An extract from:
OUR BRITISH ANCESTORS:
WHO AND WHAT WERE THEY?
An inquiry serving to elucidate the traditional history of the early Britons, by means of recent excavations, etymology, remnants of religious worship, inscriptions, craniology,
and fragmentary collateral history.
By the Rev. Samuel Lysons, M.A., F.S.A.
Published by John Henry and James Parker,
Oxford and London, 1865
Extract from pages 174-181
Another name of the moon which supplies us nationally with much matter for interesting enquiry is that of Gal or Gula, which according to Rawlinson was the female power of the sun, meaning in primitive Babylonian ‘the great,’ in Hebrew ‘the round,’ and is identical with the Gad-lat of the lalter Chaldean mythology.
In Babylonian Gula was worshipped as the great goddess-wife of the meridian sun, the deity who presides over life and fecundity. This too was the religion of the Gauls, and it may be a question of some interest to determine whether they did not derive their name from the worship they professed. If the Sennones derived from Sin or Sen, ‘the sun,’ the Aviones from Aven, also ‘the sun,’ the Canaanites from Can-aan, the associated deities of sun and moon, may not the Gauls have derived from Gal, Gul?
Gal means anything round; it implies circularity of form or motion. The moon would have this name on both these grounds.
It is the root which enters into all words which imply rotundity of shape and motion – so also of rolling. The rolling of stones together is in Scripture called Gal-eed.
Gilead means precisely such heaps of stones as our British tumuli. “Jacob said to his brethren, Gather stones; and they took stones, and made an heap… And Laban said, This heap is a witness between me and thee this day. Therefore was the name of it called Galeed.”
The same idea of rotundity is conveyed in Gol-gotha, ‘a place round like a skull.’ Our translation, “a place of a skull,” imperfectly conveys the meaning.
Gil-gal is a reduplication of the power; and it is not a little singular that “the French,” says Mr. Thomas Wright, “still call the mounds of stones Gal-gals.” We know from Scripture what the idolatrous worship of Gilgal was, when “Balaam answered from Shittim to Gilgal.”
Agalma, ‘a shrine or monument, a place heaped up for devotion,’ probably had its origin in this root. Gaaul in the British language also meant a rolling of stones together. Nennius tells us that the great wall which Severus rolled together across Britain was in the British language called Gaaul. Pen-guual was precisely what is now called Walls-end, from which the London coals come. This shews us the transition from Gaul into Wall, and Gualish to Wallish, or Welsh. The G and W were evidently interchangeable. The name leaves its traces in many parts of England, Wales, and Ireland, as gall-oway, Gallway, Gal-tee mountains, Gal-by; and with the W, in Wales, Walesby, Wallsworth, Wal-ford, Wal-den, Wal-wyn, Wal-cot, Corn-wall, etc. In Gloucestershire, where from its vicinity to Wales remnants of British language still remain, the hay when rolled together in a long row ready for carting is said to be ‘put into walley.’
Gal meant everything round. The Phoenician round galleys were gauloi, hence the word ‘galley.’ The round excresence which grows on an oak-tree is an ‘oak-gall.’
Gal means ‘the moon,’ in Irish. Gwawl is British for Julia. Julia is from Jul, or Yul, or Gal, which is ‘the moon,’ the Gillian of our ballads and the Jill of fairy-land. The deceptions of Jill or Gul, ‘the moon-light,’ are perpetuated in the words ‘to gull’ and ‘to jilt.’
Julia, the sister of Helena and aunt of Constantine, is called Gwawl in Cymric song.
Gal also means the colour of the moon, and is referred sometimes to pale yellow, (‘yellow’ or ‘yal-low,’ from Gal), at other times to bright yellow, almost red; hence the word ‘gules’ in heraldry. In Suffolk and Essex ‘goel’ or ‘gole’ is still used for bright yellow.
Golan was the chief town of the region of the Gaulonites. The Gallim were mound-makers; also those who wrapped themselves in a peculiar dress. Gallimi were cloaks such as the Chemarim, and Melanchlaeni, and Cassiterides wore. Gallimi, 2 Kings 2:8.
The Gauls (Galli, Galati, Gad-lati, by syncope, Celti or Celts) were, upon every discovery we make, moon-worshippers, or mound-makers to the moon.
The worship of the moon and sun involved everything circular – circular temples, circular dances, circular processions. The sacred writing of these people was also circular. Ogham, from the Hebrew for ‘round,’ was the name given to the character of their sacred letters. The temples of Vesta (Greek, ‘Hphaista), another name for the moon or moonlight, at Rome, Tivoli, and elsewhere, were all round. The Gaulo-British temples at Avebury and Stonehenge were circular. The name of Gaul seems therefore to be derived from the moon as the object of worship, the form of which was adopted in all the ceremonies of the peoples addicted to that religion. The Galli were priests of the moon, Cybele the mother of gods, whose worship was carried from Phoenician and Phrygia to Carthage, and thence to Rome; their chief was called Archigallus. These priests were also called Agyrtae, Metragyrtae, and Menagyrtae, from gyrare, ‘to turn about in circles,’ as the Druids are said to have done. Camerius Crescens, according to Gruter, was the name of an Archigallus. In these names we recognise the Chemarim or Cymry, and the crescent, the recognized emblem of moon-worship. Hesychius calls Cybele (the moon) “Cimmeris.” She is also called Enthea mater, the ‘frantic mother,’ from the frantic mode of conducting her rites. Martial shews us what this was:
“Etsectus ululat matris Entheae Gallus.” [meaning,] ‘And howls the lacerated priest of the infuriated mother.’
The Sectus Gallus, the ‘lacerated (priest) Gaul’ (they are synonymous) pointing to the way in which these sun-moon worshippers lacerated themselves, as described in 1 Kings 18:28. In short, these few words of Martial convey exactly the sense and spirit of that passage, exhibiting a remarkable coincidence between sacred and profane history, and explaining the uses of those flint knives which we so invariably find in the sacrificial and sepulchral monuments of the British Gauls. Prudentius, Lactantius, and Juvenal, mention the fanatics of Bellona (another name for the moon, the female impersonation of Bel) lacerating themselves with knives. We learn from M. Morier that cutting with knives and lancets in certain religious ceremonies is used in Persia to the present day.
The notion of circularity may be again conveyed in the name given to the priests of the British worship. It has been usual to derive the name of Druids from the Greek word, drus, ‘an oak,’ that tree being an object of worship among that people, and groves of them having been their temples. Pliny indeed assigns this as a probable etymon of the name. He does not say that they were actually called Druids from their employment of the oak in their religious ceremonies, but rather that they paid such honours to that tree, and looked to it under so many circumstances, that they might almost seem to have had the Greek name of Druids given them. His words are, “Nec ulla sacra sine ea fronde conficiunt, ut inde appellati qauoque interpretatione Graeca possint Druidae videri.” He evidently uses it as a sort of apposite play upon the word, drus, and not as a true etymon. It would nevertheless be quite as appropriate a play upon the words, and not further from the mark, than if we were to say that the Britons were so called from being the Bright-ones… Now the words Dru and Gaul are nearly synonymous; they both mean anything round, and to go about in a circular progression.”