Thursday, July 7, 2011

Celtic Mythology and Deity

   As tomorrow creeps up with another Divine Friday post on the way, I thought that today I would focus on a very quick, very general overview of Celtic Mythology as well as what the Gods expect of us in the relationships we build with each other.

Check it out at!

   All of the information below (except my own additions) are from an incredible book called "Magic of the Celtic Gods and Goddesses" by Carl McColman and Kathryn Hinds. It doesn't cover every god/dess in Celtic mythology, as that would be a neverending feat in itself, but they cover some major ones and give a great jumping off point to continue on your own.

Some General Principles of Celtic Mythology

   As they mention earlier in their book, scholars have identified upwards of 400 different gods and goddesses in Celtic Mythology, 300 of which are only named once. This is becauce much of the religion was local, meaning deities were identified with a specific place, like a hill or grove. For the celts, Nature was full of the divine and in many cases the god or goddess was first and foremost the "spirit of the place".
   Another reason is alot of times the name of the deity was actually a title such as "The Exalted One" (Brigid) or "The Shining One" (lugh). In some cases different local deities may in fact be the same one.
   Lastly, the functions of the deities were quite broad. Where in other religions there was a specific "god of the sun" or "goddess of love" the Celtic deities encompass many different virtues (such as The Morrigan exuding courage, valor and eroticism while The Dagda is full of generosity, humility and earthiness) and one deity may compliment another as a divine couple. In general terms these couples can be seen as a union between the goddess of the land and the god of the tribe.

So why bother studying?
   Here are their excellent points:
  • The Gods and Goddesses connect us with the Celtic Soul
  • The deities connect us with our ancestors
  • They connect us with an understanding of Celtic Cosmos
  • Their stories help us find meaning in our lives
  • They can be a gateway to believing and living in an alternative way
  • Deities personify the reality of magic beyond the physical universe.
  • The gods are a source of blessing and power.
  • The deities help us become better people and remind us of our own divinity.

   What They Expect From Us
  • The Gods expect us to take care of nature
                   This is pretty self explanatory. If the goddess represents the sovereignty of the land then it's logical to assume she is very interested in the land she embodies. Thus many pagans recycle, compost, garden, etc.
  • The Gods expect us to make wise and virtous choices
                   Regardless of what everyone else thinks of us, paganism/witchcraft is not simply an "anything goes" kind of religion. We are not excused from having common sense and rules of conduct. Lying, cheating, stealing, etc. is just as bad if we do it as the next person. I believe this is why paganism is so inviting to so many. Where other people (and this is not to attack a religion as a whole but rather individuals of a said religion) will preach one way and act another, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard.
  • The Gods expect us to live up to our commitments (including those made to the them)
                  Keeping your word when you give it to others and not breaking promises. Or, an example they give, as a devotee to a particular goddess or god live in ways that honor them such as fostering creativity and healing in devotion to Brigid or physical fitness if honoring the Morrigan. We honor the gods and goddesses by how we think and also how we live our lives.

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