again, more for me than you guys. I dunno how interested you all are in Celtic polytheism and symbolism
- Epona- goddess of fertility, guardian of horses, donkeys, mules. Her horses were said to carry the souls of the dead to the next world, making her simultaneously a goddess of procreation and a psychopomp. The character Rhiannon of the Mabinogi draws heavily from Epona, much like Arawn draws from Cernunnos (although Rhiannon is not considered a goddess, where Arawn is something like a fae god-king).
- Horses served as symbolic funerary companions; the deceased, if not cremated, were often buried with a cart or chariot, and sometimes horse tack. There is an interesting anecdote about ancient horse sacrifices in an Irish tribal coronation ritual- the king-to-be, erm, copulates with a mare, they slaughter it, make a soup of it, and the king gets in the cauldron and drinks the broth. This elevates him to king and also to beast, to something purely animal and wild but also regal. Probably not true (considering the anecdote dates to Christian 12th century Ireland), but there may be some grain of truth in the tale, especially considering similar tales of horse and cattle sacrifice among the Germanic and Scandinavian tribes in the Viking era.
- Research link between Epona/Rhiannon and kelpies? Rhiannon rides a pale white horse, kelpies are sometimes described as pale white. Epona is a psychopomp, and kelpies are horses that bring men to their deaths. Kelpies are Scottish and Irish in origin, and among insular Celts, the Otherworld was closely linked to the sea, and kelpies kill with water. Maybe an evolution/perversion of folklore?
- Epona was the only Celtic deity known to be embraced by the Romans. The Celts practiced oral tradition; most written accounts of their daily life and worship were left by the Romans, which is why the few deity names of theirs we have sound extremely Latin, phonetically. The Romans generally described Celtic deities in relation to their closest match in the Roman pantheon. eg. Lugus -> Mercury
- Interesting- horses were among the most important animals to the Celts, but Arawn and Cernunnos (lords of the animals) were not particularly associated with them. Perhaps because they were domestic animals, and A/C were wild gods, while Epona stood more along the lines of human life and domesticity? Look into this.
for me, not so much for you guys
- Janus, god of two faces, looking forward and back. Roman god of future and past, transitions, war and peace, life and death. Possibly partially co-opted by continental Celts in the form of Cernunnos
- Cernunnos was god of hunt, lord of the animals, of wealth and fertility, mercantilism. Associated with the stag, but also the ram-horned snake, and in some parts, the bull, the dog, the rat. As a “horned” god, also symbolizes transition and the cycle of life and death, summer and winter, especially in neopaganism. See also the possible later association with Roman Catholic Saint Ciarán of Saigir re:connections to boar, fox, badger, wolf, stag.
- Ram-horned serpents are symbols of life and eternity. Often depicted as eating oatmealish stuff from bowls held by god(dess) figures, as well as in the hand of Cernunnos and even as his legs. Also depicted with the common symbol of the wheel, which symbolizes the sun, and in turn, eternity.
- Cernunnos may have eventually given way to Arawn among insular Celts, god of Annwn, the Otherworld. Takes on even more of the cyclical symbolism, particularly as leader of the Wild Hunt. Associated with the deer, but also the hunter— predator and prey simultaneously. He destroys and consumes himself, he is destroyed and nourishes. Strength and weakness, bravery and fear, victory and failure, life and death.
- The Otherworld- there were many varying ideas of it, from silent islands of glass where none spoke and “life” sucked, to fertile paradises of endless forest where the game was plenty, the women beautiful, the wine flowing, and the summer everlasting. Some beliefs say that the location of this Otherworld was simply up, and that our air was their ocean, and that they sailed their ships through the sky. One legend says that a boat soared overhead of a king and his council. A fishermen threw a spear at a fish in the sky, missed, and the spear landed in the earth. When the man descended to retrieve his spear and the king and his council grabbed at him to speak to him, the man protested, saying, “Let me go, I’m drowning!” Overall, life after death was very much like life itself in many of the Otherworld beliefs, and chiefs continued being chiefs, millers continued being millers, slaves continued being slaves… it might have just been a little bit brighter overall.
- In turn, Christianity absorbed Celtic paganism without really destroying it. Relic rituals and holidays are still celebrated under the banner of the church that were originally part of pagan practice. eg., Samhain.
- RESEARCH: Lugus, Teranis, Teutatis, Artio, Telesphorus, animism (outside of the stag), and sacrifices.