Sonja

Sonja

Posted on 06/16/2015


Photo taken on October 11, 2014



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Goddess Epona / Die Goettin Epona

Goddess Epona / Die Goettin Epona
Her job where the horses, as one can easyly see from her frieze / Ihre Aufgabe waren die Pferde, wie man unschwer am Standbild sehen kann

* Boes René * has particularly liked this photo


7 comments - The latest ones
Levina de Ruijter
Levina de Ruijter
Nice! Quite surprising really that a female goddess was in charge of horses.
2 years ago.
Sonja has replied to Levina de Ruijter
Greek goddess Demeter once turned into a mare and had sex with Poseidon in animal form which resulted in the perfect stallion Arion and his anthrophomorph sister, an obscured but very important goddess, one with a real name only for the initiated of her cult to know... This mystery goddess or Demeter herself as mare might have been adequated with gaulish Epona and perhaps made Epona to become so wildly popular also in not gaulish parts of the empire, an aspect of the rural providence goddess, one focused on ensuring a supply of healthy strong progeny of the work and transport animals rather than the good harvest of fruit and grains or the human vertility. She is usually depicted throning on a mare or betweena horse couple and feeding little foals. As Epona Augusta she became even involved in the imperial cult. As the protectoress of the mounted guard protecting the emperor in return she was the only deity not of roman orgin allowed into the emperor cults special temple districts set apart from such old cult sites of the local rustics to prey for their own behalf like this here.
So she did hold down her job successfully, in secrecy venerated after christianisation until Saint Leonard was styled by the christian priests to fill all her functions with a big authorized horse blessing parade to an open air service and social horse and donkey market event on his patron holyday. Only such an impressive legal substitute festival could make people give up Epona eventually.
2 years ago.
Levina de Ruijter has replied to Sonja
I just saw your other picture of Epona.

Nice bit of info about how she was replaced by a saint in christianity. No surprise there as most everything in judean/christian religion has its origin in earlier stages of belief and popular (i.e. pagan) belief was never abandoned but incorporated or given a different form in christianity. Fascinating stuff.
2 years ago.
Sonja has replied to Levina de Ruijter
To be honest I dont know what shape the bavarian "Leonhardi Ritt" ""Leonhardifahrt" or "Lehardi Kirchweih" took in the very beginning. Some folks also do their darnedest to point out that before 1400 we got no propper direct evidence of any of those oppulent and famous horse processions and church fairs in honour of Leonard of Noblat still celebrated today, to beware of any possible pagan connections.

But fact is that Saint Leonard's Day is only one week from that of Epona's Festival the old romans had in their calender. Both took place in November after the horse and donkey traffic season for alpine passes was over as well as the farm work that needed strong draft animals. When first churches where dedicated to Leonard here it was the time of the saxon but christianized Luidofinger (ottonic) emperors there are legends of rustics that met secretly in honours of their old gods in sacred groves and about old trees that got killed by already christianized nobles and their priests fighting those cults.

Then there is the british legend of Hengist and Horsa of course and the strange reminescence in ways how hengist and leonard encircled their claim given by a king, Thancastre being won much like Noblat monastry. Leonard rides around as much of land as he can on a donkey in one night, but Hengist cuts a hide into a narrowl continous spiral strip and spans it around a plot.

In the Hengist and Horsa tale of the Historia Regum Britanniae version those foreign allies of Vortigern in a clearly gallo-roman pagan cult, say they worship Jupiter, and next Mercury whom they call Woden. Merkur is of Epona's home pantheon, the two often are temple neighbors, logical if one considers merchants dependance of healthy pack horses back then.

Furthermore, Hengist's femme fatale daughter is from this version of the story on given a name, Rowena -- one of the posible meanings, the fairhaired mare. The welsh got a fun festival also in early winter called Mari Lwyd, where a scary critter made of a horse skull, a stick and a bedsheet is dragged about that is supposed to have roots in pagan Riannon revelries. I found some text about Vortigerns pagan saxon wife, Rowena, having been a priestress of Epona and a mighty witch, and Mari Lwyd being held in her memory, but that is not of a very scholarly source. Yet, at the very least great stuff for a juicy bodice ripper with semihistorical background -- sexy saxon Epona priestress during british christianisation playing the troyan horse and Helena all in one at a christian court. That should definately work -- LOL!

There is a town named Horseham in Sussex, supposed to be named for Horsa, Hengist's brother, or just any saxon named Horsa. It aquired also a strong connection with Saint Leonard, having the whole forest near the town named after him, not only the church, and even claiming he did live there a while and he did slay a big dragon and extirpated the evil nightingales from there while at it, seems they sang to much of worldly things... very brave and saintly man, driving out little birds from a forest for their pretty voices, but obviously his donkey's ii--aaaa song was ugly enough for him. ;)

The Bavarian Leonhardi celebrations where by the way surpressed from the secularisation to the the times of King Ludwig for most of the first half of the 19th century, and rules becameafter revivals very strict who can attend with their horses and how exactly they and the rides must be dressed up so the processions are more or less reenactments and cultural attraction for the cause of touristic publicity, not a natural expression of folk piety, even if the villages who have such make a big deal of denying it. To want no conncetion with any pre-christian rites is mostly a case of "mia san mia and Rottenbuch is not to become confused with Glastonbury", thing. :D
2 years ago.
Levina de Ruijter has replied to Sonja
Interesting info, Sonja. I vaguely remember Saint Leonard as patronage of women in labour, I think it was. All this pagan stuff is so fascinating. It must have given the Church a real headache as it simply wouldn't go away. Incorporating it was the smartest thing they could do!
2 years ago.
Sonja has replied to Levina de Ruijter
Leonhard won the land not only by riding around all night on the donkey, the deed for which he was allowed to ask a favor was to help the queen deliver and safe the baby arriving during a hunting outing. What ever a precious lady carrying the heir of her husband and close to term does in the forest during a hunt is strange enough. She would have clearly belonged into the castle, safely surrounded by female relatives and maids and perhaps also a few villager women said to be especially great at helping to deliver babies. So nobody would have needed a hermit monk so caste he cant stand sensual bird song to be forced to see her private parts!!! It makes not much sense for the logic and ideals in the dark ages at all to have a monk deliver a baby and stay in the grace, getting high rewards even.
Now that whole vita might be fully bogus and not even based on elder oral tales about the saint, it was written down so much later in 12th century, when there where Leonard churches in a lot of strategic places already, on the way of pilgrims routes to Santiago. Someone perhaps needed a male patron saint for the midwives really badly, the question is why? Where those women performing in the "first bath" scenes seen especially in so many early gothic church nativity collages not good enough to be also the apropriate patron saints for their profession?
2 years ago.
Eunice Perkins
Eunice Perkins
Just one example of many of how Christendom incorporated pagan customs and entities.
2 years ago.