Thursday, November 12, 2015

Nemetona, Goddess of the Sacred Groves

Nemetona is a Germanic-Celtic goddess of the forests and groves. In the ancient Celtic world deities were worshiped in the groves as these were considered to be their sacred places. Nature was where they did their worship and these natural areas were said to hold the spirit of the deity. Especially Nemetona as she is known as a goddess of the woods. She was venerated as a guardian of the trees and forests and any open-air place of natural worship.

Evidence of her worship has been found along the Rhine as well as in Bath, England. In Bath there was a shrine which was found erected in her honor which portrays her as a seated figure holding a scepter with a ram alongside her. Her name derives from the Celtic word nemeto which roughly translates to refer to a consecrated religious space. She was also worshiped by the Nemetes which was a Germanic tribe living along the Rhine who also revered many other gods. The places where Nemetona protected were viewed as sacred. And since the ancient Celts did not build temples, these sacred places were found in nature.  

She was also known to be revered by the Romans who associated her with the god Mars.
Nemetona was primarily worshiped in Gaul which is present day Germany and France. Although as discussed earlier her worship spread far and wide reaching Rome and England. She is not the only deity the Romans adopted as one of their own. Other Germanic-Celtic deities revered by the Romans were Epona and Brigantia. 

Although not much is known about Nemetona because the Celts passed down their stories orally, we do know that she was a goddess of healing. She was associated with the Hawthorn tree which was said to be sacred to her. She was also associated with the Oak and Ash trees and this particular trio was sacred to the Druids. When one enters the groves of Nemetona, a sense of peace and calm is said to come over you and the healing power of nature takes hold. Since these areas were seen as protected by Nemetona, you could consider yourself to be in a safe place when worshiping her. 

To honor the spirit of Nemetona one must venture to the natural places. Where trees grow wild and free. Where the quiet comes over you and all you hear are the birds and the sway of the tree branches in the wind. Where you feel the primal connection to nature. That is where you will find Nemetona.  

Image courtesy of Dark Tear on Deviant Art

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