Dêwâs Matres

The Matres are an important type of female local or tribal deity found across the Gaulish-speaking world. Their iconography is distinct, and so they must be treated as different from the other types of local Goddess. This iconography suggests that they had connections to fertility, plenty, and fate. Some modern Germanic Heathens treat them as related to the Germanic Idesa, deified female ancestors, and I think there may be something to this, though it doesn’t appear to work in all cases. According to Green, they are depicted in groups of three with: “long garments, sometimes with one breast bared, accompanied by symbols of fertility: babies, older children, fruit, bread, corn, or other motifs of plenty”. They are also shown with spindles, suggesting the link to both spinning and fate. In the Rhineland, they are called by the Latin term Matronae, and their iconography is distinctive, according to Green: “The ‘Matronae’ of the Rhineland are distinctive in that their iconography almost invariably shows a pattern of two mature goddesses wearing huge linen bonnets, flanking a younger girl with long, flowing hair.”

According to Olmsted, there were Matres of:

1. Roman Provinces,
2. Individual tribes or regions,
3. Districts within tribes or regions,
4. Villages and settlements, and
5. Localities.1

The list that follows, taken from Olmsted, is not meant to be comprehensive, again, but to give some idea of the many types of Matres, their function, and importance:

A. Matres Ollotoutes: This name meaning “Mothers of All Peoples, appears to be a general term, invoking the Matres of all nations, giving us good evidence as to how the Matres were conceived.2

B. Ambirenses Matronae: The Matres of the minor Rhenish tribe of the Ambireni.3

C. Eburnicae Matrae: The Matres of the Eburones tribe.4

D. Nemetiales Matrae: The Matres of the Nemetes. Note that they are distinct from Nemetonâ, or from Abnobâ, who were also associated with the territory of the Nemetes.5

E. Matres Treveri: The Matres of the Treveri tribe.6

F. Brittae Matres: The Matres of Britta, a town in Gaul.7

G. Matres Nemausicas: The Mothers of the town of Nimes.8

H. Materas Glanicas: The Mothers of the town of Glanum.9

The Nature of the Gods (II): The First Intelligible Triad

If unique individuation1 is the principle of divinity, then the science of divinity, if there is to be such a science, will emerge from considering the fundamental characteristics of such a unit. We would tend today to call such a science ‘theology’, but the ancient Platonists were ambivalent, at best, about using this term in this fashion. ‘Theology’ for them always meant primarily what it had for Plato when he, apparently, coined the term: the discourse (or logos) about the Gods by poets and priests, not something that philosophers would or could do, at least not wearing their ‘philosopher’s hat’, so to speak. And right down to the end of antiquity, this sense of the term remained dominant: Proclus, too, uses ‘theology’ to refer to the primary texts of sacred traditions, and where he seems to introduce a new sense of the term, it is the exception that proves the rule.

We do not, in fact, know for certain that Proclus himself gave the name Elements of Theology (Stoicheiôsis Theologikê) to the text of his that bears this name for us. Even if he did, however, we must note how he positions this philosophical text relative to theology. Stoicheia are like the letters of the alphabet, having no meaning in themselves. And thus Proclus does not offer us either a theology, or the theology, but what he proposes to be the theological minima. It could be argued that what Proclus offers in the Elements of Theology is what philosophy after Kant knows as a ‘transcendental argument’, that is, an argument that proceeds from the existence of something back to what would make it possible, the phenomenon in question in the Elements of Theology being successful engagement with the Gods. It is by no means clear that such materials could constitute a science, and indeed there is a basic tension in the very notion of a science of the Gods, in the proper sense, because an Aristotelian science (epistêmê) concerns essence and what is universal, and if the nature of the Gods is existential and peculiar, then a science of Them would seem to involve a contradiction.

However, as I said of problems in the first part of this essay, contradictions are not necessarily things we seek to eliminate, because they can form the most secure ground. If the science of the Gods uniquely embodies the contradiction inherent to science itself, then this ‘theology’ grounds all the sciences, in a particular sense of ‘grounding’. This is not the sort of grounding which ‘theology’ as the term was understood in the Scholasticism of the Christian Middle Ages offered to the sciences, nor the sort of grounding which philosophers of early modernity thought to offer the sciences under this name. ‘Theology’ in these contexts refers always to the ultimate discourse of mastery, with the power to subdue all difference and resolve it into the Same, returning all things to the one self-identical thing which is the source of all identity. If ‘theology’ in our sense is to be true to theology’s original sense and hence to its own founding imperative, it cannot do this. Whenever it seems to offer such a grasp or potential for instrumental control, here we must stress for ourselves its radical emptiness, which alone secures for it the universality it claims.

Platonists discern three dimensions in the unit qua unit, which is to say, in the God qua God: a point nature, a continuum nature, and a formal nature. These are purely analytic ‘elements’, and are accordingly displaced straightaway by any constituents playing a part in a given theophany. They arise from reflection upon the basic situation of a multiplicity of units regarded as ultimate. Hence, let us imagine a set of points, each of which is for itself the center of a circle of which, for the others, it lies on the circumference. Hence the unit is a point insofar as it is the center, a continuum insofar as it is at the periphery. Needless to say, there is no absolute center or circumference, these being purely relative terms; but there is nothing relative about the structure itself of the polycentric manifold, which is the only possible structure for such a set of ultimate units.

Platonists call the first two moments of the unit’s triune nature, what I have called the point- or center-nature and the continuum- or periphery-nature, by various names. Often they use the terms Plato had used in his dialogue Philebus, namely Limit (peras) and Unlimited (apeiron); or they call them the Monad and the Dyad, the Dyad being known also as the More-and-Less, or the Great-and-Small; or they called them Existence (hyparxis) and Power (dynamis).

Each of these sets of terms is useful for a particular context. Existence and Power are frequent terms in Proclus, and are especially useful for thinking about the nature of the Gods, inasmuch as Existence refers to the peculiarity or uniqueness of each God,2 while Power refers to a God’s powers, which at once express Her unique nature, while also expressing a primordial otherness-from-self, inasmuch as different Gods can have powers in common, and the expression of powers by the Gods creates fields of relation among them.

Damascius, the last great philosopher of antiquity, denoted these first two moments by a novel set of terms referring to the basic condition of the polycentric henadic manifold, the units of which are all in each one. Accordingly, he referred to these first two moments as One-all and All-one. To understand this model, we can return to the image I offered above of the points which are at once centers for themselves and the circumference or periphery for the others. The One-all (hen-panta) is the God insofar as all the others are in Her, while the All-one (panta-hen) is the God insofar as She is in the Other(s).

In this way Damascius, who in his lifetime saw the effective closure of the Platonic academies by legislation that prohibited any not baptized as Christians from public teaching, and who, with several others, protested this action by crossing the border between the warring empires of his day and relocating to the Persian court, brings out most forcefully through this terminological innovation how certain concepts fundamental to Platonic thought for almost a thousand years by his time, were themselves grounded in the polytheistic experience of Gods, in the devotional experience which also joins us to him across the gulf of centuries. In the devotional encounter at its most intense and luminous, the God, each God, is not the bearer of some narrowly defined function, but rather is in that moment all, all Gods and all things.

How ironic that this very experience of the ultimacy of each God, which is the ultimate expression of polytheism as such, should be presented to us again and again rather as the shining through, so to speak, of monotheism through the fabric of polytheism! It is surely one of the great examples of what Nietzsche termed a ‘transvaluation of values’, in which monotheism claimed for itself, as though it was the proof of its own claims, the very experience in which the living Gods had always shown themselves in their full glory to their devotees, while redefining polytheism according to a new, diminished notion in which the Gods become no more than custodians of their petty offices, even to be defined by these narrow functions. This caricature of polytheism could even be celebrated, in the manner that any pluralism whatsoever will be celebrated as a relief from despotism. Certainly it is not the least among the virtues of polytheism that each of our Gods can shine on another’s horizon, and the choruses formed by our Gods in conjunction with one another, what we call ‘pantheons’, or, on a smaller scale, what we term ‘syncretism’, are Their great works. But relation and conjunction have Existence as their presupposition, and it is from this, the existence of the Gods given in the existence of each God, that our science of ‘theology’ begins.

(The third moment of the first intelligible, or noetic triad will be the subject of a future column.)

Syncretism and Bricolage

At the moment (and for the next several months), I’m taking a course with Sannion on the “Toys of Dionysos,” which are particular Spirits of initiation in the Bacchic Orphic tradition that in its modern form is practiced under the name of the Starry Bull tradition. The Toys Themselves have ancient origins, and in various sources, different lists of these Toys are mentioned. (If you’d like more information on all of this, see one of Sannion’s most recent books, Spirits of Initiation: A Study of the Toys of Dionysos.)

One of the ideas that comes up in modern scholarship on the Orphic traditions, however, is the idea of an “Orphic bricoleur.” Strictly speaking, a bricoleur is someone who practices “bricolage,” which is the use of various materials that are at-hand to create new things, usually in an artistic sense. In French, it has a “do-it-yourself” valence as well, and originates in architectural contexts in which buildings of different periods and architectural styles are all close to one another, and the resulting effect of having this diversity and eclecticism of styles all closely juxtaposed with one another.

As applied to the Orphic traditions, scholars such as Fritz Graf, Sarah Iles Johnston, Radcliffe Edmonds III, and others have used it to describe the ways in which various Orphic practitioners in antiquity incorporated various strands of myth and tradition—including superlatively local traditions—into their resulting texts. Some argue that it is this strong element of bricolage in Orphic texts which both makes them distinctive, but also allows for the wide diversity found within the tradition that can be accounted for by the localized elements in the activities of a given Orphic bricoleur. Others say that this element of localization in a given Orphic bricolage obscures the fact that there is a “core” set of teachings or ideas in the tradition that can be found no matter where Orphic ideas and practices can be traced. It thus comes down to regarding Orphic matters as “a tradition” or “a number of traditions,” and thus is a question of unity or diversity. As so many of these sorts of questions arise in inquiries into ancient and more modern polytheisms, so too does the most logical answer seem to be that the many is the reality over any theorized oneness.

In many respects, Orphic—or other forms of poetic—bricolage is something of a fancy and somewhat appealing manner in which scholars have tried to account for the individual element in religious experience and practice, especially since Orphic texts were seen almost as “revealed” texts, and all bear the name and thus certain connections to the figure of Orpheus, the Thracian poet and mystic himself, and thus a theorized “unity” must lie behind all of their diversity, divergence, and even outright contradictions of one another. In a sense, the idea of bricolage is an attempt to deal with what in other contexts, especially involving poetry of any sort, would be called “poetic license,” and as Orpheus is one of the arch-poets of all Western culture, his license was probably one of the oldest and most valid of all.

As Orpheus was widely traveled in his capacity as resident poet, seer, and musician in the crew of the Argo, perhaps Orpheus more than any of the other legendary poet-seer-mystics of ancient Greek tradition lent himself and his character to the notion that localization and thus a diversity of travels to different locations is what allows for the variations in the material all attributed to one person. Indeed, many poets known from history, both ancient and modern, vary their poems and the ideas presented in them based on who and where their likely audiences, patrons, and other consumers of their art are located.

Anyone who deals with poetry would take this as an obvious and assumed given. It is only because the idea of “religion”—whether it is a polytheist mystery tradition or an institutional creedal monotheism—seems to imply a systematization and a lack of contradiction or diversity within the tradition, at least as understood by many, including a majority of scholars of religion in the Western world. And yet, even looking at Christian tradition, it is readily obvious to anyone who is not a mindless zombie of a believer that the four canonical Gospels are quite different in their tone, their messages, their events, and even the implied meaning of their events, as suited to the communities for whom they were written and from which they were given rise. Perhaps it is because of the implied “unity” in a monotheistic viewpoint that such diversity is not accounted for easily nor readily acknowledged, and thus it is difficult to quantify it when scholars from such backgrounds attempt to examine religious realities in polytheistic contexts.

So, this brings us to the question of syncretism. Is the idea of Orphic (or other) bricolage yet another expression of the natural syncretistic tendencies which are found in all human endeavors, but which are especially prominent in polytheistic religious contexts? I would say yes, and yet the phenomenon of bricolage also points out something that can easily be missed even when accounting for such a formulation within syncretistic polytheist contexts. Bricolage not only takes a diversity of preexisting elements and combines them into something new, but in the process of doing so, it creates something entirely new that is not simply the sum of its previous parts. The Orphic traditions are not simply forms of Graeco-Thracian (or –Roman or –South Italian or –Egyptian or –Scythian, etc.) syncretism, but are profoundly localized religions that probably make far less sense when understood outside of the localities where they are practiced, the communities who practice them, and the particular Orpheotelestes and that individual’s style of bricolage and preferred sources, images, and ideas. It would have made the competitive spirit between different Orpheotelestai not merely a matter of prestige and economic conflict, but also often of mutual exclusivity, unless they combined forces and created something anew once again. In this, the tradition itself echoes not only the diversity of lists of Toys of Dionysos, but also Dionysos and His dismemberment itself: which Titans (or other individuals) tore Him apart in which ways and consumed which pieces of Him? What pieces of Dionysos were saved, and by whom? What became of those pieces? What became of the Titans who consumed those pieces? When Dionysos reformed (in so many respects, the Orphic traditions are a “reformed” variety of Dionysian religion in themselves!), what parts became reused and how? Is all that is needed for Dionysos to become Dionysos again His heart, or His phallus, or something else? Is all that is needed for a set of religious phenomena to be called Orphic the figurative (or even literal!) head of Orpheus to speak the poetic voices which are recorded and are given written and ritual forms? When can a part stand for the whole, and when does the whole become more than the sum of its parts—and if the latter is true, then does that mean that even one part can be the whole, but perhaps a different form of the whole rather than the original whole? Is one part more of the “essence” than another, and if so, what is the nature of the other parts? If consuming one part or another confers the essence, what does consumption (or excretion!) of the other parts confer, or still contain?

There are so many questions that are posed by all of this, and yet it is both a metaphor and an example of what this entire process—this form of syncretism that can be called bricolage—can encompass. If the inter- and intra-pantheonic forms of syncretism are what is going on at the level of the wider societies and communities of polytheists at various points, then the syncretistic bricolage that also occurs is what is happening at an individual level, with itinerant poet-mystics and the texts and communities that develop around them and as a result of their actions.


Tribal Gods: Many ancient writers appear to refer to a deity named variously Toutatis, Teutates, Teutenus, Toutiorîxs, and so on. The deity, often called a war-God, is variously identified with Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Apollo. In fact, the term, Toutatîs in the plural, refers to the Gods of tribes and localities. Tribal cults were ubiquitous in ancient Gaul. Every tribe and locality had one, though not all are known today. The list that follows, taken from Miranda Green’s Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend is, again, meant to be a sample, and not comprehensive.

A. Lenus: The great healer God of the Treveri, worshipped near Trier in modern Germany. Pilgrims came from very far to worship at his sanctuary and be healed of their illnesses, but he was always first and foremost a Treverian deity.1

B. Cocidius: A local British war and hunting God, worshipped near Hadrian’s Wall.2

C. Luxovius: The local deity of Luxeuil, Haute-Saóne, France.3

D. Albiorix: Tribal God of the Albici, in Vaucluse, southern France.4

E. Vasio: Local God of Vaison-la-Romaine, a town in the lower Rhône valley, in modern France.5

F. Vosegus: Local God of the Vosges mountains, in eastern Gaul.6

G. Loucetius: Tribal God of the Vangiones. His name refers to “lightning”, so Loucetius may be another name for Taranis.7

What is Heathenry Missing?

The longer that I’ve been involved in modern Heathenry, the more I’ve noticed that many people who have worked this religion for a long time have ended up doing one of two things: either converting to a new religion entirely, or exploring other traditions on the side (often claiming that they were sent to X tradition by the Norse gods themselves). The other day I found a video on Youtube made by a man who had converted from Ásatrú to Zoroastrianism, and it was obvious that he had done so because he felt more rooted in a stable and organized philosophical system. I have a personal aquaintance who converted to Judaism from Heathenry after many years, explaining to me that she was tired of working in a religion that had no answers. I have met even more Heathens who, along with worshipping the Norse gods, have found themselves drawn to (or sent to) African Traditional Religions, Hinduism, Taoism, British Traditional Wicca, Feri Tradition, Roman Reconstructionism, Greek Reconstructionism, Buddhism, and other (often unbroken) polytheistic traditions. Though I’m sure that many Heathens would disagree with me, I actually see this as extrememly important step towards the reconstruction, and perhaps more importantly, the revitalization of the Germanic Traditions. In this article I’m going to try to explain why.

I find that Heathenry in general has a bit of a xenophobic streak when it comes to looking to other cultures for inspiration or practicing more than one tradition at once. In the abovementioned video of the converted Zoroastrian, there were numerous comments written by people essentially calling him a race traitor for turning his back on the traditions of his ancestors. Perhaps these reactions are based on the assumption that Heathenry isn’t missing anything and it would somehow become a less pure practice (or you aren’t a serious person) if you gained inspiration or insight from any other cultures. Others with a more Folkish bent may see seeking for wisdom outside of one’s roots as unnecessary and unnatural. Either viewpoint is rather ironic considering the wandering nature of Odin, who would go anywhere and do pretty much anything for wisdom. And in either viewpoint, there is a base assumption that Modern Heathenry is a complete, self-contained tradition that possesses all of the essential elements of how our ancestors practiced their traditions. However, I think the deeper one digs into modern Heathenry, the more one starts to realize that its waters are actually very shallow compared to the depth possessed by traditions with literally thousands of years of unbroken history.

I find more and more that the people who have been at this religion for a long time eventually will hit a plateau in their spiritual development and relationships with the gods. Not to say that the Holy Powers themselves are somehow shallow, but because the old religion was exterminated and we have lost the framework to carry people deeper into spiritual transformation. Some people do all right by themselves, but this is often a lonely and solitary journey, and you have to make it up as you go. I think that part of the reason that plateau exists is, whether or not many people recognize it, Heathenry possesses a huge empty space within it, creating a vacuum that has to be filled by something.

Modern Heathens have a few surviving poems and a few stories of the gods left from the conversions, maybe a few folk charms (most of which are highly Christianized) and a few brief descriptions of what certain rituals looked like (but who knows how trustworthy those accounts are). What we don’t have are everything that make a religion a religion: We have no surviving prayers to the gods, no ritual instructions, no sacred songs, no sacred dances, no description of what gods received what sacrifices, no protocol for how sacrifices should be made, no description of what kind of training priests underwent, no methods of divination. In other words, we have lost almost every shred of our spiritual technology, which I define as those practices which a culture developed through trial and error to produce a deep, wide-reaching spiritual (and sometimes physical) effect. I personally think it would be overly dismissive to assume because we have no record of a more extensive set of Germanic spiritual technology, they never existed in Northern Europe; especially when every unbroken polytheistic religion in the world possesses those basic elements. To me, that has always felt like a cop-out, inspired by fear that one will look silly be doing something that isn’t in “the lore”.

Because Heathenry possesses such a large vacuum when it comes to religious practice, I believe many modern Heathens have unconsciously filled it with the only kind of spiritual technology most post-conversion Europeans/European-descendants are familiar with: that of spontaneous, personal prayer and the study of holy scriptures (which Heathens have replaced with the surviving lore and the works of modern scholars). Incidentally, these are the only two pieces of spiritual technology one is likely to be introduced to in a Christian upbringing, and the two most prevalent practices in modern Heathenry. The only other forms of spiritual technology I see much in modern Heathenry are the act of standing (rather rigidly) in a circle to honor the gods, and sometimes using what is known as the Hammer Rite; the circle and the hallowing of four corners being directly derived from ceremonial magic. Not only is our spiritual technology missing, but with no lines of elders or philosophy in place, anyone can inject any kind of political or social philosophy they want into modern Heathenry, and there’s no one to refute whether it really belongs there or not.

That isn’t to say that these practices are by themselves bad or can’t do anything positive for worshippers, but I haven’t personally experienced the same power, complexity, structure, or philosophical thought that I have seen in unbroken polytheistic traditions, and ultimately as a spiritual seeker I found myself craving something more. There were many holes in Heathenry that I didn’t even realize were there until I started to look at how the spiritual technology of Hinduism and Santeria, and the Huna-derived Feri practices functioned. When I saw them working in action, my perspective of what religious practice is supposed to look like shifted drastically away from the Judeo-Christian model I hadn’t even realized I’d been indoctrinated with. I think that paradigm shift is something many (if not all) modern Heathens struggle with. If the structure of Abrahamic religions is the only thing you’ve ever seen, than of course whatever religion you’re attempting to create is going to contain (even if unintentionally) many of those elements. It’s not a badge of shame, it’s just the reality of our cultural upbringing.

For me, the only way to start looking at polytheistic religion in a more ancient way was to immerse myself in cultures that still possessed those ancient polytheistic ties and ways of thinking. If I hadn’t started to study Hinduism or had never been initiated into an ATR, I never would have even been able to see what major pieces of spiritual technology Heathenry was missing: sacred song, sacred dance, intense (and accurate) divination, sacrifice, a consciousness of tradition lineage, magic that actually works. These are all things that the lore and sagas make brief mention of, but things that we have lost the framework and knowledge to actually do effectively. Rather than diluting some imagined purity of my Heathen practice, my journey into Africa, India, and Hawaii actually brought me closer to the Norse Gods, and inspired me to take what I had learned and use it as a way to flesh out the “hows” and “whys” of the many “whats” our surviving scraps of lore have left us with.

I think my Heathen practice has primarily drawn inspiration from Hinduism, as it’s our closest living Indo-European relative (it’s the frog DNA in my dinosaur, for all the nerds out there). Even linguistically you can make many parallels that are similar across the two Indo-European cultures, which can even give hints as to how concepts shared by both traditions may have operated within a Northern European context. I think many Heathens are unaware that the Runic systems of philosophy and magic put forth by Guido von List and Edred Thorsson were both heavily inspired by the Vedic Tradition of mantra, and regardless of what people have to say about modern Rune magic, I find it to be a welcome little oasis of mysticism within the often very dry and scholarly reconstructionist desert.

This doesn’t mean I support cultural appropriation, nor does it necessarily mean sitting a statue of Shiva next to a statue of Odin (though if you’re learning from that culture, it might be more polite). What it has meant for me is looking at a piece of missing spiritual technology in Heathenry that we have evidence for (for example, fire sacrifice), looking at how fire sacrifice is performed in living polytheistic cultures, what kinds of prayers are said, what kinds of gods are associated with it, when and why is it used, what kinds of symbols both cultures share, and then using that as the building blocks of a practice that fits comfortably in a Northern European context. Perhaps most importantly, that practice will be also be carrying the time-proven methodology that we lost access to when our European traditions were destroyed.

Then comes the trial period: if you work with the spiritual technology you’ve recovered and retranslated and it gives you good results, you have the beginning of a new, valid tradition that can be passed on to your community. If nothing happens or it just doesn’t gel, reassess and go back to the drawing board. Divination is a valuable tool during this stage. In my opinion, you could learn absolutely everything there is to know about the lore, but unless you can actually use it and make it work, it’s nothing but an intellectual exercise. If you want to be a scholar, than be a scholar. Priests, priestesses, and devotees should be the ones caring about results.

I tend to look at my style of reconstructionism more like restoring a classic car than putting on a renaissance fair. Even if on the outside the car looks the same, if it doesn’t have all of the parts it needs to run, it’s not going to function to its full capacity. Just like the metaphorical car we’re restoring, some of those pieces may be missing or aren’t being manufactured by the same companies in the same way. You then may have to somewhere else find the closest equivalent to make the car run.

Some people may read this and argue that if you start looking outside of Northern Europe to rebuild our traditions, then the traditions of our ancestors will lose their integrity. But the sad truth is, there are no ancient Heathen traditions left to defend. We have no continuity in our “traditions”. They were exterminated to the point where scholars are still debating about nearly every point of Heathen religion to this day, because in reality we just have no clue what it really looked like. Modern Heathenry IS a new religion in every sense, and has only been practiced since around the 1960’s. Every Heathen “tradition” used today was created only around sixty years ago by cobbling together pieces of ritual based on the scant evidence we have in the lore and whatever other knowledge was available at the time. The idea that Heathenry is the result of an unbroken, pure line to our ancestors is an illusion, and yet it has become nearly taboo within Heathenry to practice or learn from any other unbroken polytheistic traditions. However, I don’t see any other way to learn how to start thinking like a polytheist other than spending time with people with an uninterrupted polytheistic mindset, which is why I believe so many Heathens have felt the call from the Gods to explore foreign lands. It may be the only way to re-learn and bring back the practices that our gods and people have lost. Like Odin traveling into Jotunhiem to bring back the mead of poetry, I think many people will continue to feel this call.

While I don’t think it needs to be everyone’s calling, I am always very pleased when I find people who are experiencing the power of unbroken tradition, and using the tools they are learning to rebuild Heathenry as a more powerful, functional religion. Because I think it is so needed, I would like to see more Heathens in the future being less quick to police each other away from exploring other cultures, or shame each other for trying to do powerful work outside of what a few Christian men were able to record. If we want our spiritual technology to be more than just for show, we need people to explore and bring back the wisdom to recreate the pieces we’re missing. Instead of writing yet another blot where we talk about a piece of the lore and stand rigidly in a circle, I’d love to see more people creating sacred songs, devotional practices, initiations, parades and processions, philosophies, schools of thought, and even mystery schools: anything to put the life back into our religion and give it that depth that it’s missing. Debating the lore like a Bible Study Group unpacking Corinthians just isn’t enough for me anymore, and I know I’m not the only one.


Territorial Goddesses: The classification of Toutodêwâs is modern, and my own coinage, taken from Gaulish “Toutâ”, meaning “tribe, chiefdom, small state”, and “dêwâ”, meaning “Goddess.” It refers to the local Goddesses extremely common in Celtic religion, personifications of places and regions, often associated with particular tribes, and even more often associated with the river running through a particular territory. I am also including in this category certain minor Goddesses of particular types of animals and similar things. While not worshipped in only one place, neither was their worship widespread. The list that follows is by no means exhaustive. It is merely a few examples for purposes of illustration.

A. Sequanâ: The local Goddess of the River Seine in modern France. She had a healing shrine at the source of the river. The duck was sacred to her.1

B. Souconnâ: The local Goddess of the River Saóne, in France.2

C. Sabrinâ: The local Goddess of the River Severn, in Britain.3

D. Adsallutâ: The local Goddess of the River Saan, in modern Austria.4

E. Brîctiâ: The local Goddess of the River Breachin, in modern France. The name also means “magic”.5

F. Abnobâ: The local Goddess of the Black Forest. Identified with Diana.6

G. Arduinnâ: The local Goddess of the Ardennes forest, in modern Belgium. Depicted riding a boar, and also identified with Diana.7

H. Artio: The Goddess of bears. Worshipped near Bern, Switzerland, and near Trier, Germany. I suspect that she may also have influence in the forests of Central Florida, given the number of bears that live here.8

I. Bibractis: Goddess of Bibracte, capital of the Aedui tribe, now Mont Beuvray, in France.9

J. Genava: Local Goddess of Geneva, Switzerland.10

K. Nemetonâ: Tribal Goddess of the Nemetes, a Celto-Germanic tribe inhabiting today’s Black Forest region. She was also the protector of the Nemeton, the Gaulish temple space. She may be the origin of the Irish Goddess Nemhain.11