Saturday, December 20, 2014

Celtic Earth Mother Goddess, Matres

Celtic Earth Mother Goddess, Matres

In the Matres, primarily goddesses of fertility and plenty, we have one of the most popular and also primitive aspects of Celtic religion. They originated in an age when women cultivated the ground, and the Earth was a goddess whose cult was performed by priestesses. But in course of time new functions were bestowed on the Matres. Possibly river-goddesses and others are merely mothers whose functions have become specialised. The Matres are found as guardians of individuals, families, houses, of towns, a province, or a whole nation, as their epithets in inscriptions show. The Matres Domesticæ are household goddesses; the Matres Treveræ, or Gallaicæ, or Vediantæ, are the mothers of Trèves, of the Gallaecæ, of the Vediantii; the Matres Nemetiales are guardians of groves. Besides presiding over the fields as Matres Campestræ they brought prosperity to towns and people. They guarded women, especially in childbirth, as ex votos prove, and in this aspect they are akin to the Junones worshipped also in Gaul and Britain. The name thus became generic for most goddesses, but all alike were the lineal descendants of the primitive Earth-mother.