The Celtic Goddesses
Written and Researched by Margaret Odrowaz- Sypniewska, B.F.A.


The role of women on the battlefield was more as supporters to their men. They often yelled curses and insults at the enemy, much like today's cheerleaders do at a football game. Often the women drove supply wagons and helped gather rocks for throwing, etc. The ancient Romans via writer Ammianus wrote that Gaulish women were strong and more bloodthirsty than the men. Diodorus Siculus told of large Gaulish women were a combination of fertility and warfare. The goddesses of early Irish myths had both these characteristics. However, women often represented "Mother Earth" and the powers of nature. Anyone who has been in a storm such as a tornado will recognize this power. Plutarch's Life of Marius tells us that the women of the tribe of Ambrones, a Celtic tribe, in the region of Aix-en-Provence (associated with the Teutonic Cimbri) were battle fierce when their men fled the women took up the battle against the Romans and they labelled their own men as traitors.

Many ancient writers thought that German women had a great equality in their society. In fact, it is thought that they gave wedding gifts of arms to both the bride and the groom. These writings were part and parcel of the Amazon mythology, and the goddess Brid might well have come from the tribe of Ambrone, as the feminine version of Bron.

What is fact and what is fiction is some times difficult to tell. However, we do have much written about Boudica, Queen Cartimandua, and Andraste, the war goddess. Boudicca is documented first as the queen of the Iceni. She is in the writings of Tacitus in the first century, and Dio Cassius in the second century. Boudica is associated with Andraste. It is thought that Boudica's name is from the Celtic word which means "victory." She was the wife od Prasutagus, the tribal ruler of the Iceni in Norfolk. Prasutagus was a client-king of the Roman government. He was guaranteed this position by being loyal to the Romans. He would also keep all his possessions sucha as his land. When Prasutagus died he left his property to the Roman Emperor (Nero) and his two daughters. Boudica was left without anything. However she did proclaim herself as the Queen of the Iceni and went against her husband's will and the Roman authorities. She was flogged and her daughters were raped, and her property confiscated by the Romans. The Iceni took up arms to avenge these brutal acts. Boudica led them to the Roman cities of Camulodunum (Colchester today), London, and Verulamium (Saint Albanes) and sacked it. However, in the end she and her Iceni were defeated by Roman governor Suetonius Paulinuis, who was in the process of taking down the Druid groves on Anglesey. There is archaeological evidence that these battles, in truth, did occur.

The war-goddess, Andraste, was worshipped by Boudica. Andarta, a Gaulish name for this goddess meant "unconquerable." There was a sacred grove in London that vernerated Andraste. Andraste was the Iceni word for "victory." Thus were can see the connection to the Germans and their language.

After vistory it is recorded that Boudica sacrificed her female prisoners at the sacred grove. It is said that she cut off their breasts, stuck them in their mouths and impaled them vertically on great wooden stakes.

This was her rage and retribution for the rape of her daughters. It was thought that this was a final defiance before their own fate at the hands of the Romans. Much of the ceremony regarding Andraste were bloody.


Green, Miranda. Celtic Goddesses: Warriors, Virgins, and Mothers. New York: George Braziller, Inc., 1996.

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