'Belenus' means 'bright' or 'brilliant'. The term was an epithet or discriptive surname given to the Celtic Apollo in parts of Gaul, North Italy and Noricum (part of modern Austria). Apollo Belenus was a healer, but he was also a sun-diety, like the Classical Phoebus Apollo. So he may have represented the beneficient, curative aspect of the sun's heat.
The Cult of Belenus possessed a particular status in that it is mentioned in a number of Classical Literary sources. Ausonius was a poet from Bordeaux, writing in the later 4th century AD. He alludes to sanctuaries to Belenus in Aquitania, and he speaks of a temple priest of the cult named Phoebicus-the adopted name referring to the 'light' aspect of the celtic Apollo. Tertullian talks of the cult of
Belenus in the Norican Alps(Apologeticus 24,7);and Herodian mentions Belenus' worship at Aquileia in North Italy(History of the Empire after Marcus,8,3.6)
The cult of Belinus was both important and popular. Belenus himself probably pre-existed the Roman Period; Dedications to him alone(without Apollos name)mean that he was not totally dependant on the link witht he classical god for his identity. It is possible also that his cult was associated with the Celtic Solar-fire festival of BELTENE on 1,May, when bonfires were lit to welcome the summer and magically encourage the suns nourishing warmth.
(Dictionary of Celtic Myth and legend:Miranda Green:Thames and Hudson 1992)
Belenus is the Gaulish/Celtic god of light, and referred to as 'The Shining One'. His cult was spread from northern Italy to southern Gaul and Britain. Belenus is in charge of the welfare of sheep and cattle. His wife is the goddess Belisama. They can be compared with the continental Apollo and Minerva, but Belenus can also be identified with the Irish god Bile. His festival is Beltine, celebrated in May
by Lisa Spindler
The Celtic god of light and healing, "Bel" means "shining one," or in Irish Gaelic, the name "bile" translates to "sacred tree." It is thought that the waters of Danu, the Irish All-Mother goddess, fed the oak and produced their son, The Dagda. As the Welsh Beli, he is the father of Arianrhod by Don.
Patron of sheep and cattle, Bel's festival is Beltane, one of two main Celtic fire festivals. Beltane celebrates the return of life and fertility to the world -- marking the beginning of Summer and the growing season. Taking place on April 30, Beltane also is sometimes referred to as "Cetsamhain" which means "opposite Samhain." The word "Beltaine" literally means "bright" or "brilliant fire," and refers to the bonfire lit by a presiding Druid in honor of Bile.
"Some believe this deity is the equivalent of Belatucadros, the consort of Belisama, another patroness of light, fire, the forge and crafts. Belatucadros, whose name means "fair shining one" or possibly "the fair slayer," is the god of destruction and war and transports the dead to Danu's "divine waters." Celtic deities often reign over seemingly contradictory themes. In the case of Belatucadros, death was simply a pathway to rebirth in the Otherworld, thus linking the two themes together. However, according to Ross's Pagan Celtic Britain, historically the worship of Belatucadros among the Celts was confined only the northwestern region of Britain and has never been associated with the festival of Beltane, healing or with a consort (pg. 235).
It has been suggested that the mythological king, Beli Mawr, in the story of Lludd and Llefelys in The Mabinogion, is a folk memory of this god. In Irish mythology, the great undertakings of the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Milesians -- the original supernatural inhabitants of Eiru and their human conquerors, respectively -- began at Beltane. The Milesians were led by Amairgen, son of Mil, in folklore reputed to be the first Druid.
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Celtic war-god reverenced in Northern Britain, whom the Romans associated with Mars. His name means 'Fair Shining One', and he is the horned god of the north.
# 265 - 454 - 563 - 709
The father of Dodinel. He may be, in origin, the Celtic god Beli.
Brother of Brennius, King of Britain. He quarrelled with his brother but they were eventually reconciled and together they sacked Rome. He built many roads and established his capital at Caer Usk. He built Billingsgate in Trinovantum (London) and was buried there in a golden urn.
# 438: (baalt'an - or - BAIL tin)) May Eve, time of enchantments, the beginning of summer. See also: MAY EVE.
# 454: The Celtic feast of May-Eve, celebrated on the evening of April 30. It marked the beginning of Summer, when livestock was let out of winter pasture to crop the new greenness of Spring. The word means literally 'the fire of Bel', a deity related to Belinus. At this feast, all household fires were doused and rekindled from the new fire which the druids built on this night. See: LUGHNASADH, OIMELC and: SAMHAIN and: LUNANTISHEE.
# 438 - 454
One of the names of the god of Death; first of May sacred to Bel'tené. See: BELTAINE.
The Encyclopaedia of the Celts, ISBN 87-985346-0-2
Compiled & edited by: Knud Mariboe©, 1994