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Author Topic: Searching for Epona  (Read 7917 times)
Oaksworn
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« Topic Start: May 23, 2007, 06:39:39 pm »


Greetings all,

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 enthusiest.  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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« Reply #1: May 23, 2007, 06:52:19 pm »

Greetings all,

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. 

Gosh, I don't know if I could offer you a study source for the White Mare, Epona...but I can recommend Epona the Horse Goddess by Morgan Llwelyn as a very insightful work of fiction. I've always seen this goddess as a patron of the wild, freedom, gates, and the Moon. Best of luck in your research!
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« Reply #2: May 23, 2007, 09:16:05 pm »

If anyone has a good resource to suggest I'm all ears.

I'll continue to look through my library (I just went through it today looking for references to Etan for Finn  Wink  ), but at first glance, the best resource I have is another Miranda Green book:  Celtic Goddesses:  Warriors, Virgins and Mothers.  She has a 4-page section on Epona, in addition to numerous references throughout the book.
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« Reply #3: May 23, 2007, 09:22:28 pm »

I'll continue to look through my library (I just went through it today looking for references to Etan for Finn  Wink  ), but at first glance, the best resource I have is another Miranda Green book:  Celtic Goddesses:  Warriors, Virgins and Mothers.  She has a 4-page section on Epona, in addition to numerous references throughout the book.

And glancing through the bibliography, I see that she lists the following:

Oaks, L.S. 1986.  "The goddess Epona:  concepts of sovereignty in a changing landscape," in Henig, M. and King, A (eds.), Pagan Gods and Shrines of the Roman Empire (Oxford University Committee for Archeology Monograph No. Cool, 77-84.
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« Reply #4: May 24, 2007, 04:17:30 pm »


  • 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. 
I haven't heard of her being the only Celtic deity found in a Roman temple,  but as far as I know she is the only assimilated Celtic deity that retained her original name, beconing Epona Regina.
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« Reply #5: May 25, 2007, 02:20:25 am »

I haven't heard of her being the only Celtic deity found in a Roman temple,  but as far as I know she is the only assimilated Celtic deity that retained her original name, beconing Epona Regina.

Do you mean as opposed to having a joined name, such as Sulis Minerva, Apollo Belenus, Mercury Arvernus, etc? (Sulis Minerva being an exception among this group because the Celtic name came first.)

Epona did have a festival in Rome, which was unusual. Alot of the evidence for Romano-celtic deities is little more than a single dedicatory inscription.
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« Reply #6: May 25, 2007, 10:18:18 am »

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. 

Have you visited the http://epona.net web site? It's quite comprehensive.

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Oaksworn
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« Reply #7: May 27, 2007, 02:13:35 pm »

Gosh, I don't know if I could offer you a study source for the White Mare, Epona...but I can recommend Epona the Horse Goddess by Morgan Llwelyn as a very insightful work of fiction. I've always seen this goddess as a patron of the wild, freedom, gates, and the Moon. Best of luck in your research!

Thanks for the suggestion, Entwife.  I'll add it to my reading list and see what comes of it.
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Oaksworn
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« Reply #8: May 27, 2007, 02:15:41 pm »

I'll continue to look through my library (I just went through it today looking for references to Etan for Finn  Wink  ), but at first glance, the best resource I have is another Miranda Green book:  Celtic Goddesses:  Warriors, Virgins and Mothers.  She has a 4-page section on Epona, in addition to numerous references throughout the book.

I knew there was another of her books around but I couldn't recall the title.  Thanks, Moon Ivy, I'll see if I can locate it.  With any luck the library will have it, though I think I may have to work with the inter-library loan system.
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« Reply #9: May 27, 2007, 02:17:34 pm »


I haven't heard of her being the only Celtic deity found in a Roman temple,  but as far as I know she is the only assimilated Celtic deity that retained her original name, beconing Epona Regina.

Agreed.  Which is why I said reportedly.  It just didn't make sense for her to be the only one, but ::shrugs:: what do I know?  A Celtic scholar I'm not.  Just someone trying to figure out a mystery and going where the breadcrumbs lead.
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« Reply #10: May 27, 2007, 02:26:59 pm »

If anyone has a good resource to suggest I'm all ears.

You might also consider posting this question to the LiveJournal CR community, which is chock-full of extremely knowledgeable Celtic scholars:

http://community.livejournal.com/cr_r/

~MI
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« Reply #11: May 27, 2007, 02:31:56 pm »

Have you visited the http://epona.net web site? It's quite comprehensive.

Yes, actually.  I found that resource early on.  The frustrating part of it for me, though, is that reading through the site leaves me with a feeling of having caught a glimpse of something fascinating, knowing that it's only a small bit of what's really there and not being able to find anything else substantial to put that glimpse into context to foster understanding.

I've read in several books of a cult of Epona.  While it's great that this is known it's like saying the Catholic church exists.  The statement itself leaves you just as clueless about the beliefs and practices of the church as you were before you heard the statement.

It seems to me that while the above site goes along way to citing archaeological evidence and dispersion of iconography dedicated to Epona there is precious little information on who she was and what her followers believed and practiced. 

So far I've even had trouble finding anything in general mythology books about Her.  If there is any mention at all it's usually along the lines of relating Epona to Rhiannon and then telling a story of Rhiannon.  From what I've read so far there is a disparity between the time frames of when they were worshiped.  I don't have the source handy at the moment but my understanding is that Epona  was worshiped significantly earlier than Rhiannon.  So, the stories are misleading at best.
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"Then I will tell you a great secret, Captain. Perhaps the greatest of all time. The molecules of your body are the same molecules that make up this station, and the nebula outside, that burn inside the stars themselves. We are starstuff. We are the universe made manifest, trying to figure itself out. As we have both learned, sometimes the universe requires a change of perspective. " ~ Delenn, Babylon 5
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« Reply #12: May 27, 2007, 02:32:25 pm »

You might also consider posting this question to the LiveJournal CR community, which is chock-full of extremely knowledgeable Celtic scholars:

http://community.livejournal.com/cr_r/

~MI

Thanks Moon Ivy, I'll take a look over there.
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« Reply #13: May 27, 2007, 02:35:14 pm »

Thanks Moon Ivy, I'll take a look over there.

There might be a thread on Epona in the archives -- I really don't know.  But if you post a question about her, and ask for resources, you are likely to get some great responses.  I haven't been disappointed yet.

(By the way, my nick on LJ is sunburst39, and I sign my posts there "Jean".  So, you'll see me in threads about Brighid and the most recent one asking for resources on Macha.)
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« Reply #14: November 25, 2010, 08:56:22 pm »

Greetings all,

As some of you may recall I mentioned back in the Prayer beads thread being tapped on the shoulder by Epona. 

Hello!

I'm sorry for my late post, but I'm new here and this was the first time I read this post. I can understand you very well. Epona has been my patron Goddess for the last 3 years and I still find difficult to gather info about Her. Honestly, from the web I haven't found much more than what you posted here.

I know a bit more about this fantastic Goddess from my worship to Her. I don't know if you've also noticed but I find this Goddess related to the "true-unconditional-mother-love". And She has a patience I admire very much. She also tries to teach me to be more patient, to make of patience a strong quality of mine, but I have so much to learn about it.... And the best part is that,Epona is very patient but She always talks to you full of Love and She totally cares about you. At least I have this wonderful experience...  Smiley

As far as I understood, Epona is also a very "light" Goddess...usually the colours I use in Her altar are never very dark colours. And I also understood that the key is used in the passage for the otherworld but is also a symbol of gates.

My apologies for my english...sometimes I can't make myself understand very well...I hope this is not the case. Roll Eyes If you'd like, feel free to contact me so we can talk about Epona! Smiley


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