Not many things surprise me, when it comes to Celtic gods.
But Gordon over at Rune Soup penned something that made me fall back in my seat and think:
Quick. Name a high-profile Celtic rain god. (Not thunder, not water, rain.) We tend to form gods around desirous, unpredictable outcomes like military victory, agricultural yield or stable monarchies. I was not short of indigenous rain gods in Australia.
He was talking about the drought in England: in a country that never runs out of rain, is there even a rain god to pray to?
The answer is yes: Dagda, the god of the sky and thunder, is the one to pray to. He’s present in force whenever a rainstorm shows up, and even if the thunder is his weapon and blah blah, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s the sky and all it holds.
(Dagda is Gaelic, not Celtic, but swap Taranis for you Continental types.)
Celtic folklorist Alexei Kondratiev also put forward that Lugh is specifically connected to bringing the harvest-saving August rainstorms in Ireland. He only had one example from the lore, but it makes sense.
So sure, there are gods who bring the rain, even in rainy ol’ England; but Gordon’s point stands. There isn’t a “rain” god there per se, while dryer climes have plenty.
This fits in just fine with a sensible polytheology. Even if you believe all the gods are totally individual beings – not faces of a single force – it still makes sense that, for example, the soul of the sun is going to appear quite different to people in the Sahara than to people in the Yukon. Much of divine personage is human trappings, or trappings used to communicate with humans. If a tribe never once has to worry about lack of rainfall, it makes sense that they won’t make a big deal out of the rain spirit.
But I usually think of the plurality of gods (and their cultural adornment) as different perspectives on an essentially equivalent set of beings.
But to realize that some cultures are totally blind to certain gods, even when those gods are present in their environment? That’s a revelation.
It makes me wonder how cultural values relate to the recognition of more abstract deities. For example, are there cultures that don’t have love gods? I can only think of a few societies that have specific money gods, or gods of compassion.
Here’s the real Saul-on-the-ground though:
What gods have I never even conceived of?
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