May 21, 2013

Damona: The Divine Cow Goddess

Posted in Goddess Project, Goddess Things tagged , , , , , at 9:04 am by Babs

Damona was a Gaulish goddess known from a number of Burgundian inscriptions where she is generally partnered with Apollo and Borvo.  At Alise-Sainte-Reine she is associated with Apollo Moritasgus, at Bourbonne-les-Baines she is associated with Apollo and Borvo, Whereas at Bourbon-Lancy she is associated with Borvo and Bormo.  Both Apollo and Borvo are associated with healing spring sanctuaries and Damona may have been the goddess of the waters.

Alise-Sainte-Reine, ancient Alesia the center to Apollo and Damona who presided over the restorative powers of a pool in which pilgrims bathed in the hope of curing their ailments.  All that remains of Damona’s image at this shrine is a stone head crowned with ears of corn and a hand with a serpent coiled around it.  At Bourbonne-Lancy the inscription to Damona directly associates her with the curative sleep undergone by pilgrims to her shrine; in the hope that within the dream they would be visited by the goddess and be cured.

The association of Damona with the cow and the presence of corn ears on her statue strongly suggest a fertility component to her cult.  The serpent may be symbolic of her function as a healer; rebirth being associated with the sloughing of the snake’s skin.

Unusually, at Aignay-le-Duc Damona was associated with the indigenous deity, Albius.  Within the votive pit in which the inscription was found there was a fragment of sculpture depicting the head of a serpent and a human arm entwined within its coils.  Very similar imagery to that found at Alise-Sainte-Raine.  Other inscriptions found at Bourbonne-les-Baines and Rivieres, Charente show that Damona could be invoked alone, in the absence of a male consort.

As the Healer Goddess of Gaule, She is depicted with a crown of corn ears and a serpent curled around her hand.  Inscriptions link her with the practice of incubation, wherein pilgrims sleep at healing shrines and receive cures through dreams.  Her consorts are Borvo: (boiling, masses of sea water) and Albius: (tree).  In Ireland she is a sacred cow related to dawn.  She guards the clouds.

Animal worship pure and simple had declined among the Celts of historuic times, and animals were now regarded maily as symbols or attributes of divinities.  The older cult had been connected with the pastoral stage in which the animals were divine, or with the agricultural stage in which the animals were divine, or with the agricultural stage in which they represented the corn-spirit, and perhaps with totemism.

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