Category Archives: Deities

Rhiannon

Rhiannon is a Welsh goddess of the earth, fertility, birds and horses.  She appears in the first and third branches of the Mabinogion, as well as the Arthurian tale of Culhwch and Olwen.  Through her marriage to Pwyll pen Annwfn she is also connected to the Otherworld.

Rhiannon is thought to be predecessor of the Brittanic goddess Rigantona (‘Great Queen’), and therefore could have a possible link to the Irish Macha and Morrígan (also ‘Great Queen’).  She is also linked to the Gaulish goddess Epona through their association with horses.

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The First Branch of the Mabinogi, Pwyll Pendefig Dyfed , tells of how the Demetian king Pwyll sees Rhiannon in a forest riding a shining white horse.  Even though she is already engaged to Gwawl ap Clud, Pwyll and Rhiannon eventually marry.  They produce a son, however the boy disappears on the night of his birth while under the watchful eye of Rhiannon’s ladies-in-waiting.  Fearful of the king’s wrath, the ladies smear dog’s blood on the sleeping Rhiannon, and claim she killed her son by eating him.  Rhiannon was found guilty, and as punishment was forced to stand outside the castle for seven years and offer strangers a ride on her back like a horse.

Meanwhile, the boy is found outside a stable by Teyrnon and his wife, who claim the boy as their own and name him Gwri Wallt Euryn (‘Gwri of the Golden Hair’).  The boy grows quickly, and soon his resemblance to Pwyll grows more obvious.  Teyrnon realizes Gwri’s true identity, and he is eventually reunited with Pwyll and Rhiannon.  Gwri  is renamed Pryderi, meaning ‘loss’.

Rhiannon later marries Manawydan fab Llyr (equivalent to the Irish Manannán), the god of the sea, after Pwyll’s death.  Their adventures, outlined in the Third Branch of the Mabinogi, Manawydan fab Llŷr, describe how a magical mist descends over the land of Dyfed, leaving it empty of animals and humans apart from Rhiannon, Manawydan, her son Pryderi and his wife Cigfa.  The group travels to England where they unsuccessfully try to make a living making saddles and shoes.  Pryderi and Rhiannon eventually get trapped in a magical fort and vanish from sight.

Manawydan and Cigfa continue to try to make a living by farming, however their crops are continuously destroyed.  Upon catching one of the mice who had devoured his grain, he finds out that the mice were attendants of the mage Llwyd ap Cil Coed who had been magically transformed.  Llwyd was friend to Gwawl, Rhiannon’s former fiancé, and they find out the trouble which had plagued the group was done out of revenge.

Rhiannon had three magical birds, the Birds of Rhiannon, whose song can wake the dead or lull the living to sleep.  One of the birds was thought to be Badb, the crow, which deepens Rhiannon’s link to the Morrígan.

Rhiannon is a symbol of strength and perseverance in the face of adversity.

Wiki – Rhiannon
Thalia Took – Rhiannon
Celtic Deities – Rhiannon
Mary Jones’ Celtic Encyclopedia – Rhiannon

© The Celtic Journey (2013)

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The Morrígan, Great Queen

Morrígu, Morríghan, Morrígna, Morgan, Badb, Macha, Nemain, Anand, Fea

The Morrígan is a Celtic goddess of war, death, battle, strife, sovereignty, rebirth, fate, prophecy and magic.   She is also known as The Great Queen, Phantom Queen, Specter Queen, or Supreme War Goddess.  The Morrígan is associated with the sometimes frightening aspects of female energy and is often seen as an omen of death.  She often took the shape of a raven or crow, however her other forms included an eel, wolf, cow and horse.

The Morrígan is commonly seen as a Triple Goddess.  In texts of the Celtic Mythological Cycle, they are seen as sisters, the daughters of Ernmas and granddaughters of Nuada of the Tuatha Dé Danann.  They include Badb (‘fury’, ‘crow’) and Macha (‘battle’, ‘raven’), with the third being either Nemain (‘frenzy/fury’), Anand (aka Morrígan), or Fea (‘hateful’).  It is uncertain as to whether the Morrígan represents one or each or these goddesses, or all of them collectively.  Interestingly, Ernmas’ first three daughters are thought to be Ériu, Banba, and Fódla, the patron goddesses of Ireland and wives of the last three Tuatha Dé Danann kings.

The Morrígan appears in both the Ulster and Mythological Cycles of Celtic mythology, where she is found to have relations with the Ulster war hero Cú Chulainn.  She is thought to have helped the Tuatha Dé Danann defeat the Firbolg at the First Battle of Mag Tuireadh and the Fomorians at the Second Battle of Mag Tuireadh.  It is said that she mated with the Dagda before the battle with the Formorians in exchange for her battle plans, which led the Tuatha Dé Danann to victory.

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Through her role as war goddess, she is often compared with the Germanic Valkyries.  Her role included being a symbol of imminent death or could influence the outcome of war.  In the form of a crow, she often appeared flying above the battle, inspiring either fear or courage in the hearts of the warriors.  Through her ability to predict the death of warriors, she is sometimes associated with the wailing banshee (bean sídhe) of folklore.

Some have attempted to link the Morrígan with the Morgan le Fay from Welsh mythology, however it is likely that the two names are not related linguistically.

Wiki – Morrigan
Pantheon – Morrigan
Celtic Deities – Morrigan
Thalia Took – Macha

© The Celtic Journey (2013)

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Lugh, Master of Skills

Lug, Lugus/Lugos (Gaulish), Lugh Lámhfhada (Irish), Lleu Llaw Gyffes (Welsh), Lugaid/Lugaidh, Lonnansclech

Lugh (LOO) is a popular Celtic sun god known for his many skills.  Because of this, he was also called Lugh Lámhfhada (Lugh of the Long Arm), Lleu Llaw Gyffes (Lleu of the Skillful Hand), Samildánach (Skilled in All the Arts), Lonnbeimnech (fierce striker, sword-shouter) or Macnia (boy hero).

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Lugh is thought to be a form of the pan-Celtic/Gaulish god Lugus/Lugos.  The ancient Romans associated Lugh with the Roman god Mercury/Greek Hermes, as well as Apollo through his association with Lugus.  It is also possible that Lugh/Lugus was also a triple god, comprising the Gaulish gods Esus, Toutatis and Taranis.

Lugh was known as a sun god and a fierce warrior.  He is also known as a god of storms, particularly thunderstorms.  He was associated with the raven, crow, and lynx, and had a magic hound.  Lugh possessed several magical weapons, including an invincible Spear, one of the treasures of the Tuatha Dé Danann.  It is said that the Spear never missed its target and was so bloodthirsty it would often try to fight without anyone wielding it.

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Lugh’s father was Cian, son of Danu and Dian Cécht of the Tuatha Dé Danann, and his mother was Ethniu/Ethlinn, daughter of Balor of the Fomorians.  It was said that Lugh’s grandfather, Balor of the Evil Eye, learned that he would one day be murdered by a grandson.  He tried to confine his daughter Ethniu, however Cian released her and she bore him three sons.  Balor arranged for the children to be killed, however Lugh was saved.  Lugh was later given to Tailtiu, a Fir Bolg, who raised him as her foster son.

Lugh had many wives, including Buí and Nás, daughters of Ruadri, King of Britain, as well as Echtach, Englic, and Rosmerta.  Lugh’s most famous son was the Irish war hero Cú Chulainn, some say through the mortal maiden Deichtine/Dechtire.

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One story of Lugh explains how he travelled to the Hall of Tara to join the court of Nuada, High King of the Tuatha Dé Danann.  The guard at the door will not grant him access unless he had a skill that was of help to the King.  Lugh said he was a smith, wright, craftsman, swordsman, harpist, poet, historian, sorcerer, physician, and champion, however the guard tells him they already have experts with those skills.  Lugh then asks if any one man has all of those skills together, which the guard could not answer, and Lugh was allowed to enter the Hall.

It is during the Second Battle of Mag Tuireadh against the Fomorians that King Nuada is killed in battle by Balor. Lugh then faces Balor, who opens his poisonous eye that kills all it looks upon.  Lugh however shoots a stone from a sling-shot that drives his eye out the back of his head, killing Balor.

Lugh later finds Bres, the half-Formorian former king of the Tuatha Dé Danann, beaten and scared.  Bres begs for his life, and Lugh agrees to spare him if he shares his secrets of the land, including when to plough, sow, and reap.  At the end of the war, Lugh becomes High King of Ireland and rules for many years.

Cermait, the son of Dagda, later seduces one of Lugh’s wives.  Lugh kills him in revenge, however Cermait had three sons MacCuill, MacCecht and MacGrené/ Gréine, who avenged their father’s death by killing Lugh at Uisnech in Loch Lugborta.

Lugh held a harvest fair in honour of his foster mother, Tailtiu, which fell around the time of the first harvest in the Northern Hemisphere, August 1.  The festival was named Lughnasadh (“Festival of Lugh”) and celebrated corn, grains, bread and other symbols of the harvest.  Lúnasa is also the Irish name for the month of August.  In Christian England, this festival was known as Lammas (after the Saxon phrase hlaf maesse or “loaf mass”) also celebrating the first harvest of the year.  Even today, many people in Ireland celebrate Lughnasadh and Lammas with dancing, song, and bonfires.

Wiki – Lugh, Lugus
PaganWiccan About.com – Lugh
Timeless Myths – Lugh

© The Celtic Journey (2013)

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Danu, Great Mother

Dana, Anu, Ana, Anann, Danand, Dôn (Wales), Danuvius (Roman), Duna (Hungarian), Donau (German)

  • Danu is an ancient Irish triple goddess who is considered the “Great Mother” of Ireland.
  • She is the Mother of the Irish gods and faery people, the Tuatha Dé Danann , which literally means the “People of the Goddess Danu”.
  • Danu means knowledge, wisdom, wealth and abundance.  However her name is also connected to water, and could mean ‘the flowing one’.
  • Danu is thought to have married Bilé and was the mother of the Dagda, the chief leader of the Tuatha Dé Danann.  In other myths, she is known as the daughter or lover of the Dagda.
  • Her other children included Nuada, Dian Cécht, Ogma, Airmid, Etan, Miach, Cian/Kian, Sawan and Goibhniu.
  • Because of the similarities in correspondences, Danu has been associated with other goddesses, including Anu, the Universal Mother, and the Morrigan, the goddess of war.
  • Danu is also very similar to the Welsh goddess Dôn, who is the mother figure of the medieval tales in the Mabinogion.
  • Danu was also sometimes associated with Brigid, the daughter of the Dagda.

Danu

  • It is thought through her association with water, the River Danube was named after her.
  • Also, there are two round-topped hills in County Kerry, Ireland, called Da Chich Anu/Anann (the Paps of Anu), thought to represent the two breasts of Danu/Anu.

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  • Danu has a strong connection to the land and water.  She is a goddess of fertility, bounty, plenty, prosperity, wind, rivers, water, wells, wisdom, and inspiration.
  • Some of Danu’s symbols include holy stones, horses, seagulls, fish, amber, gold, flowing water, air, wind, earth, moon, keys and crowns.
  • Danu reminds us that we are capable of realizing our own dreams, empowering us to create our own destiny.

Wiki Danu
Goddess Danu
Timeless Myths – Danu
Celtic Deities
Thalia Took – Danu

© The Celtic Journey (2013)

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Áine, the Faery Goddess

Áine of Knockainy, Ain Cliach, Ain of the Light, Áine N’Chliar, Ain Cliar the Bright

  • Áine (ON-ya) is an Irish Goddess of summer, love, protection, fertility, wealth and sovereignty.
  • In her role of Moon Goddess, she guards livestock, crops, and cattle.
  • In her role as Sun Goddess, she could take the form of ‘Lair Derg’, a red mare that no one could outrun, in order to walk among her people.
  • Also known as a Faery Queen and Love Goddess, she has been known by other names such as the Lady of the Lake, the Goddess of the Earth and Nature, the Goddess of Luck and Magick, and Leanan Sidhe (“Sweetheart of the Sidhe”).

Aine Caroline Evans

  • Áine is thought to mean “brightness, glow, joy, radiance, splendour, glory, fame”.
  • She is associated with Midsummer (Litha, Summer Solstice), however also has sacred days following Lughnasadh.
  • She is associated with the Sun and Moon, the element Air, the direction South West, and one of the sacred herbs of Druids, Meadowsweet.
  • Her sacred animals are the red mare, rabbit, and swan.
  • She is associated with the Irish Province of Munster, specifically County Limerick, where the hill of Knockainy (Cnoc Áine) is found.

CnocAine

  • Áine is thought to be the daughter of King Eógabail/Eoghanach, a member of the Tuatha Dé Danann and the foster son of the sea god Manannan Mac Lir.  However, other legends claim that she was married to Manannan Mac Lir.  Other sources state that she is the daughter of the Dagda and sister to Brigid.
  • Áine is thought to be the sister of Aillen and/or Fennen (Finnen/Fenne/Fennel).
  • She is also thought to be the sister of Grian (Grainne), with Áine ruling over the light half of the year and Grian ruling over the dark.  However Grian could also be another aspect of Áine.
  • Áine is sometimes mistaken for the Mother Goddess Danu, who is known regionally as Anu.

Aine_Well

  • Áine was also known as a Love Goddess, and people would worship her in the hope that she might bestow sexuality, fertility, abundance and prosperity upon them.
  • Through her many relationships with human men, she is thought that she gave birth to a magical Faerie-Human race, which is how she gained her name as Queen of the Faeries.
  • One of the myths surrounding Áine describes how she sat in her birthing chair on Lughnasadh and gave birth to a sheave of grain. It is believed that by performing that act, Áine gave the gift of grain to the people of Ireland.

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  • Many stories exist regarding Áine and her mortal lovers.  It is said that Gerald, Earl of Desmond, once stole Áine’s cloak while she swam in a river, and would not return it to her until she agreed to marry him.
  • Their son was Geroid Iarla, known as The Magician.  Áine made a deal with the Earl that he would never be surprised by anything her son did, however after performing a superhuman deed, the Earl was surprised, and Áine was free to return to the fairies (sidhe).
  • In other stories, Áine is the unwilling wife of Geroid Iarla, and ends up turning him into a goose or killing him (or both).
  • Another myth describes how Áine was raped by the King of Munster, Ailill Aulom, which led to Áine biting off his ear.  By biting off his ear, Áine deemed Ailill unfit to be king due to his disfigurement.
  • From all her aspects it is shown that Áine was not a deity to offend, if crossed she could have coined the phrase “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”.

  • Invoke Áine for love, fertility, faery magick, abundance, prosperity, and the protection of women and animals.

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Angelfire Aine
Faery Healing Aine
Gemini Witch Twin – Aine
Vampgyrl – Aine
Tansy Fire Dragon – Aine

© A Year And A Day (2013)

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The Dagda, Father of All

  • The Dagda is a powerful Irish god, also known as Eochaid Ollathair (“All Father”), Ruad Rofhessa(“Lord of Great Knowledge”), or Lord of the Heavens.
  • His name means “good”, and is known as the god of protection, warriors, knowledge, the arts, magic, music, initiation, prophecy, weather, reincarnation, death, fire, the sun, healing, regeneration, prosperity and plenty.
  • Sources vary in terms of his family members.  In some sources, his father is Elatha and his mother is Ethniu/ Eithne.  Also Danu is either seen as his mother or his daughter, probably due to his association with Brigid.
  • The Dagda is thought to be the father of Bodb Dearg, Aed Minbhrec/Aed Cáem, Cermait Milbél, Midir, and daughters Áine, and Brigid.  He was also the father or brother of Oghma.
  • Through his affair with Bóand/ Bóann, he fathered a daughter Breg and son Óengus/Aengus /Angus Óg.

  • He was High King of the Tuatha Dé Danann, after his predecessors Nuada and Lugh.
  • The Tuatha Dé Danann conquered Ireland from the Fir Bolg and Fomorians, prior to the coming of the Milesians (Celts).
  • Prior to the battle with the Fomorians, he mates with the goddess of war, the Mórrígan, onSamhain, in exchange for a plan of battle.

Dagda

  • The Dagda was described as a huge and stocky man, with superhuman strength as well as superhuman appetite.  He possessed several magical objects.
  • One of them was a great treasure of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the magic cauldron from a magical city of Murias.  Known as the Cauldron of Dagda, the Cauldron of Plenty, or Undry, it was thought to be bottomless and left no man unsatisfied.
  • Another was a giant club or hammer that could kill several men at once with its head, and bring them back to life with its handle.
  • The Dagda also possessed a magic oak harp called Uaithne, or “the Four Angled Music”, used to change the seasons and weather, or to command the order of battle.  This is also the harp that is seen on many Irish flags (and Guinness beer!) symbolizing Ireland to this day.
  • He is sometimes likened to the Gaulish god Sucellus, the striker, who is depicted with a hammer and cup.

  • He is credited with a long reign as High King of the Tuatha Dé Danann before dying at the Brú na Bóinne, succumbing to a wound inflicted by Cethlenn/Caitlin during the Second Battle of Magh Tuiredh years prior in retribution for the death of Balor.
  • He was replaced as King by his grandson, Delbáeth, who fathered the famous matron goddesses of Ireland, Ériu, Banba and Fodla.

Wiki – The Dagda
Timeless Myths – Dagda
Celtic Deities

© The Celtic Journey (2013)

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Cerridwen, Keeper of the Cauldron

Cerridwyn, Ceridwen, Cyrridven, Caridwen, Kyrridwen

  • Cerridwen is a Welsh goddess of inspiration, wisdom, rebirth, transformation and prophecy.
  • She is known as the keeper of the cauldron of knowledge, the mother of transformation and change, and the white lady of inspiration and death.
  • Cerridwen holds great power and knowledge and is often described as a crone goddess, creating a triad with Blodeuwedd and Arianrhod.
  • She often represents the darker aspect of deity and has connections to the Underworld.

  • She was married to Tegid and lived on an island with her daughter Creirwy the fair, and Morfran/Afagddu the dark.
  • Cerridwen is associated with a great white sow.

Cerridwen

  • Cerridwen is mentioned in the Mabinogion, a collection of Welsh myths.
  • In one story, Cerridwen brews up a magical potion in her cauldron of poetic inspiration (Awen) in order to make her son Morfran/Afagddu wise and knowledgeable to make up for his ugliness.
  • She leaves young Gwion Bach in charge of stirring it, warning him not to taste a drop.  However three hot drops of potion fall onto his thumb, which he instinctively put into his mouth.  Tasting the potion, he was granted the sacred knowledge meant for Cerridwen’s son.
  • Furious, Cerridwen chases Gwion through the seasons, changing forms and shapeshifting, until finally she swallows Gwion.  She becomes pregnant, and nine months later she gives birth to Taliesin (“radiant brow”).
  • Initially thinking to kill the child, she has a change of heart, and instead throws Taliesin into the sea. He is later rescued by the Celtic prince, Elffin, and becomes a great Welsh bard.
Thalia Took Cerridwen
  • Cerridwen’s cauldron contained a potion that was brewed for a year and a day in order to reach its full potency.
  • The cauldron is a symbol of transformation (both physical and spiritual), enlightenment, wisdom, the womb, the Mother Goddess, and rebirth.
  • Through the Mabinogion, Cerridwen is also associated with the legend of King Arthur.  Her son Taliesin became associated with the legend of Merlin through his role of bard of the court of Elffin (Arthur).

About.com – Cerridwen
Sacred Mists Blog
Wiki Ceridwen
Thalia Took – Cerridwen
Goddess School – Cerridwen

© The Celtic Journey (2013)

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Brigid

Brigit, Brigid, Brighid, Bríde, Brìd, Brìg, Brigantia, Breo-Saighead, Breo Aigit (Gaelic), Ffraid (Welsh), Mary of the Gael, Saint Brigid (Catholic)

  • Brigid is a very important Triple Goddess in Celtic mythology.
  • Her three aspects include the Fire of Inspiration as patroness of poetry, Fire of the Hearth as patroness of healing and fertility, and Fire of the Forge as patroness of smithcraft.
  • She is also linked to prophecy, divination, agriculture and livestock, feminine arts and crafts.
  • She can be thought of as the Celtic equivalent of Roman Minerva and Greek Athena.

  • The Celtic word Brig means “exalted one”, and her Gaelic name of Breo-Saighead or Breo Aigitmeans “fiery arrow” or “fiery power”.

Brigid_CelticGodsGoddesses

  • She is the daughter of the Dagda, and one of the Tuatha Dé Danann. The Morrigan, another triple goddess, is also thought to be Brigid’s mother.
  • Brigid was the wife of Bres of the Fomorians with whom she had three sons, including the warrior Ruadán, killed in battle.
  • Brigid is associated with the festival Imbolc/Candlemas, which is known as St Brigid’s Day to Catholics.
  • Brigid is associated with fire, including candles, heat, warmth, and sunrises.
  • Her association with fire is so strong that a perpetual sacred flame is kept burning by the nuns at her sanctuary in Kildare, Ireland.
  • Brigid is also connected to holy wells, including the one at Kildare. Wells were ‘dressed’ as a way to honour Brigid or ask for her help and assistance.

  • Crafts that honour her role as the protector of the hearth include Brigid corn/grain dollies and Brigid’s crosses.
  • Other symbols tied to Brigid includes arrows, bells, thresholds and doorways.
  • Animal correspondences include ewes, dairy cows, bees, owls, and serpents.
  • It is thought that the love and respect for her brought unity to the Celts.

Wiki Brigid
Goddess Myths – Brigit
Brigid’s Flame
Pantheon – Brigid

© The Celtic Journey (2013)

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Eostre

Ēostre (Ostara, Ēastre) is an obscure Germanic and Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring and dawn, and is thought to be the namesake of the Christian holiday Easter.  Her festival is celebrated on the Vernal Equinox, the first day of Spring.

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The cleric Bede first described Ēostre in his book De Temporum Ratione in the 8th century.  However, material related to her is so minimal that some scholars argue that she was never a goddess at all.  Her name could have been derived from Ēosturmōnath, the Germanic name for the month of April.  The High German word for Ēostre is Ostara.

Eostre - Thalia Took

Her name is thought to mean “to shine”, therefore Ēostre is seen as a goddess of the dawn.  However it is also thought that Ēastre is the ancient word for “spring”.  There are also links to the name Ēostre and “east”, the direction of the sky where the sun first rises, which gives Ēostre the name “Eastern Star”.

Through her association with dawn, Ēostre may be related to the Greek Eos, Roman Aurora, or Indian Ushas.

Ēostre is connected with growth, renewal, abundance, new beginnings and fertility.  As symbols of rebirth and fertility, eggs and rabbits are sacred to her, as is the full moon.

Ēostre represents the transitional time between childhood innocence and adult passion, and reminds us that life is full of untold possibilities and adventures.

Thalia Took – Eostre
Wiki – Eostre
Goddess Alive

© A Year And A Day (2013)

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