The Celtiberian people were an ancient tribal confederation that inhabited the central-eastern Iberian Peninsula, roughly the area now comprising modern-day Spain and Portugal. Their origins can be traced back to the Iron Age, when Celtic tribes migrated from the European heartland and mixed with the indigenous Iberian tribes. This cultural blend resulted in a rich and complex belief system, which combined elements of Celtic and Iberian mythologies. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the beliefs, mythology, and rituals of the Celtiberian people, with a particular emphasis on their deities, heroes, and mythological creatures.


The Celtiberian pantheon included a diverse range of deities, each possessing unique personalities and stories. Among the most significant were:

  • Lugus: A major Celtic god, Lugus was venerated as the god of light, craftsmanship, and skills. He was often depicted as a youthful and vigorous figure, wielding a spear and accompanied by a raven or a wolf.

  • Epona: The goddess of horses, fertility, and abundance, Epona was revered as the protector of cavalry and the provider of sustenance. Her iconography often depicted her riding a horse or accompanied by foals.

  • Ataecina: A native Iberian goddess, Ataecina was worshipped as the goddess of the underworld and regeneration. She was believed to guide the dead into the afterlife and ensure their rebirth.

  • Endovelicus: A god of health and prophetic dreams, Endovelicus was considered a powerful healer who could protect his devotees from illness and misfortune. He was often depicted holding a staff with a serpent entwined around it, symbolizing his control over life and death.

  • Bandua: The god of war and protector of communities, Bandua was invoked to defend Celtiberian territories from enemies and ensure the safety of the people. He was often represented as a warrior or a man holding a shield and a spear.

Mythological Creatures and Heroes

The Celtiberian mythology was replete with fantastic creatures and legendary heroes. Some of the most noteworthy include:

  • Cernunnos: A horned god of nature and fertility, Cernunnos was associated with the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. He was often portrayed as a man with the antlers of a stag, embodying the vitality and strength of the wild.

  • Ogmios: A hero god known for his eloquence and wisdom, Ogmios was seen as a master of persuasion who could inspire and unite his people. He was frequently depicted as an old man with a bald head, carrying a bow and a club.

  • The Tarasque: A fearsome dragon-like creature, the Tarasque was believed to dwell in the rivers and lakes of the Celtiberian lands. The creature was said to devour livestock and terrorize the local population, until it was eventually vanquished by a brave hero.

  • Gerión: A legendary hero and founder of the city of Gadir (modern-day Cádiz), Gerión was said to be the son of the god Poseidon and the mortal woman Hesione. He was reputed to have defeated a fearsome giant and established the city as a prosperous center of trade and culture.

Unique Beliefs

One of the most distinctive aspects of Celtiberian beliefs was the concept of the "Warrior's Paradise," an afterlife reserved for those who died valiantly in battle. This paradise, known as "Sidh," was believed to be a land of eternal youth, beauty, and happiness, where the souls of the fallen warriors would be reunited with their loved ones and enjoy an existence free from pain and suffering. In Sidh, these warriors would feast, engage in games, and listen to the songs of divine bards recounting their heroic deeds. This belief in a glorious afterlife for warriors not only provided comfort and consolation to the bereaved but also served to inspire bravery and courage in the face of adversity.

Another unique belief in the Celtiberian culture was the veneration of sacred groves, known as "nemeton." These natural spaces, usually consisting of oak, ash, or yew trees, were considered to be the dwelling places of divine beings and spirits. The nemeton served as an essential part of the Celtiberian religious experience, with ceremonies and rituals often taking place within these sacred groves. This strong connection to the natural world exemplified the Celtiberians' profound respect for and understanding of their environment.


Celtiberian religious practices often revolved around rituals designed to honor the gods and ensure the well-being of the community. Some of the key rituals included:

  • Sacrifices: Offerings of animals, grains, or libations were commonly made to the deities to gain their favor, seek protection, or give thanks for blessings received. These sacrifices were performed by specialized priests or priestesses, who conducted the ceremonies according to strict guidelines.

  • Festivals: The Celtiberians observed various seasonal festivals to celebrate significant events in the agricultural calendar, such as planting, harvest, and the solstices. These festivals often featured music, dancing, feasting, and athletic competitions, providing an opportunity for the community to come together in a joyful and reverential atmosphere.

  • Divination: The Celtiberians believed that the gods could provide guidance and insight into the future through various forms of divination, such as interpreting the flight patterns of birds or the entrails of sacrificial animals. Divination rituals were typically carried out by specialized priests or priestesses known as "augurs," who were thought to possess the ability to communicate with the divine.

  • Funerary rites: To ensure a smooth passage into the afterlife, the Celtiberians conducted elaborate funerary rites for the deceased. These rites often included the preparation of the body, the creation of a burial mound or tomb, and the inclusion of grave goods, such as weapons, jewelry, and pottery, to accompany the deceased in the afterlife.