Our blessed Goddess Aphrodite intrigues me. She is a Goddess of both love and war, of friendship and hate, of companionship and jealousy. She is one of the Goddesses with the widest range of domains and influence in our world and She is Goddess that touches us personally. She doesn’t control the weather or the sea, She controls us directly.
Hekate is one of the most unique and interesting Goddesses of the ancient world, her worship reaches backwards into pre-history and continues to thrive in the modern world. Even at times when the shrines and temples of the old Gods were forgotten old ruins, her myths continued to thrive, remaining alive in the hearts, minds and dreams of poets, artists and mystics who promulgated her mysteries..
Those of us who know Iphigenia only from Euripides’ tragedies (Iphigenia in Tauris, Iphigenia at Aulis) may be surprised to know that she also had a presence in Greek religion, with temples or shrines at various sites where she received prayers and offerings.
You may remember, if you read my post on Taranis, how the Roman writer Lucan compared his cult to that of the “cruel” Diana of the Scythians. I wondered at the time who Diana of the Scythians was, and what was cruel about her cult.
I am the trout that vanishes
Between the stepping stones.
I am the elver that lingers
Under the little bridge.
I am the leveret that breakfasts
Close to the fuschia hedge.
I am the stoat that dances
Around the erratic boulder.
I am the skein of sheep’s wool
Wind and barbed wire tangle.
I am the mud and spittle
That make the swallows’ nest.
Time has obliterated many of the pagan elements of Scandinavian culture, and much of the pre-Christian belief system has vanished from hman memory. But while the cults of Thor and Odin no doubt included lore and practices now lost to us, the cults of the Vanir deities are even more obscure, perhaps because certain features offended Christian sensibilities.
There are two known gods of smithing in Gaul: Gobannos and Ucuetis. Now, it’s very possible that the two are the same god with different epithets… Gobannos literally means “smith” (though it can be derived further into other proto-Celtic roots), and Ucuetis may mean “great breath”—a reference to bellows—and was worshiped by the smiths of Alesia. Gobannos is also known as Cobannos, of the rich Cobannos Hoard now displayed at the Getty Villa in California, thanks to the rule where C and G became at one time interchangeable in Gaulish. Now please stay with me as I propose a third potential god of smithing: Sucellos. This is not a theory that I’ve seen widely upheld, but I think it likely for reasons put forth below.
Sucellos was a god of Eastern Gaul and the Rhineland. Images of him from the Roman period show a mature man dressed in a tunic, with a pot (olla) in one hand and a large hammer in the other. He sometimes has a barrel at his feet, and occasionally a dog accompanies him. The goddess Nantosuelta occasionally appears beside him. His name means “The Good Striker”.