One of the most iconic staples of mythology and folklore are Giants. Giants are one of those creatures that are found, literally, across the world. I honestly can’t think of any culture that doesn’t have Giants in their folklore. When we see the word, “Giant” in a modern context, the image of a huge, feeble minded, mass of muscles and tattered clothes with an irresistible desire for destruction and human flesh and bones. Elements of this modern depiction are found in mythology but there’s so much more to Giants than that. Even the name Giants doesn’t do these entities justice. There’s so much more to them but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be cautious.

We’re going to add these beings into the Biuiolibros even though they stand alongside the Dêuoi themselves. However, the nature of some and how devastating they are in our world can be quite monstrous. Like many, if not all, of the creatures in the Biuiolibros they need to be treated with nothing less than respect. Also, these are spirits so you won’t find massive footprints or cave-dens filled with grotesque makeshift furniture. They can take on physical form as we will discuss but I would advise against looking for them. As always, we have etymology, cultural crossover, folklore and mythological roots, and gnosis/divination to examine.

Giant of a Name

Like I stated earlier, “Giant” doesn’t really fit what a Cauaros is. Giant is a French word that is derived from the Greek “Gigantes” which fits more of the modern fairy tale giant. The common fairy tale giant mainly comes from the plethora of Greek creatures like the Gigantes, Cyclops, Hundred Handers, and a vast number of large humanoid monsters in Greek mythology. There’s even a battle between the Gods and Giants known as the Gigantomachy. As Greek mythology was galvanized as “Classical Mythology” it became the inspiration for many later writers. Giants in modern storytelling are often seen as metaphors and symbols of greed and envy. The various Greek giants did represent that but that also seems to apply to giants of other cultures.

Giants and other large humanoid variants have one common trait, eating people. Famously, the Cyclops Polyphemus, was a monstrous man eater in the Odyssey until Odyseus and his crew blinded him. But this large cannibal fear travels far beyond the Mediterranean Sea. Several tribes in North and South America also had tales of grotesque giant men who fed on average sized humans. For any who love conspiracy theories have probably heard about the giant tribes that the Smithsonian “covered up”. The general story is that a tribe a large, bearded, red headed, cannibals preyed upon the tribes of the Appalachian mountains and other parts of what is now the Eastern United States. Ultimately the native tribes banded together and slaughtered the red headed giants and left their bodies in mass graves until being discovered in the 1800s. This is all, of course, unfounded but it has given birth to an old school conspiracy.

However, tribes did have stories about cannibal giants. Some were even venerated as Gods while others were the source of nightmares for generations even to this day. Some even bear similarities to the modern idea of a frost giant of Norse Mythology but is “born” from resorting to cannibalism much like the infamous Wendigo. There are so many examples throughout these tribes that I can’t name all of them as examples. What can be said is that another similar creature that the Native American tribes have that seems to be giant-like, Ogres.

The name Ogre also comes from France derived from the name Orcus an Etruscan God who is said to eat human flesh. Like the Giant trope, Ogres are large humanoids renowned for eating humans. Because all legends, fairy tales, and mythology originate from oral traditions leading to multiple versions of the same stories. Giant, Ogre, and even in some cases, Trolls are interchanged. This is especially notable in Beowulf with Grendel. In Beowulf, Grendel is never really explained about what he is. He’s a large humanoid who is incredibly terrifying and hideous to look at who eats men. Ogre and Giant are so synonymous that an argument can be made that they are almost one and the same. Ogres and Giants became archetypes for stories as typical villains for Jack and the Beanstalk and Puss in Boots but to fully understand Giants and the Cauaroi, we need to dig deeper.

Giant Roots

Giants worldwide vary with some common features but for establishing the Cauaroi, we need to focus on the PIE cultures and how they saw Giants. We touched on the Gigantomachy, the battle between the Gigantes and the Olympians but Giants are also featured in the Titanomachy as well. These Greek variations ultimately formed the fairy tale archetype but they themselves go beyond the stereotypes. First and foremost, we need to examine the Titans, the generation of Gods prior to the Olympians. In some versions of the Titanomachy, the Titans are described as powerful and physically larger than the Olympians. Despite the war between Kronos and Zeus, some Titans joined the Olympians and were worshipped by the Greeks. Rather than separate races, the Titans and Olympians could be seen as rival tribes.

The Gigantes are the origin of the word Giant, as well as the common stereotypes in modern fairy tales, but like the Titans, the myths suggest that Gigantes could inter marry with Gods. This makes sense since the Gigantes were created by Gaia aa were the Titans. What separates Gigantes from Titans is that the former were purposely made to be enemies of the Gods. The Titans were primordial but the Gigantes were chaotic and on a mission to take from the Olympians and to destroy. They were not bumbling imbeciles either, as they were able to get the best of some Olympians like Ares but were no match for Athena and Artemis.

Other Giants like the Cyclopes and Hecatoncheires were allies to the Olympians. Indebted to Zeus, the Cyclopes crafted many of the Olympian’s weapons and assisted Hephestus in His forge. Posiedon fathered a few Cyclops including the aforementioned Polyphemus. The Hecatoncheires, the Hundred Handers, volunteered to guard Tartarus and were invaluable to Zeus in His battle with the Titans. The Greek Giants are brutal and fearsome. While the Titans are venerated and have a positive relationship with mankind, the Greek Giants do not. They are cunning craftsmen and warriors with an appetite for the human race. Because the Olympains represent the ideals of humanity it could be said that the various Giants represent the horrors of humanity.

We know the Gauls had a fascination with the Greeks and loved their artwork, wine, and other goods turning the Rhine and the Rhone into bustling trade routes between the Celts and the Greek colonies. However, we of course need to look at their northern neighbors, the Germanic tribes. Both Continental Germanic and Norse paganism are famous for their own Giants, the Jötnar. Modern depictions of the Jötnar in films and television have them as the stereotypical Giant, hulking brutes with little intelligence. This couldn’t be further from the origin. Firstly, the name “Jötnar” or singular “Jötun” comes from the Proto-Germanic masculine noun *etunaz. Philologist Vladimir Orel says that semantic connections between *etunaz with Proto-Germanic *etanan (“to eat”) makes a relation between the two nouns likely. Proto-Germanic *etanan is reconstructed from Old Norse etall “consuming”, Old English etol “voracious, gluttonous”, and Old High German filu-ezzal “greedy”. Old Norse risi and Old High German riso derive from the Proto-Germanic masculine noun *wrisjon. Orel observes that the Old Saxon adjective wrisi-līk “enormous” is likely also connected. Old Norse þurs, Old English ðyrs, and Old High German duris “devil, evil spirit” derive from the Proto-Germanic masculine noun *þur(i)saz, itself derived from Proto-Germanic *þurēnan, which is etymologically connected to Sanskrit turá- “strong, powerful, rich”. Several terms are used specifically to refer to female entities that fall into this category, including íviðja (plural íviðjur) and gýgr (plural gýgjar). The word is cognate with ettin, an archaic word for “giant”.

The major similarities between Jötnar and Gigantes and Titans are their fierce rivalry with the pantheon of Gods. In this case, the Aesir and Vanir. Where the Giants of Greek Mythology represented the darker side of humanity the Giants of Norse and Germanic Mythology represented the darker aspects of nature. For example, the Jötnar who lived in Jötunheim were known as Frost Giants, those of Muspel, also known as Muspelheim, were the Fire Giants, and Giants living in Midgard were the Hill and Mountain Giants. Trolls are also considered Jötnar in the same way Ogres are a type of Giant. Jötnar are also different from Gigantes, Cyclopes, and Hundred Handers, as they are not all grotesque. Many, in fact, are described as beautiful and have married within the Aesir and Vanir. Jötnar are also very adept in magic. Many stories tell of how Giants have tricked both men and Gods or displayed immense power with their sorcery.

Sagas and Eddas show that they can alter their shape and size like Thiazi and Utgard-Loki. The trickster Loki is a Jötun and the Giant Logi is the embodiment of a wildfire, able to consume anything. Aegir and Ran control aspects of the seas much like the God Njörd. Bard’s Saga centers around a half giant ascending to become a localized deity. While Greek Giants often ate humans, the Jötnar didn’t seem to care for humans with some exceptions of Giants actually falling in love with some heroes. The Jötnar are also very intelligent and clever, able to steal Mjölnir like Thrym and even bearing the Mead of Poetry in which Odin Himself had to resort to His own deception skills to obtain. However, the Jötnar are ultimately an adversary of order as they side against the Aesir during Ragnarok.

Finally we need to look at the Giants of the Insular Celts to get a better understanding on how the Gauls may have perceived the Cauaroi. Of course, the British Isles are full of Giant lore. From Cornwall to the Scottish Highlands, Giants are present in much lore and mythology. This is probably one of the major reasons the stereotypical Giant is what it is in Western storytelling especially with the popularity of “Jack and the Beanstalk ”. However, we need to remember that Celts weren’t the best about writing down their stories so what we have now was documented by the hands of Christian monks. In the Bible, Giants are seen as antagonists and a monstrous race known as Nephalim, the offspring of angels and human women.

The Nephalim are the center of the aforementioned Smithsonian conspiracy theory but that’s not relevant to the topic at hand. The Nephalim were dealt with with the great flood of Noah and his arc but somehow some survived and led to them showing up in other bible stories like Goliath. Goliath was a Philistine and descended from a giant race known as Raphaim. Another Judeo-Christian character who was also a Raphaim was King Og. It’s not known if the Raphaim are linked to the Nephalim in anyway but, surprisingly, in older Hebrew texts, the Raphaim are mentioned numerous times. They are mentioned almost as much as angels. It’s only in later writings where we are given the gigantic monstrous Raphaim like Goliath. The earlier you go, the Raphaim are seen as more benevolent. They were described as great heroes, championship, and kings. The earliest sources say that they are more like spirits who were associated with healing and acted similar to psychopomps. The change could have been caused by mistranlations going from Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, then Latin mixed with propaganda as Moses and Josua fought the Raphaim as they were settled in the land of Canaan which the Raphaim may have originally came from and was synchronized/adopted into Judaism but we’re getting off track.

So these monks were a bit biased to say the least. But there’s evidence that like with the Greeks and the Norse, some Celtic Giants were seen as Gods. Scotland has the Cailleach who is a “Divine Hag” that we covered in the Alpes article. She is also known as a Giantess responsible for creating the landscape of Scotland. The Giant’s Causeway in Ireland was said to be a makeshift bridge created from a battle between an Irish and Scottish Giant. Neither is seen as evil, but this story shows the chaotic and cunning traits we see with a lot of Giants. We see reckless anger that can destroy/create as the two tore up the earth and rock to build the causeway, seeing that the Scottish Giant was far bigger and stronger, the Irish Giant resorted to trickery and maybe even magic to fool the Scottish Giant. Disguising himself as an oversized baby and his wife with her own silver tongue, convinced the Scottish Giant that if the baby was this large and strong, how would the father be? The Scottish Giant retreated and destroyed the bridge as he fled.

In the Mabinogion of Wales, we are introduced to a heroic Giant named Bran. Bran was so large that His people could not build anything large enough to house Him. When the King of Ireland married and soon abused Bran’s sister, Branwen, Bran went to war with Ireland. Bran walked across the sea and because of His size, the Irish thought an island was moving across the sea towards them. At one point in the story, Bran lays across a chasm acting as a bridge for His army. Lastly, in the Irish Mythological Cycles we see the Famori. The Famori are described as raiders from the sea, some stories suggest they even live within the sea. Very much like the Jötnar, the Famori are destructive but have intermarriage with the Tuatha De Dannan like Bras who is a product of a Tuatha and Famori. The Hero God Lugh is also the Grandson of the Famori King/Chair Balor.

The etymology of the name is debated. The first part is now generally agreed to be the Old Irish fo, meaning under, below, lower, beneath, nether, etc. The meaning of the second part is unclear. One suggestion is that it comes from the Old Irish mur (sea), and that the name thus means something like “the undersea ones”. This was the interpretation offered by some medieval Irish writers. Another suggestion is that it comes from mór (great/big) and means something like “the great under(world) ones”, “the under(world) giants” or “the nether giants”. A third suggestion, which has more support among scholars, is that it comes from a hypothetical Old Irish term for a demon or phantom, found in the name of The Morrígan and cognate with the archaic English word “mare” (which survives in “nightmare”). The name would thus mean something like “underworld demons/phantoms” or “nether demons/phantoms”. Building on this, Marie-Louise Sjoestedt interprets the name as meaning “inferior” or “latent demons”, saying the Fomorians are “like the powers of chaos, ever latent and hostile to cosmic order”. John T. Koch suggests a relationship with Tartessian omuŕik.

The Giants of Gaul

With these topics covered, we can start to paint a picture on who and what the Cauaroi are. First we need to look at the word itself and historically, Cauaroi is a ethnonym. They are mentioned as Kaouárōn (Καουάρων) by Strabo (early 1st c. AD), Cavarum by Pliny (1st c. AD), Cavarum and Cavaras by Pomponius Mela (mid-1st c. AD), Kaúaroi (Καύαροι) by Ptolemy (2nd c. AD), and as Cavares on the Tabula Peutingeriana (5th c. AD) but they aren’t talking about mythical giants but rather a human tribe called the Cavari. The Cavari or Cavares (Gaulish: Cauaroi, ‘the heroes, champions, mighty men’) were a Gallic people dwelling in the western part of modern Vaucluse, around the present-day cities of Avignon, Orange and Cavaillon, during the Roman period. They were at the head of a confederation of tribes that included the Tricastini, Segovellauni and Memini, and whose territory stretched further north along the Rhône Valley up to the Isère river. The Gaulish ethnonym Cauaroi (sing. Cauaros) means ‘the heroes’, or ‘the mighty men’. It stems from the Celtic root *kawaro-, meaning ‘hero, champion’ (cf. Old Irish cuar ‘hero, champion, warrior’, Middle Welsh cawr, Breton kaour ‘giant, champion’).

Because Gaul was never fully united and their tribal rivalries was exploited time and time again, the Cavari tribe had made a name for themselves as fierce warriors. So fierce that it’s likely their fame, or infamy to some, bled into folklore, myth, and legend. As humans we naturally are attracted to things that seem larger than life and, in this case, it’s quite literal as this ethnonym has become associated with Gaulish Giants. But is it just the name that molded the myth?

The Cauaroi may have been depicted in artwork, specifically, on the Jupiter Columns. These tall pillars were erected between the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. Mainly found in Roman Germania but some have been discovered in Gaul and Britain as well. While there are slight variations between them, the columns typically have a base known as the Four Gods Stone. Usually engraved with the images of Juno, Minerva, Mercury, and Hercules. Above that would be a depiction of the personifications of each day of the week which would support the pillar or column which was normally decorated with scales. At the very top would usually be a carving of Jupiter riding a horse, thunderbolt in hand, trampling a defeated serpentine giant.

This type of Giant is known as an Anguiped or “snake-footed” Giant. These peculiar giants are commonly found in Greco-Roman artwork and even on coins. Anguipedal Giants are usually used to depict the monstrous Typhon or the Echidnades (son of Echidna as we don’t know his actual name). The Anguipedal giants are mainly seen in the artwork of the Titanomachy and Gigantomachy.

Probably a more famous Anguipedal Giant is the esoteric, rooster headed figure known as Abraxas. Possibly Persian in origin, Abraxas image and name has appeared in Greece but has been a major figure in the Gnostic religion. Hinduism also has beings known to have snakes for legs known as Vyala Yaksha. But we need to ask ourselves, are Anguipedal Giants Gaulish or just imagery brought to Gaul? An answer might have been found in England.

Carved in stone was an artifact that may have been a votive offering brought over by a legionnaire was an antlered figure believed to be Cernunnos (aka Karnonos or Carnonos) with horned serpents for legs. Cernunnos is famously seen in a meditation pose holding a torc and a horned serpent. Most see this as Cernunnos being a mediator. A figure of balance between order (the torc) and chaos (the horned serpent). Cernunnos physically embodies a linear being as a man with animal features. A being that walks the line between man and animal, tame and wild, the known and the unknown, life and death.

As far as we know this is the only image of an Anguipedal Cernunnos but it could reveal that like the Jötnar and the Famori, the Dêuoi and the Cauaroi are two divine tribes that may or may not like one another but try to live in peace through Cernunnos. The Gunderstrup Cauldron and the stone carvings in England have two different depictions of Cernunnos but could be saying the same thing. Possibly Cernunnos is a Cauaros who lives among the Dêuoi as a mediator and peacekeeper or perhaps a being that is half Dêuos and half Cauaros. Speculation aside, these pieces of iconography show that Cernunnos keeps things in balance.


So what are the Cauaroi? After looking at other cultures depictions of Giants and looking at the etymology it is safe to say that like other PIE cultures, the Giants of Gaul are possibly older and more primal than the Dêuoi. Not that they are less intelligent or primitive. The Cauaroi, like the Jötnar and Famori, are a rival tribe but also blood related, in some instances, to the Dêuoi. The Dêuoi often represent civilization, order, and the tribe whereas the Cauaroi represent the chaotic unknown, the untamable wild, and the primordial nature of things. Old myth often turns into humble folklore and that’s no different with the Cauaroi.

In the Alps, avalanches are said to be newborn frost giants for example. A dormant volcano has been referred to as a “sleeping giant”. Natural disasters have been often linked to giants and other monsters in ancient days. Personally, I don’t believe the Cauaroi to be fully antagonistic like most medieval writers to make Giants out to be. In fact, like the Jötnar and the Famori, the Dêuoi and the Cauaroi have friendships and marry one another. If Cernunnos is connected to the Cauaroi in anyway this could be how He has antlers and sometimes have snake legs, if it’s not just an artist’s interpretation on a single stone carving.

As far as iconography goes, if the Dêuoi are seen with various symbols depicting who they are like Taranis and His solar wheel, Epona with horses, Nantosuelta with Her bird house, Ogmios with His club, etc I believe the Cauaroi represent and embody a primal aspect of the natural world in which they reside in a similar way Cernunnos physically represents a linear being.

While not antagonistic, the Cauaroi can be dangerous. Some have probably become Dêuoi and enjoy their relationship with humans but many probably prefer to be left alone and be far away from humans especially as we continue to pollute and destroy the very world we live in. Climate change is very real, whether or not you believe anything that I’m typing in now but everyone can look online and see the severe weather events going on all over the world. It’s hard to see these things and wonder if we aren’t evoking the wrath of the Cauaroi.

Divination Results

For context, I use a divination style that combines Wild Wood Tarot (WWT), Elder Futhark Runes (EF), and Lepontic Rûnâs (LP).

Who are the Cauaroi?
WWT: Ace of Bows: Spark of Life
EF: Mannaz
LP: Đerâ
Results: Ancient and primal, the Cauaroi are as old as creation itself. They thrive in chaos because they have the knowledge and experience to survive it. They’ve shared this with humans but have no patience for foolishness and complacency.

How do they help mankind?
WWT: Queen of Vessels: Salmon
EF: Eihwaz
LP: Nertos (inverted)
Results: The Cauaroi are honest, direct, and straight forward. No time for riddles, half truths, or deceptions. The individual cannot survive but only when humans come together can they withstand anything nature can throw at them. Death is natural but so is life and if it be an avalanche or a volcanic eruption, from the destruction new life can come. The actions of the Cauaroi are never vindictive but necessary for the natural order.

How do they harm mankind?
WWT: Seven of Vessels: Mourning
EF: Isa
LP: Orbion
Results: The Cauaroi are the primordial forces of nature they are natural disasters. Things are still and calm in the eye of the storm but it is only temporary before the full force of the storm comes down and wreaks havoc. Homes, possessions, man made things are wiped out to restore balance. Death is almost inevitable but it’s never personal. The Cauaroi leave mourning and loss in their wake.


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