Straight from the Horse’s Mouth: Celebrating Epona by Mary Sharratt





The following is a guest post by Mary Sharratt’s Welsh mare, Miss Boo aka Queen Boudicca


The ancient Romans and Gauls knew something that many modern day humans have forgotten. Mares are divine.

The worship of Epona was popular throughout the Roman Empire. Epona was a Gaulish deity whose name means “divine mare” or “she who is like a mare.” Epona was the the only Celtic divinity to receive her own official feast day in the Roman Calendar: Eponalia, December 18, was celebrated on the second day of Saturnalia, the Roman midwinter celebration (December 17 to December 23). But as far as we horses are concerned, every day is Epona’s Day! Go out and hug a horse right now!

The patron deity of horses, ponies, donkeys, and mules, Epona also protected those who looked after equines or worked with them. Thus she was beloved of the Roman cavalry. Epona’s worship stretched from Roman Britain, across Gaul and Germania to Spain, Rome, and Eastern Europe. Not only did she have a temple in Rome and her own holiday, but there were shrines to her in almost every stable. Her altars were adorned with fresh roses. Horses and donkeys were adorned with roses for her processions.

Some modern humans are inspired by these ancient traditions. At midsummer, my human ties roses in my beautiful mane when we ride out together.


In her iconography, Epona is often depicted as a majestic woman riding side saddle, always travelling from left to right. In the image at the top of the page, “Epona from Kastel,” she is riding and carrying a round fruit or loaf. Epona is associated with abundance, fertility, and sovereignty.

A votive image from Budapest shows Epona as a great sovereign lady seated between two horses who feed from her lap.


In the Middle Ages, Epona’s archetype lived on in literary figures such as Rhiannon in the Mabinogian.

Epona was a nurturing mother figure, a giver of abundance and plenty. But what does this mean for us today? Anyone who has spent any time around us horses knows that we are capable of great empathy. Any person who is sad or depressed should spend some time just quietly grooming horses and being with them, and the healing will unfold. When my human is upset, I know right away and I’m especially gentle with her and give her lots of tender snuffles. I also love children and am extra careful around them. Here’s a picture of me with one of my little human friends.



People have reported great success using horses to treat autistic children and adults. Even people suffering from eating disorders can heal if they spend time with equines. Horses have huge hearts. Especially mares! We’re hard-wired to nurture.

Heartland Girls’ Ranch in Minnesota offers equine therapy to help heal sex-trafficked girls. Each girl is matched with a horse that she cares for and this partnership helps build back her sense of trust and self-worth.

The Romans celebrated Eponalia by giving every horse, donkey, and mule a day of rest. Modern humans who keep horses can observe this by giving their horses a day off and by offering them apples, which are sacred to Epona. Humans can also honour Epona by donating to equine charities, to Heartland Ranch, or your local horse rescue centre.

What would human civilization look like had there not been a millennia-long partnership between humans and equines? Have a heart for the horses who have carried their humans so far and so faithfully.


Epona’s Day: The Gifts of Midwinter by Caitlin Matthews

Heartland Girls’ Ranch

Miss Boo aka Queen Boudicca is a Welsh mare who lives in the Pendle region of Lancashire. A hereditary Welsh trad witch in the most archetypal sense of the word, Miss Boo lives in deep communion with the Earth and is a keeper of ancestral wisdom. Miss Boo is a committed feminist, and she and her herd preserve an ancient matriarchal social structure unchanged since the dawn of their species. Don’t mess with chestnut mares! She is the proud owner of the author, Mary Sharratt. All royalties from Mary’s book sales will go to keeping Miss Boo in the style to which she has become accustomed. Visit her human’s website.


Categories: General, Goddess

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21 replies

  1. just a divine story … so many of my friends will love this. thank you Miss Boo


  2. Dear Miss Boo, I had to walk out of the play War Horses in London, because I felt so sorry for the horse. I wonder how you feel about your ancestors having been conscripted to fight in wars. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think those were happy times for them. Siggghhh


    • Miss Boo is appalled at the way both horses and humans have been exploited by war and conflict. Most humans don’t know this, but the movements in classical dressage are all drawn from military maneuvers.


  3. Thanks so much, Mary Sharratt — love the photo of the horse reading your book (“The Dark Lady’s Mask”) — priceless!! And yes, greatly enjoyed reading this post.

    I was one of those teenage girls who were deep into love of horses. And working with books of photos, I spent many hours doing large drawings of them with charcoal, and I felt at home completely in their imagery. Apparently connection with horses helps girls increase self-confidence and self-esteem too. Definitely true for me. You sense the enormous personal strength of the horse and you take it on in yourself.


  4. Thank you, Miss Boo, for this delightful and informative post!


  5. Miss Boo, thank you for confirming what I’ve knows for a while – horses indeed are divine. I have a horse story or two or even three to tell and I have somewhere and I’ll go and search for it. Thank you for the reminder about healing, it is important. Us girls should stick together. Male horses are quite good too in this regard. One, a stranger, gave me a big hug one day.


  6. Oh, I love this article. I especially love the photo of you with the roses in your mane; rather a refreshing image!


  7. Horses are beautiful animals and as a child, I wanted one of my own more than anything, but as an adult vegan, I’m starting to question the idea of humans “keeping” animals as pets. Using them to make us feel better, as beasts of burden, or as accomplices in past wars – all of this makes me uneasy. Where do we draw the line between “helping” animals and “using” them? Is “breeding” animals ethical? Is “selling” them ethical? And what about “breaking” them to train them to carry us around on their backs or provide us with entertainment/comfort? I’m pondering these questions, too.


    • You’ve raised so many interesting points. To a large extent, humans and horses have evolved together. It’s questionable if horses would have survived as a species without domestication. There are very few truly wild horses left. The mustangs of the American West are the descendants of escaped domestic horses brought over by the Spanish.

      Miss Boo would like to point out that any human who thinks they can dominate a stubborn Welsh mare or force her to do anything she doesn’t want to do is sadly deluded. Successful human/horse partnership involves mutual respect and trust. As the saying goes, “Tell a gelding, ask a stallion, negotiate with a mare.”

      Miss Boo and I share your disgust for animal cruelty and unethical breeders.

      Thank you for your comments!


  8. Love, love love this! Thank you!


  9. As I read this I could again feel the warm sweet breath of a horse I once “hugged”. “Once”, years ago, still remembered and felt because it touched me so deeply. Thank you Miss Boo, and I love your hat! Hope you don’t mind if I save the picture.


  10. Oh Miss Boo – we do love hearing your sweet words!



  1. GMC: Epona | Temple of Athena the Savior

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