Tag Archive: Celtic goddess


epona-dish

 

 

Discovered in 2005 at Petrijanec near the city of Varaždin in northern Croatia, the Petrijanec hoard consisted of 27,735 silver-plated bronze coins and three silver plates. The treasure represents the largest hoard of Roman coinage from the territory of modern Croatia and one of the largest third century hoards in the world. Based on the coinage the hoard has been dated to the year 294 AD.

 

 

coins

Roman coinage from the Petrijanec Hoard

Petrijanec images after ŠIŠA-VIVEK M.,LELEKOVIĆ T., KALAFATIĆ H. OSTAVA RIMSKOG NOVCA I SREBRNOG POSUĐA IZ PETRIJANCA. In:  OPVSC. ARCHÆOL. VOL. 29. ZAGREB 2005. pp. 231 – 246

http://hrcak.srce.hr/6084

 

 

As stated, the hoard also included three silver plates, the smaller of which, decorated with a figural image of the Celtic Horse Goddess Epona, is of most interest in the present context.  

 

silver-dishware

Silver Plates from the Petrijanec Hoard

 

 

 

EPONA ENTHRONED

 

Epigraphic dedications and images of Epona indicate her immense popularity within the Celtic world, being venerated particularly in the east of Gaul and the Rhineland, but also across the continent from Britain to the Balkans. As the Roman Empire expanded, at first she was worshipped solely among populations who came from Celtic regions, i.e. among individuals and groups of Celtic ethnicity. However, her cult rapidly became popular also among the general Roman population, especially those whose lives were connected to horses and equestrianism, and she gradually became part of the Roman pantheon, becoming the patron of horses and everything connected with horsesstables, carriages, tasks or people associated with horses, mules and donkeys.

epona-second-or-third-century-ad-from-contern-luxembourg-musee-national-dart-et-dhistoire-luxembourg-city

Epona (2/3 century AD) from Contern, Luxembourg

 

epona-thessalonika-4th-c-ad

Relief of Epona from Thessaloniki, Greece. (4th century AD)

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/epona-the-celtic-horse-goddess-in-thrace/

 

 

In the case of the silver plate from Petrijanec, the middle of the plate contains a decoration in the form of a standard circular medallion with a diameter of 93mm. bearing the image of a female on horseback. At first glance it would appear that the goddess is riding side-saddle, but in fact she is seated in the direction opposite to the horse’s movement, with legs unusually outspread for horseback riding. Even though the horse is depicted moving in a trot, indicated by the uplifted left leg and raised tail, the woman’s pose makes it apparent that the horse has the function of a throne, which is a frequent motif in depictions of the Celtic Horse Goddess.

 

epona-dish

The silver “Epona Plate” from Petrijanec (Diameter 230 mm, height 25 mm, 482 g.)

 

 

As may be noted, the proportions in the image are not balanced. The horse is smaller than the woman, which is a consequence of iconographic perspective, typical of depictions of goddesses. Epona holds a cornucopia in her left hand, and a patera in her right hand, and is dressed in a robe (pallium), with her right shoulder bared. The medallion is encircled by a border 8 mm. wide, made of a series of beads and stylised palmettes. The inscription EPONA (barely visable) is engraved on the undecorated surface around the medallion, and the letters filled with niello, which is customary for silver dishes of this period. The closest analogy to the Epona plate from Petrijanec is to be found in silver dishware from Rudnik, in Serbia, where a Roman hoard with 26 silver dishes included a similar plate bearing the inscription EPONA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

 

 

 

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artio more

 

 

 

As all animals, the bear held a special significance in Iron Age European society, encapsulating the qualities of strength and potency, and portrayed in numerous works of Celtic art and attested to in inscriptions from across the continent.

 

 

Arm

Group of 3 sandstone bear statues found at Armagh, Ireland (the smallest now missing)

(pre-christian period, i.e. pre-5th c.)

 

 

 

 

The Celtic word for bear – *artos (OIr. Art, MW arth , OBret. Ard-, Arth-, MoBret. Arzh; Masasovic ELPC) is reflected in numerous Celtic personal names – in simple names such as Artos, Artus  (Delamarre 2007:27; CIL XIII 10008,7: Artus Dercomogni (from Maar, near Trier), derivatives such as patronyms, e.g. Galatian Artiknos, and hypocoristica of the type Artillus, Artilla. A fine example of the latter has been found in Trier (CIL XIII/1.1, no. 3909):

HIC QUIESCIT IN PACE URSULA . . . ARTULA MATER TIT(ULUM) POSUIT

In this case mother and daughter have the same name, the mother still in Celtic, the daughter already in the Roman tongue. This is typical for the language switch implied in Romanization throughout the empire.

 

 ‘Bear’ is also found in Celtic nominal compounds, cf. Comartio-rix ‘king of [men] comparable to bears’, or Artebudz (Ptuj, Slovenia), which appears to be a late form of *Arto-buððos ‘having a bear’s penis’ (according to Eichner et al. 1994; see also Zimmer 2009).

In the insular sphere a number of names continue the Old Celtic formations. Cf.:

Old Irish Artbe = Old Welsh Artbeu = Old Breton Arthbiu, all < Old Celtic *Arto-biu̯o- = ‘quick as a bear’;

Old Irish Artgal = Old Welsh Arthgal, Middle Welsh Arthal, < *Arto-galno- = vigorous like a bear’ (see Zimmer op cit).

 

 

artebudz

The Brogdos Inscription from Poetovio
(after Istenič 2000; see https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/05/16/between-birth-and-death-celtic-graffiti/)

 

The most extraordinary Celtic inscription to be discovered at Poetovio, Slovenia was found on a beaker at the site. Dated to the 2nd/3rd c. AD, and written in a Celto-Etruscan script, the inscription reads ARTEBUDZ BROGDUI which has been translated as ‘Artebudz for Brogdos’. Both names are Celtic, and the vessel was a votive offering to Brogdos – a deity guarding the border between the world of the living and the after-world (Eichner et al 1994:137; Egri 2007).

 

 

 

Other artifacts from south-eastern Europe, such as a ceramic bowl decorated with a zoomorphic/bear handle from the pre-Roman layers at Viminacium or brown bear teeth used as pendants/talismans from the Celtic hillfort at Zidovar (both Serbia), indicate that the bear was particularly revered by the Balkan Celtic tribes.

 

 

Celtic cup from Viminacium - museum of viminacium

Celtic (Scordisci) zoomorphic bowl from Viminacium, Serbia (1 c. BC)

 

 

zid brwn br th

Brown bear teeth talismans from Zidovar, Serbia (2/1 c. BC)

 

 

 

 
ARTIO

 
In Celtic culture the bear was associated with the Bear Goddess Artio – attested to in inscriptions such as those from Daun (CIL 4203), Stockstadt (CIL XIII 11789), Heddernheim (CIL 13, 7375) (all Germany), as well as Weilerbach (Luxembourg) (CIL XIII 4113) and Muri (near Bern) in Switzerland (CIL 13, 05160). The latter inscription comes from a bronze sculpture which depicts a large bear facing a woman seated in a chair, with a small tree behind the bear. The woman seems to hold fruit in her lap, apparently feeding the bear.

 

 

he goddess Artio from the Muri statuette group, a noted collection of bronze figures of Gallo-Roman found in Muri bei Bern, Switzerland, 1832.

The goddess Artio from the Muri statuette group, a noted collection of Gallo-Roman bronze figures found in Muri bei Bern, Switzerland in 1832

 

 
The Muri sculpture bears the inscription Deae Artioni / Licinia Sabinilla = To the Goddess Artio (or Artionis), from Licinia Sabinilla, and is valuable evidence that the cult of the Celtic Bear Goddess survived into the Roman period.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources Cited

 

Delamarre, X. (2003) Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise. 2ème éd. Paris: Errance.

Delamarre, X. (2007) Noms de personnes celtiques dans l’épigraphie classique. Paris: Errance.

Egri M. (2007) Graffiti on Ceramic Vessels from the Western Cemetery at Poetovio. In: Funerary Offerings and Votive Depositions in Europe’s 1st Millennium AD. Cluj-Napoca 2007. P. 37 – 48.

Eichner, H., Janka, I., Milan, L. (1994) Ein römerzeitliches Keramikgefäß aus Ptuj (Pettau, Poetovio) in Slovenien mit Inschrift in unbekanntem Alphabet und epichorischer (vermutlich keltischer) Sprache. Arheoloski Zbornik 45, 131–42.

Istenič J. (2000) Poetovio, the western cemeteries II. Ljubljana.

Matasovic R. (2009) An Etymological Lexicon of Proto-Celtic. University of Leiden = ELPC

Šašel Kos (1999) Pre-Roman Divinities of the Eastern Alps and Adriatic – Situla 38, Ljubljana.

 
Zimmer S. (2009) The Name of Arthur – A New Etymology. JCeltL, 13 (2009), 131–6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On animals in Celtic culture see also:

 

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2014/08/17/the-dog-in-celtic-culture-and-religion/

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2014/06/21/cult-of-the-wild-boar/

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/12/10/catubodua-queen-of-death/ (birds of prey)

 

On Celtic personal names see:

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2014/06/11/bituriges-kings-of-the-world/
https://www.academia.edu/3292310/The_Thracian_Myth_-_Celtic_Personal_Names_in_Thrace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UD: Feb. 2017

                       mo god gund

    

‘In dama huair ann ba rigan roisclethan ro alainn;

           Ocus in uair aill… na baidb biraigh banghalis’.

 

(At one moment she was a broad-eyed, most beautiful queen,

And another time a beaked, white-grey badb)

(Harleian manuscript 4.22)

The central tenant of Celtic religion was metempsychosis – the transmigration of the soul and its reincarnation after death (Caesar J. De Bello Gallica, Book VI, XIV). This belief is probably best summed up by the Roman poet Lucanus (1st c. AD):

 

While you, ye Druids, when the war was done,
To mysteries strange and hateful rites returned:
To you alone ’tis given the heavenly gods
To know or not to know; secluded groves
Your dwelling-place, and forests far remote.
If  what ye sing be true, the shades of men
Seek not the dismal homes of Erebus
Or death’s pale kingdoms; but the breath of life
Still rules these bodies in another age-
Life on this hand and that, and death between.
Happy the peoples ‘neath the Northern Star
In this their false belief; for them no fear
Of that which frights all others: they with hands
And hearts undaunted rush upon the foe
And scorn to spare the life that shall return.

(Pharsalia Book 1:453-456)

 

A similar account of the Celtic belief system is provided by the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus (V.28:5-6; 1st century BC):

“…for the belief of Pythagoras prevails among them, that the souls of men are immortal and that after a prescribed number of years they commence upon a new life, the soul entering into another body”.

In the transportation of the soul from one world to the next Birds of Prey played a central role:

‘to these men death in battle is glorious;

And they consider it a crime to bury the body of such a warrior;

For they believe that the soul goes up to the gods in heaven,

If the body is exposed on the field to be devoured by the birds of prey’.

(Silius Italicus (2nd c. AD) Punica 3 340-343)

 

 

‘…those who laid down their lives in war they regard as noble, heroic and full of valor,

And them cast to the vultures believing this bird to be sacred’.

(Claudius Aelianus. De Natur. Anim. X. 22)

Fig. 1 Boii

The removal of flesh from corpses, which is well documented in the Celtic world, had a mortuary significance that differed greatly from the Greco-Roman practices (Soprena Genzor  1995: 198 ff.). The last 25 years of research have revealed how interments were the culmination of previous very complex rituals. The removal of flesh before interment is clearly attested at Celtic sanctuaries like Ribemont (Brunaux  2004: 103-24), but the enormous deficit of interments, especially in the late La Têne period, can be partially explained by the exposure of corpses with the consequent destruction of most of the skeleton. This exposure ritual was a genuine self-sacrifice, as the enemy who had taken the life of the warrior, just as the bird of prey who devoured him, was merely the hand of the god (Soprena 1995; Brunaux 2004: 118-24).

 Recent excavations, such as those at Ham Hill in Somerset (England), have provided further evidence of the Celtic practice of excarnation – the ritual exposure of corpses to the elements and scavengers.

 

 

Ham Hill

The finds at Ham Hill include ritualistic burials – arrangements of human skulls as well as bodies tossed into a pit, left exposed and gnawed by animals and Birds of Prey. At the site “hundreds, if not thousands of bodies”, dated from the 1st or 2nd century AD, have been found treated in this fashion.

(See: https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/09/05/excarnation/)

 

 

Ribem.

The Ribemont-Sur-Ancre ‘Tower of Silence’

 

 

This shrine/sanctuary was erected on the site of the Battle at Ribemont (northern France), where around 1,000 Celtic warriors are believed to have died. The victorious Belgae erected this shrine to celebrate the great battle, decapitated the bodies of the defeated warriors taking the heads home with them as trophies. The headless corpses and thousands of weapons collected from the battle field were hung from a large wooden platform (‘Tower of Silence’). 

 Evidence of weathering and dismemberment of the dead at the site, and others such as Ham Hill, is consistent with the well documented Celtic religious practice of exposing corpses after death to be devoured by Birds of Prey and carnivores  (Soprena Genzor 1995: 198 ff.).

 

 

On the Balkans, the same ritual is described by Pausanias (X, 21, 3) in connection with the Celtic migration into the Balkans at the beginning of the 3rd c. BC. Celtic warriors who fell in battle during the invasion of Greece were likewise left exposed to be devoured by birds of prey, consistent with the religious practice outlined above (Churchin 1995; Mac Congail 2010: 57).

In light of the significance given to birds of prey in Celtic culture it is interesting to note the ‘name’ of the leader of the Celtic offensive on Greece at the beginning of the 3rd c. BC, the same as that of the chieftain who led the Celtic tribes who sacked Rome a century earlier – Brennos. It is unlikely that this is coincidence, and it appears that Brennos was not a personal name, but a military title given to the overall commander of a Celtic army drawn from different tribes. The term comes from the Proto-Celtic *brano- (Matasović R. 2009; Mac Congail 2010: 54-59), and means literally The Raven.

 

bird-god-lysimachus

Portrait of the Bird Goddess/Catubodua on the obverse of a Celto-Scythian gold stater (1st c. BC)

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/metamorphosis-in-gold/

 

 

The importance of the raven, and birds of prey in general, in Celtic culture and religion is archaeologically confirmed by their frequent appearance on Celtic artifacts and coins. For example, of the more than 500 Celtic brooches with representational decoration now known, from Bulgaria in the east to Spain in the west, more than half depict birds (Megaw 2001: 87). On the Balkans, birds of prey also appear on artifacts such as the Celtic helmet from Ciumesti (Romania), similar examples of which are depicted on the Gundestrup cauldron, produced by the Scordisci in northwestern Bulgaria. Depictions of Birds of Prey are also found on the Celtic chariot fittings from Mezek in southern Bulgaria, and Balkan Celtic sacrificial daggers.

Gund.

Detail from the Gundestrup Cauldron

a - a- a- Cium

Celtic Chieftain’s Helmet from Ciumeşti (Romania) with Bird of Prey attachment

(see: https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/prince-of-transylvania/)

BADHBH CHATHA

 

 The Celtic Mother Goddess – the Morrígan, was a triple goddess, appearing as a trinity consisting of Macha, Anann and the Badb.  The Celts believed that the Badb/war-goddess, or more accurately the mother goddess in her war mien, appeared to warriors slain in battle in the form of a bird of prey, most often a crow or raven (O h’Ogain 2002: 22; Mackillop 2004:30; Mac Congail 2010: 72-76). Her presence was not only a symbol of imminent death, but to also influence the outcome of battle. Most often she did this by appearing as a crow/raven flying overhead, and would either inspire fear or courage in the hearts of the warriors, or, in rare cases, join in the battle herself.

 

This aspect of the goddess was known as the Catubodua (battle-raveness) which survived in later Celtic tradition as the Cathbhadhbh or Badhbh Chatha (loc cit).

 

 From Bulgaria, Serbia, and Hungary originate Celtic coins (of both the Philip II (fig. 4/5) and Paeonia models (fig. 6/7) on which a Bird of Prey is depicted behind the left shoulder of the horseman, accompanying him into battle. The presence of the triskele on the Paeonia model coins in particular confirms the religious nature of the images. On the vogelreiter type (fig. 7), from the 3rd – 2nd c. BC, the horseman himself is portrayed as a skeleton, the ‘deathrider’ again accompanied by a Bird of Prey.

scor coin 1

scor coin 2

paeon. c

rom phal

Celtic gilded silver phalera from Surcea (Covasna county), Romania. Note the Bird of Prey behind the left shoulder of the warrior (late 2nd/ early 1st c. BC)

This theme is also represented on other Celtic coins from the Balkans, with depictions of the mother goddess – the Morrígan (Great Queen) in her personification as the Badhbh Chatha / Battle Raven. Such is the case, for example, with her portrayal on Celtic ‘Thasos model’ coins from Bulgaria (fig. 8), as well as some of the Paeonian ‘imitations’ (fig. 9).

tha 1

Fig. 8 – Depiction of the Goddess on the Reverse of a Celtic Thasos type issue from Bulgaria

(after Mac Congail/Krusseva 2010)

In fig. 9 the obverse portrays the central theme of transformation of the goddess, while the reverse is packed with religious symbolism, including  the triskele symbol and Celtic inscription. The central image again portrays the mother-goddess in her personification as the war raven  – Badhbh Chatha.

pae. mo.

(Gobl 436; BMC 131)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Modern) Sources Cited

 

Brunaux J.L. (2004) Guerre et religion en Gaule. Essai d’anthropologie celtique. Paris: Errance.

Churchin L.A. (1995) The Unburied Dead at Thermopylae (279 BC) In: The Ancient History Bulletin 9: 68-71

Soprena Genzor G. (1995) Ética y ritual. Aproximación al estudio de la religiosidad de los pueblos celtibéricos. Zaragosa.

Mac Congail B., Krusseva B.  (2010) The Men Who Became the Sun – Barbarian Art and Religion on the Balkans. Plovdiv. (In Bulgarian)

Mackillop, James (2004) A dictionary of Celtic mythology. Oxford University Press

Marco Simón F.  (2008) Images of Transition. The Ways of Death in Celtic Hispania. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 74, 2008. Pp. 53-68.

Matasović R. (2009) Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Celtic. Leiden and Boston

Megaw V., Megaw R. (2001) Celtic Art from its Beginnings to the Book of Kells. London.

Ó hÓgáin D. (2002) The Celts – A Chronological History. Cork.

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Birds of Prey

(Updated May 2013)

 

 

 

 

Bird Gds.

 

          ‘In dama huair ann ba rigan roisclethan ro alainn;

           Ocus in uair aill… na baidb biraigh banghalis’.

 

(At one moment she was a broad-eyed, most beautiful queen,

And another time a beaked, white-grey badb)

(Harleian manuscript 4.22)

 

 

 

 

The central tenant of Celtic religion was metempsychosis – the transmigration of the soul and its reincarnation after death. (Caesar J. De Bello Gallica, Book VI, XIV) This belief is probably best summed up by the Roman poet Lucanus (1st c. AD):

 

 

While you, ye Druids, when the war was done,
To mysteries strange and hateful rites returned:
To you alone ’tis given the heavenly gods
To know or not to know; secluded groves
Your dwelling-place,
and forests far remote.
If
 what ye sing be true, the shades of men
Seek not the dismal homes of Erebus
Or death’s pale kingdoms; but the breath of life
Still rules these bodies in another age-
Life on this hand and that, and death between.
Happy the peoples ‘neath the Northern Star
In this their false belief; for them no fear
Of that which frights all others: they with hands
And hearts undaunted rush upon the foe
And scorn to spare the life that shall return.

Pharsalia Book 1, (453-456)

 

 

In the transportation of the soul from one world to the next birds of prey played a central role:

 

‘to these men death in battle is glorious;

And they consider it a crime to bury the body of such a warrior;

For they believe that the soul goes up to the gods in heaven,

If the body is exposed on the field to be devoured by the birds of prey’.

(Silius Italicus (2nd c. AD) Punica 3 340-343)

 

 

‘those who laid down their lives in war they regard as noble, heroic and full of valor,

And them cast to the vultures believing this bird to be sacred’

(Claudius Aelianus. De Natur. Anim. X. 22)

 

Fig. 1 - fln warr

 

 

  The removal of flesh from corpses, which is well documented in the Celtic world, had a mortuary significance that differed greatly from the Greco-Roman practices (Soprena Genzor  1995: 198 ff.). The last 25 years of research have revealed how interments were the culmination of previous very complex rituals. The removal of flesh before interment is clearly attested at Celtic sanctuaries like Ribemont (Brunaux  2004: 103-24), but the enormous deficit of interments, especially in the late La Têne period, can be partially explained by the exposure of corpses with the consequent destruction of most of the skeleton. This exposure ritual was a genuine self-sacrifice, as the enemy who had taken the life of the warrior, just as the bird of prey who devoured him, was merely the hand of the god. (Soprena 1995; Brunaux 2004: 118-24)

 This process is illustrated, for example, on the Celtiberian golden diadem from Asturias which shows the bird metamorphosis of the human figures during their final journey.

 

 

Fig. 2 – Detail from the Asturias diadem (After Marco Simón 2008)

 

 

 

On the Balkans the same ritual is described by Pausanias (X, 21, 3) in connection with the Celtic migration into the Balkans at the beginning of the 3rd c. BC. Celtic warriors who fell in battle during the invasion of Greece were likewise left exposed to be devoured by birds of prey, consistent with the religious practice outlined above (Churchin 1995; Mac Congail 2010: 57).

In light of the significance given to birds of prey in Celtic culture it is interesting to note the ‘name’ of the leader of the Celtic offensive on Greece at the beginning of the 3rd c. BC, the same as that of the chieftain who led the Celtic tribes who sacked Rome a century earlier – Brennos. It is unlikely that this is coincidence, and it appears that Brennos was not a personal name, but a military title given to the overall commander of a Celtic army drawn from different tribes.  The term comes from the Proto-Celtic *brano- (Matasović R. 2009. Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Celtic; see also Mac Congail 2010: 54-59) and means literally The Raven.

 

The importance of the raven, and birds of prey in general, in Celtic culture and religion is archaeologically confirmed by their frequent appearance on Celtic artifacts and coins. For example, of the more than 500 Celtic brooches with representational decoration now known, from Bulgaria in the east to Spain in the west, more than half depict birds (Megaw 2001: 87). On the Balkans birds of prey also appear on artifacts such as the Celtic helmet from Ciumesti (Romania) (see ‘Prince of Transylvania), similar examples of which are depicted on the Gundestrup cauldron (fig. 3) produced by the Scordisci in northwestern Bulgaria. Depictions of birds of prey are also found on the Celtic chariot fittings from Mezek in southern Bulgaria, and the Celtic sacrificial daggers from Romania and Bulgaria (see ‘Sacrificial Daggers’ article).

 

 

 

Fig. 3 –                         Detail from the Gundestrup Cauldron

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE DEATHRIDER

 

 

 

 From Bulgaria, Serbia, and Hungary originate Celtic coins of both the Philip II (fig. 4/5) and Paeonia model (fig. 6/7) on which the ‘raven’ is depicted behind the left shoulder of the horseman, accompanying him into battle. The presence of the triskele on the Paeonia model coins in particular confirms the religious nature of the images. On the vogelreiter type (fig. 7), from the 3rd – 2nd c. BC, the horseman himself is portrayed as a skeleton, the ‘deathrider’ again accompanied by a raven.

 

 

Fig. 4 - Sc. 1

 

Fig. 5 - Sc. 2

 

 

Fig 6-7 Paeon

 

 

 

 

THE RAVEN GODDESS

 

 

 

The Celts believed that the war-goddess, or more accurately the mother goddess in her war mien, appeared to warriors slain in battle in the form of a bird of prey, most often a crow or raven (O h’Ogain 2002: 22; Mackillop 2004:30; Mac Congail 2010: 72-76). She was known as Catubodua (battle-raveness) which survived in later Celtic tradition as the Cathbhadhbh or Badhbh Chatha (loc cit).

 

This theme also appears on Celtic coins from the Balkans, in depictions of the mother goddess in her personification as the Badhbh Chatha / Battle Raven. Such is the case, for example, with her portrayal on Celtic Thasos model coins from Bulgaria (fig. 8) as well as some of the Celtic Paeonian ‘imitations’ (fig. 9).

 

 

Fig. 8 – Depiction of the Goddess on the Reverse of a Celtic Thasos model issue from Bulgaria

 

 

 

 In fig. 9 the obverse portrays the central theme of transformation of the goddess, while the reverse is packed with religious symbolism including  the triskele symbol and the Celtic inscription. The central image again portrays the mother-goddess in her personification as the war raven  – Badhbh Chatha.

 

Fig. 9 - Pa 2

(Gobl 436; BMC 131)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources Cited

 

Brunaux J.L. (2004) Guerre et religion en Gaule. Essai d’anthropologie celtique. Paris: Errance.

Churchin L.A. (1995) The Unburied Dead at Thermopylae (279 BC) In: The Ancient History Bulletin 9: 68-71

Soprena Genzor G. (1995) Ética y ritual. Aproximación al estudio de la religiosidad de los pueblos celtibéricos. Zaragosa.

Mac Congail B., Krusseva B.  (2010) The Men Who Became the Sun – Barbarian Art and Religion on the Balkans. Plovdiv. (In Bulgarian)

Mackillop, James (2004) A dictionary of Celtic mythology. Oxford University Press

Marco Simón F.  (2008) Images of Transition. The Ways of Death in Celtic Hispania. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 74, 2008. Pp. 53-68.

Matasović R. (2009) Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Celtic. Leiden and Boston

Megaw V., Megaw R. (2001) Celtic Art from its Beginnings to the Book of Kells. London.

Ó hÓgáin D. (2002) The Celts – A Chronological History. Cork.

 

 

 

 

 

Mac Congail

 

 

 

 

 

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Birds of Prey