Meet our Queen, also in the Centre of the Wheel of Andraste
We honour one of our greatest Queens in history in the centre of the Wheel to support Andraste, Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni Tribe. The name Boudicca means Victory, but is also thought to mean both Priestess and Goddess. We do not know Her true name, but it seems that Boudicca was the name She was given when She led Her tribe and other tribes against the Roman occupation.
Her Role & History
Boudicca would have occupied a duel position as Tribal Leader and as a
manifestation of a Celtic or Druidic Goddess, possibly linking Her to the
Celtic Goddess Boudiga, also meaning Victory. She was probably a Priestess,
for royal women of the Tribe were often trained as Priestesses to lead the
rites of the seasons and the passages of the life within the Tribe. We do not
know the names of Her daughters either, all we know is the name of Her
husband the King Prasutagus, whose death brought about an invasion
of the Iceni lands by the Romans.
The Romans allowed many of the tribes a certain peace, as long as they paid the
exorbitant taxes they demanded. Known as ‘Client Kings’, it was easier to diminish
the tribes in this way, and once the leader of the client tribe died, the Romans
would then take over their lands, very often enslaving their people if not killing
them. The Iceni were soon overrun by the Romans who raped Boudicca’s daughters
and flogged Her.
Boudicca gathered about Her the leaders of the neighbouring tribes and led them in a very successful revolt against the Romans at Colchester, London and St Albans. This in itself was quite an achievement as the tribes were often at odds with each other and would be usually unwilling to unite with others. Perhaps Her reputation as a Priestess gave Her status amongst the tribes. It is believed that the raiding of London was particularly savage and that Roman women were rounded up and taken to a Grove that was dedicated to Andraste, the Celtic war Goddess, where the women were murdered, their breasts cut off and stuffed into their mouths, after which they were impaled on large skewers. This Grove is thought to be somewhere in Epping Forest.
Of course whether this is true or not, we shall never know. What we do know is that the Roman Tacitus wrote this account. Tacitus was determined to portray the tribes of Britannia as uncouth, barbarians, particularly the women, who also were warriors and hunters.
Before battle, Boudicca would release a Hare from the folds of Her gown. Which way the Hare ran would determine the way they would attack the enemy. She would also evoke Andraste, which proves that She was a powerful and compelling Priestess wielding great power.
Artwork by Willow Wand
Boudicca has been associated with Brigantia the war Goddess of the Brigante tribe. The name Brigantia, is a combination of Brigid and Anna, both of whom are ancient Goddesses of this land, which was also known as Brigantia becoming known as Britannia. Altars dedicated to Brigantia were still being erected as late as 200 AD. She is also linked to the Morrigan, known as the Great Queen in Ireland, associated with the Triple War Goddess whose three persons are Nemain (Frenzy), Badb Catha (Battle Raven) and Macha (Crow) whose sacred birds were allowed to feed on the stake impaled heads of those slaughtered in battle. The Celtic Goddess Boudiga, whose name also meant Victory is one and the same as Boudicca.
Boudicca is steadfast. She stands by Her decisions and will finish the task She has set out to do. She stands firm in Her beliefs in the face of adversity, and She is loyal to those who support Her. She brings victory, but in the face of defeat She has the courage to face up to Her failure. She brings independence and a fiery spirit; She is courageous and strong, demanding loyalty and fearlessness. Her colours are, Blue and Ochre.
The Hare represents love, fertility and growth. It also represent independence.
Baby Hares are born fully furred with open eyes, and are quite independent. They
are left alone in individual nests on the ground where the mother would visit each of her babies until they were weaned. Ancient peoples found hares most mysterious and
perplexing; many superstitions were associated with them. Hares were often seen leaping about in circles and if you saw a Hare going clockwise it was good luck, but if it was
going anti clockwise it was very bad luck, and if it circled your house anti clockwise
then a cruel fate was about to befall you.
The Crow, a large black bird, is naturally associated with Witches and the Dark
Goddess. Boudicca can be seen as a Dark Mother.
Crows and Ravens were found on the battlefield picking at the bones of the dead,
and are associated with death. The Fates of Death of Greek myth, were death
dealing black bird women or black hens.
Suffolk Punch Horse
The Suffolk Punch horse is a gentle giant, bred in Suffolk with a distinctive red coat. They have in recent years become almost extinct. They would have been a regular sight on the land in East Anglia, working the land. These lovely horses represent steadfastness, loyalty and hard work.
Forest Glades would have held the secrets of the Tribes as they began their campaign against the Romans, but most importantly they would have been important as sacred sites for ritual and ceremonies honouring the Goddess. Our hearts respond to the stillness and beauty of the forest where nature lives, and we can call upon the Ancestors as well as give homage to the Goddess.
The glades would also be home for the Fairies and Fey folk, where magick would abound.
Warriors and Chariots
Boudicca led Her warriors into battle on a chariot. She was a warrior too, as women sometimes were. In the times that she lived, battles were rife, tribes fought each other, as well as invaders to the land. The Goddesses that they called upon were warrior Goddesses. Now we call upon the warrior aspect of the Goddess to protect us, our homes and our land.
Also known as Deadly Nightshade, Death’s Herb, and Murderer’s Herb.
It is a poisonous plant, and should be treated with great caution. Its
common name, Belladonna, means beautiful lady. Probably because
drops of the herb extract was dropped into the eyes of ladies to make
their eyes appear darker and beautiful. It has been used by Witches and
Shamans to induce trance states, but it is just as likely to induce death!
Boudicca took Belladonna after losing the Battle of Ware to the Romans.
The name comes from the French ‘estragon’, which in turn comes from the Latin, ‘dracunculus’, meaning ‘Little Dragon’ which it is also known as. Tarragon connects to the primal power of the Earth, and to the Underworld womb of the Mother Goddess. Tea of Tarragon helps those pursuing a path of the warrior.
Thyme encourages the Fairies to appear, and wearing a sprig wards off negativity and evil. Thyme brings courage and helps to focus personal energies and gain strength to face difficulties ahead.
Also known as 'Warrior Gods', and has been cultivated since ancient times for its blue dye. The Britons used to paint their bodies with it, and the dye was used extensively by the Romans.
When we invoke Boudicca She is so inextricably linked with Andraste that they become one and the same. We call upon Her steadfastness and courage, Her invincibility. She belongs to East Anglia as well as Her glorious part in our ancient history.
Boudicca’s speech to the gathered tribes before battle:
"It is not as a Woman descended from noble ancestry, but as one of the people that I am avenging lost freedom, my scourged body, the outraged chastity of my daughters. Roman lust has gone so far that not our very persons, nor even age or virginity are left unpolluted. But heaven is on the side of the righteous vengeance; a legion which dared to fight has perished; the rest are hiding themselves in their camp, or are thinking anxiously of flight. They will not sustain even the din and the shout of so many thousands, much less our charge and our blows. If you weigh well the strength of the armies, and the causes of the war, you will see that in this battle you must conquer or die. This is a Woman's resolve. As for the men, they may live and be slaves!
Let us therefore, go against them trusting boldly to good fortune. Let us show them that they are hares and foxes trying to rule over dogs and wolves.”
When she had finished speaking, she employed a species of divination, letting a Hare escape from the fold of her dress; and since it ran on what they considered the auspicious side, the whole multitude shouted with pleasure and Boudicca. raising her hand toward heaven said:
“I thank thee Andraste, and call upon thee as Woman speaking to Woman; for I rule over no burned bearing Egyptians as did Nitocris, nor over trafficking Assyrians as did Semiramis , much less over the Romans themselves as did Messalina once and afterwards Agrippana and now Nero (who, though in name a man, is in fact a Woman, as is proved by his singing, lyre-playing and beautification of his person); nay, those over whom I rule are Britons, men that know how to till the soil or ply a trade, but are thoroughly versed in the art of war and hold all things in common, even children and wives, so that the latter possess the same valour as the men. As the Queen then, of such men and of such Women, I pray thee for Victory, preservation of life, and liberty against men insolent, unjust, insatiable, impious - if, indeed, we ought to term those people men who bathe in warm water, eat artificial dainties, drink unmixed wine, anoint themselves with myrrh, sleep on soft couches with boys for bedfellows, - boys past their prime at that - and are slaves to a lyre-player and a poor one too. Wherefore may this Mistress Domita-Nero reign no longer over me or over you men; let the wench sing and lord it over the Romans, for they surely deserve to be the slaves of such a Woman after having submitted to her for so long. But for us, Mistress, be thou alone our leader.” Quote from Dia Cassius Roman Histories.
Copyright © Christine Watts 2022