A local deity (in Bath) and a powerful ally. 🙂



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In Celtic mythologyBelBelenos (also Belenus) was a deity worshipped in GaulCisalpine Gaul, and Celtic areas of Austria, Britain and Spain. He is particularly associated with Cornwall, West Cornwall being anciently called Belerion, the place of Bel. He was the Celtic sun god and had shrines from Aquileia on the Adriatic to Kirkby Lonsdale in England.[1][2]

The etymology of the name is unclear. Suggestions include “shining one,”[3] ”the bright one”[4] and “henbane god”.[5]

In the Roman period he was identified with Apollo.[1] There are currently 51 known inscriptions dedicated to Belenus, mainly concentrated in Aquileia and Cisalpine Gaul, but also extend into Gallia Narbonensis,Noricum, and far beyond.[4] Images of Belenus sometimes show him to be accompanied by a female, thought to be the Gaulish deity Belisama.[4]


In ancient Gaul and Britain, Apollo may have been equated with fifteen or more different Celtic names and epithets (notably GrannosBorvoMaponusMoritasgus and others).[1] The legendary king Belinus inGeoffrey of Monmouth‘s History of the Kings of Britain is probably also derived from this god. The name of the ancient British king Cunobelinus means “hound of Belinos”.

An epithet of Belenus may have been Vindonnus. Apollo Vindonnus had a temple at Essarois near Châtillon-sur-Seine in Burgundy. The sanctuary was based on a curative spring. Part of the temple pediment survives, bearing an inscription to the god and to the spirit of the springs and, above it, the head of a radiate sun-deity. Many votive objects were brought to the shrine, some of oak, and some of stone. Some offerings take the form of images of hands holding fruit or a cake; others represent the parts of the body requiring a cure. In many cases the pilgrims appear to have suffered from eye afflictions.[6]

Teutorix has been suggested as an epithet of Belenus as borrowed into Germanic religion.

Name variants

  • Belanu, amongst the Ligurians
  • Belanos
  • Belemnus
  • Belenos
  • Belenus
  • Belinos
  • Belinu
  • Belinus
  • Bellinus
  • Belus
  • Belyn in Welsh
  • LlywelynBelenus forms the root for the welyn in this compound Welsh name (w < b).


  1. a b c Nicole Jufer & Thierry Luginbühl (2001). Les dieux gaulois : répertoire des noms de divinités celtiques connus par l’épigraphie, les textes antiques et la toponymie. Paris: Editions Errance. ISBN 2-87772-200-7.
  2. ^ www.Roman-Britain.org. Roman Inscriptions of Britain (RIB 611).
  3. ^ Mythology – General Editor C. Scott ISBN 978-1-84483-061-9
  4. a b c Koch, John T. (2006). Celtic Culture: A Historical Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, Inc. ISBN 1-85109-440-7.
  5. ^ Peter Schrijver, “On Henbane and Early European Narcotics”, Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie vol.51 (1999), pp.17-45
  6. ^ Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend. Miranda Green. Thames and Hudson Ltd. London. 1997

Religion of the Ancient Celts  by J.A. Macculloch:


The name Belenos/Belinus/Belenus found over a wide area, but mainly in Aquileia, comes from belo-s, bright, and probably means “the shining one.” It is thus the name of a Celtic sun-god, equated with Apollo in that character. If he is the Belinus referred to by Geoffrey of Monmouth,64 his cult must have extended into Britain from the Continent, and he is often mentioned by classical writers, while much later Ausonius speaks of his priest in Gaul.65 Many place and personal names point to the popularity of his cult, and inscriptions show that he, too, was a god of health and of healing-springs. The plant Belinuntia {27}was called after him and venerated for its healing powers.66 The sun-god’s functions of light and fertility easily passed over into those of health-giving, as our study of Celtic festivals will show.

Britannia.com :

Belenos, later known as Beli Mawr (the Great), was the Celtic God of the Sun, representing the curative powers of the Sun’s heat. His festival of Beltane, when bonfires were lit to welcome in the Summer and encourage the Sun’s warmth, was held on May 1st, and is remembered in today’s May Day festivities. His symbols were the horse (as shown, for example, by the clay horse figurine offerings at Belenos’ Sainte-Sabine shrine in Burgundy), and also the Wheel (as illustrated on the famous Gundestrup Cauldron). Perhaps, like Apollo, whom he became identified with, Belenos was thought to ride the Sun across the sky in a horse-drawn chariot. Indeed, a Celtic model horse and wagon, carrying a gilded sun-disc, has been found at Trundholm in Denmark. Sometimes he is illustrated riding a single horse, throwing thunder-bolts (hence an occasional identification with Jupiter) and using his symbolic radiating wheel as a shield, as he tramples the chthonic forces of a snake-limbed giant. This personification is similar to the classic depiction of the Archangel St. Michael defeating the Devil. Sacred pagan hills associated with Belenos, are thought to have had their dedications transferred to this saint (or sometimes St. George) by the early Christians. Well known examples include St. Michael’s Mount (Cornwall) and the churches of St. Michael on Brent Tor (Devon), and Burrow Mump andGlastonbury Tor (Somerset): All on a supposed ley line that faces the Rising Sun at Beltane. He may also have been worshipped on Dragon Hillbelow the great Uffington White Horse in Berkshire. It has been suggested the Welsh form of his name, Beli Mawr, lived on into Arthurian romanceas King Pellinore of Listinoire.

Source 3:


Beltane (AKA L� Bealtaine, Bealltainn, Beltain, Beltaine, Boaltinn, Boaldyn, Belotenia, G?yl Galan Mai) is the Celtic fire festival that either marks the mid point between spring and summer or for others the first day of summer.

The name Beltane means ‘fires of Bel’. The god bel is also known as Belen, Belenus, Belinus,Bellinus, B�l�nos, Belennos, Belenos, Bel, Bil�: Is The Celtic god of light and healing, “Bel” means “shining one,” or in Irish Gaelic, the name “bile” translates to “sacred tree.” It is thought that the waters of Danu, the Irish All-Mother goddess, fed the oak and produced their son, The Dagda. As the Welsh Beli, he is the father of Arianrhod by Don.

Patron of sheep and cattle, Bel’s festival is Beltane, one of two main Celtic fire festivals. Beltane celebrates the return of life and fertility to the world — marking the beginning of summer and the growing season. Taking place on Sunset April 30, Beltane also is sometimes referred to as “Cetsamhain” which means “opposite Samhain.” The word “Beltaine” literally means “bright” or “brilliant fire,” and refers to the bonfire lit by a presiding Druid in honour of Bile.

“Some believe this deity is the equivalent of Belatucadros, the consort of Belisama, another patroness of light, fire, the forge and crafts. Belatucadros, whose name means “fair shining one” or possibly “the fair slayer,” is the god of destruction and war and transports the dead to Danu’s “divine waters.” Celtic deities often reign over seemingly contradictory themes. In the case of Belatucadros, death was simply a pathway to rebirth in the Other world, thus linking the two themes together. However, according to Ross’s Pagan Celtic Britain, historically the worship of Belatucadros among the Celts was confined only the north-western region of Britain and has never been associated with the festival of Beltane, healing or with a consort (pg. 235).

It has been suggested that the mythological king, Beli Mawr, in the story of Lludd and Llefelys in The Mabinogion, is a folk memory of this god. In Irish mythology, the great undertakings of the Tuatha D� Danann and the Milesians — the original supernatural inhabitants of Eiru and their human conquerors, respectively — began at Beltane. The Milesians were led by Amairgen, son of Mil, in folklore reputed to be the first Druid[1]

Since this is a pagan festival we have to acknowledge that this festival would mark a significant event in the year and the life of our ancient pagan brothers and sisters so again their thoughts of the future influenced the ritual. So it was a time for selecting a mate for the future and appeasing the god so that life stock and food would be plentiful.

This festival is a fire festival so many rituals involved the use of fire Cattle were often passed between two fires and the properties of the flame and the smoke were seen to ensure the fertility of the herd and young men and women would collect blossoms in the woods and lighting fires in the evening this was often a courting ritual which lead to marriage that same night or at very least during the coming year.

Today many Pagans believe that at Beltane the God (to whom the Goddess gave birth at the Winter Solstice) achieves the strength and maturity to court and become lover to the Goddess. So although what happens in the fields has lost its significance for most Pagans today, the creation of fertility is still an important issue.

Beltane has always been seen as one of the most visually sexually rituals with fires and Maypoles and it openness to sex and fertility.

The may pole was introduced to Britain and the Celts and it original use has been lost but it practice survived Christianisation, albeit losing any original meaning that it had. While some see it as a phallic symbol and representation of the male aspect of the deity other see it as a community symbol, which entwined people together. In Britain and Ireland, the maypole was found primarily in England and in areas of Wales, Hutton, Ronald (1996). The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Page 233Scotland and Ireland, which were under English influence. As the historian Ronald Hutton remarked, “there is no real evidence to indicate when [the maypole] first arrived in the British Isles,”[2] although the earliest recorded evidence comes from a Welsh poem written by Gryffydd ap Adda ap Dafydd in the mid-14th century, in which he described how people used a tall birch pole at Llanidloes, central Wales.[2] Literary evidence for maypole use across much of Britain increases in later decades, and “by the period 1350-1400 the custom was well established across southern Britain, in town and country and in both Welsh-speaking and English-speaking areas.”

1 Bile by Lisa Spindler http://www.pantheon.org/articles/b/bile.html

2 Hutton, Ronald (1996). The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain. Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press. Page 233

Belenos: a pan-Celtic god (The Shining One)


Celtic Gods: The pan-Celtic God, Belenos (The Shining One)

A Celtic Deity, also known as Belen, Belenus, Belinus, Bellinus, Bélénos, Belennos, Belenos, Bel, Bilé: The Shining God
Belenos is unsusual in Celtic belief, as this deity (under the various version of his name) is known throughout the Celtic world. He is also rememberd in place names and personal names throughout the Celtic lands. His symbols are the horse an wheel and his name means ‘The Shining God’. He is one of the Celtic high gods, and is probably a solar deity.

Synonyms: Belen, Belenus, Belinus, Bellinus Bélénos, Belennos, Belenos, Bel, Bilé
Cym, Bryth, Gaul, Goi: The Shining God.

Posibly one of the most widespread of all the Celtic deities he is known from Italy (Cis-Alpine Gaul), Gaul, Britain and Ireland.

In Britain the personal name Bellinus occurs at Binchester (Vinovia), County Durham a name derived from the god-form Belenus, the native Brythonic form of which would be Belenus. Traces of this name having been found at Maryport. To the continental Brython the Cult of Belenus possessed a particular status in that it is mentioned in a number of Classical Literary sources. Ausonius was a poet from Bordeaux, writing in the later 4th century AD and alludes to sanctuaries to Belenus in Aquitania. Tertullian talks of the cult of Belenus in the Norican Alps (Apologeticus 24,7); and Herodian mentions Belenus’ worship at Aquileia in North Italy (History of the Empire after Marcus,8,3.6). In Ireland Beli is known as Bilé and is referred to as ‘The Father of Gods and Men’.

The Celtic fire festival on the first of May, known as Beltane, (the fires of Bel) is probably derived from the name of this deity. Beltane fires were lit to encourage the sun’s warmth. These fires also had restorative properties and cattle were herded between them before being loosed on the new spring pastures. From this it is likely that Beli was a fire deity, a patron of flame and the sun’s restorative powers (which explains his classical association with Apollo). Originally he may have been a pastoral deity and in Cymric myth is associated with cattle, sheep and cropt. Though this may be because Beltane was the time that herds were moved to the high pastures.

His symbols were the horse (as shown, for example, by the clay horse figurine offerings at Belenos’ Sainte-Sabine shrine in Burgundy), and also the Wheel (as illustrated on the famous Gundestrup Cauldron).

The Irish Bilé is a god of death and husband to Dana. In the tale of Lludd and Llefelys, the folk memory of Beli represents him as Belen o Lŷn, son of Manogan and father to Lludd and Llefelys. Both Beli and Lludd lend their names to sites in London; Billingsgate and Ludgate, respecitvely. Beli’s name is also found in the name of one of the most notable Brythonic chieftains before the Roman invasion, Cunobelinos (or, in Brythonic, Cunobel), the hound of Bel.

In Gaulish mythology Belenus’ consort was the goddess Belisama.

It is unlikely, as some have suggested, that the Cymric deity Beli Mawr is etymologically related to Belenos, as though the migration of Brython to old and middle Cymric this is far more likely to yield the name Belen or Belyn. Indeed, this is the name which we see in the Cymric form (Cynfelen) of the Catuvellauni leader during the Claudian invasion of Britain, Cunobelinos (the hound of Belinos). Inded, the tribe name Catuvellauni itself means ‘The Host of Belinos’ and their most well-known leader Cassivellaunos’ name means ‘The Devotee of Belenos’. There is also the figure of ‘Belen o Leyn’ who figures in triad 62 0f the Trioedd Ynys Prydain and is preserved today in the place-name Tyddyn Belyn near Tudweilog on the Llŷn Peninsula ELlSG. Rather, Beli Mawr is more likely derived from the name of the Gaulish deity Bolgios.

Belenos’ name is derived from the reconstructed proto-Celtic elements *belo- (bright/shining), the deicific particle -n- and the masculine ending -os. Thus Belenos is ‘The Shining God’.


The Deities and Myths of Bealtaine


(Left, while this artifact from Aquae Sulis was first identified as a male version of a gorgon, some scholars think it may be the image of a solar deity similar to Bel.)

By Francine Nicholson

Bealtaine (pronounced BAWL-tuh-nuh) was the ancient Celtic feast most obviously associated with the sun. Literally, Bealtaine meant “bright fire,” although medieval Irish glossators associated it with the god, Bel, who was probably a version of the ancient Celtic god of fire and light, Belenos.

Belenos: the Shining One

Belenos meant “bright, brilliant” or “shining,” a fitting name for a solar god. This solar being was known throughout the Celtic areas of western Europe under several different names: Belenos, Belenus, Bel. At least 31 inscriptions citing Belenos or Apollo Belenos (as he was sometimes known in Roman-dominated areas) have been found by archaeologists, more citations than almost any other Celtic deity. His name, nature, and function are testified to by classical commentators and the imagery of sculpture and votive offerings associated with Belenos.

In Roman-dominated areas on the Continent and the island of Britain, he was associated with Apollo. One count of inscriptions inventoried by archaeologists noted that there were more dedications to Belenos than almost any Celtic other deity on the Continent. In some areas, he was a healing deity; in others, he was the protector of the town. In Ireland, only his name survives in the name of the summer feast, but we can assume that he was considered a protector of health and happiness and promoter of fertility.

Tertullian said that Belenus was the patron of the province of Noricum in the Alps (part of modern Austria). (Maier, 34).

Herodianos wrote that Belenus was the patron protector of Aquileia in northern Italy. (Green, Dicitonary, 30-31) In his account, Herodianos said that in 238BCE, when the emperor Maximinus besieged Aquileia, oracles circulated asserting that Belenus would protect the town. Several histories of the battle contain the testimony of soldiers of Maximinus saying that they saw an image of the god over the city, intervening during the battle. (Maier, 34)

Although Aquileia has been the site of most of the Italian inscriptions to Belenus, others have been found at Iulium Carnicum, Concordia, Altinum, Rome, and Rimini. (Green, Dicty, 31; MacKillop, 34; Maier, 34)

Ausonius, a poet writing in the late fourth century CE referred to sanctuaries of Belenus at Bordeaux.

Other Gaulish inscriptions to Belenus were found in Aquitaine, Provence, Burgundy, and other places. The inscriptions were found on sculptures and votive objects dedicated to Belenus, especially at healing shrines. An unusual find was a carved gem recovered at Nîmes; the gem bore an inscription to Belenus and an image of an old man wearing a tunic with solar symbols (Green, Dicty, 31).

The Romano-Celtic healing shrine at Sainte-Sabine in Burgundy was dedicated to Apollo Belenus. A frequent practice at such healing shrines was to leave objects dedicated to the god. Sometimes these objects depicted the body part to be healed; other times, they symbolized the deity being addressed. In either case, the object was often regarded as “payment” for the favor being sought. At Saint-Sabine, stone carvings of infants in swaddling clothes or small beds have been found, along with clay figurines of horses. Scholars assume that pilgrims sought blessings and cures for the infants represented by the sculptures. The horses, solar symbols, probably symbolized Belenos himself. (Green, Gods, 152)

At Bourbon-les-Bains in northeast France, the healing waters were also associated with Belenos. The former name of Bérenton (Belenton) in Brittany may indicate a one-time connection with Belenos.

On the Continent, Belenus was associated with all the functions the Celts expected of solar gods: protection, fertility, healing, regeneration after death. In places like Aquileia, the deity’s protective aspects were emphasized, while in other spots, his healing aspects were the focus. Although his name often appeared alone, it was linked with Apollo who could be hunter, warrior, and musician as well as healer.

The name Bellinus appears in British evidence. Also, a Celtic god named Belatucadros who was venerated in what is now northern England may be a local variation of Belenos. In the 25 inscriptions found so far, Belatucadros is chiefly a tribal protector, as Belenus was at Aquileia. However, in Britain, was sometimes equated with Mars (Ross, 202-3, 214) whereas Belenus was associated with Apollo on the Continent, except where his name was used alone.

In Ireland, Belenos survives only in the name of the holiday and possibly in placenames like Beltany Ring (Donegal) where a stone head was found.

Other solar beings may also have been associated with Bealtaine. In Ireland, the figure of Fionn mac Cumhaill has definite solar associations. Figures often known collectively as the “young god” are found in myths associated with Bealtaine. Examples of the young god were Maponos in Gaul, Mabon in Britain, and the Irish Aengus mac ind Oc who was said to have been conceived and delivered on a single, lengthened day. This imagery suggests an association with Bealtaine, although it is not stated explicitly in the story of his birth.

A wide range of stories are depicted as occurring at Bealtaine.

Comments from Facebook Group members:

If you are considering related gods, you may also wish to look at the Norse god Baldr or Bale. Both forms are evident from place names in Norfolk. At Bawdeswell originally Baldereswella there is even now a spring in a forest dedicated to his name and at which heathens practise seasonal rites. Also at Bale in Norfolk a (sacred) grove survives outside the church. Balder according to the Eddas “is so beautiful and so bright that light shines from him”.

Bel gave his name to a place near where I live called Belton. There is also in the village an iron age barrow called Bell Hill and a Bell lane next door to the church, which appropriately is on a hill top. This is Belton Suffolk. A number of other Beltons are about. I believe that names with Belling and Billing man also be concerned with the same deity.

He is Bélénos in French, major player in Gaulle and gave his name to many a place (Bel-Air, Belmont etc even the famous spring of Barenton could come from Beleton) Bile in Irish mythology and Beli in Wales (?) and maybe Baldr amongst germanic people. Beltaine gets its name from him…you’ll busy researching him

Gillian Taber says “Shrines to Belenus have been found in Aquileia on the Adriatic and the Scottish town of Inveresk amongst other places. Healing springs are often associated with this god, tying in with the healing influence of the sun and of heat. Aquae Borvonis, Bourbon-Les-Bains (N.E. France) is a well known therapeutic waters site closely associated with Belenus worship.
Another interesting reference associated with Belenus is the name ‘Henbane’. It is thought that the connection comes from the word ‘Belisa’, the name of the Henbane plant which is known as a psychoactive drug. This is likely to be where Belenus’ connection with prophesy began. Being aware of the famous Oracle at Delphi and Apollo’s relationship with that site, it forges another link claiming Belenus as the Celtic Apollo.

Wales has another connection via the ancestor deity, Beli, also thought to have derived from Belenus.

The snakes may show a connection to prophetic tradition in which pythons feature eg oracle at Delphi; they could possibly be pythons, since the artist would not have ever seen a python, would just know them as snakes, although of course other snakes are also connected to prophesy.

 It would be good to see a full body image, to see if he holds the serpents, one in each hand, wears them or even if they are a part of him.

SEE ALSO: http://belenos.co.uk/2013/09/09/history-of-belenos/






IMAGES (see separate post):