The maiden Goddess Epona is usually portrayed as riding a white mare side-saddle, sometimes with a foal, or standing while surrounded by horses. Her symbol is the Cornucopia (horn of plenty) which suggests that she may have been honoured as a fertility goddess, although she is most commonly known as a goddess of horses and travel. She fed her beloved horses from her cornucopia filled with corn and apples, symbolic of mother-love and abundance.
From the Iron Age, the Celtic goddess’ faith spread across the whole of ancient Europe, eventually being embraced by the Romans and to a certain extent, Christianity. Epona had a shrine in almost every stable of the Roman empire – in fact, she was the only Celtic goddess to be honoured by the Romans with a temple in their capital city.The veneration Epona began in Gaul and then spread from the western coast of Ireland to the lands of Bulgaria. In Ireland, She was paired with Horned One, Cernunnos – the Mare and Stag being two potent fertility symbols. She was goddess of fertility, prosperity, abundance as well as horses and horse breeding.
In ancient times, horses were hard to come by and were considered ‘prestige’ animals. The Celts revered the horse for several things; its beauty, speed, bravery and vigour in the sexual arena, it symbolised the warrior – elites, the aristocracy, in Celtic society.