Honouring Epona Ritual

Last month I wrote about plans I had to host a ritual Honouring Epona on Saturday 3rd October in Glasgow. I had made a Facebook event for this and circulated it in a number of Facebook groups. I was also moved to try emailing Galina Krasskova about my plans and she was kind enough to add a post on her own blog Gangleri’s Grove about this. Somewhere Sable Aradia also saw this and she added it to her blog Sable Aradia, Priestess & Witch. I received a number of requests from people in various parts of the world interested in a copy of the words I had developed for this rite and hopefully all of them received emails from me.

I feel deeply privileged to have begun something that so many others in so many places have been interested in.

Here in Glasgow seven of us gathered at a venue called The Old Barn at four in the afternoon. The Old Barn is just next to riding stables so it seemed like the perfect venue for a rite for Epona. Indeed during the rite we heard the voices of the horses in nearby fields as well as bird song and at moments that fit beautifully with what we were doing. To me it felt as if the horses and birds were joining us to honour Epona.

One of those gathered had travelled from Preston to join us, another had become lost in the park next to the venue trying to get to us but reached us in the end around 4.30 pm full of apologies for being delayed. It wasn’t a problem, we knew he was on the way and we had plenty of time so waited for him to arrive before we began the rite.  Each of us had journeys of some kind to be where we were.

As is my habit I had a script prepared for the rite. It was slightly tweaked from the version I had sent out to those who had asked for a copy. However, as is also something of a habit for me, once we began I put the script down and spoke from my heart and my memory as the guide for this rite.

The rite was begun and completed with the sound of a Bullroarer. This is an ancient instrument that has been found in many areas across the world with a very distinctive and evocative sound. This was the first time we had used this in a more public ritual although my fiance (whose bullroarer we used) has used it privately a couple of times. Following that libations of spring water from the Campsie Fells were poured out for the spirits of the place we were in. I’ve been to the site before and had communed with the spirits then and been given the strong impression that they liked water which is why I had chosen local spring water for their libations. The area we used was a roughly square grassed area at the back of the Old Barn. I was moved to pour some of the water at each corner and the last bit into the fire pit that sits in the centre of the area.

A libation was also offered to Epona as part of the rite and initially I had thought I would use spring water for that too but a couple of days before I had the inspiration to use some of our home made plum wine instead.  This was our first time of making plum wine.  It was begun in September last year using Victoria plums from the tree in our garden and we had not yet bottled any of it.  The libation was made from the first bottle of this golden coloured liqued. After the rite we all had a taste of the wine, not from the portion offered to Epona I hasten to add, and it was rather good.

During the rite a cup of spring water was passed round three times. The first and third times the cup was passed round in silence.  The second time each person had the opportunity to say something while they were holding the cup.

At the end of the rite I asked everyone to connect by touching hands palm to palm with the people closest to the altar I had set up placing a hand on the altar and holding their other hand up palm out to connect with the person next to them.  I had deliberately chosen this form of connection as more regular local seasonal rituals often involve group hugs at the end and I am aware not everyone likes hugging.  Some are uncomfortable holding hands too so I hoped this form of not holding but simply touching palm to palm would be easier for anyone present who might not be comfortable with more intimate physical contact and different enough to help us feel spiritually connected for that moment at least. I think it worked well.

After the rite we moved inside the Old Barn and had tea or coffee with biscuits and homemade gluten free apple flapjacks.

I have pledged to do this again.  I am not certain when but I will do this again.  I always do something at Eponalia on December 18th and maybe this year I will use these words although probably not as a physical group rite as there are so many other things going on at that time of year.

After I returned home I read posts on Facebook and other places from a few others who had used the words with their own rites and at approximately the same time as we had gathered at the Old Barn.

Finally I offer below the wording I prepared for Saturday’s rite to Honour Epona. This was based on a prayer which I have submitted for publication in a book devoted to the Gray Mare. That prayer was in turn was inspired by another prayer published in the Clann Bhride Book of Hours.

If anyone reading this wishes to use or adapt the wording of this rite for their own use in honouring Epona please do.


Ritual in honour of Epona Rigantona

Set up altar area in north west with statue of Epona, quaich, chalice and roses. Possibly include candle and incense. Gather people into a horseshoe shape with altar area in gap. Invite others attending to add anything they have brought to the altar area.

Guide:

Today we gather to honour Epona, by some also known as Rigantona or Rhiannon and simply as the Grey Mare. For those who are unfamiliar with Epona her name means Divine Mare. Rhiannon means Great Queen and Rigantona is simply the earlier Brythonic version of this. She is known from inscriptions and statuary from Roman times mainly found across what was once Gaul but She was also venerated in other places including at the Antonine Wall in Scotland as evidenced by a altar found at Auchendavy and on display at the Hunterian museum dedicated to a number of beings including Epona.

Epona has very strong links to horses and ponies, those who work with them and stables. The imagery on statues of Her that have been found also link Her to fertility, sovereignty and the passage from this life to the next. Some inscriptions refer to Her as Epona Regina (Queen Epona).

To me She is a guide for all types of journeys from physical ones to emotional and spiritual ones. The Mabinogion stories include a character named as Rhiannon who has links to the Otherworld and has singing birds that can put people to sleep. It is possible these tales carry fragments of lore connected to Epona.

There is some evidence for an Eponalia festival on 18 December in Epona’s honour and I usually try and do something personal at that time at least. This is different though, this is something I felt I needed to do. Maybe it will start something larger, maybe it won’t but today we honour Epona.

Using a bull roarer we will now focus on attracting the attention of the local spirits and begin this rite.

Libation offered to spirits of place following previous personal consultation with them after bullroarer sounds.

Guide:

Together let us call to Epona and invite Her presence among us.

All:

Hail Epona Rigantona!  Rigantona Epona Hail!

Guide: Epona of Horses,

All: We praise you!

Guide: Rigantona of the Land,

All: We praise you!

Guide: Epona of Sovereignty,

All: We praise you!

Guide: Rigantona of Journeys,

All: We praise you!

Guide: Epona of Stables,

All: We praise you!

Guide: Rigantona of the Otherworld,

All: We praise you!

Guide: Epona, Great Mother,

All: We praise you!

Guide: Rigantona of the Singing Birds,

All: We praise you!

Guide: Epona Rigantona, friend, guardian, guide and teacher,

All: We praise you!

Guide: May our words of praise ripple out across the Land

Libation is poured out for Epona into the quaich and the cup is passed round for each person to sip from.

Guide: Epona of Horses,

All: We honour you!

Guide: Rigantona of the Land,

All: We honour you!

Guide: Epona of Sovereignty,

All: We honour you!

Guide: Rigantona of Journeys,

All: We honour you!

Guide: Epona of Stables,

All: We honour you!

Guide: Rigantona of the Otherworld,

All: We honour you!

Guide: Epona, Great Mother,

All: We honour you!

Guide: Rigantona of the Singing Birds,

All: We honour you!

Guide: Epona Rigantona, friend, guardian, guide and teacher,

All: We honour you!

Guide: May our words resound across the worlds.

At this point as the cup is passed round if you wish to offer anything to Epona or request anything from Her (bearing in mind that if you are asking for a gift you should return something at some stage) this is the time to do so either silently or aloud for all to witness.

Cup is passed round a second time for each person to sip from and speak if they wish to.

Guide: Epona of Horses,

All: We thank you for your gifts and your presence here today.

Guide: Rigantona of the Land,

All: We thank you for your gifts and your presence here today.

Guide: Epona of Sovereignty

All: We thank you for your gifts and your presence here today.

Guide: Rigantona of Journeys,

All: We thank you for your gifts and your presence here today.

Guide: Epona of Stables,

All: We thank you for your gifts and your presence here today.

Guide: Rigantona of the Otherworld,

All: We thank you for your gifts and your presence here today.

Guide: Epona, Great Mother,

All: We thank you for your gifts and your presence here today.

Guide: Rigantona of the Singing Birds,

All: We thank you for your gifts and your presence here today.

Guide: Epona Rigantona, friend, guardian, guide and teacher,

All: We thank you for your gifts and your presence here today.

Cup is passed round a third and final time in silence.

All: Hail  Epona Rigantona!  Rigantona Epona Hail!

Guide: Before we part can we take a moment to connect with each other? Please lift your hands and join palm to palm with the person next to you, not holding, just lightly touching and can the people next to the altar place their other hands on the edge of the altar.

Epona we thank you for your presence here today and bid you farewell for now knowing that should we seek, we can find you again.

We thank the spirits of this place for hosting us this day and bid them farewell as soon we shall depart.

Drop hands. Bullroarer sounds to close the ceremony.

Guide: This rite is now complete, I’d like to thank each and everyone of you for joining me here today to Honour Epona.

Food and tea/coffee to be shared.

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