Galatibessus

Galatibessus is an emerging custom that has its roots in communities engaged in, to varying degrees, the revival of cultures, customs, and religions of the peoples collectively known as Gauls (in contemporary English parlance). This refers to peoples living in Western Europe and Central in the Iron Age. They spoke the Gaulish language, and while local variants existed in abundance, they also shared similar material culture, worldview, and customs of worship.

The term Galatibessus consists of the words Galatis and bessus. Galatis is a word that was used to refer to those known now as Gauls. Whether it was a name given by them to the Ancient Greeks who first recorded the term or whether the Greeks developed the name themselves is unknown. Today, it is used as an identity by those who practise Galatibessus.

Bessus is decidedly Gaulish in origin meaning “mores, habit” (Delamarre, ‘Dictionnaire de la Langue Gauloise’, p. 74). This can reasonably be extended to “custom”. Thus, Galatibessus means “Galatis Custom”. Custom in this case refers to the very exercise of being. It is in reference to culture, ethics, worldview, and worship. Galatibessus is all of these things in relation to those of us inspired by the Gauls of the past. This is why we refer to ourselves as Galatîs (this is the plural form of Galatis) — as doing Galatibessus makes us so.

There are many ways to express and live Galatibessus, but emphasis on all the aforementioned characteristics: culture, ethics, worship, all parts of worldview, factor into it. Certainly some may be more interested in one of these things more than others, but it is understood that all of them are necessary for a whole and complete Galatibessus. As such the study of all of these things and the components that comprise them are critically important.

While it isn’t expected to learn all of what attested parts of the Gaulish language are known, there is a profound respect, appreciation, and desire to incorporate the iextis (language) into Galatibessus as well. This means using and favouring Gaulish terminologies when known. Participation in the usage of reconstructed dialects of Gaulish is common as well. As language offers a window into culture and worldview, it is indeed a valuable tool in rooting and centering ourselves in bessus.

One of the most common forms of expression of Galatibessus is in the worship of the Dêuoi. The Dêuoi are mighty, great, sacred beings that the Ancient Gauls worshipped and participated in cycles of gifting with, by which they built relationships with the Dêuoi. They vary in scope, governing certain aspects of the world and human action. Some well known Dêuoi are: Sironâ, Taranis, Rosmertâ, Sucellos, Artiû, Belenos, Eponâ, Lugus, Nantosueltâ, and Carnonos. There are many, many more Dêuoi that are known that originated from the Gauls. 

Two very important things to know here are that the Dêuoi are all distinct individual beings. They may have similarities to beings known to other customs at times, but They are Their own. It is also important to mention that anatiâ (breath, spirit) is present in all things. This includes water, stones, trees, animals, and even human made objects. These are both fundamental facets of Galatibessus. As such, applicable academic terms may be Polytheism and Animism. For a Galatis however these terms are unnecessary (though Galatîs can sometimes be found in places where folks using these terms gather). As these are simply a part of bessus.

Not to be satisfied with language and worship alone, there is also interest on the part of Galatîs to revive aspects of material culture. This can be seen in that some Galatîs wear torcoi (torcs), and may choose to wear clothing that has patterns that the Gauls may have recognized. If not occasionally dressing in traditional garb for either re-enactment or formal purposes. Not to worry, though! These are just a few ways in which Galatîs may express their identity. Participating in Galatibessus needn’t cost much, if any, money at all.

Going through sources to get an understanding of virtues and ethics is another notable pursuit. Though “filtered” through secondhand accounts of Ancient Greeks and Romans, it isn’t at all uncommon to find pieces of Gaulish ethics and worldview through such research. Galatîs attempt to keep abreast of sources and research to help illuminate these important parts of bessus. From them, keeping the material and social conditions of our contemporary environments in mind, we find ancient virtues that withstand the test of time. They are more often than not very much applicable today.

 When we think of cultures of the past, it is not uncommon to see people fall into either “noble savage” tropes, or into a presentist arrogance. The Gauls were human, fallible, and made mistakes. Contemporary societies are no different. We still often grapple with problems today that they did. Often making the same mistakes, sometimes worse ones. In this case, it is important to remember that the Gauls of the past interacted with a very different set of material conditions than we do, and vice versa. 

 Just as there are contemporary ideas that would likely have improved things for them (technology notwithstanding), they too extolled virtues that arguably would be beneficial for us today. Good judgment and a solid material analysis helps us identify which of those virtues are timeless (hospitality, honour, courage, right speech), and which are best left in the Iron Age (such as patriarchy). Conversely, they can also reinforce that some contemporary ideas are dangerous, that many preconceived notions of Western thought ought to be challenged and fought (examples: white suprematism, LGBTQ+ phobias, and Western chauvinism). 

 Uissus (knowledge, wisdom) is a virtue. With it, a Galatis seeks to use that (and other virtues) to positively contribute to their communities, society, and the world at large. This means the ability to make wise decisions based on material and social conditions. It also prevents a Galatis from simply re-enacting, but being an active participant in society. Fellowship with humanity and our virtues help guide us and inform our ethics. They are an irrevocably important cornerstone of Galatibessus.

 Again, the culmination of all the above: worship, ethics, culture, and worldview inform the Galatis and help contribute to the ongoing process of building Galatibessus. All who feel called to Galatibessus are welcome to be a part of it regardless of skin colour, nationality, sexual orientation, gender, sex, physicality, income, etc. A Galatis identity may be someone’s main identity, or be in tandem with the other or many identities that one may have. As long as one is earnest and sincere in their desire and willing to put in the work of learning and living Galatibessus, they too can be a Galatis. If you are feeling so called, that could very well mean you.