Happy Eponalia!

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Happy Eponalia, to anyone and everyone who honors Epona’s feast day.

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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Hoof to the rump

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Some times things happen happen and you wonder if it is another Message from deity to get your attention. I have been trying to listen more and be more attentive at my altar. It’s not always easy to stop everything and listen. It’s easier to leave an offering of incense or carrots, say a thank you, and then continue into the day.

I try to be good but some times there has been a stack of issues that make it easier to not have to deal with them. It’s like looking at mirror and ignoring the reflection. In the past year, I’ve lost three family members who were major influences in my life. My horse-crazy Aunt, who understood all of my calls about horse tales and cat stories. When my aunt passed, my sister and I tried to get hold of our father’s brother, only to find out that he had died shortly after our aunt.

Six months later, my entire world shattered when my horse died. She had had many medical issues, but she was a huge part of my life for 18 years. A friend of mine commented that for me, losing my mare was the equivalent of losing a child. She meant the world to me and left a huge void by her absence. My younger mare has not filled that void, but instead has shifted the universe to her realm.

I miss my girl with all my heart. She is with my deity now: I felt her go. I have felt my mare’s presence with Her. It’s almost a year now since I lost my girl. With a loss like this, it’s something you process in in chunks. It comes back and comes up in places you don’t expect it. (More on that in another post.)

When my 6 year old and 27 year old mares both ended up with injuries today, I took it as a definite message. Focus. Listen. My old girl had an abscess that was lanced today and the youngster cut open her shoulder. Neither one is serious, but it’s a wake up call.