A hazy trip through the planets

Mars glares red on the horizon — and not alone. Two other bright wanderers — Jupiter? Venus? — hug the horizon, until the clouds veil them. The wind blows the veil, back and forth, back and forth, under the half-moon.

I know the Greek and Roman attributes of the planets, and a little of those from other cultures: Egypt, Sumer, India. But what the ancient Celts believed the wanderers to be — and who they believed them to be — is a blank slate. Embarrassing, since this is my chosen tradition. So much, so much, we have lost through the sheer press of time.

The Celts would have undoubtedly had names and concepts associated with the heavens; they were humans, and humans inevitably end up looking heavenward in wonder. The names of the planets that remain are Gaelicized versions of the Latin names, however; the exceptions are Grian, the sun; Gealach, the Moon; and An Domhan, the Earth. The last is believed to come from dubnos, meaning “the deep”; I find myself thinking of ADF’s concept of the Well.

Interestingly, the words for both sun and moon are feminine in Irish; the sun’s name is connected with the PIE root for “shining” and, if I’m not mistaken, the root of the moon’s name is “bright.” Modern Druidic traditions have no real agreement as to who the sun and moon deities are; many Pagans associate Lugh with the sun and nearly any female deity they care to name with the moon. On the other hand, the prayers in the Carmina Gadelica address both the sun and the moon as female at points, and occasionally the sun as male in allusion to Christ.

Aedh Rua, in Celtic Flame, pegs both the sun and the moon as female: Aine and Boann. In my own practice, I worship Aine as the sun and Midhir as the moon and the measurer of time, a practice I know is very UPG-based. But hey, it works for me.

For the planets, I have no real associations. Some random thoughts, based on their classical attributions:

* Mercury: Interestingly, Lugh was considered by the Romans to be the Celtic equivalent of Mercury. Another option for attribution could be Ogma, who is known as “Sun-face”; Mercury, as you may know, turns very slowly and keeps one face largely turned toward the sun. In astrology, the planet is known to inspire intelligence, eloquence and quick-wittedness, which would be appropriate for either god.

* Mars: The Celtic Mars would be equivalent to Nuada, if you go by Alexei Kondratiev’s explanation of Celtic deity-types. Other options would be the Morrigan, who appears as a red woman in some myths; Nemain’s consort Neit, the god of war; or even perhaps Bodb Dearg, a son of the Dagda whose name may mean “Red Crow.” In my own practice, I’m leaning toward Bodb Dearg.

* Venus: Aonghus Og is the god of love, springtime and beauty, so I’m sticking with him in this spot. Of course, Venus itself has a surface temperature of, oh, 900 degrees or so and its atmosphere is filled with toxic gases, so I’m not sure what that says about love.

* Jupiter: If we’re going with the King of the Gods in this spot, then it would be the Dagda. One of his names is Ruadh Rofhessa, the Red One of Knowledge, and Jupiter is a bit on the red side, too.

* Saturn: An interesting problem. In astrology, Saturn is dire and has a baleful influence. In myth, Kronos is the god who ate his children and had to be defeated. My thought: perhaps the Fomhoire king Balor, whose line gave birth to prominent members of the Tuatha and whose eye was known for its baleful influence. Other idea: the Morrigan, as Badb, raven goddess of battle and death. I’m liking the Balor idea, though.

That would be the extent of the wanderers known to the ancient world. But not letting that stop us:

* Neptune: I’d put the sea god Manannan here, for obvious reasons.

* Uranus: I consider this planet to be the locus of weirdness. After all, its axis is on its side and it’s the guiding planet of Aquarius. The Morrigan is capable of some mighty strange behavior, so I’ll put the Great Queen here. She does deserve a planet of her own, although she may in fact claim them all.

* Pluto: I don’t care what they say; Pluto is still a damn planet. But I’ll assign Donn the Dark One to this position. Just as Pluto is a planet and not, Donn is the Lord of the Death yet also, paradoxically, a mortal: He’s the first human to die. And it’s pretty damn dark out there in the boonies, so it fits the name.

That’s all my planetary rantings for the day! As you may have guessed, this is all Unverified Personal Gnosis (UPG). But it’s my gnosis — so there.

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About whitecatgrove

The musings of a Druid priestess, singer, poet and musician in Upstate New York.
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