Why do we associate the Robin with Andraste?
We associate to each Goddess on our Wheel of Andraste many things; herbs and creatures as well as colours and gifts that each Goddess brings.
When we Call in the Goddesses, we don’t call everything associated with each Goddess, but usually find that we call in the facet of the Goddess that is relevant for us at the time.
I posted recently about our patron Goddess of the East Anglia Goddess Temple, Andraste, the Invincible One, and to follow on, I thought we could talk in depth about the creatures that we associate with Her.
We begin with the creature associated with most Goddesses:
The Hare represents love, fertility, growth and independence, it is a creature of the Goddess, probably because it is nocturnal, and probably because it can be seen gazing at the Moon.
In the long fields of East Anglia, the Hare can be seen racing across the fields, leaping in pure joy of life, sometimes they appear to be boxing, it is believed it is probably the does who are boxing the bucks, looking to find who is the strongest of them to sire her children, perhaps also to deter unwanted attention!
We have two Woodpeckers native to Britain, The Lesser and the Greater Spotted Woodpecker, they can be heard in the woods and always bring to mind Andraste in Her Groves.
Native Americans have a story of the Great Spirit that had come to earth. He sat by the fire of a woman disguised as an old man, asking for food. The woman made him a little cake and put it to bake. When it was baked, it looked a lot larger than she thought it would be. The woman thought "I will keep this and bake a smaller one". The second cake was larger still, as was the third, which was the largest of all, for the Great Spirit was making it larger. The woman would not give him any of the cakes, telling him that he should go into the forest to hunt for food in the bark of trees.
The Great Spirit stamped his foot, and the woman grew smaller and smaller, wings grew from her body as feathers grew upon her. With a loud cry she flew up and into the forest. To this day Woodpeckers live in the forest and hunt for food in the bark of trees.
Magpies have a reputation for stealing, probably because they are attracted to shiny things. They have a beautiful shining blue/green plumage and long tails and they can be heard chuckling in the treetops or on roofs.
Magpies are intelligent, sociable birds. They often mimic other birds and sounds, they mate for life, and legend says that when their mate dies, they call together other magpies to remember the dead bird before a new partner is chosen.
They are associated with bad luck, especially if you see a lone Magpie,. To ward off the bad luck you must wish it a "Good Morning"!
The Crane’s beauty and their spectacular mating dance have made them symbolic birds in many cultures. The Greeks and Romans portrayed their dance as a celebration of life and of love and joy. Throughout Asia the Crane symbolises happiness and eternal youth and in Japan it is seen as a mythical or holy bird.
The Crane was believed to be extinct in the UK until it was first found in Norfolk in the 1970’s, where they are thriving and now it has been introduced to other places in Britain.
Black Shuck, a fearsome large black dog with huge red eyes, is said to roam the countryside of East Anglia Many sightings have been recorded.
Some say that if you look upon Black Shuck you would die before the year was out. Others see Black Shuck as a protector, especially for lone women or a guide to lost travellers. It is said that it lives under Beeston Bump, near Sheringham in Norfolk.
Its origins are not clear; some believe that the dog accompanied the Norse God Thor to Britannia in the Viking long boats, others believe that the dog belonged to two fishermen who drowned, one of the men washed up at Overstrand, the other at Beeston. The black dog survived and his ghost can be seen roaming the coastline looking for his two masters.
It might also have been the big hound or wolf that accompanied St. Edmund when he landed in Hunstanton. A skeleton of a very large dog was found close to where Edmund is said to be buried.
We call on Black Shuck to bring protection, particularly to lone women at night.
The Raven is a highly intelligent bird, they are associated with prophecy and second sight. It is often associated with the Dark Mother because Ravens are often symbols of death, as they would pick at the bodies of the dead warriors on the battlefields.
In some myth’s King Arthur was turned into a Raven when he died and because of this it is considered unlucky to kill a Raven in Cornwall.
The Celtic God Bran, the Blessed, who had immense strength and was a fierce warrior, was associated with Ravens. It was claimed that his head continued to speak after he was beheaded, and that his head was buried at the White Mount in London which is the site of the White Tower in the Tower of London. The word ‘Bran’ means Raven; this may be how the story of the Ravens at the Tower originated. The collective noun for Ravens is an ‘unkindness’.
These last two creatures represent the mystery, the power of the all-knowing Goddess. They can be considered dark creatures. So why is the Robin amongst them?
The Robin Red Breast, gracing Christmas cards, jolly, plump and cheerful, are Britain’s favourite bird. They hold a special place in mythology and should never be harmed.
In Christian mythology, the Robin was thought to sing into the ear of Christ to alleviate His sufferings on the cross. It was also thought that the Robin put drops of water from its beak into the lips of those souls suffering in purgatory and thereby scorching its breast.
In legend, both the Robin and the Wren would work together by covering the bodies of dead people with leaves. This was the inspiration for the tale of the Babes in the Wood.
The Robin is a territorial bird, fighting fearlessly to protect the area it calls home. They are the first birds to nest and lay their eggs, sometimes in the most unusual of places and they are devoted parents, working tirelessly to feed and protect their brood.
They really do work themselves into a frazzle, after their fledglings have flown, they can be seen looking bedraggled and dull. Yet soon they are bouncing back, singing their glorious songs in the trees and hedges.
The Robins song is enchanting, like all songbirds, a magical pleasure to hear. The Robin reminds us that determination and hard work bring rewards, to nurture and care for others is important, and to sing for pure joy is glorious.
Andraste was Boudicca’s Goddess, a woman who fought tirelessly for her freedom and her people, just as the Robin does.
Temple Priestesses of Andraste have found when out on the land calling Andraste into the Wheel, the Robin often draws close and sings when Andraste is called, earning Her place amongst Andraste’s creatures.
Associated with Andraste and the Gifts She brings.
Boudicca called upon Andraste to divine the outcome of battle. She is a powerful Goddess upon whom evoking Her before scrying and reading will assist in bringing help and psychic abilities.
The fields and the hedgerows particularly in East Anglia are abound with Poppies during the spring and summer. Flowers of the field representing the blood on the battle fields, made more poignant now with the poppy fields of WW2, connecting to Andraste for Her endurance and victory.
Protection and Victory
Andraste was a Warrior Goddess, bringing protection and victory to the people of East Anglia. Now we see Her bringing to us victory over our weaknesses, over our fears and protecting us in Her loving embrace as we battle through life.
Constancy and Endurance
Andraste gave endurance to the people under the heel of the Roman’s, when we face situations that we cannot change, She brings us endurance.
Andraste will always be constant in your life, if you call Her.
Herbs of Andraste
A herb of the Goddess Brigantia, it was a sacred plant of the Celts who used it with Rowan and Yew for the sacred fires.
To dream of passing through a Blackberry thicket with difficulty portends trouble with enemies, whilst passing through easily means triumph over one’s enemies.
Frankincense is a gum resin; its name comes from 10th Century French and means ‘luxuriant incense’. It has been used in religious and magical work for centuries all around the world. It cleanses and purifies and raises vibrations. Its milky tear drops represent the bounty of the Mother Goddess.
Jasmine is called the 'King of Flowers' as opposed to the Rose which is 'the Queen'. Its scent has always been highly valued, and the incense smoke of Jasmine can be directed around the aura to boost after depletion through illness or emotional stress, it also brings psychic protection.
It has always been the emblem of love, and was considered an aphrodisiac. It was said that Cleopatra seduced Anthony whilst knee deep in roses. It has long been valued for its medicinal properties. Gerard recommended its use for strengthening the heart and refreshing the spirits.
Associated with Earth Goddesses. It is also known as A Woman’s Best Friend, Breakstone and Lion’s Foot.
Its botanical name, Alchemilla, meaning alchemy, is also known as Dewcup. The dew that collects in its folded leaves are said to have great magical powers. Medicinally it is used for ‘women’s complaints’ and the fresh juice can be used to treat acne. Lady’s Mantle is a plant of the Goddess and the feminine power of nature.
Strawberry was listed in the 10th century plant list for its medicinal and magical qualities. It brings you luck if a leaf is carried, and carrying a small packet of seeds eases labour pains. Strawberries are sacred to the Mother Goddess and make a suitable food at Her rites.
Andraste’s colours are Red and Black.
Andraste has been constant in Her protection of us. Constant in Her beautiful nature that is Her body, the Earth. Constant in Her enduring love that is unconditional.
Yet Her voice has been heard by only a few through the many, many years since She was worshipped. But now She is reclaiming Her place in our lands; now we are hearing Her call.
We are responding to Her, whose name is thought to also mean ‘She who has not fallen’. For She is not fallen, nor forgotten any more, for She is in our minds and hearts and we are free to fly in Her loving embrace, just like the Robin.
Copyright © Christine Watts 2022