In ancient Celtic
belief, Taranis was a god of sky
. Known as "The Thunderer," representations of Taranis generally show him wielding a thunderbolt
in one hand while carrying a wheel
by his side in the other. The symbolism of the wheel is widespread (occuring from Britain
), varied and controversial: it is often thought to symbolize the sun
or sky, but is also thought to represent the flow of time and season
s. It is also a symbol of armour
, however; many examples of weapons, shield
s and armor made by the Celts
have wheel motives carved into them, particularly weapons found along the border
Taranis' importance to the Celts is confusing at times. The Greeks and Romans grant him great importance, equating him with Zeus and Jupiter, but only seven inscriptions have been found bearing his name. Most were found in France, Germany and Britain, although one has been found as far afield as Yugoslavia. Aspects of Taranis' worship also caused him to be considered evil. In particular, Taranis was often propitiated with human sacrifice by burning. The Romans' revulsion at this "most cruel" practice led to the Druid priesthood recieving a nearly-permenant black eye in the view of much of the rest of the world.
Green, Miranda. The Gods of the Celts. Dover: Alan Sutton Publishing 1996.
Stewart, R.J. Celtic Gods, Celtic Goddesses. London: Blandford 1990.