Folklore and Myth Gods and Goddesses

Epona Goddess of Horses: 7 Ways to Work with the Celtic Lady

Her magic emanates from every horse and pony. Her energy is felt in the stables and out in the fields. Epona. She is The Lady of the Stables. An ancient guardian of horses, soldiers, and farmers. A goddess so powerful that the Romans adopted her as their own yet kept her original Celtic name and persona. In this blog post, we meet Epona Goddess of Horses and learn how to work with this formidable Celtic deity in our spiritual practices.

Who is Epona Goddess of Horses?

Epona, as her name suggests, is an ancient Celtic goddess closely associated with horses. Her name, Epona, when broken down means “on a horse“. And she quite literally is depicted riding a horse or being accompanied by horses in the ancient world. Her cult was widespread throughout continental Europe during the Romano-Celtic phase. So widespread that her worship made it across the sea to Britain and south to North Africa. However, her cult center was located in Burgundy in Eastern Gaul (France). Most of the archaeological evidence of her cult appears in places throughout modern France and Germany. She has been frequently compared to the goddess Rhiannon, as well as Macha and the Valkyries.

Epona was particularly loved by country-dwellers and soldiers and was not necessarily considered an urban deity. She is a guardian of horses, ponies, donkeys, mules, soldiers, and anyone who aids and works with horses. Modern day devotees claim Epona does not like anyone who harms horses, either directly or indirectly. This made me automatically think of horse racing and betting. I wouldn’t want to see how Epona handles people like this!

Epona sitting side-saddle on a mare in Moselle, France

Inscriptions and Statues of Epona, Goddess of the Dead and of Healing Waters

One of the most well-known carvings of Epona is located in a cemetery in modern Metz, France. And it isn’t the only cemetery in which Epona has set up camp, so to speak. Because of her presence in cemeteries, modern scholars believe she might have also presided over death and the dead. Which makes sense since horses were viewed by the Celts as being liminal creatures – in between the physical and spiritual planes. And they were often regarded as psychopomps or guides to the afterlife. Therefore, Epona might also be a psychopomp herself, which is also evident in a depiction of her riding on a horse with a man following behind.

In addition to being a guardian of horses and the dead, Epona is believed to have domain over healing since she is also linked to healing waters within the same cemeteries. Epona is depicted either riding a mare side-saddle or being seated near horses while feeding them from her lap. Apparently, Epona enchanted soldiers so much so that the Roman soldiers carried her with them all the way back home. There she was enshrined and given her own Roman feast day. This is a big deal, because most of the deities from other pantheons were equated/absorbed into one of the Romans’ other deities. But Epona’s origins and persona was preserved.

At an altar in Bayern, Germany, an inscription reads:

Campes(tribus) et /
Eponae Ala I /
Sing(ularium) P(ia) F(idelis) /
C(ivium) R(omanorum Cvi P(rae)est /
Ael(ius) Bassianus /
Praef(ectus) v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito)

‘To the gods of the parade ground and to Epona, the first corps of equites singulares, pious, loyal, formed of Roman citizens and led by the prefect Aelius Bassianus, in fulfillment of a vow’.

An inscription at an Epona Temple in Bourgogne, France reads:

Augusto sacrum deae /
Eponae /
Connonius Icotasgi fil(ius) /
templum cum suis orna/
mentis omnibus de suo donavit l(ibens) m(erito)’

“To the August Goddess Epona, Connonius, son of Icotasgus, gave this temple with all its decor, at his own expense” dated early second century CE.

Signs Epona Goddess of Horses is Calling You…

First, I’d like to say that Epona was such a widespread goddess that she likely has an interest in many different people all over the world today. That being said, she might consider descendants of ancient Gauls, Germanic tribes, and Romans as her “people”, so to speak. But that shouldn’t detract anyone else from working with her as the gods do not discriminate (in my experience). Here are some signs Epona is calling you…

  • You’ll see signs of horses everywhere you go: on TV, online, in books, on the street, etc.
  • You might begin hearing or seeing Epona’s name in random places
  • Epona might show herself to you in a dream, vision, or meditation…she will be a woman on a horse or surrounded by horses
  • She particularly takes a liking to folks of Celtic or Roman descent (though as I said before, doesn’t discriminate based on that)
  • If you’ve been a horse lover or rider for many years, Epona is a fan of yours automatically
  • You have a sudden urge to learn more about horses or start a farm
  • You’re a healer or someone who helps guide folks in transitioning to the afterlife
  • Epona also really enjoys working with soldiers
  • You might see her symbols recurrently including a key, cornucopia, a horse, basket of fruit, or equipment associated with horses (horseshoes, saddles, etc.)

How does Epona manifest? What does she look like?

Epona will almost always manifest alongside of a horse OR while riding a horse. Typically this will be a mare. She is thought of as a single woman and therefore is a “Maiden” type of goddess, though this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Because she was originally Celtic, she might have lighter colored hair but again this isn’t a hard and fast rule. You might find she’s carrying a basket of fruit, food for her horse, or a key.

Epona’s Sacred Symbols

Obviously the first and foremost symbol of Epona’s is the horse. Anything related to a horse will also fall under this jurisdiction including horseshoes, saddles, pads, bits, reins, barns, etc. You might also see other symbols of hers like the key, cornucopia, or baskets of fruit.

Her Domains and Magical Correspondences

DomainsSymbolsAnimalsOfferings
Horses and StablesKeyHorseCake
Death and the DeadCornucopiaRavenFruit
Healing and AbundanceFruit BasketsDogHorse treats

How to Work with Epona, Powerful Celtic Goddess of Horses

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – how you connect with a god or goddess will be unique unto you and your path. How I connect with Epona might be entirely different than how you do. And that’s OK. There’s no right or wrong way in the path of a pagan. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! That being said, here’s a few ways to get you started working with Epona:

1. Read All You Can

This should go without saying, but read all you can about Epona. About her worship, her origins as a Celtic deity and spread throughout Europe, and all of the ancient inscriptions you can find about her. See my sources at the end of this article to begin with. But you should also consider reading and studying the ancient Gauls and Celts in general to get a good idea as to the culture this goddess arose from. Keep a spot in your grimoire dedicated to her.

2. Altar Space for Epona

Like with most deities, Epona appreciates a spot on your altar or her very own altar space should you feel so inclined. If you have a barn, this is the PERFECT place to set up an altar for her. If not, an altar anywhere in your home or garden is also wonderful. Add an image of Epona, horse figurines, cups and baskets for offerings, candles, and whatever you feel drawn to include. Be sure to cleanse it and dedicate the space to her.

3. Provide Offerings

Because we don’t know a ton about Epona, the offerings you provide could be wide and varied. Try giving her different things and see how they are received. We recommend giving offerings of cakes and fruit to Epona, as well as horse treats for her horse(s). And, of course, water is appropriate. Graveyard dirt might be a well-received offering since Epona is a guardian of the dead.

4. Horse Studies and Care

If you are able to learn how to ride horses, this is the best way to truly connect with Epona on a deep level. However, not everyone has access to horses and sometimes it’s quite expensive. So, in that case, studying horses and voluntarily caring for horses is also appropriate when working with this Celtic goddess. You could even donate money or goods to a local horse rescue or farm in her name.

5. Spirit Work and Cemeteries

Epona’s name and image is found in a few ancient cemeteries so we know she is associated with the dead. Consider working with spirits and working magick in cemeteries. Just be aware of the ethics before going into a cemetery AND how to protect yourself from malevolent spirits there.

6. The Healing Arts

Epona is a goddess of healing, since she is linked to healing waters in cemeteries in Europe. Because of this, you might already be a healer in some way OR you might be called to learn the healing arts. Perhaps you are already a nurse, doctor, or midwife. Or maybe you just started feeling the urge to learn how to work with medicinal herbs, Reiki, and other alternative healing modalities. Whatever your flavor of healing, go at it with all your heart and know that Epona supports you!

7. Celebrate Epona’s Feast Day

Well, if it wasn’t for the Romans, we might not have known that Epona has her own sacred feast day. Which is December 18th. If you’re working with Epona and want to honor her on her big day, consider having a feast where you invite other witchy or pagan friends to celebrate alongside you on her big day. Include offerings for Epona’s horses, foods like cakes, baked goods, and fruits. And include her symbols on the table centerpieces: keys, cornucopias, etc. Or perhaps you could visit a horse farm for a ride!

Epona Goddess of Healing, Horses, and the Dead

Sources

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