The Horse Goddess

epona

The Horse Goddess has a number of guises: appearing as a divinity, a legendary figure, a character both in folklore and in literary story, a graven image from ancient inscriptions, a faerie enchantress from more recent prose and verse, an archetype of fertility both as a lover and a mother, a figure whose name and identity shape-shifts through historical and linguistic transformations; like other polytheist deities her unity is in her diversity.

She is well-attested in ancient Gaul as EPONA – a name directly indicating her equine identity – and worshipped across an area covering modern-day France and Germany, northern Spain and Italy and as far south-east as Bulgaria. Statuary and dedications occur in Britain where she is also known as *RIGANTONA (‘Great Queen’) , a name which becomes RHIANNON in the medieval Welsh tales in which she features.

She appears,also, as the mounted Otherworld ‘Lady’ or ‘Queen of Faery’ in other medieval texts such as the Scottish ballad Thomas the Rhymer and in the medieval romance which tells the story in greater detail. From there she inspires images in later poetry such as John Keats’ ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ who has the poet “in thrall”. Such is the way of a goddess, not contained in the stone of ancient statuary or inscription, by myth and legend from the deep past, but constantly re-invigorating and re-inventing herself in new forms through medieval tales and their modern re-tellings, through folklore and poetry into the world of modern polytheists who continue to acknoweldge and venerate her.

So this is her place, or one of her places, where her stories can be told and her identity affirmed.