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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Goddess Nehalennia

Nehalennia bookLast Sunday I attended an event about the goddess Nehalennia in Leiden, organised by the Pagan Federation. We met in a building of the Leiden University, where we listened to a very interesting talk by GardenStone. He has done 4 years of research on Nehalennia and has written a book about it. First in German, but a translation in Dutch will be available in May this year. I have pre-ordered the book and will get it at the Dutch PFI Conference.

GardenStone told us a lot about the history, the archaeological finds, what we know and don't know about Nehalennia.
I always thought she was a Dutch goddess, but that's not entirely true. The finds are found on what is now Dutch territory, in the province of Zeeland near Colijnsplaat and Domburg. In the time of the Nehalennia worship (about 200 years in the first three centuries of our era) it was Roman territory (Germania Inferior), inhabited by Romans, Celts and Germanic tribes. They asked her for protection (safe passage over sea to Brittanica), fertility (agriculture, fruit culture), high profits & prosperity in trade and guidance for the souls of the deceased.
There is a lot of speculation about the origins of her name. The most likely (linguisticly explicable) explanation is from West-Germanic: 'she who lives near the water'. Neha =nearby, halen/lenne = water area, -ia = female suffix. Nehalennia votive stone
Her symbols can be found on the votive stones that were retrieved: apples and pears, a dog, a little cloak (pellerine), ship artefacts, a canopy of shells and sometimes a curtain.

After the talk and lunch we walked to The Dutch National Museum of Antiquities (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden). In their 'Netherlands in the Roman Era' area they have a lot of Nehalennia votives and altars on exhibition. I made pictures there; you can see them in this album.

5 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this great information! I didn't know about this Goddess at all.

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  2. I had no idea about this Goddess either..thanks!

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  3. I read about this event...yesterday. Wanted to go but unfortunately I don't have a Time-Turner.

    Good to hear there's another duth book about my favourite goddess, however I do wonder if there's a big difference between the two? I already own Nehalennia - documenten in steen (documents in stone) by P. Stuart http://www.koperentuin.nl/pages/uitgeverij/pages/nehalennia.html
    I'd love to find out more about her but having pictures of the same stones twice and identical lists of inscriptions isn't that helpful.

    Have you been to the reconstructed temple in Colijnsplaat? It's nice, Remco has some pictures on his hyves. But it's a pity you can't enter it, you have to look inside through a glass door to see a statue with some offerings and (a reproduction of) a votiv altar. But if you leave an offering on her doorstep, I'm sure she'll find it :)

    See you in Lunteren! (knock on wood, we don't have tickets yet...)

    Veertje

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  4. you're right Tink, I haven't heard of her!

    My "Goddess Workout" has been quoted in a Dutch book - will have to look up the title to see if you've heard of the book.

    xx
    A

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  5. Anonymous19/5/09 01:16

    I've been looking for more information on Nehalennia and this is a great find. The more I read about her, the more I realize I am doing the right thing by naming my boat (I live on it) in her honor.

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Love, Tink