Holiness, Good, Evil, Ethics, and Fate

Holiness, Good, Evil, Ethics, and Fate

The Two Words for Holy

In most Indo-European languages, there are two words for “holy”. In Old English for example, the word “halig”, which once meant “holy, whole, health giving” was complemented by the word wíh, which meant “sacred, set apart, belonging to the realm of the Gods”. In German, the exact same pair of words was “heilig” and “weih”. In Latin, the words were “sanctus” and “sacer”, while in Greek they were “agios” and hieros”. 1

It is not clear that forms of these words existed in early Celtic, or in historical Gaulish, though it is likely they did. Words that seem to convey such a meaning are in the list below:

Noibos: Sacred, shining, separated out, of the realm of the Gods.2

Slanos: Holy, safe, whole, sane. 3

Iaccos: Safe, good, cure, treatment, salvation.4

Good and Evil

Here are some words for good and evil. The exact breakdown of which words refer to moral good versus evil, as opposed to non-moral good or high quality versus badness or uselessness, is not known.

Mati: Good, favorable, complete. 5

Drucos: Evil.6

Dagos: Good.7

Waxtos: Bad.8

Concepts of “Honor”

The Gaulish peoples, in common with the Celtic peoples in general, set great store by personal honor and reputation. Despite this, there is no single word for honor, but rather a number of words, that collectively describe the desirable person: someone of strength, victorious and prosperous, but sharing what they have, living by truth, integrity, loyalty, virtue, and above all with a good reputation.

The following list of words for aspects of “honor” and virtues is the ultimate child of the virtues found in Audacht Morainn, as interpreted by Alexei Kondratiev, translated into Gaulish using Delmarre and Matasovic. It also owes much to a list of virtues created by Maya St. Clair, in the Gaulish Polytheism Community. It should be pointed out, however, that Maya is an Irish Polytheist.

I also should take time to recommend the work of Christopher Scott Thompson on honor in the Gaelic world. It can be found on the web, particularly the website of the Cateran Society. His other work is available on his website. His work has only indirectly informed mine, but his understanding of Gaelic honor concepts in undoubtedly superior to my own. The work of Michael Newton, particularly the Handbook of the Scottish Gaelic World, should also be mentioned here. Again, there is no direct influence, but it will help give understanding of how honor-based societies worked in practice.

Eniequos: Face, honor.9

Boudi: Victory, prosperity.10

Clutos: Fame, a good reputation.11

Nertos: Strength, vigor, power, spiritual power.12

Uīros: True, Just, Truth.13

Uīroionos: Just, Fair, Equitable, Accurate, Exact, True, Rightful, Appropriate, Due, Sound, Apposite, Straightforward.14

Uīridos: Virtue.15

Rextus: Law, right.16

Uosedlâ: Firmness, calmness, steadiness.17

Couīriâ: Loyalty, sincerity, good faith.18

Dilestos: Firm loyalty.19

Oigetocariâ: Guest friendliness, hospitality, generosity.20

Inrextus: Integrity, inner rectitude.21

Comsamaliâ: Even-handedness, fairness, impartiality.22

Ueliâ: Modesty, honesty.23

Galâ: Valor, courage, ability.24

Trougocariâ: Compassion, pity.25

Uariâ: Duty.26

Uissus: Knowledge.27

Destiny and Fate

Ideas of “Fate”, Toncnaman, were inherently related to the verb toncet, “he, he, it swears”. The essence of it is that Fate was “that which is sworn”, while to swear was to destine. This leaves open who was doing the swearing. From other evidence, we can probably conjecture that it was most likely Lugus and Rosmertâ, though that will be discussed further in the chapter on deities and spirits.28 & c”, https://www.academia.edu/7242277/Further_to_tongu_do_dia_toinges_mo_thuath_Mi_a_dyngaf_dynged_it_and_c]

Toncnaman: Fate, destiny.29

Uatus: Prophecy, divination, poetic inspiration.30


We do not have enough evidence to say if the Gauls had animal totems in any meaningful sense. Some tribes appear to have animal names, but most did not. Personal names sometimes contain animal elements, but other times do not. Certainly, animals were powerful residents of the Gaulish mental world, and could serve as symbols of deities and various qualities. Here is a list of some:

Milon: (Small) animal.31

Artos: Bear. Fertility, prosperity, and the products of the forest. Associated with the Goddess Artio.32

Turcos: Boar. War and hunting, hospitality and feasting. The Otherworld.33

Taruos: Bull. Strength, ferocity, virility. Symbolic of sky and healing deities, especially Taranis and Grannus

Bous: Cow. Fertility, nurturance, motherhood, the moon. Associated with the Goddess Sironâ, who is called Bouindâ (White Cow), and Damonâ (Great Cow).34

Garanus: Crane. Water, wetlands, protection, wealth, robs warriors of the will to fight, ill-fortune, death.35

Boduos: Crow. Battle, death. Accociated with Cathboduâ.36

Cû: Dog. Hunting, healing, death, protection. Associated with several deities, especially the Matres and Nodens.37

Uolcos: Falcon. The Heavens. Associated with Taranis, note also association with the Uolcoi tribe, one of the more powerful tribes in Celtic Europe, with multiple divisions in different regions.38

Gabros: Goat. Fertility, sexuality, abundance. Associated with Lugus, by adoption of Greco-Roman Mercury symbolism.39

Gansi: Goose, swan. Protection, warlike aggression. Associated with several warrior and healer deities.40

Epos: Horse. War, battle, sovereignty, beauty, speed, sexual vigor, nobility, fertility, wealth. Associated with Eponâ above all, but also with Taranis, and other deities. 41

Esox: Salmon. Wisdom, knowledge. 42

Natrîx: Serpent. Wisdom, Underworld, death and rebirth, healing, but also greed and negative forces. Associated with Sironâ but also often depicted as a chthonic monster and enemy of the Gods. Snake-monsters are killed by Taranis, but possibly tamed by Cernunnos.43

Caruos: Deer, stag. Fertility, the forest, the wild, abundance, the Otherworld. Associated above all with Cernunnos.44

Elâ: Swan. Shape-changing, Otherworld, often presented as a beautiful, shape-changing maiden.45

Lore of the Soul

We have only a few words associated with concepts of the soul, enough to say that the concept of the soul had a bit to do with ideas of breath, the mind, and also the name. We do not have enough to really be sure of any details.

Anatiâ: Soul.46

Anatlâ: Breath.47

Anman: Name48

Kommen: Memory.49

Menman: Thought, mind.50

Mentyon: Thought.51

  1. Swain Wodening, Hammer of the Gods: Anglo-Saxon Paganism for Modern Times, pp. 30-33; Serith, Deep Ancestors, pp. 112-13
  2. Delmarre, p. 235; Matasovic, p. 294
  3. Delmarre, p. 275; Matasovic, p. 345
  4. Delmarre, pp. 184-185; Matasovic, p. 171
  5. Delmarre, p. 220; Matasovic, pp. 259-260
  6. Delmarre, p. 148; Matasovic, p. 105
  7. Delmarre, p. 134; Matasovic, p. 86-87
  8. Matasovic, p. 405
  9. Aexei Kondratiev, Celtic Values,http://www.imbas.org/articles/celtic_values.html; Matasovic, p. 115
  10. Delmarre, p. 83; Matasovic, p. 72
  11. Delmarre, pp. 118-119; Matasovic, pp. 210-211
  12. Delmarre, p. 234
  13. Delmarre, p. 430
  14. Delmarre, p. 320
  15. Delmarre, p. 320
  16. Delmarre, p. 254
  17. Alexei Kondratiev, Celtic Virtues, http://www.druidcircle.org/library/index.php?title=Celtic_Virtues; Delmarre, p. 323, 268
  18. Kondratiev, Celtic Values; Delmarre, p. 429
  19. Kondratiev, Celtic Values
  20. Kondratiev, Celtic Values; Matasovic, pp. 304, 191
  21. Kondratiev, Celtic Values; Delmarre, pp. 189, 254
  22. Kondratiev, Celtic Virtues; Matasovic, p. 213, 320
  23. Delmarre, p. 310
  24. Matasovic, p. 149
  25. Delmarre, p. 302
  26. Matasovic, p. 144
  27. Delmarre, p. 317
  28. John Koch, “Further to tongu do dia toinges mo thuaith [Mi a dyngaf dynged it
  29. Matasovic, pp. 383-384
  30. Delmarre, p. 307; Matasovic, p. 405
  31. Delmarre, p. 226; Matasovic, pp. 271-272
  32. Delmarre, pp. 55-56; Matasovic, pp. 42-43; Miranda J. Green Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend, p. 41
  33. Delmarre, p. 303; Matasovic, p. 395; Green, Dictionary, pp. 44-45
  34. Delmarre, pp. 79-80; Matasovic, pp. 71-72. Daragh Smyth, A Guide to Irish Mythology, p. 22-23
  35. Delmarre, p. 174-175; Matasovic, p. 151; Green, Dictionary, p. 68
  36. Delmarre, p. 81; Matasovic, p. 70; Green, Dictionary, p. 69
  37. Delmarre, pp. 131-132; Matasovic, p. 181; Green, Dictionary, p. 82-84
  38. Delmarre, p. 326; Green, Dictionary, p. 88-89
  39. Delmarre, p. 172-173; Matasovic, p. 148; Green, Dictionary, p. 106
  40. Matasovic, p. 151; Green, Dictionary, p. 107
  41. Delmarre, p. 163; Matasovic, p. 114; Green, Dictionary, pp. 120-122
  42. Delmarre, p. 166; Matasovic, p. 119; Green, Dictionary, p. 184-185
  43. Matassovic, p. 284; Green, Dictionary, pp. 194-195
  44. Delmarre, p. 108; Matasovic, p. 192; Green, Dictionary, pp. 198-199
  45. Matasovic, pp. 114-115; Green, Dictionary, pp. 203-204
  46. Delmarre, pp. 44-45; Matasovic, p. 35
  47. Matasovic, p. 35
  48. Delmarre, p. 49
  49. Matasovic, p. 215
  50. Matasovic, p. 265
  51. Matasovic, p. 266

One Comment


  1. Informative, indeed.
    Thanx again, Segomaros.

    On the sidenote I’d suggest correcting “he, he, it swears” to “he, she, it”.