In search of Caiua Dea

Considering humanity as a whole, I’m willing to wager that the majority of my species does not spend nearly as much time as I do sifting through ancient Latin inscriptions—or devouring with the same particular glee those inscriptions bearing upon the religious life of the Treveri.

In case I haven’t mentioned them before, the Treveri are the Gaulish tribe inhabiting the area around Luxembourg, Trier, Coblenz and Arlon in Antiquity. The family of one of my grandfathers hailed from this area (actually from a tiny little burg named Binsfeld), so I’ve adopted the Treveri as my especial home base in Gaul (or vice versa). It doesn’t hurt that half of the people you see in that area look like they could plausibly be my cousins, and that the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg—with its Germanic background and French-speaking cosmopolitanism—felt immediately like home to me from the moment I first ventured there.

So anyway, since not everybody spends their Saturday nights poring over religious inscriptions from the Treveran region (apparently), I shall not assume it to have been common knowledge that on the 5th of October—ante diem III Nonas Octobres, in technical lingo—an altar was dedicated in ancient times to the goddess Caiua in Gerolstein-Pelm. By “ancient times”, I here mean the year of Glabrio and Torquatus, or 194 CE. The dedication of the altar was a strictly private initiative, undertaken by a certain M. Victorius Pollentinus, but it does give us a convenient anniversary on which to celebrate the cult of this goddess, should we wish.

And who, you may wonder, is this Caiua? Yes, indeed—a fair question. The first thing you might wonder, if you’re conversant with Latin, is whether that’s really the right spelling. It is, and we know that because another (fragmentary) inscription from Büdesheim confirms the spelling, as it is dedicated to [D]EE CAIV, or “the goddess Caiu(a)”. (Actually, the Büdesheim inscription was discovered first, and until the Gerolstein inscription came to light, the attitude was, “Hmm, this name is difficult; no doubt it was a barbarous misspelling or abbreviation, and we’ll be able to correct it later.”) However, given the Latin letters CAIVA, we might actually have Cajua or Caiva; and given the uncertainty of vowel length, we might multiply the possibilities to Cájua, Cajua, Caiva, Caíva, Cajúa, or Cájúa, with possibly other variations on the theme. Personally, I tend to think the i was a consonant (thus equivalent to j), which would explain why this wasn’t written as *Caeva.

Well and good—but who is this Caiua? Well, according to a site on the interwebs that sounds plausible, she may have been enough of a mother-goddess type for folk memory to conserve the recollection of her as de Jodd, or the ‘godmother’—whence the local name Joddekirchhof for her sanctuary in Gerolstein-Pelm, incorrectly Prussianized as Judenkirchhof. Many terracotta votive figurines, according to the same site, have been found from the site: these depict a mother goddess with the high wide bonnet typical of the Rhineland region.

Turning from research to UPG, I introduced myself to Caiua Dea this past October 5th. My intuition of her response—and I get nothing more specific in the way of a ‘god phone’ than distinct qualitative impressions or intuitions—was something like, “What, who me? Who is this calling?” Not in an unfriendly way, mind you. As I say, I introduced myself and said I would like to get to know her better in future, if that were agreeable. I have some suspicion that Caiua may have about as much reserve about getting to know new people as I do, so I left things at that. I have a further suspicion that she may particularly delight in that great warmth and affection that reserved people can feel, and express, for those whom they’ve admitted into their confidence.

If anybody has any acquaintance with Caiua, I’d be delighted to hear about it! If not, perhaps you’d find with her a relationship worth cultivating?

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About DeoMercurio

I’m a Gaulish polytheist, now back living in lands ceded by the Council of Three Fires after several years’ sojourn in Anatolia and in the land of the Senecas, with frequent travels to Gaul along the way. My grandfather’s family came from the area around Trier, and I identify closely with the Treveri in my religious practice.
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