I am not going to attempt to give a general rehash of all of the Celtic, or even Irish, gods and goddesses. It would be nigh impossible for me to do with any success – and there are many other sites which attempt to do the same thing, with greater or lesser achievements. I would like to give some brief descriptions of the handful of gods and, primarily, goddesses whom I have been called to.
Before I go into list mode, however, I would like to say that everyone can reach out to the gods. My advice in doing so is first to read the myths, and found a culture where you feel you belong, and gods or goddesses within that culture with which you resonate. Read their stories, and understand who they are on an intellectual level.
After you have done that, meditate on them. Ask them into your lives. Open yourself to them. Let the gods reveal themselves to you as they wish – and as your subconscious can handle. Don’t force the gods into your boxes… let them be who they are, and they will let you be who you are, and aid you as they may. I owe a great deal of thanks to my gods – the ones to whom I belong… and make no mistake, there are gods to whom I belong. I have walked with them and been dedicated to them, and taken their gifts. Know the gods on a soul level… and they will forever be there as a part of you…
Arianrhod: The Silver Lady… Her name is thought by some to mean the Silver Wheel, and is described as the Welsh Moon-Mother Goddess, but I don’t feel this does her justice. The Silver Wheel is taken by many to be the moon – but it is also connected to the stars and the heavens through her home on Caer Sidi or the Corona Borealis. Considered to be a cosmigenitrix by some, and is a weaver of fate, and turns the wheel that is also a symbol of hers. Some say the wheel is representative of the ship that carries the dead to the land to the North. A sovereign of reincarnation, cosmic time, weaving of patterns and the turning of the wheel.
Her myth about her sons is interesting, and, to me, perhaps denotes that fate and such can be tricked – but she’s not going to like it, and there will be consequences.
Cerridwen: the story of Cerridwen and Taliesen is a popular one amongst both Bards and Celtic Shamans. The story, in short, goes that Gwion was stirring a potion in Cerridwen’s cauldron that would give all of the world’s wisdom to the drinker of the potion – who was meant to be her ugly son, Afagdu. It was her way of compensating for his ugliness by giving him other gifts. The potion was brewed for a year and a day, and on the last day the potion spilled and burned Gwion, who stuck his finger in his mouth to cool the burn. As he did this he gained all the knowledge of the potion, now defunct.
Cerridwen flew into a rage and chased Gwion, who turned into various animals to escape her, and each time Cerridwen changed herself into an animal to chase him. Finally he changed into a piece of grain, and she into a hen and she ate him. Nine months later she gave birth to Taliesen – the bard. She either threw him away – or he escaped – depending on which variant of the story you read. Either way, he was born with all of the secret knowledge. Cerridwen is a goddess of wisdom, intelligence and knowledge. Through the cauldron, many equate her with a Crone goddess of reincarnation – and it is clear she is a goddess of transformation.
To the Bard she is the mother of the greatest of the Bards. To the shamans she is the keeper of secret wisdom and a shapeshifter. Many people read the myth as a cycle of initiation – the different animal forms representing different levels of training. Others see it as showing the growth cycle and transformation that our soul must go through throughout our various incarnations before we are ready for the secret mysteries. Either way, she is the keeper of these mysteries and can aid us in our transformation and understanding.
Brighid: meaning “Fiery Arrow or Power”, she is a triple goddess – a singularity of three sisters. Thought by some to have been a sun goddess originally, sometimes thought to be the light of the sun in particular – as such distinctions are made. Daughter of the Dagda, she rules over the 1) fire of the hearth, 2) the fire of inspiration, 3) fire of the forge. In some etymologies, her name means “Exhalted One”, and she is also a goddess of Healers, Childbirth and Animal Husbandry.
She is the Goddess of Oimlec, meaning “ewe’s milk” or Imbolc, “in the belly”, depending on which translation you use. This could explain her connection with animal husbandry.
She also has a watery aspect, and there are many healing wells dedicated to her in Ireland. Imbolc is a good time for cleansing and purification – aided by both water and fire.
As a poetess, she is near and dear to my heart.
Morrighan: the Morrighan is the “Great Queen” or the “Phantom Queen”. A Triple warrior goddess comprised of Macha (Battle), Nemain (Venomous) and Badb (Fury). These goddesses are also worshipped separately, and in their own rights. A fierce goddess known foremost as a warrior, she also resides over death, prophecy, and passionate love. She was the Washer of the Ford who would predict the deaths of men before battle. She was a lover of the Dagda – the Celtic Good-God – and ensured she would fight for them. She was the enemy of CuChulainn after she offered herself to him but he did not recognize her, and refused her. She is most often seen as a hooded crow or raven – carrion birds who ate the dead of the battles she presided over and waged.
Danu: the Irish mother goddess and progenitor of the Tuatha de Danaan – the people of the Goddess Danu. I admit to having a less personal relationship with Danu, but it would be incomplete to not include her here.
Domnu: a goddess of the deep – some see her as the dark opposite of Danu.
Cernunnos: an old Gaulish god and the only male deity that I have developed a personal understanding of. A Horned God, pictured with stag horns in a meditative position. He is a god of animals, the wild, the hunt, fertility, sexuality and the underworld. He is seen with an animal, or staff, of a ram-headed snake – a symbol of his fertility and transformative abilities. The Horned God is seen as a dual god by many - two gods intertwining the essence of the male life force in different stages.
Taranis: another Gaulish god whom I have a particular affinity for, being the god of the thunder and lightning. Not much is known about him – but I love a good storm and have sat outside meditating storms on more than one occasion.
I have had meditative visions in which I've walked with these gods, which have given me a personal understanding of their natures and essences. While I will not go into my personal experiences in great depth, I feel it necessary to point out that these descriptions are gleaned from various scholarly sources - but only touch the surface of what these gods 'are'.
To truly understand a god... to develop any kind of relationship... you must walk with the gods, and go much further than any vague description such as are on these pages can even hope to begin to express.
And while all such experiences of gnosis and journeying are personal and linked to your subconscious - thereby manifesting the essence in terms you are comfortable with - your subconscious is often linked to your cultural heritage in some way, and can therefore be related in those terms.
What I mean is that while my experience of the Silver Lady won't be identical to anyone elses experience, there are similarities which connect it to the name of 'Arianrhod'. Arianrhod is not the same as other lunar divinities... the names are not interchangeable.
Know the gods for who they are... not what you fancy them to be...
and understand them on their terms before any others...