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Arduinna, Gaulish Goddess of Forests

Arduinna, Gaulish Goddess of Forests and Hunting is one of the many Celtic Goddesses who is associated with a particular region or body of water. She was worshipped in the heavily forested regions of the Ardennes, located in what is current day Belgium and Luxembourg with small portions found in France and Germany. She was also associated with the Forest of Arden in England. Her name has its roots in the Gaulish  word “arduo” meaning “height”.  

Arduinna’s stories have not survived into modern day. We only know for sure that she both hunted the forests of Ardennes and protected its flora and fauna.   

She is associated with the forest, the boar, and the spear. Some scholars assert that she is also associated with the moon. Many ancient cultures connect the boar with strength and courage. Arduinna’s favorite beast was the boar, which she road whenever she hunted, making her own strength and courage clear to all. Plus it is important to note that throughout Gaul the wild boar was abundant and a vital food source for the population. Arduinna’s association with the boar thus shows her importance as a protective and nurturing goddess. 

The only surviving image of her is a small sculpture of a woman riding a boar. This statue has lost its head and some scholars dispute the belief that it is a representation of Arduinna.  

We are left with only assumptions about Arduinna’s original function and stories. It is assumed that she is the Gaulish equivalent of the Irish Flidais, a complex Celtic Goddess called Lady of the Forest by modern Celtic pagans. Once Roman influence began on the continent Arduinna became associated with Diana, Roman Goddess of the Hunt and Forest. 

Arduinna as a Woodland Goddess represents our wild nature. With no tame, domesticated castle or demesne to call her own, she ran free in the forests of the Ardennes. She is the untamed spirit in us all, never tied down by the commitments of love or motherhood. But being Celtic, she was not chaste like Artemis, the Greek Goddess of the Forest. As a free spirit, she would have enjoyed amorous liaisons when and where she chose.

The natural world is her domain which she protects with the ferociousness of a mother bear protecting her cubs. Woe to the human who causes harm to the forest or over hunts the animals. Then she steps in with her justice and extracts a hefty fine. Here we see her in her fierce aspect, standing strong and tall as she protects her domain. 

Many sacred woods throughout Northern Europe were named after goddesses. This association protected sacred trees all over the continent. Punishment was expected by divine intervention. Anyone who cut them down could be struck with palsy or other ailments.  

Such a sanctuary existed at Margut, dedicated to Arduinna. Her following was so large that in the 6th century Saint Walfroy attempted to eradicate her cult by installing himself atop a pillar he had installed close by. He vowed that he would live on only bread and water and would not descend until Arduinna was abandoned by her followers. 

Her nature also manifests in a gentle way. It’s more than likely that like Flidais and Artemis, Arduinna functioned as a healing goddess, protecting and healing the fauna, human and otherwise, living in her region. In this aspect one can image her tending a wounded man, a sick child, a dying elder as dappled light filters through the trees of her forest, bathing her in a soft glow. 

Arduinna calls you to a full expression of your untamed spirit. Through her you can claim your right to your “wildness.” She is by your side when the need to protect yourself and your own arises. She helps you access your own strength and courage. Call on Arduinna when you need a healing touch or you are giving a healing to others.  May Arduinna’s power to protect, heal and run free be with you.

My deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle Cards is ready for publication. You can pre-order a deck on my Indiegogo campaign. Click here

 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Judith Shaw
    Judith Shaw says #
    I also find it interesting how there is so much crossover of associations between the goddesses. The boar must have been importan
  • Thesseli
    Thesseli says #
    The boar iconography makes me think of Freya.

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs


This review was first published in the April 2017 issue of SageWoman Magazine (issue #91)

The newly re-released Barbara Walker Tarot is rich with dedicated, attentive symbolism. A very no-nonsense deck, the suite cards as well as the court cards are b2ap3_thumbnail_April-2017-046.JPGillustrated with multilayered and complex images. This deck is an intense one. The images are bold and striking, even stark and harsh in presentation. They clearly draw inspiration from classic medieval images and styles, though blend many myths and themes within that artistic style. If you want an inspiring, comforting, and pretty deck, this deck will not be the one for you. Many of the cards are ominous in presentation and vaguely (or directly) threatening in imagery and theme.

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The Gemini Moon is here to ask us to find a way to meld wisdom and understanding. The Sun is in philosophical, wisdom seeking Sagittarius, while the Moon is in curious, communicative Gemini.

What wisdom are you seeking? What understanding do you need to gain from it? And how can you take this new wisdom and understanding out to the world? What are you being called to share?

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Using Animal Oracle Cards to Discover Your Animals

A popular method for finding your Animals of the Heart is with animal oracle cards. While there are many fine decks, they are all limited in both the types and number of animals that they feature. Moreover, most decks are mammal-centric. Birds are usually represented by “Crow (or Raven),” “Eagle,” “Hawk,” “Hummingbird,” and “Owl.” Reptiles are limited to “Lizard,” “Snake,” and “Turtle.” Insects (and related others) are “Bee,” “Dragonfly,” and “Spider.”

Therefore, I would recommend a world-oriented deck since they will feature a wider range of animals. The methods that I suggest can work with most decks. Many popular decks tend to be North American specific, with a sprinkling of world animals. There are special themed decks which focus on Australian animals, birds, pets and other related topics. If you feel strongly about a certain grouping, then use those specialty decks.

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“The word ‘rune’ originates in words meaning ‘secret,’ but ‘rune’ has also come to mean ‘a poem, charm, or spell.’ Runar (from the Norse) means ‘a magical sign,’ and runa (from Old German) is ‘to whisper a secret.’ ‘Hidden,’ ‘magic,’ ‘whispers,’ all words long associated with Faery, the secret country. So when we talk of runes, we are speaking of objects that have multiple meanings, letters both worldly and otherworldly in origin and aspect. Their ‘secrets’ may not reside so much in hidden meanings, but in ways of seeing the world. In this sense, each single rune creates layers of phonetics, poetry, and power built up over time. Runes are intended to endure. They record things that must be remembered or heeded. Runes are letters and words that must not be lost or wasted. They embody and express essential knowledge…”

–Brian Froud, Runes of Elfland

Several years ago I had laryngitis and was completely mute. I woke up in the morning with a crystal clear vision of the earth, suspended in space, feeling awe-struck at the majesty and complexity of this planet whirling through space, part of the vast, unfathomable universe. It seemed so clear to me that I was seeing the “invisible net of incarnation” of which we are all a part, the earth held in this enormous web of the universe. Upon rising for the day, I was thinking about my ideas about divinity and reflecting on my cosmological view of the universe as the “body” of the Goddess and the idea that the very web of life itself is the Goddess. Accompanying the sense of majesty was then a profound sense of impersonality. How can I possibly connect personally with something so vast and so powerful? So, as I sat that morning at my little corner altar in the living room, I asked (silently—I had laryngitis, remember!): “what do I need to know about the personalization of the divine?” I drew a Crone Stone from my little bag by the altar…

Remember the laryngitis and then also imagine the huge smile on my face when the stone I drew was, “The Speaker,” with the questions included in the interpretation, “is your voice being heard?” and “how will you share your voice with the world?” And then the final message, “let your voice pour forth like a flowing river…” At this moment I felt I had received an answer to my wonderings—that the Goddess is both as enormous and impersonal as my vision of the web holding the earth and yet also personal enough to offer me this cosmic “wink” through my Crone Stone.

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Gather your soul at the hearthfire of winter

Hold the embers of last year’s dreams

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The wheel turns. Our youngest son turned one yesterday. His pregnancy and birth was so closely aligned with the wheel of the year and my pregnancy with him was an incredibly generative time for our business (I wrote and published the Womanrunes book as well as sculpted more than twenty of our sculpture and pendant designs while pregnant with him). I can hardly believe he is one now! Instead of leaping right into my to-do list when he was napping, I sat with my cards and my Divination Practicum workbook. I’m really enjoying the many ways the course I am currently teaching dovetails with the prompts in the 30 Days of Hecate course I am currently taking. Yesterday's assignment was to do a tarot reading using Joanna’s “Elder of Fire” layout. I did it with the Gaian Tarot combined with Womanrunes. I  felt like doing this layout was exactly what I needed. I’ve been feeling scattered, drained, touched out, and stressed lately. My kids are all sick and we’ve been what feels like nonstop busy and I’ve been craving down time, solitude, and space to think. My list is a mile long, but I made space for this work first instead of saving it for the oft-elusive “later.” This Elder of Fire layout feels like a really, really powerful layout to do at this time of year and I encourage you to try it yourself this weekend! I was also very interested to see that the rune of the day for me was The Cauldron and then The Cauldron was also the first card for my Elder spread. That is very Hecate-riffic.

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