Celtic Mythology


Lebor Gebala Erenn: The Book of Invasions of Ireland

Ireland with pride, with weapons, 
hosts spread over her ancient plain, 
westward to the sunset were they plunderers, 
her chieftains of destruction around Temair.  Thirty years after Genand 
goblin hosts took the fertile land; 
a blow to the vanquished People of Bags 
was the visit of the Tuatha De Danann. 
It is God who suffered them, though He restrained them--
they landed with horror, with lofty deed, 
in their cloud of mighty combat of spectres, 
upon a mountain of Conmaicne of Connacht. 
Without distinction to descerning Ireland, 
Without ships, a ruthless course 
the truth was not known beneath the sky of stars
,  whether they were of heaven or of earth.  If it were diabolic demons 
the black-cloaked agitating expedition, 
it was sound with ranks, with hosts: 
if of men, it was the proteny of Bethach. Of men belonging to law (is) 
the greeborn who has the strong seed: 
Bethach, a swift warrior-island (?)
  son of Iarbonel son of Nemed.  They cast no assembly or justice 
about the place of Fal to the sunset: 
there was fire and fighting 
at last in Mag Tuired. 
The Tuatha De, it was the bed of a mighty one, 
around the People of Bags fought for the kingship: 
in their battle with abundance of pride, 
troops of hundreds of thousands died. 
The sons of Elada, glory of weapons, 
a wolf of division against a man of plunder: 
Bres from the Brug of Banba of wise utterance, 
Dagda, Delbaeth, and Ogma.
  Eriu, though it should reach a road-end, 
Banba, Fotla, and Fea, 
Neman of ingenious versicles, 
Danann, mother of the gods. 
Badb and Macha, greatness of wealth, Morrigu--
springs of craftiness, 
sources of bitter fighting 
were the three daughters of Ernmas. 
Goibniu who was not impotent in smelting, 
Luichtne, the free wright Creidne, 
Dian Cecht, for going roads of great healing, 
Mac ind Oc, Lug son of Ethliu. 
Cridinbel, famous Bruinde, 
Be Chuille, shapely Danand, 
Casmael with bardism of perfecdtion, 
Coirpre son of Etan, and Etan. 
The grandsons of the Dagda, who had a triple division (?) 
divided Banba of the bugle-horns; let us tell of the 
princes of excellence of hospitality, 
the three sons of Cermat of Cualu. 
Though Ireland was multitudes of thousands 
they divided her land into thirds: 
great chieftains of deeds of pride, 
Mac Cuill, Mac Cecht, Mac Greine.  He swept them clean from their land, did the Son of God, 
from the royal plain which I make manifest: 
for all the valour of their deeds, 
of their clear division, their seed is not over Ireland.
  It is Eochu without enchantment of leapings who fashions 
the distinction of his good quatrains; 
but knowledge of the warriors when he relates it, 
though he enumerates them, he adores them not.  Adore ye the name of the King who measured you
who apportions every truth which he (Eochu) narrates: 
who hath released every storm which we expect, 
who hath fashioned the pleasant land of Ireland. 
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Celtic mythology is the mythology of Celtic Polytheism the religion of the Iron Age Celts.[1] Like other Iron Age Europeans, the early Celts maintained a polytheistic mythology and religious structure. Among Celts in close contact with Ancient Rome, such as the Gauls and Celtiberians their mythology did not survive the Roman Empire their subsequent conversion to Christianity, and the loss of their Celtic languages It is mostly through contemporary Roman and Christian sources that their mythology has been preserved. The Celtic peoples who maintained either their political or linguistic identities (such as the Gaels Picts, and Brittonic tribes of both Great Britain and Ireland left vestigial remnants of their ancestral mythologies, put into written form during the Middle Ages
The oldest body of myths stemming from the Heroic Age is found only from the early medieval period of Ireland.[6] As Christianity began to take over, the gods and goddesses were slowly eliminated as such from the culture. What has survived includes material dealing with the Tuatha De Danaan and the Fomorians, which forms the basis for the text Cath Maige Tuireadh (the Battle of Mag Tuireadh), as well as portions of the history-focused Lebor Gebala Erenn (the Book of Invasions). The Tuatha Dé represent the functions of human society such as kingship, crafts and war, while the Fomorians represent chaos and wild nature.
The Dagda
The leader of the gods for the Irish pantheon appears to have been the Dagda. The Dagda was the figure after which male humans and other gods were based due to his embodiment of the ideal Irish traits. Celtic gods were also considered to be a clan due to their lack of specialization and unknown origins. The particular character of the Dagda describes him as a figure of burlesque lampoonery in Irish Mythology and some authors even conclude that he was trusted to be benevolent enough to tolerate jokes at his own expense.
Irish tales depict the Dagda as a figure of power, armed with a spear. In Dorset there is a famous outline of an ithyphallic giant known as the Cerne Abbas Giant with a club cut into the chalky soil. While this was probably produced in relatively modern times (English Civil War era), it was long thought to be a representation of the Dagda. This has been called into question by recent studies which show that there may have been a representation of what looks like a large drapery hanging from the horizontal arm of the figure, leading to suspicion that this figure actually represents Hercules, with the skin of the Nemean Lion over his arm and carrying the club he used to kill it. In Gaul, it is speculated that the Dagda is associated with Sucellus the striker, equipped with a hammer and cup.
The Morrígan
The Morrigan was a tripartite battle goddess of the Celts of Ancient Ireland. She was known as the Morrígan, but the different sections she was divided into were also referred to as Nemain, Macha, and Badh (among other, less common names), with each representing different aspects of combat. She is most commonly known for her involvement in the Tain Bo Cuilange

Lugh/Lug

The god appearing most frequently in the tales is Lugh. He is evidently a residual of the earlier, more widespread god Lugus, whose diffusion in Celtic religion is apparent from the number of place names in which his name appears, occurring across the Celtic world. The most famous of these are the cities of Lugdunum (the modern French city of Lyon), Lugdunum Batavorum (Brittenburg, 10 kilometers west of Leiden in the Netherlands) and Lucus Augusti the modern Galician city of Lugo. Lug is described in the Celtic myths as the last to be added to the list of deities. In Ireland a festival called the Lugdnasadh, Lúnasa "August") was held in his honour.
Others
Other important goddesses include Brigid (or Brigit), the Dagda's daughter; Aibell, Aine, Macha, and the sovereign goddess, Eriu Notable is Epona the horse goddess, celebrated with horse races at the summer festival. Significant Irish gods include Nuada Airgetlm, the first king of the Tuatha Dé Danann; Goibhniu, the smith and brewer; Dian Cecht, the patron of healing; and the sea god Manannan mac Lir.
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