The Deities of Three Cranes
Three Cranes Grove, ADF, generally works in a Gaulish pantheon. At least two feasts per year are done in this tradition, though other hearth cultures may be recognized throughout the year. Some years, we have celebrated the Roman festival of Saturnalia at Yule, while Spring Equinox has generally been the Norse ritual of Ostara.
While it is unlikely that we will ever manage to get a full list of deities worshipped in this Grove online, we can list a few (descriptions and a more complete list are under construction).
Belenos, Bright Belenos
"Belenos, later known as Beli Mawr (the Great), was the Celtic God of the Sun, representing the curative powers of the Sun’s heat. His festival of Beltane, when bonfires were lit to welcome in the Summer and encourage the Sun’s warmth, was held on May 1st, and is remembered in today's May Day festivities. His symbols were the horse (as shown, for example, by the clay horse figurine offerings at Belenos’ Sainte-Sabine shrine in Burgundy), and also the Wheel (as illustrated on the famous Gundestrup Cauldron)." From: Britannia.com
I see Belenos as the God of summer and blue skys. The God of afternoon thunderstorms and evenings filled with fireflies. I see Belonos as the God of clear starry nights where you can look up and see the universe dancing before your eyes.
Also known as Brigid, Brighid, Brigantia, Brigit and Bride. The daughter of the Dagda, Brigid is a tripleformed Celtic Hearth-Culture Goddess. She is mother to Ruadán. The first keening heard in Ireland was when she mourned after he was killed at the Second Battle of Moytura. She can appear in many guises including the Maiden, the Sister, the Mother, the Foster Mother and the Crone/Calliech/Hag. She contains aspects of fire, well and oak tree goddesses. She is patroness of healers, seers, hearth fires, poetry, smithcraft and forge fires among many other things.
Her feast day is February 1st, and she figures prominently in the Three Cranes Grove liturgy for the Holy day of Imolg. It is thought that our current traditions of Groundhogs Day stem from traditions surrounding Brigid's weather seership.
Sacred Fires were kept burning perpetually by her priestesses throughout history and this tradition has been "re-ignited" in the present times. Three members of our Grove are Oath sworn Flame Keepers in this tradition. The flame we use and "keep" has been obtained through pilgrimage to Kildare, Ireland. Kildare means literally the "church of the oak." In ancient days it was the location of a fire temple maintained by 19 priestesses. Later it became the site of a convent of nuns of the Celtic Christian church. Sisters of the Brigidine Order maintain the perpetual flame there today. Brigid unites many traditions, Groves, orders and religions.
Her message to us has been one of peace and cooperative work towards justice. Her message is of healing of the planet, inspiring us through Awen and forging a new and better way forward.
Esus is the god whose myth forms the basis for the name of Three Cranes Grove, ADF. He is depicted on an pillar found at Notre Dame in Paris as a woodcutter, pruning a willow tree. Next to him on the pillar is a relief entitled Tarvos Trigaranus, "the bull with the three cranes."
In a related relief found at Treier, he is shown pruning this same tree. This time, however, the three cranes and the bull's head are high in the tree's branches.
It seems that Esus' myth is deeply involved in an act of world-creation or world-maintenance that can best be described as committing sacrifice and upholding the world through his actions. By maintaining the right action of sacrifice and clearing the dead wood from the tree, he is maintaining the world for us all.
Teutates is not a name, but a title. The title itself means "god of the
tribe" or "god of the people." Each Autumnal Equinox, the
Grove calls on Teutates as our patron. This god may appear differently to every
Grove member: to some, he is a specific god or goddess of their experience with
the Grove; to others, he is a noble crane standing in the waters at the edge of
the land. In all cases, though, he is the deity who watches over the Grove, who
keeps us safe and guides us, building the future with a strong foundation.
The only Gaulish deity to make it to the Roman pantheon, Epona sits between the two cultures, separate from neither; however, one cannot understand Epona without understanding the horses that flock to her side. These spirited beasts gallop through myth, childhood stories, and often the wishes and dreams of anyone who finds themselves drawn to Epona. For ages, horse represented sovereignty with the land, and before the age modern machinery, they helped us care for and tend to it. From plowing the earth, to riding fence-lines, herding cattle, and carrying us into battle; the horse was for many centuries, man's most useful friend and ally. Epona represents, in turn, many things. She is sometimes seen as a war-goddess, but more often seen representing fertility and sovereignty. Several references have been made to her in ancient literature; in Satires by Juvenal, The Golden Ass by Apuleius, The Octavius by Minucius Felix, The Apotheosis by Prudentius, and Expositio Sermonum Antiquorum by Fulgentius. These references heavily note her place in the stables, and in the later two, indicate that Epona isn't "heaven or star bound", so to speak. In Expositio Sermonum Antiquorum, Fulgentius mentions her by defining the "Semones":
They wished those gods to be called Semones whom they considered unworthy of heaven on account of the meagreness of their deserts, such as Priapus, Epona and Vertumnus, yet they were unwilling to class them as earth-bound gods because of their veneration of favour
To me these references, as well as the multiple shrines found in stables throughout Europe, only strengthen her ties to her noble companions. In today's day and age there is little room for plow horses or war stallions, yet their ability to help us work with ourselves is undeniable. To them there is only the "now". Information about the past or future is not important, because only the "now" can be dealt with.
If you find yourself drawn to Epona you may soon see that she will be willing to take a journey with you, and sometimes carry you if need through trials in your life. Expect her help in finding peace with the present.
The following are the Twelve handmaidens of Frigga.
Hel(a) is the Norse goddess of the Underworld. She is the daughter of Loki and the Jotun, Angrboða. To use references from both the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, in chapter 34 of the book Gylfaginning, Hel is listed by High as one of the three children of Loki. The story goes that once the gods found that these three children are being brought up in the land of Jötunheimr, and that the gods "traced prophecies that from these siblings great mischief and disaster would arise for them" then a lot of trouble was expected from the three children, partially due to the nature of the mother of the children, yet worse so due to the nature of their father.
Oðin, in Norse lore, is known by many names. Hundreds actually. Some of these are All-father, One-eyed One and Wanderer. He is the leader of the Aesir and resides primarily in Asgard. His mate is Frigga though he has had several other beings as lovers. His sons are Thor, Vali, Hodr and Baldr.
There are many stories of the deeds of Oðin, and the various things he did for wisdom and knowledge. He sacrificed his eye at Mimir's spring in order to gain the Wisdom of Ages. He hung from the World Tree, Yggdrasil, for 9 days and 9 nights sacrificing himself to himself for the secrets of the Runes. He used cunning to sleep with a Jotun's daughter that he might acquire the mead of inspiration, made by the dwarfs, and bring it to the Gods/esses. He does at times give to worthy poets the mead of inspiration from the vessel Ã“Ã°-rœrir. He is a God of Death, of Battle, of Inspiration, of Poetry, of Wisdom and of Magic.
Oðin is associated with the concept of the Wild Hunt, a mighty host that races across the land, leading a host of slain warriors occurring from Mid-October until the Spring Equinox. Oðin is often seen welcoming the dead warriors who have died in battle into his hall, Valhalla, which means the hall of the slain. The fallen, the Einherjar, are assembled and entertained by Oðin in order that they in return might fight for, and support, the gods in the final battle of the end of Earth, Ragnarok, also known as the "Twilight of the Gods." They are assembled by the Valkyries, who are Oðin's battle maidens, that went out to the fields of war to select and collect the worthy men who died in battle to come and sit at Oðin's table. Oðin would at times appear on the battle-field, sitting upon his eight-legged horse Sleipnir, with his two ravens, one on each shoulder, Hugin (Thought) and Munin (Memory), and two wolves (Geri and Freki) on each side of him.
Oðin has also been associated with trickery, cunning, and deception. Most sagas have tales of Oðin using his cunning to overcome adversaries and achieve his goals. He is a deity that can bring great bounty and rescind it just as quickly. Many find him moody and difficult to deal with. He can appear in many forms and take on many guises to do what he feels is necessary. There are many images of Oðin, and the lore is filled with stories and references to him. Primarily
The Prose Edda and The Poetic Edda (also known as The Elder
Edda). His symbols are ravens, the Valknut and the Rune Ansuz though references have been made that Othala can be linked to him as well.
Thor is the Norse God of thunder, the red-bearded son of Oðin and the giantess, Jord (the Earth). Thor is often thought of as a large muscle bound God that swings his hammer, Mjollnir, first and asks questions second. He is a popular God among the neo-heathen community. Thor is often called upon as the protector of the Gods and humans alike. He is the husband of Sif. Thor also has as mistress the giantess, Jarnsaxa. He has two sons Magni and Modi (Angry and Strong) and a daughter, Thrud (Strength). Thor also has a step son Ullr.
At Ragnarok, Thor will die in battle with the Midgard Serpent (Jormungand). Many of the stories of Thor talk about his exploits and show him to be quick to anger. Thor also is shown in his chariot drawn by his goats. (Tanngrisnir, one who has sparse teeth, and Tanngnjóstr, one who grinds his teeth) It is said that when you hear thunder it is Thor riding across the sky.
Images and jewelry of Mjollnir and of the Irminsul have become symbols of faith for many modern Asatru. Thursday is named after Thor.
Vidar is the son of Odin and the Jotun, Gríðr. He is known as the Silent As (pronounced –az-). Upon Odin learning of his demise at the jaws of Fenris Wolf, he immediately went to Gríðr and begot Vidar upon her. This was specifically done so that Vidar would avenge him. For this reason he is often called upon as a god of vengeance.
He lives in the woods outside of Asgard.
Stanza 17 of Grímnismál description of Vidar's Hall:
Brushwood grows and high grass
He is referred to as a deity of hunting, a god of the woods, vengeance seeker and counselor. Odin seeks his counsel regularly yet Vidar is not known to speak to anyone, thus his nomer for silence. Another custom associated to him is that he will wear a leather shoe that he will use to rip Fenris' jaws apart at Ragnarok. Often, cobblers would offer the scraps of the shoes and boots they made in order for him to create his shoe.
At the end of The Seer's Prophesy it is revealed that Vidar and his brother Vali will survive Ragnarok and live within the halls of Asgard after the death of the gods.
Kennings associated with Vidar: "possessor of the iron shoe", "enemy and slayer of Fenrisulf", "the gods' avenging As", "father's homestead-inhabiting As", "son of Odin", and "brother of the Æsir"
The story of Saturn is older than Rome itself. Saturn reigned during the Golden Age of Latium, when all people were equal—there was no class distinction and there were no slaves.
Everyone prospered and no one—even kings—set themselves above others. It was a time when the villages of Latium welcomed among them all who wanted to make their homes and share in the communities' toil and bounty.
Tradition has it that Saturn, known as Kronos, King of Gods in Greece, was given an oracle that he would be defeated by his own son: In fear, the god devoured his offspring as fast as they were born, and he kept them sunk in his bowels.
Many a time did Saturn's wife, Rhea, grumble, to be so often big with child, yet never to be a mother; she repined at her own fruitfulness. And so when Jove was born she concealed a stone in a garment, which, Saturn, thinking it was the babe, swallowed. So had fate decreed that the sire should be beguiled.
The fate of Saturn's children is a story best told another day. Suffice it to say that the oracle was true, and defeated, Saturn fled Greece, driven from the celestial realm by his son, Jupiter, who, along with his siblings, reigned in their father's place. And so to Latium during the reign of Ianus "in a ship came the sickle-bearing god to the Tuscan river after wandering over the world." (Fasti) Just as Latium opened its arms wide to refugees of all kinds, Saturn was welcomed in Italy.
When Saturn arrived by ship, Ianus received him as a guest. He learned from Saturn the art of husbandry, thereby improving his people's lives, whose methods of farming before then had been brutish and rude. Saturn is credited with the invention of the art of grafting, with the cultivation of fruit trees, and with instructing men in everything that belongs to the fertilizing of the fields.
Ianus and Saturn reigned together in harmony for many a year and built two neighboring towns, which some say were on two of the Seven Hills of Rome. Their reign is said to have been a time of great happiness, both on account of the universal plenty that then prevailed and because as yet there was no division into bond and free. It was during their reign that Saturn suddenly disappeared, and Ianus then devised means to add to his honors. First he gave the name Saturnia to the land ruled by Saturn. He then built an altar, instituting rites as to a god and calling these rites the Saturnalia –a fact which goes to show how very much older the festival is than the city of Rome. It was because Saturn had improved the conditions of life that, by order of Ianus, religious honors have been paid to him since before the birth of Rome itself. A pious posterity inscribed a ship on coinage to commemorate the coming of the stranger god to Rome, the other side depicting the two-faced Ianus.
The statue of Saturn was filled with oil and was bound with woolen bonds, which were untied for the feast day of Saturnalia. Those who have associated Saturn with sowing have attributed this unbinding as symbolic of the seed bursting forth in the tenth month (both with respect to the calendar—December being the tenth month—and to pregnancy).
Athena was one of the twelve great Olympian gods. Athena, or Athene, is the virginal Goddess of wisdom, battle and crafts who sprung fully grown and armed from the head of Zeus. Presumably, her mother is Metis, Wisest among the Gods, and as such Athene is believed to be the harmonious blend of power and wisdom. Viewed as the protectress and preserver of the state and social institutions, everything that gives the state its strength and prosperity are said to be in her immediate care, including everything from agriculture, inventions and industry, to fortresses, harbors and walls.
Among the things sacred to her were the owl, serpent, cock, and olive-tree. She has shown great skill, wisdom and practicality in many contests. She created the olive tree in her contest with Poseidon for dominion of Athens. She defeated Arachne in a weaving contest, after which she turned the grief-stricken Goddess into a spider. She has also shown great strength in battle and can be merciless in dealing justice. In the War of the Giants, Athene threw Sicily at Enkelados. In the Trojan war she sided with the Greeks in battle, but attacked their ships with a storm when they did not punish Oilean Ajax for violating her Trojan Shrine. She also blinded Teiresias for viewing her naked in the bath. She has a reputation for helping mortals undertake quests such as Perseus in his quest to slay the Gorgon, the Argonauts in their quest for the Golden Fleece, and Herakles with his twelve labors.
Athena was worshipped in all parts of Greece, and from the ancient towns on the lake Copais her worship was introduced at a very early period into Attica, where she became the great national divinity of the city and the country. At Corone in Messenia her statue bore a crow in its hand.
Eos, rosy-fingered Goddess of the dawn, robed in gold, is the sister of Helios (Sun) and Selene (Moon). She and her siblings were counted among the second generation Titans. Eos rose up into the sky from the river Okeanos at the beginning of the day and dispersed the mists of night. She was depicted either riding in a golden chariot drawn by winged horses or with her own pair of wings.
Eos had an unquenchable desire for handsome young men as the result of a curse laid upon her by the goddess Aphrodite in retaliation for her affair with Ares. She fell in love with a string of mortals, many of whom she kidnapped. Eos bore Astraios the four Winds: Zephyros(West Wind), Boreas (North Wind), Notos (South Wind) and Euros (East Wind), and the Astra (Stars). Eos loved the giant Orion the most, a hunter who was transformed into a constellation at death.
The Trojan prince Tithonos became her official consort. Their son, Memnon, lead an army of Aithiopeans to Troy to assist the Trojans. When he is slain by Akhilleus (Achilles), Eos covered herself in clouds and hid her light from the earth. She mourned so deeply it distraught her other son, Aetai (Winds) who spread her grief throughout existence, for the Sun and Moon, her siblings, came down to soothe her. Such was her grief that even Zeus himself crashed the thunder of his wrath. Akhilles was slain under the darkness of night. On the day following Akhilleus' death, Eos soared up into the sky and her laughter and light filled the world again.
When the goddess petitioned Zeus for Tithonos' immortality, she neglected also to request eternal youth. In time he shriveled from old age, and she transformed him into a grasshopper.
Gaia (Gaea) is the Earth Mother of the Greek pantheon. According to Hellenic cosmology, the earth was a flat disc encircled by the river Okeanos. Abover her was the dome of heaven and below was the pit of Tartaros. All the gods were born of her union with the Sky Father, Ouranos, who covered her in a starry blanket. The sea gods came from her union with Pontos (Sea) and the Giants from her union with Tartaros (Hell-pit). Mortal creatures sprung from her earthy flesh.
Gaia is the greatest and prime opponent of all the heavenly gods. She rebelled against her husband Ouranos for imprisoning her sons in her womb and had her eldest son Kronos castrate him. Later, when she was defied by Kronos who imprisoned his sons as well, she assisted his wife Rhea in a deception that allowed Zeus to avoid being swallowed. Rhea was sent away when her time was due. When she returned, she handed Kronos a large stone swaddled as an infant-which he devoured without even inspecting. Zeus was reared in Krete by Gaia herself until he reached manhood. After Zeus forced his father to disgorge his siblings, he led the Olympians (named because they fought from the top of Mount Olympus) in a ten-year war against the Titans before they were bound and locked away in Tartaros forever. Gaia was displeased with the imprisonment of her children, the Titans, and in opposition created the Giants and Typhoeus, an immortal Storm-Giant with coiled vipers for legs and a hundred serpent heads instead of fingers, to dethrone Zeus. Both attempts were unsuccessful.
In practice, Gaia was the giver of Oracles, specifically the oracle at Delphi. She was invoked in conjunction with offerings for the dead when libations were poured on a gravesite. She was especially honored (placated) in the case of murder, for blood shed in crime was a terrible pollutant. Gaia was often worshipped alongside Demeter, and oftentimes, the two were inseparable. It was common to offer two sacrifices, a white animal for Demeter and a black animal for Gaia. Most of her cults were in Southern Greece in the cities of Attika in Athens, Lakedaimonia in Sparta, and Patrai in Akhaia.
Persephone is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter. She is given the title of Cora (Kore), The Maiden Goddess of Spring's Bounty. Her name literally means "to cause" or "bring death." The Romans called her Prosperina. She is the consort of Hades, the God of the Underworld. Together they have one daughter, Makaria. She also bore two children to Zeus, Zagreus and Melinoe.
The main myth involving Persephone, or Kore, was celebrated during the Eleusinian Mysteries: Kore was playing in a flowery meadow with her Nymph companions and her sisters, Artemis and Athena, when she was purposefully distracted by a narcissus flower, seized by Hades and carried off to the underworld as his bride. Her mother, Demeter, despaired at her disappearance and searched for her all over the world accompanied by Hekate, who led her through the night with her twin torches. When she learned that Zeus had conspired in her daughter's abduction she was furious, and refused to let the earth fruit until Kore was returned. Zeus consented, but because Hades tricked her into eating the food of the Underworld--a pomegranate seed, Persephone must spend one third of the year with her husband in the Underworld. Demeter vowed that each year when her daughter returned to the underworld that she would halt all growth to ensure that she would be allowed to return. Her annual return to the earth is marked by the beginning of the growing season.
In the mysteries of Eleusis, the return of Persephone from the lower world was regarded as the symbol of immortality, and hence she was frequently represented on sarcophagi. Homer describes her as the wife of Hades, and the formidable, venerable, and majestic queen of the Shades, who exercises her power, and carries into effect the curses of men upon the souls of the dead, along with her husband (Odyssey). In addition, Persephone alone was honored during the mysteries of Anthesteria. Temples of Persephone are mentioned at Corinth, Megara, Sparta, and at Locri in the south of Italy.
Often depicted as a tragic heroine, Persephone is a Goddess with much depth of character. Between the lines of her story exists the perfect example of compassion, acceptance, and inner strength. She is easily moved by love. When Orpheus came to the underworld seeking the return of his dead love Eurydike, Persephone was moved by his tears and agreed to let her return. (Ovid, Metamorphoses 10.8 ff) But be careful, only once was she crossed--by the Goddess Minthe who tried to lay claim to Hades as his concubine. Persephone turned her into garden mint and trampled her underfoot. (Ovid, Metamorphoses 10.728)
Persephone was a favorite of the people because she understood more about the human condition than the other Olympians. On Olympus, the immortals are free of pain and death and sorrow. They know not of bad weather and strife, nothing of hardship. Persephone was the Goddess who died. Even though upon her return every year the flowers would spring forth from her feet, she brought with her the knowledge of where she had been and knew that all the life she was creating would know death in only a short amount of time. Life is precious and fragile and terribly short. Persephone knows this, and the people treasure her for it.
Updated last: 10/11/05