CELTIC DEITIES AND
It would not be too much to say that myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human cultural manifestation.
— Joseph Campbell
While training as a depth psychologist I sometimes caught myself translating the Greek deities I was learning about into their Celtic equivalents in order to understand these beings better in terms of my ethnic background. By “Celtic” I mean: of the collections of tribal pastoralists and part-time farmers who probably originated somewhere near the Caucasus and carried a common language and similar habits and beliefs across most of pre-Romanized Europe from the Atlantic to India. As Julius Caesar noted, they held a particular fondness for their equivalents of Mercury, trickster god of craft and eloquence. This document lists the major Celtic deities with some of their Greek and Roman counterparts. Because there is more than one Celtic language, pronunciations vary.
The Celts emerged as a group around 3,000 BCE and fanned out west on horseback. The picture drawn by early commentators looked something like the stereotypical ancient Highlander but neatly groomed and equipped with colorful cloaks clasped with cunningly wrought brooches. The status of women in Celtic society horrified the Romans and then the Christians: not only did women own cattle and keep their possessions when mated, they held political power, often led the men into battle, and worked as druids, satirists, and tellers of tales. For the most part they fared badly at the hands of those who wrote down the old myths.
As with Norse myth, most of what survives of the lore of the Celts passed down through monks and missionaries, many of whom looked down on the indigenous stories as superstitious nonsense. This always happens when a society that considers itself civilized conquers land-based people. It is as though someone reduced the Library of Congress to four or five old books, in this case with the gods and monsters euhemerized into heroes and historical figures. Imagination must fill in the gaps as we invite these evocative mythic figures to dream themselves forward.
Dedication: to my ancestors: my foremothers and forefathers who danced like furies, lived close to Earth, and held back the night in Britain, Gaul, Germania, Holland, Scandinavia, Spain, Ireland, and Scotland. And what a ruckus in Rome: Diwrnod i’r bren!
Abhean (“AYV-an”; Ireland): the poet and harper of the Tuath de Danaan. In one story he was killed by Aengus for saying that Ogma (Aengus’s brother) was sleeping with one of Lugh’s wives.
Abnoba (Gaul, Germania): a Black Forest goddess similar to Artemis and Diana.
Aengus (Ireland): a god of love, youth, and beauty similar to the Greek Eros and Roman Cupid. His name means “one choice.” He came from an affair between Boann and the Dagda. At the Battle of Ventry he helped the Fianna hold back the Romans. He died of grief when a woman he loved converted to Christianity. The four birds of kisses that circle his head now appear in the “xxxx”s written in love letters. His Welsh counterpart is Mabon ap Modron.
Aerten (Cornwall, Wales): goddess who decided the outcome of battles. Similar to Atropos, the Greek Fate who snipped the string of a life, or Nemesis, redresser of imbalances.
Afallach (Wales): father of Modron.
Agrona (Wales): goddess of battle and slaughter. Compare with the Greek Enyo and the Roman Ballona.
Ai (Ireland): god of poetry. Similar to Apollo.
Aife/Aoife (“AY-fah”; Ireland): Scottish warrior defeated by Cuchulain, who fathered the ill-starred Connla with her. She raised and trained Connla in the war arts, but Cuchulain killed him in a fight in which the two did not recognize each other until it was too late.
Aillil (Ireland): king of Connacht, spouse of Medb (Maeve), and father of Finabair (“Fair Eyebrows”). The king and queen were so competitive that she launched the famous cattle raid of Cuailnge (“cooley”) to steal a Brown Bull as prolific as her husband’s White-Horned One. In the end as armies clashed and died, the Brown Bull killed the White and then died when its heart burst, so the king’s and queen’s possessions were finally balanced out at a terrible price.
Aine (“EN-ya,” “AWN-ya”; Ireland): sun goddess of love and growth. Similar to the Greek Aphrodite and Roman Venus, but also associated with cattle and fire and a stone that made people crazy when they sat on it. Possibly a young byform of the Cailleach.
Aisling (Ireland): a vision poem in which Ireland appears as a woman unhappy with the current state of affairs and promising a rejuvenation of the Irish people. Aislinghi begin with a “sh” sound and have sometimes inspired or been prominent in revolutions.
Amaethon (Wales): an agricultural god so popular that Welsh words for “farmer” and “plow” derive from him. Compare with Saturn.
Alaisiagae (Britain): a pair of victory goddesses Beda and Fimmilena.
Amergin (or Amairgen) mac Míled/Aimhirghin/”White Knee” (“AYV-r-ghin”; Ireland): Milesian bard and druid who named Ireland after three goddess queens of the Tuath de Danaan: Eriu, Banba, and Fodla. During the conflict between the Milesians and the Tuath de Danaan, Amergin sang a magical song that gave Ireland its identity and allowed the Milesians to land safely. He then divided Eire between his brothers Eremon (who got the north) and Eber Finn (the south), a division that persists to this day.
Ambisagrus (Gaul, Britain): an influential weather god comparable to the Greek Zeus and Roman Jupiter.
Andarta: a goddess of bears and wilds; compare with the Greek Callisto.
Andraste (Britain): war goddess similar to the Greek Athena and the Roman Minerva.
Annwvyn (“an-NOO-vin”; Wales): the Otherworld. Similar to the Irish realm of the Sidhe.
Anu (Ireland): popular goddess of fertility, fecundity, plenty, cattle, and health. Compare with the Greek Demeter and the Roman Ceres.
Arawn/Arawen (Wales): god king of the underworld enriched by his exchanges with Pwyll, head of Dyfed, who took over Annwyn in Awarn’s place but did not sleep with his wife. While in charge Pwyll kills Awarn’s rival Hafgan. Greek: Hades. Rome: Pluto.
Arduinna (Gaul): goddess of the moon, the forest, and the hunt whose sacred animal was the boar. The Ardennes are named after her. She is a French equivalent of Artemis (Greece) and Diana (Rome).
Arianrhod (“ah-RYAN-rud”; Wales): once-virginal moon goddess who insisted she arm her son herself. Her boat carried the dead into the afterlife. Compare with the Greek Artemis and Roman Diana.
Arthur Pendragon (“Dragon Head”; Wales and Britain): Originally described in Welsh folklore (the elegy Y Gododdin in the 13th-century Book of Aneirin, and also Culhwch and Olwen, 1100, both from oral sources centuries older), Arthur first appears in written history in the Historia Brittonum collected by the monk Nennius around 796. He is described as the leader of kings warring at Mount Badon, presumably against the rebelling Saxons. Elaborations include those by Geoffrey of Monmouth (1138), who included Merlin (the Welsh Myrddyn) and made over Arthur into a Christian warlord from whom Mordred stole Guinevere; the Norman poet Wace, who added the Round Table (1155); Chretien de Troyes, who added Meleagant and Lancelot, Camelot, and the Grail Quest (1180); the Vulgate Cycle, which described Galahad (1215-1235); John Capgrave, who gave Arthur Veneraca, his second wife (1463); and Sir Thomas Mallory’s misnamed Le Morte Darthur (1470; reorganized and printed by William Caxton in 1485). Gradually whatever Welsh deities Arthur and his Knights started out as were euhemerized into heroes. Arthur’s first name might derive from words that mean either “bear” or “ploughman.”
Arvernus (Gaul): the Gaulish Mercury/Hermes.
Atepomarus (Gaul): a healing solar god similar to Apollo.
Athirne/Athairne the Importunate (Ireland): satirist of King Conchobar and stealer of cranes from Midir until the misdeeds of himself and his sons resulted in his being burned alive in his house with his family.
Avagdu (Wales): the ugly son of Cerridwen and brother of a beautiful sister who sought wisdom and knowledge outside himself, unsuccessfully. A possible parallel with the Greek Hephaestos and Roman Vulcan.
Aveta: goddess of childbirth and breast-feeding. Compare Artemis (of Ephesus) and Diana.
Awen (“ah-OO-wen”; Welsh): poetic inspiration.
Badb, The (“Bahv” – Ireland): five war goddesses similar to the three Erinyes (Greece) or Furies (Rome). Also, the raven death-predicting aspect of the Morrigan.
Banba (Ireland): triune crone of war and fertility. Compare with the Greek Hecate.
Barinthus (Wales): the driver of a chariot carrying the dead into the otherworld. Greek: Charon.
Belatucadros (Wales and Britain): god of war. Compare with the Greek Ares and Roman Mars.
Bel/Belenus (Ireland): widely worshipped fire and sun god celebrated at Beltane and also associated with music, science, and healing. Similar to the Irish god Bile. Often compared with Apollo, who also kept cattle.
Beli Mawr (Wales): a god possibly connected to Belenus and father of Arianrhod, Caswallawn, Lludd and Llefelys.
Beltane/Bealtaine (“bee-AL-ten-ay”): Celtic celebration of May Day.
Belisama (Gaul, Britain): goddess of fire, the forge, crafts, and illumination. Often compared to the Greek Athena and Roman Minerva.
Belatucadros (“decorated by death”; Britain): a Celtic war god often compared to Mars.
Bladud (Wales): a flying sun god similar in some ways to the Greek Helios.
Blodenwedd (“blo-DOY-weth”; also “BLOOD-wed”; Wales): lunar goddess of flowers. Compare Selene and Chloris. Might be the same goddess as Nemetona. Her name means “Flower Face.” She was created out of oak, meadowsweet, and broom by Gwydion and Math ap Mathonwy to be the wife of Lleu Llaw Gyffes, who’d been cursed by his mother Arianrhod never to marry a human woman. With her lover Gronw Pebr she successfully plotted to kill her husband, but Gwydion brought him back to life and turned her into an owl. Lleu Llaw Gyffes killed Gronw Pebr.
Bodb (“bov”) Derg (Ireland): brother who finds Aengus his lover Caer Ibormeith; king of the sidhe of Munster and eventual head of the Tuatha de Danaan.
Book of Invasions of Ireland (Leabhar Gabhala Eireann): the closest Celtic lore comes to a creation myth. Gabhail can mean taking, performing, conceiving, tethering, crossing, and signifies comprehending or apprehending. According to Irish Jungian James Fitzgerald, the work could be called Book of Making Ireland Conscious. See Amergin, a character in the Book, who brings a formative poetic consciousness from outside (from the Otherworld).
Borvo (Britain): a hot springs healer god sometimes compared with Apollo.
Bran / Bendigeidfran (“Crow”; Wales): “the Blessed,” a solar god associated with prophecy, music, writing, the arts, and death. Compare Apollo. His sea voyage, inspired by the dream gift of a branch with white blossoms, summoned by a woman in strange raiment, and guided by Manannan mac Lir, reached an island of immortality, the Land of Women. Eventually he and his men get homesick for Erin, but none can touch foot there (one does and becomes a sacrifice), so Bran visits and leaves his story behind. A Welsh tale says his head was buried was buried in London until Arthur dug it up. His sister is Branwen.
Branwen (Wales): unhappily wed love and beauty goddess reminiscent of the Greek Aphrodite and Roman Venus.
Bres (“BRESH”; Ireland): son of Elatha and Eriu and husband of Brigit until his incompetent kingship and oppression of the Tuatha de Danaan forced him to step down. When defeated at the second Battle of Mag Tuireadh he taught agriculture and harvesting to the victorious gods. He was the target of the first satire (vocalized by Cairbre) in Ireland.
Bricriu Nemthenga (Ireland): trickster holder of a feast at which the warriors Loegure Buadach, Conall Cernach, and Cuchulain competed for the biggest feast and the privilege of sitting at King Conchobar’s right. He did this to stir up trouble, but when Cuchulain lifted the entire building off its foundation, Bricriu and his wife rolled out into the trash.
Brigit/Brigid (“Breet”; Ireland): goddess of acquiring talents such as divination, healing, prophecy, smithing, and occult knowledge; associated with the serpent. Compared by Caesar to Minerva (Athena). Also known as Sulus and Brigantia.
Brugh (“Bruh”): an underground fairy palace.
Buggane: a tunneling, territorial, black-haired ogre of Manx myth. Fairies used them to punish offensive people.
Bussumarus: a Gaulish and Galatian thunder god comparable to Zeus and Jupiter. His name means “Great of Voice.”
Caer (Ireland): daughter of Ethal Anubal, a prince of the sidhe. Having dreamed about her, Aengus sought her out and found her in her swan form by a lake. He turned into a swan to be with her.
Cailleach Bheur (“KILE-yahck”; Ireland, and Scotland, where she is Beira, the winter queen): a veiled, wintry crone turned to stone on Beltane and back to feminine form on Samhain. Her name means “veiled” or “cloaked.” In one tale a knight’s love converts her into a beautiful woman; in another she is connected to Brigit; in yet another she kills an intruder with an axe, and in many she appears as a young woman. A crone counterpart to Artemis/Diana, goddess of the wild; her roaring and crying out link her to the banshee (and to La Llorona, the Weeping Woman). Her hammer shapes mountains, her presence shapes hills and cliffs, and her staff freezes the ground. Caledonia is named after her. She was particularly prominent at Samhain, tends deer and livestock, and appears at the birth of children, as Hecate sometimes does.
Cairbre (Ireland): son of Ogma and head bard of the Tuatha. His shaming voice caused Bres to break out in boils, forcing him to stand down as king in favor of Nuada.
Camulos (Britain, Romania, Germany, Belgium): a sword-bearing war god similar to Ares (Greece) and Mars (Rome). Symbolized by a boar or by a male head with the horns of a ram. The name might derive from the same root as “champion” and is the basis for Camelot.
Caswallawn (Wales): turned himself invisible with a magic cloak and seized the British throne from Bran during a war with Ireland. He is probably based on Cassivellaunus, a British war leader who fought against Julius Caesar.
Cathbad (“CAH-bah”; Ireland): King Conchobar’s head druid and husband of the fighting woman Ness. He foretold the tragedy of Dierdre.
Cattle Raid of Cuailnge (“Cooley”; Ireland): a major battle between Connaught and Ulster in which the hero Cuchulain died. The Raid started with Queen Maeve’s quest to own the perfect bull.
Catubodua (“Battle Crow”; Gaul): see Badb. Compares to the Greek Nike, the Roman Victory, and the Norse Sigyn.
Cerridwen (“ker-ID-wen”; Wales): an agricultural goddess also associated with war, grain, and the moon. She gave reluctant birth to the hero-poet Taliesin (Gwion), whom she had eaten after drops from her magical cauldron fell upon his hand. Similer to the Greek Demeter (who toasted a boy in an initiatory fire rather than tossing him into a river) and the Roman Ceres, although she is sometimes compared with Hecate.
Cernunnos (“KER-new-nose”; Gaul): a very widely worshipped horned fertility god similar to Pan.
Cet (“KET”): warrior of Connacht upstaged by Cuchulain in the satire “The Carving of Macc Datho’s (“DAH-hoes”) Pig.”
Cian (“KEE-ahn”): the shapeshifting father of Lug and son of Dian Cecht. He married Balor’s daughter Eithne.
Cigfa: wife of Pryderi.
Cliodhna (“klee-OH-nah”; Ireland): goddess of beauty. Greek: Aphrodite. Roman: Venus.
Cocidius (Britain): god of hunting or war sometimes depicted with a sword in his hand. Compare with the Greek Pan and Roman Sylvanus. Also called Segomo.
Coimgne (Ireland): knowledge handed down; lore and historical wisdom; inherited, storied, shared knowledge.
Conchobar (“CON-hah-war”; Ireland ): king of Ulster whose lust for Dierdre precipitated eventual war between Ulster and Connacht.
Condatis (Britain): god of the place where waters mingle, as when two streams meet. He had an affinity for warm waters. The Romans thought of him as Mars.
Connla’s Well: a source of wisdom deep in the sea. Nine hazel trees drop the nuts of visionary inspiration into it; salmon that eat them learn how to leap above the surface.
Cormac mac Airt (Ireland): grandson of Conn Cetchathlach (Conn of the Hundred Battles), who granted a disguised Manannan three wishes in exchange for a glimpse at the Land of Promise and a branch bearing three golden apples that made music when shaken. Manannan returned a year later and took Cormac’s wife, son, and daughter. Cormac followed him, got lost, and wound up in a fabulous palace, where his family was restored to him along with a cup that broke into three when lies were told and repaired itself when three truths were uttered.
Coventina (Britain): goddess of wells and springs.
Credenus (“KRAY-nus”): master craftsman of the Tuatha de Danaan.
Creiddylad (Wales): a flower goddess similar to Persephone; Lludd Llaw Eraint was her father. She was betrothed to Gwythr ap Greidawl but kidnapped by Gwyn ap Nudd, and the two fight for her every May Day. The annual May Queen emulates her. The name Cordelia derives from her.
Creidne (“CREJ-nuh”; Ireland): daughter of a King of Ireland who had three sons by her. When he exiled them, she joined the Fianna and became a war leader.
Cromlech: an ancient circular stand of tall stones, like Stonehenge.
Crunnchu (“CROON-hoo”; Ireland): wealthy widower who slept with Macha and bragged about her fleetness of foot. When the king of Ulster forced pregnant Macha to run a race against his horses, she won but cursed them to feel the pangs of childbirth for nine generations.
Cuchulain (“coo-CHOOL-in,” with the “ch” like that of the German “Ich”; Ireland): powerful, heroic son of Lugh. A 17-year-old Irish Hercules who died on Samhain. Famous for his strength, arrogance, and salmon leap. His name means “Hound of Culan” after the smith whose ferocious dog he killed. His birth name was Setanta. His “riastarthae” was a kind of rage frenzy that made him uncontrollably dangerous.
Cu Rui (Ireland): husband of Blathnait and caster of a spell that rotated whatever stronghold he stayed in so that its door could not be found after sunset. He declared Cuchulain the best warrior of the three who stayed in his home one night to be tested; Cuchulain killed a giant.
Culhwch (“kil-HOOCH,” with the “ch” like that of the German “Ich”; Wales): a cousin of King Arthur and betrothed to Olwen, whom he wedded after accomplishing a number of difficult feats required by Olwen’s giant father Ysbaddaden. Arthur helped Culhwch hunt the dangerous boar Twrch Trwyth.
Cyhiraeth (“kuh-HUH-rayth”; Wales): stream goddess whose three banshee cries or moans anticipated death. Similar to the Greek Sirens.
Cŵn Annwvyn (“koon an-NOO-vin”; Wales): the ghostly hounds of Gwynn ap Nudd. Their baying is said to signify death and to help drive souls to the underworld.
Cythrawl (Wales): a masculine destructive entity similar to the Greek god Chaos.
Dagda, The (“DOY-dah”; Ireland): chief father god (also called Allfather) and spouse of the Morrigan. He was pot-bellied, dressed like a peasant, carried a huge club that could kill or restore life, and dispensed bounty from an enormous cauldron similar to Zeus’s horn of plenty. Similar to Zeus and the Roman Jupiter. His harp helped the seasons cycle, and on it he could play melodies that made people grieve, laugh, or sleep.
Dahud-Ahes/Dahut (Britain): a coastal goddess of pleasure and sensuality sometimes compared to Aphrodite/Venus. She was said to have been reviled by Christian monks.
Danu (Ireland): the great mother earth goddess who gave birth to the other gods (the Tuath de Danaan); similar to the Welsh goddess Don, the Russian Dennitsa, the Greek Danae, the Roman Cybele.
Dechtire (Ireland): mother of Cuchulain by Lugh and half-sister to Conor mac Nessa, ruler of Ulster.
Deirdre: the beautiful goddess with second site wed to Noisiu but pursued by King Conchobar. As an infant she shrieked in the womb.
Dewi (Wales): dragon god whose crimson form was said to have appeared in King Arthur’s dreams and, later, on his battle standards.
Dian Cecht (“DYE-ann-ket” – Ireland): god of healing similar to the Greek Asclepius.
Diarmait ua Duibne: handsome Fian with whom Grainne falls in love and elopes with, in part to escape being married to Fionn mac Cumhaill. Diarmait sets her a number of impossible conditions to fulfil, but she does so successfully and marries him. After many hazardous escapes he is eventually gored to death by a boar sent by Fionn.
Dienw’r Anffodion (D’YENN’-oorr An-FOD-yon)(Wales): “The Nameless One of Misfortune,” due to his bearing thirteen years of homeless, wandering suffering and poverty with no memory of who he was until meeting harp-playing Goreu, cousin of Arthur and ally to Culhwch. Heaping abuse on him, Goreu led him to grouchy Cerridwen, who gave him a drink from her cauldron, whereupon the wanderer realized he was Manawyddan. Goreu turned out to be Gwydion.
Dinnshenchas (Ireland): the lore of special places.
Dispater (Gaul): a father god, but similar to Pan in his earthy reach.
Dôn (“dohn”; Wales): the Welsh Danu.
Droch Shuil (Scotland): the evil eye.
Druantia (Britain): druid queen and tree deity similar to a Greek dryad or the goddess Dentritus.
Dubthach (“DOOV-tah”; Ireland) Dóeltenga: Trouble-making ally of Fergus and killer of Conchobar’s son and grandson. His name means “beetle-tongue.”
Dubh Ruis (“Duv Rush”; Ireland): harpist husband of Mis, whose madness he cured with music and love.
Dylan Ail Don (“son of the wave”; Wales): sea-loving brother of Lleu and son of Arianrhod killed by accident by his uncle Gofannon. He was born when Arianrhod stepped over Math’s magic wand.
Each-Uisge (Scotland): the Water Horse, who would appear saddled and ready to ride and drag the rider down into a nearby stream or river. It would sometimes appear to young women or girls as a beautiful male youth.
Eachtra (“AHK-truh”; Ireland): literally “Adventure,” the word often refers to a heroic journey into the Otherworld.
Eadon (“OH-wen”; Ireland): inspirerer of poets; similar to the Muse Calliope.
Efnysien (Wales): half-brother of Branwen and twin brother of the calm, generous Nisien. His tricksterish disruptions of peace attempts between the Irish and the Welsh finally ended when he dove into the Irish cauldron of rejuvenation, destroying it so their warriors could not use it. The twins’ father was Euroswydd, their mother Penarddun (“Most Fair”).
Eire (“AIR-uh”; Ireland): Ireland, named after Eriu, goddess of the island and mother of Bres.
Elatha: king of the Formorians who stepped down in favor of his son Bres after the war with the Tuatha.
Elen (Wales): patron of road-builders for the roads she had built to help soldiers defend Wales.
Elphane (Scotland): a crone and witch queen sometimes associated with illness and death but also with arcane knowledge. Compare Hecate.
Emain Macha (“EV-in “MAH-hah”; Ireland): prehistoric capital of Ulster in northern Ireland where Navan Fort now is. It was named in honor of the goddess Macha.
Eochaid (“YEO-hay”; Ireland) mac Eirc: king of the Fir Bolgs. He established laws and oversaw the yearly harvest (compare Saturn and Freyr).
Eochu (“YEO-hoo”) Airem (“Plowman”; Ireland): high king of Ireland. He married Étaín, the most beautiful woman in Ireland, but his brother Ailill Angubae pines away for her to the point of death. She agrees to be with him three times while Eochu is traveling, but only to discover she has actually been with Midir. He was burned to death by Sigmall Sithienta.
Éogan (“YEO-gan”) mac Durthacht (“DOO-hah”): henchman of his former enemy Conchobar and killer of Dierdre’s husband Naoise.
Epona: goddess of horses (hence “pony”). Called Bubona in Scotland. Might have prefigured Lady Godiva. Her earliest manifestations as a divine mother recall Rhea. See Rhiannon.
Erc: king of Leinster, ally of Connacht, and enemy of Cuchulain. He was on hand for Cuchulain’s death after killing his horse (Cuchulain had killed Erc’s father).
Eriu: Tuatha lover of Elatha and mother of Bres.
Esus (Britain, Gaul): a sea god similar to the Greek Poseidon and the Roman Neptune. In Gaul he was worshiped as a forest and nature god depicted as cutting down trees with an axe.
Etain (“et-OYN”; Ireland): an aphroditic woman who was daughter of Aillil and victim of the spells of Fuamnach, wife of Midir, the god who fell in love with Etain. Turned into a fly and reborn 1012 years later from the woman who swallowed the fly in a glass of wine, Etain married Eochaid Airem but is carried off to Brí Léith, the sidhe of Midir. When Airem begins digging it out, Midir has him choose Etain from fifty women who look like her; Airem inadvertently chooses his own daughter instead.
Faoin dulraoidh (Ireland): songs in praise of place.
Faeries: visible to animals but not always to humans, the Fair Folk are otherworldly beings who bestow gifts upon newborns, switch them with other newborns (changelings), and celebrate at midnight under the full moon. Their magic is called “glamor.” They are said not to like iron or certain herbs. Hearing their music and laughter usually precedes a trip to the Otherworld.
Fand: Irish name for Rhiannon, wife of Manannan mac Lir.
Ferdia (Ireland): champion of Queen Maeve and friend of Cuchulain. After days of battle Cuchulain reluctantly killed him with his famous spear.
Fergus mac Leide: king of Ulster so badly disfigured by the Sineach monster that mirrors were removed from Emain Macha. After imprisoning King Iubdan and Queen Bebo of the leprechauns, he agreed to release them for a pair of magical shoes offered by Iubdan. The shoes allowed him to walk on water and thereby kill the Sinceach with the sword Caladcolg before dying of his own wounds.
Fianna (Ireland) : roving, independent poet-warriors who fought to protect the high kings of Ireland. Many fian were small groups of aristocratic young men not yet come into an inheritance and living off the land.
Fidchell (“fickle”; Ireland): a Celtic board game of strategy and moving pieces. It involves one player moving his king from the center to the side of the board while avoiding an opponent’s attacks. Often played in Irish myths and folklore, often as a metaphor for plotting going on secretly.
Filidh: Irish bards. Originally of the Druids, they evolved into the poets who preserved Irish culture through many waves of attempted colonization. A fili had to memorize hundreds of songs and stories. Some of their tales kept alive the collective attachment to particular sacred places. Bards and harpers were respected in Irish history for their ready access to the Otherworld.
Fionn mac Cumhaill (“FINN mac COOL”; Ireland): last head of the Fianna, he was raised by his foster mother Liath Luachra, who also trained him to fight. Feats attributed to him include slaying a fire-breathing fairy and fashioning many of the geographical features of Ireland. His original name was Deimne. His hunting hounds were Bran and Sceolan. His son was Oisin, and his grandson Oscar.
Fir Bolg (“FEAR-bolg”): early gods related to the Tuatha de Danaan and led to Ireland by King Eochaid mac Eire. They held Ulster, Munster, and Meath. After the Battle of Mag Tuiredh (“moytura”), where their treaty-refusing king was killed by the Morrigan, they were confined to Connacht.
Flidais (Ireland): a goddess of forests and wildernesses; she rode in a chariot drawn by deer. Greek: Artemis. Roman: Diana.
Fomorians (Ireland): the race of gods who displaced the Nemedians and were displace by the Tuatha de Danann. Similar to the Greek Titans. Their name means “Sea Giants,” and they each had one leg, one hand, one eye in the forehead, and three rows of teeth like daggers. When the Tuatha had built their capital at Tara, their King Bres, successor to Nuatha, forged an alliance with the Formorians (his father had been one) by marrying the Dagda’s daughter Brigit. Bres having disgraced himself, the alliance ended until the Second Battle of Mag Tuiredh, when a projectile from Lugh’s sling caught mighty Balor in the eye and made his head explode. The Dagda got back the magic harp Bres had stolen from him, the seasons resumed their turnings, and Formorian power was broken. Like the Titans, they were forced beneath the sea.
Fuamnach (“FOOM-nah”): spell-casting wife of Midir, who fell in love with Etain despite the spells.
Gae Bolga: name of Cuchulain’s many-barbed spear.
Goewin (Wales): the maiden who held Math’s feet. When she is raped by Gilfaethwy, Math marries her to protect her from shame. Compare with the Greek Hebe.
Goibniu (“GOY-neeoo” – Ireland; Welsh Gofannon): a blacksmith god who armored his fellow immortals. Similar to the Welsh Govannon, the Greek Hephaestos, and the Roman Vulcan.
Grainne (Ireland): a sun goddess who was Diarmait’s lover and wife and who put Fionn and his men asleep with a potion to escape them. Their tale is one source of the Tristan and Iseult story.
Gronw Pebr: lover of Blodenwedd.
Grannus (Gaul): a healing god of spas, solar heat, and hot springs. Often equated with Apollo.
Gwenhwyvar (“GWIN-hwee-var”; Wales): wife of King Arthur. Named Guanhumara by Geoffrey of Monmouth. Originally a powerful Celtic goddess or nature spirit.
Gwyddion (“GWID-yawn”; Wales): a cunning enchanter, brother of Gilfaethwy, and patron of the arts and education; somewhat similar to the Greek Hermes and the Roman Mercury. Thought by many to be a forerunner of Arthur of Camelot.
Gwyddno (Wales): a sea god ruling from an underwater kingdom; compare Poseidon/Neptune.
Gwyn ap Nudd (Wales): an underworld god of the hunt and fallen warriors. A pack of dogs accompanies his Wild Hunt. Similar to Hades/Pluto, he is also chief of the Tylwyth Teg (Faeries).
Gwri Gwallt Euryn (GOOR-ee Gwalht EYE-reen; Wales): Pryderi. In Arthurian legend he appears as Sir Gaheris.
Gwythur ap Gwreidwyl (Wales): opponent of wintry Gwyn ap Nudd, who made off with Gwythur’s intended bride Creiddylad. He is a solar/summer deity.
Icovellauna (Gaul): a goddess who poured healing waters.
Imbas (Ireland): visionary poetic inspiration and clairvoyance.
Imbolc: the early spring festival (February 1). Associated with milk, the first lambs, and lactating ewes before missionaries turned it into the Feast of St. Brigid and then Candlemas.
Intarabus (Gaul): a warrior god who acted as protector of place. A statue shows him draped in a wolf skin and curling his hand to hold what was probably a spear.
Iouga (Britain): a goddess of joinings, as when two rivers come together.
Iubdan: a boastful king of leprechauns and husband of Queen Bebo. His bard Eisirt made a fool of him, prompting him to visit the court of Fergus mac Leide. Fergus made the king and queen hostages until the leprechauns dried up the Ulster milk supply, fouled the springs, and mowed down the corn.
Laeg (“LAYG”; Ireland): charioteer of Cuchulain. He was killed by a spear thrown by Lughaidh, king of Munster and enemy of Cuchulain.
Laegaire (“LEERY”; Ireland): warrior companion of Cuchulain and the uncouth Conan.
Leanansidhe (Ireland): fairy mistress, usually one attractive to human males.
Leprechauns: the only industrious folk of the Otherworld, these male, red-clad faeries were expert shoemakers. They are said to be wealthy and eloquent in conversation.
Lia Fáil (Stone of Destiny; Ireland): a standing stone brought to Ireland by the Tuatha de Danaan. It sits on an Forrad (Inauguration Mound) on the Hill of Tara. According to legend it cries out when the rightful king of Ireland places his foot upon it.
Llefelys (Wales): brother of Lludd, king of Britain. Llefelys was king of Gaul and helped Lludd against three magical threats to his kingdom.
Lleu Llaw Gyffes: son of Arianrhod and nephew of Gwydion. Compare Lugh.
Llyr (Ireland): a sea and underworld god similar to the Greek Poseidon and the Roman Neptune. Father of Bran, Branwen, and Manawydan by Penarddun.
Lludd (“LOOTH”; Wales): another name for Nuada. Father of Gwynn ap Nudd, king of Britain (London and Ludgate might be named after him), and brother to Llefelys, who helped him combat three magical plagues.
Llwyd ap Ci Coed (Wales): imprisoner of Rhiannon and Pryderi in the kingdom of Dyfed until Manwydan tricks him into freeing them.
Lugh (“loo” – Ireland; Lleu in Wales): Shining One: a bright-faced solar god of endless talents, arts, crafts, healing abilities, prophecy; similar to Apollo even though Julius Caesar took him for Mercury. Also known as Lamfhada (“Far-Shooter”) because of his skill with sling and spear. His many talents gained him admittance into the Tuatha. He was the father of Cuchulain, whose battle wounds he cured once with herbs, and husband of Bui and Nas.
Lughaidh (Ireland): young king of Munster who cut off Cuchulain’s head for Queen Maeve. Lughaidh was decapitated by Conall the Victorious, who fought with a hand tied behind his back.
Lugnasadh: the end of harvest celebration (August 1). Associated with games and contests before being Christianized as Lammas. The Fir Bolg came to Ireland on this day and their Queen Tailtiu died of weariness after clearing the land for planting. The holiday is named after her adopted son Lugh.
Oisin (“fawn”; Ireland): son of Fionn mac Cumhaill. With Fionn’s grandson Oscar (“one who lives the deer”) he brought aid to the faery folk when they were attacked. They also warned Diarmait and Grainn that jealous Fionn was after them.
Olwen: wife of Culhwch.
Mabon (Wales): a generally youthful harvest and wine and hunter god similar to Dionysus and Aengus and the Gaulish Maponos. Culhwch rescued him from Annwvyn and was helped by him to wed Olwen.
Mac Cecht (“mak-ket”; Ireland): one of three brothers who murdered Lugh in retaliation for the death of their father Cermait. They shared the rulership of Ireland before the coming of the Milesians.
Macha (“MAH-hah”; Ireland): wife of Nuada and muscular war queen similar to the Greek Artemis (Roman Diana) and often compared with Rhiannon and Epona. Often associated with horses and other animals. She once made the men of Ulster suffer the pangs of childbirth for forcing her to run a race against their horses; because she had twins at the finish line, the capital of Ulster is named Emain Macha (Macha’s Twins).
Maeve/Medb (“MAYV”; Ireland): queen of Connaught and spouse to King Aillil. Her attempt to own more than her husband led to many deaths–including Cuchulain’s–as the men of Connaught and Ulster fought a bloody battle during the cattle raid of Cuailnge (“KEL-nuh”).
Mallt-Y-Nos (Wales): the shrieking crone who accompanied Gwynn ap Nudd and his ghostly hounds on the Wild Hunt.
Maponos (Britain): poetry and music god reminiscent of Apollo.
Manawyddan ap Llyr (“Man-ah-WEE’-than ap Leer”; Wales): a shapeshifting sea and storm god known in Ireland as Manannan mac Lir. Compare with Proteus. Irish counterpart: Manannan mac Lir, after whom the Isle of Man is named. His pigs kept the gods from growing old. In The Black Book of Carmarthen, his role is similar to that of Merlin. Pryderi arranged his marriage to Rhiannon.
Marcia Proba (Britain): a lawgiver and warrior queen similar to Athena/Minerva.
Math ap Mathonwy (Wales): a god of prosperity, coinage, acute hearing, and magic. Compare Hermes/Mercury.
Matholwch (Wales): king of Ireland and cruel husband of Branwen.
Matrona (Gaul, Britain): Gaulish river goddess sometimes worshipped as the Matronae, three mother goddesses each baring one breast. See Modron.
Melusine (Britain): a two-tailed mermaid-like water spirit similar to a siren.
Menw (Wales): a magician in Arthur’s court.
Miach: surgeon son of Dian Cecht. When his jealous father hit him over the head with a sword, Miach healed the wound three times, but the fourth stroke killed him. On his burial mound grew three hundred and sixty-five herbs that could heal all ailments. Miach’s sister spread her mantle on the ground to sort them, but Dian Cecht snatched it away and scattered them forever.
Midir (Ireland): god of the underworld, lover of Étaín, husband of angry Fuamnach. His three magical cranes denied entry into his house until Athirne stole them. Greek: Hades. Roman: Pluto.
Milesians: the first inhabitants of Ireland; probably Goidelic Celts. According to the Book of Invasions, they were all descended from Goídel Glas, a Scythian who saw the fall of the Tower of Babel, and Scota, a pharaoh’s daughter. They were the human invaders who displaced the Tuatha de Danaan, who came to live in the invisible world while the Celts lived in the visible one. In certain special places, these two worlds still live close together.
Modron (Wales): a powerful harvest goddess similar to Demeter/Ceres and to the Gaulish Matrona. Daughter of Avalloc, mother of Mabon, possible forerunner of Morgan le Fey.
Morfran: ugly son of Cerridwen.
Morias (“MARE-ish”; Ireland): druid of Falias, from where came the Stone of Virtue.
Muireartach (Ireland): a one-eyed battle goddess whose name means “eastern sea.” Compare with Enyo/Ballona.
Morrigen, The (“moh-REE-gan”; also “mohr-IG-nah”; Ireland): queen of the pantheon and war goddess married to the Dagda. She led him to victory over the Fomorians at the second Battle of Magh Tuireadh. Sometimes takes the form of a raven or crow. She gave the Heraclean hero Cuchulainn a lethally bad time after he rejected her appearance as a young, lovely woman. Compare with the Irish Murigen, Morgan le Fey, the Greek Hera, and the Roman Juno.
Muirne (“Mwir-nuh”; Ireland): mother of Fionn mac Cumhaill.
Muirthemne (“MOOR-temmee”; Ireland): the plain where tired Cuchulain fought his last battle.
Naisi (“NA-SEE”; Ireland): unfortunate lover of Dierdre.
Neart (Ireland): the power brought forth when natural forces are invoked to heal the soul. In common usage, it means “energy” or “force.”
Nehalennai (Gaul, Britain): coastal protector of travelers and sailors. Similar to the Greek Fortuna and especially Brizo, protector of mariners.
Neit (“NYIT”; Ireland): war god husband of the battle-frenzied fairy Nermain.
Niamh (“NEE-ev”; Ireland): the fairy princess who took Fionn’s son Oisin to Tir Na N’Og.
Nicevenn (Scotland): a witch goddess associated with Samhain and the moon. Possibly a parallel with Artemis/Diana.
Nuada (“NEW-ah”; Ireland): husband of Macha and first Tuatha king, who stepped down when he lost a hand fighting the Fir Bolg at the First Battle of Mag Tuiredh. He earned the nickname Airgedlamh (“Silver Hand”) from the artificial limb he wore. A flesh arm given to him by Miach, son of Dian Cect, enabled him to be king again after Bres. He eventually passed the kingship to Lugh and was beheaded by Balor at the second Battle of Mag Tuired. His Welsh counterpart is Lludd of the Silver Hand.
Nudons, Nodens (Wales): a god of the sea, sometimes beardless or driving a chariot, thought to resemble Poseidon/Neptune. Also associated with dogs and hunting. See Nuada.
Nwyvre: possibly a sky god similar to Uranos. Little is known of him.
Ogham (OH-wam): the original Celtic alphabet. According to legend, Creirwyn daughter of Cerridwen solved the riddle they presented when brought by Ogma and thereby made them available to everyone else as a form of writing.
Ogma (“UG-m”; Ireland): god of letters and learning who invented an alphabet. A son of the Dagda. Greek: Hermes. Roman: Mercury.
Orain Luadhaidh (Scotland): “waulking songs” sung along with waulking (shrinking by hand) tweed to make Highland cloth. The songs preserved ballads, clan lore, love songs, heroic stories, and myths and were sung only by women.
Pryderi (“pruh-DAIR-ee”; Wales): the kidnapped son of Pwyll and Rhiannon. His name means “worry.” His strength and skill are comparable in some ways to those of Heracles. (Note: some lists of Celtic dieties nominate Pwyll as a god, but he is more of a heroic king who learns important lessons from the Otherworld. At most he is a highly differentiated byform of Arawn and, through an involved genealogy, possibly the father of the British god Maponos, from whom the Welsh word mabinogi might derive in its meaning as a collection of ancient stories.)
Pwyll (“pooeel”; Wales): Lord of Dyfed, first husband of Rhiannon, and father of Pryderi. Pwyll traded places with Arawn, Lord of Annwn, for a year, to the enrichment of both their kingdoms. During this period he defeated Arawan’s enemy Hafgan and lived with Arawn’s wife without taking advantage of his disguised position.
Rathadach (Scotland): lucky omens. Unlucky ones were called rosadach.
Ratis (Britain): god of fortified boundaries and walls. Somewhat similar to Enodia, guardian of gates, and Cardea, Roman goddess of doors and thresholds.
Rhiannon: strong, outspoken queen goddess associated with a magical pale horse. Known to the Romans as Epona, she married Pwyll and mothered Pryderi. Compare with the Greek Persephone.
Ritona (Gaul): possibly a goddess of fords.
Rosmerta (Gaul): a provider goddess who carried a caduceus and a cornucopia. Similar to the Greek Protogenia and the Roman Maia. The Romans married her to Mercury.
Ruadan (Ireland): a son of Bres by Brigid, he posed as a Tuatha warrior with a broken spear. He stabbed Giobniu with it, but the smith pulled it out and lethally stabbed Ruadan with it.
Rudianos (Gaul): a war god whose name means “red.”
Sadb (“Save”; Ireland): a woman of the sidhe turned into a fawn by Fear Doirche (“fair door-uh”), a druid who wanted her and who abducted her after Fionn mac Cumhaill married her and sailed off to fight the Vikings. Upon his return Finn found a son she had bore him in the woods: Oisen (“Little Fawn”).
Samhain (“SAH-win”): the Celtic origin of All Soul’s Day. The word means “November” and refers to the time when this world and the Otherworld are in maximum conjunction as the metaphysical doorways of the sidh stand open. It was also the day that the Dagda mated with the Morrigan as she stood astride the River Unius washing the armor of men about to die in battle and with Boanne (from whom the River Boyne is named) on the eve of the Second Battle of Mag Tuiredh. Celebrants gave masked visitors from the Otherworld treats so these guests would not play dangerous tricks.
Scathach (“SKAH-tah”; Ireland): the battle strategist goddess who trained the Irish hero Cuchulainn, lover of her daughter Uathach. Compare with the Greek Athena and the Roman Minerva.
Seanachaidh (Scotland): traditional teller of tales.
Selkie (Ireland, Scotland, Iceland): magical seals who can temporarily assume human form, often long enough to love and break the heart of a human lover.
Senias (“SHE-nas”): a druid and teacher of Murias, where the Dagda’s magical cauldron originated.
Senua (Britain): a goddess similar to Minerva and worshipped near a spring.
Sheela Na Gig: stone carving of a woman pulling open her vagina. Often seen on Norman churches. No one knows which deity she represents, although it is presumed to be a comical one. (The Celts seemed not to have been saddled with many sexual taboos. They were also civilized and open about bisexuality and homosexuality.)
Sidhe (“SHE”; Ireland): a burial mound thought to lead down into the underworld. Also, the underworld or Otherworld itself (the realm of the Sidhe), sometimes called “the Land of Women.”
Silvertree and Goldtree (Scotland): a jealous mother and a beautiful daughter. The mother had a habit of asking a magical trout, “Who is the most beautiful woman in the world?” When the trout replied “Your daughter” one day, Silvertree plotted to have her killed; instead, she was forced to drink poisoned wine, ridding Goldtree of her influence. Moral of the story: Never flaunt a fancy parasol during a trout.
Sineach (“stormy one”; Ireland): a man-eating monster dwelling within Loch Rudraige. It maimed the face of Fergus mac Leide, a king of Ulster.
Sirona (Gaul): a goddess associated with healing, children, and wolves. Sometimes compared to the Greek goddess Hygieia.
Sloinneadh (Scotland): the traditional naming of the ancestors.
Smertrios (Gaul): a bearded war god often compared to Ares/Mars.
Sreng (“share-EN”): the Fir Bolg warrior who cut off Nuada’s hand.
Sualtam (Ireland): Ulster chieftain, husband of Dechtire, and stepfather of Cuchulain.
Sucellos (Gaul, Britain): a bearded, hammer-wielding god comparable to the Dagda. His wife was Nantosvelta. Sometimes accompanied by a three-headed dog. Often worshipped as a god of forests, agriculture, and beer.
Sulis (Gaul): a spring goddess similar to Athena.
Taibhsearachd (second sight; Scotland): a Highland knack for seeing into the future.
Taillte (“DAYL-tya”): foster mother of Lugh and wife of Eochaid mac Eirc, last Fir Bolg to rule Ireland.
Taliesin (“tal-YES-in”; Wales): earliest known Welsh poet. Some of his poems were written down in the 10th century. In myth he was a servant to Cerridwen who accidentally drank some of her brew of poetic inspiration.
Tannus/Taranis: a thunder god similar to the Roman Jupiter and the Greek Zeus. He carried a spoked wheel and was associated with the oak and the eagle.
Tarvis Trigaraunos (Gaul): a bull god similar to the Roman god Mithras.
Teulu (“TIGH-lee”; Wales): a king’s bodyguard sworn to die to protect him.
Teutates (Britain, Gaul): a god of war and wealth often compared to Mars.
Tir Na N’Og (Ireland): the Land of the Ever-Living; a timeless Otherworld realm.
Trods: barely visible pathways walked by the immortal folk. The sick could walk them in hope of improvement, but only if no faeries were using them at the time.
Tuatha de Danann (“TOO-ha-day-DAHN-en”; Ireland): the Children of Danu-Ana (Great Mother); the Irish equivalent of Olympians. They overthrew the Fomorians (similar to the Titans).
Tuiren (“TOOR-un”; Ireland): homely aunt of Fionn mac Cumhaill and wife of Fianna chief Eachtach Iollan. His jealous lover tapped her with a druid wand and turned her into an Irish wolfhound. As such she gave birth to Fionn’s dogs Bran and Sceolan before reassuming human form. Iollan wound up with the wand-wielding woman of the sidhe.
Tuireann (Ireland): thunder god father of several gods and goddesses. Similar to the Gaulish Taranis, the Welsh Taran, and the Norse Thor. His name means “thunder.”
Twrch Trwyth (“turk TROO-ith”; Wales): the wild boar hunted by Culhwch and King Arthur. He was the son of Prince Tared before being turned into a giant boar with poisonous bristles. Between his ears he carries a scissors, a comb, and a razor. He was finally driven into the sea and drowned.
Uathach (“OO-ha”): daughter of Scathach and lover of Cuchulain.
Uchtdealb (“OOKT-jelb”; Ireland): jealous lover of Iollan.
Ulaid: another word for Ulster.
Uroica (Britain): goddess of heather and of heather wine; compare with the Greek Amphictyonis, byform of Demeter.
Vindonnus (“Clear Light”; Gaul): a name for Apollo in his healing aspect.
Vindos: later became Gwynn ap Nudd, the king of the underground kingdom of Annwn and the leader of the Wild Hunt. He rides forth at night accompanied by a pack of Otherworld hunting dogs and bears the dying souls away to Tor at Glastonbury.
Wachilt: goddess of the sea and mother of Wayland. Greek: Amphitrite, consort of Poseidon.
Wayland: a smith god who pined for a swan goddess and could not refuse a commission. He escaped capture by his enemies on wings he made himself. Compare Hephaestos/Vulcan.
Wisdom of the Oak: a contemplative form of Druidic-poetic knowing.
Y Draigh Goch: for more about Arthur’s dragon emblem, see Dewi.
Ysbaddaden Pencawr: giant father of Olwen. Her future husband Culhwch fulfilled Ysbddaden’s difficult conditions for marrying her, at which point her father was beheaded by Goreu, a companion of Culhwch.
Local Versus Nonlocal Gods
In the cultural sense, all gods are local. Athena, for example, belongs in Athens. Nevertheless, the qualities and principles they embody vary widely in terms of their universality. Culturally, Aphrodite is Greek, but she can also be thought of nonlocally as the power of attraction that binds together the cosmos two particles at a time.
The Celtic pantheons are rich in highly localized earth deities like Sequana, goddess of the Seine, and Tamesis, goddess of the Thames, whose influences remain within fixed geographical bounds. The list above excludes most of these because its purpose is one of comparative mythology whose focus is on beings recognizable across cultures, times, and places: in other words, nonlocal gods. (It would be interesting to explore how the Celtic emphasis on earthly places corresponds to their belief in relatively easy passages into and out of the Otherworld. The worlds stood in much closer proximity than in more formalized religious systems. Does prioritizing heaven above earth somehow make it more necessary to keep them separate?)
Consider Aphrodite, known to the Romans as Venus….and to the Norse as Freya, the Irish as Branwen and Deirdre, the Chinese as Kwan Yin. Or consider Arduinna, goddess of the moon and the hunt. She is often compared to the Greek Artemis (Diana to the Romans). The question suggests itself: are these different beings (in Jungian: different archetypes), or the same beings showing up in different cultural guises? Although the compiler of this comparative mythology list tends toward the latter view, the comparisons below are offered not as reductions or simple equivalences that blur important qualities, but as bridges for understanding. Anything more, and I am covered by the proverb: Fear sam bith a loisgeas a mhàs, ‘s e fhèin a dh’fheumas suidhe air (roughly: “Burn your rump, and you’re the one who must sit on it”).
A Brief List of Theisms:
Atheism: there is no god or gods. However, prominent atheists have been caught worshipping Science or Progress on the sly now and then.
Monotheism: one god only. The first monotheist on record was Akhenaton of Egypt. Monotheism more or less correlates with organized religion. Current monotheisms include Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Polytheism: many gods, whether considered separate (“hard” polytheism) or aspects of one deity (“soft”). The term “pan-polytheist” circulating in neo-Pagan circles is a bit redundant: polytheism does not preclude the concept of an underlying divine Presence wearing many different faces. Example of a polytheist in the “soft” sense: Joseph Campbell (see the quotation below).
Henotheism: many gods, but one in charge. Polytheism with a commander-in-chief. Some of the later Celtic and Viking peoples believed in a godhead (the Dagda; Odin) ruling over a pantheon.
Pantheism: no god outside of the universe. Stated positively: God and the universe coexist. There is no other world. Candidates include Spinoza and Einstein.
Panentheism: similar to pantheism in its emphasis on divine immanence, but the god came first to manifest the universe in a kind of engaged monotheism. Unlike pantheists, panentheists believe in the supernatural. Example of a panentheist: Thoreau.
Paganism: from “rural,” “country people,” “rooted,” “peace,” and similar to “peasant”: a derogatory term for a non-monotheist, usually indigenous, who believes the natural world to be adorned with sacred presences. Most pre-Christian pagans were either polytheists (the majority) or henotheists (more typical of strongly stratified societies).
Symbols are only the vehicles of communication; they must not be mistaken for the final term, the tenor, of their reference. No matter how attractive or impressive they may seem, they remain but convenient means, accommodated to the understanding. Hence the personality or personalities of God–whether represented in trinitarian, dualistic, or unitarian terms, in polytheistic, monotheistic, or henotheistic terms, pictorially or verbally, as documented fact or as apocalyptic vision–no one should attempt to read or interpret as the final thing.
— Joseph Campbell