The Brilliant One



Feast: 1 May

Belenus is the Latinized name of the Celtic deity called Bel or Belen. That Bel in his name derives from a Celtic word interpreted as meaning “brilliant,” “bright,” “shining,” “luminous,” or “effulgent.” Very little is known about Belenus for sure. The Celts did not entrust sacred knowledge to paper. The Romans identified him with Apollo.

Based on surviving inscriptions and archaeological remains, Belenus was among the most widely venerated and beloved deities of the Celtic world. The center of his venerations seems to have been in France, where the most artifacts have been uncovered, but inscriptions dedicated to him have been found from the British Isles to Slovenia.

Belenus’ shrines often incorporated therapeutic springs. He may have dominion over the healing power of the sun. An erotic spirit, he may be a spirit of reproductive fertility for people and livestock. He is sometimes called the Lord of Flocks.

Belenus may be the same spirit as Beli, Arianrhod’s father. Others theorize that Belenus is Ba’al who, carried to France by Phoenician traders, adapted to Celtic life and spirituality. Yet another theory suggests that Belenus arose in what is now Slovenia and traveled west through Europe. Many places in France still evoke his name:

• Beaune in Burgundy

• Tombelen, now better known as Mont Saint-Michel; the name may mean “tomb of Belenus.”

• Bollène in southern France

• Ballon near Lemans and neighboring Saint-Mars-sous-Ballon and Souligné-sous-Ballon

Belenus was assimilated to Saint Bonnet. Places named in honor of that saint may once have been sacred to Belenus.



Elements: Fire, water

Animal: Horse

Sacred day: Belenus is feted at Beltane or May Eve; beginning the night of 30 April with festivities continuing on 1 May; also 15 January, the feast of Saint Bonnet


Votive offerings found at his shrine at Sainte-Sabine include terra-cotta horses and stone carvings of swaddled infants.


Apollo; Arianrhod; Ba’al (1); Michael


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.