September 1, date of ceremonies held for Jupiter Tonans (“the Thunderer”) and Juno Regina, is the date that started my adventure in noticing times in the Roman calendar that would nicely match celebrations of many Celtic deities. Gaulish deity Taranus (pronounced “tah-RAH-nus”) is an all-seeing sky God whose name relates to thunder. He was associated with Jupiter, the traditional Indo-European sky father and head of the Roman pantheon. As Jupiter Tonans, the two Gods have the most in common.
The Jupiter columns in southern Gaul often maintained the Celtic tradition of depicting Gods with Goddesses: Jupiter sits on His throne by Juno Regina, Juno in Her Queen aspect. Some scholars consider this part of Celtic cosmology, where the king only rules because he’s been chosen by the Sovereignty Goddess. Ancient Gaulish burials often had similar stone carvings of a husband and wife side by side on thrones. The Jupiter columns are a good example of Gallo-Roman religion, where aspects of each culture are merged into something that everyone could understand in their own way.
So here we have a day dedicated to not just Jupiter Tonans, but Juno Regina as well! The first of the month (probably the new moon in the older calender) is always dedicated to Juno; it’s just fascinating that as Juno Regina She happens to share the date with Jupiter Tonans, the aspect of Jupiter most like Taranus.
In Eastern Gaul She was also called (dea) Regina (“Queen Goddess”). Regina is a Latin version of the Celtic deity name Rigani associated once with the Celtic Goddess Rosmerta (“Great Provider”). Three times in Upper Germany Celts called Juno (dea) Candida Regina “the Bright Queen Goddess,” a title unused by Romans. This adds an even greater Celtic depth to the date.
Very excited, I said to myself, “I finally have a time each year to honor Taranus!” It’s hard to try to plan ahead for the year’s first thunder storm, although I always welcome Him. This way, a deity very important to me gets an annual offering and is the focus of my devotion. If Taranus was paired with a Goddess, we don’t know who She was, but an altar was found for the son of Taranus in modern Germany.
Most people think His name is spelled Taranis, the way the Roman poet Lucan later recorded it, but many scholars think that Taranis was a Celtic epitaph for Jupiter. With Gauls in the Roman military, the God traveled to Britain, where an inscription read “To Jupiter Best and Greatest Tanarus.” If any Britons worshiped Taranus before the Roman invasion is unknown. The earliest known mention of Taranus is from a 1st century CE dedication where lightning had struck. This was a common practice in Southern Gaul, although other names for local thunder Gods were also used. Perhaps Taranus was one of many titles for this Gaulish deity.
He is not named in many inscriptions, but the Gaulish Celts must have viewed Taranus as a very powerful God, watching from the heavens and controlling the thunderbolt. It is believed, that like Lugus, Taranus was originally very popular, but much of his cult merged with a Roman deity. That is why in the Roman era, when things were written, there was so little written about Him.
Luckily, we have lots of His symbol, a sky or sun wheel. Originally the wheel was very large and seems to have been a tribal offering. The Romans brought mass produced offerings for the individual to buy and use. Taranus‘s wheel became small and bronze, buried with Gaulish princes. Others made offerings of the wheel in wells. It’s a popular symbol for modern Gaulish polytheists including as a pendant. (Check Etsy for the hard-to-find Taranus wheel. Use “Taranis wheel” because most people don’t know how to spell His name.)
I have been very blessed by Taranus, who told me to make an outdoor shrine to Him so He, in His form as the storm would skip over my home. I thought He was speaking metaphorically, but I’ve learned that the deities are normally very direct. Hurricane Sandy hit a few months later, and while I was annoyed the cable went out for 20 minutes, the town’s fire trucks were washed off bridges, my neighbor’s has a branch destroy their car, and almost everyone for miles didn’t have electricity for days. It was a lesson in pre-verbal communication, and the old metal wheel I’d found one day picking up trash and foraging carried a strong message.
A friend found it important to point out that deals with deities don’t always work. Her aunt was certain a certain Saint would heal her, but she didn’t get better. So I want to make clear that the two times deities clearly helped me in dangerous situations They spoke first and gave Their own instructions. Freya asked for me to write about Her “cousin deities” and my other ancestral deities, the Celts, in Steel Bars, Sacred Waters in exchange for curing me of Lyme and Babesia; Taranus told me to build the shrine. In the case of Brigid saving my life, that was Her grace, and I believe She’s a very generous Goddess even if I don’t feel a deep connection with Her. Her offerings from Catholics and Pagans both keep Brig well fed!
Reue and Trebaruna
Although not associated with Thunder, the Iberian God Reue (pronounced “RU-eh”) was probably later linked to Jupiter. From the mountain where Reue‘s energy was said to reside, Larouco in Portugal, He had an excellent view of the other mountains. Another inscription near the Sierra Marão named him as the God of Them. Indo-European sky fathers are usually connected to tall mountains, and for that reason some scholars consider Reue an Iberian version of Jupiter.
Reue‘s name, however, possibly means “river” and many rivers were named after Him. Perhaps Reue is a title meaning “God of this river” and modern Celtic Iberian polytheists could name their local river Reue (name of river).
How could an important deity like Reue be both the mountains and the rivers? Rivers are fed from tributaries in the mountains which converge and flow into the valleys. (We see this also with the Goddess Abnoba.) For a culture that honored fresh water with such devotion, the source of the water – be it mountaintop or spring welling up from the ground – was sacred. It obviously needs to be the same for Celtic Pagans, with real action taken to clean them out, use biodegradable nontoxic cleaning supplies (including on the body and hair) and protect them from agricultural and factory run off.
Gaulish Druids were said to teach in caves, although they have fine homes. Some scholars believe that the darkness helped people listen and learn from an oral tradition. In the cave of Cabeço das Fraguas two deities were worshipped, Reue and Trebaruna (pronounced “treb-ah-ROO-nah”). They may have been a divine couple.
Trebaruna‘s name combines “home” with “mystery” suggesting that Trebaruna is a Goddess of protecting the home and family. Two small shrines dedicated to her have been found in Portugal. One mentions the sacrifice of the sheep.
I’m really not sure why based on the meaning of Her name and the material evidence, but some modern Pagans worship Her as a battle Goddess. Perhaps they consider Her a Sovereignty Goddess, defending Her home lands?
From Steel Bars, Sacred Waters:
“Invocation to Trebaruna by Heather Awen
“I call to you, Trebaruna,
Protecting hearth and home.
Your arms hold every babe, your eyes watch every child.
You protect the women spinning yarn
And weaving fates.
This space is sacred;
Your spirit guards the door.
Mystery of life, strength of family and friends,
Trebaruna, may my life honor your name.”
Although there is no direct evidence that Reue was associated with Jupiter, scholars believe it is likely that He was. Any time I can bring Iberian Celtic deities to the attention of the public, I will! Most of them had large followings and are only known today in academic journals.
Tomorrow I’ll catch you up on the Iberian Celtic and Scandinavian connection!
Steel Bars, Sacred Water is available directly from Gullveig Press at a lower price than at Amazon. All proceeds go to sending free copies to incarcerated Pagans. We have special bulk order and prison clergy/ volunteer prices and Australian discounts, as Amazon Australia does not carry the book. We will happily buy a prisoner a copy if you donate $12 U.S.! And remember to donate used paperbacks on almost any topic to your nearest books-to-prisoners organization. Many prisoners are functionally illiterate, so your donation will improve on average seven prisoners ability to read per book!
Arenas, Jesús Alberto, Celtic divine names in the Iberian Peninsula: towards a territorial analysis, Celtic Religion Across Time and Space, Junta de Comunidades de Castilla-La Mancha (2010)
Bernstein, Francis, Classical Living: Reconnecting with the Rituals of Ancient Rome. Harper Collins e-books (2000)
Cunliffe, Barry, The Ancient Celts. Oxford University Press (1997)
Haussler, Ralph, How to identify Celtic religion(s) in Roman Britain and Gaul, Divinidades indigenas em analise, J. d’Encarnacao (ed), (2008)
Haussler, Ralph, Interpretatatio Indigena: Re-Inventing Local Cults in a Global World, Mediterraneo Antico, xv, 1-2 (2012)
Haussler, Ralph, The Civitas Vangionum: a new sacred landscape at the fringes of the Roman Empire?
Nova Roma, http://www.novaroma.org/nr/Roman_religion
Pedreño, Juan Carlos Olivares, Celtic Gods of the Iberian Peninsula, Guimarães, Portugal: E-Keltoi: Journal of Interdisciplinary Celtic Studies (2005)
Sjoestedt, Marie-Louise, translated by Myles Dillon, Celtic Gods and Heroes. Dover (2000)
Viducus Brigantici filius, Deo Mercurio, http://www.deomercurio.be/en/