boneshades replied to your post: Good morning! As a newbie, would-be, maybe pagan still doing her research, I was wondering if you would be able to share some links about Celtic mythology/cosmology? I’ve been trying to research but I’m not quite sure where to start, and many of the sites I’ve visited assume that one already has a basic grasp on it. Thanks!I’d be interested in both the Gaulish and Celtiberian cosmology, to be honest, if you wouldn’t mind. (: That’s something I haven’t seen much about at all. And thank you for the links! :D
Sure! I’m not at home right now where I come up with a good list of resources, but I can write about the general conception of cosmology for most Gaulish polytheists that I know of. (Unfortunately, I don’t know that many…) This is general cosmology stuff, as we don’t have much by way of surviving mythology. That’s the downside of reconstructing from archaeology, ancient Greek and Roman ethnographic writings, comparative mythology, and surviving local folklore. There is far less certainty, so make sure you do lots of research to form your own conclusions before taking me strictly at my word. I have to revise or update my worldview with each new piece of information I learn. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though; it allows me to keep questioning and redefining and thereby strengthening my faith.
First off, it’s taken as a given that the world is separated into the realms of Earth, Sea, and Sky. It is a common belief among almost all recon-oriented Celtic polytheists. In Gaulish polytheism the concept of boundaries and boundary space is extremely important, perhaps moreso than in other forms of Celtic polytheism. Typically all a Gaulish sanctuary needed to be considered sacred was the tenemos, the boundary wall. More on that here. Time is very divided: there are lucky and unlucky days, as well as light and dark halves of the year and each individual month. It seems to have been a very complicated system. More notes on time from the same book. It is generally accepted among most scholars and almost all Celtic pagans that the Gauls had a concept of a vertical cosmology, either extending up through the branches of the World Tree or down through a pit into the earth. This “well and tree” cosmology tied together the lands of the gods, the dead, and the living. In a Gaulish worldview there are many gods, some tribal, some familial, some pan-tribal; and there are also many other spiritual beings that live in the world — ancestors, nature spirits, local spirits, local gods, etc. The distinction is not always clear between the different groups. According to Caesar the Gauls considered themselves descended from the god Dispater, a cthonic underworld deity whose identity is up for debate. The most popular suggestions are Cernunnos and Sucellos. Breton Ankou is probably a continuation of this belief in a different form. (And here’s a great tumblr devoted to Ankou!)
There’s a lot more mythology I could go into, but then I’d run out of space and probably bore you to tears… Plus, I still have a lot to learn myself, and with each new thing I learn the cosmology becomes increasingly more complicated. I expect I will be writing much more over the coming months, though. There is this great book on mythology in numismatics that I am looking for… But anyway, onward:
Celtiberian cosmology adds some interesting factors to the Continental Celtic worldview. The concept of a sort of infernal journey, a passage through death and rebirth, is extremely important. It was part of the cult of Endovellicus, one of the major deities in Lusitanian mythology, and seems to also be present in the pedras formosas. I admit I have not researched this in a long time, so my information may be a bit off, and I’m not sure exactly what to add. A good place to read about Celtiberian culture and archaeology is e-Keltoi Volume 6: The Celts in the Iberian Peninsula. I should really devote more research to this, as I ought to get a better understanding of the gods of my ancestors.
I hope that is helpful. I have tried to sort out UPG from proven facts, but I’m not sure how good a job I did.
I think I might be able to help a little, but I’m more Irish Celtic recon than Gaulish.
One note I want to point out is about Dis Pater. The Romans had a habit of associating their names for deities with certain aspects of Celtic deities, whether or not the comparison fit otherwise. Like Taranos was considered the “Celtic Iupiter,” which isn’t really accurate to how Taranos was to the Celts. The Romans went “Oh! He’s associated with lightning, he must be Iupiter!” and left it at that. So, when reading Roman accounts, or other historical accounts keep this annoying Roman habit in mind.
Okay, back to Dis Pater. So, the Romans did the same thing with this father deity of the mainland Celts. As far as linguistics goes, they were goddamned far off. Dis Pater is not actually Dis Pater at all. Not a cthonic underworld deity, but, in accordance with the name roots, Dyeu Ph2ter, which means “Sky Father”. This is reflected across all languages coming from Proto Indo European. This is where we get Zeus, the Vedic Dyauṣ Pitār, Iupiter, and possibly Dionysus and the Thracian Sabazios.
Another very interesting Celtic deity is Danu. In the Irish Celtic pantheon she is the mother of the Tuatha de Dannan. (There’s a pair of hills in Ireland called “the breasts of Danu” I kid you not.) She is also rooted in Proto Indo European, and the only other surviving version of her is again in the Rig Veda, under the same name but as the mother of a race of Asuras called the Danavas. The name of the river Danube is named for her, as are a few others in Europe.
Here is one great resource for basics.