Nemetona

Tegos Branorunânon ( House of Raven Secret’s) Deuoi


Nemetona her name meaning She of the sacred grove.
She is a goddess of the Sacred Grove.
We have a reference to what supposedly a Nemeton would look like by Lucan, a Roman poet in his works, Pharsalia, iii. 399 – 425

No bird nested in the nemeton, nor did any animal lurk nearby; the leaves constantly shivered though no breeze stirred. Altars stood in its midst, and the images of the gods. Every tree was stained with sacrificial blood. The very earth groaned, dead yews revived; unconsumed trees were surrounded with flame, and huge serpents twined around the oaks. The people feared approaching the grove, and even the priest would not walk there at midday or midnight lest he should then meet its divine guardian.

Could the divine guardian be speaking of Nemetona? I personally believe so? Her name may be related to the Germanic tribe, the Nemetes, which were located along the Upper Rhine, and Nemetona could be their ancestral Goddess. Part of her role could have been as the protector of the sacred sites and the sacred site. Nemeton meaning sanctuary, temple, sacred wood. We have five inscriptions of Nemetona, four in Germany and one in Britain. 

The Inscriptions

Eisenberg, Germany (AE 2007, 1044)

[In h(onorem) d(omus)] d(ivinae) Marti Lou/[cetio et] Victoriae Neme/[tonae] M(arcus) A(urelius) Senillus Seve/[rus b(ene)f(iciarius) l]egati urnam cum / [sortib]us et phiala(m) ex / [vo]to posuit l(ibens) l(aetus) m(erito) / [Grat]o et Seleuco co(n)s(ulibus) / X Kal(endas) Maias

“In honor of the divine house, to Mars Loucetius and Victoria Nemetona, Marcus Aurelius Senillus Severus, a protégé of the general, set up an urn with its lots and serving-dish in free, cheerful, and well-deserved fulfillment of his vow on the tenth day before the Kalends of May in the consulship of Gratus and Seleucus.

This inscription points to the Warlike aspects of Nemetona because of either the epithet or conflation with the Roman Victoria. This has been the grounds for many to associate her with the Irish Nemhain (Goddess of Battle Frenzy). This is a very problematic idea because the Romans might not have understood Nemeton and just intertwined her with their Victoria, thus giving Nemetona new aspects.

Kleinwinternheim, Germany (Cil 13, 07253)

A (ulus) Didius Gallus / [F] abricius Veiento co (n) s (ul) / III XVvir sacris faciend (is) / sodalis Augustal (is) sod (alis) Flavial (is) / sod (alis) Titialis et Attica eius / Nemeton (ae) v (otum) s (olverunt) l (ibentes) m (erito)

We discovered weapons as votive offerings around the place this inscription was found. Leading some to yet again suggest a warlike role. 

Bath / Aquae Sulis Britain (CIL 07, 36)

Peregrinus / Secundi fil(ius) / civis Trever / Loucetio / Marti et / Nemetona(e) / v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito)

Peregrinus, son of Secundus, of the city of Trier, on Mars Leucetius and Nemetona gladly fulfilled his vow, having deserved it.

This appears to be a Treveran that traveled to the island and made a dedication to Loucetio and Nemetona. So this suggests that she was not native to the island but brought there.

Altripp Germany (CIL 13, 6131)

Marti et Nemetonae Silvini Iustus et Dubitatus v (otum) s (olvit) l (ibens) l (aetus) p (osuerunt)

To Mars and Nemetona, Silvinus Iustus and Dubitatus pos ero (this altar, and they gladly and joyfully fulfilled their vow.

Trier Germany (Finke 324)

Mart [i et] Nem [etonae]

To Mars and Nemetona, the epigraph comes from what is thought to be a temple’s remains. I cannot find any pictures on this one.

So with these inscriptions, we see Nemetona paired with Mar/Loucetius. Let us remember that the Roman Mars was not always about war but also agriculture and prosperity. Delemarre gives us these interpretations of Loucetius name Brilliant one and the Shining one, maybe connecting us to lightning and growth within the nemeton. This gives us a more celestial Deuoi, but I digress. We will talk about him in a later article. 

Because of the relationship to mars and a misunderstood idea of Nemetona from the Romans from what I stated above. We can see that these warlike functions for Nemetona seem rather outdated and lacking in any real reasoning besides maybe connecting her name to some Irish goddess Nemhain, which the etymology is very lacking in any true connection. So many folks have taken her to mean something different than what I feel she is. Folks make her out to be a war goddess or a peaceful goddess connecting her to fairies and all kinds of things based on nothing.

Personal Gnosis

Nemetona was one of the first Deuoi I connected to so she is very special to me. She has been helping me along with understanding the art of ritual and the sacred in Druidicos (Druidic Thought) and Galatîbessus ( Gaulish Customs).

We have found votive weapons around the areas that we have found some inscriptions of her. Nemetona is a goddess of boundaries for the Nemeton, protecting the sacred from any outside harm. As a warlike function can take place in a time that she would need to protect the Nemeton. What went on in the nemeton was the most sacred ritualistic rites and offerings, and these need to be protected. So I have a very animistic approach to this idea. The description above from Lucan about Nemetons I view as more factual than not. I can see why folks would make things look a certain way. To keep folks out, it is to protect that which is in. Giving folks energy that would really resonate with you, and that resonation is Nemetona. She holds the most sacred in one hand and the other hand the means to protect that.

Nemetona is the Deuoi of the altar, shrines, and sacred things goddess of asylum. Nemetona is the ritual. She is available inside the home, inside our hallowed forests and ceremonies, in every one of the spaces that we hold dear to our souls. She additionally exists within, enabling us to feel quiet, wherever we are. She is the Sacred and Protector of the Sacred. The Sacred to be inside one’s self or in the natural world. She is the Nemeton, a place of worship. 

I connect her to the ‘trance state’ of being and the ritual. She has a direct connection to the otherworlds. She is not a goddess of the Under or Upperworlds – she is liminal. She is the feeling you get when you are at peace in your sanctuary. She anchors your intention to create serenity and calmness to reach a higher state of being.

The Symbolism For Nemetona is the Nemeton

I invoke Nemetona during every ritual. Offerings I give are usually plants, Special incense, weapons. One can also work at keeping your Nemeton and sacred places and things clean. Donate your time picking up trash whenever possible.

So Nemetona is the Scared and the protector of the Sacred.

Invocation

I invoke Nemetona

Lady of the borders

Separator of the sacred from the profane

Our great guardian of the Nemeton

Holder of the sacred rites and giver of the divine connection

Offering

I ask for you to help to define this as sacred
or
May I enter your Nemeton

Cheers to you

Thanks to you

I praise you Nemetona

I go in peace


References
Anne Ross – Pagan Celtic Britain
Miranda Green – Celtic Myths and Legends
Miranda Green – Celtic Goddesses
Epigraphic Database Heidelberg

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