Celtic Goddesses - Abnoba, Gaelic Goddess of the Hunt
Unfortunately, there is little known about Abnoba. Any real information about Her is scattered, diminished and/or all together lost. However, let us explore what has survived, through the ages, in relationship to this Beautiful Goddess!
Abnoba is the Celtic Goddess of the Hunt. As a Gaulish/Brythonic Goddess, She was worshiped in the Black Forest area, beside Riverbanks, in the Shrines devoted to Her, and atop the mountains within the Black Forest. She has been revered as the Celtic Goddess of the Black Forest itself, a Forest and River Goddess, the Goddess of Abnoba Mountain (located within the Black Forest), and Goddess of Childbirth, as well as the Patroness of all Waterways. She is the Protector of Woods, Springs, Rivers and Wild Animals.
Abnoba's name is derived from the Brythonic root for River (Afon or Abon). Further broken down, “abo” means River and “no” means Wetness in pro-Celtic components. Therefore, Abnoba's name means “She of River Wetness.”
As with many ancient Gods and Goddesses, Abnoba is known by many names. She is Abnoba/Abnova from Alprisbach, Cannstatt, Pforzhein and Valdmossingen, Germany. In equality with the Roman Goddess Diana, she is known from Baldweiler, Muhlburg, Muhlenbach and Stettfeld, Germany. At the Roman Baths at Badenweiler, the Altar refers to Her as Dianae Abnobae (Abnovas the Dianas). The use of multiple form in Latin is indicative that She may have been revered as a Multiple Goddess.
Abnoba's many names include Abnoba, Avnova, Abna, Dianae Abnobae, Dea Abnoba, Abnova and Abnoba the Huntress. Her symbols include the Black Forest and all Forests and Rivers.
Deities similar to Abnoba are Arduinna which is a Gaelic Goddess, Dziewona in Serbian, Aranyani in Hindu, Silvanus in Northern Italian and Yobin-Pogil in Siberian.
Even though little is known of Her, Abnoba's name is far-reaching. Throughout England, rivers were named Avon in Her honor. (Avon is yet another variant of Her name.) Abnoba is known as Abna from inscriptions at S. Martinho do Campo and Santo Tirso in Portugal. One of the altars at the Roman Baths in Badenweiler, Germany and another at Muhlenbach identify her with Diana, the Roman Goddess of the Hunt. The Romans also named a town after Her. This Romano-Celtic town known as Abonae lies at the mouth of the Avon River in England, and was named for and dedicated to Abnoba. The Romans also built many Shrines to Her, associating Her with Diana.
The Danube River begins with the two small rivers named Breg and Brigach, which drain the Black Forest. The longest of these two rivers is the Breg. Tacitus' “Germania” recognizes Abnoba as the name of the Mountain from which flows the source of the Danube River. Ptolemy's “Geography” also mentions the Abnoba Mountain as a source of the River. The area surrounding the Abnoba Mountain is referred to as the Abnobaia ora.
Some scholars believe that Abnoba is a name local only to the Black Forest area for a Goddess widely worshiped throughout Europe, but called upon by many other names. Possible links to Abnoba may include Arduninna the Gallic Goddess of the Moon, the Goddess of the Hunt and of Justice in the Ardennes, She who rode a Boar to the Hunt, Devana or Dziewona the Goddess of the Wild Woodlands for the Serbians, Czechs and Polish as well as many other names, which may be lost to us forever. As well, Danu of the Celts may also be very closely linked to Her, and She is probably a Hunter aspect of the Celtic Triple Moon Goddesses.
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