Regional gods or regional nicknames/theonyms and iconography for existing gods are a part of every living tradition of polytheism. Bessus Leitodubrâkon is certainly no exception to this rule.

In this case, we will extrapolate Aveta (Ah-WEH-tah) in a regional context, gifting Her unique iconography that tie into the regional nickname/theonym that we also present.

To start, we should first acknowledge that Aveta is associated with fresh water springs in Trier, a region previously inhabited by the Treveri[1]. Her attested iconography are clay figurines found in France and Trier, depicting Her holding infants, baskets of fruits and (small) dogs[2].

As to Her theonym, there is no consensus as to what possible meaning it holds. Olmstead proposes that it is a variant name of Aventia, relating it to flowing water. He writes[3]:

Aveta, Aveda, Aventia: “the Flowing (Water)”.

From the Buydères fountain near Donatyre (Münchweiler) in what was formerly the Agri Decumates come inscriptions to the DEAE AVENTIAE or DEAE AVENTIAE ET GEN(IO) INCOLAR(VM) (CIL: XIII: 5071-3). She is also referenced as Aveta in an inscription from Avenches to AVETAE (CIL XIII: 5074). She lent her name to a river in Northern Italy, formerly the Fl. Aventia (AcS I: 310), as well as the Fl. Aventio(n), now the Ant in Norfolk.

The Gaulish source-goddess name Aventia probably derives from *aṷe, *aṷent “to wet, to flow” (IEW: 78) (*h2eṷe-). This goddess also may have lent her name to the Aveda, a river in Gard (the Avèze). This river name is analyzable as *ave-id-o. Gaulish id would be a development of IE *pi-d “spring, wet place” (IEW: 794), as in Irish esc “water” (<*pid-sko).

Another possibility may be in the Proto-Celtic verb *Aw-yo-. Matasović writes[4]:

*aw-yo- ‘protect’ [Vb]
GOlD: OIr. con-oi ‘protects’
PIE: *h2ewH- ‘help, protect’ (IEW: 77)
COGN: Skt. avati ‘helps’
ETYM: OIr. con-oi is from the compound *kom-aw-yo- (the simplex is unattested). The compound PNs Gaul. Aui-cantus and OBret. Eucant might contain the same verbal root. The closest cognate to this Celtic verb is found in Skt. avati, but it is possible that this is the same PIE root as *h2ewH- ‘wish’ (see *awislo- ‘wish, desire’). For the root-final laryngeal cf. the Skt. past participle iita-. Lat. iuuo, iuuiire ‘help’ may also belong here (de Vaan 2008: 318; he reconstructs the root as *h1ewH-). REF: LEIA 0-2, de Vaan 2008: 318.

My compatriot Farwater suggests:

auentos could be a participle or agent form of aw-yo-, meaning ‘protected’ or ‘protector’.

Jürgen Ziedler proposes that Aveta may be connected to Proto-Celtic *awi (wish, desire)[5].

As to Aveta’s ‘function’, Miranda (Aldhouse) Green writes:

However, one goddess, Aveta, from a Trier shrine is associated with several pipe-clay depictions of a nursing goddess. Rarely, as at Daglingworth, Cirencester, the name itself ‘Cuda’, referring directly to prosperity and inscribed on the base of a mother goddess carving, has essential fertility connotations. Stone depictions of isolated mother-goddesses usually take a form similar to the Matres in being seated, draped in a long robe, with cornuacopiae, patera or fruits. At Naix, a mother has a dog and fruit and is associated with acolytes or suppliants. At Crozant in Gaul a single mother stands with three children – the number here is probably significant. A parallel exists at Cirencester where a single mother bears three apples. At Trier, outside a chapel in the Altbachtal religious precinct, a statue of a mother bears a deep fruit-basket and a dog; the statue had been deliberately decapitated, possibly by fourth-century Christians. It is interesting that at Trier the single mother version seems to have been chosen rather than the triple form, whilst, for example, at Cirencester both types co-existed. A particular kind of depiction is present in the Luxembourg area, around Dalheim where single mothers frequently sit in stone aediculae, perhaps representing household shrines[6]….

…We may turn now to small personal offerings to the mother-goddess, the most frequent occurrences being those of white pipe-clay, manufactured in Rhineland and Central Gaulish officina or factories. These, termed Deae Nutrices or nursing goddesses, depict a goddess seated sometimes (in the Central Gaulish ones) in a high-backed wicker chair, nursing one or two infants (one in the Rhineland workshops, two in Gaul). They occur frequently in Gaulish shrines as at St Ouen de Thouberville (Eure), at Trier (associated with Aveta) and among the Mediomatrici of Alsace, as at Sarrebourg. At Dhronecken near Trier, a shrine was apparently devoted to this goddess, represented not only by numerous statuettes of a nursing goddess, but by busts of children – presumably envisaged as being especially protected by the deity. At Alesia, a shrine yielded a pipe-clay mother with two infants in an oppidum with other, monumental, evidence for a mother-goddess cult. At a ‘lararium’ at Rézé near Nantes, standing pipe-clay figures with fruits and stamped solar signs are recorded. But their personal nature is shown by their occurrence in graves, as at Ballerstein and Hultenhause and Hassocks, Sussex (though their presence in British graves is rare). The sepulchral context of some pipe-clay mothers is interesting, especially since they sometimes appear with dogs, as at Canterbury, Titelburg, and in the Aveta-shrine in Trier. The dog-association could be connected with the Underworld or, indeed, as suggested, with healing. Some deae nutrices, as at Trier, are linked with healing-cult establishments[7].

With the possible naming conventions in mind combined with Green’s thoughts, this points to a multifaceted goddess, with fresh water, healing, maternal, and protective associations.

As pointed out, dogs are fairly associated with Her. However, if we are to connect our ecology with our praxis, it is perhaps appropriate to find a native species that could be linked to those functions above.

Enter the Selecion, the turtle;

Reconstructed Gaulish: *Selecios
P. Celtic *Selekyos
http://O.Ir. selige
http://M.Ir. seilche (turtle, snail, tortoise)

In many cultures and religions, the turtle is associated with protection, childbirth, and long life as well as being a mythic icon for continents, islands or even the Earth itself. Of course, Leitodubron being ‘the land of 10,000 lakes’ (freshwater), we have at least 9 species of turtles[8]:

While we at BL advocate for ALL turtles to be included in Her symbology, it is the barioselecion (Snapping Turtle (Fury/Angry Pod/Crawler) that gives another function in relation to our ecology and theology.

Not only is the turtle an extremely liminal being (able to live on land and dwell in water) and therefore sacred, the barioselecion also eats dead and decaying flesh (besides smaller live animals) from fresh water sources[9][10]. This points to the turtle being able to protect against dead/evil/harmful *Scâxslâ/U̯ixtâ from different points of geography, but also one’s own *Certos. The barioselecion is located all over Enistîs Seleciî (Turtle Island/North America), however we at BL adopt it as a default imagery due to it’s appearance as both purifier of spaces and wisened but fierce warrior.

It’s also notable that turtles do not hibernate, but go through periods of brumation in which they do not sleep, but stay awake and do very little during giamos (winter).

Thus, we come to formulating a regional nickname/theonym for Aveta based on Her newly gifted imagery; Nanî Seleceiâ (Grandmother Turtle in English) (NAH-nee Seh-leh-KAY-ahh), Nanî being a back formation from Proto-Celtic *Nani-[11].

FUNCTION OF NANÎ SELECEIÂ IN BESSUS LEITODUBRÂKON:
Nanî Seleceiâ is the guardian/patron of fresh waters. She not only is called upon for healing in purified, sterilized and sacred spaces, but She is also petitioned to purify, sanctify and help with cleaning of any space. She protects against evil and/or dead *Scâxslâ/U̯ixtâ by way of devouring them and is thus called upon to do so when the need arises. Her domains are in the marshlands of Leitodubron, but also fresh water sources which provide for the land, demonstrating Her liminality.

The selecion brumates until spring and fresh waters do not open up until the end of giamos (generally), making Her qualified to be a herald (even a provider) of uasantos and/or samos (spring and/or summer). Being that Bessus Leitodubrâkon is influenced by the Neru̯ji (Nervii), She is gifted a spear that carries many meanings; She is an old but furious warrior in which she uses the spear like the barioselecion can snap it’s serpentine like neck. Thus She is also a potential warrior cultus candidate as well, but more so in the vein of protection against violence and harm. Her grandmotherly imagery demonstrates that She protects mothers bearing children, children themselves during and after childbirth, as well as potentially protecting against evil/harmful brixtâ.

Resources:

  1. The Concept of the Goddess by Sandra Billington and Miranda Green, “The Celtic Goddess as Healer” p. 33
  2. The Concept of the Goddess by Sandra Billington and Miranda Green, “The Celtic Goddess as Healer” p. 33
  3. The Gods of the Celts and the Indo-Europeans (Revised) by Garrett Olmsted p. 370
  4. An Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Celtic by Ranko Matasović p. 49
  5. Celtic *aiu̯ – ‘lifetime, life-force’ by Jürgen Zielder
  6. Gods of the Celts . The History Press. Kindle Edition by Miranda Green
  7. Gods of the Celts . The History Press. Kindle Edition by Miranda Green
  8. Turtles – Minnesota DNR https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/reptiles_amphibians/turtles/index.html
  9. Snapping turtles and your Lake – https://www.turtleguardians.com/snapping-turtles-and-your-lake/
  10. Snapping Turtle – https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/rsg/profile.html?action=elementDetail&selectedElement=ARAAB01010
  11. English -Proto Celtic wordlist https://www.wales.ac.uk/Resources/Documents/Research/CelticLanguages/EnglishProtoCelticWordList.pdf