Character Ideation: Part 1
I thought I’d research Scottish history and mythology as a start point. This will no doubt give me great ideas as to what heroes, villains, NPC’s and monsters I wish to incorporate. Potentially this will be used for inspiration only, in which case I may end up turning the narrative into a work of fiction. Never the less, what I found was a distinct muddling of Irish and Scottish pre-christian beliefs. I would love to keep the two seperated, but may need to draw on the irish side of lore.
Gods and Goddesses
Beira, the Queen of Winter
Beira had a firm hold on the country by raising storms during January and February thus preventing greenery to emerge. She was considered a tough and brutal old woman who stirred the deadly spiraling action of Corryvreckan, ushering snow, as well as torrents resulting in the overflow of rivers. Even the creation of lochs and mountains were attributed to her.
Brigid, the Triple Deity of Spring
She is associated with the spring season, fertility, healing, poetry and smithcraft. Cormac’s Glossary, written in the 10th century by Christian monks, says that Brigid was “the goddess whom poets adored” and that she had two sisters: Brigid the healer and Brigid the smith. This suggests she may have been a triple deity.
Goddess of hot springs who came to Brittany from Celtic Gaul. A minor sun Goddess in her own right before the time when the Cels relegated the majority of their sun images to male deities and their moon images to female ones.
Rules Over: Purification, solar magick.
Goddess and queen of the Isle of Shadow. She ran a school for warriors, but her school was less successful than her sister, Scathach’s, school. Aoife was not vulnerable to magick, and commanded a legion of fierce horsewomen. She stole an alphabet of knowledge from the deities to give to humankind. For that infraction, she was transformed into a crane by the elder deities. Supposedly, she was accidently killed by hunters but yet others say she still haunts the countryside in this form today. She is associated with the three fold law and the crane.
Rules Over: Protection, general knowledge, teaching, pathworking, lessons of the threefold law.
Minor Sun Goddess who is thought to be the daughter of the king of the region known as Corco Loidhe.
She is the Goddess of Summer, Wealth and Sovereignty. She is associated with midsummer and the sun.
Goddess of healing, medicinal plants and keeper of the springs. Regenerates the dead and brings them to life again.
Son of a forgotten Sea God who may have been part of a lost creation myth. Was once said to rule the Celtic world. His name became the poetic name for Britain.
Originally from Gaul, where his Celtic identity was lost during the Roman takeover where he took all the characteristics of the Roman God Jupiter. Weather deity who controlled the rain, wind, hail and fog.
Rules Over: Weather magick, leadership.
War Goddess who was evoked on the eve of the battle to bring favor, and possibly ritual sacrifices were given to her. Queen Boadicea of the Iceni offered sacrifieces to Andraste in a sacred grove before fighting the Romans on her many compaigns against them.
Rules Over: Overcoming enemies.
Father of the famed warrioress sister Aife and Scathach. Once a Sun God.
Rules Over: Fire magick.
Woodland and animal Goddess who haunted the forests of Ardennes riding a wild boar. She commanded a fine for any animal killed on her land, yet asked for animal sacrifices on her feast day.
Rules over: Animals, familiars, woodlands.
The only Greek Goddess known to have been worshipped in Celtic Gaul. Her name is derived from the word arachnid. Ariadne spun the universe from the primordial darkness like a spider spins her web, a theme with echoes in the creation myths of many other cultures. She is thought to be very ‘unceltic’ and to have been brought with the Celts on their long journey across the European continent. She is associated with spider web, sulphur, thread, yarn.
Rules Over: Protection, magick, manifestation, time.
Goddess of time, karma and retribution. Keeper of the silver wheel of stars, a symbol of time and karma.
Goddess of spring waters who was once a minor solar deity.
Rules Over: Healing and purification.
God of sheep and cattle herders from Celtic Gaul. Later, the Romans identified him with Mercury.
Rules Over: Sheep, cattle.
Bear Goddess whose shrine once stood in what is now Berne, Switzerland. She is usually depicted as being surrounded by full baskets and animals. Goddess of fertility and wildlife. She is associated with the bear, claws and teeth, geode stones.
Rules Over: Fertility, animals, strenght, courage.
War Goddess much like the Irish Badb.
Rules Over: War.
Thought to be one of the earliest Celtic Gods. Nothing is known about him today though he may have later surfaced as Borvo, a Breton God of hot springs. His name appears in cameo in old manuscripts and carvings.
God of hot springs who replaced his mother, Sirona, in this function when her story was patriarchalized. The spring he ruled had great healing powers.
Rules Over: Healing.
A Goddess of sovereignty and often thought of as the Brigit of England. In 1667 Charles I had her face placed on the coinage where it remains today, reviving an old custom, first instated by the Romans who adopted her as their own.
Rules Over: Sovereignty, self-control, leadership, protection of your land, prosperity.
Goddess of fire and water. She is immortalised by many springs and wells. Brighid was so loved that she was made a saint when Christianity became onset. Associated with Imbolc. She had an exclusive female priesthood at Kildare and an ever-burning fire. She had 19 priestesses representing the 19-year cycle of the Celtic “Great Year.”
Rules Over: Fire, fertility, the hearth, all feminine arts and crafts, martial arts, healing, physicians, agriculture, inspiration, learning, poetry, divination, prophecy, smithcraft, animal husbandry, love, witchcraft, occult knowledge.
Goddess of sleep and dreams. Often takes the form of a swan. Singer of the sweetest, most restful music ever heard on earth.
Goddess in her Destroyer aspect. Beira is also a Winter Goddess. Goddess of disease and plague. She is also known as the “veiled one”. She resides in the afterworld realm where she receives the dead.
Rules Over: Winter, disease, plauge, cursing, wisdom, seasonal rites, weather magick.
The Horned God, God of Nature, God of the Underworld. The Druids knew him as Hu Gadarn, the Horned God of Fertility. Usually depicted as sitting in a lotus position with horns/antlers on his head, a beard, naked except for a neck torque and sometimes holding a shield and spear. His symbols included the stag, ram, bull and horned serpent.
Rules Over: Virility, fertility, animals, physical love, Nature, woodlands, reincarnation, crossroads, wealth, commerce, warriors, hunt, magick, sacrifice.
Moon Goddess, Grain Goddess. Welsh Bards called themselves Cerddorion (sons of Cerridwen). The Bard, Taliesin, founder of their craft was said to be born of Cerridwen and to have tasted a potent from her magick cauldron of inspiration. In her magickal cauldron, she made a potion called greal (from which the word Grail most likely came from). The potion was made from six plants for inspiration and knowledge. Her symbol was a white sow.
Rules Over: Death, fertility, regeneration, inspiration, magick, astrology, herbs, science, poetry, spells, knowledge, wisdom, past lives, divination.
Tuatha De Danann Sea and Otherworld Goddess who usually took the form of a sea bird and therefore symbolized the Celtic afterlife. As a Goddess of the waves, she was believed to be embodied in every ninth wave that broke on the shore. This wave was believed to break higher and stronger than any other.
Rules Over: Spirit contact, appreciation, beauty, water magick.
Well known Goddess and namesake of the River Clyde. The waters in which she governed were believed to be especially useful in controlling seizures.
Rules Over: Water magick.
A semi-divine warrioress whose home was in the Otherworld.
Rules Over: Spirit contact.
God of confluence whose sacred places were wherever two rivers or bodies of water met.
Rules Over: Water magick.
Prophecy Goddess who regularly appeared in the form of a crane. She symbolizes transcendent knowledge and transitions to the Otherworld.
Rules Over: Divination, prophecy.
One of the most potent of the Celtic river Goddesses. Most likely Roman in origin. She was also the Goddess of featherless flying creatures which may have symbolized some type of blockage to passing into the Otherworld. There is evidence she was worshipped in Celtic Gaul where reliefs have been found showing her reclining on a floating leaf.
Rules Over: Time, new beginnings, life cycles, wishes, protection of birds, divination, inspiration of self.
Goddess of flowers and love. Connected with the festival of Beltane (a celtic festival celebrated on May Day) and called the May queen.
Faery Queen Goddess who is associated with Dana’s mountains, the Paps of Anu. She vowed never to sleep until she found a man who could create for her the most majestic poem ever penned. It not only had to be perfectly crafted, but describe in vivid detail her home and all its contents. The catch 22 was that no man was allowed within her dwelling’s guarded walls (possibly a reference to one of the Otherworld realms known as The Land of Women). Coll, a warrior of the Fianna, succeeded and Cred married him. She is associated with Yew, rose oil, the color pink.
Rules Over: Love magick, searching for the perfect mate, keeping secrets, spirit contact.
Third aspect of the Triple Goddess. She signifies old age or death, winter, the end of all things, the waning moon, post-mentrual phases of women’s lives, all destruction that comes before regeneration through her cauldron of rebirth. Crows and other black creatures are sacred animals to her. Dogs accompanied her usually and guarded the gates of her after-world, helping her to receive the dead. It was thought that true curses could be cast with a dog’s help.
Minor harvest and Sun God with Greek roots who was imprisoned with his subordinate deities on a western island which could have been a Land of the Dead. He seems to have no connection to the Greek God of time who has the same name.
Goddess of streams. Her scream foretells death. She is the queen of banshees.
Goddess of “debauchery” by her detractors, while some recent legends go so far as to make her the destroyer of her own realm through her excesses and her worship of “idols.” By her followers, she is hailed as a Goddess of earthly pleasure. Fishermen of Britain claim to occasionally see her city beneath the French seas, and believe that she will indeed return someday.
Rules Over: Pleasure, courage, water magick, fertility magick, sea faery contact.
Cow Goddess which little is known about.
Rules Over: Fertility, abundance.
A triune of earth Goddesses given this singular Latin name on the continent. None of the legends about her survive though there are many inscriptions and scultpures which attest to the strength of her worship. It is believed her following was destroyed by the Romans when they took Gaul. The Trio are shown as robed figures bearing baskets of flowers, fruit, and grain, items which represent the bounty of three non-winter seasons.
Rules Over: Harvest, fertility, prosperity.
Queen of the heavens and goddess of air and sea. Rules over the land of the dead. Symbolises control of the elements and the moon.
“Queen of the Druids.” Fir Goddess and goddess/mother of the tree calendar.
Rules Over: Fertility, passion, sexual activities, trees, protection, knowledge, creativity, growth, forests.
Gaulish Celtic God of fortifications. Protector of sacred spaces.
Rules Over: Protection of sacred places and hiding places during rituals.
Maiden aspect of the Goddess.
Queen of Elphame
Goddess of death and disease who is often equated with the Greek Goddess Hecate. More recently, in the past few hundred years, she has been seen as a Faery Queen and assocaited with Beltane. Thomas and Rhymer always maintained that she appeared to him on a May Eve dressed in green silks and riding a white horse with fifty-nine silver bells tied in its mane (odd association since Celtic faeries have always been thought to shun the ringing of bells).
Rules Over: Death, destruction, plague, battle, Otherworld, rebirth, faery contact.
Goddess for whom the Ostara Sabbat is named for a.k.a. Easter. She is viewed as spring personified. The word for animal menstruation, “estrus,” meaning “fertile period,” is derived from her name, and therefore she is a Goddess of animal reproduction.
Rules Over: Ostara, Great Rite, Fertility of pets/livestock, new ventures, reincarnation, new life.
“Divine Horse.” Goddess of horses, Mother Goddess, Mare.
Rules Over: Fertility, maternity, protectress of horses, horse-breeding, prosperity, dogs, healing springs, crops.
Horse God often seen as either a male form of Epona or as her consort.
Rules Over: Night, dream magick, horses.
Earth Mother and Harvest Goddess represented by a womb or over-flowing Horn of Plenty who is believed to be Basque in origin.
Rules Over: Harvest festivals, earth magick.
Fionn MacCumhal/Finn MacCool
Legendary giant God/Warrior of Ireland who foresaw the coming of the Milesians and banished an invading giant from Scotland.
Rules Over: Wisdom, overcoming enemies, creation, protection, knowledge, divination.
Goddess of the woodlands and wild things. She is a shapeshifter and is associated with protection and wild animals.
Master herbalist and sun Goddess who was the daughter of King Cormac and who married Fionn MacCumhal.
Rules Over: Herbs, knowledge, sun, fire magick.
The Horned God, The Lord. Lord of the winter, harvest, land of the dead, the sky, animals, mountains, lust, powers of destruction, regeneration. Represents the male principle of creation.
The Lady. Represents the female principle of creation. Goddess of fertility, the Moon, summer, flowers, love, healing, the seas, water.
A “spinning” Goddess who is thought to either be a goddess of spell casting or the wheel of the year since “spinning” refers to them both. She is best known for her powers of healing which were linked to her skills with weaving fiber. All who wore her clothes never became ill.
Rules Over: Healing, seasonal rites, commemoration.
Goddess of Tungrain origin who used to be worshipped in Dunfriesshire. Most likely a Goddess of protection.
Rules Over: Protection.
Holly King/Oak King
Two sacrifical Gods who, in the manner of such deities, are two aspects of the same being. Holly King represents the waning year, and battles the Oak King at Midsummer (probably at Beltane sometime in the past) for rulership. The Oak King is the God of the waxing year and fights the Holly King at Yule (perhaps at one time Samhain) for the same honor. Today most celtic witches see these two as faeries or spiritual energies rather than as divine beings since only pieces of folklore and custom, rather than mythology, define them.
The Lady of the Lake
To some she is a faery woman, to others she is a potent deity of life, death and regeneration. She was the possessor of the sword Excalibur (called Caliburn in Brittany), the magickal blade given to King Arthur. A Sovereign Goddess, it is this act of taking the offered sword which grants Arthur the right to rule, and it is she who claims the blade again, when his role as sacrificial king must be fulfilled. The Bretons claim she was a Breton addition to the Arthurian legends and that she never appeared in the original Welsh versions of the myths. Contradictory to the “sword in the churchyard stone” stories, the Breton version tells us that Merlin and Arthur rowed out to the center of the Dosmary Lake in Cornwall and that it was there that Excalibur was presented to him, the sword embedded in a floating stone. When he pulled it out, it was an act of reversal of the Great Rite, separating the female and male concepts of creation which were not to be united again until Arthur’s death. The Lady of the Lake is also said to have been the foster mother of Sir Lancelot, one of Arthurs knights, also a Breton addition to the tale. She is pictured as sitting on a throne of reeds in the center of the lake’s depths. Among her MANY magickal credits is that of a healer. She is associated with the crane, water lilies and marble.
Rules Over: Purification, healing, Great Rite, any other magickal acts associated with the feminine elements.
Thunder and storm God.
Rules Over: Weather Magick
God of the sea and water.
Rules Over: Water, sea.
A hero God. His feast is Lughnassadh, a harvest festival. He is associated with ravens. His symbol is a white stag in Wales. Lugh had a magick spear and rod-sling. One of his magick hounds was obtained from the sons of Tuirenn as part of the blood-fine for killing his father Cian. He was a carpenter, mason, smith, harper, poet, Druid, physician and goldsmith.
Rules Over: War, magick, commerce, reincarnation, lightning, water, arts and crafts, manual arts, journeys, martial arts, blacksmiths, poets, harpers, musicians, historians, sorcerers, healing, revenge, initiation, prophecy.
Minor sun got who also ironically represness. Some traditions view hiim as the original being, the first God, first life carved out of the primal void of the divine womb.
Rules Over: Any endeavor, seasonal rites, fertility rites, the hunt, death, spirit contact.
MacKay’s legend is possibly a reworking of an old story about a fire God.
Rules Over: Faery contact, sun.
Manannán mac Lir
He dressed in a green cloak and gold headband. He was a shape-shifter. Chief Celtic sea God. His swine magickally renewed themselves, were the chief food of the Tuatha De Danann and kept them from aging. He had famous weapons that included two spears called Yellow Shaft and Red Javelin; swords called the Retaliator, Great Fury and Little Furty. He had magick armor that prevented wounds and could make the Tuatha invisible at will.
Rules Over: Sea, navigators, storms, weather at sea, fertility, sailing, weather-forecasting, magick, arts, merchants and commerce, rebirth.
Serpent Goddess brought to common awareness though the writing of French author Rabelais. She and her sisters, Melior and Palatina, are a triplicity.
Rules Over: Compassion, knowledge of when vengeance is not right or just or just none of your business.
Otherworld/faery God/king, Son of the Dagda and Boann. Owned 3 birds, the Cranes of Denial, Despair and Churlishness, who refused hospitality to travelers, a definite breach of the Celtic rules of social intercourse. He had a magick cauldron which his daughter Blathnat helped Cuchulain steal from him. Today is viewed as both an Otherworld God and a faery God compared to Pluto.
Rules Over: Faery contact, prosperity spells.
A Goddess of wells and hillsides.
Harvest Goddess from the Scottish/English border region.
Rules Over: Seasonal Rites.
Reinged over the war-field, helping with her magick, but did not join in battles. Associated with crows and ravens. The Crone aspect of the Goddess. In her dark aspect, she is the goddess of war, fate and death. The carrion crow is her favorite disguise. With her, Fea (hateful), Nemon (Battle) encouraged fighters to battle-madness.
Rules Over: Rivers, lakes, fresh water, priestesses, witches, revenge, night, magick, prophecy, banishing magick, passing over rites, overcoming enemies, battles, warriors, service wo/men, violence.
Battle Goddess whose name means “eastern sea,” and she personified the storm-tossed seas between Ireland and Scotland. In modern times an entire race of unpleasant Scottish sea faeries bears her name. She is depicted as a one-eyed crone with a black and blue face and a scaled body. The Fianna said she would occasionally fly in from over the sea and fight on their side in battle.
Rules Over: See The Morrigu.
Patron Deity of teamsters. He is associated with jackassess and with the Roman God Mars.
Rules Over: Protection in travel, animals.
Lake Goddess associated with the deluge legends.
Rules Over: Water magick.
Dog Goddess who was the patron deity of sea traders, perhaps an image derived from Sirius (The Dog Star), which was once an important navigational star.
Rules Over: Protection on the water.
Crone Goddess associated with Samhain. In modern times she is called a “witch” or “evil faery.”
Rules Over: Samhain rituals.
Goddess of protective fortifications whose name means “of the fortress.” Ratis’ most notable worship sites were near the towns of Birdoswald and Chesters.
Rules Over: Defenses, protection.
She is known only from one inscription in the Tyne Valley. It is thought she was a Goddess of mourning.
Rules over: Passing Over rites, mourning.
Underworld Goddess, Goddess in her Destroyer aspect. A warrior woman and prophetess who lived in Albion, most likely on the Isle of Skye and taught the martial arts.
Rules Over: Blacksmiths, healing, magick, prophecy, martial arts, protection, teaching.
Earth Goddess who lived beneath the rivers of Britain and could only be seen if the rivers were drained or low from drought. Goddess of the many other River Goddesses.
Rules Over: Prosperity, earth magick, water magick, purification.
Today, the Shoney are now though to be sea faeries living off the coast of Scotland and northern Ireland, but were originally a single God of the North Sea.
Rules Over: Faery contact, sea.
Goddess of many of the beneficial hot springs in southern France from which her few legends came. Also a Sky Goddess and most likely deity of the Sun. Mother of Borvo, who took her position in patriarchal times.
Rules Over: Healing, purification.
God who had no corporeal incarnation. Symbolizes pure masculinity, divine energy.
Rules Over: Masculine powers.
A river and death God about whom nothing but his name is known about. However, some claim he was the consort of Nantosuelta, whose name means “of the meandering stream.” Others see him as a representation of death.
Rules Over: Water, death.
Thunder God. In early Gaul human sacrifices were offered to him to influence the weather. He was also God of the wheel as well as God of Fertility and a Sky God.
Rules Over: Seasonal rites, weather magick, fertility spells.
Death Goddess to whom human sacrifices were offered.
Rules Over: Passing Over rituals.
As a river name it was doubtless primarily the name of a goddess, ‘the Silent One’.
Goddess of Edinburgh who plucked out her eyes to erradicate her own beauty rather than submit to the advances of Nechtan, King of the Picts. Some believe she is an eastern Scottish version of the Goddess Brigit.
The Triple Goddess is known and worshiped in Pagan cultures all over the world. She is eternal, yet always in a state of change. Her colors are white for the maiden, red for the mother and black for the crone. The Symbol of the Triple Goddess is the Waxing, Full and Waning Moons.
Goddess who trained warriors to fight. One of the many mistresses Cuchulain had over his life.
Rules Over: Proteciton and strength.
Monster and Beasties
The Loch Ness Monster
The Loch Ness Monster is a legendary aquatic creature reported from many sightings over many years. A popular belief is that the monster is a lone survivor of the “long-extinct plesiosaurs”. Although the sighting of the monster was reported as far back as the 6th century, in recent times the sightings were reported once the road around the loch was built. The first reporting of sighting of Nessie on land was about 20 yards from the loch as the monster was approaching towards the loch; it was seen by Spicer and his wife on 22 July 1933. In April 1934 a photograph was taken by a London surgeon when he was traveling to Inverness but its authenticity has been disputed. Sightings were even reported during the World War II days in May 1943 by C.B. Farrel of the Royal Observer Corps.
Loch Ness measures 22 1⁄2 miles (36 kilometres) and has a width of 1 1⁄2 miles (2.5 kilometres) at the widest. Its depth is 754 feet (230 metres) and the bed of the loch is flat like a “bowling green”. The Loch’s volume is the largest in Great Britain.
The first reported sighting of the Loch Ness Monster was in the River Ness in 565 AD. The Irish monk Saint Columba was staying in the land of the Picts with his companions when he came across the locals burying a man by the River Ness. They explained that the man had been swimming the river when he was attacked by a “water beast” that had mauled him and dragged him under. They tried to rescue him in a boat, but were able only to drag up his corpse. Hearing this, Columba stunned the Picts by sending his follower Luigne moccu Min to swim across the river. The beast came after him, but Columba made the sign of the cross and commanded: “Go no further. Do not touch the man. Go back at once.” The beast immediately halted as if it had been “pulled back with ropes” and fled in terror, and both Columba’s men and the pagan Picts praised God for the miracle.
This is a form of werewolf that stalkes the lands of Shetland but unlike the common myth, this creature was never human. It has the body of a man but the head of a wolf, and is not seen as aggressive if left to his own devices. He will occasionally leave fish on the windowsills of the poor to ensure that people don’t starve too.
The Bean Nighe
The Bean Nighe is described as a form of banshee, but otherwise known as the washer woman. She can be spotted at the edge of isolated streams washing blood from the clothes of those about to die! The appearance of the Bean Nighe is normally that of a hag, however she can change her appearance to that of a beautiful woman if she so decides. Any living person can approach the washer woman, with a variety of outcomes possible, including being told the names of those soon to die.
Thanks to the wonderful sculpture at Falkirk Canal, more people than ever are aware of the Kelpies, though there are a few things you may not know. The Kelpies are shapeshifting water spirits commonly seen as a horse but it can also change its form into a human. Unlike the friendly looking sculpture though Kelpies will lead humans to their death; by luring them to the water and devouring them, hence why they are seen as demons…
Blue Men of the Minch
These creatures have the appearance of normal sized human men but are blue in colour. They are located in the Minch, which is the waterway between mainland Scotland and the Outer Hebrides, and have the ability to create storms and interact with humans. It is said that if a vessel comes into contact with them the Chief of the creatures will recite two lines of a poem. The master of the vessel who encounters them must complete the poem otherwise the will do their best to capsize the vessel and kill all inside.
Probably the most gentle of the creatures on this list are the Selkies, they are seals that reside in the sea and shed their skin in order to take human form on land. They are said to be very attractive in their human form and have no trouble forging romantic relationships with humans. However, as their home is the sea it is not long until they make their return, unless a human is able to hide the skin they’ve shed, without this they cannot return home. A Selkie can have a husband/wife and have a family but if they are able to obtain their skin again they will immediately return to the sea.