Various Non-Canon Gaulish Myths

A few years ago, I wrote these myths. The intention was never to replace what was lost, but it served as an interesting writing prompt. I’ve rediscovered these myths hidden in my drive after these years. I did a bit of editing to save your eyes, but I hope you find them interesting nonetheless.

How Gaul Came To Be

Long ago, there were six mighty gods. Curiosity sent them from their homeland. Taranis, the eldest, discovered a rich fertile land far in the west. Taking up his sword, he slew the giants residing in the land and welcomed his brothers to join him and make the land their own.

Sucellus, the youngest, forged a people from the earth. His brothers marveled at this, and loved the people.

Belenos, the second youngest of the brothers remained in the homeland. He shared with his brothers his gifts of arts, blessings of life and light. His brothers shared these gifts in turn with the people, never once giving the youngest credit or praise, but Belenos did not mind.

Cernunnos, the middling, broke oaths and taught the people economics, dark magic, and gave them knowledge of the underworld. For this he was banished by his brothers, to sulk in the shadows and the in-betweens for all time.

Camulos, divided the people into tribes, families, nations, alliances and clearly marked the borders and the neutral land. He decreed these divisions to not be fixed. That land can be lost, he told the people but only if the people lacked the will and strength to maintain them.

Ogmios, the second oldest and the wisest of the brothers crafted rules, laws and contracts and whatever else the land needed to be ruled fairly.

From these brothers and the rich lands, spirits sprung forth. Some of these spirits gained favor from the people and joined the brothers, becoming gods and goddesses themselves. Wars were fought, won and lost as surely as the seasons turned, until the day of Alesia, where the lands of Gaul wept tears of blood.

 

Taranis and The Serpent

Long ago, there was a village on the river. This was not just any river, this was the mightiest of the rivers in Gaul, the Seine. One day a powerful river serpent took up residence in the river, far too close to the village. As small children would play on the riverbank, the serpent would rise out of the water and take away the screaming children into its lair at the deepest part of the river.

The goddess Sequana, Lady of the Seine plead to her divine family for one to come strike down the serpent.

“Please!” She told them. “I am dying. The people can not travel. The creature’s filth has killed the fish and made the water undrinkable”

The heavens listened. Tanaris took up his blade and descended from the sky in the form of a massive storm. He struck down at the serpent in one blow, removing the head from the body.

The body, Taranis gave to Sequana, it revitalized the ecosystem of the river, bringing back the fish, using the massive snake-skin to  filter the water so it became clean and pure once more.

The head, Taranis gave it to the people of the village. The people were grateful to their Mighty Lord and placed the head in the nearby Nemeton, where it remained until the day Alesia fell.

 

The Fall of Norticum

Belenos struggled to maintain their homeland in his brothers’ absence. The people of the Rome sought to claim his land.

For three nights the Romans besieged the city. For three nights Belenos hurled molten rock from the sky at the assembled Legions. On the fourth night Belenos called out to his brothers for aid, his strength all but gone.

But they did not hear. Alesia had fallen ages before.

And so Norticum too, fell.

 

The Folly of Brennus (4th Century BCE)

There was once a clever Gaulish general by the name of Brennus. His heroism earned him victory against the legions of the Rome at the battle of Allia.

Sensing weakness in Rome, Brennus marched on the capital defeating the newly mustered legions that blocked his path with the ease of his skilled soldiers. With the blessings of war and bounty, Brennus took the city of Rome and cut them off of the rest of their Legions.

All did not go his way however, as he was unable to march on the palace and claim total victory and the spoils that went along with. The spiteful Romans took their gold with them into their walled palace.

Frustration took the Gauls, who were unable to breach the the Capitoline Hill. A ransom was agreed on, one thousand pounds of gold.

But Brennus was unsatisfied, and his greed cost him the favor of the gods. He threw his sword on the scales and declared;

“Woe to the conquered!”

Brennus delayed and delayed the ransom payment, insisting on more and more gold to be paid. Eventually far-flung legions marched onto Rome and destroyed the Gauls.

And so Brennus met his end. For his folly, he was cursed to be reborn as a Mayfly one thousand thousand times, forever running out of time.

Understanding Belenos

As the name might or might not suggest, I’ve gotten a unique introduction to the life of a Galatis not through the ever-chthonic Cernunnos, but through the shining one known as Belenos.

In modern Gaulish Polytheism, those I call belhounds are far and few between. Several established Gaulish Polytheists have gone as far as simply equate Belenos to an alternative name of Grannus due to His association to the sun, or even still, simply calling the term ‘Shining One’ a title that has been given to several dewoi.

Both these seem incredibly silly to me, but I don’t blame those for drawing those lines. There’s no immediate demand when modern Gauls picture the god, and He might feel a bit similar to modern abrahamic gods and might not carry the exciting, almost alien or primal feel the Others might bring to the table.

First, let’s go over the significance. Belenos was the most wide-spread of the Gaulish gods, found in Iberia, present-day Belgium and northern Italy, Austria, and of course all over Gaul itself. He even landed himself the spot as the national god of Norticum, an independent kingdom in modern northern Italy that later became a Roman Province. In fact, during the siege of Norticum’s capital of Aquileia by the Romans, soldiers reported seeing Belenos defending the city from the air.

According to Jack Lindsay, in his article “Canudos and Beleños”, Belenos was on his way to becoming a high god of the Remi, if he wasn’t already, much like He was in the kingdom Norticum.  Not only that, Belenos is one of the oldest truely Gaulish gods. All in all, He’s a big deal.

But now that you know what, what exactly is Belenos? What He, you know do? First, I’ll come back to His association with the sun, which is everything but true. When it comes to polytheistic gods, many struggle with putting their gods into categories. This probably comes from Greco-Roman ideals. Aphrodite is love and Posideon is ocean. Well, when it comes to Belenos it is true that solar attributes are present, and that sunlight is a gift, but He is not the sun.  Historical evidence comes from that fact there is already a sun-god in Gaulish Polytheism, and that Belenos was brought forth in festivals of light & fire, and had many sacred springs devoted to Him. So, we already get this image of an elemental deity of light, fire, and water.

To me, these together represent a being of immense interconnectiveness to the natural world through His pastoral aspect. Not only that, but He’s a giant. Giant not in a physical sense, as Belenos doesn’t necessarily have a clear-cut form, but a huge, bright, golden consciousness that genuinely cares. Healing does come from Him, but not in the sense mending a broken arm, but in the sense that He can heal your heart and mind.

So what we have here is an ancient and far-flung god who likes to make things grow, keeping you warm, and making you feel loved. Hardly dark & edgy, I know.

If you reach out to Him, I’m sure He’ll be there. A little bit of sunlight on your skin, the smell of the earth after a good rain. That’s Belenos.