III) Goddesses embodying Particular Natural Elements

The etymology* of divine names, Gallo-British iconography and Irish literature tend to prove that, while certain goddesses embody the earth and its fertility, others personify particular elements of nature, such as trees, forests, plants and animals, or are attached to particular features of the landscape, such as hills or mountains. While there is epigraphic and iconographical evidence of bear goddesses, the existence of a deer goddess can be questioned. Then, the data indicating evidence of a worship rendered to goddesses of vegetation will be assembled and analyzed. Finally, attention will be payed to goddesses whose names refer to highness or high places, for this evidences the sacredness of mounts. Were those goddesses simple deification of animals, trees and mounts? What were their essence and functions? Which cults might have been attached to them?

It is interesting to note that both in Ireland and Gaul some goddesses must have personified hills or mounts. The notion of ‘highness’ seems to have had an important part in the cults of the Celts, for goddesses bearing names denoting highness and eminence are of a quite significant number. The goddesses Arduinna, Brigit, Briganda, Brigindona, Bergusia, Bergonia all have indeed names referring to elevation, while Andei, Soio and Alambrima may be the personification of specific mounts, for their epithets can be related to names of hills or mountains, located in the area where the inscriptions were discovered. Who were those goddesses of high places?