Water Horses and Magical Mares

Bonjour From Brittany

Venerated since antiquity, the horse long played an important role in the popular religious and secular traditions of Brittany. The beast was more than a mere symbol of power and prestige or a useful descriptor for the state of the ocean waves; it was an integral part of the farming unit and the object of unique rites, superstitions and enchantments. Many of the region’s legends associate the horse with water and death; just like the notorious water horses found elsewhere in the folklore of the Celtic fringe.

Regular readers will know that I am wary of making sweeping generalisations regarding early Celtic beliefs. However, it is fair to say that the Celts likely esteemed the horse a powerful and perhaps sacred animal. The Gallo-Roman god of horses, Epona, is believed to have been a Celtic god before becoming established in the pantheon of the Roman world as the patron goddess…

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