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Dêwoi – The Gods of Gaulish Polytheism

By Segomâros Widugeni

The Nature of the Gods: The Gods are by far the best known part of Gaulish Polytheism. We have a vast corpus of Latin inscriptions that give us the names of numerous divinities worshiped by Gauls, and a much smaller corpus of Gaulish-language inscriptions, sometimes to the same deities. We have representations of the Gods, symbols, sometimes in clearly understandable settings, sometimes paired with Classical Greco-Roman symbols or images, which can make meanings clearer. We have literary figures in other Celtic languages, and deities in other Indo-European languages, that can allow us to make inferences about Their natures. Even so, not everything is known. They are mysterious, and personal experience with Them is needed to truly understand Them.

Dêwos/Dêwâ – The word for “God”: Derived from Proto-Indo-European Déiwos, meaning “God”, but also having connotations of “Shining Ones” and “Celestial Ones”. The general idea is of a shining being of light. While the earliest term suggests a celestial nature, already by the time of the earliest inscriptions and sanctuaries, offerings are being put into pits and shafts, suggesting that the term came to be applied to Underworld beings as well. It needs to be noted that deities are not perfect beings, are in fact capable of making mistakes and doing wrong. While vastly more powerful and better than human beings, they are nevertheless of a similar nature to us. There is no clear demarcation between Gods and lesser spirits, for the most part, either. The term can be applied to a vast range of supernatural beings.

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