New issue of Air n’Aithesc!

Research, Writing No Comments »

Air n'Aithesc vol 3 issue 1 The Imbolc 2016 issue of Air n’Aithesc is now available in ebook and print versions from MagCloud. In this issue, I have an article on how to succeed at your research projects and not get lost in the weeds.

I finally ordered print copies of the magazine. The quality is excellent for a print-on-demand work. The paper is good quality. Ink doesn’t smudge or smear. Images are crisp. It’s something special to see something you wrote in a printed copy, instead of an ebook.

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Rabbit hole example

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I’m working on an article on research methods. The current section discusses scope and discipline when doing research with the key point being to resist the rabbit holes. Don’t go off on that tangent! I wrote an example that had me snickering but was far too specific for the target audience. Here is my example.

For example, were any of the horses on Epona artifacts painted? One site equates Epona with Rhiannon, and since she had a gray horse then Epona must also have had a gray horse. Rhiannon also rode a horse, but she’s from a later time period and in Wales. There is a related link to the Welsh Mari Llywd traditions around Christmas as well as hobby horses. And they could all possibly related back to Epona, but it really isn’t answering the question of whether or not any of the equids depicted with Epona had been painted.

Map of religions, cults, and myths

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Simon Davies of the Human Odyssey FaceBook group created a poster showing the evolution of myths, religions, and cults. It’s an interesting read to peruse.

The Evolutionary Tree of Religion 2.0UK poster: http://bit.ly/ZAQR4x USA poster:…

Posted by Human Odyssey on Monday, September 29, 2014

New issue of Air n-Aithesc

Personal practice, Research, Writing No Comments »

Air n’Aithesc: Our Message has a new issue out! We have an excellent selection of essays, poetry, and reviews. Information on this issue from Facebook page for Air n-Aithesc lists three book reviews: The Names Upon The Harp: Irish Myths and Legends by Blackbird O’Connell; The Gaelic Finn Tradition by Maya St.Clair; and Celtic Chiefdom, Celtic State by Finnchuill.

And a quote from my article, Building a Personal Relationship with Deity:

Going before Her altar, I can sense Her presence behind me, around me, in me. Like the warmth of hands pressing on my shoulders: She is there with me both in Her temple and outside. She is the strength and anchor; the calm in the storm, the mare who guides the herd to safety.

To read more, please check out the second issue of Air n-Aithesc

http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/779616?__r=486121&s=w

 

New magazine Air n-Aithesc

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airnaithes-logo
Here is a happy announcement! The first issue of Air n-Aithesc(which means “Our Message”) went live on February 11th! Here’s the blurb from the journal’s web site explaining the purpose:

Air n-Aithesc: Our Message is a peer-reviewed magazine that hopes to offer well researched material for Celtic Reconstructionists and others who value the role of academics as much as they value the role of the spiritual in their practice.

The magazine’s main aim is to offer as many resources as possible, from research articles to in depth explorations of how personal experiences fit in with the sources,  book reviews, and much more.

airnathesc_frontcover

I was incredibly honored to be included a staff member and as a contributor for this issue. The other committee members and contributors are people I greatly respect. It is an honor to be amongst such fine company.

What’s in the first issue? Lots of goodies! Including an article on Epona by yours truly. It was an amazing experience to write it. (Processing the research will be another post, I think.)

Wander on over to HP MagCloud and take a sneak peek. Maybe buy a digital or hard copy and support a fine cause.

You can also follow the journal on Twitter and Facebook.

Quick review of “Lore of the Sacred Horse” by Marion Davies

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Marion Davies’ book Lore of the Sacred Horse lacks two key things: citations and citations. I reviewed material that I know well (specifically about Epona) and found that key facts were missing. For example, Davies states on page 23-34, that Epona “had a feast day in the Roman calendar, on the 18th December. Epona was the only Celtic deity to be so honoured by the Romans.”[3]

This first sentence is partially true. Epona did have a feast day attributed to December 18 but it wasn’t from *the* Roman calendar. The feast day was from a regional calendar inscription from Guidizzolo in Northern Italy (which would have been in Gallia Cisalpina).[1,2]  Because this is the only example of Epona being mentioned in a fasti, wouldn’t that indicate that this marks a local celebration (instead of being part of the larger religio Romana)?[4]

Unfortunately, this kind of incomplete information is prevalent through the book. Readers are asked to trust Davies’ information and are not provided any way of continuing their research through citations. I didn’t see other authors mentioned in the text either.

Assuming that the other sections of the book are written in the same way as the information about Epona, don’t trust this book as a source. That doesn’t mean there aren’t good tidbits. You can always learn something from a book, even if it is an example of how not to present research. It is obvious that Davies did research for this book. It’s just a shame that the author did not include any evidence of it.

References

  1. Boucher, Stéphanie (1984). L’inscription d’Entrains CIL XIII, 2903 et l’apparition du culte d’Epona en Gaule au I siècle de notre ère. Hommages à Lucien Lerat. W. H. Paris, Les Belles Lettres: 131-134.
  2. See the inscriptions page at Epona.net: http://epona.net/inscriptions.html
  3. Davis, Marion (1995). Lore of the Sacred Horse. Capall Bann Publishing. pp. 23-24, 36, 60-1, 70, 127.
  4. “Epona in the Fasti.” (2004) Forum discussion on Ancient Worlds between Nantonos Aedui and Moravius Horatius. http://www.ancientworlds.net/aw/Post/335807
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Epona article by Reinach available online

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When I’m doing heavy research, I use JSTOR, Library of Congress, and the Biblioteque Nationale de France (BNF). The BNF is a great resource. If you haven’t been to the library’s site, go visit.

Imagine my surprise (and great delight!) to discover that they have an electronic copy of Salomon Reinach’s Epona, La Deesse Gauloise des Chevaux. Not only is the whole book available online, you can embed a copy of if on your web site.

Preparing for Eponalia

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The more I have learned about Epona, the more my personal practices have shifted from being traditional Wiccan to being inspired and informed by historical traditions, from personal gnosis (i.e., listening to Her and following what feels right), and from my horses.  There are not a lot of specifics about how Epona was honored (see Epona.net for an excellent summary of what is and is not known). Her artifacts date from approximately 50 AD to 400 AD and are clustered in three regions, mostly in modern day France and Germany.

To learn about how She might have been honored, I read some of the ancient authors, studied Her artifacts, and read a lot of stuff (bibliography forthcoming). Some of the classical writers provide hints about how She was honored, or at least about what might been considered common knowledge. There are a few references from classical authors that provide hints about what might have been common knowledge about Epona. For example, Apuleius in The Metamorphosis (The Golden Ass) describes an altar to Epona in a barn adorned with fresh roses. Professor Greg Woolf, in Becoming Roman: the Origins of Provincial Civilization in Gaul, points out that the Romans allowed almost any deity to be honored so long as the worship was performed in a Roman manner.[1]

In a Roman manner. That was the key then for what I was looking for. Even though there are sites that talk about reconstructing Gallic religion and religious rites, that didn’t feel right. My daily rites are basic: every morning, I leave an offering of incense, some times food like carrots or apple cookies, and listen to Her. I try to keep flowers on the altar too, usually roses. When choosing what goes on the altar every morning, I listen to what feels right. Sometimes it’s carrots and other mornings it’s an apple. (Old offerings and flowers are then left in the woods behind my place.)

When I do something more involved, I may do rites in Latin or French (closest to a Gaulish language that I can speak).  It’s felt wonderful — “closer” is the best word to describe it. Sites like Cultus Deorum and Nova Roma have some excellent rites in both Latin and English that are easily adapted.

Every year my celebration for Eponalia changes. It depends upon what feels right at the time. Some years I go to the barn with the horses: honoring Her by spending time with Her sacred animals. Other years, I’ve spent the day making a sculpture (which is currently on my altar). I’ve made offering cakes like mola salsa from recipes online. (See this Nova Roma page for a list of rites and offerings that can be used — some interesting ideas.) I usually have a nice dinner in the evening.

What will I do this year? It depends upon what feels right. Whatever I do, my mares will be part of it.

[1] Woolf, G. (1998). Becoming Roman: the Origins of Provincial Civilization in Gaul. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. pp. 1-23.

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Information about Sulis

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A friend of mine is interested in learning more about Sulis, the Romano-British goddess associated with the Aquae Sulis at Bath, Somerset, England. I gathered some resources for her, which I’m including in this post.

When I start working with a deity, I try to understand the historical context of the people who honored a deity. When you work with a deity, you tap into the cultural context of all of those people who have honored the deity. I try to answer questions like these: Who were the people who originally honored her and what was their culture like? How was the deity depicted and what did the symbolism mean in the context of the original culture (as opposed to modern culture)? I did some searching and found some articles:
Miranda Green’s Gods of the Celts talks about goddesses associated with water and the sun. There is a lot of good info in there about the aspects of Sulis and how she relates to other deities.
Another book with information on Sulis and Bath is Roman Britain: A New History.
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