Articles/Essays From Pagans
August 24th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Cultural and Spiritual Appropriation
The Pagan Cleric
A Gathering of Sorcerers (A Strange Tale)
August 17th. 2014 ...
To Know, to Will, to Dare...
On Grief: Beacons of Light in the Shadows
August 10th. 2014 ...
As a Pagan, How Do I Represent My Path?
The Power of the Gorgon
August 3rd. 2014 ...
Are You a Natural Witch?
You Have to Believe We Are Magic...
July 27th. 2014 ...
Did I Just Draw Down the Moon?
Astrological Ages and the Great Astrological End-Time Cycle
The New Jersey Finishing School for Would-Be Glamour Girls and Boys
July 20th. 2014 ...
Being an Underage Wiccan
Greed, Power, Witches, and the Inquisition
Malleus Maleficarum - The Hammer of the Witches
Thoughts on Ghost Hunting
July 13th. 2014 ...
A World Of Witchcraft: Belief Is Only The Beginning...
From Christian to Pagan (Part III)
My Wiccan Ways...
July 6th. 2014 ...
Keys: Opening the Portals into Other Worlds
The Lore of the Door
Leaves of Love
June 29th. 2014 ...
What Does the Bible Say About Witches and Pagans?
Are You My Familiar ?
Invocations of the God and Goddess
Results Magic and the Moral Compass
Everything's Alright, Yes: Mary Magdalene
June 22nd. 2014 ...
Witchcraft vs. Religion
Christianity and Paganism: Why All Of the Fighting?
June 15th. 2014 ...
Becoming Your Own Wise One
Canine Familiars: Role of the Alpha
June 8th. 2014 ...
Moral Relativism and Wicca
Paganism in Cebu, Philippines
June 1st. 2014 ...
Rediscovering My Pagan Faith
13 Keys: The Wisdom of Chokmah
May 25th. 2014 ...
Some Differences Between Priestesses and Witches: Duties and Trials
Awakening to our Celestial Nature (A Free 8-Day Course)
How to Work With Your Muse
10 Things I Love about my Sacred Work as a Public Witch
May 18th. 2014 ...
Finding the God (From Christian to Pagan -Part II)
The Medea Within Us All
Visits from the Departed
May 11th. 2014 ...
Breaking the Law of Return
Karma and Sin
Mental and Emotional Balance- I CAN Have it!
The Sin Concept
May 4th. 2014 ...
When to Let Go...When to Hold On
Goddessy: Sorceress Speaks On Beauty
Embracing my Inner Goddess through Belly Dance
April 27th. 2014 ...
Mental Illness in the Pagan Community
World Crisis: Awaken Witches and Take Action
Being Pagan, Being Bipolar
"Earth Day" Is A Pagan Conspiracy!
April 20th. 2014 ...
Six Rules for Safer Pagan Sex: A Guide
Safety: Let's Shift Our Focus
Morality and Controversy in the Craft
A Pagan Perspective on Easter
The Star Child
April 13th. 2014 ...
Magick and Consequences: My Experience with Sigils
Being a Worrisome Witch
Don't Talk Yourself Out of Trying Something New!
What to Do When the Spell/Ritual Flops
April 6th. 2014 ...
The Elements and the Quarters
Dark Moon Scry: Aries 2014
How the Wheel of the Year Works “Down Under”
13 Keys: The Understanding of Binah
March 30th. 2014 ...
Manifesting the Dream: On Religious Organizations, Pagan Abbeys and our Order
True Meaning of Community
Thoughts on Unverified Personal Gnosis
My Beautiful Grove- A Matter Of Perspective
March 23rd. 2014 ...
Spirituality and Social Change
The First Step to Anywhere!
March 16th. 2014 ...
From Christian to Pagan (Part I)
Nature And The Celtic Tree Calendar
The Teeth in the Darkness
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
The Raven, The Horse and The Goddess
Article ID: 14417
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,308
Times Read: 4,319
RSS Views: 15,365
Author: Sorita d'Este [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: January 30th. 2011
Times Viewed: 4,319
“I knew by the voice of the raven, each morning since you journeyed from me, that your downfall was true and certain.” -- The Lay of the Wife of Meargach, Ossianic Society 4:173.
In the British Isles, the Raven is probably the bird most commonly found associated with Gods and Goddesses who were worshipped and celebrated here by our ancestors. The Raven also occurs on a regular basis in the mythology and symbolism of the Saxon and Norse deities. Likewise worship of horse Goddesses was widely spread throughout the Celtic world. Horses represented wealth and power, and their speed and nobility were seen as being a way to be closer to the Gods. Horses further feature heavily in Celtic Christian literature, further emphasising their enduring importance as religious icons.
Probably the best known association of a Goddess with Ravens can be found in tales of The Morrígan, the Irish Celtic Battle Goddess, who is known for her shapeshifting abilities, particular when she appears as Badb (whose name translates as “raven” or “crow”) an example of which is found in this old manuscript [MSS Trinity H3.18]:
“It is one of the three Morrígna, that is Macha and Badb and Morrígan. Whence Mesrad Machae, Macha’s mast, that is the heads of men after their slaughter. As Dub Ruise said: There are rough places yonder, where men cut off Macha’s mast; where they drive young calves into the fold; where the raven-women instigate battle.”
In the Táin Bó Cúailnge we see the Morrígan appear as a raven when she warns the Brown Bull of Cúailnge of the impending attempt to steal him, whilst Badb appears in her raven form to stand on the dying hero Cú Chulainn’s shoulder.
The entire race of Giants, the race of Gods known as the Túatha dé Danann, is symbolised as ravens in the prophetic dream of Eochaid, King of the Fir Bolgs during the First Battle of Moytura. In this dream, recounted in the Cath Muighe Tuireadh, Eochaid sees a great flock of black birds invading Ireland.
But it is not only the Morrígan who appears as a Raven, the name of the Welsh Goddess Branwen translates as “white raven”, so it is clear that she also was seen as being associated with these birds. In Gaul Epona, who is usually associated with horses was sometimes depicted with ravens, as was the Gallic Goddess Nantosuelta.
Macha, one of the three Morrígna discussed above, was undoubtedly associated with horses. Her name which means “pasture” links her to grazing land, indicating a possible equine link, but it is in her role as the divine, yet mortal bride of the wealthy farmer Crunnchu we find the most obvious links. As his wife she brings him great prosperity, but she warns him to never boast about her to anyone.
Of course he ignored her warnings and boasted to others that his wife could run so fast that she would easily outrun the King’s horses. The King upon hearing this boast imprisons Crunnchu and the only way for Macha to save her husband is to run against the King’s horses in at the Ulster Assembly. Appealing to the crowd and the King, Macha who is nine months pregnant, asks them to let her first deliver her babies. She pleas saying with them saying: “a mother bore each one of you”, but her pleading is ignored and she is forced to run. As a result she warns them that she would curse all of Ulster for what they were doing to her. As she wins the race she gives birth to twins, dying in the process. As she does so she curses the Ulstermen with the “ces noinden” a weakness curse which would cause them to become as helpless as a woman in childbirth for five days and four nights whenever they needed their strength the most. This would last for nine generations and laid the foundations for many future events.
The Welsh Goddess Rhiannon had a white horse that could outrun any horse without even breaking sweat and when she was unjustly punished for killing her son (who was in fact still alive) as recorded in Pwyll Prince of Dyved, in the White Book of Rhydderch she was forced to take the role of a horse herself, carrying people as punishment.
The Gallic Epona, who was adopted by the Roman army and brought to the British Isles is probably the best known horse Goddess. Her name means “Divine Horse” and the depictions of her usually show her riding a horse. The Goddess Áine was also sometimes known as “Lair Derg” meaning “Red Mare” which might suggest that she was also given equine qualities.
But the Raven and Horse were not exclusively linked to Goddesses; they are also strongly linked to a number of Gods. Famously the Saxon God Woden’s two ravens, Huginn and Muninn (“Thought” and “Memory”) would fly around the world each day and then return to his shoulders to report what they had seen.
Other Gods associated with Ravens include the Irish God Lugh, who is warned by two ravens of the approach of the Fomorians before the Second Battle of Moytura. In the founding myth of Lugudunum (London) recorded in De Flavis of pseudo-Plutarch, I.4. we learn that the location of the new city was chosen when a flock of ravens landed there, the reason why it was named after Lugh, the God of Ravens! A further association with the city of London and Ravens is found through the “Tower of London” which was built on “Bryn Gwyn” (White Hill) the location where Bran’s head was buried to keep Britain safe from invasion, which it did until King Arthur dug it up and chucked it into the Thames declaring that he was the only protector Britain needed. The name “Bran” also means “raven” and so the belief was born that if the ravens ever left the Tower of London terrible disaster would befall Britain, which is why to this day some are kept at the Tower of London.
The associations between horses and male Gods are fewer, but they do exist. The Irish God Fergus is given the name “Son of Ro-ech” which means “Great Horse” thus indicating an association. He is described as having large genitals, which certainly fits in with horselike features. Less known is the “Rider God” of whom images linking him with horses have been found all over Britain, the number of brooches found depicting him from all the British Isles suggests that he was a very popular figure with the Roman legionnaires.
The Guises of the Morrigan by David Rankine and Sorita d'Este (Avalonia, 2005)
The Visions of the Cailleach by David Rankine and Sorita d'Este (Avalonia, 2009)
Copyright: Sorita d'Este, 2007; 2011
Location: Glastonbury, England
Author's Profile: To learn more about Sorita d'Este - Click HERE
Other Articles: Sorita d'Este has posted 5 additional articles- View them?
Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE
Email Sorita d'Este... (No, I have NOT opted to receive Pagan Invites! Please do NOT send me anonymous invites to groups, sales and events.)
Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2014 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.
Website structure, evolution and php coding by Fritz Jung on a Macintosh G5.
Any and all personal political opinions expressed in the public listing sections (including, but not restricted to, personals, events, groups, shops, Wrenâ€™s Nest, etc.) are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witchesâ€™ Voice, Inc. TWV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.
Sponsorship: Visit the Witches' Voice Sponsor Page for info on how you
can help support this Community Resource. Donations ARE Tax Deductible.
The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.
Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.
of The World
NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.
All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).