Ἐπιφανεία of Arduinna

I’ve been silent for too long—at least as far as this blog goes—in part because I’ve been busy with election and other stuff, and in part because I have a rather longish election-themed post that I’m not sure is worth posting (see below for one bit of it). However, today I turn my attention to Arduinna, goddess of the Ardennes, and let me tell you why.

On this date in 1894, the minor planet known as 394 Arduina [sic] revealed herself to the eye of mortal astronomers. I like these anniversaries, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, because they provide useful dates not plucked out of the blue for commemorating a number of deities whose historical feast-days have not come down to us. I’ve therefore been observing this 19 November as the ἐπιφανεία of Arduinna.

Arduinna as Diana

An Early Modern drawing of Arduinna-as-Diana, based on an interpretation of CIL VI: 46 from Rome.

As far as I can work out, there are three main strands of historical information regarding Arduinna and her ancient cultus. The first is the epigraphic evidence, including the indisputable fact of an altar dedicated to ‘Ardbinna’ at Gey in what is today Kreis Düren in the German state of Nordrhein-Westfalen. This accords well with what we know from elsewhere, viz. that there are deities manifest in particular places who usually share a name with that place, and that many such places are forests, rivers, springs, mountains, and so on. The second strand of evidence is one or two bronze statuettes showing a female figure riding sidesaddle on the back of a boar. One of these is from the Ardenne region; the other I’m not sure about. The third strand is, perhaps, more tangentially related to the goddess Arduinna, namely the story (given by Gregory of Tours) that Walfroy the Stylite found the people in his part of the Ardennes (that on today’s Franco-Belgian border region near Margut) much devoted to the goddess Diana; that there was a large statue of her on the summit of the hill overlooking Margut; and that people would chant in her honour as they drank and revelled. Walfroy disapproved of all of this, and rounded up a gang of Christian fanatics to profane the sanctuary of Diana, pull down the statue (which they could do only with great difficulty using ropes and winches), and desecrate it by demolishing it with hammers. What Daesh is today, Christians like Walfroy were in the 6th century. But I digress.

Whether Diana of Margut was really one and the same with the goddess Arduinna worshipped at the other side of the Ardennes several centuries earlier may perhaps be doubted, and there is certainly nothing very remarkable about 6th-century Treveri worshipping Diana, given that we know they had been worshipping Diana under that name for some centuries. However, Arduinna will, like Diana, have been a woodland deity, probably one invoked by hunters, for the Ardenne is rich in game; considering Arduinna as akin to Diana is therefore not such a stretch. And at the same time, am I the only one reminded in this of Freya?

Freya by Grace Palmer

Freya by Grace Palmer: prayer card available from Gangleri’s Grove. Am I the only one who sees Arduinna in such a depiction as well?

Raise your glasses with me, therefore, and join me in chanting this litany:

Hail Arduinna! O come in joy to us.

Kind to those who seek refuge,
Hail Arduinna! O come in joy to us.

Delighting in the freedom of the wilds,
Hail Arduinna! O come in joy to us.

Bounteous goddess, kind to hunters,
Hail Arduinna! O come in joy to us.

Delighting in the company of nymphs,
Hail Arduinna! O come in joy to us.

Welcoming woodsmen into your plentiful glades,
Hail Arduinna! O come in joy to us.

Borne along by the dauntless, bristled boar,
Hail Arduinna! O come in joy to us.

Cavorting with the deer, the rabbit, and the squirrel,
Hail Arduinna! O come in joy to us.

Enthroned upon the lofty wooded hills,
Hail Arduinna! O come in joy to us.

In addition to which, I poured out a libation of wine for Arduinna earlier today in a local forest, before proceeding onward to a spot that I have found agreeable for worshipping Cernunnos as well. Pro tip: Consider worshipping liminal deities on the edge of a pond or other body of water at twilight as the wind ruffles the surface of the water.

Lest anybody be in any doubt, as a Bernie Sanders supporter, I was utterly sickened by the election as US president of a billionaire drowning in white, cisgendered, heterosexual male privilege and surrounded by a motley entourage of yes-men and neo-Nazis. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been praying daily to the divine Antoninus Pius to avert the awful calamity of a Trump election. I was therefore interested to see that other people have been ‘tipped off’ to a Trump win in divination and visions, because I got a flash of that myself the Saturday before the election. I was praying to the divine Pius, and I got this feeling from him, like, ‘Listen, I can’t help you.’ This was about a week after the Comey letter, when Hillary’s poll numbers had taken a real hit, and things were starting to look serious. So I said to myself, yes, he’s right, and went out to canvas for the rest of the afternoon. Not that this did much good; Hillary won Illinois by a commanding margin anyway—but all the same. Given how close all of these results were—and therefore how real the chance was of any Republican, no matter how unacceptable, winning the presidency (regardless of the popular vote, which is of course significantly in the Democrats’ favour)—I’d just like to echo a sentiment of Galina Krasskova the other day about how nearly we have missed Ted Cruz becoming president. This outcome is extremely bad—though just how bad may not be clear for some little while—but, at least from the standpoint of religious minorities in the US, it could have been even worse.

Let those who can, take comfort from that thought.


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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