I learned that today is Epona’s Day, Epona being the Celtic horse goddess. My first exposure to Epona was reading A History of British Native Ponies last winter, where a chapter is named for her. I was asked what I might do to honor Epona today. Luckily I had enough notice to get to the grocery store, so I bought a bag of carrots to distribute to my thirteen hooved friends.
It never fails to amaze me to learn how embedded in English culture horses are. Learning about Epona led me to learn about a 3,000 year old chalk image etched in a hillside. The White Horse of Uffington is maintained by English Heritage today, but it has obviously been sufficiently revered over the years to have survived, given that it is over three hundred feet in length. There are many other ‘white horses’ in England’s past that have been lost through neglect, with the turf growing in on them. One website lists twenty four ‘white horses’, though the Uffington White Horse is by far the oldest.
When Epona’s Day was brought to my attention, it was via an artistic depiction of the goddess. She was shown seated with carrots, apples, and oats in her lap. I focused on the carrots because I traditionally feed out apples to my ponies on New Year’s Day (oats aren’t on the menu here ever.) Epona was further shown flanked by two horses (ponies really), one of which was eying the bounty in Epona’s lap. A friend and I bantered on Facebook about the image, and I concluded that it would be a mob scene in my paddocks if I tried to recreate something similar. Not really, I found out today. All the ponies were well behaved, though very interested in the carrots. It was a bit too much of a logistical challenge for me to sit on the ground and feed my friends AND get a photograph, but we had fun nonetheless, honoring Epona’s day.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2011