In ancient Celtic belief, Taranis was a god of sky, thunder, time and war. 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 to Czechoslovakia), varied and controversial: it is often thought to symbolize the sun or sky, but is also thought to represent the flow of time and seasons. It is also a symbol of armour and protection, however; many examples of weapons, shields and armor made by the Celts have wheel motives carved into them, particularly weapons found along the border of Germany and France.

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.

Tar"a*nis (?), n. [L. taranis, from the Celtic; cf. W. & Corn. taran thunder.] Myth.

A Celtic divinity, regarded as the evil principle, but confounded by the Romans with Jupiter.


© Webster 1913.

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