Note: So It’s been a while since I’ve written anything more in this vein and after many days of thinking on what to write I thought maybe I should give a more personal understanding of the Gods I worship. This is the first of many that I want to write about and my position on this is a mix of research with experience and consideration. Consideration I think can be a good tool along with research and tradition for expanding ones view of a God allowing one to flesh out the skeletons built by research and academia and as a bridge between established modern traditions and individual experiences.
Mother Goddesses within the Romanized Gallo-Germanic classical and late antiquity world were celebrated and honored greatly and vastly. A few named possibly but most unnamed and associated with area, tribe, or people. Nehalennia. Erecura. Rosmerta. There is a Goddess in Tacitus’ writings on the Roman Frontier that he calls Isis of the Suebi as well. My personal view is that these Goddesses are their own individuals but possibly sharing a common thread of divine women and thus, in my mind, sharing a numinous power. This to me, allows one to syncretize associations or powers of the these Goddesses while building up a devotional practice to an individual.
Nehalennia is a goddess I worship semi regularly. Inscriptions and a temple dedicated to her are found on the Zeeland coast in the Netherlands. Her name possibly meaning “She who is at sea.” She is depicted as a woman with marine imagery, a large dog, and a basket of bread or apples. From this we might be able to consider her realm of dominion. A sea faring Goddess what would protect travelers, like merchants or sailors, which with the basket overflowing with food would also lead me to see her as an Abundance Goddess. The dog is an interesting image to decipher. Dogs in the classical world were symbols of protection and the underworld, Cerberus as an example. However because we have no explicit evidence we may conjecture and consider what this could be.
Erecura is a Goddess found more inland who shares some iconography with Nehalennia. A woman elevated and seated holding a basket of apples. Interestingly she is associated with Proserpina and Hecate, both underworld Goddesses. Hecate is often depicted with a dog or described with terms relating to dogs thus tying back to Nehelennia. Not to say Nehalennia IS Hecate but that Nehelennia is Hecate-ish. Hecate is also interestingly associated or assumed to be Isis. Isis herself being view by the Greeks and Latins in a much different light than in the Egyptian homeland and compared to Fortuna. Knowing this and that there is a Goddess identified beyond the Roman Frontier with Isis has lead me to think there is a connection with Nehalennia and Isis of the Suebi thus a connection to Isis as seen by the Greeks/Latins. Putting this altogether helps to give us a much deeper image of who Nehalennia might be.
She is the Sea Faring One, guiding merchants and sailors, guiding ships to safety. A deeper level we might see the Lady that guides the fates of men granting good fortune and help through storms of life. She is the Lady of the Deep, guiding the souls of men to the underworld on her ship. She Is the Abundant One or Fortunate One, granting fertility and abundance in trade, fishing, even agriculturally. She blesses men with wealth and security. She is of the Black Dog, keeper of boundaries, physically, spiritually, and between life and death.
With consideration and contemplation we might see the depths of divinity. In the manner of the Platonists, gods in gods, Nehelannia is Hecatian, Isiac, Proserpinian.
References – Though this was meant to be more my own thoughts I believe some references are important.
– http://Theoi.com as a great reference to Greek Gods and myths along with their Latin counterparts.
– Selgowiros is a Belgic Gaulish Polytheist who has done a lot of work!
– The always handy Wikipedia