1. Meaning of Name: Kondratiev gives us “Lightning Flash”. Green suggests “Shining One”. Olmsted suggests “Bright” or else “God of Oaths”. Mackillop suggests “Raven”. Olmsted is supported by John Koch, who presents a strong argument not only for the name meaning “Oath”, but for Lugus being a deity of oaths and destinies necessary to the cohesion of early Celtic society. 1
2. Pronunciation: Lug-us, with the “u” like in “put”.
3. Other Names and Epithets: Green gives us Artaios, Arvernus, Cissonius, Gebrinus, and Moccus. Olmsted gives us Arverniorix, Clavarigiatis, Dumiatis, and Vassocaletis.2
4. Interpretatio Romana: Mercury. Ovist also suggests Hercules, but is unsupported by other scholars. C. Lee Vermeers has made a good case in various discussions with me and in the Gaulish Polytheism Community that Lugus can be identified with the Wind Wolf, an Indo-European original from which Apollo ultimately derives. These arguments are ultimately based on arguments made in Daniel Gershenson’s Apollo the Wolf God. 3
5. Irish Equivalent: Lugh. 4
6. Indo-European Equivalent: None.
7. Realm: Both Ueronados/Upper World God, and, in some aspects, Andernados/Underworld God.
8. Iconography: Kondratiev gives us the spear, raven, horse, lynx, and wren, as well as high places and tricephaly. The Greco-Roman iconography of Mercury, especially the sack, is also important. 5
9. Significance: Kondratiev regards Lugus as the Master of All the Arts, a God of many skills, much as in Irish myth. Kondratiev also presents a complex analysis of Irish myth, in which he interprets Lugus as the killer of a giant much like the Irish Balor, by which act he wins the harvest from the control of the chaotic nature spirits. According his analysis, the Spear of Lugh represents the lightning bolt, visible in the storms of autumn, which end the hot weather in time for the harvest. Michael Enright sees Lugus quite differently, regarding him as a “mysterious figure linked with fertility, seasonal change, and the underworld”. He presents an interesting list of characteristics of figures linked to Mercury among the Gauls and Celtiberians, “one-eyedness, raven as cult animal, spear-bearing prophet stabbed by a spear, sacrifice by hanging and stabbing, disguised appearance, dedication of a hostile force by spear-throw, leadership of a band of warriors sworn to die for him, association with a prophetess with ties to a cult of the dead”. The links of this picture with the Germanic Woden should be obvious. Ovist sees Lugus in still different but related terms – as the Stranger King, who comes to the Gods from a mixed parentage, and who overthrows and kills a tyrannical giant, thereby winning freedom for his people. She also sees him as a god of art or skill. There are obvious commonalities to all three images: the mysterious nature of Lugus, his patronage of art or skill, his use of a spear, his use of it to kill a giant, associations with ravens, prophecy, and war. It should be noted that Lugus is definitely part of a divine couple with Rosmertâ, who in both Enright’s and Ovist’s view has associations with prophecy. Gershenson, while never mentioning Lugus, has in his Wind Wolf a deity associated with wind and breath, the harvest, weather, death, wolves, and the leadership of the warband, a band of young, unmarried warriors sworn to his worship and that of other warrior deities. John Koch sees Lugus as above all the Oath made manifest, the protector of the sworn word, and of the social ties that come from oaths. Insofar as he the word for Oath is relaterd to the word for Destiny, Lugus is the deity of destiny as well, swearing destinies on all things in cooperation with Rosmertâ. 6
- Kondratiev, Basic Celtic Deity Types, and Lugus: the Many Gifted Lord, http://www.imbas.org/articles/lugus.html; Green, Dictionary, p. 135; Olmsted, Gods of the Celts and Indo-Europeans, p. 110; Mackillop, p. 310; Prof. John Koch, Further to tongu do dia toinges mo thuath (“Mi a dyngaf dynged it”), &c. http://www.academia.edu/7242277/Further_to_tongu_do_dia_toinges_mo_thuath_Mi_a_dyngaf_dynged_it_and_c ↩
- Green, Dictionary, p. 148-149; Olmsted, Gods of the Celts and Indo-Europeans, p. 316-319 ↩
- Kondratiev, Basic Celtic Deity Types and Lugus; Olmsted, Gods of the Celts and Indo-Europeans, pp. 106-111; Ovist, pp. 351-390; Daniel E. Gershenson, Apollo the Wolf God, pp. 24-44, 98-126 ↩
- Kondratiev, Lugus ↩
- Kondratiev, Basic Celtic Deity Types and Lugus; Ovist, pp. 593-594 ↩
- Kondratiev, Lugus; Enright, pp. 218-240, 250-251; Ovist, pp. 201-236, 351-424; Prof. John Koch, Further to tongu do dia toinges mo thuath (“Mi a dyngaf dynged it”), &c. http://www.academia.edu/7242277/Further_to_tongu_do_dia_toinges_mo_thuath_Mi_a_dyngaf_dynged_it_and_c ; Gershenson, Apollo the Wolf God. ↩