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~ Epona ~
(Information provided by Karen)
The Divine Horse or The Divine Mare. She was often paired with Cernunnos - the Mare & the Stag being two potent fertility symbols. Otherwise She was sometimes paired with Taranis. The Celts revered the horse for several reasons - its beauty, speed, bravery & sexual vigour. The horse came to symbolise the warrior elite. They thought so much of their horses that their word for horse - epos - is incorporated in Her name. As part of her worship it was taboo to eat horse meat as a normal meal. Her cult had no special mystery and was popular. Apples and corn are some of her symbols and offerings, as were pigs. Her authority extended beyond death, accompanying the soul on its final journey. She is the only foreign Goddess to be adopted into the Roman pantheon. They often had a shrine to Her in every stable. The Romans gave Her the feast day of 18th December.
She was also a dream Goddess - her speciality seems to have been nightmares. There was a popular saying by parents to their children - if you don't sleep, Epona will come to give you nightmares. (Nice, huh?) The artist Henry Fuseli painted a picture called - "The Nightmare" reputed to be of Epona. (Click on the painting to see a larger version.)
A small ritual - just before dawn, find a place where two roads cross. They must be perfectly oriented to the four directions. Light 8 small fires, one for each side of the roads. Be sure to leave room for a rider & horse to pass through. Next, play 'horsey' yourself - ride 3 times around the intersection on a besom & then the fun begins. Sit & wait for a dark Lady dressed in black, riding a horse, fleeing the coming dawn. It is said to be Epona, returning from her night of dispensing dreams.
Epona was worshipped by people whose primary function was dependant on horses, such as cavalry, scouts, infantry, stable hands & grooms.
The main source of indirect evidence about Epona are several statues, bas-reliefs & painted depictions of Her. A few are of bronze.
The Giant Chalk Horse carved into the hill at Uffington in south Englandis belived to be associated with Epona. The probable date is 1400BCE, although this is disputed.
Information gathered by Karen mainly from realmagick.com/articles and epona.net
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