Jan 11, 2014

Celtic dragon and goddess of moon

In order to get a more detailed understanding of the beginnings of the religious idea of reincarnation in Bosnia and Herzegovina it is necessary to follow the snake (dragon) trail on the unique symbol of ancient past of this country - tombstone. Even though the representation of a dragon on a Bosnian tombstone such as the one in Boljuni or on the famous tombstone from Donje Zgošće accidentally or on purpose didn't stimulate interest for serious observations, but was interpreted in a simpler way, as heraldic motifs without any deeper background meaning, it can be a road sign to any serious researcher when it comes to discovering religious and cultural heritage of the Bosnian people. Luckily today we know that depictions of dragons are not accidental nor in the form of an ornament without meaning, but they represent, among others, proof of deep symbiosis of Celts and Illyrians, through cultural and religious practice. Namely, on some tombstones there are depictions of two-headed dragons which is the same as the Celtic symbol of the two-headed dragon. The similarity of the Celtic and Bosnian (Illyrian) tradition doesn't end there, but it gets its full meaning through depictions of the Celtic moon goddess Arianhrod on one of the tombstones which brings us to recent evidence about the dominant influence of the cult of the Grand Mother and dragon as symbol of fertility - new life.
Arianhod is known under several names: "High Fruitful Mother", "Silver Wheel", "Silver Circle", "Sky Goddess", etc. In etymology it is considered that her name comes from the Welsh word "silver" or "ariawyn" - "silver woman". The origin of the name is also brought into connection with Ariadne or Aradia, Greek lunar goddess, which is connected to the cult of the growing moon. Ariana, whose meaning is "one very holly", is a familiar Illyrian name and is very present today on the territory of Albania, Kosovo and BiH. Other variations of this name are also in use such as Ilirijana or Ilirija.

Celtic goddess of moon Arianrhod. Celtic goddess of moon Arianrhos on a Bosnian tombstone.   
Celtic religious influence on Illyrian tribes left a relatively deep mark especially on the cult of the Grand Mother. Namely, according to Celtic legend, Arianhrod takes care of warriors and their souls which perfectly fits into the legend about Mujo Hrnjica and the Mountain faery. In the same manner, Arianhrod is the goddess of reincarnation, new life, with which she represents unrivalled mother of life. Notion of reincarnation i.e. resurrection and new life was not foreign to the Illyrians, on the contrary, all that symbology was represented by the snake, their totem, which personified the unbroken circle of life by shedding its skin.
In accordance with everything said so far, we can conclude that reincarnation notion was inseparable part of the cult of fertility and the Grand Mother and that as such it was part of the tradition of our people throughout all centuries, in a smaller or larger extent. That's why we can find it in the Bogomil tradition but also during middle Ages in folk religion.