Tag Archives: cows

Hera: the goddess alone

It’s very hard for us now to reconcile the widespread worship of Hera in ancient Greece with her character as it comes down to us; she seems like the archetypal shrew. If you look her up, the entries focus on her persecution of Hercules and the women Zeus seduced or raped. These stories are well-known, so I want to focus on Hera’s actual cult in this post.

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Boand, Anahita and Saraswati

My first post on the Irish goddess Boand sparked a question on the Mythology Stack Exchange about cows as symbols of wisdom. There is a blog called The Wisdom of Cows, but I suspect that a mythological version wouldn’t run long.

However, Boand is the goddess of the river Boyne, and there are many examples of river-goddesses who give inspiration, wisdom and sometimes musical talent to their worshippers. Continue reading

Boand: river-goddess and rebel

(Photo by Robert Verzo, from Flickr.)

The Irish goddess Boand is famous for two things: she is the mother of the young god Aengus, whom she carried to term in a single (nine-month-long) day, and the river Boyne is named for her, after she caused it to gush forth from a magical well.

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Milk and Blood: Brigit and the Morrigan

Back in 1977 Patrick Ford published a paper called “Celtic Women: the Opposing Sex”. It could have been tailor-made for the Morrigan, a fearsome goddess who spends most of the Tain trying to destroy the hero Cúchulainn. By contrast, Brigid seems to be the “good girl” of Irish myth.

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Horned goddesses

When I was writing about the Irish goddess Flidais, I said that I would be covering hunting goddesses and horned goddesses in another post. The post on hunting goddesses was duly written, but the horned goddesses slipped away.

This may be due in part to the fact that I thought of horned goddesses as a mainly modern phenomenon. The first inkling I ever had of them came from Chesca Potter’s artwork. Her image of the folkloric figure Elen (heroine of “The Dream of Macsen Wledig“,  in the Mabinogion) as a horned goddess caught my attention. However, I had no context for it, and it remained an interesting picture, and nothing more.

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The Tain Bo Flidais

The Táin Bó Flidhais, or The Book of the Driving of Flidais’ Cattle, is the main source of information about the goddess Flidais. This story has been preserved in two versions, a shorter version in the Book of Leinster, and a longer one in the Yellow Book of Lecan.

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Flidais: Is She a Goddess?

Flidais was a figure of Irish mythology, surnamed Foltcháin, “beautiful (or soft) hair”. She had a magical cow, the Maol, as well as herds of cattle and of deer. She is usually considered a goddess of abundance (cows were wealth), sovereignty, feasting, magic, hunting and sexuality. Her dual nature, exemplified in the cows and deer, mingles the domesticated with the wild. Continue reading

Rattawy: Female Sun of Two Lands

Rattawy, or Raet, is the feminine form of the name Ra, the Egyptian sun-god. Strangely, she has nothing to do with the sun-god’s cult, but seems to have led an independent existence from the 19th Dynasty onward. While some see her as simply “Mrs. Ra”, the only records we have of her tell a very different story.

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cow wallpaper

Damona: Divine Cow of the Sacred Waters

Although the name Damona means something like “Divine/ Great Cow”, the only image we have of her is in human form, and it has only survived in fragments: a stone head, crowned with corn-ears, and a hand with a serpent’s coils around it. It turned up in a votive pit at Alise-Sainte-Reine, ancient Alesia, the centre of her cult. It was originally painted, Roman-style, with the body painted white, the hair red, with a green diadem and yellow grain.

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