Myth & Lore

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White Horse
Epona, the Celtic patroness of horses
By White Crow

Uffington white horse

"The Celtic horse goddess whose authority extended even beyond death, accompanying the soul on its final journey. She was worshipped throughout entire Gaul, and as far as the Danube and Rome. Her cult was eventually adopted by the Roman army and they spread her worship wherever they went. She was the only Celtic Goddess to be honored by the Romans with a temple in their capital city. Among the Gaulish Celts themselves, she was worshipped as goddess of horses, asses, mules, oxen, and, to an extent, springs and rivers. Epona is depicted sitting side saddle or lying on a horse, or standing with multiple horses around her. Her symbol is the Cornucopia ("horn of plenty") which suggests that she could (originally) have been a fertility goddess. She is also identified with the Celtic goddess Edain." (Copyright (c) 2000 Encyclopedia Mythica. All rights reserved.) Her name derives from the Celtic word for horse. She's the only Celtic goddess to be adopted by the Romans. In Welsh mythology, she's Rhiannon. She rides a mare and rules over horses and riders.
from www.marthascottage.com/Ga.../epona.htm (link no longer available)

The maiden goddess Epona is usually portrayed as riding a white mare side-saddle, sometimes with a foal, or standing surrounded by horses. Her symbol is the Cornucopia ("horn of plenty") which suggests that she may have been honoured as a fertility goddess, although she is most commonly known as a goddess of horses and travel. She fed her beloved horses from her cornucopia filled with corn and apples, symbolic of mother-love and abundance. From the iron age, the Celtic goddess' faith spread across the whole of ancient Europe, eventually being embraced by the Romans and to a certain extent, Christianity. Epona had a shrine in almost every stable of the Roman empire - in fact, she was the only Celtic goddess to be honoured by the Romans with a temple in their capital city. Her annual festival in Roman times was around the 18th December (in Mantua/Italy), when her images in shrines and stables were draped in rose garlands. Epona and her white mare accompanies the soul on its final journey to the other world, and in life she is associated with the white mare that brings dreams.
from www.goddess.com.au/goddess/epona.htm. (link no longer available)

Rhiannon is a Welsh underworld Goddess form. Her story is told in the Mabinogion ( 1 , translation by Lady Charlotte Guest). Her origin goes back further still according to Jean Markale who believes that she might have been the original Mother Goddess of the Celtic people. She brings sleep, dreams, and sometimes nightmares. She is found in several ancient cultures, called by several names.

Through history Rhiannon has survived and influenced many cultures and legends. Her name translates as "divine" or "Great Queen." She may have been sun Goddess. She is Goddess of change, movement, and magic. She comforts in times of crisis, loss, and illness. She gives us gifts of tears, forgetfulness (to promote healing), and humor to ease our sufferings in this life and guides us to the next. She is also accompanied by golden birds whose singing can call the dead or grant peaceful sleep to the living.

Ride A Cockhorse Ride a cockhorse to Banbury Cross to see a fine lady upon a white horse, With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes she shall have music wherever she goes. ~ Anglo-Celtic Nursery Rhyme

from http://pages.preferred.com/~toxsloth/rhiannon/ (link no longer available)

Other Names for Epona/Rhiannon Bubona - Scottish Eponae - Roman (especially called upon by Roman cavalry) Lady Godiva - English legend Mare - Irish (source of the term nightmare) Rigatona/Rigantona - Gaul/Italic Vivienne - Breton (escorted Arthur to Avalon) And the most famous white horse symbol…

The Uffington white horse The Uffington white horse is undoubtedly Britain's oldest and most famous hill figure, which has recently been dated at 3000 years old by the Oxford Archeological Unit. 1000 years older than previously thought. This the oldest hill figure and inspired the creation of many of the other white horses although and particularly its closeness to Uffington castle may have inspired the creation of the first Westbury horse by Bratton camp, which also faced right. The earliest reference to it was in in the 1070's when white horse hill was mentioned, the first actual reference to the horse itself was in 1190. The horse is unique in its features, the horse being a very long sleek disjointed figure and this leads some to believe it represents the mythical dragon that St. George slain on the adjacent Dragon hill or even his horse. However others believe it represents a Celtic horse goddess Epona, known to represent fertility, healing and death. It may have been created to be worshipped in religious ceremonies. Similar horses feature in Celtic jewelry and there is also evidence for horse worship in the Iron Age. The scouring of the horse is believed to have been a religious festival in later times, giving more creditability to the figure being of religious origin. Others believe that it commemorates Alfred's victory over the Danes in 861 AD or that it was created in the seventh century by Hengist in the image of a horse on his standard, however the recent scientific data upon its age seem to discount these more modern theories. Several Iron age coins bearing representations of horses very similar to the Uffington horse have been found and would support the theory of the horse being from an earlier period than the seventh or eight centuries. Also unusual is the fact that the horse faces to the right while all other horses and other animal hill figures face left, with three exceptions, the very first Westbury horse, the Osmington horse and the more modern Bulford Kiwi. The earliest record of the white horse is from Abingdon Abbey in the late 12th century, although white horse hill was mentioned a century earlier. http://www.hows.org.uk/personal/hillfigs/uff/uffing.htm

Gwydion Wales. Druid of the mainland gods; son of Don; brother of Govannon, Arianrhod, Amaethon (god of agriculture). Wizrd and Bard of North Wales. a many-skilled deity like Lugh. Prince of the Powers of Air; a shape-shifter. His symbol was a white horse. Greatest of the enchanters; warrior-magician. Illusion, changes. magic, the sky, healing.

On flying white horses… Pegasus is only one of the many horses that fly, others being the Celtic Epona, the Cretan Leukippe, the White Horse that founded Prague, Wotan's horse Sleipnir, as well as the horses that traditionally draw the sun through the skies. From Asia to England, the hobby horse was the traditional vehicle of the shaman through the night sky, evolving in the Middle Ages into the witches' broomstick.
http://www.katherineneville.com/adventures/horse_of_carthage.htm (link no longer available)

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