Monday, October 25, 2010

Mythology Monday #2

Note: A storm is wreaking havoc with Ashley's internet so she asked me to get this posted for her, just in case. 

Hi all and thank you for tuning into Mythology Monday, your place for quick tidbits of mythology. I'll be doing this on Monday's leading up to the release of The Witching Hour, since mythology factors big time into the book. I thought this would be a fun way of introducing you to some of my favorite deities and mythological heroes from various pantheons as well as give you a little background to some of the more intriguing mythological figures in the book.

Last week I shared some fast facts and stories about Apollo. This week Belenus gets the spotlight.

Belenus is the Gaullish (People from Gaul)/ Celtic god of light and fire. He's sometimes compared to Apollo as he is also considered to be a sun god. At one point his cults had spread as far as Aquitaine, Austria, and Northern Italy.

In Italy, he is married to the goddess Belisama and is also in charge of protecting sheep and cattle.

The festival of Beltane (celebrated on May 1) is in honor of the "fires of Bel". On this day purifying fires were lit and cattle were driven between them before the farmers allowed the herd out to open pasture. This was done to ask for the god's blessing.

In Roman-dominated areas on the European Continent and the isle of Britain, he was associated with Apollo. One count of inscriptions inventoried by archaeologists noted that there were more dedications to Belenus 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. Which again is why he draws the comparison.
Many of stories depicted as occurring at Beltaine involve forms Belenus as a young god.

Often the young god was depicted as attempting to woo or capture a wife.

In an Irish story, spurred on by Mebh of Cruachan’s jealousy, Conall Cernach killed her husband Ailill while the latter was consorting with a woman behind a hazel-bush on Beltaine.

Hunting seasons re-opened around Beltane. Also, Beltane coincided with the part of the year when military activity—riding and hosting—resumed after the pause for winter. During the winter, professional troops—such as the fénnidi—were dispersed and quartered among a chieftain’s dependents. At Beltane, these troops were re-assembled, often living in the woods and hunting for their food. Also, once the crops were sowed, chieftains felt freer to call on their clients for the military service that was part of what a client owed his lord. So Beltane would be an appropriate time for an invasions to occur, by medieval Irish standards.

In today's world, Belenus is not an often remembered deity, but once upon a time, he was uber important. In researching the god, one finds countless examples of myths where he or his holiday hold significant importance to the ancients.

Anyway, thanks for tuning in this Monday and now back to your regularly scheduled web browsing.

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