There’s Brigid, the triple Irish goddess of smithing, poetry and healing. There’s The Morrigan, the shapeshifter who gathers the dead from the battlefield. Even the Dagda and Danu’s names have seen a resurgence in modern Celtic paganism. But what about the hundreds of other Celtic deities out there? They’re just waiting on us to speak their names again. To honor their presence on our altars. Here’s fourteen of the lesser-known Celtic gods and goddesses worth including in your pagan practice. Because hey, obscure gods need love too. Celtic deities originated in European regions where the Celtic people once lived. There’s a misconception in modern times that “Celtic” = Irish and/or Scottish culture. Yes, those countries were once ruled by Celtic tribes, but nearly the entire continent of Europe was once part of the Celtic Empire. There are literally hundreds of Celtic deities from the continent of Europe, some of which have been nearly forgotten or pushed to the pagan backburner.
Aengus Mac Og
Aengus Mac Og is one of the Tuatha De Danann, the old gods of Ireland. Son of the Dagda and Boann, Aengus is known as a young god of love and fertility. He often appears as a fit, attractive young man in the prime of his youth and playing the harp. This Celtic deity’s favorite season is Summer and he rules over poetic inspiration. Sometimes he’s also said to be god of “fatal love” or death, so as with any god you’ve never worked with be aware he has two sides (most gods do!) Aengus is the Irish version of the Welsh mythical Mabon or god Maponos. In addition to his domain over young love, he’s a warrior, skilled horseman and sailor.
Lyr calls to those who live on or near the ocean. You’ll know the King of the Sea is calling to you if you are near the ocean and he gives you “gifts”. These gifts are typically large seashells, starfish, or a large bounty of fish. Hear his voice in the ocean waves. Feel his power while swimming or boating on the ocean. He is the Welsh counterpart to the Irish god Lir, and Llyr’s son Manawydan the counterpart to Manannan Mac Lir. If you feel called to work with the ocean in your practice, Llyr would be a powerful ally. Set up an altar with seashells, nets, fish, dolphins, and anything that represents the sea in his name.
Boudicca, an ancient warrior queen of the Celtic Iceni tribe, invoked Andraste whenever she went to battle with the Romans. Therefore, Andraste was the Iceni’s Celtic goddess of war. Her name may mean “unconquerable” or “victory”. The Romans wrote the Iceni tribe sacrificed Roman warriors to Andraste. But keep in mind what we know of the Iceni tribe and Andraste was written by the enemy (the victors). They wrote Boudicca ritually released hares in honor of Andraste before any large battle. Work with Andraste if you are British from the Iceni’s region (modern Norfolk, England). Or if you need a fierce warrior goddess to support you in your efforts. Seek this Celtic deity in forest groves. She may send hares or rabbits as confirmation of her presence.
This Celtic deity has recently emerged from the depths of the rivers in The Netherlands. In fact, a fisherman in the 1970’s accidentally discovered two of her ancient altars eighty-five feet under water and therefore brought her name back in the light. Eventually, they found over a hundred altars in her name buried in the depths of the East Scheldt River. Nehalennia is a goddess of the water, fishermen, traders, travelers, and royalty. Her image is often accompanied by a great hound (possibly wolf) or dolphins with a seashell canopy above her. She is a Celtic deity of healing, the afterlife and prosperity. Honor her with an ocean altar, offerings of water and sea salt, and seek her presence by rivers or oceanside.
From Burgundy, France comes Damona, the Celtic “Holy Cow”. Damona is a Celtic deity of healing and was worshiped in conjunction with other gods like Borvo (see below) and Apollo Moristasgus. The continental Celts were big on healing thermal springs and therefore there was always a goddess or god that ruled over these sacred places. Damona was venerated at Bourbonne-les-Bains, Bourbonne-Lancy, and Alise-Sainte-Reine. This Celtic goddess granted healing dreams to those who visited her springs. Invoke her for healing during ritual baths or if you have the opportunity to visit her thermal springs.
Borvo was honored in the company of Damona as a Celtic deity of thermal springs in Gaul (modern France), Germany, Portugal and The Netherlands. People brought offerings to the springs for Borvo, in hopes for healing in exchange. The Romans equated Borvo to their god Apollo. In some regions, Borvo was accompanied by the goddess Bormana. The root of his name Boru translates “to bubble”, referring to the bubbling springs in his domain. Call on him for healing and in honoring springs and the element water.
Another once-popular Celtic deity of thermal springs, Grannus was worshiped throughout Germany, parts of Hungary and Brittany. Eventually he merged with the Roman god Apollo. His name may mean one of three things: bright/shining, an old man with a long beard, or the sun. Although we can’t deny his name sounds like “grain” too. Grannus’ most famous shrine is the springs at Aachen, Germany which were once called Aquae Granni “waters of Grannus”. Just like with the other thermal spring deities, if you slept at the Grannus’ springs, he would grant you healing dreams or visit you directly in your sleep. His consorts are Diana, Sirona, and the nymphs.
Another continental Celtic goddess, Sulis was part of a group of goddesses called the Suleviae. More healing goddesses linked to thermal hot springs. To the Romano-British, Sulis was called Sulis Minerva and was worshiped at the spring in Bath, England. She was portrayed as a Mother Goddess and well-known for warding off evil to those who gave her offerings. Her name could mean the Sun or Eye (hence warding off the evil eye is one of her domains). Call on Sulis for healing and to break curses. One hundred thirty inscriptions have been found at the hot springs of which call on Sulis to curse the individuals who desecrate her springs or her name.
Are you sensing a pattern emerging? Sequana is yet another deity whose worship ties her to the springs that are the source of the Seine River in Burgundy, France. A healing shrine was erected for her there in ancient times. Followers of Sequana brought offerings to her shrine including food, drink, and money. They believed this Celtic goddess healed respiratory and eye illnesses. She is depicted riding in a duck-boat or with ducks as her “familiars”. Invoke her for healing and if working with rivers or the water element in your practice.
His is a name that shouldn’t be forgotten, especially to those who use the Ogham as a divination system. One of the Tuatha De Danann, Ogma is the inventor of the Celtic writing system called Ogham. His name means “to cut”, which refers to the slash marks in the Ogham alphabet. Ogma is known for the Ogham and for his strength and skill in battle. His brothers are the Irish Celtic gods The Dagda and Lugh. One of his epithets is “sun-face”, making him a solar deity.
We should take a trip back to the British Isles and Ireland and meet a goddess named Cailleach. Cailleach, also called the Old Woman, is an ancient creator goddess and mythical being widely known in Scotland and Ireland. There are tales of her giant stature and how she dropped stones from her apron which inevitably shaped the land. In addition to her being a creator deity, she’s a crone goddess and often depicted with a disheveled, hag appearance. However, if you ever work with this goddess, you’ll come to find out she’s much more than an Old Woman. She is ALL phases of a woman’s life. She rules witchcraft, initiation, transformation, and much more. In some tales, she rides a bear or wolf!
There seems to be a recurrent theme of solar gods who are also considered healing gods. Belenos, aka Bel or Belenus, is an obscure Celtic deity who originated with the Continental Celts. Some believe his worship spread all the way to Ireland in the form of the god Bel, whose name is uttered in the sabbat Beltane on a yearly basis. He particularly enjoys the Summer and is also associated with fire and water.
Cliodhna is a Celtic goddess and a fairy queen of Munster, an ancient province of Ireland. She’s also depicted in later times as a siren, witch and Queen of the Banshees. Being the daughter of a sea god, Cliodhna’s sacred place is the sea and she lives on an island in the Otherworld in a castle made of glass. Call on her for inspiration, to work faery magick, for shadow work, witchcraft and to work with water energy.
Some conclusions have been made that Nantosuelta may be another aspect of the war goddess the Morrigan. Nantosuelta is a goddess whose cult was prominent in Celtic Gaul (modern France) particularly in Northeastern France, where her altars have been discovered. Nantosuelta is believed to be a goddess of death, crows, and abundance as she’s depicted holding a pole with a beehive at the end. And accompanied by a crow. Her name may mean “swelter”, linking her to the sun.