Neit was the Irish god of war, and father of the fearful Fomorians. A pan-Celtic war deity known to the Romans, Neit was celebrated for his mastery of war and his ferocity.
Neit likely came from the Proto-Celtic *nei-t-, meaning “impassioned” or “fighting.”
Neit was a powerful god who was able to earn the respect of many factions in Ireland, from the Firbolg, to the Fomorians, and the Tuatha dé Danann. He fought alongside alongside the Tuatha dé Danann. A multifaceted god of war and passion, he gave as he received, allowing a storehouse built by his nephew, the Dagda, to be used as a grave for the Dagda’s son, Aed.
Neit was the husband of both Nemain and of Badb, a member of the fearsome Morrígan. He was the father of Fomorian Dot, grandfather of the fearsome Fomorian king, Balor of the Evil Eye, and the Dagda’s uncle.
Neit’s role in mythology was relatively small.
Cath Maig Tuired
‘Then Nuadu Silverhand and Macha the daughter of Ernmas fell at the hands of Balor grandson of Net.’
-Cath Maig Tuired, trans. Elizabeth A. Gray
Although he fathered members of the Fomorian race that predated the Children of Danu, Neit joined the Tuatha dé Danann, including his wives and nephew, in their war for dominion of Ireland. At the Second Battle of Moytura in County Sligo, Neit fell, but the Tuatha dé Danann were ultimately victorious in their effort to take control of the Emerald Isle.
Neit appeared across the Celtic world by various names. He was known to the Romans of the Iberian Peninsula as Mars Neto, and elsewhere as simply Neto, a powerful Gaulish god of war. These forms of Neit were associated with the Roman Mars and Apollo, and may be related to the similar pan-Celtic deity, Taranis.
- Gray, Elizabeth A., translator. Cath Maig Tuired. Internet Sacred Text Archive. Accessed 19 June, 2019, https://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/cmt/cmteng.htm.