Archive for the 'Western European' Category

Macha

October 26th, 2009 by sabrina

MachaMacha (pronounced MOCK-uh) is the Irish goddess of war. Along with her sisters Badb and Anu, she forms the triple Goddess known as the Morrigan. All three could take the form of crows or ravens, and would fly over battlefields, choosing who would die and who would live. They would then take the souls of the deceased in their black wings, flying them off to the Otherworld.

Macha, Badb, and Anu are the daughters of Ernmas, an Irish mother Goddess, and Delbaeth, High King of Ireland. They are also the sisters of another triplicity of Goddesses: Banba, Eriu, and Fodla, Goddesses of Irish sovereignty. Where the latter three Goddesses embodied the sovereignty of Ireland, the former three protected it, through war but also through life. There are actually three Irish mythological figures named Macha, and only one is warlike: Macha Mong Ruadh (Macha of the red hair), who fought to become queen after her father the king had died. Another Macha, the wife of Nemed, who led the Nemedians into Ireland, died shortly after their arrival, but not before prophesying the arrival of the third Macha. This third Macha appeared one day at the home of a widowed farmer and became his wife, and he soon became very prosperous. When he wanted to attend the Assembly of Ulster, Macha did not want him to go, but relented on the condition that he not mention her name. Unfortunately, the farmer boasted to the King of Ulster that his wife was faster than the king’s horses, and she was dragged to Ulster to race against the horses. Macha was heavily pregnant with twins at the time, but she still managed to beat the horses. After crossing the finish line, she went into labor, delivered the twins, and then died. As her dying words, she cursed the men of Ulster, saying that in the time of their greatest difficulty, they too would suffer the pains of labor and childbirth.

Macha’s name, which means “plain” (as in flat land), resounds throughout Irish mythology and history. The first Macha, wife of Nemed, was buried at Ard Macha (hill of Macha), now known as Armagh. The place where the third Macha gave birth became the capital of Ulster, Emain Macha (Macha’s twins). The hero Cuchulainn is given a horse by Anu named Liath Macha (gray of Macha).

Category: Western European | 4 Comments »

Badb

October 6th, 2009 by sabrina

BadbBadb (pronounced BIBE) is the Irish Goddess of war. Along with her sisters Macha and Anu, she forms the triple Goddess known as the Morrigan. All three could take the form of crows or ravens, and would fly over battlefields, choosing who would die and who would live. They would then take the souls of the deceased in their black wings, flying them off to the Otherworld. Badb would sometimes take part in the battles herself, usually in the form of a wolf. She had the power to cause confusion in the opposing soldiers and courage in those on her own side.

Badb, Macha, and Anu are the daughters of Ernmas, an Irish mother Goddess, and Delbaeth, High King of Ireland. They are also the sisters of another triplicity of Goddesses: Banba, Eriu, and Fodla, Goddesses of Irish sovereignty. Where the latter three Goddesses embodied the sovereignty of Ireland, the former three protected it, through war but also through life. Badb is said to have a cauldron similar to that of Cymidei Cymeinfoll, in that it can provide life to those who have died. Legend says that Badb will cause the end of the world some day when she lets the cauldron boil over and flood the world.

Badb’s name has been translated as either “crow” or “boiling,” both of which fit her mythology. Variations of her name include Badhbh, Bave, Baobh, Badhbh Chaointe (“weeping raven”), and Badb Catha (“battle crow”), and she was known in Gaul as Cathubodua, Cathubodva, Catubodua, or Cauth Bodva.

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Domnu

September 10th, 2009 by sabrina

A beautiful painting of today’s Goddess by artist Caroline Gully Lir can be found by following this link.

star-of-heavenDomnu is the Celtic Goddess of the Fomorii. She was to them what the Goddess Danu was to the Tuatha de Danaan, who followed the Fomorii in controlling the land that would become Ireland. The Fomorii were often called “children of Domnu,” and were said to have come from the depths of the sea. Domnu’s name means “the deep.”

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Arduinna

July 28th, 2009 by sabrina

I’m back! I won’t guarantee that you’ll get posts daily again, but I’ll try not to take any more three-month breaks either. For a really great painting of today’s Goddess, see this artist’s website: http://www.alix-arts.com/pages/celtique_28.html

arduinna

Arduinna is the Gaulish Goddess of the forest. The region of Western Europe known as the Ardennes shares her name, and was where her worship originated. Arduinna rode a wild boar through the forests, exacting a fine for animals killed there. When the Romans came to Gaul, she was associated with Diana, another forest Goddess. Arduinna’s name, which means “height,” is also seen as Ardwinna, Ardbinna, and Dea Arduinna.

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Branwen

March 31st, 2009 by sabrina

branwen1Branwen (pronounced BRAN-oo-wen) is the Welsh Goddess of love and beauty. She is the daughter of Llyr, God of the sea, and Penarddun, also a Goddess of beauty, and sister of Bran, the King of Wales. Bran had promised his sister to Matholwch, the King of Ireland, as his wife, but before they could be wed, Bran and Branwen’s half-brother Efnisien, angered that he had not been consulted, went on a rampage and mutilated the horses that Matholwch had brought with him. Bran offered Matholwch various gifts, but there was only one that would appease his anger. Bran was in possession of a magical cauldron that had been given to him by the Goddess Cymidei Cymeinfoll, a cauldron that would bring back to life any warrior who was killed in battle. Bran reluctantly gave Matholwch the cauldron, and he took it and Branwen and returned to Ireland.

The first year of her marriage was happy for Branwen, and she gave birth to a son, Gwern. However, things went downhill from there, and Branwen became more a slave than a queen. She taught a starling to speak and sent it across the sea to Bran. Bran immediately assembled an army and set sail for Ireland, taking Efnisien along. Matholwch tried to settle the disagreement with Bran amicably, but hot-tempered Efnisien broke the peace by casting the young Gwern into a fire. War erupted, and the Irish had the upper hand, because they had the cauldron that would resuscitate their warriors. Efnisien redeemed himself by throwing himself into the cauldron and breaking it, turning the tide for the Welsh. By the end of the war, all of the Irish except for five pregnant women had been killed. Of the Welsh, only Branwen and seven men remained. Bran had been fatally wounded, and he instructed his men to cut off his head, which stayed alive, and take it back to Wales. When Branwen and the men landed at Aber Alaw in Wales, she lamented over the destruction that had taken place because of her marriage, and she died of a broken heart.

Branwen’s grave, Bedd Branwen, can still be seen, marked with a standing stone. Excavations found that had indeed been burials there in the early Bronze Age. Branwen’s name, which means “blessed raven,” is also seen as Brangwaine.

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The Xanas

February 14th, 2009 by sabrina

xanasThe Xanas are Asturian water nymphs. Short beautiful women with long blonde hair, they live in fountains or near rivers and streams in Asturias in the north of Spain. They can be either good or evil, depending on whether the person they appear to is good or evil themselves. When appearing to a good person, the Xanas sing songs that bring peace to the heart and often reward the person with great treasure. When appearing to an evil person, the song of the Xanas can cause madness. The myth of the Xanas is preserved in place names in Asturias, such as the Desfiladero de las Xanas, a limestone canyon carved by the river of the same name.

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Bormana

January 20th, 2009 by sabrina

triskeleBormana is the Gaulish Goddess of healing springs. She was worshipped alongside the God Bormanus (also known as Borvo). Inscriptions invoking her powers have been found in the Drôme region of France. Bormana’s name, which means “boiling breath,” is also seen as Bormanna.

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Ilazki

January 1st, 2009 by sabrina

A comment last week reminded me that I hadn’t done a Basque Goddess for some time. As she said, in the Basque cosmology, the earth, sun, and moon were all Goddesses. Here’s the last of the three.

Ilazki is the Basque Goddess of the moon. She is the daughter to Lur, the Goddess of the earth, and sister of Eguzki, Goddess of the sun. As the light of the night, Ilazki was believed to give light to the souls of the dead, and graves often had pictures of the moon on them. It was believed to be most favorable to die when the moon was in its first phase, so that the soul of the deceased would grow as the moon did. Ilazki’s name, which means “light of the dead,” is also seen as Illazki, Ilargi-Amandre (Lady Mother Moon), Ilargi, Ilargia, Illargui, Ile, Iretargi, Iretargui, Iratargi, Idargi, Argizagi, and Goikoa.

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Beag

December 5th, 2008 by sabrina

Beag (pronounced BEG) is the Irish Goddess of the well of wisdom. She is one of the Tuatha de Danaan, the people of the Goddess Danu. She and her three daughters guarded a magical well; anyone who drank from the well would gain in wisdom. When the hero Fionn Mac Cumhail came and asked for a drink, Beag’s daughters threw water at him, hoping to frighten him away, but some of the water fell in his mouth, granting him the wisdom he had sought. When Fionn died, he was buried in a fairy hill called Si Beag, which means “small fairy hill.”

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Tamesis

November 15th, 2008 by sabrina

Tamesis is the Celtic Goddess of fresh water. She gave her name to the River Thames—it was common for the Celts to have a deity for each particular river or body of water. She is said to wear a green cloak. Tamesis’s name, which means “dark flow,” is also seen as Temesia or Temesis.

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