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The Healing Deities of Ancient Celts

The healing deities that ancient Celts worshipped were often associated with elements of nature, including thermal springs, light, and healing wells. While one of the most known of the deities of healing is Brighid (the triple goddess of healing, poetry and smithcraft), there are many others to consider, including the ones mentioned in this article.

Airmed

One of the lesser known Irish deities of healing was Airmed, who was linked to a healing well and with the art of herbalism. In myths, she is referred to as the healer of the injured in the Second Battle of Magh Tuiredh. One tale speaks of her father who killed her brother, Miach, in a jealous rage. Airmed mourned the death of her brother and when she visited his grave, her tears produced the healing herbs of the world. They grew from the earth over Miach’s body. She collected the plants and organized them , spreading them on her cloak.

Her father was angry once again and attached his daughter, which caused the herbs to scatter. Because of this, no human is knowledgeable in the secrets of herbalism. The only individual that remembers is Airmed. Another myth identifies Airmed as one of the enchanters (along with her brother) that used an incantation to resurrect the dead over the well of Slaine.

Belanus

Celtic myths tell of a deity named Belanus (meaning ‘shining one’ or ‘the bright one’), who was worshipped in Gaul and other Celtic regions. He had shrines in many different places, including England. This Celtic sun god is referred to in more than 50 known inscriptions that pay homage to him.

Borvo

With an association to bubbling spring water, Borvo was a healing deity that was quite popular in the territory of the Lingones at Bournonne-les-Bains. Ten inscriptions devoted to the god have been found at this location so far. Votive tablets reveal that people came with offerings, looking for healing of themselves or loved ones. The god was also called by different names, such as Bormo, Bormanus, Borbanus, Labbonus, and Borus.

Grannus

Those who lived in northern Gaul were all too familiar with Grannus, the god with a connection to healing thermal and mineral springs. The deity was also linked to the sun and with spas. In what is now known as Aachen, Germany, there was a well known cult center devoted to Grannus. It was here that hot springs in the town produced temperatures that reached between 45 and 75 degrees Celsius. Many people visited the springs, including the Roman Emperor Caracalla, who came to the shrine of the healing god during wartime with Germany in around 215.