The Gods of Gaul


Beltane, the Celtic festival that we now typically call May Day, was likely named after Belenos, a solar deity worshipped by the Celts and Gauls. Not much is known about him, but he was well represented and probably very popular. In addition to the sun, he is also thought to have been a patron of fire and healing. The Romans associated him with Apollo, and there has been speculation that he was also regarded as driving across the sky in a horse-drawn chariot. It’s known that the horse and the wheel are symbols of his, and he’s sometimes depicted with a female companion, possibly the river goddess Belisama.

In addition to the Beltane connection, I’m also featuring Belenos because I’ve been reading the Asterix comics, and he’s mentioned quite frequently in exclamations in these comics, along with Toutatis.

It seems that even less is known about him than about Belenos, but he is one of the Celtic gods mentioned by the poet Lucan, and is thought to have been identified with Mercury by Julius Caesar.

It is said that people were sacrificed to Toutatis in vats of liquid. It’s been proposed that his name means “Father of the Tribe,” and that there might have been a different Toutatis for each tribe. There’s also an asteroid called 4179 Toutatis. See, there was a good amount of historical research put into Asterix. Granted, it was often ignored for the sake of a joke, but it’s still in evidence.

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