Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ogmios, Gaulish God of Words

According to Lucian, Ogmios is the “Gaulish Hercules (Herakles).” He personifies the power of speech and eloquence and is often depicted as large-boned and wielding a club or a bow. He is often seen as old and balding, a symbol of his wisdom. His skin is darkened by the sun, indicating that perhaps a similar human figure of great renown had once traveled through the Gaulish lands from perhaps a Persian area (speculation, of course).

Also a Deity of binding, Ogmios is said to draw men happily after him tied to his tongue by thin, gold chains at their ears. The people were drawn to him in joy and were depicted doing their best to be as close to him as possible. His utterances are “sharp and well-aimed, swift to pierce the mind” (Green 165-166). Ogmios would use his words to bind people by the power of persuasion and lead them into the Underworld, so the argument has been made for calling to him as a psychopomp Deity. He was known to create defixiones, tablets with a curse written on them. Two such tablets have been recovered from Bergenz, Austria in which Ogmios is invoked to curse a barren woman that she may never marry (Lucian 63-67).

Invocation to Ogmios

The Children of the Earth call to Ogmios!
God of strength and eloquence!
Might by arms and by tongue!
Remind us this day and all days of the power of words!
As your words flow like sweet honey
from your lips to the ears of your follower’s eager ears,
May we be inspired to choose our words carefully—
For so, too, do our words bind us to those who hear them.
Guide our speech, Ogmios, that our words be well-chosen,
inspired and pleasing to the Kindred.
Teach us the power of words,
Inspire our hearts and minds as we speak and listen!
Ogmios! We honor you!

Green, Miranda. Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend. Thames & Hudson, London: 1992. Print.

Lucian. The Works of Lucian: with an English Translation by A.M. Harmon I. Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard University Press: 1913. Print.

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