Weekly Deity: Nantosuelta


Nantosuelta and Sucellus. Nantosuelta is on the left.

Celtic (Gallic) goddess of earth, fire, nature, and fertility.  Nantosuelta was worshiped in ancient Gaul and Brythonic areas.  Her name means “winding river” or alternatively “sun-warmed valley”.  She is the consort of Sucellus.

Attributes

One of the ancient Gaulish peoples, the Mediomatrici, portrayed Nantosuelta as holding a small house or dovecote on a pole.  The raven is her symbol, which suggests a connection to the dead or the underworld.  In one relief, Nantosuelta holds a patera, or a broad ritual dish that was used for drinking during a ritual, and tips the contents of the patera onto an altar.  In an English relief, Nantosuelta is shown with apples instead of a patera.  Other attributes include a pot or a beehive.

Mythology

Nantosuelta is the consort to Sucellus, a god of the forests, agriculture, and alcoholic drinks.  It’s possible he was also considered a creator god, but this isn’t confirmed.  No children or other familial connections are given for either deity in the Gallic mythos.

Because of the raven and the probable connection with the underworld, one theory of her function in the cosmology was that of a psychopomp–a guide for souls to the underworld (for those familiar with Greek myth, think Hermes).  The alternative interpretation of her name would support the psychopomp function as well, since the netherworld was considered to be a sun-drenched realm.

Her other function would likely have been that of a home/hearth goddess and a goddess of fertility or nature.  The house/dovecote she carries indicates her status as a hearth goddess, and the apples indicate a connection to fertility (apples are considered the fruit of life).  The connection with bees and beehives could also be a connection to fertility, but certainly a connection with nature.  Primarily she is considered to be a hearth/home goddess with the side functions of nature/fertility and psychopomp.

Light and Dark Sides

Unfortunately, I was unable to find any actual myths about this goddess.  Therefore, her “personality” can only be guessed at.  But judging from her functions, I would place her on the Light side of the scale.  The fertility aspect and the hearth/home aspect make me think she was considered something of a mother goddess, the kind of deity that is linked with nature and new life and growth.  The raven, however, gives her an added dimension in the form of leading souls to the netherworld.  Unlike Greek Hermes, who was also a psychopomp, Nantosuelta doesn’t seem to have a mischievous side to her, nor the darkness of Hekate (also something of a psychopomp), but since we have no myths it’s difficult to say whether she would have had those more negative associations or not.

Still, the fertility and home aspects place her firmly on the Light scale, and even the duties as guider of souls help place her there.  There is nothing Dark about leading souls to the netherworld except that she is required to go to the netherworld.

If working with Nantosuelta, you should probably emphasize her primary aspects of a hearth and fertility goddess, and secondarily acknowledge the psychopomp aspect.

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One response to “Weekly Deity: Nantosuelta

  1. Pingback: Goddess Nantosuelta « Journeying to the Goddess

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