Arms And Armor

who heard their song were unable to sleep for three days and three nights.

animals Celtic myth is replete with tales involving animal characters. Animals are intertwined with the lives and stories of gods, goddesses, and heroes, and they often have magical powers of their own. Some Celtic deities had animal characteristics, such as Cernunnos, who had the horns of a stag. Deities with links to animals include Artio, the bear goddess, Arduinna, the boar goddess, and Epona, the horse goddess. Many Celtic stories feature animals with magical or spiritual properties, such as the brown and white bulls in the story Tain Bó Cúailnge, or the seven pigs of Assal, which could be slaughtered and eaten repeatedly. Some characters could shift shapes to take the form of an animal, such as Ceridwen and Taliesin. See also birds; cows and other livestock; deer and stags; dogs; salmon.

Ankou In Breton Celtic mythology, a skeleton-spirit who traveled by cart at night. It was believed that if the cart and driver stopped at a home's door someone inside would soon die.

Annwfn (Annwn) The Welsh Otherworld. Neither Heaven nor Hell, it is a pleasant, magical, and happy place. Its music, food, and drink are abundant and sweet. There were two kings of Annwfn—Arawn and Hafgan—who were mortal enemies. Gwyn ap Nudd was also a ruler of Annwfn.

apple A magical fruit to the Celts. The apple was a symbol of harmony, immortality, abundance, and love. The soul of Cu Roí was contained in an apple in the belly of a salmon. It was one of the prizes sought by Brian and his brothers. The island home of the sea god Manannán mac Lir was called Emain Ablach, or the Isle of Apples. The British mythological site Avalon was similarly called the Island of Apples. Druids used wood from the apple tree to make their wands.

Arawn One of two dueling gods of Annwfn, the Welsh Otherworld. The other was Hafgan, who could be killed only by a single blow from a mortal man. To eliminate his enemy, Arawn enlisted the aid of a mortal prince named Pwyll.

The story of how Pwyll met the god of death and lived to tell the tale is one of the best-known stories in the Welsh Mabinogion. The two men met while hunting. Pwyll had just set his own pack of dogs upon Arawn's hounds, not realizing they were the Cwn

Annwfn, the hounds of hell. To make up for this offense, Pwyll agreed to trade kingdoms with Arawn for one year. Each was disguised as the other and the secret was kept from everyone, even their closest companions. Arawn's own wife was unaware of their game. Pwyll's kingdom flourished under the rule of Arawn. At the end of the year, Pwyll met Hafgan and killed him as promised. Arawn and Pwyll returned to their homes, and the two remained lifelong friends.

Arawn owned a life-restoring cauldron and other assorted magical items. He declared war on Amaethon (1), who had stolen three creatures from him. But Amaethon had the aid of his brother, Gwydion, a powerful magician. Gwydion turned trees into an army of men to help his brother defeat Arawn and his Otherworldly forces.

Arduinna Gaulish goddess of the Moon, hunting, and forests. Her sacred animal is the boar.

Arianrhod (Arianrod, Silver Wheel) In Welsh myth, the beautiful daughter of the mother goddess Don and the god Beli Mawr; the sister of Gilfaethwy and Caswallon. She is connected to the Moon and stars and may have been a moon goddess. Arianrhod volunteered to be the virginal footservant of math the magician, but she was disqualified when she suddenly gave birth to twins. The infants were mysterious creatures. One, named Dylan, fled to the sea just moments after his birth. The other was deformed. Arianrhod, who despised this infant, put three curses upon him that would haunt him for the rest of his life. She swore he would never have a name, bear arms, or take a wife. Arianrhod's brother, Gwydion, took pity on the boy and raised him as his own son. He tricked Arianrhod into naming the child Lleu Llaw Gyffes and giving him weapons. Gwydion also found a way to give the boy a wife, Blodeuedd.

arms and armor Archaeological evidence and Roman writing suggest that before 300 b.c. the Celtic warrior went into battle dressed only in body paint, perhaps with a torc around his neck. One reason for this nakedness may be that heavy armor would have slowed the warriors down and made it more difficult for them to jump in and out of their chariots. Because Celtic warriors were otherwise naked, their shields and weapons were essential to their survival. Shields were large and oval-shaped. They were usually made of wood but could be embellished with metal or leather. They were sometimes decorated. Highly decorated shields of bronze were probably


Celtic Weapons And Armor

This 16-inch dagger and sheath made of iron, and bronze, and decorated with coral, was found in the grave of a Celtic prince in Hochdorf, Germany. The wheel on the bottom of the sheath signifies the sacred wheel of Taranis. (Photo by Nobbi P./Used under a Creative Commons license)

used for rituals and sacrifices to the gods. Wealthier warriors were more likely to have well-made arms and armor. Archaeological evidence shows that warriors were sometimes buried with their finest weapons, illustrating the importance of arms and armor in the warrior cult.

In fact, weapons were so important to the Celts that some of them were immortalized in Celtic myth, such as Excalibur, the legendary and renowned sword of King Arthur. The tools that heroes carried to war in these stories were often endowed with personalities of their own. The weapons had their own pedigrees, histories, and even their own names. They were almost always connected to one hero.

Caladbolg A lightning sword owned by several early Irish heroes, including Fergus mac Róich, who used it to cut off the tops of three hills in Ireland's county Meath.

Gáe Assail The lightning spear of Lugh Lám-fhota brought certain death and always returned to the hand that threw it.

Gáe Bulga Made from the bones of a sea monster, this spear caused terrible wounds. Cuchulainn used it to kill his son Connla and his friend Ferdiad. The weapon was a gift to the Ulster hero from the great warrior Scáthach. It had a deadly tip that, when thrust into the body of a man, opened and expanded to 30 barbed points. Cúchulainn was the only person Scáthach trained to use the deadly weapon, although it appeared in the hands of other warriors in other tales.

Gáe Derg Diarmait, the Fianna warrior, owned this great spear. Its name means red spear.

Lúin The spear of Celtchair. It would burst into flame from lack of use if not dipped into a cauldron of poison from time to time.

Nooralltach The name of this sword means "great fury." It was owned at different times by Diarmait, Angus Og, and Manannan mac Lir.

Art mac Cuinn The son of Conn Cetcha-thach and the brother of Connla (1). Art journeyed in search of Delbchaem, winning her hand and her homeland after killing her horrible family. He is the father of Cormac mac Airt.

Artaius (ARAIUS, ARTAIOS) The Bear God. A Gaul god worshipped by Celts from the German, Swiss, and French regions. His name became connected with the Roman god Mercury; in France and Germany he was known as Mercury Artaius. The word arto is the Celtic word for bear, a word that shows up in several European place names, such as the Arto-dunum, or Bear Fortress, located in the Loire Valley of France. Some scholars think Artaius is connected to the magician god Gwydion as one of Artaius's characteristics may have been the magical shape shifting ability to turn himself into a bear at will. Scholars have also argued about Artaius's connection to King Arthur, speculating about whether the king's name evolved from or was the Irish equivalent of Artaius, although no evidence linking the two myths exists. Artaius's female counterpart is Artio.

Arthur A legendary king of Britain. Arthur, The "once and future king" of Britain, may or may not be based on a real Celtic chieftain. Some say the stories of Arthur and the knights of the Round Table were inspired by the mythical Fionn, the great and wise leader of the Fianna. Whether or not this is true, the story of Arthur probably has its roots in Celtic myth. Arthur also appears in the Mabinogion


Celtics Ankou

King Arthur as depicted by N. C. Wyeth for the 1922 children's edition of Sir Thomas Malory's History of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table. Arthur is dressed in the armor from the late medieval period.

Welsh tales. The son of Igerna, queen of Cornwall, and the Welsh prince Uther Pendragon, Arthur was revered as a wise and brave leader. As a boy, he proved that he was the rightful heir to the throne by pulling an enchanted sword from a stone. When that sword broke, the magical Lady of the Lake gave him a new one. Named Excalibur, it rendered Arthur invincible in battle. (See also arms and armor.) Like Fionn, Arthur is said not to be dead, but to be awaiting his time to return to Britain in its hour of need.

ARTIO (Andarta) A Gaul harvest goddess known especially in Switzerland and Germany. The only known statue attributed to Artio shows her dressed in a flowing gown, with a crown in her hair, calmly offering a bowl of fruit to a large bear. The fruit implies her status as a goddess of the harvest. She may also have represented wildlife and wilderness or the ability to tame animals, since she is considered the wife or consort of the Bear God, Artaius. (See also bears.)

ASH A common but magical tree in Celtic mythology. It was connected with fairies and thought to have the power to ward them off. It could also cure earthly and Otherworldly diseases. Ash trees often grew next to sacred bodies of water, such as holy wells. The combination of ash and water was thought to be very powerful. The ash tree is associated with Beltaine: Celebrations would often be held near or in ash groves.

Assal (Easal) A member of the Tuatha De Danann. Assal was the owner of a herd of regenerating pigs and a spear that never missed its mark. When the proper word was spoken, the sword would return to the hand that had thrown it. The fantastic pigs could be slaughtered and eaten repeatedly. Assal gave the three pigs to the sons of Tuireann, who had to give them to Lugh in retribution for murdering the king's father. The pigs' bones ended up in the treasure-keeping crane bag of Manannan mac Lir.

AVALON A British mythological island and Otherworld where the legendary King Arthur went to die. This beautiful and peaceful land of plenty was also called the Isle of Apples. It was ruled by the magical queen Morgen and her female attendants.

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