Epona. Epona is a prominent figure in Celtic mythology, revered as the goddess of horses, mules, and donkeys. Her name derives from the Gaulish word "epos," meaning "horse."
Epona's worship is believed to have originated with the Celts in Gaul (modern-day France and surrounding regions), but her popularity was so widespread that her cult was adopted by the Roman cavalry and spread throughout the Roman Empire. This made her one of the few Celtic deities to be worshipped in Rome itself.
As the protector of horses, Epona held a crucial role in societies that highly valued these animals for transportation, warfare, and labor. Horses were not just crucial for practical purposes but were also considered sacred and symbolic animals by many ancient cultures. Epona's role extended beyond mere protection of horses; she was also invoked as a guardian of travelers, especially those on horseback, and she symbolized fertility, abundance, and rebirth.
Though her worship declined with the spread of Christianity and the end of the ancient world, Epona's image and influence continue to resonate in studies of Celtic mythology and paganism.