The boar was often the main dish of warrior feasts. Bulls and Cows formed the basis for wealth within the community and were seen as a symbol of the Land and of material wealth. Meat, leather, milk and dairy products were of intense value to the tribe. Dogs are probably the animal most associated with mankind and understandably they appear in many myths. The Celts, as already stated, were an agrarian people, and dogs were important in both hunting and the protection of flocks.
Dogs also seem have been thought of as denoting great strength in a warrior, and ferocity in battle. Cunobelinus, Cuchullain, Cu Roi, Cynon, etc.
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The very Dogs of War. At the healing sanctuary Nodens The Gaelic Nuada at Lydney only one image of the God has been found, whilst at the same site many images of dogs were discovered. The dog was linked with healing, its saliva was thought to heal wounds until recently. The Horse is firmly linked to a number of Celtic Goddesses, Epona, Rhiannon and Macha, and can be seen to be a symbol of sovereignty and political power. These three Goddesses are an example of the pan-Celtic Goddesses that had equine associations, were also Goddesses of Sovereignty, War, and Fertility, and probably served as a Psychopomp, carrying the dead to the Otherworld.
Deities assuming Bird Forms are common throughout I-E myths, particularly as the means for a God to seek a union with a mortal. The myth of Leda and the conception of Castor and Pollux have clear commonality with a number of Celtic Myths. The conception of numerous heroes, including Cuchulainn and Conaire, involve an Otherworld figure taking the form of a bird. In the tale of Aengus and Caer, the Young God transforms himself into a swan to unite with Caer, also in swan-form, who then returns with him to his palace at Brugh na Boinne.
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Wolves in Medieval Celtic Ireland
They were a varied people bound together by language, customs, and religion rather than by any centralized government. They lived off the land, farming and raising stock.
No towns existed apart from impressive hill forts. However, by about B. Celtic society had a clearly defined structure. Highest in rank was the king, who ruled a particular tribe, or group of people.
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Each tribe was divided into three classes: the noble knights and warriors, the Druids religious leaders , and the farmers and commoners. The Druids, who came from noble families, were respected and influential figures. They served not only as priests but also as judges, teachers, and advisers. In addition, it was widely believed that the Druids had magical powers.
The ancient Celts had a vibrant mythology made up of hundreds of tales. They did not, however, record their myths in writing but passed them on orally. Our knowledge of the gods, heroes, and villains of Celtic mythology comes from other sources—mainly Roman.
Yet the Romans sometimes referred to Celtic gods by Roman names, so their accounts were not always reliable. Moreover, because the Romans and Celts were battlefield enemies, Roman descriptions of Celtic beliefs were often unfavorable. The heroine of the Ulster Cycle is the beautiful Deirdre. King Conchobhar intends to marry the young woman, but she falls in love with Naoise and flees to Scotland with him.
When they return, the king has Naoise killed. Forced to lived with Conchobhar, the grief-stricken Deirdre never smiles and makes clear to the king how much she hates him. The story ends with Deirdre taking her own life by striking her head against a rock.
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Deirdre's tragic tale served as inspiration for poetry, plays, and stories by later Irish writers, including William Butler Yeats and J. Much of what is now known about Celtic mythology is based on manuscripts that were prepared by monks in the Middle Ages. Irish collections dating from the s and Welsh collections from the s recount many of the myths and legends of the ancient Celts. Major Gods. The Celts worshiped a variety of gods who appeared in their tales.
Most were all-powerful local deities rather than gods with specialized roles. Each tribe had its own god, who protected and provided for the welfare of that tribe. Some of them had similar characteristics. For example, Dagda, the god of life and death in Ireland—known as the good god—resembled Esus, the "master" god of Gaul.
Some deities had more clearly defined roles. Among these were Lug, or Lugus, a sun god associated with arts and skills, war and healing, and the horned god Cernunnos, who was god of animals and fertility. The Celts also had a large number of important female deities. These included Morrigan, the "Great Queen"—actually three war goddesses, Morrigan, Badb, and Nemain, who appeared as ravens during battle. Another important deity was Brigit, goddess of learning, healing, and metalworking. Epona, the horse goddess, was associated with fertility, water, and death.
Major Themes. Magic, magicians, and the supernatural played a significant role in Celtic mythology. A common theme was the magic cauldron. The cauldron of plenty was never empty and supplied great quantities of food.
The cauldron of rebirth brought slain warriors to life again. Other important themes in the myths were voyages to mysterious and dangerous lands and larger-than-life heroes. The heroes experienced all kinds of adventures and often had to perform impossible tasks before marrying their loved one. Love, romance, and mischief also figured prominently. The gods played tricks on humans and on one another. Animals changed shape at will. The Gundestrup cauldron is a silver vessel thought to have been made sometime around B.