Goddess Andraste is the embodied spirit of all of nature in Norfolk, England. We know She must have been a Goddess of Sovereignty to the Iceni tribe because Queen Boudica called on her to protect the people and their lands when they were invaded and brutalised by the Romans in 60AD.
Boudica may have been a Priestess of Andraste, possibly as Queen she was an earthly embodiment of the Goddess, or at least chosen as leader by Andraste. Able to perform ritual, she was probably trained as a Druid.
It was the role of the Goddess to bestow sovereignty to a person fit to lead the tribe and hold the land in balance. A strong and wise leader who could make the best choices for all. The leader would be joined with the Goddess in a symbolic marriage which still has traces in modern-day coronation rituals. Queen Elizabeth II had the ‘Wedding Ring of England’ placed on her finger as she made her Queenly vows.
The Romans recorded that Andraste was worshiped in Groves and we can imagine our ancestors seeing the forests and groves as places of sacred sanctuary. The majestic old trees with their roots reaching deep into the earth and their branches reaching high into the skies. Spanning the three realms. Walking in the woods is like stepping out of time as we breath in the richly oxygenated air and listen to the soothing nature sounds. Magical places that teach us cycles of growth, decay and regrowth, of relationship, mutual aid, acceptance.
Andraste as protector of borders helps us to see we need to make the best of what we have, enrich what is ours. Andraste teaches us about satisfied containment, about sustainable living. Focus on your core, strengthen and enrich what you have, as an individual, as a community and as a planet. Without greed and desire for ‘power over’ we could all live much more harmoniously.
But when someone tries to take our share then Andraste can teach us about righteous anger and empowerment.
When the Romans decided to disregard Boudica’s Goddess given right to rule they disrespected Andraste’s authority. Boudica rose as an embodiment of the mighty Goddess against them. Did Andraste chose Boudica as her ‘hero’, her hand of vengeance, or did Boudica assign herself?
Boudica let loose a hare and called to Andraste to direct the hare to show the outcome of the battle. Boudica trained in rites of ritual and interpretation, called to Andraste, Mistress of Magic, a Goddess who could empower acts of divination, a Goddess with power over the land and it’s animals.
We have learnt to call to Andraste to empower our spells. To ask for guidance on the future, on the right path to take. She holds insight. She is a powerful Magical ally.
We have also learnt to call on Andraste when we need to ‘fight’ for what is right. We have learnt to talk about ‘righteous anger’ when we need to stand up for ourselves or others. Anger is a Goddess given emotion. It is sometimes a very necessary one but needs to be handled with care, it mustn’t be allowed to consume us.
Did Boudica offer the reported bloody sacrifices to Andraste in her sacred groves or is this a Roman embellishment. Did the Roman need to believe her to be something terrible, other worldly, surely not a mere woman. Roman women were not allowed any political rights or voice, prized for their domestic skills and chastity. Quite a different breed to this Pagan warrior Queen.
If they did take place, did Andraste delight in bloody sacrifice, or did she see the balance of the land once more out of kilter?
Three glorious, brutal, bloody victories; Colchester, London and St Albans. The Archaeological Destruction Horizon gives us solid evidence of the scale of these battles.
Then final defeat.
It is recorded that Boudica was never captured. Could it be that she died unidentified in battle? Or did she kill herself and join with Andraste in the Otherworld? Sacrifice herself, give her body back to the land? Is it possible she caught that raging anger and retired to fight the battle in a quieter, more considered way? Maybe Boudica teaches us to stand and fight when necessary but also warns us not to be consumed by rage.
At Norfolk Goddess Temple our patron Goddess is Andraste. We call on Andraste to guide us, give us strength to face challenges and fight battles when necessary. We experience her as a strong Earthy energy, as we walk this land, our feet meet in communion with her, we become land protectors. We fight against the destruction of our corner of this island. We fight against roads, we fight for the trees. We rewild small spaces, making the right decisions for balance in nature.
We focus on the core of our being, look for the heart of the matter and try to remain grounded in her love. We see her as our Goddess of the heart, our core, we associate roses with her and Lime Trees with their heart shaped leaves.
We see her care and softness in the Norfolk chalk that gently hugs the coastline and runs through streams creating a pure, mineral rich environment that encourages so much thriving natural diversity. We also see her steely determination in the hard nuggets of Flint used in so many Norfolk buildings. She has both aspects, just as both materials are formed from the bodies of Marine creatures. She can be experienced as soft or hard, as unconditional love or empowering anger.
Her soft nature calls us to reconnect with the land, try to be content with what we have, see the good in others. Her hard side teaches us to fight for what is right, act as defender to the vulnerable, helps us to connect with our power and empowers our magic. She helps us to feel part of the land, like we belong, part of fierce and beautiful nature.
BIO: Claire Bullion is a Priestess at the Norfolk Goddess Temple, feminist and nature lover. NGT have worked over many years to understand the face of the Goddess in Norfolk, through meditation, visioning, embodiment as well as walking the land and participating in regular ritual. You can find them on Facebook or Instagram and they welcome you to attend their regular open ceremonial celebrations of the Goddess.