Dea Artio was a Gaulish Bear Goddess of the Continental Celts. There are inscriptions in reference to the goddess found in Switzerland, Luxembourg, Germany and also Gaul ( France ). Her name is derived from the re-constructed proto - Celtic root word - arto meaning bear. Her name literally means The Bear Goddess. She was considered a goddess of harvest, fertility and wildlife. The Autumn season was considered her time because a female bear usually conceives in the Autumn season and spends her hibernation time being pregnant.
There is a small bronze statue housed in the Historisches Museum in Bern, Switzerland which was found in Berne ( bear city ). The statue depicts her seated before a huge bear near a tree and in her lap she holding a saucer containing fruit and flowers, in offering to the bear. Most of her images she is actually the bear itself.
Artaius or Artio was a bear god in Gaul ( France ) and particularly in present day Switzerland. The Romans had identified him with the god Mercury. Some scholars believe that King Arthur himself have have originally been a god and was derived from the Gallic god Artaius. Artaius has also been identified with another Welsh figure, Gwydion.