There are topographic cards IGN. In French, they are also called ‘des cartes d’Etat Major); or Geo-portal site over the Internet. To discover here and there, the toponyms ‘Belair’ (Bel-air, Beler), is not rare. But how could they have been preserved for so many years now!!!
Some would have it, that a ‘bourgois’ (an upper middle class man), or the people of that county, took it upon themselves to dedicate nice places and to give them trivial names. Nonsense! Far out-of-the-way wood areas, wastelands or heaths resisted the strength of time consecrated only to themselves. These Belair, refer to ‘the god Belenos’, according to the author Marc Patay.
Forests are rare in today’s Brittany. But the coppice, the edges, the solitary woods are still many. They are still disjointed from man at times; and man still rarely enters them. Even more than the forests, are natural growing gardens in which saplings grow; neglected palaces, conducive to dreams and to the dereliction where still roams the fauna and the gods for whom to let see.
Through the foliage, “Bel-air sleeps or pretends to, renewing with each step the links of the separated branches, combing anew the torn herbs, replacing immediately the awakening noises as if ancient leaves sliding near the eath”.
Sometimes, cruel things happen there. Blaireau (the local notable) died there in irons – suffering terribly. But, when the hunters leave and the homicidal fury along with them, Bel (the elect god) gets his kingdom back. Belen, Beler, Belinus, Belenos, the brilliant, still honored on the 1st of May (Beltaine). A salutary god, solar or of light, both as an inventor and a healer at the same time; the Gaelic Mabon, who’s cult was practiced on the elevations and in the sacred clearings.
Is it the Belin of the book of REnart. Ausone, the poet of Bordeau speaks of Belenos as much as of Tertullien and then of Herode. In Ireland, Beli or Bile is the father of the gods and of the men. He had also been a sovereign of the kingdom of the Isle of Brittany, according to the ‘Historia Regum Britanniae’ of Geoffroy of Monmouth.
Bel gave his name to the fountain of Barenton, to the forest of Nevet, to Nivot (Braspart), to Tombelaine (near the mount Saint Michel) and to the thumb of Helene. Nota Bene: Saint Ronon, as a druid, would have sought refuge in the forest and in the sanctuary of Nevet.
More so than in a forest, to penetrate woods is to walk into perils. For as soon as “Pan awakes, his procession dancing at the sound of the flute, becomes lost under the vines. Beler, Segomo, Camulus, guardians of time and of the movement, of the tributaries, of the lakes and of the creeks, god of three faces, goddess-mare, wooden statuettes and of clay eroded by the rains, perils at vau-l’eau, riots at the temple of the green consecrate those who go bare-footed; raising their eyes to the picture-rails where eyespots and the times the spots of the son”.
Let us walk through the clumps, “in the Vales slanted by mystery, the trees modestly in bloom are not of those kinds that the strength dominates. They are there, those subjects with paled faces, invaded by ridicules, shaking of the head underneath the hammering of the clouds, and their eyes filled with tears, and their weakened arms lifted toward the horizon forbidding ‘to enter’ without leaving a bit of an offering”.
But forever, Belenos flees from sight (won over twice by first the real god, by the lights afterwards), Bel (the brilliant, the shinning) disappears at each one of our steps. His prosaic form rejoins the ether and paria; he finds in poems his last refuge.
• Nemeton: means ‘sanctuary’ in Gaulois
• Barenton, Bel Nemeton: is a city in the novel of Rou de Wace, a Belleton
• Tombelaine : the tumulus of Bel
Taken and adapted from: Dieux et deesses Brettonnes, Agence Presse, Source : Marc Patay
Porte-parole: Patay Marc Patay Lejean,
Publié le 22/04/13 0:0