Tag Archive: macha


Aahhh…my sweet and beloved Goddess Epona…”Call on Epona for protection (especially for animals), for fertility of body, mind, and spirit, and for dreams to guide you on your life path. Epona also teaches women of their strength and sovereignty, helping women discover their wholeness within themselves.” ~ Judith Shaw

judith shaw photoEpona, Celtic Horse Goddess was worshipped by the Gauls (the Celtic French). Her worship spread to Britain and Rome from Western Europe. Hundreds of statues and shrines dating from between the first and third centuries CE have been found in France alone.

Today we can understand Epona mainly from her images, as few stories of her have survived.  She is often shown either riding a white horse side saddle or standing or sitting between two horses.  Many images show her feeding mares and foals from a cornucopia or a basket of fruit.

Epona, Celtic Horse Goddess

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Goddess Aine

queen-fairies-animation-girl

“Aine’s themes are protection, healing, The Spark of Life, divination, luck, fertility, earth and the moon. Her symbols are moon (lunar items), silver & white items and meadowsweet.  This Celtic Goddess of the moon shines on today’s celebration, Her name meaning ‘bright’. Aine has strong connections with the land. Her blessing ensures fertile fields. She also gives luck to mortals and keeps us healthy.

Dating back to the 1400s, Zibelemärit, an onion festival, takes place in Bern, Switzerland. It includes several parades with intricate mechanical figurines and a huge harvest festival with – you guessed it – tons of onions!   Magically speaking, onions are closely related to Aine because of their lunar appearance. According to metaphysical traditions, carrying or growing onions grants safety and banishes negativity.

A freshly cut onion rubbed on sores, bug bites, or scratches restores Aine’s healthy energy by gathering the problem and taking it away. Bury or burn this slice to dispel the problem altogether.

One great (and tasty) way to invoke Aine, improve well-being, and improve your lunar attributes is by making and eating onion soup (or any other onion dish) today. Use red, Spanish, white, and cooking onions along with chives. By heating and blending them, you mix the magic to perfection. Stir clockwise, whispering Aine’s name into to soup so she abides in each vitality-laden sip.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

Art by Briar

Art by Briar

Aine (pronounced AW-neh) was one of the very ancient and powerful Goddesses of sovereignty in Ireland. She was a fertility Goddess in that She had control and command over crops and animals and encouraged human love.  ”One of the great Goddesses of ancient Ireland survives in modern times as the queen of the fairies of south Munster, the southwest corner of the island, who is said to haunt Knockainy Hill there.  Originally Aine was a sun Goddess who assumed the form of Lair Derg (‘red mare’), the horse that none could outrun.  Her special feast was Midsummer Night, when farmers carried torches of straw in procession around Knockainy and waved them over the cattle and the fields for protection and fruitfulness.

Two stories are told of Aine.  In one, She was the daughter of an early Irish god [Egobail, foster son of Manannan mac Lir; while some versions say She was daughter or wife of Manannan mac Lir] and was infatuated with the semidivine hero Fionn.  She had taken a geasa (magical vow) that She would never sleep with a man with gray hair, but Fionn was young with no silver streaking his bushy hair.  One of Aine’s sisters, Miluchrach, was also interested in Fionn: She enchanted a lake and tempted Fionn to take a dip.  When the hero emerged from the magic waters, his body was still youthful and strong, but his hair was stained gray.  True to Her geasa, Aine thereafter scorned the hero” (Monaghan, p. 37).

“In early tales She is associated with the semi-mythological King of MunsterAilill Aulom, who is said to have ‘ravished’ Her, an affair ending in Áine biting off his ear – hence ‘Aulom’, meaning ‘one-eared’. By maiming him this way, Áine rendered him unfit to be King, thereby taking away the power of sovereignty.” [1]  ”After the rape Áine swore vengeance on Ailill and eventually contrived his death. This story is about what happens when a ruler decides to rape the Land rather than enter into a marriage with Her. Áine knows the energies of a righteous vengeance quite intimately. She said:
I’ll have you been to me, to have done me violence and to have killed my father. To requite this I too will do you violence and by the time we are done I will leave you with no means of reprisal. *
The descendants of Aulom, the Eóganachta, claim Áine as an ancestor.” [2]

“Lady of the lake” by *oloferla

“Lady of the lake” by *oloferla

“In another story, Gerald, the human Earl of Desmond, captured Aine while She was combing Her hair on the banks of Her sacred lake (thought to be based on the story of Ailill Aulom).  Aine bore the first Earl Fitzgerald to the man, but made Gerald promise never to express surprise at the powers his son might develop.  All went well for many years until one day when Gerald saw his son jump into and out of a bottle.  He could not contain an exclamation of shock and the boy disappeared, flying away in the shape of a wild goose.  Disappointed in Her human mate, Aine disappeared into Knockainy, where She is said to still live in a splendid castle” (Monaghan, p. 37).  ”Thus the FitzGeralds also claim an association with Áine; despite the French-Norman origins of the clan, the FitzGeralds would become known for being ‘More Irish than the Irish themselves.’” [2]

“She is credited for giving meadowseet its delicate scent.   Some also claim that She was a minor moon Goddess, or that Her identity may have later become merged with the Goddess Anu.” [3]  She is also associated with the Morrigan (probably by means of Anu – as Anu is one of the Goddesses that makes up the trinity along with Badb and Macha to form the Morrigan; or perhaps the Lair Derg (‘red mare’) and Macha).  The feast of Midsummer Night was held in her honor. In County Limerick, She is remembered in more recent times as Queen of the fairies.

fairy-fairies-18369084-1024-768

ASSOCIATIONS:
Pantheon: Celtic
Element: Air
Direction: Northwest
Planets: Sun, moon
Festivals: Midsummer/Summer Solstice
Sacred Animals: Red mare, rabbit, swan   [4]
Colors: Red, gold, green, blue, and tan
Representations: Hay, straw, fire
Stones/Incense: Bloodstone, dragonsblood, fairy dust

HERBS, TREES & FUNGI:
Healing : AngelicaBalm,  BlackberryCowslipElderFennelFlaxGarlicGoat’s RueMugwort,NettleOak
Fertility : HawthornMistletoeOak
Prosperity : AlfalfaAshElder
Protection : AgrimonyAngelicaAshBirchBlackberryBladderwrackBroomElderFennel,FlaxHollyLavenderMallowMistletoeMugwortNettleOakParsley            [5]

 

 

 

 

* “To me this is a warning about what the Land will eventually do to us all if we continue on the path of resource rape, and environmental poisoning that our current society follows. Áine will protect Herself.” [4]

 

 

 

Sources:

Cetictale.com, “Áine“.

Gods-heros-myth.com, “The Goddess Aine“.

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Aine”.

Yourinnergoddess.net, “Aine“.

Shee-Eire.com, “Aine“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Agaliha. Mysticwicks.com, “Áine {Goddess of the Week}“.

Áine.com

Ancientworlds.net, “Cnoc Áine“.

Faeryhealing.com, “The Faery Healing Goddesses“.

Goddessgift.com, “The Goddess Aine and Her Midsummer Lavender Cookies“. – for the kitchen witches ;)

Jarvis, Lana. Goddessalive.co.uk, “AINE: Goddess of Midsummer, Goddess of the People“.

Journal of a Poet, “Aine, Irish Love Goddess and Faerie Queen“.

Kuchinsky, Charlotte. Voices.yahoo.com, “Unveiling the Celtic Goddess, Aine“.

Kynes, Sandra. Kynes.net, “Pilgrimage to Ireland“.

Monaghan, Patricia. Matrifocus.com, “The Stone Heart of Summer“.

Talkwiththegoddess.wordpress.com, “Goddess Card Dec. 5“.

Indigoreadingsblog.blogspot.com, “Today’s Reading – Aine“.

So, I’m very thankful – it’s been a very successful week, both spiritually and mundanely…well, except for this morning when I had to be up at 4:30AM to drive my husband to the airport (Army stuff).  But, then again, I’m thankful for that now that I think about it because this school he is going to and the orders we will receive when he completes it has stopped him from being deployed to Afghanistan…so yes, I can say that I’m thankful for that.

Anyways, spiritually – I’ve made a very long-awaited connection with Epona.  As I’ve stated in comments under my Epona entry, I’ve always loved and had a strong connection with horses.  Equine Science was my first college major until I’d gotten into a car accident on my way to college one early icy morning on my way to the horse barn to groom and take care of the horse that I was responsible for, Briar.  Despite having to be up at 5AM every morning to get to the horse barn, it was well worth it to me as I loved EVERYTHING about it.  I loved the smells, the sounds of the horses whinnying and snorting, and most especially grooming her.  That was when I was at peace in my “happy place” – spending that one on one time with her rubbing, brushing and picking hooves.  I also loved riding – the freedom from all my cares that came with it was amazing…

“Rhiannon” by Amanda Walsh

In my younger days, when confronted, being “cut down” or if someone tried to discourage me from doing something I had set my mind to, I remember “feeling” like a wild horse saying, “I will not be broken!”  Stubborn…very stubborn (if truth be told, I still am).  I’ve felt a faint connection with Epona for several years now; with Her name popping into my head for no apparent reason and calling out to Her when feeling weak, hurt and vulnerable.  For the past few weeks, I’ve been feeling Her energy grow stronger and stronger as She made Her way into my life and really made Her presence known.  Perhaps that began when during our last Druid study group several weeks ago, I pulled the Horse card from the Druid Animal Oracle deck after focusing on the question, “What do I need to focus on today?”  I’ve also felt a spark with Rigantona and Rhiannon, even Macha; but more so with Epona.  Maybe because Her energy just feels so much “older” and primal to me than Rhiannon, Rigantona and Macha.

“Epona the Horse Goddess” by Gene Avery North

It’s been extremely healing, opening up a whole new sense of deeper love, understanding, forgiveness and acceptance that I was afraid that I’d never come to know.  I had a friend a long time ago that said, “Pony medicine is good medicine – healing medicine,” and as far as I’m concerned, he was right on the money!  I’m not sure what finally sealed the deal completed this connection – perhaps when it was when I was riding one of the horses with my daughter at the Renaissance Festival last Sunday – I have no idea.  All I know is that She’s here and I’m so thankful for Her warm, loving and peaceful presence I feel when my anger or feelings of discontent and frustration flare up.  I can “see” Her: a milk-white mare with big soft brown eyes just staring at me and feel Her comforting warmth.

I’ve also decided to try to work with Her as a Gatekeeper, which I understand is usually a male deity.  However, I feel She would make a perfect Gatekeeper as She is associated with protection, keys, the Otherworld and Underworld, being a psychopomptravel, shape-shifting, dreams, the Feminine and magic – just to name a few of Her associations.  As I have more of a Dianic nature, it just feels right.

“Green Goddess of Beltane” by ArwensGrace

I’ve thought a lot about the Goddesses that I feel connected to and noticed a pattern.  First off, Brighid – Celtic, who goes by many names depending on the region or tribe you’re looking at (i.e. Brìde in Scotland, Brigindū in GaulBrigantia in Great Britain, etc.).  Nemetona – Celtic, worshiped in eastern Gaul.  Sulis – Celtic, another Gaulish Goddess worshiped at the thermal spring of Bath (with associations with Brighid).  And now Epona – another Gaulish Goddess worshiped throughout the Celtic and even Roman world.  I also have an interest in Artio a Celtic/Gaulish bear Goddess, worshiped notably at Bern (Switzerland) and Abnoba, another Gaulish Goddess who was worshipped in the Black Forest and surrounding areas with connections to Diana (another favorite Goddess of mine).  Do you see a pattern?  They’re all Celtic Goddesses, yes, but more specifically, they’re all Gaulish.  I think I’ve found my pantheon 🙂

This kind of surprised me as I had expected it to be more of an Irish pantheon, but the feeling of connectedness just isn’t as strong as it is with the Gaulish pantheon.  Perhaps because of my Ancestors?  I will freely admit that yes, I am a mutt – Sicilian, Polish and Czechoslovakian on my father’s side and Irish, German, Polish, English, French and Dutch on my mother’s side.  Now, I know that there are people who say that ancestry doesn’t have too much of an influence on what deities call to you, and I agree with that; however, I feel that sometimes, it does.

Onto a different topic now…

I’ve just now discovered a very yummy and acceptable offering to the Shining Ones – Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey.  It caught my eye one day as I was walking through the PX looking for a bottle of whiskey to use for my offerings, especially after our very successful garage sale we’ve been running all this past week.  I felt a collective acceptance from the Shining Ones as we gave offerings of thanks for our blessings we had received.

That then inspired my husband…mead making.  Eventually, when he retires from the military, we would really like to live a self-sustainable life.  My aunt and uncle are beekeepers and sell their own honey.  I one day want to learn this skill and sell honey and make soaps and skincare products.  My husband sees an opportunity to make and sell mead as well.  Perhaps some Divine Inspiration?  🙂  Who knows…we’ll see where this dream takes us…

Goddess Rigantona

“Rhiannon” by Hrana Janto

“Rigantona’s themes are sports, excellence, magic, fertility, movement and travel. Her symbols are horses, the moon, white items and birds.  A Roman/Italic form of Rhiannon, this Goddess travels the earth on a swift white horse, a lunar symbol, sweeping us up to travel along and get everything in our lives moving! Stories portray Rigantona in the company of powerful magical birds and She also represents fertility.

In Italy, people attend the Palio Festival, a horse race that started in the 13th century and has continued ever since as a time to show physical skill and cunning. It’s a perfect place for Rigantona to shine. Any type of physical activity that you excel in will please Rigantona today and encourage Her motivational energy in your efforts. Get out and take a brisk walk, swim, rollerblade. As you move, visualize yourself atop a white horse, the Goddess’s symbol, approaching an image of a specific goal. All the energy you expend during this activity generates magic for attainment.

If birds fly into your life today, pay attention to the type of bird and its movements, because birds are Rigantona’s messengers. Birds flying to the right are good omens, those moving to the left act as a warning of danger and those flying overhead indicate productivity in whatever you try today. If any of these birds drops a feather, keep it as a gift from the Goddess.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

Rhiannon (from the Mabinogion) by Alan Lee

Rigatona (pronounced REE at-on-a) meaning “Great Queen” is thought to be from where the Welsh Goddess Rhiannon’s original name derived.  “Continuation of the name would indicate the existence of a Brythnoic Goddess known as Rīgantona, though no trace of Her (save for the name of Rhiannon) has been left to us. Whether this Rīgantona was an independent deity or represented an aspect of Epona (who is occasionally referred to in the plural and may be a triple-Goddess) may not be known for certain though the surviving tales of Rhiannon would suggest the later interpretation. Thus there may once have been an insular Brythonic deity known as Rīgantona Epona.

Rhiannon’s name is directly cognate with the Irish goddess Mórrígan (which also menans ‘Great Queen’). In terms of attributes, however, Rhiannon is most closely similar to an sapect of the triple-Goddes, Mórrígan known as Macha; a Goddess of war, horses and kingship.” [1]

Rhiannon is a potent symbol of fertility, yet She is also an Otherworld and death Goddess, a bringer of dreams, and a moon deity who is symbolized by a white horse. Her father was Heveydd the Old, and She was married to both Pwyll and Manan. The story of Her marriage to Pwyll, and the subsequent accusation of the murder of Her child, is well documented and most people are familiar with Rhiannon from this tale. [Click here to read Her tale].

“Rhiannon” by Susan Seddon Boulet

Patricia Monaghan comments: “What can one expect of a Goddess of death? Her son disappeared, and the queen was found with blood on Her mouth and cheeks. Accused of murder, She was sentenced to serve as Pwyll’s gatekeeper, bearing visitors to the door on Her back; thus She was symbolically transformed into a horse. All ended happily when Her son was found; Rhiannon had been falsely accused by maids who, terrified at finding the babe absent, had smeared puppy blood on the queen’s face.

Behind this legend is doubtless another, more primitive one in which the death queen actually was guilty of infanticide. This beautiful queen of the night would then, it seems, be identical to the Germanic Mora, the nightmare, the horse-shaped Goddess of terror. But night brings good dreams as well as bad, so Rhiannon was said to be the beautiful Goddess of joy and oblivion, a Goddess of Elysium as well as the queen of hell” (p. 266 – 267).

“Rhiannon” by Jan Hess

“In Her guise as a death Goddess, Rhiannon could sing sweetly enough to lure all those in hearing to their deaths, and therefore She may be related to Germanic stories of lake and river faeries who sing seductively to lure sailors and fishermen to their doom. Her white horse images also link Her to Epona, and many scholars feel they are one and the same, or at least are derived from the same archetypal roots.

In today’s magick and ritual, Rhiannon can be called upon to aid you in overcoming enemies, exercising patience, working magick, moon rituals, and enhancing dream work.” [2]

“Call upon Rhiannon to bless rites of fertility, sex magick, prosperity and dream work. Work with Her to enhance divination skills, overcome enemies, develop patience, and to gain self confidence. She is most definitely a Fae that every woman can relate to on some level. Her perserverance and will is an example of what we as women are, have been, and will continue to be for millennia to come. Solid, unwavering beauty and strength, like Mother Earth below our feet.” [3]

 

ASSOCIATIONS (Rhiannon):

General: Moon, horses, horseshoe, songbirds, gates, the wind, and the number 7.

Animals: Horse, badger, frog, dogs (especially puppies), canaries and other songbirds, hummingbirds, and dragons.

Plants: Narcissus and daffodils, leeks, pansies, forsythia, cedar and pine trees [evergreens], bayberry, sage and rosemary,[jasmine, any white flower]

Perfumes/Scents: Sandalwood, neroli, bergamot, lavender, narcissus, and geranium.

Gems and Metals: Gold, silver, cat’s eye, moonstone, crystal, quartz, ruby, red garnet, bloodstone, turquoise, and amethyst.

Colors: Dark green, maroon, gold, silver, rich brown, white, black, charcoal grey, and ruby red.   [4]

Element: Earth

Sphere of Influence: Animals and fertility

Best Day to Work with: Monday

Suitable Offerings: Music

Associated Planet: Moon    [5]

Moon Phase: Waning

Aspects: Leadership, movement, change, death, fertility, crisis, magic for women, protection, strength and truth in adversity, dreams

Wheel of the Year: Willow Moon (Saille): April 15 – May 12

Ivy Moon (Gort): September 30 – October 27   [6]

 

 

 

Great Goddess, help me remember that times of sorrow are opportunities for the greatest growth.  Rhiannon, I affirm that I have the courage to overcome my doubts and fears.

And here’s a great 13 minute video on Goddess Rhiannon, The Great Queen

Sources:

Goddessgift.com, “Goddess Symbols: Rhiannon“.

LadyRavenMoonshadow. Within the Sacred Mists, “The Celtic Tradition of Witches and Wiccans“.

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Rhiannon”.

Nemeton, The Sacred Grove: Home of the Celtic gods, “Rhiannon, A Cymric and Brythonic Goddess, also known as Rigatona: Great Queen“.

PaganNews.com, “Rhiannon“.

Rhiannon – Divine Queen

Saille, Rowen. Order of the White Moon, “Rhiannon: Great Queen of the Celts“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Barkemeijer de Wit, R. Celestial Journey Therapy, “Who is Goddess Rhiannon?

Epona.net, “Later Influences of Epona“.

Goddessgift.com, “Activities to Invoke the Goddess Rhiannon“.

Goddessgift.com, “Meditations to Invoke the Goddess Rhiannon“.

Goddessgift.com, “Rhiannon, Celtic Goddess“.

Griffith, Carly. PaganPages.org, “Rhiannon“.

The Mabinogion, “Rhiannon“.

Monaghan, Patricia. The Encyclopedia of Celtic Mythology and Folklore, “Mórrígan” (p. 339 – 340)

Revel, Anita. Reconnect with Your Inner Goddess, “Rhiannon“.

Sisterhood of Avalon, “The Goddesses“.

Took, Thalia. A-Muse-ing Grace Gallery, “Rhiannon“.

Took, Thalia. The Obscure Goddess Online Directory, “Epona“.

Wikipedia, “Epona“.

Wikipedia, “Rhiannon“.

Goddess Epona

“Epona” by Joanna Barnum

“Epona’s themes are protection of animals; especially those who serve humankind. Her symbol is the horse.  Epona protects the creatures who faithfully keep humans company. This pre-Roman Gaulish Goddess is nearly always shown riding or lovingly feeding a horse and accompanied by a dog – these are Her two sacred animals.  Also, sometimes depicted with corn in Her lap and carrying a goblet, Epona inspires love, fertility and providence in your life. In some myths, Epona appeared to acknowledge a king’s sovereignty, giving Her leadership qualities that can help you when you need more authority in a situation.

To generate a little more providence in your life, eat corn today. Say a silent prayer to Epona, asking Her to saturate your food with power, then consume it to internalize the energy.

If you have a pet, consider blessing it today. To do this, find a small silver charm or a horse or a dog (like those from charm bracelets). This image invokes Epona’s protection. Alternatively, use a little bell and draw the image of a horse or dog on it.

Hold the token cupped in your hands. Visualize it filled with glittery white light and say,

‘Epona, watch over_____________ [fill in with the of the animal]. Keep them safe and healthy no matter where they may be.’

Put the charm on the animal’s collar or cage or in it’s bedding.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Epona (pronounced Ey-PONE-ah) was the ancient Horse Goddess of the pre-Christian Pagan people, known as the Gauls, or Celtic French. She was worshipped for many hundreds of years as a Horse Goddess, who not only protected horses, but also their owners. Epona is also one of the most well known of all the Goddesses within the Celtic Pantheon, and She was granted such titles as ‘The Great Mare,’ the ‘Divine Mare,’ and the ‘Mare Goddess.’

Epona was worshipped throughout the entire Celtic world in a variety of other, different aspects. In Ireland she was known as Macha, the Goddess of War, while in Wales She became Rhiannon, the Goddess of the Underworld. It was in the aspect of Rhiannon that Epona appears in the Welsh collection of tales known as The Mabinogion. She has also been identified with the Celtic Goddess Edain, or Etain, whose full name, when translated, is Etain Echraidhe, which means ‘Etain, the horse rider,’ or ‘Etain, the rider of horses.’

Epona was worshipped widely throughout the entire Celtic and Roman worlds, and Her worship was exceptionally strong in both Rhineland and Gaul. In fact, Epona’s worship became so strong that it spread as far away as the Danube River, Yugoslavia, North Africa and Rome. The Roman army was so impressed by Her that it eventually adopted Her cult, and the Roman soldiers introduced Epona’s worship to the many people that they encountered in their travels.

The British worshipped Epona in the form of a cult, and they gave Her the title ‘Rigantona‘ or ‘Rig Antonia,’ which means ‘Great Queen.’ The Goddess Rhiannon, whose worship occurred at a much later point in time, was strongly associated with Epona, and She was known by that title as well.

“Epona the Horse Goddess” by Gene Avery North

Epona was also known by a variety of other names, which changed according to the various languages and myths that were indigenous to each particular region. It actually matters little whether She was known as Rhiannon, Macha or Epona, because no matter which aspect She happened to appear in, Her image always remained the same. She appeared as a woman with very long hair who was riding side saddle upon a white mare. When She appeared in the aspect of Epona, however, She was depicted as a woman with very long hair, lying half-naked on a white mare.

Stories about Epona [are] lost to the world forever, although one story regarding Her origin remains. During the decline of the Roman Empire, a Greek writer named Agesilaos wrote a story in which he claimed that Epona was the product of a man named Phoulonios Stellos, who had no interest whatsoever in women. Instead of mating with a woman he preferred to mate with a mare, and when that mare gave birth, it was to a beautiful human-looking daughter. Interestingly, it was actually the mare, herself, who named her daughter Epona, and by her doing so, she deified Epona as the Goddess of Horses.” [1]

Patricia Monaghan tells us that “Epona could take the tangible forms of both parents.  Sometimes, too, She appeared as a rushing river, which suggests that Epona was a fertility Goddess, often seen in Celtic culture as a water spirit.  Similarly, the connection among Celtic peoples of the horse and the sun suggests a solar nature to Epona, supported as well by the patera or round sunlike plate that She carries in many sculptures.

The sacred mare Epona appeared as the bestower of sovereignty in the ancient Celtic rituals of kingship, which may have included a rite of marriage with the mare Goddess.  Among Indo-European peoples in India, a rite of mare-marriage, which solidified a man’s claim on the rulership of a geographical area, is attested and has been connected by scholars to the figure of Epona.

Aerial view of the Uffington White Horse

Recent excavations of the magnificent British monument, the White Horse of Uffington, strongly suggests that the 360-foot-long horse represents Epona.  Using a new technique, archaeologists have been studying the rate at which the hillside, upon which the White Horse is carved into the chalky soil, has descended towards the deep valley (the Vale of the White Horse) beneath.  The White Horse has puzzled researchers for many years, some maintaining that it was a late medieval creation, others that it derived from the post-Celtic era.  Even before the recent attempt to date the monument itself, it has been noted that the horse’s design echoed that of coins issued by the Celtic warrior Queen Boudicca.  The identification of the White Horse with the Celts is now virtually certain – and as the Celts had only one horse-divinity, the likelihood is that the horse on the hill was Epona.  Vestiges of Her are also found in the figure of Lady Godiva and the mysterious white-horse-riding woman of Banbury Cross” (p. 114).

  

On an Etsy.com page selling a replica of an Epona statue found in Alesia, France, I found a piece of information especially inspiring:

Epona in our everyday lives

“Although Epona was and still is traditionally seen as a horse Goddess, She can fit into so many aspects of our lives. She is the Goddess of dreams not only of the sleeping kind but the dreams of hope and ambition. She can be helpful in manifesting dreams and is a good protector to have when venturing on a new path in life. A prayer or invocation can be offered to Her if one is having trouble sleeping or wishes to have insightful or peaceful dreams. She is a nurturing caregiver and can be called upon as a protector of families, children and women who are about to give birth.

Epona is also good to turn to when seeking positive blessings and prosperity. She is good to call upon during dark, difficult times in life such as grief and loss and can offer guidance that is gentle and loving in nature. Roses are a wonderful offering to leave on your altar for the Goddess Epona as are rose petals or rose incense. Sandalwood incense can also be used as an offering. When burning a candle for Epona, the most common color associated with Her is white.” [2]

 

ASSOCIATIONS:

Pantheon: Celtic

Element: Earth

Sphere of Influence: Horse and Motherhood

Preferred Colors: Brown, black and white

Associated Symbol: Horse, cornucopia, keys

Animals Associated with: Horse, mares and foals, dog, birds.

Suitable Offerings: Fruits, mare’s milk, apples, hay, sweet grass, oats, fresh water, a thick stout that you can practically chew on.  Roses, rosebuds, rose garlands.

Scents/Incense: Rose, sandalwood.

Gemstones: Cat’s eye, ruby, azurite, obsidian, and moonstone

Astrology: Aries

Tarot: Queen of Wands

Chakra: The sexual and heart chakras

Feast Days: The Autumn Equinox, when night and day are of equal length, occurs during the month of the Vine Moon; December 18 (based on the Roman calendar).

[34, 56]

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Etsy.com/shop/Harmonycraft, Epona – Celtic Horse Goddess“.

A Journal of a Poet – The Goddess As My Muse, “Epona, The Gaulish Horse Goddess“.

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Epona”.

PaganNews.com, “Epona“.

Revel, Anita. igoddess.com, “Epona“.

Tribeofthesun.com, Epona“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

EPONA.net (An in-depth Epona site with historical facts about Epona)

Firewolf, Dawn. Realmagick.com, “Epona“.

Held, Catherine Anne. Dreamhorsewomen.wordpress.com, “Women and Horses in Mythology: Epona“.

Lady Zephyr. Order of the White Moon, “Epona“.

Myst, Willow. Order of the White Moon, “Epona“.

Nemeton, The Sacred Grove: Home of the Celtic gods, “Epona: A Gaulish and Brythonic Goddess: Divine Horse“.

Readtiger.com, “Epona“.

Took, Thalia. The Obscure Goddess Online Directory, “Epona“.

Wikipedia, “Epona“.

Goddess Macha

“Macha’s themes are victory, success, protection, fertility and fire. Her symbols are red items, the acorn and the crow.  Macha means ‘mighty one.’ Macha used Her potency to clear the land for wheat, giving Her associations with fertility. She also used Her might to protect the Celts’ lands agains invaders, thereby becoming a war Goddess and guardian. Art shows Her dressed in red (color abhorrent to evil) and with blazing red hair, forever chasing off any malevolence that threatens Her children’s success.

Bonfire Night in Scotland takes place around May 22 and is a festival that originally had strong pagan overtones, the fires being lit specifically for ritual offerings that pleased the Gods and Goddesses and invoked their blessings. Additionally, the bright, red fire looked much like Macha’s streaming red hair, and thus it banished any evil spirits from the earth. So don any red-colored clothing today, or maybe temporarily dye your hair red to commemorate this Goddess and draw Her protective energies to your side. Eating red foods (like red peppers) is another alternative for internalizing Macha’s victorious power and overcoming any obstacle standing in your way.

Or, find some acorns and keep them in a Macha fetish bag (any natural-fiber drawstring bag). Anytime you want her power to manifest, simply plant the acorn and express your wish to it. Macha’s potential is in the acorn, ready to sprout!”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

The Morrigan

“Macha (pronounced MOCK-uh) is an Irish war Goddess, strongly linked to the land. Several Goddesses or heroines bear Her name, but She is generally thought of as one aspect of the triple death-Goddess the Mórrígan (the “Great Queen” or “Phantom Queen”), consisting of Macha ‘Raven’, Badb ‘Scald Crow’ or ‘Boiling’, and Nemain ‘Battle Fury’. Macha is associated with both horses and crows.

The Mórrígan is both sex and battle Goddess, and Her personality is usually described as both war-like and alluring. She is known to be a prophetess: the Washer at the Ford is said to be one aspect of Her, who appears to those about to die. She is commonly shown washing bloody clothes at a river ford; when approached, She tells the enquirer the clothes are theirs. Like the bean sidhe (banshee), who She is believed related to, She is an omen of death.

As Goddess of the land, the Mórrígan are said to be cognate with Ana or Danu, and Macha is said to be one of the Tuatha de Danann.

Three other aspects of Macha feature in Irish folklore, which likely derive from a common Goddess, as they are all said to have a mother named Ernmas (also considered to be the mother to Ériu, Banba, and Fódla, sacred names for Ireland). One Macha, a seeress, was the wife of Nemed ‘Sacred’, who invaded Ireland and fought the Fomorians in Irish legend. Emain Macha, a bronze-age hill fort in Northern Ireland, and legendary capital of Ulster, is said to have been named for Her.

The second Macha, titled Mong Ruadh (“red-haired”), was a warrior and Queen, who overpowered Her rivals and forced them to build Emain Macha for Her.

“Curse of Macha” by Stephen Reid

The third Macha, and probably the most well-known, was said to be the wife of Crunniuc. Like many supernatural lovers, She warns him to tell no one of Her existence; but he boasts to the king of Ulster that his wife can outrun the fastest chariot. The king then seizes the very pregnant Macha and forces Her to run a race, against Her protests. In spite of this, She does win, and as She crosses the finish line She gives birth. In Her dying pain and anger She curses the men of Ulster to nine times nine generations, that in their time of worst peril they should suffer the pain of childbirth.” [1]

The Goddesses of Ireland and their “fall” as Christianity spread into Ireland

“The Goddess was a ‘dual-natured female figure, beautiful and hag-like by turns in whose gift was great power’.  The Goddesses were especially depicted in three’s, such as Eriu, Banba, and Fotla, all Goddesses of sovereignty. In the 11th century, Ireland was often called Eire (a form of Eriu) and also called ‘the island of Banba of the women’. Goddesses were often hybridized by Roman and Greek influences, but this did not seem to obscure the native elements. For example, Julius Caesar likened one Celtic Goddess to Minerva, a classical deity. In fact, some Celtic Goddesses seemed to share certain of their characteristics. However, there were no Celtic Goddesses of love. There were Goddesses more often associated with fertility and the natural cycle of life, including death. Perhaps most importantly, the Goddesses represented creativity especially as it related to giving life, in all its aspects.

The female warrior Goddesses respect for death, as a natural part of life, which seemed in translate into ‘real’ life as well. This is best seen in the symbolic marriage between the king and the Goddess of sovereignty. This union was to ‘ensure fertility for the land and for his people in the year to come.’

“Triple Goddess” by Amy Swagman

The role of the Goddess in Celtic Ireland was important in to the inter-relatedness with human woman: ‘Since the source of life was so integrally associated with women, it would seem to follow that the origins of life were female. At times of joy or moments of pain, humans would turn to the Goddess who was honored in Her many guises’ (Condren). It would not seem strange then to worship a female deity and consequently treat her female subjects with respect and honor. Descent was also often traced through the mother and a strong emphasis was placed on the mother relationship. However, conservative scholars are quick to point out that the power did not entirely rest on women, rather the focus appears to be on women. Life was of tremendous value in what appears to be the most natural, physical sense. Hence the importance of the woman, Goddess or human.

‘Women were highly honored, female symbolism formed the most sacred images in the religious cosmos, and the relationship with motherhood was the central elements of the social fabric the society was held together by common allegiance to the customs of the tribe loosely organized around the traditions of the Goddess’ (Condren).

What appears to have dismantled this society was the warrior culture and the spread of Christianity into Ireland. The story of Macha is an instructive example of the ‘fall’ of the Celtic Goddess and in some sense the fall of the Celtic woman. Macha (Ulster Epona, the horse Goddess) marries Crunnchua mac Angnoman a rich widower. The two prosper together until one day, Crunnchua wishes to go to the annual assembly of the Ulsterman. Macha pleads with him not to go, but Crunnchua insists. While at the assembly, Crunnchua witnesses a horse race. Those in attendance with him, including the king himself, declare that none can run faster than these horses. Crunnchua knows that his wife can outrun these horses with no problem and decides to challenge the declaration. The king, angered at Crunnchua’s arrogance insists that Crunnchua bring Macha to them for a match. Macha comes reluctantly, but before doing so, pleads, ‘Help me, for a mother bore each of you. Give me, oh, King, but a short delay until I am delivered.’ Macha is pregnant.

“Macha” by Caroline Bradley

This request and the king’s subsequent refusal are striking reminders of the changes that took place not only in the Irish sagas such as this one, but also the changes in the societies that ‘authored’ such work that became, significantly, myth. The king’s ultimate responsibility was to allow the ‘creativity of women to prosper.’ Kings were to promise that no one would die in childbirth, food should grow plentifully, and the traditional dyeing (a woman’s art) would not fail. These promises were related to the ‘needs and concerns of women, and unless the king could be seen to take care of the cultural and fertility needs of the clan, symbolized by these women’s activities, the king would be overthrown’. The king as evidenced in this story, violated the promises he made and instead of being overthrown, is permitted to continue his reign with no apparent resistance from his constituents. This portrayal of Macha is actually the last of three major cycles. In the first She is a brilliant, strong mother-Goddess. In the second She is a helpless (but wise) wife, and the third She is relegated to an existence of shame and forced to abandon Her life-giving gifts, adapting to the new warrior ethos. This is how She had traditionally become associated with the three war-Goddess spiral, joining Badb and Morrigan. The appearance of the war-Goddess appears to develop as a result of the change in Celtic society to one of violence and paradoxically, Christianity.

“Gift of Peace to a War Goddess” by Portia St.Luke

Macha evolves into a warrior-Goddess as the simultaneously the status of women decline in societies constantly under attack, where emphasis is placed on death and bloodlust rather than on life and respect for death. With this, men began to feel threatened by women as well, by any force seen as competition. Importantly another aspect of the decline of Macha (and other Goddesses) was the Christian clerics who began to satirize the Goddesses because their patriarchal system of beliefs stood in direct contrast especially to the worship of a female deity. Goddesses were becoming as violent as the society that ‘created’ them. They were raped, murdered and often died in child birth.

Peter Berresford Ellis in his book, Celtic Women, Women in Celtic Society and Literature, concurs with Condren that Goddesses in literature were often raped, died in childbirth and their status was destroyed by the symbolism of the rape.

The Goddesses, however, gave birth to great men who would in turn become great warriors. Indeed, ‘the famous warrior society triumphed over the culture of the wise women’. Several sources consulted point to the war-Goddess as a symbolic adaptation to the culture who called on Her to wreak death and destruction. The war-Goddess is often portrayed too with a voracious sexual appetite. Ellis quotes Moyra Caldecott:

‘Her twin appetites for sexual gratification and for bringing about violent death are a travesty of the very necessary and natural forces of creation and destruction that keep the universe functioning and imbalance of which brings about disaster’. [2]

Wow…After reading this excerpt from the University of Idaho’s site, it all made so much more sense and brought it all home for me.  I had read in several books that stated that many peaceful agricultural societies worshipped a mother Goddess type deity(ies) who presided mainly over life cycles, vegetation, and agriculture; that it wasn’t until the invasions of the violent war-faring Indo-Europeans that “swept through Old Europe, the Middle East and India bring[ing] their priests, warriors and male gods of war and mountains” [3] with them that the Goddesses started becoming less important, more subservient and taking on more violent and warlike qualities.  Truly, this is not limited to the Celtic culture – look at Inanna for example; or Minerva who evolved from an Italic moon Goddess, into an Etruscan virgin Goddess of poetry, medicine, widsdom, commerce, weaving, dyeing, crafts, the arts, science and magic and later, the Romanized Goddess became associated with war.  Venus who originally was a vegetation Goddess and patroness of gardens and vineyards who had no original myths of Her own became associated with love, fertility and even war under the name Venus Victrix, the Goddess of victory in war.  And let us not forget how Goddesses like Inanna, Asherah and Lilith were demonized by the Abrahamic patriarchal religions for refusing to submit to them and their “all powerful” male deity.

“Morrigan” by Michael C. Hayes

I think it only appropriate to conclude with some words from Jani Farrell-Roberts, “Women often had to fight in the wars. They needed a Goddess of the Battlefield as did the men (thus their talk of heads being ‘the mast of Macha’) – and so grew the myth of the Morrigan into which the kinder harvest Goddess Macha was subsumed as part of a triple Goddess with Her two sisters, Badb and Morrigan. In Britain She was probably Morgan. The Morrigan however came to be hated by men who dreaded the female power She represented – so men tended to depict Her as a hag – or as three hags (perhaps as reflected in Shakespeare‘s Macbeth).

But in the old sagas Her role is much more that of the healer of the wounded and of the taker of the spirits of the dead into the next world. For example, Macha is depicted in these myths as the Sacred Cow whose milk is an antidote to the poison of weapons. She had become the Mother on the Battlefield.” [4]

ASSOCIATIONS:

Pantheon: Celtic

Element: Earth

Sphere of Influence: Protection and sex

Preferred Colors: Red, black

Associated Symbol: Raven

Animals Associated with: Raven, crow

Best Day to Work with: Monday

Strongest Around: Lughnasadh

Suitable Offerings: Acorns

Associated Planet: Moon      [5]

 

 

And now, a tribute to the great Goddess Macha and Her stories…

 

 
Sources:

Eisler, Riane. Iowa State University, “The Chalice and Blade“.

Farrell-Roberts, Jani. The Web Inquirer, “Macha, Brighid, the Ancient Goddess of Ireland“.

PaganNews.com, “Macha“.

Took, Thalia. A-Muse-ing Grace Gallery, “Macha“.

University of Idaho, “Celtic Women: Myth and Symbol“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Aisling. Order of the White Moon, “Macha“.

AncientWorlds, “Epona“.

Bar, Tala. Bewildering Stories, “Goddesses of War“.

Jones, Mary. Maryjones.us, “Macha“.

Shee-Eire.com, “Macha“.

Skye, Michelle. Goddess Afoot!: Practicing Magic with Celtic & Norse Goddesses, “Macha” (p. 166 – 181).

Wikipedia, “Macha“.

Goddess Maeve

“Queen Mab, the Bringer of Dreams” by Howard David Johnson

“Maeve’s themes are fairies, magic, protection, leadership, and justice (law).  Her symbols are birds and gold.  As the Fairy Queen, Maeve oversees today’s merrymaking among the citizens of fey during their Fairy Gatherings. She also attends to human affairs by providing protection, wise leadership and prudent conventions. Works of art depict Maeve with golden birds on Her shoulders, whispering magical knowledge into Her ear.

Near the beginning of May, the wee folk of Ireland come out of hiding for a grand celebration of spring. If you don’t want the Maeve and the citizens of fey to pull pranks on you today, take precautions, as the Europeans do: avoid travelling, put a piece of clothing on inside-out, wear something red, and leave the fairy folk an offering of sweet bread, honey or ale. In some cases, this will please the fairies so much that they will offer to perform a service or leave you a gift in return!

When you need to improve your command of a situation or inspire more equity, call on Maeve through this spell:

Take a piece of white bread and toast it until it’s golden brown. Scratch into the bread a word or phrase representing your goal (for example, if raises at work haven’t been given fairly, write the words ‘work’ and ‘raises’). Distribute the crumbs from this to the birds so they can convey your need directly to Maeve’s ears.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Of the great female figures of Ireland, Maeve was probably the most splendid. Originally a Goddess of the land’s sovereignty and of its mystic center at Tara, She was demoted in myth, as the centuries went on and Irish culture changed under Christian influence, to a mere mortal queen.

“Maeve” by Hrana Janto

But no mortal queen could have been like this one, this ‘intoxication’ or ‘drunken woman’ (variant meanings of Her name), who ran faster than horses, slept with innumerable kings whom She then discarded, and wore live birds and animals across Her shoulders and arms. If there ever was a woman named Maeve who reigned as queen of Ireland, it is probable that She was the namesake of the Goddess; the Goddess’s legends may have attached themselves to a mortal bearer of Her name.

Maeve is the central figure of the most important old Irish epic, the Tain Bo Cuillaigne, or Cattle Raid of Cooley. The story begins with Maeve, ruler of the Connaught wilderness in the Irish west, Iying abed with Her current consort, King Aillil. They compare possessions, Aillil attempting to prove he owns more than She does. Point for point, Maeve matches him. Finally, Aillil mentions a magical bull-and wins the argument, for Maeve has no such animal.

But She knows of one, the magic bull of Cooley in northern Eire. And so Maeve gathers Her armies to steal it. She rides into battle in an open car, with four chariots surrounding Her, for She is glamorously attired and does not wish to muddy Her robes. She is a fierce opponent, laying waste the armies of the land, for no man could look on Maeve without falling down in a paroxysm of desire.

The armies of Ulster, stricken with the curse of the Goddess Macha, fall down in labor pains upon the arrival of Queen Maeve’s army in their land. Only the hero Cuchulain resists, killing Locha, Maeve’s handmaiden, as well as many male heroes of Connaught. Maeve tries to buy victory with Her ‘willing thighs’, stops the battle whenever She is menstruating, and otherwise shows Herself to be an unusual warrior. After much bloodshed, She does indeed win Her bull–but it and Aillil’s bull fling themselves upon each other, tear each other to bits, and die in the bloodiest anticlimax in world literature.” [1]

“Fairy Queen Medb of the Sidhe” by Howard David Johnson

Medb (She who intoxicates) also known as Maev, Maeve, Maebh is a Celtic/Irish Goddess of Intoxication.  Her body was the Earth; Her body processes were  the Earth as it created.  She was the force of the rushing waters, the windswept mountains, and the fertile plains.  And, like many other deities, Medb is also associated with death as well as fertility and inebriation.

In the Irish mythological cycle, it was Medb who who who not only set the conditions for kingship, but also chose and tested Her partners, temporarily marrying those who passed Her tests. No king could accept the title unless She offered him the “Cup of Sovereignty”. She destroys those kings who spurn Her and has been know to send their warriors to their doom.

“Queen Medb” by J. Leyendecker

Medb is a triune Goddess who, in one of Her avatars, was able to assume human form and live among us mortals as a warrior queen; in fact, Medb is the most famous queen of Irish literature.  She is often portrayed as a pale women with long flowing hair; She wears a red cape and carries a spear, while a raven and a squirrel are perched on Her shoulder.

She lived by violence and She died by violence. Her reign on Earth eventually came to an end as the result of Her murdering Her pregnant sister, Eithne (or Clothru). The baby managed to survive (her son Furbaide was born by posthumous caesarian section) and when he grew up, he revenged his mother by killing Medb.” [2]

“In Medb’s later years She often went to bathe in a pool on Inchcleraun (Inis Cloithreann), an island on Lough Ree.  Furbaide took a rope and measured the distance between the pool and the shore, and practiced with his sling until he could hit an apple on top of a stake Medb’s height from that distance. The next time he saw Medb bathing he put his practice to good use and killed Her with a piece of cheese. She was succeeded to the throne of Connacht by Her son Maine Athramail.

According to legend, Medb is buried in a 40-foot (12 m) high stone cairn on the summit of Knocknarea (Cnoc na Ré in Irish) in County Sligo. Supposedly, She is buried upright facing Her enemies in Ulster. Her home in RathcroghanCounty Roscommon is also a potential burial site, with a long low slab named ‘Misgaun Medb’ being given as the most likely location.” [3]

 Also seen as Maev, Maeve, Maive, Maebh, Meḋḃ, Meaḋḃ, Meadhbh, Méabh, Medbh.

 

 

 

Sources:

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Maeve”.

 MXTODIS123. An Inner Journey: The Moon, Mythology, and You, “Medb“.

Wikipedia, “Medb“.

 

 

 

Suggested Links:

DameBoudicca. Pride & Sensibility, “Goddess of the Week – Medb“.

Jones, Mary. Jone’s Celtic Encyclopedia, “Medb“.

Selkywolf. Selkywolf’s Den, “The Faery Queen – Queen Maeve“.

Shaw, Judith. Feminismandreligion.com,Medb, Celtic Sovereignty Goddess of War and Fertility‘.

Shee-Eire. Shee-Eire.com, “Celtic Queen Medb“.

SummerGaile. Order of the White Moon,”Medb“. (HIGHLY SUGGEST this page!!! Loads of detailed information and further sources.)

Tara. Love of the Goddess, “Maeve, Celtic Warrior Goddess of Intoxication“.

Took, Thalia. A-Muse-ing Grace Gallery, “Macha“.

Goddess Banba

Banba is the Celtic Goddess of the spirit of Ireland. She is one of the Tuatha de Danaan.

“Banba’s themes are protection. Her symbol is soil. A Celtic war goddess, Banba extends safety to those who follow her, wielding magic in their support. In Irish tradition, she protected the land from invaders. As a reward for her sorcery’s assistance, Banba’s name became linked with ancient poetic designations for parts of Ireland. Interestingly enough, Banba translates as ‘unploughed land’, meaning it is left safe and untouched to grow fertile.
Considering crime and other societal problems, a little extra protection from Banba seems like something we could all use year-round. Think of your home and possessions as the ‘land’ she guards. Gather a pinch of dirt from near your residence, take it inside, and keep it in a special spot. Light a candle (white is good) near this anytime you feel you need Banba’s diligent sheltering.

On this day the Scots burn a pole attached to a barrel of tar (a Clavie) and take it around town to banish evil influences, especially magical ones. The Clavie’s remaining ashes are gathered by people as an anti-curse amulet. In keeping with this custom, burn a small bit of wood (perhaps oak) on a safe fire source. As it burns, recite an incantation like this:
‘Banba, burn away negativity, burn away mal-intent
Let the energy return from where it was sent.’

Keep the ashes as an anti-negativity talisman.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

For more information on Banba and her sisters Eriu and Fodla who make up their powerful triad, click here.

There are claims that this Banba may have been worshipped as Macha which would’ve given her associations with war as claimed by Seathrún Céitinn.

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