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Celtic Deities

Lavender faery bids you Welcome!!

Researched by Andrea Pezzati

According to the Lebor Gabála, the Book of Invasions, the Tuatha Dé Danann came to Ireland on obscure clouds from the northern isles of the world, landing on a mountain in the west. These gods had perfected the use of magic. The Tuatha Dé Danann, also known as "People of the Goddess Danu", were the Irish race of gods, who settled in Ireland before the arrival of the Milesians,.... the people of the spanish king Milesius and ancestors of modern Gaels. The Tuatha Dé Danann were the progeny of the Nemedians who followed Jobhath, the third son of Nemed, out of Ireland after the Battle of Conann's Tower. Led by Jarbonel, their commander, they settled with others of their race near the city of Thebes, in Greece." They were a very magical people and practised sorcery and magic. The Danann were descendants of the goddess Danu. Her son Dagda was the most powerful leader of the Dananns. The Tuatha Dé Danann were a race of deities as well as race of heroes. They were skilled not only in magic, but in art, science, poetry and and many other things. It is said that they came from the four mythical cities of Falias, Gorias, Finias and Murias.

When they came to live in Ireland, the Danann received four magic treasures or talismans, one from each city. Before the Tuatha Dé Danann migrated to Ireland, they had learned all their skills from four wizards/bards (druids) from these four cities. Morfesa from Falias, Esras from Gorias, Semias from Murias and Uiscias from Findias.

After the Milesians defeated them, some of them retreated to Tir na n-Og ("Land of Youth") while others continued to lived on the land with the Milesians, but were driven underground and resided in hollow hills or sidhe mounds .....subterranean palaces hidden by magic from the eyes of mortals. Another name for the Tuatha Dé Danann was the áes sídhe or the "People of the Sídhe".

The Danann remained young and to others seemed to be immortal, but in actuality, they simply lived a long and healthy life, remaining youthful, but they could be killed and die like any mortal. There Danann frequently visited with humans and often aided them, yet at times sought their destruction. Sometimes they even married mortals and would come to the surface to be with their spouses or lovers. Occasionally, the mortals were allowed to live with them.

In the Ulster Cycle, the Tuatha were still acknowledged as Celtic deities. However, in the Fenian Cycle, they degenerated into nothing more then fey people; in other words, the Danann became the "Fairy People". The Tuatha Dé Danann became associated with fairies. The fairies of which we speak were human with supernatural power and nothing at all like the fairytale characters we tell our children about from storybooks. That is why it is said that we are the gods and goddesses direct descendants and often referred to as gods or goddesses ourselves.

Modern tales of fairies tend to be sugarcoated, particularly during the Victorian era (19th century) in Britain. According to tales told by the irish and Welsh, faeries could be as tall and big as any human or they could be short and squat, beautiful or ugly. They could sometimes be kind and very noble, yet can be frighteningly cruel and nasty if provoked.

With the numerous gods, it would be possible to spend forever telling you about the various deities of the occult religion. I will focus mainly on those of early Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

It is important to note that Wiccans generally focus on the major aspect of The One, Goddess and God as a whole without breaking the deity down into the categories shown here. The Celts, however, did not and many still do not to this day. These are just for those interested in the myths behind the stories of the deities.

Okay first let's focus on the different faeries that made up the Tuatha de Danaan. Then later, we will take up the gods individually.


THE RACES


  • Tuatha dé Danann - Spiritual Level, beings of pure Spirit.
  • Fomoire - Mental Level, beings of pure Mind.
  • Fir Bolg - Physical Level, beings without Mind or Spirit.

Many moons ago, "fair-skinned people with hunger in them flowed across the earth, always searching, following the sun. In time, the mountains and valleys separated them into tribes. Some were captured and enslaved; others continued searching, drawn by legends of paradise, a land of inexhaustible game where heroes could fight and die and rise refreshed..."

Morgan Llywelyn, “Bard: the Odyssey of the Irish”
  

THE FAERY FOLK of the CELTS

Bean-Nighe: 'Bean-Nighe' means washer woman. With webbed feet, this faery was usually seen washing bloody garments at the water's edge If a traveler saw her before she saw him, he would live, however, if she saw him first, he would die.

Bean sidhe (ban-shee): Ireland. Throughout history, across time, lands and cultures, there have been stories of supernatural beings that forewarn man of death. One of the more popular messengers, sometimes called The Harbinger of Doom, the Bean Sidhe most often appears as a beautiful, weeping woman dressed all in white, but some describe her as an old hag. When she is seen, onlookers may notice that her eyes are a fire red from all the tears she has cried.

According to legends, the Bean sidhe, in Ireland, is a "Woman Faery", a spirit that attachs herself to certain old and proud families. When a family member's death is immanent, one can hear the sorrowful and ultimately haunting keening of the bean sidhe. She is a solitary creature with no male companion and she never involves herself in social banter or such occasions.

Appearing somewhere close to the birthplace of the dying, she begins her lament. She combs her hair as she sets about her wailing. Men who have attempted to interfere with the banshee, like stealing her comb, for instance are met with grave misfortune. If, when you see her, she is washing a shroud, she may merely be signaling that a major life-changing event is somewhere in your future.

Bodach: In Scots Gaelic bodach means 'old man'. This was a bogeyman or monster spirit that was said to slip down the chimney and steal or terrorize little children. He would prod, poke, pinch, pull and in general disturb the child until he had them reeling with nightmares.According to the stories of most parents, the bodach would only bother bad or naughty children. A good defense would be to put salt in the hearth before bedtime. The bodach will not cross salt.

Brownies: Typical shaggy looking Tree Spirits, around three feet tall or so, with brown faces and straggly hair, brownies always appear unkempt, hairy and usually very ugly. A Brownie will pick out a certain house and take on the responsibility for the care of it. At night, these creatures slip out to complete any leftover work from the day before. To offer a reward as payment offends them & it will cause them to leave but they expect an occasional bowl of milk and piece of cake as a treat to be left out for them.

Brownies can not stand people that do not drink or religious men. If upset and insulted, brownies will create malicious mischief. And fair warning, no matter what else you do, do not criticise their work! They'll make you sorry.

Cailleach Bheur: Scotland. The Blue Hag or Blue Witch is a combination of the Underworld goddess and a faery sprite. She has fangs and often sports three faces, making her a triple being or deity. She is also called 'the daughter of Grianan', the winter sun. On the old Celtic calendar, there were two suns, 'the big sun' which shines from Beltaine to Samhain, and 'the little sun' which shines from Samhain to Beltaine Eve. The Cailleach was reborn each Samhain and went about blighting growth on the earth and bringing on the snow. On Beltaine Eve she threw her staff under a holly tree and turned into a grey stone. There are other stories where she turns into a beautiful maiden instead, or is known as a fishing goddess. As with many cletic deities, you'll find a variety of aspects and tales that go along with the Cailleach Bheur.

Caoineag (konyack) : Called the "Weeper" in Scotland, this is another bean sidhe.

Cluricaun (cloor-ih-can) or Clobhair-ceann: Ireland. A loner faery who lives alone and is partial to cellars, he loves to drink alcoholic beverages. He appears as a cross between a leprechaun and a hobgoblin and makes it his life's mission to guard certain families and their cattle.

Daoine Sidhe (theena shee): Ireland. The name for the faery people or Tuatha de Dannan. See

Tuatha de Dannan for more.

Dryads: All the Celts believe in these spirits. They are the Spirits who dwell in the trees, and are particularly fond of the oaks. The Druids and Shamans called on them for inspiration.

Elves: Elves or as they are commonly called in Ireland, the Trooping Faeries, range in size from large to small and in moods from friendly to hostile. These fey creatures are divided into Seelie and Unseelie Courts. The elves of the Unseelie Courts are never favorable to humans. They have been said to build and color the flowers and all vegetation on the earth's surface.

Faeries:Also called, Fae, Fay, Fei... The term "faery" applies to the Daoine Sidhe of the Highlands, the Tuatha De Danan of Ireland, the Tylwyth Teg of Wales, the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, the Wee Folk, The Anglo-Saxon elves, and numerous others. Faeries are said to love music and dancing and to value neatness and generosity. To guard yourself against a faery, simply jump over a source of water because then the faerie can not follow or you can also carry a 4 leaf clover.

Fear Dearg: Ireland. Fear Dearg meaning "Red Man", a gruesome practical joker, this solitary faery always dons a red cap and coat and is considered lucky by farmers .

Fear-Gorta: "Man of Hunger", a solitary fairy who wanders the land during famine, and bestows good fortune on those who are generous to him with money or food.

Fenoderee/Phynnodderee (fin-ord-er-ree): Isle of Man. Brownies who are large, ugly and hairy.

Ferrishyn (ferrishin): Isle of Man. The name for the faery tribe.

Fin Bheara (fin-varra)): Ireland. Finn Bheara was the king of the fairies of Cnoc Meadha west of Tuam in Co. Galway. (Ulster, I think) He married the fairy queen of Knocksheogowna, but continued to courted beautiful mortal women. He had an thing for mortal women and would kidnap them and take them to his fairy mound. Another of his interests was in horses and horse-racing. It is said that he often aided horse's in winning a race.

Fomorii :The Fomorii are the Celtic sea gods. They were said to be extremely violent and misshapen, having but one eye, one hand, or one foot. It is said that the Fomorii emerged from the waves of the ocean and challenged the rulers of Ireland, the Firbolg and the Tuatha De Danann. The Tuatha De Danann defeated them in battle.

Fomors: The Fomors were an ancient tribe of sub-aquatic monsters. Their name means the 'dark of the sea,' and they were thought to be the opposite of all that is good in the world. For the most part, they inhabited an underwater island, known as Lochlan. They often terrorized the coast of Donegal with their monstrous appearance. All the Fomor were different from each other, not appearing alike at all. The usual Fomor was of enormous stature and sported deformed limbs.

Gean-canach: Ireland. The "Love talker" definitely means bad luck is on the way if you meet him. He is a real loner, a solitary faery who is the embodiment of love and idleness. He always has a dudeen (pipe) in his mouth.

The Gentry: A name used by the Irish to refer to the little people. It was meant to show respect because they are seen as noblility

Gnomes: Earth Elementals. Gnomes thrive underground and guard the earths treasures. They are fabulous craftsmen and especially good at making swords and armor. They are considered Earth Spirits who live deep under the surface of the earth. Earth-elves are the spiritual power of nature and reflect the energy and cycle of the earth.

Goblins/Hobgoblins: A small, grotesque but friendly brownie-type creature. Hobgoblins have a bad reputation because the Puritans called them evil and used their names in reference to wicked spirits, when actually they were just a friendly little Brownie. They are said to like practical jokes, so if you make them mad or upset them, then they may not be so very nice and friendly to you after all.

The Good Folk: Another name for faeries.

Howlaa: A faery-sprite, that worries and wails along the sea shore just before a violent storm is supposed to hit.

Kelpie: A malevolent Water spirit that takes the form of a horse.

Leannán Sidhe: Ireland. This fae creature is known as the "Faery Lover". She seeks out artists and poets, and in return for inspiration, she feeds off their life force. This man in turn falls madly in love with her, and then she leaves him. The enchantment of the human male is so extreme and intense that he soon feels that he can't live without her, so he will soon waste away and die. Poets and artists tend to die young if they strike a bargain with this faery.

Leprechaun (lep-ra-kawn): Ireland. Known as The Shoemaker, this little guy is a loner who makes and repairs shoes. In his spare time, he tends to be a practical joker so watch him closely! He can generally be found guarding a pot of gold. The name Leprechaun comes from the Irish leith brog, the name in Irish is leith brogan.

Merrows: Mer-People:Human from the waist up, these very enchanting women have a fish tail. Their songs are so potent that they are irresistible to fisherman and as a result they are often lured right to their death, The male merrows are considered truly ugly to look upon, though sweet and gentle creatures. The females however can take the form of a human with tiny scales and move about on land. They wear a red cap covered with feathers.

Nuggie: Scotland. A water sprite.

Oonagh (oona): Ireland. Wife of Fin Bheara.

Phouka (pooka): Ireland. The Phouka generally assumes the form of various animals, mostly black in color, and is a very miscievious spirit. It is found waiting on long, deserted, lonely roads for the weary traveler. Once he tries to mount the animal though, the phouka takes off like a bat out of hell and doesn't slow down until he deposits his rider into brambles or something equally nasty.

Roane: Scottish Highlands. Roanes are water Elementals or mermen who take the form of seals and they are the gentlest of all the fey folk. Not evil enough for Hell nor pure enough for Heaven, these once human creatures have been banished to the loneliness of the sea. The Roanes have a natural human form, and live underwater or on deserted skerries, wearing seal-skins which enable them to pass through the waters from one region to another. Both male and female Roanes are hauntingly beautiful with dark, liquid eyes and a sensual grace that never fails to catch the eye of amorous humans. Their desire for the sea though is overwhelming, so they rarely remain with their human lovers.

Seelie (Blessed) Court: Scotland. /These trooping faeries are benevolent towards humans, but will readily avenge any injury or insult.

Sidhe (Sidh/Sith/Si) (pronounced shee): Ireland, Scottish Highlands. Name for faeries and their subterranean dwellings. A barrow or hillock which has a door to a beautiful underground realm of the Tuatha or faeries.

The Slaugh (slooa/The Host: Scotland. The host of the Unforgiven Dead or Pagan ancestors. The most formidable of the Highland faeries. They are the band of the unsanctified dead who fly above the earth, stealing mortals away and taking enormous pleasure in harming humans. It is said that they have no means of reproduction, so instead they enslave mortals that they think will never be missed and then carry them along to become a part of their band.

Subterranean Faeries: Scotland. Faeries who live in bochs or hills. They travel from place to place at Imbolc, Beltane, Ludhnassadh, and Samhain in order to change their residences.

Trooping Faeries: They can be large or small, friendly or sinister. They tend to wear green jackets and love hunting and riding. The smaller ones make faery rings with their circular dances. The Trooping fairies traveled in close knit groups and were very likely to go raiding and steal things from people. Like troopers or little soldiers marching in a procession, they'd troop off with anything of value and loved to go raiding.

Unseelie Court: Scotland. These Faeries are never favorable to humans and are either solitary evil faeries or are one of a band of faeries called the Slaugh. (see above)

Urisk: A Water Elemental who appears as half-human, half-goat, associated with waterfalls.

The Wee Folk: Scotland, Ireland. A name for faeries.

Will o' the Wisp : A faery who appears at night in lonely places carrying a lantern. It uses this light to cause travelers to lose their way. This phenomenon is also known as Jack-o'-Lantern, the Hobby Lantern, or the Lantern Man. Often seen at night as a ghostly, flickering, light out over the marshlands, this could possibly be the result of spontaneous ignition of gases produced by dead plants.


By Irish traditon, we also have the Elementals of Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. Now I do not know if this is from the olde days or from modern tradition. I do know that the ancient celts, had only three of what you might term the elements: Sky, Water and Land. Yet they had more of another nature, called dhuile, so I am not sure where these hail from.

(1)The Sylphs, assigned to the Element of Air, with their tiny forms, had wings of gossamer and small pointy faces. They tended to be airy, happy creatures.

(2) The Salamanders, assigned to the Element of Fire, had skin that glowed with alternating colors. They loved playing in the warm ashes of fireplaces, but were quick to take offense and sometimes were said to permit a fire to grow outside of the fireplace, especially if the family they had chosen to live with allowed those ashes to get too cold for them to be comfortable in.

(3) The Undines, assigned to the Element of Water, were thought to be related to the Sylphs but of a much stronger nature. They were slow to anger and slow to calm, yet remained steadfast unless irritated by the Sylphs.

(4) Gnomes and Dwarves, assigned to the Element of Earth, knew all the secrets of the forests. They were big hearted creatures, but abhorred anyone who harmed the earth. The Gnomes lived in the forests, while the Dwarves lived inside the earth, mining its' treasures.

Debi

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