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Katie Marzulli, Adam Vari, Trevor Brant, Stephen Humphrey


We are doing our project on the ancient Celtics, whose stories were mainly passed down through oral tradition as most of the "sub-cultures" did not possess the skill of written language. Much of their stories focused on revenge, rebirth, and the importance of nature. The authors of this page are Stephen Humphrey, Katie Marzulli, Trevor Brant, and Adam Vari.

Cultural and Historic Context

When one thinks of the Celts, they think of the lush green lands of Ireland and Britain. However, this stereotype is misleading-the Celts stretched all the way from modern-day Britain to the Mediterranean, from Spain to the Middle-East in modern-day Turkey. Due to this, the Celts were hybrids of the indo-european and the people preceding these ancient peoples. This far-stretching culture included many varieties of sub-cultures, most rooted out and destroyed by the early Roman Empire. There were also variances in the type of cultures: some were mainly agricultural and rural societies, while some subsisted through hunter-gathering, and even some created large cities and had a written language. The reason that the Celts were known to reside on the British Isles was because they were made hard to reach by the natural separation of water. Among the Europa area, the Celts were divided into three main cultures: Gaulish, who resided in the area of modern-day France, Germany, and Belgium and Brythonic whom resided on the island of Great Britain and later moved to Brittany (a region in northwestern France); the Welsh culture who resided in what is now modern-day Wales; and the Gaelic culture.

Celt is an umbrella term used for groups of tribal societies from medieval Europe who spoke the same language and had a similar culture. Historians refer to many different groups as Celts even though some Celtic cultures are different from others. Although Celtic society differed, family was always important to these people. Most Celtic people would know at least four or five generations of ancestors and individuals who removed form their family was considered an outcast in society. The Celtic society was made up of three social classes with the Druids, land owners and warriors, and laborers. A Druid was a Celtic priest who was believed to be able to communicate with the gods. Not much is known about the ancient druids because they didn't keep written records. the only information about druids was that of the Greeks and Romans. Roman writers spoke of how the druids would preform Human sacrifices which they believed was brutal and cruel.

Spinal Tap - Stonehenge by AlexMorgane
This is a picture of the Druids
A video from the Movie Spinal Tap with allusions to the Druids

The Celtic Pantheon

Due to Celtic culture being so far spread, there were many variations of the gods and goddesses that made up the Celtic pantheon-they even have their own equivalents in the Roman pantheon. Below is a brief compialation displaying several gods and goddesses over several of the cultures that made up the overlying Celtic one:

Irish Deities
Angus Mac Og
God of youth, love, and beauty.
Mother Earth; goddess of fertility, prosperity, comfort.
Associated with the cauldron, crows and ravens. Life, wisdom, inspiration and enlightenment.
Used magic to drive away invaders.
Science, healing, hot springs, fire, success, prosperity, purification, crops, vegetation, fertility. A sun and fire god.
Goddess of fire, fertility, the hearth, all feminine arts and crafts and martial arts. Healing, physicians, agriculture, inspiration, learning, poetry, divination, prophecy, smithcraft, animal husbandry, love, witchcraft, occult knowledge.
God of nature and all wild things. Virility, fertility, animals, physical love, nature, woodlands, reincarnation, crossroads, wealth, commerce, warriors.
The Crone
Represents old age or death, winter, the end of all things, the waning moon, post-menstrual phases of women's lives. All destruction that precedes regeneration through her cauldron of rebirth.
The Dagda
Protection, warriors, knowledge, magick, fire, prophecy, weather, reincarnation, the arts, initiation, the sun, healing, regeneration, prosperity and plenty, music, the harp.
Mother of the Gods, Great Mother, Moon Goddess. Patroness of wizards, rivers, water, wells, prosperity and plenty, magick wisdom.
God of healing, medicine, regeneration, magick, silver working.
Ruler of the land of the dead and entrances to the otherworld. Control of the elements, eloquence.
Mother of the tree calendar. Fertility, passion, sexual activities, trees, protection, knowledge, creativity.
One of three queens of the Tuatha Da Danann.
Goddess of forests, woodlands and wild things.
God of blacksmiths, weapon makers, jewelry making, brewing, fire, metalworking.
Great Father
The Lord. The horned god, lord of winter, harvest, land of the dead, the sky, animals, mountains, lust, powers of destruction and regeneration. The male aspect of creation.
Great Mother
The Lady. The female aspect of creation, goddess of fertility, the moon, summer, flowers, love, healing.
God of the sea and water

God of skills. Druid, physician, smithing, war, magick, commerce, reincarnation, lightning, water, arts and crafts, manual arts, journeys, martial arts, poets, musicians, historians, sorcerers, healing, revenge, initiation, prophecy.
Protectress in war as in peace, goddess of war and death. Cunning, sheer physical force, sexuality, fertility, dominance over men.
Manannan Mac Lir
God of the sea, navigators, storms, weather at sea, fertility, sailing, weather forecasting, magick, arts, merchants and commerce, rebirth.
Supreme war goddess. Queen of phantoms and demons, shape-shifter. The crone aspect of the goddess, great white goddess. Patroness of priestesses and witches. Revenge, night, magick, prophecy.
God of the water, oceans, fishing, the sun, sailing. (Compared to Neptune in Roman mythology)
The shadowy one. Goddess in the destroyer aspect. A warrior woman and prophetess who lived in Albion (Scotland), probably on the Isle of Skye and taught the martial arts. Patroness of blacksmiths, healing, magick, prophecy, martials arts.
White Lady
Associated with the Crone aspect of the Goddess. Dryad of death, destruction, annihilation.


Celtic Creation Myth
Either there never was a Celtic creation myth or it is lost and no one knows what it is. So far there are a few different possibilities on what it could be.

One of the stories is your classic creation myth with weird births, incest, and magic. The sea gives birth to a horse named Eiocha and she then eats white berries from the tree near the shore. This causes her to become pregnant and have a boy named Cernunnos, the birth was so painful she rips off part of the bark from the tree and throws it into the ocean. The bark became the giants of the deep. Eiocha then has "relations" with her son and they have more gods, Maponos, Tauranis, and Teutates, and the goddess, Epona. Then after all of this Eiocha runs back to the ocean and becomes Tethra, goddess of deep water. All the gods and godesses on the land took parts of the tree and created different things like from people to lightning bolts. The giants of the deep became jealous and strarted to plan against the gods but Tethra heard their plan so she warned her children. Mapanos ripped part of the sky and through it at the giants then Tethra trapped the giants in the deep sea but some escaped. Those who escaped became the Fomhoire and lived on the outskirts of the world. The sky Mapanos ripped started a fire in the sea and became the god Belenus and the goddess Danu but the fire did not go out till the god Lir came from the fire and water and put out the fire.

The other creation story isn't really a story its more of an idea that comes from a short story. There was scilence in the beginning but then a melody started and the melody picked up momentum and traveled across the country. They believe creation was sang into exsistence and the music still continues today and this song was known as the Oran Mór, "The Great Melody". This is where the idea of the never ending celtic knot came from because like the music there is no end and it is woven through everything.
external image knot.jpg

(to the left: a never ending celtic knot) (to the right: a picture from the show Supernatural that used the idea grace or the great melody is pure creation and created this tree)

Myth of Morrigan and Cuchulainn
Cuchulainn was sleeping after battle and heard a strage cry so he went to find the cause of the noise. The Goddess Morrigan is the one causing the commotion and she has a keen interest in Cuchulainn because of his many exploits. Cuchulainn does not recognize the Goddess Morrigan and disrespects her because he wont have sex with her. Because she is the god of war she causes him to almost lose the battle. He wins and injures her in the process. Morrigan promises not to go after Cuchulainn if he heals her because only he can undo the damage.

Children of Lir
There were five kings of Ireland and they met to decide who would be king overall. King Lir thought it would be him but they gave it to Dagda's son Dearg. King Dearg knew Lir was upset so he let him pick one of his daughters to marry. Lir picked the oldest daughter, Ove, and they had one daughter, Fingula, and three boys,Aod, Fiachra, and Conn. Ove died giving birth to the last two boys and Lir became very depressed. Dearg offered him his second daughter Oifa who at first loved Lir and his children but soon became jealous of the attention Lir gave them. She took them to lake and when they got in she cast a spell turning them to swans. They were cursed to stay swans until a woman from the south be united to the man from the north, until Lairgnen of Connaught wed Deoch of Munster. The children were not allowed to return home for 900 years but could still speak and sings. Their father found out about the curse he told Dearg who turned Oifa into an air demon. the years past and the children could leave they did not return home but later heard news their father and Dearg were well then a few years after that there was nothing left of their father's kingdom so they went to Glory Isle. When they got there they learned that the people were expecting them because Deoch loved their singing and wanted them to sing at her wedding to Lairgnen. Lairgnen went to thouch them but as soon as he did the boys turned into old men and the girl an old woman. The four were baptized and then they passed away.



A Banshee (colloquially Bean-si, badhb, or bean chaonite) is a reoccurring character in Celtic mythology. Banshees are exclusively female and are believed to have descended from the Tuatha De'Danann.Although they have developed a negative connotation in pop culture, banshees are seen in a positive light in Celtic culture. They acts as a guardian angel to a family. They are said to appear around birth sites of the nearly deceased or in rock formations called banshee chairs. They would proceed to scream which would herald the comming death of a person.
external image 59-shadowmoor-midnight-banshee-daarken.jpg

Tuatha De'Danann

The Tuatha De'Danann are a mythical race from which the fae descended.


They are a type of fairy and are considered to be goat like or a he-goat but can take many different forms. They are considered solitary and November is considered sacred to the pooka. If a human found them on a November day the pooka would tell them their future until the next year. People started leaving presents near the pooka's cave. Pooka's were mean but they gave people gifts or talents so they were respected

Symbolism of animals in Celtic mythology

Animals in Celtic mythology symbolize vitality because they help people survive with their fur, meat, and bones. It is also believed that they are connected to the gods because of their use in the hunt for secrets and knowledge. Specific animals symbolize different things based on their characteristics.

Many Celtic myths include dogs because they were respected by both warriors and royalty. In the myth of Cu' Chulainn this character destroys the guard dog of Cullan the blacksmith he offered to be a replacement until a new dog was found.
external image 250px-Cuslayshound.jpg

A boar is a symbol for courage and strength. If a person dreams of a boar it is believed that they are to become a strong warrior. The strength of a boar is shown by their bristles, for example the boars Culhwch and Olwen have gold and silver bristles. The bristles are seen in many celtic myths showing that they are a very important part of this animal.,width=280,height=280,appearanceId=404.png/celtic-boar_design.png,width=280,height=280,appearanceId=404.png/celtic-boar_design.png

Salmon are used as a symbol for knowledge. This can be seen with the legend of Taliesin when Elphin finds him as a child while fishing for salmon. In the myth of Gwyrhr he questioned all the animals in the llyn llyw lake and discovered that the oldest and wisest was the salmon.


In Celtic mythology, Cycles are essentialy large volumes of work which has its own distinct characteristics and archetypes.

Mythological cycle

This cycle contains all the stories of otherworldly creatures. The bulk of literature in this cycle consists of prose tales and lore all of which center around the displacement of the Tuatha De'Danann by their conquerors the Sons of Mill. This cycle predates the Christian influences of Celtic culture thus it most nearly represents the Celtic people. It leans closely towards the structure of Classical Mythology therefore there is a high frequency of interaction between the Gods and the Sons of Mill.

Ultster Cycle

This cronicles the hero Cúchulainn, the progeny of the sun god Lugh, and his conflict with the army of Queen Medb. This Cycle traditionally takes place around the time of Christ; it has a common sense of timing with Cuchulainn life. It is believed that Cuchulainn birth and death coencide with Christs and because of this Historians believe that this is when the first Christian influences begin to appear.

Fenian Cycle

This cycle follows the Fianna, a band of heroes, and their hunt. This cycle has a high fantasy theme and involves a high frequency of encounters with Gods and other beings of the supernatural realm.

The Kings Cycle

This Cycle is basically a genealogy of all the Kings of Ireland.


The Metamorphosis

The old fable about the frog being kissed by a princess stems from this archetype; this archetype generally involves overcoming some natural averson (i.e kissing an old hag) and some large reward (i.e. the old hag becoming princess leia in her prisoner atire). Traditionally this archetype is told in the story of Niall. One day Niall and his friends encounters an old hag who asks for a kiss. Naturally all of Niall's friends deny the wench, but Niall caves into the hags demands and kisses her. After the kiss the hag turns into a beautiful and attractive lady, and, as was apparently the custom of the time, the couple gets married and live long happy lives. Metamorphois is a power of a lot of creature and gods in celtic mythology because they are considered to be not of this world so they can take many forms in it

The Hero/Warrior

The Hero in Celtic Mythology takes the from of a brave man with skill, expertise, cunning, and some supernatural endowment that makes them in some way better than the rest. For example Cuchulain was renown for his berserk rage, but, he forgets that he is bound by death as all other mortals and as such is vanquished in battle. Hubris is also a trademark of a warrior and as such they tend to forget the little things like their own mortality which leads to their death. Cuchulainn is the major example in celtic mythology because he is considered the great hero but there are also many stories pointing out his mistakes and flaws


Water symbolizes both life, death and purity in Celtic mythology. It is viewed with such veneration that it has an inordinate amount deities devoted exclusivity to water. There are so many gods and goddesses that many well are devoted to a unique deity whose sole purpose is to provide water. Water gives birth to many different gods but also is shown to be distructive because of the giants of the deep. In the story of Lir's children the water is good and bad because it is their home and prison.
external image tumblr_m9qlsl5Hoh1r9oth5o1_500.jpg

Mother Goddess

The Mother Goddess can represent everything from fertility to the slaughter and as such is one of the more prolific archetypes in Celtic Mythology. The Godess is usually depicted sucking an infant while bearing some form of fruit or conecopiae which symbolizes their fertility. Celtic mythology spans over so many regions that specific gods or godesses change but there has always been a mother of all the god unlike a father in roman and greek mythology.

Morrigan Info