Delamarre states that Taranos means ‘storm god’ coming from the root *tor- meaning piercing noise. Another option for the root of His theonym coming from is *terhr meaning ‘crossing’, which means that Taranos is ‘the lightning which crosses [the sky]’. 

Taranos holds a significant place in Gaulish Polytheism. The place of honour usually held for thunder Gods in Indo-European polytheism immediately identifies him as an important figure, a deuoi of justice, hospitality, and order. That being said, his cult didn’t seem to flourish until Romanization when the bearded figure with the Gaulish Wheel took on his own identity.

The “Cavalier d’Anguiped
It was in the Gallo-Roman form that we see Taranos appear atop the Jupiter Columns of the Rhineland, as the “Cavalier d’Anguipede” – or Horseman of the Snake-Footed Giant. This form did not carry the usual symbols mentioned above, but the long Gaulish history of the region, the columns’ presence in Brittany and Auvergne, and the Gaulish names of most dedications indicate that these monumental depictions were likely of Taranos. This war-like figure brandishing thunderbolts on horseback, trampling a monstrous human torso with snakes for legs, had several hundred depictions so distinct they are often identified from small fragments. It’s from these depictions that Sepânioi Rotî draws its gnosis of Taranos as an active combatant against forces of Chaos, a powerful force to be respected.

Vassil, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The arrangement of the 3 figures atop of the columns also speaks to the worldview laid out by our ancestors. Jupiter-Taranos represents Albios – the sky and heavens – in its natural position at the top. He sits atop a horse, a representation of Bitus – the Land – and its Queen – Epona Regina. Trampled beneath the hooves of the horse is the anguiped (“natricocoχsā” in Gaulish) representing Dubnos – the under/otherworld – in its rightful place below the Earth. This may speak to a hierarchy, but it especially describes a natural order, one in which the heavens continue their eternal motion above the Earth with the otherworld remaining firmly outside of our realm. These columns were firmly ouranic in their cultus, with only Mercury on the base as deity with chthonic ties; however, the column itself speaks to the importance of this order by invoking the Axis Mundi. The monuments are an appeal to Jupiter-Taranos to uphold the cosmic order, ensuring that Drus (the World Tree) continues to hold up the sky. From this, we expand our view of Taranos as a deity who fights the anguipeds to ensure that they do not destroy Drus, which would result in the collapse of the cosmic order – or one could say “the sky falling upon our heads”.

The Wheel God and the Warrior
One of the more famous depictions of Taranos comes from the Gundestrup Cauldron: the bearded dêuoi in the sky holding the Wheel out to the spirit of a horned warrior. This image is at once chthonic and ouranic: wolves and griffons, the spirit of the dead flying through the sky, the horned serpent and the Wheel. These all speak to a powerful entity, one that has influence on the heavens but also on the afterlife, a deity that doesn’t fit neatly in a sky-father/dis-pater box.

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cvalette/7807928696

From this depiction we also learn of Taranos’ relationship between the Wheel and humanity. It’s possible that the Wheel represents reincarnation, the cycling of the sacrificed warrior into a new life; alternatively, Taranos may be empowering the spirit to enact change for themselves. Both speak to Taranos granting the power of the Wheel to the spirit, rather than using it himself.

There is a contrast between the Taranos of the Cauldron, and the Jupiter Taranos of the columns. In one he is nearly passive, granting the power of the Wheel to another, while on the columns he actively lashes out against the forces of Chaos. Other depictions show him in a variety of poses, some in a more Roman style: with lightning bolts, eagle, and seated upon a throne; some in a more Celtic style: wielding a club and holding a Wheel. Combined, these depictions speak to a deuoi of empowerment, active battle with the forces of Chaos, and reincarnation. Taranos is steward of the Wheel, ensuring its continued motion, but also granting us the power to turn the Wheel ourselves. He fights the Anguipeds, evil giants that seek to overpower Samos, break the cycle, and destroy the World Tree. His storms are powerful and dangerous, but it’s through them that the world can be renewed, granting us wealth and prosperity. His constant vigilance against entropy allows our world to remain in balance; however, it is our duty to ensure that balance is not destroyed.

Molâtus Taranê!
Great Thunderer,
Molâtus Taranê!
Upholder of Truth,
Molâtus Taranê!
Lord of the Heavens

I call to you as I have in the past
You have given so much so freely
For aid in guiding my life

I ask you Taranos, O great father,
For the strength to withstand
The coming storm before me.

Thanks to you steward of the Wheel,
We ask you be here to receive these gifts
Of love and gratitude
Taranos Cantimî

Sources for information beyond the shared gnosis of Sepanioi Roti are as follows:

Brigantici, V. (n.d.). To Jupiter Best and Greatest. Deo Mercurio. Retrieved 2021, from http://www.deomercurio.be/en/iom.html 

Delamarre, X. (2003). Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise : une approche linguistique du vieux-celtique continental. Paris: Ed. Errance.

Drunertos. (2021). Basics of ritual and prayer. Tegos Runos. Retrieved 2021, from https://houseofsecrets.org/basics-of-ritual-and-prayer

McGrath, S. (2017). Taranis: Celtic Thunder. We Are Star Stuff. Retrieved 2021, from https://earthandstarryheaven.com/2017/08/30/taranis/ 

Poitrenaud, G. (2014) Cavalier, Anguipède, Pilier Du Ciel, Academia. Retrieved 2021, from https://www.academia.edu/11779810/Cavalier_Anguip%C3%A8de_pilier_du_ciel_Languip%C3%A8de_nest_pas_lall%C3%A9gorie_du_barbare_vaincu_ou_des_forces_du_chaos_mais_un_avatar_du_dieu_primordial_des_Celtes_%C3%A0_la_base_de_tout_le_manifest%C3%A9?source=swp_share

Poitrenaud, G. (2014) Porteur de la roue, porteur du ciel., Academia. Retrieved 2021, from https://www.academia.edu/11900096/Porteur_de_la_roue_porteur_du_ciel_Le_dieu_gaulois_Taranis

Trévédy, M. J. (n.d.). LES ANGUIPÈDES BRETONS. InfoBretagne.com. Retrieved 2021, from http://www.infobretagne.com/bretagne-anguipedes.htm