ELEN : Goddess of Dynamic Energy

There are in fact two Elens, an Oriental one revered by the inhabitants of the Aegean,

and a Northern one revered by Celtic and Germanic tribes. Their exact relationship to each

other is controversial, but it is most likely both reflect a more ancient deity.


The Oriental Elen


Helen was a name given to several minor deities in the ancient Aegean, some of whom

were later converted to human or semi-divine figures in classical myth. The most famous

is probably ‘Helen of Troy.’ Some derive her name from the Greek word Helios, light,

particularly sunlight or the sun itself.


Helen of Troy as goddesshttp://whitedragon.org.uk/articles/troy.htm


In early myths Helen of Troy is regarded as the daughter of Zeus and Nemesis (goddess of

retribution). Helen appears at all known shrines to Nemesis.
She had some parallels with Ariadne, like her she was ’hung from a tree’ (either literally or
in effigy), and was known in Rhodes as Helen Dendrites, ‘Helen of the Tree’, she was also

originally abducted not by Paris (who was promised her by Aphrodite) but by Theseus (the

‘abductor’ of  Ariadne). After her death she lived on ‘the white island’ according to some

sources (that is ‘the otherworld’). Her abduction by Theseus (and rescue by the divine twins)

has been interpreted by some as identifying her with a goddess who seasonally disappears into

the Underworld and has to be brought back, making her either a vegetation goddess or a sun

goddess (or both). The abduction of Ariadne seems to be the inverse of this however. In
other cultures the divine twins are associated with the ‘daughter of the Sun’. This may tie in
with one version of the etymology of her name.

Some etymological evidence has connected Helen’s name to *svarana - ‘the shining one’ and
as such she can also be connected to torches, fire, and natural occurrences of fire-balls, which
we might label St. Elmo’s Fire. Skutsch discusses the corposant suggesting that it was originally
called ‘Helen’s Fire’ and that while her brothers, the Dioskouroi, tended to be regarded as
saviours - especially to those at sea (when they appeared as a double light), Helen tended to
be feared (as the appearance of a single light). [Note ‘elen’ is Bulgarian for ‘deer’ (Illyrian
origin?), a name that would be associated with Artemis a popular goddess in ancient Bulgaria.
And Helen and Artemis also seem closely related. It does not follow that there is one etymology
for this as mythological names were often chosen for their punning and double meanings).




Helen of Troy was reckoned the most beautiful woman in the world (associating her with
Aphrodite, or the Solar goddess, both of whom descended into the Underworld seasonally).
In the original story she is actually not really taken to Troy, but rather to Egypt in the south.
Egypt was often regarded as a metaphor for the Underworld (though it is also possible
Helen was associated with an Egyptian goddess too). The two Greek kings and brothers

Who set out to rescue Helen can be identified with the Divine Twins.


There is however a historical truth to the Troy story, and it is possible that Helen as a
mortal daughter of the Spartan King Tyndareus was the desired wife of  various kings in
the Aegean. Both the Trojan and Greek kings really may have been fighting over this woman,
who perhaps was also a priestess of the goddess, and her representative on Earth, marriage to
her probably being a prerequisite to becoming a ‘divine king’ in the Hellas region, explaining
how history and myth merged fleshing out an almost forgotten history (note that King Cole
marries his daughter Helena to a Roman General, whose son becomes the Emperor Constantine,
who figures in the Pendragon line of  British kings. Cole was another Pendragon, a king of
Colchester (Camuludonum or Camelot), the ancient capital of the Trinovantes tribe, another
very important settlement of whose was London, or Trinovantium. The goddess of the
Trinovantes, was thus probably ‘Elen’. This seems to have led to her being identified as
Helen by the Romans, and Romano-Britons, and the Trinovantes being regarded as descendents
of the Trojans. Something further exacerbated by the mistranslation of Trinovantium as Troa
Nova, or New Troy). Pagan Kings were usually thought of as being married to the goddess of the

land, who could be represented by a mortal woman. It is likely this lies behind the Helen stories,

reflecting a very ancient tradition.


Helen of Troy crops up much later in Gnostic myth. Here Simon Magus rescues a prostitute,
called Helena, from a brothel in Tyre, and claims she is Sophia, the Gnostic’s ‘spiritual principle
trapped in matter’, aka the Shekinah. This being had continually incarnated in female form,
according to Simon, mostly as royal personages, including Helen of Troy (all called Helen?).
She had alas become a thing that men fought over to possess. Helena was her last incarnation
claimed Simon.
















































































































































































































The Northern Elen


The earliest possible European reference to Elen seems to be Nehalennia or Nouelen a
Gallo-Belgic deity represented, like Artemis, with hunting hound (a greyhound) and basket
of fruit (a fertility symbol, usually containing apples). She was a protector of travellers in
early Roman times, both by land and sea. She was particularly associated with water. She
may have been a moon goddess associated with the tides. Her known temple locations are

Always on the coast, and surviving inscriptions often praise her for successfully completed

voyages, or implore her for similar journeys to come. She is invariably associated with a

large dog as a companion. She has occasionally been associated with the Roman Goddess

Fortuna (who also accompanied Nemesis).


There was also a Germanic sea goddess called Elen, who was probably a derivative of the
Belgic goddess. A guide to Northern mythology says this about her:


Elen - Anglo-Saxon sea-goddess, particularly focussed as a protectress of seafarers and
 sailors. She is clearly a source for , or derivation of,  Nehalennia, a Gaulish Goddess with
 very similar attributes’.


The Gallic Celts of the Ardennes revered a forest goddess called Arduina, associated with
a bear, she was also allegedly known as Lune. The Romans referred to her as ‘Diana of
the Woods’ (indicating parallels with Artemis). Her cult was taken up by the pagan Franks
and continued into medieval times, one major cult centre of Arduina/Lune being Luneville
once an important Merovingian town. The name suggests lunar connections again, and
possibly connects with Elen (see below).


Interestingly in Bulgaria (once a centre of Artemis worship) as mentioned above, the word
‘elen’ means ‘deer’, an animal sacred to Artemis. This is unlikely to be a coincidence.


Our next source on Elen is Bardic literature, particularly the Welsh Mabinogion, a medieval
text of the 11th century preserving the oral folk tales (some allegedly originating as far back
as 500BC). These tales have become confused over many generations but remain a good
source of Celtic lore.


The basic lore of Elen preserved here is of a goddess of light or beauty, some scholars derive
the name Elen from a word for ‘shining’ others from the Welsh for ‘nymph’. One of her
popular epithets was certainly Elen the Bright.


Variant: Elin

The name presented in Welsh texts as the mother of Constantine, so it is most likely a Welsh form of Helen - however, it is also identical in form to Welsh elen - "nymph". 13/4/2004 - ODFN


Elen was a figure, here more an elemental spirit rather than a deity, who ruled over the
energies of nature. She was also traditionally seen as the leader of the Ellies (‘fairies’), a
name probably derived from the Welsh  ‘Ellyl’, or Elf. She was also a spirit of the trackways.

Some suggest the ‘Elves’ were pre-Celtic people and that Elen may have been their goddess.


Another reference to Elen is as ‘Helen of the Ways’, a mythic figure who lived in a great
castle, and desired to connect this castle to all others through a series of paths. Later this
myth seems to have been interpreted in terms of her alleged role in the building the Roman
road system in Britain (usually built on ancient tracks). Roman roads were in fact named
after her in Wales, in the form Sarnau Elen, or 'Helen's Roads'. In this way Helen would
become increasingly Romanised in Mabinogion tales.


But the Mabinogion tradition is a confused mix of several Elens or Helens according to most

scholars. First there is the ancient Elen just mentioned, then there are two historical women
called Helen or Elen. These three figures have become merged in the folklore preserved in
the Mabinogion. The first mortal Elen (or Helen, her Greco-Roman name) was the wife of
Magnus Maximus, a rebel Spanish Roman general, proclaimed Western emperor in Britain
383 (and one of first Pendragon Kings of Britain). She was identified in Welsh heroic
literature, genealogies and Triads as Elen Lluyddawc, 'Helen of the Hosts', possibly meaning
armies (earliest surviving MSS. of 12th c., preserving much earlier material).  Though angelic
and Elvin connotations are also suggested in various tales. Helen’s daughter later married
Vortigern, King of the Britons. This Elen becomes (or merges with) an archetype who
symbolizes the power and fertility of the land. Her partner Maximus, like so many other
archetypal Celtic heroes, defends the land, but he also brings the glory of Rome to the Celts.
Their marriage is a ritual one between sovereign and land. Their story is told in the romantic
tale Breudwyt Macsen, 'The Dream of Maxen Wledig (Maximus)', in the Mabinogion.

http://www.zinescene.org/mabin/maxen.html Here Helen also takes on the role of the queen
of the ‘dreamworld’ when first encountered. Thus associating her with other Anglo-Celtic
dream queens, like Rhiannon and Mab. Mab is the ‘Queen of the English Fairies’, sometimes
thought to be a descendant of the Celtic Queen of the Sidhe (the Otherworld), Maeve. Unlike
Maeve, however, Mab is portrayed more often as a mischievous sprite rather than a Queen,
and enjoys giving people dreams, especially erotic ones. Rhiannon was an older Celtic goddess
whose name translates as "divine" or "Great Queen". She is a potent symbol of fertility, yet
she is also an Otherworldly death goddess, a bringer of dreams, and a moon deity who was
symbolized by a white horse.

The second Helen, or Helena, was the ‘Christian’ daughter of Old King Cole, the legendary
king of Colchester (ancient capital of the Belgic Trinovantes tribe). This ‘Elen’ married
Constantinus, a Roman general and became the mother (and ‘converter’) of Constantine,
another rebel Romano-British Emperor, who later as Roman Emperor introduced Christianity
as the official religion of the Empire (albeit a Christianity that was for him a syncretic
crypto-paganism, much like his earlier cult Sol Invictus). Constantine was said to have later
converted a ‘pagan temple’ into a monastery, probably in the 3rd Century on the site of what
is now Great St Helens in  London, in honour of his mother (who had found the ‘true cross’
on one of her many ‘pilgrimages’, just as the goddess Elen always returned to her ‘sacred
tree’ after her many ‘travels’ along the ‘ways’. A tradition still marked by the ‘beginning of
the travelling season’ celebrated in the church of St Helen on Mayday). An abbey of the
‘black nuns’ of St Helen was also was founded near the monastery in early medieval times,
and their two churches built next to each other as part of one building with separate doors
and naves. In folk tradition, Helena was mythologized as Elen the Fair, and associated with
both the London monastery and nunnery as well as a hospital for foundlings. Her Christian
form was as the ‘leader of heavenly virgins’, though her nuns seem not to have lived up to
this role model, they were reprimanded by the Church in the 13th century for ‘wearing
ostentatious veils and kissing non secular persons’, while their Abbess was chastised for

‘keeping many small dogs in her lodgings’ (for unknown purposes)! And in the 14th century
the notorious ‘dancing and revelry’ in the nunnery was banned ‘except at Christmas and
only then amongst themselves’! Oddly the strange double church  has the appearance more
of a castle than a church, according to some, perhaps reflecting the Arthurian tradition of
Elen as keeper of the Holy Grail in her secret castle (see below). Again the folklore around
this Elen has been merged with the lore of the syncretic Elen of the Mabionigion.

A curious aside about 'St Helena' is that she was also traditionally regarded as the founder
of the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. This of course not only regarded as the
'tomb of Christ', but the world's first round church and the model for Templar churches.
In reality the church was built by Emperor Constantine in honour of Helena on the site of
a Roman temple to Venus, itself said to have been built over the cave tomb of Christ by
the hill of the Crucixion. As Romans tended to build over corresponding pagan sites,
it is far more likely that the original site was a holy hill complete with sacred tree
and a goddess cave (considered her womb of rebirth). The Aphrodite cult was of course associated with sacred prostitutes, such as the Magdalene and the Gnostic Helen.


Again these mortal legends might preserve memories of the marriage of a Celtic king to a woman who embodies the goddess Elen, marrying the sovereign to the land.


One unsourced folk tradition associates Elen with St Pancras describing her as:


A fey and shy creature, antlers on her head and dressed in a leafy garb, her faithful dog always by her side, who was, according to legend, sometimes seen wandering in the ancient woodland where St Pancras station is now situated.” (Whether this connects with the Boudicca legend at Kings Cross is not stated).


The next source of Elen myth is in the Arthurian legends. This is far more disguised beneath the veneer of Romance and banal Christianity of the tales, but, given the preceding information, Elen can still be discerned in them. Her most powerful image here is as Grail Maiden, Elen the White, an apparent solar archetype represented as a ‘maiden of dazzling beauty’ sitting on a golden throne in a sea girt castle (sometimes associated with St Michael’s Mount). An interesting matrix of symbols emerges from this association with the Grail – a vessel not only originally the cauldron of plenty and rebirth, held once by Bran (though just as fitting for a lifeforce bearing fertility goddess like Elen), but also Ceridwen’s cauldron of wisdom and enlightenment, sampled by Taliesin (connecting the Grail myth with the Gnostic Helen as Sophia). Both of these are clearly also related to Elen’s basket of apples (with perhaps even reference to the ‘apples’ of the Tree of Knowledge, and its serpent / messenger of the goddess, being implied). The Grail Maiden’s name was often given in a medieval form as Elaine (or Eleanor, sometimes spelt Elonor, in Continental versions), but the older form Elen survives in some sources. This Elaine becomes the lover of Lancelot (who also had an affair with another Elaine, a dark seductress sometimes called ‘Elaine the Black’, who became Galahad’s mother). There were many other Elaines in Arthurian myth, the most famous being an Elaine who was the lover of Perceval (himself based on British king Peredur of Galloway, Arthur’s knights most likely being folk memories of a coalition of kings under an overking or Pendragon); others include Elaine of Garlot (Galloway), the wife of King Nentres (a sister of Morgan le Fey, and mother of Perceval’s lover); Elaine of  Benwick (Bourges, 100 miles to south of Paris), wife of King Ban, or Bran (and Lancelot’s mother); and Elaine of Listinoise, daughter of King Pellinore of Northumbria, who killed herself on the death of a lover (sometimes associated with ‘Elaine the Black’). It seems from this that Elaine was not only an ancient archetype, but also a name given to women of a certain royal line, often held by both Queen and Princess at the same time. She may also have had a dual aspect, judging from the Lancelot story. The origin of the proposed Royal line is not known, but all the tribes indicated were non-Belgic Britons (or Bretons), and one speculative identity is with the Parisii tribe. A tribe first encountered by Roman historians in the ‘Paris’ region, and extending into the surrounding French countryside (including Bourges?). After their defeat by Rome in 52 BC many Parisii migrated across the channel and settled in Northumberland (Listinoise). Later the Anglo-Saxon colonization of Northumbria pushed them futher west, eventually into Ireland where they became the Parish clan (some believe some of the inhabitants of the British border kingdom of Rheged, and their kin in Galloway, were descended from these migrants). If
this is true Elen would have once been the chief goddess of the widespread Parisii clan (a connection that may invite further Trojan connections). A map of St Helen sites certainly supports the idea that her cult entered Britain at the Humber, the original British territory of the Parisii, and then spread west. It is even possible that the Romans named the Parisii due to their reverence for Elen (curiously a 13th century manuscript championing the Trojan Brutus as a worshipper of 'Diana', and a British ancestor, was produced by one Matthew Paris, a decendent of the Parisii clan). The Greek name Paris has
been speculatively traced to an original Illyrian form Voltuparis or Assparis, "Hawk", and another of Arthur’s knights, Gawain, was perhaps significantly referred to as the ‘Hawk of May’. The Illyrians were an ancient Indo-European tribe of central Europe (who may have been amongst the last custodians of a very old tradition), they closely associated with their surrounding neighbours, the early Hellenic tribes to the south, the Scythians and Thracians to the north and east, as well the Hallstadt ‘ancestors’ of the Celtic tribes of the northwest, all within a Iron Age tribal melting pot of c1000BC.

In addition to the Elen’s of the classical Arthuriad, Scots Folklore has ‘Burd Ellen’ (or Lady
Ellen),  the daughter of King Arthur. While Arthur’s court itself has a mysterious female
knight called Elen Llydaw in some Welsh stories. Little information exists on this character
except that she was a knight and counsellor of Arthur.


One curious Arthurian tale adds another dimension to the Elen story.
In 'Owain and the Lady of the Fountain', Lunete (aka Luned and Lynette in some
versions) is taught magick by Nimue (the enchantress lover of Merlin) and creates a
supernatural fountain in the middle of the forest. She later becomes the wife Gawain.
The scholar Loomis suggests that LUNED or LYNETTE is a name of the moon goddess.
Luned (-t) is the older form of the name. - (Bromwich). Another version of the name in
some stories is Alundyne, which leads to interesting speculations concerning the Isle of
Lundy (Merlin’s island) from some:


The resemblance of the name of the countess, Alundyne, to the word Lundy is striking but
just to emphasise the connection an early English version of this story reads;- "The riche
lady Alundyne, The duke’s daughter of Landuit", both names differ far less from 'Lundy'
than do many of the names in the Arthurian myths which have become changed over the
years.  In "Jones'  Welsh Bards" the more usual name Luned is said to be the same person
as Elined one of the daughters of Brychain. The same Elined who is thought, by some
authorities to be St. Elen, the source of the three ancient church dedications on Lundy, at
Abbotsham and at Croyde. In short Luned is St Elined who is also called St Elen.


Morgan le Fey was often said to be the sister of Elen the Bright (sometimes herself called
Elen le Fey) . In Brittany the Morgans were spirits of the land and sea, the Mari-Morgans
being specifically great sea spirits (associated with the Merfolk of Cornwall). Their queen
was Morgan Dahut or Ahes, who caused the sinking of the ancient city of Ys (or the land of
Lyonese in Cornwall). She seems generally to have been seen as a disruptive influence but
was probably originally a Breton sea or moon goddess. In some legends she is Queen of
Avalon, the Isle of Apples in the Western Ocean, where the sun sets and the dead go, along
with her eight sisters (a making lunar nine in all). In Cornwall Morgan was the name of one
of the illegitimate daughters of the Duke of Tintagel, her sister was Elaine. It is possible that
Morgan was once thought of as a darker aspect of Elen.


Today Elen survives even in New Age Christian circles as an ‘angel of light’, usually
associated with Niagara Falls! Curiously described as being formerly ‘the Goddess Elen,
an ancient Celtic solar light Goddess of holy wells, spirit within the land, and energy matrix
light tracks’.


In complete contrast members of the Church of Satan invoke her to adversely effect dreams!


It was Harold Bayley in his book ‘The Lost Language of London’ who brought the archetype
of Elen back to public consciousness. His particular claim was that Elen was the patron
goddess of London (based on the importance of Helen in London legend and the prominence
of the Priory and Church of St Helen in its early Christian history). Something quite possible

given that London originally belonged to the Trinovantes tribe, who seem to have revered
Elen (if the naming of the daughter of Trinovantian King Cole is anything to go by). He
claimed the very name of London was derived from Elen. Elen’s Don. He also assumed
without question that the Helen of Northern Europe (Nehalennia) was derived from the
‘Helen of the Tree’ of the Mediterranean. Describing the latter as originally one of the most
‘primeval forces in nature’, a wilder form of Artemis or Diana, represented as antlered and
standing by a tree with a hunting dog. An identification which leads to the suspicion that the
Roman temple of Artemis, built where St Paul’s Cathedral now stands (evidenced by the
Cathedral’s older surroundings being referred to as the ‘precincts of Diana’ in church
records, and the original church of St Paul itself still being the site of deer sacrifice and
hunting ritual in medieval times, a ‘voodoun’ aspect of some sections of the early Christian

Church), was actually originally built on the site of a shrine to Elen in her antlered form. 
Later though it seems the Romans recognised Elen in her own right and equated her with
the oriental Helen (perhaps leading to the belief that the Britons was descended from the
Trojan Brutus, just as Rome had been founded by the Trojan Romulus, thus creating a
common ancestry for Romano-Britons), a tradition that carried over into Christian times
(and was compounded by the mistranslation of London’s old name, Trinovantium, as Troa
Nova, or New Troy).   


Referring to Nouhalennia, a goddess he finds all over Europe, and in many parts of Britain
(including Lands End and the Scilly Isles, both said to be part of Lyonese, the Celtic Atlantis),

Bayley claims the Nou part of the deities name is a prefix meaning ‘new’, which identifies a
specific ‘New Moon aspect’ of a goddess called Halen or Alen (as the princess or daughter).

This subtle distinction he relates to  the two churches of Helen in London, Great St Helens

and Little St Helens. He also points to the festival of the Allan apple as a survival of her cult

(‘allan’ meaning  cheerful). As well as observing that the Welsh term ’alain’ meant fair or

bright, while the Irish term ‘allen’ refers to great beauty. Bayley plays with names a lot to
find Elen almost everywhere, but some are quite convincing, for instance the similar Celtic

names for certain rivers, Elan, Ilen, Alan, Alaune, Len, Lyn, Lone and Lune. He also points
out that ‘Ellen’ was an old name for the Elder tree (for the Celts a tree symbolising change,
rebirth and associated with the Cauldron) and ‘Hollin’ for Holly, before revealing
that the Irish word ‘Aileen’ meant green plain, and may have been related to Llan, meaning
sacred enclosure (curiously the words ‘ley’ and ‘line’ have similar derivations). Much of this
may be sheer coincidence, but the different derivations claimed for ‘Elen’ are not unusual
given the taste for punning demonstrated in many pagan Mystery cults.


While both Helens are associated with Artemis and have many similar features direct
descent seems unlikely. As we have seen the Northern Elen is mostly associated with
flowing water and the moon, while the Oriental Helen is associated with fire and the sun.
The etymology of their names also appears to be different (and there is certainly no
connection with Middle Eastern etymologies). Both are referred to as ‘shining’ however
and associated with light (or life force). It is thus probable that both goddesses are derived
from a much more ancient European deity, a goddess of energy, or light, associated with the
Sky (and equally with the sun and moon and stars), as well as with the more immanent
energies of the Earth, much like the Egyptian Hathor and her partner Horus were. In fact
just as Hathor later became to be associated with both the classical Aphrodite on one hand
and Sekhmet on the other, so did Helen become associated with Venus and Nemesis.
Suggesting they both reflect a more ancient and less specialised deity, which represented
more than  just the parts of the universe, as later pagan deities tended to (the details of which are
still under researched, there are apparent connections with Egypt in the Illyrian myth, but how
is still a mystery). The local Helens were probably dim memories of this ancient goddess,
specialised according to regional culture.

Curiously however Europe’s most central ley line the ‘St Michael’ line passes  out of
Palestine through Rhodes, the oldest home of the oriental Helen, on through Greece and Italy,

straight through Bourges, a home of the Arthurian Elaine, on through both St Michael’s

Mounts (Brittany & Cornwall) and across Cornwall, with its own St Helen tradition, before
ending in Ireland.

In modern ‘Theosophical’ metaphor we might say Helen represented power, energy and
light, particularly the ‘Astral Light’, both as lifeforce and astral energies, as well as the leys

and waters which transmitted them, along with their tides, and the celestial bodies originating
them. More specifically she was also a symbol of the serpentine path of the more subtle
‘Earth energy’, as it weaved its way across the landscape vitalising the environment. Her
solar and lunar aspects also seem to have been  recognised by Bayley and his followers
when they refer to her as a ‘goddess of balance’. 

Bayley inspired many Elen devotees some of whom even see Nell Gwynn, the mistress of
Charles II as the last royal ‘bride’ to represent Elen! As the following extract relates:


Nell Gwynne (1650-87) the mistress of Charles II was supposed to have lived at the
spacious country house situated at Bagnigge, St Pancras. It is possible that she did, in the

17th century, the area consisted mainly of fields, and churches. Also, the St Pancras/Battle
Bridge area had always been Royalist in tendency. However, the importance of Nell Gwynne is that her life

and her character accrued symbolic details that made her a living representation of Elen, or
Helen, the 'genius loci’ or patron deity of London. Nell, a diminutive of Eleanor (or Elonor),
comes from the same root as Elen, Helen, and the Celtic Goddess, Noualen, who is depicted
in art much as Nell Gwynne is; a beautiful young woman, holding a basket of fruit with a small

dog beside her. The complex question of the symbolism of Helen cannot be discussed here
but basically she is an important deity, both Solar and Venusian in nature. She is often
associated with wells, and also with 'leys' (Sarn Elen). She is usually called by an epithet
bright or shining, or beautiful; it is interesting that Nell Gwynne's surname means 'white' in
Celtic languages.’



Elen has become a stock character in neo Pagan mythology and psychic questing, often
absorbing other goddesses, such as the Irish Bridget and those ancient moon goddesses
grouped by Christians under the name St Mary, as the interesting neo Pagan analysis in the
link below demonstrates (much ‘New Age’ thought is hampered by poor psychic practise,
‘magical thinking’, and a desire to link the entire world’s mythology into one whole –
demonstrated in  its sometimes bizarre etymology. The following example is not free of 
this trend but is far better than  most). 





Appendix – The Goddess Brigit and St Bride


The Britonic Celtic goddess of fire, light and life, called Brigid in Ireland, Bride (Breed)

in Scotland, Brigantia in Britain and Brigandu in Gaul, was of very similar nature to Elen,

and probably evolved from the same precursor. Her original name, Brigit, is believed to have
been derived from Breo-saighit or ‘Bright Arrow’, probably referring to lightning (which
represented a spontaneous manifestation of the life force, creating magickal crystal balls
when it struck sandy beaches, or causing fires in woodland). In Ireland, where her cult was
most developed, she represented the source of the life giving and psychic energies of the
world, which seem to have to been divided into five types:


i)   The physical energies of the world, in particular fire;

ii)  The life energies of nature, which produced fertility and fecundity;
iii) The energies of all life forms, producing health and vitality;

iv) The psychic energies of humans, producing ideas, visions, and art;
v)  The creative energies of the gods (also shared by at least some humans, such as
     Blacksmiths and Magicians, in Celtic tradition), which created new order from chaos.

All of which were regarded as just different modes of the same universal energy,
metaphorically envisioned as fire and light, or alternatively as wind or flowing water. Bride
had five aspects that embodied these energies; the Fire goddess; the Fertility goddess, who
like many other goddesses represented the life force underlying the fertility of the land and
the fecundity of animals; the Healer, who dealt with biological energies; the Seer (or muse),
the giver of visions and inspiration to humans, and the Craft goddess, dealing with creative
powers and those who wield them, such as Craftsmen (Blacksmiths in particular). In Ireland
her role as mythic representative of the fertility of the land was shared with many other
tribal goddesses, leading her specialisations to be emphasised in her definition, which
eventually gave her a three fold aspect (with her fertility aspects merged into her Healer

archetype and her fiery aspects given practical manifestation in her forge and hearth). In
other places her more primitive form remained, particularly as Brigantia (who also retained
her more destructive aspects). In Ireland she had a dedicated body of priestesses who
tended her perpetual flame on her altar in Kildare, and assisted her work on Earth. Her
original cult was obviously closely related to Celtic Shamanism and its survival in Witchcraft. In the 5th century
her high priestess, also called Brigit, or Bridget to be precise, was allegedly converted to
Christianity by St Patrick, and her priestesses converted to nuns. However even if this was
true the ‘nuns’ and their leader St Bridget, seem to have carried on much as before. And
St Bridget, or St Bride as she became known elsewhere, evolved into a new Christian
archetype within the Celtic Church indistinguishable from the goddess she replaced. The
Irish pagans claimed that Brigid invented many useful things including whistling and "keening",
the mournful gong of bereavement, not surprisingly the Irish Christians would make the same
claim for St Bride.


In one of her most popular forms the goddess Brigit was the particular representive as the
spontaneous and eruptive emergence of energy, life or inspiration. This was the sudden flash
of lightning (or inspiration) from above, or the eruptive spring (or feeling) from below. It was
also the natural phenomena of birth and emergence, both of animals (and humans) and of
vegetation with the coming of Spring. In Scotland she was regarded as a serpent queen who
on Feb 1st arose from the burial mounds (connected to the Underworld) signalling the end of
Winter, the start of the lambing season and the first signs of Spring. The keeper of the gates
to the underworld, the reservoir of lifeforce as well as the abode of the dead. Modern pagans
equating this with the rise of Kundalini energy and sexual energy. This ‘bringing life into the
world’ also included the creation of human artefacts for the ancients, who often regarded
such ‘things’ as having their own life and character. Swords for instance were given names
and seen as being born in the fiery energy of the Blacksmith’s forge, a special instance of the
magickal creative energy represented by Brigit. The serpent was her sacred animal, as was
the swan, the goose and the lamb (the latter also being a totemic animal for the Knights
Templar). She was also often represented as a ‘virgin’ herself newly born into the world, so
could be regarded as the Irish form of the new moon aspect of Elen, Nouhalennia (according
to Bayley). And like her has associations with both the power of water as well as a more
fiery energy.


This finally brings us back to Elen and London. A similar goddess to Brigit, quite possibly
Nouhalennia, was probably associated with the sacred spring emerging near what is now

Fleet St (which crosses the ancient river Fleet, now covered over as a sewer). This spring,

and its goddess shrine, had been in use as a sacred site since at least 1000 BC, according to
archaeologists. The ‘holy well’ and temple which replaced it may have been a Roman or
Romano-British development a thousand years later, but the last Celtic people to settle near

it are said to be the Irish raiders, who colonized the banks of the Fleet in the 6th century, at
the time of the collapse of Roman Britain. These people would have without doubt associated
the site with Brigit. A medieval legend claims that the first church was built here soon after
by St Bride visiting from Kildare. Whether this was the same St Bride converted by St
Patrick, an abbess with the same name, or pure myth is uncertain (legend assumes the
former though). The descendents of these Irish immigrants later rebuilt the church and
worked on the reconstruction of much of London in early medieval times and beyond. The
church was thus naturally dedicated to St Bride, and retained this special dedication till the
building of the 8th and current church on the site by Sir Christopher Wren in the 17th century.
Later St Brides would become the favoured church of poets and inspired writers, and later
still became known as the ‘Journalist’s Cathedral’ for the Fleet Street newspaper community.

In her role as the ‘marrying maiden’ (perhaps in part due to confusion over her name!)
St Bride also became the patroness of marriage, and the spire of her church in Fleet St
became the inspiration of the modern wedding cake design (after it had been damaged by
a lightning strike!).

Appendix B Other Celtic Goddesses and Elen