In order to get invovled in Galatîbessus (Gaulish Customs), one must have these basic understandings.
- One must have Gaulish Gods (Deuôi)
- A structure for basic ritual
- A calendar with holidays
- An altar
- The Virtues
- Understanding of the culture
- Use of the Language
- Understanding the history
What is Galatibessus (Gaulish Customs)?
Galatîbessus (Gaulish Customs) is the worship of Dêuoi (Gaulish deities) within a framework that is either based in Reconstructionist methodology to varying degrees, in some other way inspired by Gaulish culture, or both. Either as it was historically, or its contemporary revival. Thus what separates the Galatis from someone who worships a or some Gaulish deities is that historic Gaulish culture or contemporary Gaulish revival informs their practices.
This, of course, is a collection of Polytheistic (belief in many distinct deities) traditions. It is also Animistic, meaning everything is believed to have some spirit; people, places, animals, plants, stones, water bodies, and even objects. There are many forms and variations within. Meaning that there is not a singular way to practice. Though there are various traditions, there is no “one way.” Some are more structured than others, but this does not assign greater validity to them.
- Galatîbessus, meaning “Gaulish Custom.”
- Galatîs is the plural of Galatis, which means “a Gaul.”
- Senobessus, coined by Segomâros Widugeni. Translated as “Ancient Custom.”
What about Gaulish Polytheism why not use that terminology?
Gaulish Polytheism describes part of Galatîbessus. But it does not properly describe a Galatis.
Polytheism is the worship of many gods, it is not connected to culture or anything of deeper meaning on its own.
Putting the word Gaulish in front of the word Polytheism only serves to denote which God/ddesses/dden we worship. So it shows that someone worships Gaulish Dêuoi.
Galatîbessus and Galatis is more meaningful. It denotes that not only does someone worship the Dêuoi, but that they’re also interested in being culturally Gaulish, with Galatis as their religious culture and all that that entails.
Why is the web address not Galatibessus instead of Gaulish Polytheism?
Simply because most folks are unfamiliar with the term Galatîbessus. Its more of a search technicality than anything else as Gaulish Polytheism will lead folks to Galatîbessus.
Who can practice Galatibessus?
Galatîbessus is open to anyone who seeks to practice it. If one decides to fit the description above, they are a Galatîs or can be if they choose to do so. A Galatîbessus is judged by axtâs (deeds, actions).
What are some fundamentals of Galatibessus?
One of the most important fundamentals related to interactions with Dêuoi (Gods and Spirits), or Senoatîs (Ancestors) is the Gifting Circle or Cantos Râti. In popular discourse, the “gifting cycle.” This means giving offerings in ritual to a recipient that they may also give. However, this is not merely transactional. This is done in a way that is meant to bring the one who offers and the one who receives closer together.
We see it in our everyday lives as well. Be it intangible (literal gifts) or intangible (acts), doing these things properly can bring about strong bonds. Of course, it must be done judiciously, as over-gifting can create an unwanted burden on the recipient. As can gifting less than what one reasonably can, which also can have negative consequences with one party feeling “cheated.” Again, it is not merely transactional, as, in our own lives, we do not expect a measured return for literally everything we do.
The last would be, of course, learning of Gaulish history, customs, and culture. Focusing on learning what is right to bring forward and make it applicable to our own time and what is best left in the Iron Age. Through this, we can aspire to a vibrant and positive set of customs that are helpful to us in the modern-day, as opposed to reactionary or romanticist thinking as tradition is not unmoving or unchanging. This can be seen in many cultures today that remember their cultural roots while also partaking in contemporary societies.
Some examples are things like the revival of material culture, using forms of Gaulish language, and working on newer projects such as myths and constructing practices for different aspects of life.
Who were the Gauls?
The Gauls were a people who are defined as such by both their Gaulish language (in the Celtic family of languages) and material culture. They were bearers of the LaTenê culture of the Iron Age in Western and Central Europe. Never a people with a singular leadership, they consisted of dozens of tribes. Though a Gaulish identity had begun to develop, due to a greater connection by trade and infrastructure, particularly with the Greeks, Etruscans, and Romans, they were never fully unified.
Their lands spanned much of Western and Central Europe. From Northeastern Spain to Turkey, and from Southern Britain (though later), down to Northern Italy. Notably, what is now France, Southern and Western Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Switzerland. Independent from around the 5th Century BCE, until their defeat and conquest by the Romans in 52 BCE.
They had vast and various customs with complex practices and many Gods. They were very skilled in metalworks and crafts. Inventors of chainmail, barrels, and one of the few to use soap made from animal fats. They were known for sacking Rome around 390 BCE, which would not be done by anyone again for around 800 years. Fierce in battle, but also innovative and eager to learn from the world around them, developing philosophy and adapting technology from neighboring peoples.
With varying tribes came varying social structures. Often a king (Rix) was the executive, with elders who advised the king. The Aedui had a Vergobret (“v” as a “w” sound), who was elected and checked by elders. Sacral kingship was on the decline, and kings could not pass down power in the way Medieval kings were. Kings were chosen based on having a loyal following, and their powers were not absolute. Civic affairs could have been cared for by elders.
As to tribes, there was often a larger tribe with “satellite” tribes under their influence and who paid tribute to the larger one. Though (sadly) patriarchal in many ways, women had more rights than their Classical counterparts. The rulers also had to gain favor with the rules and hold large banquets and feasts to curry favor.
Then there are the Druids, the enigmatic class of experts in religion, philosophy, and sciences. They were exempt from military service and taxation. Often spoken of, but not always accurately. There were also Vates (“v” makes a “w”), who were seers, experts in divination, as well as in sacrifice. Bards were also an integral part of Gaulish society. They told tales, often in songs or poems, about Gods and the people. They were the keepers of mythology and folklore.
Most people, the common folk were farmers (Gauls were mostly agricultural peoples), traders, and crafters. Some people knew and did magic and other things like herbalists (they were known for this), and most other trades that one finds in Iron Age societies.
These are the basics of Galatîbessus. There are many diverse customs and traditions within. From this basic foundation, or with alterations, the practice of Galatîbessus is possible, and a fulfilling custom can be made.