A Reckoning of Time

When talking of reckoning time in Gaulish practice, there is but one source on the matter: the Sequanni (or Coligny) Calendar. Simply put, done and done, right? Wrong. In the Gaulish Polytheist world, the placing of the months is contentious and open for debate. However, I think this is good. We must remember that there were many Gaulish tribes. These tribes had different customs, varying levels of technology, and different Gods, or at least different names for Them.

It is for these facts that I can honestly say that I welcome differing approaches to the matter of timekeeping. If we ever all agree on a universal Gaulish Calendar, I’m okay with that, too. Not that I see that happening any time soon. We simply don’t know how many calendars the Gauls had because we have only found one that can be reconstructed with any amount of comfort. There are small fragments of another thing suspected of being a calendar, but it is impossible to reconstruct it at this time. At the least, until more fragments are found.

Nights Become Days

With that said, let’s explore a little on the matters of timekeeping that we know. Caesar mentions that the Gaulish peoples considered the day to start at sundown. This isn’t really unusual, the Jewish people reckon the same with their own calendar. Thus the reason their sabbaths start on Friday night. Considering that where they lived at the time of the Gauls was some distance away from the Gauls, starting the day at sundown was not at all uncommon in the ancient world.

Caesar didn’t likely gain anything from making mention of this, and so it is likely a truthful observation. The history of issues (to put it lightly) between Gauls and Romans were certainly not because of their differing approaches to calendars. With that said, we can safely wager that the day begins at sunset. If one wanted to have a more consistent measure of days (or lives in a far Northern place, or for whatever reason is in Antarctica), I suggest 6:00pm, or 18:00 as a good reference. With that settled, let us look at the divisions of the month.

There wasn’t a concept of a seven day week for the Gauls. The Romans introduced the idea to Europe. They got the idea from the Hebrew people. Of course, the Germanic peoples thought this was a good idea, and inserted the names of their own Gods (save for Saturn, I guess) for a seven day week. There’s no reason that the modern Gaulish Polytheist couldn’t do the same. In modern Celtic cultures, they use the names of the Roman Gods, and this would technically be more accurate than days based off of the Gaulish Gods. However, there is absolutely no reason why one couldn’t use Gaulish Gods’ names. I certainly would.

In case someone is interested in doing so, here is a recommendation:

  • Sunday (Sun/Sâwelos) Dius Sâweli
  • Monday (Moon/Lugrâ) Dius Lugriâs
  • Tuesday (Mars/Camulos, for example) Dius Camuli
  • Wednesday (Mercury/Lugus or Carnonos) Dius Luguos
  • Thursday (Jupiter/Taranis) Dius Taranuos
  • Friday (Venus/Brigantiâ) Dius Brigantiâs
  • Saturday (Saturn/maybe Sucellos) Dius Sucelli

However way in which one does that, the Gauls did not. That’s because they divided the month in half. The closest example of this is the fortnight, which is of course two weeks. Though the months in the Sequanni Calendar, save for one exception, are either 29 or 30 days long. So, that’s two 15 day periods, or one that is 15 days, and the other is 14. The 15 day halves are called “Matis” which means auspicious, lucky. The ones that are 14 days are “Anmatis”, which is the opposite of “Matis”, of course.

Over The Moons

The 30 and 29 day months are also given this treatment, matis and anmatis respectively. In this respect, I cannot help but notice that the Attic Calendar, used by ancient Athenians, marks months as “full and “hollow”. It is worth noting that Greek culture was prestigious to the Gauls, especially before their fall to the Romans. Sequanni territory was not very far from the Greek colony of Massalia, and if I were a betting man, I’d say that the Greeks had a major influence on the Sequanni Calendar. This isn’t to say that I believe that the ancient Celts weren’t already using a lunisolar calendar as it were. Which the Sequanni Calendar certainly is.

A lunisolar calendar attempts to reconcile the lunar months with the solar year. This is a relatively old style of timekeeping. Though purely lunar calendars like the Islamic Calendar do exist. Then, of course, the modern calendar, which gets its start in Rome, who weren’t about lunar months, apparently. They were more interested in the solar year. Now, back to Gaul, where the Sun and Moon must agree, at least somewhat. Most of the time, the Sequanni Calendar has twelve months. Did I mention that modern Galatis don’t agree on the matter? Well, they don’t. However, there is little to no disagreement on what those months are, just on how they are placed. The first month is Samonios.

Does Samonios mean “end of Summer” similar to Irish “Samhain”? Or does it mean “great (or divine) Summer”? There is some contention here, and a few good arguments. Instead of repeating myself what other folks, smarter than I, have already said, I’m just going to give you all a couple of links on the matter:

A perspective that offers a Winter start to the year, here.

A perspective that offers a Summer start to the year, here. Scroll down to the section titled “Samon and the Celtic New Year”, unless you want to read the whole article. For what it’s worth, Wikipedia agrees with the latter. I have to say that I also believe that Samonios falls in the summer. You will see when the months are listed that many months end in -ios. So, either the Gauls were more concerned with the end of things, or that suffix is a type of proper noun. I believe the latter.

Remember that the Gauls recognized primarily two seasons, as opposed to four. So, depending on what you think of Samonios and Giamonios, whether they refer to the seasons literally, or the end of said seasons, will make the time of year that your calendar starts different than someone who disagrees. Though, this can still run somewhat smoothly, if you swap months in discussions. Segomâros Widugeni offers “Blêdani Galation”, or Year of the Galatîs” as a term to date years. So, BG as opposed to BCE and CE or BC and AD.

The Months

At the most basic, and we’ll get to intercalary months in a minute, the months are as such:

  • Samonios
  • Dumannios
  • Riuros
  • Anagantios
  • Ogronios
  • Cutios
  • Giamonios
  • Simiuisonnios
  • Equos
  • Elembiuos
  • Edrinios
  • Rantanaros

 

These are your basic twelve months in order. So, what about those intercalary months? There is less surety in regards to them. Some say Ciallos is an intercalary month. Another thought says that Quimonios and Rantanaros are the two intercalary months inserted to even out a five year cycle. Before Samonios and Giamonios respectively. Even if one just uses Ciallos, the first time used, it falls before Samonios, and the second time before Giamonios in a five year cycle. Personally, I don’t think it matters much either way, but if you want to build a calendar, you have to make a decision.

Some also debate whether or not a month starts at a new or full moon. Furthermore, an emerging camp agrees with Pliny the Elder who states that the Gauls started their months on the first quarter. This centers the full and new moon in the middle of each half. This is what I think, personally. However, the word “Atenoux” meaning renewal is right in the calendar, dividing the month in half. So, whatever you might think, that is worth remembering.

In the links, you saw two ways to start a year. Some folks just use the modern calendar, and I guess one could. Personally, I think that lunisolar timekeeping is a good way to be in touch with the worldview of the Gauls of the past. However, a few intrepid souls created a calendar in Modern Gaulish (Helen McKay, Bellouesus Isarnos, and Steve Hansen aka Gwiríu Mórghnath): Amanar Ghaláthach (Modern Gaulish Calendar)

The calendar uses Modern Gaulish names and corresponds them with the modern calendar. So, there’s still an option for those that prefer the modern calendar, but still want a touch of Gaulish. Of course, one could use Ancient Gaulish names and correspond them to the months in the modern calendar as well. There are many ways to do these things.

An alternative calendar based on my local environment has been something I have thought of doing. However, I’m working on steeping myself in available material. One based on my local environment would look like this:

  • Samonios – “Great Summer” (roughly in June)
  • Sâweliotennos “Sun Fire” (roughly in July)
  • Arnicos “Grain” (roughly in August)
  • Bongîmos “Reaping” (roughly in September)
  • Ateogronios “Returning Cold” (roughly in October)
  • Donnios “Darkness” (roughly in November)
  • Giamonios “Great Winter” (roughly in December)
  • Iegionos “Great Ice” (roughly in January)
  • Bivocolânos “Coming Alive, Quickening” (roughly in February)
  • Allatios “Wild, Fierce” (roughly in March)
  • Lovonios “Great Rain” (roughly in April)
  • Bitubivâcos “World Alive” (roughly in May)
  • Ciallos (Intercalary month. Falls either before Samonios, or before Giamonios when applicable.)

That said, the aforementioned is merely a creative exercise. What I use personally is a take on the Sequanni Calendar developed by Shane Krusen, based on the works of Helen McKay. A link to that form of the calendar can be found here.

As a member of Toutâ Galation, I use the Coligny calendar as interpreted by them when applicable. However, my interpretation does (respectfully) differ. Plus, there is the possibility of the usage of a more local calendar. Feel free to use it if you feel inclined. I hope you all enjoyed reading.

Continue reading “A Reckoning of Time”

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Dêwoi (Gods) of Tegoslougous Nemotarvos

Many Gods are recognized by Tegoslougos Nemotarvos. At this point, only a couple of Gods are regularly worshipped, but that list is expected to grow in time. The Gods of this tradition are some of those that were worshipped in Gaul and Britain during the Iron Age, and into the Roman period. If one wants a more scholarly basis of who these Gods are, I recommend looking at Nemeton Segomâros for more information. There isn’t much of a point for me to do again what someone else has already done an excellent job of covering.

With that said, the scope of this page is to discuss the Dêwoi as They apply to Tegoslougos Nemotarvos specifically.  For the most part, this will likely be in agreement with current scholarship. However, I intend to expand on that to explain a little bit about how the Gods are perceived in this Tegoslougos. So, this is intended only to cover the scope of this Tegoslougos, and no further. I only speak for myself, and I celebrate the diversity of practices within Gaulish Polytheism today. I have been helped by many along the way, from other Gaulish Polytheists, Brythonic Polytheists, other Celtic Reconstructionists, Heathens, Proto Indo European practicioners, Neopagans, and others I probably do not even realize.

For the sake of digestibility, and keeping this article to a reasonable length, this piece covers the “High Gods”, and rest assured, there will be more to come. (Again, this is not necessarily meant to be an academic piece.)

Without further ado, here is a list (that will likely be expanded upon in the future) of Gods that are in some way known in Tegoslougos Nemotarvos:

 

Taranis – He is one of two main deities worshiped in Tegoslougos Nemotarvos. His name means ‘Thunder’ and so, he is obviously a Thunder God. I’m not entirely sure of Him being the “Sky Father”, but He is, at the least, the preeminent Sky God worshipped at Tegoslougos Nemotarvos. He is represented by a wheel. Most opt for a six spoked wheel, I opt for eight. However, it is uncertain if the number of spokes have any direct historical meaning. It is not likely, as some have been shown with four, six, eight, and more.

He is, as a Thunder God, a Bringer of Rain. I would suspect that this might have made him popular with farmers, who of course rely on rain to water their crops in most places. He is described in the 9th century ‘Berne Scholia’ as a “master of war”. This could be due to his representation of victory over serpents that are likely related to forces of chaos. These are depicted on the Gundestrup Cauldron, as well as in Jupiter columns (Taranis was linked most often to Jupiter, possibly Mars in other cases) in places along the Rhine.

When looking at Him as the slayer of a serpent of chaos, one may be reminded of the Norse Thorr, or of Hercules, son of Zeus, who slays the Hydra. Perhaps of Vedic Indra who slays Vrtra, Slavic Perun and Veles, etc. The Serpent Slaying myth seems to be one of the most common among Indo-European cultures. An interesting thought as well, is that in His name meaning ‘Thunder’ is a commonality with Proto Germanic ‘Thunaraz’, which gives way to Anglo-Saxon Thunor, Norse Thorr, and other Germanic names for their Thunder God(s). Whether or not this is a borrowing from Gaulish Taranis, I don’t know. It is an interesting thought, nonetheless.

He is known by his symbol, the wheel, which I had mentioned earlier. Theories generally range from the idea of “rolling thunder” to the idea that the wheel is reminiscent of order and cosmic rule from celestial powers. This moves me to the next part, and that is how He is perceived in Tegoslougos Nemotarvos.

If we have anything like a “patron God” it is He. Though I do not use such titles. As is generally agreed, He is the God of Thunder, and Rain Bringer, I also associate Him with wind, and the changing of seasons. At the least, with summer. I see Him as the upholder of order and truth. He is of course, an Upper World God, Ueronados (celestial) and represents the forces of Samos: summer, order, light, life. I see Him in a way, like some Heathens view their Thunder Gods, as a God of the common folk.

I also associate Taranis with bulls and clouds, seeing the smaller clouds as His cattle, and the larger ones as His residence, that I call Nellotegos (Cloud House). The cattle association stems from the PIE Perkwunos, for which I credit Ceisiwr Serith and his book ‘Deep Ancestors’ for my knowing.

Beyond all of that, He is seen here as the defender of humans. Not in the sense of offensive war, but that with the purpose of defense and protection. He will be afforded a special ritual around Mediosaminos (Midsummer) in an event called the Îwos Taranes (Feast of Taranis). This seems appropriate to the roles He serves in the cosmos.

Eponâ – She is one of the two main deities worshipped in Tegoslougos Nemotarvos. Her name, according to Alexei Kondratiev, translates to “Great Mare”, and this is my favorite of options. She is often, as one might imagine, depicted on horseback, though side saddled, as opposed to a more conventional riding position. Sometimes, she is shown sitting between two horses. She sometimes holds grains, and fruits, and has been depicted caring for foals. She may be like Brythonic ‘Rîgantonâ’ and thus possibly related to the Welsh ‘Rhiannon’. I personally, would hardly consider that a stretch, but there’s not really direct evidence of that.

Rîganâ as another name for Her is suggested by Garett Olmsted, and that may lead to some creedence to that possiblility, as Rîganâ means ‘Queen’, and Rîgantonâ means ‘Great Queen’. Personally, I subscribe to the idea to the point that my worship of Her is syncretic of the two. Anyway, what we can see with Her are themes of the bounty of the land, of sovereignty, which leads to the possibility of Her being a Mead Goddess as well. Though, if that is so, most likely that of the Toutâ (tribe), as opposed to the Coryos (war band). I draw this from Ceisiwr Serith’s comparison of Her to Proto Indo European Hekwona, who is a Goddess of mares, mead, and sovereignty.

Though it would seem, with the presence of grains and fruits, She may have taken on traits like that of an “Earth Mother”. This is just a thought of my own by what I’ve seen on her depictions. Thus, in Tegoslougos Nemotarvos, She is associated with the fertility of the land, and is the Wife of Taranis, which has been a conjecture that has been floating around some circles. I agree with it, presonally. I also subscribe to the idea that She is a psychopomp, who rides between worlds. It may be through Her that Taranis gets a horse, like on that of the Jupiter columns.

As the Gallo Roman ‘Eponalia’ is held not far from the winter solstice, and in Wales, the Mari Lywd is associated with Christmas and New Year festivites, an Îwos Eponâs (or maybe Eponin) will be held in conjunction with Mediogiamos (Midwinter) festivities.

Carnonos – More popularly ‘Cernunnos’. His name is generally thought to mean ‘The Horned One’ or something along those lines. Some associate Him with being something like a God of the Wilds, others in the past few years (to my knowledge) would say that He is a God of Bidirectionality, wealth (thus merchants), and a kind of Mediator Between Worlds (thus perhaps travelers) . The two are not, in my opinion mutually exclusive. However, my focus lies more with the latter, but I do not exclude the former. This is because the Gods are capable of being many different things, and so do not always line up with neat little functions and descriptions.

He is depicted on the Gundestrup Cauldron with a ram horned serpent and a torc. This may symbolize His being between worlds, as that same serpent seems to be defeated by Taranis in another panel on the same Cauldron. He is also depicted with animals, and as a God of Mediation may well be between that of the wild and the tame.

My own associations with Him differ little, if at all with what is described. I associate Him with the Autumnal Equinox, not for historical precedence, because there isn’t one. However, we live in a place with very pronounced seasons. That is a time around here when leaves start to change color, letting us know that winter is on the way. A transition of its own. Still technically summer, when looking at the ancient idea of seasons (with basically only summer and winter) but winter is clearly on the way, and that small transition is a reminder. That, and it is literally the halfway point between Mediosaminos and Mediogiamos. At the end of summer, is Diwedon Samoni (End of Summer) which I generally reserve for ancestors, so the Autumn Equinox gives us a day to very specifically honor Him. Since I feel that He deserves His own day.

Brigantiâ – Her name means the “Exalted One”, or the “High One”. So, it stands to reason that She is associated with high places. In the pre Christian Celtic world, She was widely revered, among Gaulish, Brythonic, Goidelic, and Celtiberian peoples. Other than high places, She may have been the tribal Goddess of the Brigantes in Britain, and in Ireland, she is known as Brighid. The river Brent, in England may be a reference to Her.

From Ireland, we learn that She is associated with smithing, healing, childbirth, poetry, and that An Dagda is Her father. She is of course also associated with the keeping of a Sacred Flame, for which many have interpreted as meaning that She is a Hearth Goddess. A fair line of reasoning. As some see Taranis as having something like An Dagda’s role among Gaulish gods, some see at least a possibility that He may be Brigantiâ’s father. I think this is a reasonable conjecture.

How the Gods relate to one another, if nothing else, can often be an important when people establish lore. Just as it was in the past. Her feast day is said to be around the beginning of February, which brings to mind the Irish holiday of Imbolc. This is between the Winter Solstice and Vernal Equinox, roughly. Thus, Îwos Brigantiâs may fall as well, around this time.

Maponos – His name means “Divine Son”. We see, in Gaulish inscriptions, He is associated with magic. In Insular Celtic lore, we know of Mabon ap Modron, also Mabon fab Mellt, particularly interesting, as Mellt means “lightning”. This is even more interesting, as Oengus Mac Og, an Irish God of youth, music, poetry, among other things, is the son of Boann (a cow and river goddess) and An Dagda. Maponos, by His name alone, can be said to be a God of Youth.

When looking at Mabon,  He is possibly also, or at least like Pryderi, who is the son of Rhiannon (Proto Brythonic Rîgantonâ), is possibly connected to Eponâ, and a warrior king Pwyll. Making for even more room regarding possible conjectures, as Pryderi was taken away from His mother, and found in the Underworld, later to be returned to Her. Maponos is likened to Apollo, which could imply that there is a healing, as well as solar aspect to Him. Furthermore, some say He was born on the Winter Solstice, Oengus was said to be born on Samhain, which is said to have marked the new year in Ireland. At Newgrange, the mound associated with Oengus mac Og, tracks the sunrise at the Winter Solstice.

So, perhaps Maponos was born around this time as well. Maponus was also depicted as Apollo playing the cithera, which is a type of lyre. So, when looking at Oengus mac Og’s association with music, along with the Apollo association, Maponos had been a God associated with music as well. In practice, two times of year come to mind in which he may be specifically revered. One being Mediogiamos (Midwinter) signifying His birth, and the other may well be, given His association with youth, music, vitality, and magic, the time between the Vernal Equinox and Summer Solstice. A time I refer to as Centusaminos (Start of Summer). In Ireland, this time is called Beltaine, or Cetsamhain, and Calan Haf or Calan Mai in Wales.

This particular time is a gut feeling of mine. Dun Brython, who are Brythonic Polytheists, and very bright minds, associate Him with the Summer Solstice. A very feasible route, but we are but a small household, so, I’m keeping the number of Gods to focus upon a holiday low. In most cases, one. Though He may figure in Mediogiaminos observances, I feel that Centusaminos, that is, the beginning of summer, will be the premier holiday associated with Him in Tegoslougos Nemotarvos. In time, that may well change.

It is here that I should also mention that I am taking the leap of equating Maponos with Grannus. If They are not literally the same being, they seem to fulfill many of the same functions. Both are associated with springs, both are likened to Apollo, both have solar connotations, and both seem to have been involved in healing. Again, this doesn’t mean they are literally one and the same, but both go into consideration for me when fleshing out worship.

Lugus – Many names are associated with Him. So, I’m not going to list them all, I like the interpretations offered by Garett Olmsted, referring to His name meaning either “God of Oaths” or “Bright”. Being a God of Oaths is very much a prominent matter in cultures where holding to oaths was among the most important things one could do. In Insular Celtic cultures, He holds a very high place as well. In Wales as Lleu Llaw Gyffes, and as Lugh in Ireland. He is a heroic God in both, known for wielding a spear. He is known, rightfully, among many Celtic Polytheists as the God of Many Skills.

What in particular is quite interesting is His parallels to Germanic Wodanaz, in regards the significance of ravens, of course His spear, and leadership of a warband. He is also associated with Kings, like Anglo-Saxon Woden and Norse Odin. In Gallo-Roman depictons, He is associated with Mercury. This adds associations of wealth and being a patron of travelers. Every trait listed so far would be important to a king. There are many instances of Lugus, or beings like him in Insular lore, and this article would be even more unwieldy than it is likely to be if I listed them all.

In Ireland, the feast day of Lughnasadh is named for Him. The idea of a festival Îwos Luguos comes from this, and I cannot think of a good reason why it ought not be a part of Tegoslougos Nemotarvos as well. This is the time of the grain harvest, between the Summer Solstice and the Autumnal Equinox.

Rosmertâ – She is the wife of Lugus, and She has some very powerful traits of Her own. She knows and weaves fate. She is the Lady with the Mead Cup, who initiates members into the warband. In the way that Eponâ does with the Toutâ (tribe). Her name means “Great Provider”. One who knows fate and its works surely is a seeress as well. She is also, as many Goddesses are, associated with fertility and plenty. She too, is to be honored on Îwos Luguos in our Tegoslougos.

Sulis – Sulis is a Brythonic Goddess, not conclusively linked to Gaul. Her name means “eye” or possibly “sun”. She may be linked to a finding related to one Solimarâ in central France. Though it seems that the Gaulish word for Sun is “Sâwelios” and “Sonno” is used in the Coligny Calendar, both of which have masculine connotations. Proto Indo-Europeans interpreted the Sun to be feminine, however. So, it is possible that She represents an older strain of thought that later changed, or that in Britain, solar deities remained feminine and in Gaul, deities like Grannus, masculine representations of solar deities come to the fore.

Regardless of that, the sex of the Sun, or Moon, for that matter doesn’t necessarily mean that deities of other sexes cannot have traits associated with the Sun or Moon either way. Personally, I see Sulis as something like the PIE Dawn Maiden. Thus, she could be a daughter of the Sun, regardless of the Sun’s sex. As a Goddess of Springs, and with possible solar quailties, as well as my interpretation of Her as the Dawn Maiden, I see her as a Goddess of Springtime. Heralding the dawn of the celestial “day” that is summer.

In this way, a similarity with Anglo-Saxon Éostre can be seen, as the month given to Her name is near the Vernal Equinox. Thus, I find that dedicating that particular event to Sulis to be a reasonable conclusion, though others of course, are free to disagree. As will likely be mentioned a thousand times, Ohio has very pronounced seasons. So, observing that time of year with a holiday of its own is something that I feel is appropriate. Though, to my knowledge, does not happen in ancient or living Celtic Polytheisms from a historical perspective.

Sironâ – Quite an interesting Goddess, as I don’t know of any like Her. Her name is thought to mean “star” if you ask Miranda Green, but Garett Olmsted argues for “heifer”. If so, this associates her with cows, which to Tegoslougos Nemotarvos, and to many other people and groups, are extremely important creatures. I can’t help but think of the name of our galaxy, the Milky Way, which holds both star and cattle connotations. That aside, She is associated also with serpents, eggs, and wells. Furthermore, with healing. Green and Olmsted paint different pictures with regards to Her.

However, I don’t see the two interpretations as mutually exclusive. Gods often have many functions, and do not fit neat little “boxes” that so easily simplify what are often very diverse pictures of who these beings are. Sironâ is clearly a case proving this very thing. To carry things further, it has become more popular to conclude that She may well also be a Moon Goddess. I’m not 100% sure of this, myself. However, if the reference to Druids referring to the Moon as the “all healing” are true, and any synthesis of Green and Olmsted’s interpretations bear out, it is certainly not a far stretch to conclude that she may have lunar aspects as well.

If this is so, it further enumerates Her functions as likely being a Goddess related to renewal, time, and even aquatic tides. Quite the resumé indeed.

Sucellos – Another God of many possible functions is Sucellos. The Romans have equated Him with Silvanus. Today, some think he may be the enigmatic Gaulish Dis from which they claimed descent. Others would say that He is a God of wine making. He has also been compared, like Taranis, to the Irish Dagda. As he is depicted with a cauldron, and a mallet or hammer, which has been compared to An Dagda’s club and cauldron. Others still equate Him to Vulcan and see Him as a God of Smithing. Or, bringing it back to Ireland, Dagda in Donn.

What all of these have in common, are chthonic properties. Save for perhaps Silvanus, which brings to mind woodlands. Whether smith, wine maker, or divine ancestor and father of riches, it is clear that there are many possibilites. I find that sometimes, though certainly not always, synthesis of such theories can help in the Reconstructionist mission of “fleshing out” deities for whom there isn’t much known about. When dealing with peoples who didn’t leave behind whole bodies of mythological works especially, this can be very important.

What we have in many of these theories allows for the possibility of a many faceted God with diverse, but in several cases, relatable functions. At Tegoslougos Nemotarvos, there isn’t much of a reason to be seen as to why He can’t be a God of the Underworld, as well as something of a divine ancestor, who bestows the riches and powers of Dumnos to those who have His blessing. As the riches of the Earth, especially things like minerals and gems could easily be seen as gifts from the Underworld. A seed grows from under the Earth. Metals can be found under the Earth, and the Earth’s mantle contains heat, which sometimes comes out of volcanoes.

Regardless, there is much potential for understanding and possibilities as to who Sucellos is. As many were buried in the Earth when they died, it may be He who hosts them in their next life. It could be that the darkness of Dumnos, through Gods like Sucellos play an important part in the interplay with Albios in the turn of the seasons of Bitus. Perhaps just as an underground dwelling can shelter from the heat of summer, and keep harvests out of the heat, the warmth of summer may have to be returned. Thus Sucellos may play a part in that great cycles of seasons.

Nantosueltâ – Her name means either “meandering brook” if you ask Miranda Green, or “sun warmed valley”, if you ask Garret Olmsted. She is paired with Sucellos on an inscription from Saarebourg, in northeastern France. She is associated with fertility, crows, holds a house on a pole (interesting, no?) bees, or the collection of honey, mead and wine making.

Her pairing with Sucellos may then, if He too is a God of the Underworld, that She is then a Goddess of the Underworld. If this is so, then it may be that She represents the pleasures that await those who pass on. Of course, it is said that the Afterlife contains many possibilities, so that may be but one. There are many depictions of strange beings that imply that the Otherworld is not always a pleasant place.

Ogmios – There isn’t much by way of consensus as to what His name means. He is depicted with a lion’s skin, and a club, like Herakles. He is older, however, his skin is darker, and He is depicted with chains from His tongue that attach to the ears of His followers. Lucan, a Roman writer, well known for his satires and criticisms (though probably unfounded) of the Gauls, spoke of Ogmios and of His followers being glad to be chained to Him. That a Celt in the story mentions His eloquence being a greater asset than physical strength (roughly paraphrasing). He is comparable to the Irish God Ogma, who is said to have invented Ogham writing, and was also known for His prowess of speech. Back to the continent, where there are curse tablets attributed to Him.

It may be that He is falls under the category of Andernados, or Underworld, chthonic Gods. This is likely truth, and with traits of strength as well as eloquence, and of course, knowledge of the verbal and written word, it is fair to say that He must be a very powerful God. I feel as though He may well be a God involved in the creation of the world, mythologically speaking. In some way. Perhaps not the enigmatic Gaulish Dis Pater, but an important player in the matter, as Gods aren’t often depicted as old. Middle aged, perhaps, but not old. I doubt He was depicted as old for no reason.

However, all of that is simply a matter of interpretation to Tegoslougos Nemotarvos. I can’t help but feel that there is more to Him that I do not yet know. What is known, speaks of a powerful God with great knowledge and power, who likely holds the key to many mysteries.

 


 

Ritual Format

Ritual is how we connect to the numinous, the Other, that which is Noibos (sacred). As such, it is the “bread and butter” of communing with Gods, Spirits, and Ancestors. There may well be other ways, but a methodical ritual with the right elements is time tested. Rituals, at least not those of holidays, at Tegoslougos Nemotarvos, are relatively simple. With, at the most, two members at any given time, things that require a decent number of people to pull off are pretty much out of the question. What’s more, we live in a rather small apartment. So, there really isn’t much room for either a large Liccâ (Altar).

So, with a small number of people, and in a small space, regular rituals were devised. to be honest, these rites aren’t that different from many others. As a member of Toutâ Galation, I’d be remiss not to post what is basically the official ritual format of the Toutâ. This is the kind of ritual that I like for holidays, and as I (slowly) start improving my Gaulish, I’ll be able to memorize the words to the rituals. It was created by Segomâros Widugeni (his name pops up a lot in Gaulish Polytheist discourse, and for good reason), who in turn was influenced by Ceisiwr Serith, and his book ‘Deep Ancestors’.

I’ll start by saying the official ritual format is the best that I have found, in my opinion. At home, I like smaller, quicker, and simpler rituals, though. Mainly because it leaves less room for error. Also, because I’m honestly not very good at managing time. Other than the use of Gaulish language, this basic format may work well with other Polytheisms. Regardless, here is the rundown of how I conduct basic, everyday (okay, weekly) ritual observances at Tegoslougos Nemotarvos.

Glanosagos (Purification)

To start, I wash my hands. I haven’t got to the point of making holy water, but I make a point of making my hands clean in a mundane fashion as well. What may differ from others is that I use a special soap (handmade and local, to boot) for rituals. As the Gaulish were using soap relatively early on  (in contrast to the Romans, for example, who used olive oil) I feel like having ritual soap is my own take on the matter. After washing my hands, while they are still wet, I take a small swipe at my forehead, then another down the sides of my face.

I do this to remind myself of a few basic points of Gaulish worldview. One of those is doing things in threes. Which is common among Indo-European cultures in general, admittedly. The second is the high value that the Gauls are said to have placed on the head, believing it to be the seat of the soul. I normally perform rituals after a shower anyway, but the hand washing, along with the touches on the head have a special significance to me.

When doing the hand and head thing (catchy name, I know) I say these words:

Upon washing my hands: Glanolâmiâs (Clean Hands)
Upon swiping my forehead: Glanobritus (Clean Mind)
Upon swiping down my face: Glanoanation (Clean Soul)

If I got the idea from someone, I don’t know who, and I don’t remember seeing it anywhere. As far as I know, I came up with it myself. This helps get me in the right mindset for ritual, which I find very important. I believe one should be free of mental clutter before engaging with the Dêwoi, or any other being in ritual.

Tauselos (Silence)

Generally, I consider silence one of the sweetest and holiest of things. Seriously though, a moment of holy silence has both the sacred connotation of respect for the beings who are the focus of the ritual, and the practical application of getting your thoughts straight before preforming the rite. Also, a moment to find the writings of invocations I have.

Louceton (Light)

This is where I light the candles on the Liccâ (altar), this might be done in Brigantiâ’s name in a larger or holiday rite, but not for the regular ones. I don’t say anything special here, but just light the candles. I normally light the right one, then the left. However, in rites to Taranis, I go left to right. Not for historical reasons, but because west to east is the normal direction of traveling storms. Otherwise, right to left, like the course of the sun. Just my take, not an attested thing to my knowledge.

Uediâ (Prayer)

Self explanatory, I guess. Segomâros kindly provides invocations to some Gods on his own blog. I find them sufficient for regular rites. After which, I occasionally spend some time attempting to commune with the recipient.

Adbertâ (Offering)

I generally do this during the Uediâ. Wine is a good “go to”. I normally use cider, most alcohols work with most Dêwoi. With a few exceptions. Don’t give mead to Eponâ, she provides mead, so, it’s kind of pointless. Same with Rosmertâ. Wine is probably not the best for Sucellus or Nantosuelta, and I don’t believe in giving beer to Lugus because it is he who wins the grain harvest, but as far as I know, I’m the only one with that opinion. I generally don’t offer beer anyway, as I’ve never got any complaints about cider.

However, beer is fine, but if you can afford it, get a decent beer. Unless you’re broke (in that case, totally understandable), you can do better than cheap beer. If you’re not of the age to get alcohol where you live, whole milk is fine. Offering skim milk unless it’s all you’ve got should be blasphemy if it isn’t already. I’m of the mind that apple, pear, or grape juice is okay, but some may disagree with that. I’ve had no issues when offering apple juice when I didn’t have alcohol. Your mileage may vary.

Bread is generally a good choice. I hear of many folks in different traditions shaping loaves out of sacrificial animals. That’s a great idea. Though I’m sure that the Gods can tell the difference between an animal and your skillfully crafted loaf, They may well appreciate the effort. So far, plain old bread hasn’t hurt me any. Get some decent bread if you can, though. Better yet, make it from scratch if you can.

Meat is a good choice, mind what animal you get it from, however. Unless it’s all you’ve got, I’m not of the mind to think something like a hot dog is a good choice, but I don’t know, and perhaps one of you brave souls might try it. In this case, I like to match up the meat with the God, but some do it other ways. I’ve never been in a position to sacrifice a live animal, but if done as quick and humanely as possible, by someone who knows what they’re doing, I don’t oppose it. If you garden or farm, fresh produce probably works fine as well.

Clawiyâ (Closing)

This is when I say my thanks to the recipient of the ritual, and blow out the candles. I may share a bit of drink as well, but that depends on how much time I have or do not.


Well, there you have it. That is how normal rituals are done at Tegoslougos Nemotarvos, along with my own thoughts on various aspects of ritual, because I simply couldn’t resist. I hope you enjoyed the read.

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Bitusernis (A Cosmology)

Within a developed Pagan religion, there is often a presentation of cosmological concepts. Not to mention an enumeration of worlds. Though the number varies in various Indo-European cultures, three is a very common number. John Shaw, in ‘On Indo-European Cosmic Structure’ covers this very well. (The link I shared is to academia.edu, free to sign up, and many articles are free as well.) In Celtic lore, namely Irish, the concept of a Land-Sea-Sky division of worlds is present. In this case, the Sea is the Lower World, the Sky is the Upper World. There’s no absolute proof about the veracity of this in a Gaulish context. However, given that many other cultures had a three world cosmological structure at their core, it is not a stretch to assume this to be the case with the Gaulish peoples.

In Tegoslougos Nemotarvos, we hold to a three world structure as well. Those three worlds are Albios, Bitus, and Dumnos. A bit of explanation is required, though it should be noted that I am far from the first person to come to this conclusion.

Dumnos is the Underworld, the Deep, and can relate not only to Mori (Gaulish for “sea”) but that which is under Bitus (the world in which we live). Under lakes, streams, caves, you name it. That which is under the Earth, home to Andernados (chthonic) beings. This includes not only Dêwoi (Gods) of Dumnos, but at least some Senisterî (Ancestors), and other spirits. Some benevolent (bestowing riches and fertility of the land), others malevolent. It is here that is the womb of the Earth, as we come from it, and our bodies, at the very least, return to it.

Dumnos is associated with things Giamos — that is, darkness, chaotic, chthonic, primal, and of winter.

Bitus is our own world, which other than being the home of humanity, is home to a myriad of other beings. This is also the domain of the Talamondêwoi, which are Gods and Spirits of the Earth. This includes deities tied to locations such as lakes, rivers, mountains, trees, forests, and at this point, if not before, cities. Bitus is acted upon both of the other worlds. Thus we get both order and chaos, to live and die, the turnings of the seasons, and influences from both of the other worlds. We are subject to the full experience of these cycles.

Albios is the upper world. It is home to Uerandos (celestial) beings. The Gods and Spirits of Nemos (the Sky), live here. Generally, these are the beings that provide order, protection, and that which is needed for civilization. To simply classify them as benevolent or malevolent does them a bit of disservice, as it is their job to preserve order. However, through reciprocal exchange with Them, as with the Gods of the other two worlds, They too, may return such gifts with Their benevolence.

Albios is associated with things Samos — that is, light, order, celestial, civilized, and of summer.

One can also posit something that links the Three Worlds. That would be Bilios (the World Tree). Bilios is, in this case, the axis mundi, or pillar of worlds. In this case, comparisons can be made to Yggdrasil in Norse mythology, or Mount Olympus in Greek mythology. The roots of Bilios lie within Dumnos, the trunk in Bitus, with a canopy that stretches to Albios. At the least, reflective of the beliefs of Tegoslougos Nemotarvos.

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