10/01/2008

Goddess of the week - Sequana

Name: Sequana
Sphere of influence: The River Seine - healing
Location: France
Famous portraits: The one to the left here in this article

Sequana was a local Celtic goddess connected to the river Seine, and more specifically its source in Burgundy, the Châtillon Plateau near Dijon. A shrine dedicated to the river-goddess was erected in the second or first century B.C., and the Romans would later build a more impressive and monumental temple at the same place in her honour.

Sequana is for once a goddess that we have a statue of that is done by the people that worshiped her. As can be seen in this image she was portrayed as a young woman in draped clothing. The diadem on her head shows her high status. She is standing in a boat in the form of a duck - a clear connection with her role as a river-goddess.

As in many other cases to be river-goddess meant that you were strongly connected to a role as healer (see also for example Sulis). This is clearly shown at Sequana's shrine, where masses of votive-gifts have been found. These gifts can be split into two groups: images of body-parts and limbs, and portraits of pilgrims that came to the shrine to pray for help. The images of the body-parts could be made of either stone or wood and could be anything from internal organs to limbs, heads, and even whole bodies. These were offered in the hope of cure. A common theme was problems with the eyes and it is reasonable to believe that Sequana was thought to be especially good at healing such sufferings. The portraits offered to her of pilgrims show people in simple clothing and it is probable that she was a goddess that the general population turned to with their problems. At her shrine there was also a lot of coins and jewellery - probably offered as a thank you to the goddess.

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