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The Probert Encyclopaedia of Celtic Mythology

ACRASIA

In English mythology, Acrasia was an enchantress who lived in the Bower of Bliss on the Wandering Island. She transformed her lovers into monstrous shapes and kept them captive. Sir Guyon having crept up on her, threw a net over her and bounder her in chains of adamant; then broke down her bower and burnt it to ashes.
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AMAETHON

In Celtic mythology, Amaethon was a son of Don and god of agriculture.
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AN TIGH GEATHA

In druidry an tigh geatha refers to the outer order.
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ANDRASTE

In British mythology, Andraste is a warrior goddess. She was invoked by Queen Boadicea when she revolted against the Roman invaders.
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ANGUS OG

In Irish mythology, Angus Og is the god of love and beauty.
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ANNWN

In British mythology, Annwn is the other world.
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ARDUINA

In Celtic mythology Arduina is the goddess of woodlands, wild life, the hunt and the moon; Guardian and Eponym of the Ardennes Forest.
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ARIANRHOD

In Welsh Celtic mythology, Arianrhod or Arianrod (Silver-Wheel or Silver- Circle) was the virgin white goddess of birth, initiation, death and rebirth. She Who turns the circle of heaven. She was a sister and wife of Gwydion.
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ASCAPART

In English mythology, Ascapart was a thirty-feet tall giant, with a space of twelve inches between his eyes. He was defeated by Sir Bevis (Bevois) of Southampton.
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AVALON

Avalon is the place where King Arthur is said to have gone after disappearing. It is a sort of fairy land.
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AYWELL

In Celtic mythology, Aywell was the protector of the independent peoples of Northern England. He was the husband of Mm.
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BADB

In Irish mythology, Badb was one of the giantess forms of Morrigan. She was sufficiently tall to place a foot on either side of a river.
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BALOR

In Celtic mythology, Balor was the demon king, god of death. He ruled the Fomori, demons who lived in the impenetrable darkness of the sea's depths and in lakes and dark pools in the upper world. He was killed by his son, Lug, who shot him with a sling-shot.
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BANSHEE

In Gaelic folklore, a banshee is a female spirit whose wailing outside a house foretells the death of one of its inhabitants.
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BARD

A bard was an order of druid. The bard's office was to supervise, regulate and to lead. His robe was sky blue, symbolising justice and truth.
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BEALTAINN

Bealtainn was an annual Celtic ceremony for the purification of cattle by passing them through sacred fire or smoke.
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BEBHIONN

In Celtic mythology, Bebhionn was a giantess from the Maiden's Land far off the West coast of Ireland known for her beauty and seduction.
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BEL

Bel (Belenos) was the Celtic god of light.
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BELTANE

Beltane is the Celtic festival of the god of light. It is held in Scotland on May the 1st, and is the spring equivalent of Halloween. The Beltane of the Irish was celebrated on the 21st of June. Beltane was usually celebrated by kindling fires on the hills and eminences. In early times it was compulsory on all to have their domestic fires extinguished before the Beltane fires were lighted, and it was customary to rekindle the former from the embers of the latter. Formerly in England dancing took place to may poles in village greens to celebrate the festival, but this practice subsided during the 1970s and is now almost extinct.
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BLADUD

In English mythology, Bladud was the father of King Lear, and was said to have founded Bath having been cured by its waters.
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BLODEUWEDD

In Celtic mythology, Blodeuwedd was the wife of Lleu. She was created by Gwydion and Math from the blossoms of the oak, broom and meadow-sweet and presented to Lleu as a bride.
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BLUNDERBORE

In Cornish mythology, Blunderbore was a giant. He intended to kill Jack the Giant Killer, and so put Jack to bed, but Jack crept under the bedstead and hid a billet of wood in the bed in place of him. Blunderbore entered the room later and smashed at the bed with his club, smashing the wooden billet to pieces. The next morning Jack went down to breakfast, which needless to say surprised Blunderbore. They then embarked on an eating contest, Jack hiding vast quantities of food in a bag concealed about his person until Blunderbore couldn't eat any more. Jack then cut open the bag to reveal how much he had gorged and Blunderbore, to do likewise cut his own throat and killed himself.
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BOANN

In Irish mythology, Boann is the goddess of rivers.
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BORR

In Celtic mythology, Borr was the son of Ymer and the father of Odin, Ville, Ve and Hertha.
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BORS

In Arthurian mythology, Bors was a king of Gaul and the uncle of Lancelot. He helped Arthur secure the throne.

In Arthurian mythology, Bors was a nephew of Lancelot and one of the knights of the Round Table. He was rewarded for his purity by the vision of the Holy Grail.
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BRAN

In Celtic mythology Bran was a giant who delighted in battle and carnage. He was the son of Lir (or Llyr) and a mortal woman. He led the giants from Wales on their invasion of Ireland, being killed by a poisoned arrow in the battle with Evnissyen which followed the deposition of the Irish king.
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BRANWEN

In Celtic mythology, Branwen is a goddess of love. She was a daughter of Llyr.
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BRIGHID

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In Gaelic mythology, Brighid (Brigit) was the goddess of metalwork, smiths, poetic inspiration and therapy. With Christianity she evolved into Saint Brigit.
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BROWNIE

The brownie is a spirit popular in Scottish folk-lore. Brownies haunt houses, and if treated well will help with the drudgery of the housework while the occupants sleep.
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BRUTE

In English mythology, Brute (Brutus) was the first king of the Britons. He was the son of Sylvius. Having inadvertently killed his father, he first took refuge in Greece and then in Britain. In memory of Troy, he called the capital of his kingdom Troy-novant (New Troy), now London.
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BUCCA

In Cornish mythology, the Bucca was a goblin of the wind, supposed to foretell shipwrecks.
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CALEB

In English mythology, Caleb was an enchantress who carried off St George when he was a baby.
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CAMULUS

In English Celtic mythology, Camulus (heaven) was a god of war identified by the Romans with Mars. He gave his name to the town of Camulodunum, now called Colchester.
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CASTLE TERABIL

In the Arthurian legends, Castle Terabil or Castle Terrible (sometimes called Dunheved Castle) was a castle in Launceston within ten miles of Tintagel. The castle had a steep keep environed with a triple wall.
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CERNUNNOS

In Celtic mythology, Cernunnos was the god of the underworld and of animals. He was a principal god depicted as a man with the antlers of a stag. He was the model for the later Christian icon of the Devil.
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CERRIDWEN

In Welsh mythology, Cerridwen is the goddess of dark prophetic powers. She is the keeper of the cauldron of the underworld, in which inspiration and divine knowledge are brewed. She was the Triple-Goddess, a white, corpse-eating sow representing the moon.
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CIAN

In Celtic mythology, Cian is the god of medicine. He mated with Ethlin who gave birth to Lug.
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CLURICAUNE

In Irish mythology, Cluricaune is an evil elf who appears as a wrinkled old man, and has knowledge of hidden treasures.
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CONCHOBAR

In Celtic mythology, Conchobar was the King of Ulster whose intended bride, Deirdre, eloped with Noisi.
Conchobar killed Deidre's husband and his brothers and she died of sorrow.
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CORDELIA

In Welsh Celtic mythology, Cordelia was the daughter of Llyr. She has two lovers, Gwynn and Gwythr, who fight for her on the 1st of May each year and will continue to do so until the day of doom when one shall be victorious and marry her.
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CORMORAN

In English mythology, Cormoran was a Cornish giant who fell into a pit twenty feet deep, dug by Jack the Giant-killer, and covered over with grass and gravel. For killing the giant Jack was awarded a belt from King Arthur.
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CREIDHNE

In Celtic mythology, Creidhne was the god of metal working.
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CREURDILAD

In Celtic mythology, Creurdilad was the daughter of Lludd and lover of Gwyn ap Nudd and Gwyrthur ap Greidawl. Her mythology developed into that of Cordelia, with the names of her lovers also amending with time.
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CROMERUACH

Cromeruach was the chief idol of the Irish before their conversion to Christianity by St Patrick. It was a gold or silver image surrounded by twelve small brazen ones.
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CU CHULAINN

Cu Chulainn (Cuchulain) was a Celtic hero, the chief figure in a cycle of Irish legends. He is associated with his uncle Conchobar, King of Ulster; his most famous exploits are described in The Cattle Raid of Cuchulain. Cu Chulainn was said to have been born of a virgin, died and been reincarnated as both father and son. He died bound to a sacred pillar, pierced by arrows, his blood fertilizing the earth.
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CUCHULINN

In Celtic mythology, Cuchulinn is a hero-king of Ulster and son of Lugh. He is a warlike figure and tales tell of his warlike deeds.
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CUCULAIN

In Celtic mythology, Cuculain was the nickname of Setanta, the warrior son of Dechtire and Lug. He won his nickname when he killed the fairy watchdog of the smith Culain, and agreed to guard Culain's fields himself for a year while a replacement was trained for the job.
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DAGDA

Dagda was the Celtic equivalent of Cronus. Also called Cian.
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DAGHDHA

In Irish mythology, Daghdha is the great god. He had a secret affair with Boann which resulted in the birth of Oenghus.
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DEIRDRE

In Celtic mythology, Deirdre was the beautiful intended bride of Conchobar. She eloped with Noisi, and died of sorrow when Conchobar killed him and his brothers.
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DIANCECHT

In Irish mythology, Diancecht is the god of healing. He destroyed the giant serpent that threatened and destroyed cattle throughout the land.
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DIS

In Gaulish mythology, Dis was the god of death from whom the Gauls were descended.
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DOBBY

In English folklore, a dobby was a house-elf similar to a brownie. Dobbies were thin and shaggy, very kind to servants and children, and did many a small service in the household when people were too busy.
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DRUANTIA

In British mythology, Druantia was the druid goddess of birth, wisdom, death and metempsychosis. The mother of the Irish tree-calendar alphabet.
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DRUID

The ancient druids were divided into three functional orders: primitive druid, bard and ovate. Druidism originated amongst the megalithic ancient British. They taught it to the immigrant Celts, and later trained Celts from the continent.
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DUS

Dus or Deuce was the chief god of the Brigantes.
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DUSIENS

In Gaulish mythology, dusiens are demons that produce nightmares in the sleeping.
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DYLAN

In Celtic mythology Dylan was a god of darkness, a twin son of Gwydion and Arianrhod. He was a sea god, and swam like a fish. Upon his death at the hands of a spear thrown by his uncle Govannan, the sea for ever more wept for him in the form of waves crashing on the shore.
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ELAINE

In Celtic mythology, Elaine (Lily-Maid) was a virgin goddess of beauty and the moon. She was the matron of road-building and a loveable leader of hosts.
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ELLYLLON

In Welsh mythology, the Ellyllon are the souls of ancient Druids, too good to be banished to hell, they are not good enough to enter heaven and roam the earth awaiting the judgement when they will be admitted to a higher state of being.
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EPONA

In Celtic mythology, Epona was the goddess of horses.
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ERIU

In Irish Celtic mythology, Eriu was a shape shifting goddess of fate. The bestower of sovereignty.
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ETAIN

In Celtic mythology, Etain (Shining-One) was the triple goddess of the sun, water, horses, fragrance, beauty, music and the transmigration of souls.
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ETHLIN

In Celtic mythology, Ethlin was the daughter of Balor. Balor, terrified by a prophecy that his own grandson would kill him, locked Ethlin in a glass tower and set guards to watch her so that no man might mate with her. However, Cian disguised himself as a woman and entered the tower and mated with Ethlin.
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FANE

In Scottish folklore a fane is an elf or fairy-like creature.
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FATA-MORGANA

In Irish Celtic mythology, Fata-Morgana is the goddess of the sea, visual illusions, enchantment, fate and death. She is the Queen of the Fortunate Isles.
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FINN MACCOOL

In Celtic mythology, Finn MacCool was an Irish prophet, warrior and healer. He learned his skills either from touching the flesh of Fintan as he cooked him, or by sipping the gods' wine as he served them at table.
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FINTAN

In Celtic mythology, Fintan (the salmon of wisdom) was a shape-changer. He was the only Irish survivor of Noah' s flood, changing into a hawk to soar above the waters and into a salmon to live in them. He ate the gods' magic hazelnuts and received all knowledge, but was netted in a salmon- trap and cooked for the gods' banquet by Finn MacCool who in doing touched Fintan's flesh and absorbed the knowledge from Fintan turning him into a seer and healer on the spot.
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FOMORI

In Celtic mythology, the Fomori are demons that live in the impenetrable darkness of the sea's depths and in lakes and dark pools in the upper world. They were once ruled by Balor, who provided them with victims, but after his death they returned to their waters and prey on people, taking the form of sea-monsters, lake spirits and the boggarts who lurk in the fens.
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GAWAIN

In Celtic mythology, Gawain was the son of King Lot of Orkney or the sun-god Lug.
Gawain was one of Arthur's most loyal and noble followers. One New Year's Eve a green giant rode into the hall at Camelot and challenged the bravest warrior there to cut off his head, and then one year later, to visit the giant's castle to have his own head chopped off. Gawain accepted the challenge and decapitated the giant, who picked up his head and galloped away. One year later Gawain went in search off the giant and came to the castle of Lord Bertilak and was entertained there for three days and three nights. Each night Bertilak's wife came to Gawain and tried to seduce him, and each time Gawain resisted her. On the fourth day, alone in the castle grounds Gawain came upon the giant and bent down to have his head cut off. Three times the giant swung the axe, and each time he stopped short, before disappearing and Bertilak stood in his place. Bertilak told Gawain that the entire thing had been a test set by Morgan le Fay to find the bravest of Arthur' s followers, and that each swing of the axe was for a night when he had resisted the attentions of Bertilak's wife. Had he given in to temptation he would have died.
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GEOFON

In British mythology, Geofon was the ocean goddess.
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GOIBHNIU

In Celtic mythology, Goibhniu was the smith god.
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GOVANNAN

In Celtic mythology, Govannan was a son of Don and god of smithcraft.
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GRONW PEBYR

In Celtic mythology, Gronw Pebyr is a god of darkness.
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GUINEVERE

In Celtic mythology, Guinevere or Guinevere, is the French spelling of the Celtic name Gwynhwfar (' white cloud') . Gwynhwfar was a cloud-goddess who often, for mischief, took mortal form and entered the world of humans to cause havoc. Soon after Arthur became king of Camelot, she entered the womb of a Roman princess whose husband ruled in Britain, and was born, as a beautiful mortal: Guinevere. In due course Arthur married her, against the advice of Merlin. Guinevere was the most beautiful woman in the world, and all Arthur's knights would have had sex with her if they hadn't been bound by their oaths of chivalry. Only Lancelot succumbed, and his and Guinevere's adultery broke Arthur's heart and led to the end of Camelot. When the company of the Round Table was broken up and its heroes disappeared into legend, Guinevere resumed her identity as Gwynhwfar, returned to the sky and has ever since been planning her next earthly manifestation.
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GWYDION

In Celtic mythology, Gwydion was a son of Don, a master of fantasy and illusion, and the teacher of humans of all that is good and useful. He is a friend of mankind and perpetually fights the underworld powers for the good gifts they refuse to give to mankind.
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GWYN AP NUDD

In Celtic mythology, Gwyn ap Nudd (Gwyn) is the lord of the underworld and master of the wild hunt. He lives at Glastonbury Tor.
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GWYRTHUR AP GREIDAWL

In Celtic mythology, Gwyrthur ap Greidawl (Gwyrthur) is a rival to Gwyn ap Nudd for the affections of Creurdilad. He is a solar god, representing day.
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HALLOWEEN

Halloween (All Hallow Even) was the last night of the British Celtic year (equivalent to the modern new year's eve) - October the 31st, later adopted as the Eve of All Saints by the Christian church in Britain when the Pope of Rome in 610 ordered that the heathen Pantheon should be converted into a Christian church and dedicated to the honour of all martyrs.


Halloween was a Celtic fire festival and a day on which the spirits of the dead revisited their old homes and evil spirits roamed the land. Superstition, based in part upon the reality that November the 1st (Samhain) ushered in the cold, dark months of winter, encouraged the Celts to placate the spirits of nature at Halloween, lest the next year's crops should fail, and because of the presence of so many spirits at large at this time, and the strong supernatural forces at work, it was a time for divination. Later, games were held throughout Britain for teenagers, including apple and sixpence bobbing, success at these games being thought to guarantee good fortune for the coming year and to enable divination with regard to forthcoming marriages. In early Ireland, it is reported that children were sacrificed to placate the evil spirits at Halloween, but this is more probably propaganda than a reality. During the 19th century Irish immigrants introduced to America the concept of mischief on Halloween, with young men playing tricks on residents and demanding a treat lest they should play a trick on them - an echo of sacrifices of foods to the spirits so as to placate them. This practise having originated in the North of England, while elsewhere young people demanded of their elders to be shown a magic trick or receive a treat by way of a forfeit by the elder.

Welsh tradition had it that on Halloween, an evil spirit sat on every stile. While in Scotland the notion of the goblin was invented, which only came out on Halloween. Modern Halloween is not, as is popularly thought, an American invention, but a survival of an old British festival. Sacrifices are still made to placate the witches, goblins, ghosts and other supernatural spirits, though these now generally take the form of sweets given to costumed children dressed as representations of the spirits, that call from house to house demanding of those devoid of supernatural powers (proven by performing a trick) tribute (a treat) so as to ensure good fortune the following year.
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HERNE THE HUNTER

In English folklore, Herne The Hunter is the spirit of a hunter which guards travellers through Windsor Great Park. He wears the antlers of a stag upon his head. Herne was prominent in the tales of Robin Hood, although Windsor Great Park is nowhere near Sherwood Forest.
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HU

In British Celtic mythology, Hu was a solar culture-god, skilled in agriculture and a law-giver. He was represented as a bull dwelling in Ceugant.
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ISOLDE

In Celtic and medieval legend, Isolde was the wife of King Mark of Cornwall who was brought from Ireland by his nephew Tristan. She and Tristan accidentally drank the aphrodisiac given to her by her mother for her marriage, were separated as lovers, and finally died together.
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KELPIE

In Scottish folklore a Kelpie is a water spirit, goblin, or demon whose special activity consists in drowning travellers.
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LIR

In Celtic mythology Lir (or Lleyr or Llyr) was the Old Man of the Sea. He had four beautiful children which he doted on. After his wife died he married her sister who hated him and turned his children into swans, mute and aloof from him. By the time Lir had discovered what had happened to his children and reversed the spell they had aged into withered old people.
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LLEU

In Celtic mythology, Lleu was a god of light, a twin son of Gwydion and Arianrhod.
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LLYR

In Welsh Celtic mythology, Llyr is the god of the sea, he relates to the Irish Lir.
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LUCHTAINE

In Celtic mythology, Luchtaine was the god of wheel making.
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LUG

In Celtic mythology, Lug was the sun god and the master of all skills and crafts. He was the grandson of the demon king Balor.
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LUGH

In Irish mythology, Lugh (Lug) was the god of light. He killed his grandfather, Balor, during the great battle in which a new order of gods and goddesses took over from the primal beings of chaotic energy. He was the god of skill and ability.
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MABON

In Celtic mythology, Mabon was the Son of Light, equated with the Roman Apollo. He was the god of liberation, harmony, music and unity.
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MACHA

In Irish mythology, Macha is a goddess of athletic games, festivals and fertility.
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MANANNAN MAC LIR

In Celtic mythology, Manannan mac Lir (Barinthus) was the god of the ocean. He ferried the wounded King Arthur to the otherworld so that he could be cured.
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MARK

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In Celtic legend, Mark was king of Cornwall, uncle of Tristan, and suitor and husband of Isolde.
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MERLIN

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Merlin was a legendary Welsh prophet and magician, who is said to have lived in the 5th century. He is said to have been the offspring of a demon and a Welsh princess, and became adviser to the English kings Vortigern, Ambrosius, Utherpendragon, and Arthur. There was also a prophet connected with the ancient kingdom of Strathclyde called Merlin the Wild, or Merlinus Caledouius, who is said to have lived in the 6th century. His prophecies, containing also those ascribed to the Welsh Merlin were published in Edinburgh in 1615.
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MM

In Celtic mythology, Mm was the goddess of thought of the independent peoples of Northern England. She never appeared alone, but always followed after her impetuous husband Aywell providing caution to his flashes of uncontrolled energy.
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MORRIGAN

Morrigan was the Celtic goddess of war and death who could take the shape of a crow and other forms.
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NAOISE

In Irish mythology, Naoise was the husband of Deirdre. He was killed by his uncle Conchobar.
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NEMETONA

In Celtic mythology, Nemetona was a goddess of war.
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NIMUE

In Celtic mythology, Nimue was a shape changer who loved Merlin. After a contest of magic she captured him forever by turning herself into a drop of amber and engulfing him.
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NUADA

In Celtic mythology, Nuada (Argetlam meaning He of the Silver Hand) was a war god of the Gaels equivalent roughly to the Greek Zeus, in that he was the supreme god.
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NUDD

In Celtic mythology, Nudd or Lludd is a son of Beli. He was a sky-god and is attributed with stopping three supernatural plagues.
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OBERON

In English folklore, Oberon is the king of the elves or fairies. O'beron first appears in the old French poem Huon of Bordeaux, but is best known from Shakespeare and from Weber's opera of Oberon.
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OENGHUS

In Irish mythology, Oenghus is the son of Daghdha and Boann. He is the god of fatal love.
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OGMIOS

In Celtic mythology, Ogmios was the eloquent god of the strength of poetry, charm and incantation. He is depicted as an old man with wrinkles, but carrying a club and a bow.
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OVATE

An ovate was a type of druid. His purpose was to observe and invent. His robe was green symbolising budding life.
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PENARDUM

In Celtic mythology, Penardum was a sea-goddess married to Llyr.
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POOKA

In Irish mythology, a Pooka or Phooka is a malignant spirit that hurries people to their destruction, sometime appearing in the form of an eagle and at other times in the form of a horse.
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PRIMITIVE DRUID

The primitive druid was an order of druid involved with teaching science and religion. His robe was white symbolising light, purity and knowledge.
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PUCK

In British mythology, Puck is a celebrated elf, the 'merry wanderer of the night', whose character and attributes are depicted in Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, and who was also known by the names of Robin Goodfellow and Friar Rush. He was the chief of the domestic fairies, and many stories are told of his nocturnal exploits.
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ROSMERTA

In Gaulish Celtic mythology, Rosmerta was the goddess of fire, warmth, wealth and abundance. A flower Queen and hater of marriage. She was the beldame of death.
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SAMHAIN

Samhain was the Celtic new year, November the 1st.
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SECOND SIGHT

Second Sight (in Gaelic, taisch), is a Highland superstition, formerly very common, which supposed certain persons endowed with the power of seeing future or distant events as if actually present. These visions were believed to be not as a rule voluntary, but were said to be rather dreaded than otherwise by those who were subject to them; yet it was also believed that those who possessed this gift might sometimes induce visions by the performance of certain awful rites. The subject is treated at length in Martin's Description of the Western Islands of Scotland (1703); Macleod of Hamir's Treatise on the Second Sight (1763); and is discussed also in Dr Johnson's Journey to the Hebrides (1775).
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SIDHE

In Celtic mythology, sidhe or fairies, were the spirits of the dead. It is thought that the British Celts may have believed butterflies to be the souls of the dead, though not sidhe which were normal human-sized.
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ST DUNSTAN AND THE DEVIL

In English mythology, the story of St Dunstan and the Devil tells how St Dunstan, a blacksmith, was called upon by the Devil who asked to have his hoof shoed. St Dunstan, recognising the customer for who he was, fastened him securely to a wall and set to work on the Devil's hoof, deliberately causing him so much pain that he begged for mercy. Before releasing the Devil, St Dunstan made him swear that he would never enter a place where he saw a horseshoe displayed, which the Devil duly agreed. Henceforth the horseshoe has been symbolic of good luck in England. However, a horseshoe should always be hung with the points facing upwards so that any good luck it catches can be held in the hollow of the shoe, and not drop through.
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SULIS

In Celtic mythology, Sulis was a goddess of prophesy, inspiration, wisdom and death. She who is bountiful, as is a sow of piglets.
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TAISCH

Taisch was the Gaelic name given to 'second sight', the involuntary ability of seeing the future or distant events. It originated in the Scottish highlands.
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TARANIS

In Druid mythology, Taranis is the god of the wheel, associated with forces of change.
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YULETIDE

Yuletide was the Celtic twelve-days of feasting celebrating the winter solstice practised around November/December time. The celebration was adopted and absorbed into Christian culture to form a part of the Christmas celebrations.
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