark. He is described as riding over the sea in a chariot.
    His Welsh equivalent is Manawydan ap Llyr. He is also called Barinthus.

    Milesians (or Sons of Mil Espane) - Goidelic :
    The name has been given to the ancient Irish because of the legend that two sons of Milesius, a fabulous king of Spain, conquered the country, and repeopled it after exterminating the aborigines (the Firbolgs).

    The Morrigan (Great Queen) - Goidelic :
    The Morrigan is a goddess of battle, strife, and fertility. Her name translates as either "Great Queen" or "Phantom Queen," and both epithets are entirely appropriate for her. The Morrigan appears as both a single goddess and a trio of goddesses. The other deities who form the trio are Badb ("Crow"), and either Macha (also connotes "Crow") or Nemain ("Frenzy"). The Morrigan frequently appears in the ornithological guise of a hooded crow. She is one of the Tuatha Dé Danann ("Tribe of the goddess Danu") and she helped defeat the Firbolg at the First Battle of Mag Tuireadh and the Fomorians at the Second Battle of Mag Tuireadh.

    Nuada - Goidelic :
    Also Nudd or Ludd. "Silver Hand." The Irish/Celtic chieftain-god of healing, the Sun, childbirth, youth, beauty, ocean, dogs, poetry, writing, sorcery, magic, weapons, and warfare. Similar to the Roman god Neptune, Nuada also had an invincible sword, one of four great treasures of the Tuatha Dé Danann, that he used to cleave his enemies in half.
    After Nuada lost his hand in battle, he was deemed ineligable to by king and was replaced by Bres. His brother Dian Cecht, the great god of healing, fashioned him a silver hand for a substitution. By this time Bres had become a tyrannical leader and was exiled by the Tuatha Dé, and Nuada returned to his position as king. He was later killed by the god of death Balor.

    Nantosuelta - Continental Brythonic :
    "Winding River". A Gallic protective goddess and goddess of water. Among the Mediomatrici of Alsace she is often portrayed holding a model of a house, indicating a domestic function

    Ogma - Goidelic / Ogmios - Continental Brythonic
    In Irish-Celtic myth, Ogma is the god of eloquence and learning. He is the son of the goddess Danu and the god Dagda, and one of the foremost members of the Tuatha Dé Danann. He is the reputed inventor of the ancient Ogham alphabet which is used in the earliest Irish writings.
    In the final battle at Mag Tuireadh he managed to take away the sword of the king of the Fomorians, but had to pay with his life for this feat.
    In Continental Brythonic myth, The Celtic patron god of scholars and personification of eloquence and persuasiveness. It is he who invented the runic language of the Druids. Ogmius escorts souls on their journey to the after-live. He is represented as an old man, with a bald head, and dressed in a lion skin. His attributes are a bow and stick. He was worshipped in Gaul (Celtic France).

    Rhiannon - Insular Brythonic :
    Rhiannon (her name is either "Maid of Annwn" or a variant of Rigatona, "Great Queen"), a version of the horse-goddess Epona and of sovereignity. She was mistress of the Singing Birds. She appeared to Pwyll, lord of Dyfed, as a beautiful woman in dazzling gold on a white horse.

    Sabrina - Insular Brythonic :
    The Celtic river goddess of the river Severn (southwestern Great Britain).

    Tuatha De Danaan - Goidelic :
    In Irish-Celtic mythology, the Tuatha Dé Danann ("People of the goddess Danu") are the Irish race of gods, founded by the goddess Danu. These gods, who originally lived on 'the islands in the west', had perfected the use of magic. They traveled on a big cloud to the land that later would be called Ireland and settled there.

    Twm Shon Catti - Insular Brythonic :
    In the 16th century there was a man named Twm Shon Catti, also known as the Welsh Robin Hood (born about 1530). Known as a villain to most, he is hailed as a hero by most of the locals of the remote village of Rhandirmwyn. Often he hid from the Sheriff of Carmarthen in the slopes of the thickly wooded and boulder strewn slopes of Dinas Hill. The most prevalent of his legends is that he avoided maiming his enemy by placing a well shot arrow that pinned his nemesis to his saddle. Twm's hideout is widely known as a cave that resides in the slopes directly above a rocky gorge through which the Twyi flows at an extremely dangerous pace. To this day the cave is still quite difficult to locate. It is said that he eventually married an heiress and ended up as a squire and magistrate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Milesian
    fBile - Goidelic / Beli - Insular Brythonic / Belennus - Continental Brythonic :
    The Celtic god of light and healing, "Bel" means "shining one," 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 Arianrhod by Don.
    Great post. I just took a quick glance and I found the above interesting.Beli(exact spelling) means "white" or "light" in Serbian and other slavic languages, although usually spelled Bijeli, Bialy(Croatian, Polish).

    "BELOBOG :The White God, the god of the day, the god of Heaven, the bringer of good luck, the god of heavenly light, the god of happiness and peace, the judge who rewards good and punishes evil. A wise old man with a long beard dressed in white, Belobog appears only during the day."

    I will read on...



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    Excellent providenje!
    I was hoping that perhaps you would recognise something similar there.
    It seems I wasn't disappointed
    I'll keep looking at the Slavic pantheon as well to see if I can see anything which might look or sound similar.

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    Milesians (or Sons of Mil Espane) - Goidelic :
    The name has been given to the ancient Irish because of the legend that two sons of Milesius, a fabulous king of Spain, conquered the country, and repeopled it after exterminating the aborigines (the Firbolgs).

    I wonder why the ancient name of the Irish is the same the Milesian Philosophers of Anatolia? (The most famous ones being Anaximander,Thales, and Anaximenes)
    Anyway, I will look for similarities as well...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Borivoj
    Milesians (or Sons of Mil Espane) - Goidelic :
    The name has been given to the ancient Irish because of the legend that two sons of Milesius, a fabulous king of Spain, conquered the country, and repeopled it after exterminating the aborigines (the Firbolgs).

    I wonder why the ancient name of the Irish is the same the Milesian Philosophers of Anatolia? (The most famous ones being Anaximander,Thales, and Anaximenes)
    Anyway, I will look for similarities as well...
    Yes, I have noticed that link before in it's connection to Miletus.
    For the Irish the name derives from the great Spanish King named Mile Espane (his original name according ,to legend, was Gollumh which means "No Stranger" and was used when he served as a mercenary under the Pharoah of Egypt.) The name Mile or Miles means "military hero". Spain also takes it's name from this ancient king. Some of his sons made the trip to conquer Ireland and so were the "Sons of Mile" or "Milesians".

    However, it should be remembered that Gollumh and his people originally came from SE Europe where they had been living next to the Scythians , so a connection is certainly possible.

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    This is some very interesting history...If only I knew more! I wonder how "Gollumh" relates to the Jewish "Golem" of Prague? Golem was a mythic friend and protector of the Jews, created by the Rabbi Lovovitz, meaning that he was not a stranger.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Borivoj
    This is some very interesting history...If only I knew more! I wonder how "Gollumh" relates to the Jewish "Golem" of Prague? Golem was a mythic friend and protector of the Jews, created by the Rabbi Lovovitz, meaning that he was not a stranger.

    That is very interesting indeed.
    So did the name of the mythic stone giant, Gollum, mean "No Stranger" as well?

    From what I can tell from the ancient legends, Gollumh was probably just a term as well rather than his actual name which I don't think we know. He arrived from Greece and the Balkans with his men and acted as mercenaries under Pharoah and won many battles. The Egyptians revered him as a great warrior and hero and they gave him the name Gollumh or Gollamh. The name itself is Gaelic coming from Gall (Stranger) , and -amh (which is a negative suffix). It would then be presumed to mean that he was no stranger to the Egyptian people or in other words, he was famous or well known to them and considered one of them.
    However jealousy on the Pharoah's part drove him from that land and he returned briefly to his own lands before a similar event forced him to leave with a fleet and sail westwards to find "The Land of Destiny" which their druids promised was waiting for him and his people.
    They reached the straits of Gibraltar and moved north through the Iberian peninsula, battling indigenous tribes (probably Iberians). These proto-Irish established a large kingdom, believeing this to be their promised land, a kingdom taking in present day Gallicia, Asturias and Castille.
    However, from Breogan's Tower, Ith espied a distant land to the north and travelled there. When he reached the land (which of course was Ireland) he was murdered by the natives, and this sparked off the Milesian conquest of Ireland

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    Very interesting indeed T

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scathach
    Very interesting indeed T
    Go raibh mile maith agat, mo chara

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    Quote Originally Posted by Milesian
    Yes, I have noticed that link before in it's connection to Miletus.
    Funny, my father's name is Milutin,a very old name. Everyone calls him Mile



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