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Home Articles Nemetonia The Goddess Of The Sacred Grove

 

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“Nemetona’s themes are wishes, protection, joy, fairies, magic, luck and nature. Her symbols are Hawthorn trees ( or trees in general ). In Romano-Celtic regions, Nemetona guards groves of trees with a special protective presence that marks the area as a sacred site. Within this space, the soul is hushed and calm, becoming one with nature and the Goddess. Nemetona’s name means ‘shrine’ giving new depth of meaning to William Cullen Bryant’s poetic phrase ‘the groves were God’s first temples.’

 

“Nemeton” the Druids named their “sacred groves” and its Goddess was “Nemetona” the “Goddess of the sacred groves”. Its source is the Sanskrit “nama” “namah” and “namas” words expressing “homage” “adoration” “salutations” and “reverence” and seen globally as the greeting “namaste”.

 

The Druid priests brought forth divination through the medium of the sacred oak and in Greece we have the oracle of Dodona whose prophecies were brought forth from the same sacred oaks, see how the ancient Greeks and the Druid priests drank from the same philosophical well. As Jason sailed his Argonaut in search of the golden fleece, his briefing from the Gods was due to the mast he spoke unto, carved from a branch of oak from the sacred groves of Dodona. Dodona was most sacred, the oldest of the Hellenic oracles, it was the home of the Hellenes.

 

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Lake Nemi and the Italian town of Nemi reflects this Celtic “nemeton” meaning “sacred groves". Originally no town existed except the “sacred groves” the “Nemeton”, its the site of the most famous Roman cult and temple known as “Diana Nemorensis” meaning “Diana of the woods”.

 

Diana is the Roman goddess of the hunt and woods, a very important Goddess in an age where the vast majority of people were rural. “Diana” is the Sanskrit “dyu” meaning “sky” “heaven” “bright” its the same root which gives us the Latin “deus” “Jupiter” and the Greek “Zeus”. “Diana” as seen on Roman coins is known as “diva triformis” the “three form Goddess” appearing as the “divine huntress” the “Moon Goddess” and the “Goddess of the nether world”.

 

“ A nemeton is a lonesome place. In the absence of visitants and pilgrims, it builds up energy and ‘powers’ of its own, naturally. There is no need to raise a circle of power there, as it is always already ‘charged’ when we arrive. By sojourning at a nemeton, we partake of this natural surplus of energy. We become re-infused with shunnache; the manred of our own bodily energies becoming aligned with Nature as we sit peacefully at a nemeton for a quarter-hour or so; an experience that often results in an enrichment of personal well-being. A nemeton can thus be seen as an ‘organic’ and mystical link between human beings and the Natural World. It is there that we feel most ‘at home’ in the Earth.”

 

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in Germany we have the Rhine, a name given to them by the Celtic “renos” meaning “that which flows” its source is the Sanskrit “rina” and “rinati” meaning “to flow”. Along this river some two thousand years ago lived a Germanic/Celtic tribe known as the “Nemetes”. Their devotions were directed towards “Nemetona” meaning “she of the sacred grove”. Modern day historians portray previous civilisations as wild and barbaric yet these same civilisations worship Gods such as Danu meaning “she of the abundant waters” and here we have “Nemetona” meaning “she of the sacred grove” names reflecting their place within nature.

 

“Ariovistus” was the leader of the nemetes and although the academics perform heroic deeds trying to prove otherwise “Ariovistus” meaning “noble leader” is the Sanskrit “Arya” meaning “noble” “leader". Other names found in Celtic etymological dictionaries are “Ariomanus” meaning “good leader” and “Ariogaisus” meaning “spear leader” in each instance the “ario” is the Sanskrit “Arya” meaning “noble” “leader” “master”.

 

“ For centuries the Gauls refrained from cutting any trees in the Marseilles grove. Even the Roman conquerors were afraid to bring woodcutting tools into it, because of a belief that the axe would return to injure anyone who desecrated the sanctuary. Similar traditions protected sacred trees all over the continent. Anyone who cut them down was struck with palsy or other ailments." [Sebillot, c 267 ff]

 

 

In the once Celtic enclave of Devon we find “Kings Nympton” also known as “Nymet Regis” the name meaning “King of the sacred grove” a reflection of this Celtic “nemeton”. Nearby are the villages “Bishops Nympton” and “Nympton Saint George”. The river “Yeo” which flows through Devon was originally “Nymet” and its tributary the “Mole” was also known as “Nymet” meaning “shrine” “sacred grove”.

 

“Aqua Arnemetiae” was the original name for Buxton, the spa town of Derbyshire, its meaning being “the spa of the Goddess of the grove” the “nemetiae” being this Celtic “nemeton”. In Nottinghamshire “Willoughby-on-the-wolds” was originally called “Vernemetum” the “nemeton” is clearly seen. In Gloucestershire we have “Nympsfield” meaning “land by the holy place” and in France “Nanterre” meaning “shrine” “sacred grove”.

 

" Nemetona is a difficult Goddess to wrap my mind around. She is somewhat nebulous in my mind, partially because She seems inextricably linked with the land. She is the sacred grove and it is Her. She is sacred space, whether that is found within the majestic trees of a grove or if it is held simply within one’s heart. She is holy breath, the sanctuaries we create, not out of stone and mortar, but out of love and reverence. She is a sacred link between ourselves and the living planet. But in my mind, not in an all-consuming way, such as a deity like Gaia, but in a very personal , intimate way, our link to the land our feet walk on, to the trees our ears hear singing in the wind and the leaves that season with us. She is the animation of the living space around us, a reminder to create that which is sacred within and carry it through all our trials and journeys. She is the circle unto herself and we are within Her circle, found within our relationship with our most intimate and immediate environments. She is the wholeness within each single leaf on the plant that sits beside you, or the moving cells of your body, and the embodiment of all personal spiritual cycles. Simply put, she is sacred space.”

 

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One of the oldest inhabited regions of Greece is Corinthia, going back some 6000 years. In his book “India in Greece” Edward Pococke describes Corinthia as originally being “Corinthus” and before that “Corindus” a reflection of the “Kori-Indus” which connects the Arabian sea to the river Indus. In Corinthia we find the sacred grove named “Nemea” the home of the “Nemean lion” eventually killed by Heracles. “Nemea” also became the home of the “Nemean games” a Greek contest for warriors taking place within a sacred grove, the source of its name being this Celtic “nemeton” meaning “sacred grove”.

 

Some two thousand three hundred years ago the Celts occupied and ruled the land now known as Turkey. Their city was called Galatia named after the “Gauls” the “Celts” who had spread from Thrace. Their holy place, their sacred grove was known as “Drunemeton” its two Sanskrit words “dru” meaning “tree” and as previously mentioned the “nemeton” comes from the Sanskrit “nama” and “namas” meaning “reverence” “salutations” “homage”.

 

" An ideal nemeton is set apart from every day life and is demarcated by the presence of some natural artifact, a tree, stone, bush or vine, a rock formation or perhaps a spring in the hillside. Nemetons make themselves known to us, we do not create them. Like a heath, a nemeton must have no human construction within the circumference of its influence, its “circle of power ”  -  Montague Whitsel  -  The Fires Of Yule.


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Last Updated (Friday, 13 October 2017 08:07)

 
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