By Trebomâros Auigani
Within ADF, we follow an annual ritual year. As stated within the Dedicant Program, “High day attended/performed might be celebrated with a local grove, privately, or with another Neopagan group. At least 4 rituals attended/performed during the training period must be ADF-style.” “ADF style” refers to the Core Order of Rites (COoR), however, this format provides a fair amount of flexibility for the members to develop their ritual practices. Below is a list of different seasonal periods (cross-quarter days, solstices, and equinoxes) that were presented in “Gaulish Ritual Primer: Gods, Spirits, and Festivals” on the Gaulish Kin website, however, we are expanding on the information in regards to the holidays presented in the basic ritual primer as well as give alternatives to holidays you can celebrate based on research of holidays practiced by both the Pre-Roman and Post-Roman Gauls.
The Coligny Calendar
One thing that people within the Gaulish Polytheism community have run into over the years is that how the Gaulish ritual year looks like will depend on how you look at the calendar. The Gaulish Polytheism Calendar is primarily based on the Coligny Calendar, which was discovered in 1897 in Coligny, France. The calendar is not complete, but reconstructing it is fairly easy, except there is no indication on the calendar how it relates to other calendars of the time. Most of the reconstructions have been based on linguistics, which has developed two different interpretations of how the months should fall. So for example, if you are looking at December, you will see it as either the month of Giamonios or possibly Dumannios. Over the years, there has been a lot of disagreement on what month the months fall under and what you might want to call the holiday will depend on how you look at the calendar. The Gaulish Kin is not taking an official position on which one is the “right one”. But we are providing the best information we can so you can decide for yourself how you want to honor your gods and the Kindreds.
The Gaulish Ritual Year in ADF
The following list is an overview of the ADF ritual year in relation to the Gaulish Kin. This is a work in progress and we will be adding and expanding on parts as we move through the ritual year.
- November Feast: Samonis (Summer’s End), also known as Centugiamos (Winter’s Beginning) to some, Samonis is the beginning of the winter half of the year. A feast celebrating the end of the year and the cycle of death and rebirth. On this day the ancestors are released from Amdumnos to feast with the living. Deities that can be honored this day include Sucellos and Nantosueltâ with their connection with the afterlife, Cernunnos and Eponâ for their associations with guiding and protecting the spirits of the dead between this world and the Otherworld, and possibly the Dêwâs Matres with their associations with family ancestral wisdom, luck, and fate.
- February Feast: Usmolgos (also known as Ambivolcos, Ambiuolcia) is a feast celebrating the promise of the spring time, the return of the light from the darkness, and purification from the ill luck of the previous year. Honored gods of this time of year include Brigandu as flame-keeper and hearth fire goddess, Sulis as the goddess of the sun, and any other god or spirits associated with the home and the prosperity of the household. This is also a time honor house spirits/gods as well as gods of luck and prosperity.Given how close Îwos Brigandu is to this date (February 1st), many people celebrate them together as the same holiday.
- May Feast: Belotenes, the feast of the shining fire. Marking the beginning of the summer half of the year, it is at this feast that the herds and flocks, as well as those who tend them, would be purified and blessed with health and good fortune before being taken to their summer pastures. Associated gods: Belenos for healing and purification; Taranis for protection; Rosmertâ prosperity and good fate; and Lugus for protection while traveling. Also, given how close Îwos Taranis is to this date (May 13th), many people celebrate them together as the same holiday.
- August Feast: Oinacos Lugous (also Litu Lugus), the Gatherings of Lugus. The harvest begins, the late summer thunderstorms arrive and the tribe gathers together to buy, sell, trade, and participate in community games and festivities. A feast of physical prowess, mastery of skills, and dedications of oaths in honor of the god Lugus. Honored gods of this time in addition to Lugus include Rosmertâ, partnered with Lugus and goddess of Fate; Ogmios, god of the spoken and written word as well as curses and bindings; and other gods associated with the harvest and civilization such as Brigantiâ, Taranis, Nantosueltâ, etc.
Solstices and Equinoxes:
As we stated in Gaulish Ritual Primer: Gods, Spirits, and Festivals, with regards to the cross-quarter days, the Coligny Calendar does not seem to mark the equinoxes, although the summer and winter solstices seem to be clearly marked, depending on how you look at the calendar.
- Winter Solstice: Dévoriuros, the feast of midwinter plenty. The harvest is in, the livestock have been slaughtered and it is time to snuggle in and celebrate the bounty of the gods and the promise of renewal against the darkness. Different people celebrate this festival with different focuses. One dedication includes the goddess Matroná and her son Maponos, who some feel was born on this day. Another includes celebrating the return of Sulis, calling her back from Amdumnos. Also, given how close Eponâlia is to this date (December 18th), many people celebrate them together as the same holiday.
- Vernal Equinox: Litu Uesonnae, the festival of spring (also Dius Aratri, the Day of the Plough), a day under the tutelage of Ambaxtonos, god of farmers, and Taranis, god of thunder. We see the thawing of the waters by the fires kindled by Brigantiâ and from the waters, new life emerges. It is also this time when the land spirits finish their shift. The spirits of the winter season have made their way back to the Otherworld, being round up by Eponâ, and the spirits of the summertime have come out of their homes. This is also a time of year where farmers are starting to get ready to plant their seeds and agricultural tools are blessed for a good harvest. In addition to Ambaxtonos and Taranis, gods honored this time of year may include Sirona and Grannus (both water deities and associated with healing; Sirona’s serpent cult and affiliation with stars is relevant, alongside Grannus’ affiliation with wells); also Nantosueltâ, whose domain is the fertile earth and material wealth.
- Summer Solstice: Mediosamos, the midpoint of summer and a day of wildfire. Celebrations include all-night vigils by hilltop bonfires throughout Europe. Honored gods of this time of year can include various Ouranic (Upper World/heavenly) deities such as Taranis as Sky-Father; Brigantiâ as Keeper of the Sacred Fires and her association with high places; Belenos and his association to healing and possibly light, Sulis, ect.
- Autumnal Equinox: Litu Uogiami, the festival of autumn (also Diocomrextios, the day for settling all disputes). is also known as the second harvest, due to foraging practices. This is a day to honor the land spirits as the shift between Samos and Giamos has completed and the summer spirits have gone into their homes, while the winter spirits are out roaming about. Gods to be honored this day include Nantosueltâ is honored as the provider of material and natural wealth, and perhaps Grannus and Sirona as deities of water. Cernunnos being a god of bi-directionality and mediator between order and chaos as well as his connection with protection while traveling in the wilds can also be honored at this time.
Other holidays that seem to have been celebrated at various times of the year:
- Febuary 1: Îwos Brigandu (Festival of Brigandu). Brigandu, also known as Brigantiâ, is a Brythonic deity that had icons and shrines in the northern and western parts of Gaul. This festival is the celebration of Brigandu rekindling of the world’s hearth-fire to bring forth the end of the winter season. It is also to bring forth luck and prosperity to the home, purifying the home of ill luck. Given the closeness of the holiday to Usmolgos in date and theme, some people chose to celebrate them as the same holiday.
- May 13: Îwos Taranis (Festival of Taranis). One of the Ides festivals within the Roman Empire, this date is dedicated to the worship of Jupiter and Taranis. Images of this festival are shown on mosaics and shows a ritual dedicated to invoking the positive powers of the storms after the fields have been planted and before the rain storms of the summer season starts. This holiday is for blessings of the fields and protection of Taranis. Appropriate offerings include pure water, mead/beer, burning wood fires, etc. Given the closeness of the holiday to Belotenes in date and theme, some people chose to celebrate them together.
- December 1 (or the new moon): Îwos Nechtan (Festival of Nodens). Nodens was a Brythonic deity that may or may not have been worshiped in the northern and eastern parts of Gaul (minor holiday if he was). Festival would include healing, renewal, visions (divination), and protection. Appropriate offerings include coins and offerings to the sea/lakes/rivers.
- December 18: Îwos Eponâ or Eponalia. The Roman festival of Epona, is a day of observance for her. Segomâros Widugeni also calls the holiday Îwos Dumanni (Festival of the Darkest Depths). This is the time of the year when Eponâ wanders the land, accompanied by a retinue of spirits. Appropriate offerings include horse effigies, dog effigies, items associated with cavalry (bridles, brushes), garlands, and roses. Given how close it is to the Winter Solstice, some people chose to celebrate this festival for the winter solstice.
- Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. Our Own Druidry: An Introduction to Ár nDraíocht Féin and the Druid Path ADF Publishing. Tucson, 2009
- Jess (BB). “New Calendar for Gaulish Polytheism”. Blood Bones Blog, https://thebloodybones.wordpress.com/2015/07/10/new-calendar-of-gaulish-polytheism/
- Widugeni, Segomâros. “Nemeton Segomâros”. Polytheist.com: Honoring Many Gods. http://polytheist.com/segomaros/
- Serith, Ceisiwr. “The Gaulish God Taranis”. YouTube.com. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=233DWe89JRs
- Awen, Heather. “Celtic Festival of Nechtan, Nodens, Nuada, Nudd &Llud”. Gullveig Press: Resources for Pagans in Prisions. https://gullveigpress.wordpress.com/
“Ivostoves: Gaulish Holidays within ADF.” submitted by Trevor on 19 January, 2020