The Celts were a superstitious, polytheistic society with high importance placed on religion. Similar to the Greek and Roman religious system, the Celtic deities were assigned different roles and were worshipped based on the population’s current needs i.e. harvest, success in battle, etc. However, the Celtic deities appear to have been more wide reaching in their functions than their Roman counterparts. Although the names of over 200 separate deities have been recorded in the Celtic world, when examined more closely we can find that depending on the town or region, a single deity could be known by more than one name. This also displays the importance of the tribal god in Celtic society, by each tribe calling the same deity by a name exclusive to the tribe.
The most important and popular deity in all regions of Celtic society was Lug, comparable to Mercury in the Roman system. Lug was known as the many-skilled deity, responsible for arts and crafts and, in many depictions, is portrayed carrying a spear and sling. Lug’s influence in Celtic society can be observed by the celebration of Lugnasad yearly on August 1st celebrating not only the ripening of the crops, but also celebrating Lug. Similarly, city names like Lugudunum (current-day Lyon, France) demonstrate Lug’s importance to early Celts.
Another important deity in early Celtic society was Dis Pater (Donn, Dagda). The Gauls believed they were decendents of Dis Pater. Dagda was known as the great father. Portrayed as a somewhat vulgar character, Dagda was wise, and always shown with his club and cauldron; the club was believed to be able to kill the living or bring the dead to life, and the cauldron was a representation of unending hospitality. Donn was the leader of the land of dead.
Other Celtic deities include Teutates, associated with the Roman god Mars, who was the god of war, healing, fertility, protection and property. The gods Taranis and Esus were also thought to be similar to Mars, and they,...
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