Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Searching for Epona

As some of you may recall I mentioned back in the Prayer beads thread being tapped on the shoulder by Epona. Since then I've been doing some research on Her to learn more about Who I'm dealing with. I've checked out probably a dozen books from the library ranging from colorful coffee table books with very little information to a great doorstop of a book on The Celtic World by Miranda Green. So far these sources have left me feeling puzzled. I honestly had expected more quality information on a goddess that I understood (assumed?) to be more popular. The most comprehensive resource I've found thus far has been The Gods of the Celts by Miranda Green. Rather than the occasional line here or there in the text Green actually devotes a page and a half (pps 86-87) specifically to Epona.

So far what I've learned is (in no particular order):

* Epona is first and foremost a patroness of horses.
* She is worshipped most commonly by those who work with horses.
* Epona is also considered a Mother Goddess and is associated with fertility and the cycle of Life and Death
* Symbols associated with Epona are - Horses, cornucopia, patera, fruits, corn, key (unlocks door to otherworld?)
* Further associated with dogs, birds, travel, and healing wells/springs
* A garland of roses was used as an offering on her altar.
* Epona was adopted by the Roman cavalry as their patroness. She is reportedly the only Celtic deity to be found in a Roman temple (I think I returned the book I found this in to the library. Wish I could cite the source).
* Her Roman holiday is listed as December 18. Another source indicates a second holiday on June 13.
* Frequently listed as a parallel of/related to Rhiannon and Macha
(Personally, I dispute this. It just doesn't don't feel right)

I have to admit, thus far she has been incredibly patient. As I began this quest for knowledge I recalled Her showing up in a doodle of a drawing about ten years ago. I remember thinking, "Where do I know this name from?" She's waited until now to reaquaint me with her presence. A couple of times I've wondered if I was imagining all this. When I do She has reassured me by sending me a quiet sign that is totally unexpected and unmistakable. Just signs though so far, no verbal communication.

The image that she has taken to showing me, quite clearly, is one that I would not have expected: a muscular woman, shoulder length dark hair worn loose, dark eyes, high cheek bones, sleeveless leather vest, leather trousers and boots. She carries a shortsword sheathed on her left hip. A horse stands in the background near a large boulder. This image is completely at odds with what I had expected based on the various iconography available. Not to mention that it suggests a more martial quality than the limited information I've gathered seems to indicate.

What confuses me more, perhaps even more so after this stint of research, is that I can't see what I have to offer Her. I'm not an animal enthusiast. Sure, I have several in the house but they were the choice of my wife and kids. I just try to get along with the animals as well as I can. I have nothing against horses but am not overly drawn to them. I can even recall, years ago, making the statement when discussing trail riding with a friend, "Sure, but I prefer a bike. It goes where I want it to and doesn't have a mind of it's own."

So, to you Cauldronites one and all, I invite you to enter here and share what you know of Epona. If anyone has a good resource to suggest I'm all ears.

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