Belenos – Sun God Plaque
Historical Description by the Artist:
The ancient Celtic Sun God had many names depending upon the variations of language from tribe to tribe. Among the Gauls and certain British Celts, the name of the God of Solar Fire and purification was Belenos. Often incorrectly labeled as a “Gorgon’s head” or a “male medusa”, this mask comes to us as a bas-relief from the Roman Baths at Aqua Sulis in Bath, England.
The flaming solar rays emanate from his hair and beard. He is also portrayed as having wings and garlanded with serpents. He held many of the attributes given to Classical Sun gods such as Helios and Apollo. The occupying Romans who built the baths where this relief is found referred to this deity as the Celtic Apollo. This impressive image was the central figure of the pediment of the Temple of Sulis, a Goddess like Brigid, with strong solar connections. Caesar described the Gaulish Apollo as a therapeutic deity, driving away disease.
Belenos was certainly associated with thermal springs like the ones at Aqua Sulis. Medieval tradition also associates with Bath the figure of king Bladud, a flying man who embodies a myth of regeneration, implying many regal solar attributes. His name might have been compounded of elements of the Celtic language meaning “bright and dark.” The god-name Belenos is directly linked to Apollo in Romano-Celtic inscriptions. He was the god of the Celtic kingdom of Noricum in the eastern Alps, but was also known in Britain, Italy, southern Gaul and Ireland where he was associated with the myth of Balor of the Flaming Eye who was the earlier Sun God deposed by Lugh, one of the powerful Tuatha de Danaan.
The word bel means “bright” or “brilliant” and is found in various place names associated with his cult. The Celtic ceremony of Beltane, also known popularly as May Day, marked the beginning of the Celtic summer. Ceremonies of regeneration, purification with spring water and the ritual lighting of the Bale-Fire are still connected to this day with Beltane.
Plaque Name: Belenos – Sun God Plaque