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EPONA


"Horsegoddess" or "Divine Mare".
Gallo-Celtic Horsegoddess.

Epona is the only gallo-Celtic goddess, that made her way into the Roman empire-pantheon, where she was highly worshipped - especially as the protectress of horses and foals. Almost every stable had a shrine for her and she was very famous in the Roman cavalry. In earlier times she must have been an incarnation of fertility as the Divine White Mare.
Horse

You are about to enter the shrine of the ancient Celtic goddess Epona.
(Entrance at the bottom of this page)


Due to many request that I should build a shrine for Epona finally here it is. Almost every image of the goddess you will see here, I scanned myself. The sources and information on the Horsegoddess Epona are rare, so don't expect too much. Here's what I researched. If you can give additional information, you are very welcome.


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Names and Titles Relations in the Celtic Pantheon Her Image Representation
Her Role  Her Signs and Symbols Offerings
Cult Centers Epona- Links And now enter her shrine

 


Names and Titles

Epona 

(gallo-Celtic: EPO for Horse and ONA as an ending that shows divinity. Possible meanings: Horsegoddess or divine horse/mare)

Holy Queen Epona 

(rumanian-yugoslavian title)

Macha, Rhiannon

(britain-Celtic Goddesses. Here cults are related to Epona. They appear sometimes as a great white mares.)

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Relations in the Celtic Pantheon

Epona seems to have almost no relations in the Celtic pantheon. I didn't find any story about husband, children or so. This could be a sign that she was originally a great nature-mother goddess of her own right and not only 'reduced' to be a horsegoddess. Without having a husband or children she lives in the tradition of a virgin selfproducing great mother.  

epona7.jpg
S
he is sometimes addressed in the plural form Eponabus, which seems to be a strong indication that she stands in relation with the Three Matres/Matrones and was herself maybe thought to be three-formis and a goddess of fertility.

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Her Image Representation

Epona of Alesia

Epona of Schwarzenacker

"The Holy Queen Epona" was portrayed most of the time riding on a horse. Foals, dogs or birds followed her. She is shown half-naked or wearing a wide coat.

The statue of Epona from Alesia in East-France, one of her origin cult-centers, is a superb example of her riding in the women seat. She rides most of the time in the women-seat - but not all the time.

There are also statues that show her seated on a throne with two foals by her side. (Epona from Schwarzenacker)

Sometimes she feeds horses or foals out of her basket filled with fruits, corn and especially apples.

There are also statues that show her seated on a throne with two foals by her side. (Epona from Schwarzenacker)

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Her Role

Epona is the protectress of horses, animals, riders and stables. She is the Mistress of animals. Her many fertility attributes make her a Mothergoddess, which was maybe only reduced later to the horse-aspect. Or: The great importance of horses for the celts and the symbol of the fertile mare giving birth to a foal and taking gentle care of it as a loving mother led the celts to worship in her nature and fertility in general.

Eating horse-meat on normal occasions was a strong TABU.

Maybe it was common to swear in her name (source: satire of Juvenals). One prayed to her for help in misery. Her cult had no special mystery and was popular.

Her annual festival in Roman times was around the 18. December (in Mantua/Italy).  

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Epona of Paris


 
Her Signs and Symbols

 
  • Sacred animals: Horses (particular: mares and foals), birds and dogs.

  • Whip, harness and the Key to the doors of the Otherworld.

  • Basket filled with fruits, corn and especially apples,

  • Horn of plenty.
    Cornucopia ("horn of plenty") which suggests that she could (originally) have been a fertility goddess..

    Rosegarlands were put around her pictures and shrines.
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Offerings


 
  • Sacrifice: Pigs.
  • Fruits, Maremilk, Apples.
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Cult Centers

According to many pre-christian roman sources Epona had a shrine in almost every stable of the Roman empire. The cult seems to have been very popular. Historians count more than 343 inscriptions worshipping her.

Still in the christian middleage she was worshipped as a kind of holy maid for the horses.

One of the main centers and maybe the origin of her cult seems to have been East-France with the city Alesia.


Only in Roman times she was brought to the Britain Islands and worshipped there, but Rhiannon and Macha show that the horsecult was famous on the Britain Islands before that.

Even in Rumania and Yugoslavia there were found a lot of inscriptions worshipping her. Spain also has some statues and inscriptions.

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Epona- Links


Epona's World
An Epona Chant


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And now enter her shrine:
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