1. Meaning of Name: Olmsted suggests “He Who Gives Renewal” “The Youth”, “The Child”, and several other possible translations. Green very tentatively suggests “Wealthy One” or “Cloud Maker”.1
2. Pronunciation: NAWD-ens, the “s” is almost a “ts” sound.
3. Other Names and Epithets: The name was also spelled Nodents, Noudonts, and various other ways. He may also be connected to Olmsted’s reconstructed proto-Celtic divinity Nectonios.2
4. Interpretatio Romana: Mars and Silvanus.3
5. Irish Equivalent: Nuada.4
6. Indo-European Equivalent: If he can be connected to Olmsted’s Nectonios, then he is also equivalent to Xákwōm Népōt, the “Nephew of the Waters”, and the “God of Fiery Water”.5
7. Realm: Given the Celtic associations of the sea, probably Andernados/Underworld God, but his solar associations may suggest otherwise.
8. Iconography: Olmsted notes that he is depicted with dogs, and tritons holding anchors. A hollow bronze arm is found in his temple at Lydney, in Britain, which may indicate that, like the Irish Nuada, he had a metal hand, or it might be a votive dedication from a worshiper wishing to have his arm healed. Olmsted also notes one depiction of him as “a sort of sun-God holding a sort of whip or flail in his right hand and driving toward the spectator in a four-horse chariot.6
9. Significance: Kodratiev regards Nodens as a name of the “Celtic Mars”. This has been followed by significant numbers of Gaulish Polytheists, but there is little in the other scholarly literature or in Nodens’ iconography to bear it out. He is quite different from other versions of the “Celtic Mars”, and seems more like a British version of Grannus. It should be noted that the temple at Lydney is the only temple to Nodens known. He is not apparently known on the Continent. Dáithi Ó hÓgáin believes Nodens to have been a British healing and sea God whose cult was introduced into Ireland, giving rise to the Irish Nuada.7
- Olmsted, Gods of the Celts and Indo-Europeans, p. 393; Green, Dictionary, p. 162 ↩
- Olmsted, Gods of the Celts and Indo-Europeans, p. 390, 384 ↩
- Green, Dictionary, p. 162 ↩
- Olmstead, Gods of the Celts and Indo-Europeans, p. 393; Green, Dictionary, p. 162; Mackillop, p. 347 ↩
- Serith, Deep Ancestors, pp. 57-59; Olmsted, Gods of the Celts and Indo-Europeans, p. 384 ↩
- Olmsted, Gods of the Celts and Indo-Europeans, pp. 390-393 ↩
- Kondratiev, Basic Celtic Deity Types; Green, Dictionary, p. 162; Dáithi Ó hÓgáin, The Sacred Isle: Belief and Religion in pre-Christian Ireland, pp. 136-137 ↩
It’s lovely to see some information on lesser-known Brythonic deities such as Nodens and Maponus shared with a wide range of polytheists on this site. Tolkien translates Nodens as ‘the Catcher’ and links his name to that bronze arm. My deepest connection with Nodens is as a god of dream (hence the ‘Land of Nod’).
(This is for Lorna–can’t reply to her comment directly, for some reason…?!)
His temple did have incubation facilities, so he certainly has a precedent of contacting devotees via dreams…
And, since both Lludd and Nudd in Welsh are said to be linguistic descendants of Nodons, there’s further connections there for you as well!