In Gallo-Roman and Celtic religious circles, Epona served as a goddess of fertility , often depicted with cornucopia, ears of grain, and foals. She was also the protector of donkeys, mules and horses. Interestingly, the worship of Epona differed from other deities, as the people mostly looked towards gods and goddesses belonging to specific localities. However, Epona was seen as the ‘sole Celtic divinity ultimately worshipped in Rome itself.’ Epona was important throughout the Roman Empire between the 1st and 3rd centuries CE.
Epona the Protector
Epona was a goddess that stood for fertility, rebirth and abundance. The Celtics first worshipped the horse goddess, but the Romans quickly accepted her into their beliefs. The ancient Romans saw her more as a symbol to protect their cavalry. With nurturing qualities, she took on the role of caregiver and was often called upon to protect families, children and women nearing childbirth.
Traditionally, Epona was a horse goddess, but this was not the only hat she wore. The deity was recognized as a goddess of dreams , both the kind that take place at night and the ones centered on hope and ambition. Epona was thought to help people turn their dreams into reality, and was seen as a protector who assisted people in finding a new path in life. It was not uncommon to say a prayer to Epona when battling sleepless nights.
Other associations regarding Epona include:
Ã‚Â· Positive blessings and prosperity
Ã‚Â· Assists during times of darkness
Ã‚Â· Gives strength during periods of grief or loss
Symbols of Epona
Horses, especially mares and foals, were sacred animals to Epona. She was also associated with dogs and birds. When she was depicted in art, she was often surrounded by horses or objects relating to a horse. Roses were important to the deity and the flower, its buds, and garlands were often used to symbolize the goddess. When the people wished to offer fruit in honor of Epona, they would choose an apple. Many times, a basket of fruits were thought to make one of the best offerings. It was also common to offer rose petals, rose incense, and sandalwood incense to the goddess. When burning a candle in honor of Epona, choose the color white. When the Romans celebrated the goddess, they would gather on December 18.
Historians have uncovered sculptures made in honor of Epona. She is seen riding, standing or seated before a horse. Sometimes, she is standing or seated between two horses. It is not uncommon to see Epona in the role of horse tamer. A male and foal are often pictured with the goddess.