Gods and Goddesses

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The Celtic pantheon, as it comes to us today, is nowhere near as well preserved as that of Greece and Rome. Some Gods are archetypes, expressing a feeling or attitude: love, war, mothering, growth, inspiration.

When the Romans came to our lands, they equated many of our deity with their own and, whilst this has given us an understanding of the energy behind the names, it has coloured our vision of the gods with a Roman hue.

Later influences from Viking settlement also become part of our language. Many of town names are Viking and four of our weekdays still venerate the Viking Gods: Tew, Woden, Thor, and Freya replacing the Roman Gods of Mars, Mercury, Jupiter and Venus, leaving only Saturn, Sun and Moon as a reminder of the influence of the Roman planetary deity.

The story of Celtic deity is told in the Mabinogion, the verses of Taliessin, and early manuscripts where the tradition of oration was finally captured in writing; firstly, by Roman invaders and then by Christian scribes. But they were heard by the untrained ear with little understanding of the sub-text and by those who, no doubt, added a veneer from their own values.

Nonetheless, it is possible to see the archetypes in the Children of Dôn: the trickster God, Gwidion; the mother/teacher Goddess, Arianrhod.

Spirits of Place

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There are also Gods and Goddesses of place. These lands were once seen as the place of Brigantia, also known as Britannia. In Ireland she is known as Bride and became one of their patron saints as St. Brigit. Brigantia, therefore, is a powerful Goddess. Her energy is all around us and so pervading that we are not consciously aware of her. For those who take these Isles as their home, the energy of Brigantia will become part of you.

Whilst we can become aware of this powerful Goddess, there are also those who work with the land more locally. Our own chalk hills of the Chilterns have a very different energy to the limestone wolds of the Cotswolds, and the heathland of Exmoor differs greatly from the granite of Dartmoor.

Each area has its own vitality which we may see personified as deity. There are those who can feel a change in the energy when they cross the border between Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire giving rise, perhaps, to modern Goddesses of Buckinghamitha and Hertfordia?

Masculine and Feminine Energy

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The energy of the land is female, it is part of Earth our mother goddess. She who is giver and provider, always there, always supportive. We associate Spring with her Maiden form, in Summer and early Autumn she is the nurturing Mother, late Autumn and Winter she is the Hag or Crone.

The energy of growth is masculine. Seeds and bulbs push up through the land with strength and vigour, sap rises in the plants and trees encouraging the leaves which capture the sunlight. This masculine energy is linked to the Sun who encourages this growth. He is born in the depths of winter and celebrated at Solstice as the Mabon child, by Spring he is a young boy. At Beltaine he is a strutting young man sporting splendid antlers and by Summer solstice his magnificent stag-like energy roams the forest that is his own. At Lughnasagh he is the warrior/King able to achieve anything he sets his mind to. His energy begins to wane by Autumn and he dies at Samhain returning to the womb of Earth to be reborn at the Solstice.

It is this cycle that helped our ancestors understand how to work the land and organise their year. This cycle of the sun creates the Wheel of the Year.

We all need to work with masculine energy in order to achieve anything. It is the driving force behind getting things done. Female energy is the sustainer, the constant, the hearth and home. She is our second wind when the initial strength of the masculine is spent. Whether we are man or woman, we need to work with both Goddess and God for our work to be complete.