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Celtic Goddesses - Nantosuellta, Goddess of the Dead

Updated on December 20, 2016

Represented by the raven, Nantosuellta is quite well known as the Goddess of the Dead. In Gaulish tradition, she is Goddess of Nature, the Earth, Fire and Fertility. Nantosuellta is also known as the Goddess of Nature in the Lusitanian tradition and is often associated with the cornucopia and spring water. Her themes include Health, Miracles, Providence and Abundance.

Her existence as a widely worshipped deity is proven through numerous statues and inscriptions. The Mediomatrici, an ancient Celtic people of Gaul, depict Nantosuellta as a model house or dovecote on a pole (a bee hive) in one of their statues.

In some tales, the Goddess Nantosuellta's consort is considered to be Sucellus of the Gauls, the God of Agriculture, Forests and Alcoholic Drinks. Any legends in relationship to these particular Celtic deities have been long lost. However, they are perceived together as Underworld deities who may either present the gifts of life and wealth or taketh them away. Even though the legends are lost, some evidence of their reverence does exist today.

In a relief from Sarrebourg, France (a city near Metz), Nantosuellta is standing on the left wearing a long gown. In her left hand, She is depicted as holding a small house-shaped object and, with the right, She is tipping a patera (a broad, shallow dish used for drinking, primarily in the ritual context of libration) onto a cyclical altar. Depicted with Nantosuellta here is Sucellus (“Good Striker”), her consort. He stands to the right, bearded, in a tunic with a cloak on his right shoulder. In his right hand is his mallet. In the left, he holds a ceramic jar, known as an ollo, with a short, wide neck and a wider belly, resembling a beanpot, suitable for a God of Agriculture. Below the couple appears a raven. The sculpture is dated to the end of the first century to the start of the second century. The inscription on the altar at Saarburg reads, “To the God Succelus and to Nantosuellta, Bellausus, son of Massa willingly and deservedly fulfilled his vow.”

Nantosuellta is depicted solo on an altar in Metz. She is also pictured here in a long gown, holding a small house on a pole. The dedication of this altar is to the Imperial House. Nantosuellta is not explicitly mentioned. However, this visual depiction secures her identity.

In Britain, it is most likely Nantosuellta depicted on a small stone from East Stoke in Nottinghamshire, a county found in the Midlands. Here, she is depicted as having bushy hair and carrying a bowl of apples, reminiscent of the continental Nantosuellta's patera. In this expression, her consort is undoubtedly Sucellus.

Though her name was previously thought to mean “winding river,” derived from the Proto-Celtic nanto-swel-ta meaning “valley turned,” more recent intelligence understands "Nantosuellta" to mean “sun-warmed valley.” In Gaulish, nantu or nanto means “valley,” which should have been the initial translation. Swel in Gaulish refers to the Sun. Combined with the following syllable of ta (Sun-warmed), Nantosuellta's name means “She of the Sun-Warmed Valley.”

While a Goddess of the Dead and/or Death may strike a cord of paranoia in those who do not understand her, Nantosuellta is not to be feared, but respected. Her role is that of a psychopomp, an entity who escorts the Spirits of the Dead to the Otherworld. The patera, the house/dovecote and the beehive/cauldron which she is depicted as holding in many artistic expressions of this Goddess, suggest an association with the hearth and home, cooking and food. Thus, the Raven's presence as her representative indicates the association of war-fertility Goddesses. However, this makes it quite tempting to place the Raven in its fertility aspect rather than its martial context.

Nantosuellta has been found to be helpful as a guide in mediation. It is also said that she is helpful in acquiring a deeper state of consciousness and/or deep trance states.

Nantosuellta is primarily considered to be a hearth/home Goddess with the side functions of Nature, Fertility and Psychopomp. While She was in the past likely to have been considered a Mother Goddess (She who is linked with Nature, new life and growth), the raven gives Her added dimension with the leading of Souls into the Netherworld. She does not seem to have a mischievous side nor the darkness of Hecate. However, too little is known of this Goddess to ensure that Nantosuellta does not carry these more negative traits. Therefore, to work with this Goddess, I recommend acknowledging both aspects.

Spiritually, we can go to Nantosuellta's cool, clean springs when our body, mind or soul requires refreshment and healing. If you feel the need for more love in your life, drink a glass of warm spring water to call upon Nantosuellta's energy and emotional warmth. To steady your thoughts and cool your head, drink the glass of spring water cold.


Nantosuellta's Natural Healing Herb Bath:

Fill a tub with warm water. Add a few bay leaves, a handful of mint and just a pinch of thyme. Soak in the warm herb bath and visualize all sickness, disease and stress leaving your body. When you're done, watch as the negative energies you expelled go down the drain! Repeat as often as needed.

Sending you cleansing and renewing thoughts...

With Love & Light,

Windy Grace <3


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    • VAMPGYRL420 profile imageAUTHOR

      Windy Grace Mason 

      6 years ago from Belle Haven, VA

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Demetre :) I'm glad you enjoyed your time here :) I'm hoping to read some of your work and learn new things as well. Love and peace to you!

    • Demetre Winfield profile image

      Demetre A Winfield 

      6 years ago from chicago

      i learned something new today. its a shame that people are afraid of death. i enjoyedthe music video too.


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