In Celtic mythology and beliefs, the sun and moon held significant roles and were often associated with deities and cosmic forces. The Celts were ancient Indo-European peoples whose territories stretched across much of Western Europe. While their beliefs varied across different regions and time periods, there were common themes and deities related to the sun and moon. They listened to the earth and let its cycles guide them in belief, faith and in life.
The Sun: The sun was seen as a powerful and life-giving force in Celtic mythology. It represented warmth, light, and growth, and its cycles influenced the agricultural and seasonal patterns that were crucial to the Celtic way of life. The sun was often associated with various deities and had different names and forms depending on the Celtic culture and region.
In Irish mythology, the sun was associated with the deity Lugh (also known as Lugus), who was a prominent figure in Celtic pantheons. Lugh was a multi-skilled god, often linked to light, craftsmanship, and leadership. His festival, Lughnasadh, was celebrated around the beginning of August and marked the first harvest.
The Moon: The moon, on the other hand, was often associated with feminine energies, cycles, and the mysteries of the night. Just like the sun, the moon's phases played a role in Celtic agricultural and religious practices.
In Celtic mythology, the moon was sometimes linked to goddesses associated with fertility, the earth, and the natural cycles. In the Welsh tradition, for instance, Arianrhod was a goddess who was often associated with the moon and stars. She was seen as a symbol of femininity and had connections to the cycles of birth, death, and rebirth.
Cycles and Cosmology: Celtic beliefs were deeply intertwined with the natural world and its cyclical patterns. The changing seasons, the waxing and waning of the moon, and the rising and setting of the sun all played integral roles in their understanding of life, death, and the interconnectedness of all things. These cycles were mirrored in their religious rituals, festivals, and daily life.
Here are some key aspects of Scottish Celtic beliefs:
Polytheism: Celtic people believed in a pantheon of deities, each associated with different aspects of life, nature, and the elements. These deities included figures like Cernunnos (associated with nature and fertility), Brigid (goddess of healing, poetry, and smithcraft), and the Morrigan (a goddess of war and sovereignty).
Nature and Land: The Celts held a deep reverence for nature and the land. They believed that certain places, such as hills, rivers, and sacred groves, were inhabited by spirits or deities. They conducted rituals and ceremonies to honor these spirits and seek their blessings.
Festivals and Rituals: The Celtic calendar was marked by a series of seasonal festivals that celebrated the cycles of nature. Some of these festivals include Beltane (celebrating the beginning of summer), Lughnasadh (harvest festival), Samhain (marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter), and Imbolc (celebrating the first signs of spring).
Ancestor Worship: Ancestors held a significant place in Celtic beliefs. The Celts believed that their ancestors' spirits continued to exist and could influence their lives. Offerings and rituals were performed to honor and seek guidance from these ancestors.
Druidism: Druids were the priestly class among the Celts who held a central role in maintaining and transmitting spiritual knowledge and conducting rituals. They were believed to have had a deep connection with the spiritual world and acted as intermediaries between the people and the deities.
Symbolism: Various symbols held spiritual significance in Celtic culture, such as the Celtic knot, which represents interconnectedness and eternity; the triskele, symbolizing cycles and life's journey; and the wheel of Taranis, representing the god of thunder and the natural elements.
Oral Tradition: Celtic beliefs were primarily transmitted through oral tradition, which meant that much of their religious and mythological knowledge was passed down through storytelling, poetry, and songs.
Celtic religious practices and beliefs were highly localized, with variations from one tribe or region to another. Consequently, the specifics of deities associated with the sun and moon, as well as the rituals and practices associated with them, could vary widely.
Alator: God of war and protection, name means "he who nourishes the people"
Albiorix: God of protection and war, name means "king of the world"
Belenus: God of healing, name means "Bright one"
Borvo: God of healing waters and minerals
Brea: God of fertility, tyrant ruler
Cernunnos: Horned god of nature, fertility, the underworld, wealth, fruit
Esus: God of strength and human sacrifice
Lenus: God of healing associated w Roman god mars
Lugh: God of the sun and craftmanship, justice and rulership
Maponus: God of music, poetry and youth
Nuada: God of healing, the sea and warfare
Brigantia: Goddess of rivers and waters, poetry and crafts
Brigit: Goddess of fire, fertility, healing, cattle and poetry
Ceridwen: Goddess and sorceress, poetic wisdom, prophecy, magic and rebirth.
Epona: Horse goddess, fertility and cornucopias, horses and mules
Medb: Goddess of sovereignty and motherhood. Alsoknown as Maeve.
Morrigan: Goddess of war and death, fate and battle. A great warrior queen.
Morgan Le Faye: Triple goddess of death and rebirth. represents Maiden, mother, crone.
Nehalennia: Goddess of seafarers, fertilty and abundance
Nemausicae: Mother goddess, fertilty, healing
Nerthus: Goddess of fertility, peace and prosperity
Saitada: Goddess of greif and protection.
Shelia Na Gig: Irish goddess of birth and death. The celts honoured the sacred power of the female genitalia and used sculptures of such for protection.
Sulis: Goddess of Health and healing waters.Sun goddess
* ARTWORK BY HRANA JANTO FROM THE GODDESS ORACLE BY AMY SOPHIA MARASHINSKY