Plural: Genii Cucullati
The Genii Cucullati are mysterious spirits whose images appear throughout the Celtic world during the era of Roman domination. Genius means “a spirit.”
• A cucullus is a type of hood.
• The Genii Cucullati are literally the “hooded spirits.”
Whether the Genii Cucullati were mysterious fifteen hundred years ago is now unknown. They are mysterious to us because no surviving documentation explains their identity or function. Instead what we know of them is pieced together from archaeological evidence and surviving inscriptions. Basically what we know derives from connecting the dots.
Genii Cucullati appear throughout Celtic Britain and Europe. They were usually but not always depicted in groups of three. Each individual genius wears the distinctive cucullus. Some scholars theorize that this hood is an artistic motif indicating that the beings depicted are normally invisible. Sometimes, however, the hoods appear very phallic. Sometimes the phallic imagery is overt: some Cucullati have removable hoods revealing the phallus hidden within. An exposed phallus traditionally serves as an amulet against the Evil Eye, promotes personal fertility, and magically averts death. It may also chase away ghosts and many evil spirits. On the other hand, some perceive the hoods as resembling breasts similar to iconography associated with Artemis or Saint Agatha.
Genii Cucullati are healing spirits associated with therapeutic spa sanctuaries. They are divine escorts and bodyguards who serve humans and other spirits like Rosmerta, Mercury, and the Mothers. Wearing the image of the Genius Cucullati offers spiritual protection and wards off the Evil Eye.
Manifestation: Genii Cucullati manifest as different ages: young, mature, or old. Not all are male; however, in groups of three at least one is consistently male (or at least among images so far unearthed). Many but not all seem to be dwarves.
Iconography: They are depicted together with the Mothers and horned deities.
Attributes: Eggs, moneybags, swords
Bird: They may be depicted with a raven.
See also: Artemis of Ephesus; Genie; Mercury; Mothers, the; Rosmerta
From the Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.