Celtic Gods and Goddesses
GoddessLADY OF THE LAKE (Welsh, Cornish, Breton) This is simply a compilation of all the multitudinous lake, river, and water spirits so prevalent in Celtic mythology. Nevertheless, common threads do appear; one of the best documented is that of relic-guardian, holder of the sacred sword Excalibur, who gives it to Arthur, and takes it back at the end of the stories. There seem to be two or perhaps three Named Ladies. Nimue is specifically named as a Lady of the Lake; she is the defeater, or perhaps simply replacer, of Merlin at Arthur's Court. Nineve seems to be the Keeper of Excalibur, and her name may be a variant on Nimue, but she is slain by Sir Balin, and her personality is at variance to Nimue's. There is also a French Lady of the Lake, Viviane. There are, in addition, other unnamed Ladies as well.

The Lady of the Lake is by some accounts a faery woman, by others a potent deity of life, death, and regeneration. The Bretons claim she was a Breton addition to the Arthurian myths and that she never appeared in the original Welsh versions of the story. Contrary to the widely popular "sword in the churchyard stone" legends, the Breton version tells us that Merlin and Arthur rode out to the center of the Dosmary Lake in Cornwall, and that it was there that Excalibur was presented to him, the sword embedded in floating stone. When he pulled it out, he reversed the act of the Great Rite, separating the female and male principles of creation which were not to be united again until Arthur's death.

The Lady of the Lake is also attributed with being the foster mother of Sir Lancelot, one of Arthur's knights, also a Breton addition to the myth.

She is described as sitting on a throne of reeds in the center of the lake's depths. Among her many magickal credits is that of healer.
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(Anglo-Celtic) Goddess associated with water. She was originally a lake Goddess who became a Goddess of ale and mead. Evidence of her worship remains at Birdsowald, England.

Latis fell desperately in love with a salmon, a totem animal representing knowledge, and, out of pity for her, the other deities turned him into a warrior. However, each winter he must submit to becoming a salmon again until spring.

His returning to fish form archetypally represents the demise of the old God who is always condemned to die at winter's beginning (Samhain). He is resurrected in the spring (Bealtaine) when the Goddess ceases to mourn and is his mate once more.
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GoddessLe FAY (Welsh, Cornish) LeFay was a Goddess of the sea and of the Isle of Avalon. She was an efficacious healer, and drinking water blessed by her provided and instant cure for all ills. Scholars debate whether the "fay" in her name refers to faery, fate, or some blending of both.
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(Continental) A thunder and storm deity equated with the Norse God Thor.
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(Breton) A God of the forge similar to Rome's Vulcan. See Goibniu for more details.
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(Welsh, Cornish, Breton) Also Llefellys. A son of Beli, Llevelys was the ruler of Brittany, a land which was under the curse of three plagues: the screams of two battling dragons on May Eve, provisions missing nightly from the royal household, and an evil race of sub-humans called the Corandians.

With his brother Llud, a British God/ruler, they devised a way to end the troubles. They got the dragon drunk on Meade, honey-wine drank at Bealtaine; spread poison insects for the Corandians to eat; and discovered the name of the wizard who was stealing form the royal household.
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(Welsh) Also known as Llew Llaw Gyffes, which means "Llew of the steady hand". Also spelled Lley Gwalchmei, and nicknamed the "Falcon of May". He was the son of Arianrhod and her brother Gwyddion (or her uncle Math in some versions) whose story is told in the mabinogion. Llew's major myths have to do with the fact that his mother would not name him; cursed him never to marry; and that he could only be killed a certain, secret way.

Llew was a great archer, a prized skill among the Celts. Arianrhod, his mother who refused to name him as was a mother's right, was tricked into naming him by seeing his archery skills. To be nameless was frightening to the Celts, who equated a name with a spirit essence and true being, one of the reasons many Pagans even today keep their craft names a closely guarded secret.

Llew's father, Gwyddion, and Uncle Math decided to make a wife for him who would be beyond the control of the curse of not marrying. But the wife, Blodeuwedd, fell in love with Gronw, The Lord of Penllyn. They plotted to discover the one way in which Llew could be killed. Blodeuwedd tricked him into telling her the details. He could only be slain by a spear which took a year to make, and the murder must occur while Llew was under a thatched roof, just after bathing, with one foot resting on a goat.

After Blodeuwedd and Gronw killed Llew by the prescribed method, Llew turned into an eagle and flew away. He was later rescued from his bondage by Gwyddion. Celtic legends often show human souls becoming birds upon death. Therefore his restoration is a metaphor for reincarnation, and may be one of the many versions of the seasonal Holly King/Oak King battle.

Llew was worshipped in Celtic Gaul. He is generally thought to be the same as the more well-known Irish God, Lugh.
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(Anglo-Celtic, Welsh) Known in Wales as the son of Beli, and a death God in his own right. Llud was the ruler of Celtic Britain while his brother, Llevelys, ruled Gaul. Together they outwitted the three plagues sent to Gaul. Sometimes nicknamed "Llawereint the Silver-handed" He is often equated with Nuada of the Silver Hand in Ireland.

A temple to Llud once stood at the site of St. Paul's Cathedral in London near Ludgate, named for him. He replaced the Goddess Tamesis as God of the River Thames.

Also Lludd, Ludd, Nuda, and Nudd
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(Pan-Celtic) Spelled Lir in Ireland and man, but he is better known by his Welsh name. Llyr was the powerful God of the Sea, and the father of sea God Mannanan and was probably more widely known and worshipped than his father. Llyr had several wives in succession including Iweriadd, Penardun, Aebh, and Aife. Four of his children (by Aebh) are part of the folk tales known as the "Four Sorrows of Erin."

He is thought to be the prototype for Shakespeare's King Lear.
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(Pan-Celtic) [Loo] The Shining One; Sun God; God of War; "Many Skilled"; "Fair-Haired One"; "White or Shining"; a hero god. His feast is Lughnassadh, a harvest festival. Associated with ravens. His symbol was a white stag in Wales. Son of Cian and Ethniu. Lugh had a magic spear and rod-sling. One of his magic hounds was obtained from the sons of Tuirenn as part of the blood-fine for killing his father Cian. Also called Samhioldananach, meaning "master of all arts", or Lamhfada (La-VAH-dah), "the long-armed".

His sacred symbol was a spear. He was always accompanied by two ravens. Sometimes he is shown as one-eyed. Predecessor of the Germanic Wotan and the Norse Odin? He was a God of the sun, light, and the grain harvest, who is honored at the Sabbat of Lughnassadh. Like Brid, he is a deity of many skills and was even said to be able to come into human form to worship among the Druids for whom he was a primary deity. He is also worshipped as the God of fire, metallurgy, crafting, weaving, and as a protector of the weak.

Also known as Lugh of the Long Arm. He killed his grandfather, Balor, during a battle in which the new order of gods and goddesses took over from the primal gods. He defeated his enemies with a magic spear. Also known as Lug Samildanach or Lug.

Considered the chief Lord of the Tuatha De Danaan, the Celtic Zeus. His archetype appears to derive from an early solar deity, and he has many epithets and sobriquets, among which: Lamhfhada, Long-arm, referring to his skill with spear or sling; Samildanach, much-skilled, having many talents; Ildanach, seer; and Maicnia, boy-warrior.

Some scholars believe he was originally a king of the Fomorians who was adopted by the Tuatha De Danann and then by the Celts. He sided with the Tuatha in the Second Battle of Tireadh (Moytura) and led their forces against the Formorians. It was here that he killed his grandfather Balor, a sacrificial God whom Lugh was destined to replace. Though he was a divine being, he was said to have an earthly father. Because of this association, he is seen as a bridge between human and the divine worlds.

More statues and holy sites were erected to him than any other Celtic deity, and many of these sites remain for us today. His continental name was Lugus. He is often equated with the Greek God Apollo.

Also: Llugh; Luga; Lamhfada [lavada - of the Long Arm]; Llew; Lug; Lugus; Lug Samildanach (many skilled); Lleu Llaw Gyffes ("bright one of the skillful hand"); Lleu; Lugos
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(Welsh) {MAH-bahn or BAY-bone] Also maponos and Maponus. Mabon means "great son", the child of Modred whose name means "great mother". He was stolen from Modron at three years old and later rescued by King Arthur.

Mabon's myths overlap those of Gwyn Ap Nuad, and they may have once been the same deity. Mabon rode wild horses, had prized guardian hunting hounds, and he may have been an actual ruler of Wales who later came into myth.

He is also a minor sun God, yet he represents the power in darkness. His images transcend all the life stages of other Gods. He is a king of death and the Otherworld, a deity of the harvest and fertility, and was once called "The Divine Youth" by his followers. He represents innocent youth when young, strength and virility as a young man, and the sacrificial God when elderly. His image is linked the hierarchies of sacred animals , and he may have once figured heavily in long lost Celtic creation myths since he is equated with the expelling of and control of the darkness and of storms.

Some Celtic traditions see him as the original being, the first God, the first life carved out of the primal void of the divine womb.

He was adopted by the Anglo-Romans as Maponus and was honored at Hadrian's Wall. He is sometimes called a masculine Persephone, or the Celtic Dionysus because of his linkage with the grape harvest.
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(Anglo-Celtic) The consort of Gog. They were two mountain deities of which she was the more important. Britain's Megg's Hills are named for her, and several hillside chalk effigies portray her. She is usually depicted as a four-breasted woman astride a horse. Some speculate that he name may mean "mother deity" and that she was once a fertility and mother Goddess. In patriarchal times she became England's St. Margaret.
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(Scottish) MacKay's myth is possibly a reworking of an old story about a fire God. Mackay was the leader of Clan MacKay credited with bringing fire to Scotland, and also for making the little faery lights known as the will o' the wisp impossible for humans to catch.

MacKay was desperately trying to start a fire to feed his family when he spotted the faery lights dancing on the horizon. He decided if he could just capture those lights he would never again have to spend time trying to strike a spark.

In time he caught the lights and brought fire to Scotland, but the faeries were so outraged that humans had found their sacred fire, that they vowed forever to tease humans with their elusive light and never to allow themselves to be caught again.

The motto of Clan MacKay to this day is "Sons of Fire".
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(Scottish) [MAH-lah LEE-ah] Another name for the Cailleach in southwestern Scotland. She tended a herd of pigs all sired by the famous wild boar of Glen Glass. She is often equated with Cerridwen.
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(Irish, Manx, Welsh) Also Mannanan MacLir and Oirbsen, the latter being his Galway name which is still reflected in that region's Lake Oirbsen. He was a chameleon-like sea God for whom the Isle of Man was named and the son of sea God Llyr. He dressed in a green cloak and a gold headband. A shape-shifter. The Isle of Arran in Firth of Clyde and the Isle of Man were under his protection. At Arran he had a palace called Emhain of the Apple Trees. His swine, which constantly renewed themselves, were the chief food of the Tuatha de Danann and kept them from aging.

He had many famous weapons: two spears called Yellow Shaft and Red Javelin; swords called The Retaliator, Great Fury, and Little Fury. His self-propelled ship was called Wave Sweeper, and his horse "Splendid Mane". He had magic armor that prevented wounds and could make the Tuatha invisible at will. He possesses, among other things, the fabulous Crane-Bag, holder of all his treasures, including Language. As with many Aryan Sea-Gods, he has a close association with horses. Once every thirty-three years he held the Feast of Age, a banquet to ensure that those who ate would never grow old.

He was not a popular God until the Celts, largely a herding people, when to the sea in equal numbers. The sea power of the Celts was destroyed by the Romans, and therefore Mannanan became associated with Irish and Welsh waters only rather than all the oceans like the Roman's Neptune. Once the Celts latched onto his archetype, he became a frequently mentioned deity in mythology with many stories attributed to him, several of them contradictory.

It was Mannanan who decreed that the world of faeries and the world of humans should forever remain separated when his wife (one of many in succession), Fand, fell in love with the hero Cuchulain.

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(Cornish) In Cornish legends, Mandred is the true name of God which, when pronounced, draws the All-Power to the one speaking it. Such legends have parallels in Jewish and Arabic mythology, two cultures who will not even attempt to pronounce the name of their God for fear of the power it will unleash.
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(British) Lord of poetry and music; revered during the Roman occupation of Britain.
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(Anglo-Celtic) This English Goddess' Roman name means "deep march" or "long march", a Celtic warrior queen who lived around the third century BCE. Her laws, known as the Marcian Statutes, were similar to Ireland's Brehon Laws in that they were very fair and gave equal status to women. Though some scholars claim these statutes laid the ground work for the Magna Carta, the newer version ignored women's status.
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(Welsh, British) Mother aspect of the Goddess. Also Morgause, see Morgan LeFay for more information.
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(Welsh) A master magician from the Mabinogion, and king of Gwynedd, a Cymric kingdom. As a brother of the mother Goddess Don, he is sometimes seen as a minor ruler or the Otherworld. His name means "coin" or "money", and in myth he is the deity who brought wealth and prosperity to Wales, and who is credited also with bringing pigs to that country for the first time. This stemmed from a common Celtic belief that all wealth (and pigs) originated in the Otherworld, to whose leaders they belonged. He had super hearing, and if any sound was cast into the wind, his ears could catch it.
Uncle to Llew. Tutelary to Gwynedd, in North Wales. He is considered the premier sage of Britain: old beyond reckoning, most skilled in Magick, and knowledgeable beyond measure.

Math could not live (rule) unless his feet were placed in the lap of a maiden thought there was a provision made for times of war. This stems from a very ancient Celtic concept which views rulers as deities incarnate. Kings had to have the approval of their Queens, in the guise as Goddess of sovereignty, in order to be legitimate. Many old drawings of Celtic rulers depict the king resting his feet in the lap of the queen. In one myth concerning him, his queen was kidnapped and he lost the throne until he found her. He is most famous for having helped his student, Gwyddion, fashion Blodeuwedd as a bride for his nephew Llew.
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(Welsh) [MAYTH-on-oo'ee] A father God who, in later myths, became the single being from whom the family of the great Welsh mother Goddess don was descended. In the original myths it is likely that the two were paired, and he was her eternal consort/son who was sacrificed for his people each autumn and reborn to Don at Midwinter.
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(Breton, Scottish) [Mel-oo-SEEN] Also Melsuline. A serpent Goddess brought to common awareness through the writings of French author Rabelais. She was the daughter of Elinas, a King of Scotland, and a Breton faery woman named Pressine or Pressina.

When Elinas discovered Pressine was a faery, he banished her and their three daughters of whom Melusine was the eldest. The banished daughter led her sisters to revenge when they locked their father inside the Brandebois Mountains.

The mother, in her outrage, placed a spell on her for this act against the father. The spell would make Melusine appear as a serpent from the waist down on Saturdays. when she married she made a condition that her husband never ask where she was on this day, as her mother had asked before, so that her husband would not know what she was. When he discovered, she sprouted wings and flew away in sorrow leaving her three cherished sons behind.

She and her sisters, Melior and Palatina, are a triplicity.
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(Cornish) Also Meleagant in a Breton epic poem, but he seems to be a figure in Arthurian myth unique to Cornwall. He was a "dark God" who lay in wait for an entire year to carry off Guinevere to his palace in Avalon. Some stories have him executing the kidnapping at Mordred's (Arthur's nephew) request.

Others call him a God of the Summerland, a popular euphemism for the Otherworld.
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(Breton, Continental) A pig God of the continental standing stones who had his cloudy origins in Celtic Gaul. He was, perhaps, a masculine version of, or a consort to, the popular goddess known as Cerridwen. He had his own feast day in Celtic Gaul.
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(Welsh) Goddess whose name means "divine mother". Often conflated with the Roman Matrona, she is the Tutelary of the Marne in Gaul. In Britain, she appears as a washerwoman, and thus there would seem to be a connection with the Morrigan.

She is one of the most potent of the Celtic archetypal mother Goddess. She is also a fertility and harvest deity often equated with Greece's Demeter or Ireland's Danu.

She was the mother of Mabon who was stolen away from her when he was three days old and later rescued by King Arthur.
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(Welsh) Welsh death-goddess; Morgan the Fate. Glamorgan in Wales is said to be her sacred territory. She can cast a destroying curse on any man. Gawaine of the Round Table bore Morgan's pentacle as a heraldic device on his blood-red shield. She was the daughter of LeFay, a glamorous Welsh sea Goddess. As the half-sister of King Arthur, she possibly was once a Goddess of Glastonbury Tor, a sacred pagan site intimately associated with the Arthurian myths. Archetypally, Glastonbury functions as a gateway to the Otherworld.

The root of her name, mor, means "sea", and she was a sea Goddess, the place one must cross to reach the isle of the Otherworld. In Brittany, sea sprites which lure sailors to their deaths are called Morgans after her.

Today she is thought of as the final incarnation of the Irish Valkyrie Morrigan, Morgan plays a critical but ambiguous role in the Arthurian cycle. Portrayed as a mortal female deeply learned in Magick and a close relative of Arthur's (maternal half-sister), she is always at odds with Arthur, and is responsible for any of a number of attempts to drag him down. Once he is mortally wounded though, and his cause a pyrrhic and ultimately futile victory, it is Morgan who appears at his side, nursing him and taking him off to the Isle of Avalon, to rest until his presence is needed once more. One gets the distinct impression that she somehow engineered the rise of Arthur to the status of Hero, in order to create an Eternal Champion of Britain.

As a goddess of sovereignty, she backed the Green Knight to take over the kingdom of Camelot. Her Breton name is Morgause.
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(Scottish, Anglo-Celtic) A harvest Goddess from the Scottish/English border.
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GoddessMORRIGAN, THE (Pan-Celtic) Also the Morrigu; "Great Queen"; "Supreme War Goddess"; "Queen of Phantoms or Demons"; "Specter Queen"; shape-shifter. Reigned over the battlefield, helping with her magic, but did not join the battles. Associated with crows and ravens. The Crone aspect of the Goddess; Great Mother; Moon Goddess; Great White Goddess; Queen of the Fairies. In her Dark Aspect (the symbol is then the raven or crow) she is the goddess of war, fate and death; she went fully armed and carried two spears. The carrion crow is her favorite disguise. With her, Nemain (Venomous), Badb (Fury), and Macha (Battle) encouraged fighters to battle madness. Goddess of rivers, lakes, and fresh water. Patroness of priestesses and witches. Revenge, night, magic, prophecy.

Morrigan is also closely associated with horse symbolism, befitting a horse-orientated culture with strong links east toward Asia. She may also at times have been syncretized with the horse goddess Epona. As with other Celtic goddesses Morrigan is an intrinsic part of the land rather than a tribal deity, the "Sovereignty of Ireland."

The Celts believed as they engaged in battle, the Morrigan flew shrieking overhead often in the form of a raven or carrion crow, calling up a host of slain soldiers to a macabre spectral bane. When the battle ended, the soldiers would leave the field until dawn so that the Morrigan could claim their trophies of heads, euphemistically known as "the Morrigan's acorn crop".
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(Irish, Scottish) A Goddess of battle often associated with the Morrigan. Her name means "eastern sea", and she personified the storm-tossed seas between Ireland and Scotland. Today an entire race of unpleasant Scottish sea faeries bears her name. She is depicted as a one-eyed crone with a black and blue face and a scaled body.

The Fianna claimed she would occasionally fly in from over the sea and fight on their side in battle.
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(Irish, Scottish, Manx) A lake Goddess associated with deluge myths.
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(Breton, Continental) The patron deity of teamsters. He is associated with jackasses, and with the Roman God Mars.

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(Welsh) A woodland God who deliberately grew feathers so he could leap from tree to tree. He is often equated with Ireland's Suibhne.
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