III) Celtic Goddesses of Intoxication: Essence and Functions

Given that the data evidencing the cult of intoxicating goddesses is very scarce, the nature of their functions remains hypothetical and debatable. It is first intended to show that the goddesses of intoxication might have been worshipped in connection with health and war, embodying the various intoxicating cults and rites, performed within a religious context, which consisted of drinking alcoholic beverages within the context of healing to make contact with the goddess and obtain her cure, or before a battle to become possessed by the goddess and attain a sort of war fury, bestowing moral and physical strength to defeat the enemies. The last part of this chapter will study, though the character of Medb, one of the most vibrant and emblematic feminine figures in Irish mythology, the notions of intoxication and sovereignty. Many brilliant and comprehensive studies have already been done on Queen Medb, detailing all her stories and attributes.2398 As a consequence, this study shall largely confine itself to studying the earliest texts which could shed light on the possible role of intoxication in the granting of sovereignty.


Ó hÓgáin, 2006, pp. 339-342 (Meadhbh), 488-492 (Ulster Cycle) ; Mackillop, 2004, pp. 326-328.