Andraste is invoked for courage, luck, safety, and victory in battle. Her name may mean “invincible,” “unconquerable,” or “victory.” She is the goddess invoked by Boudica, the British warrior queen during her rebellion against Rome in 60 CE. Because of this rebellion, information survives regarding Andraste—albeit from the pens of Romans, enemies of her devotees.
Dio Cassius was a biased reporter born long after Boudica’s revolt. It’s difficult to judge the accuracy of his statement: it is not even clear whether he means Andraste’s rites were truly similar to the Dionysian spiritual traditions of actual Maenads or if the word Maenad had degenerated into an insult word, signifying nothing but wild, bloodthirsty women.
Roman historian Dio Cassius (born circa 160 CE, died after 229, the publication date of his last book) spent over twenty-two years researching an eighty-volume history of Rome. He wrote that Boudica ritually released a hare to invoke Andraste when initiating her military campaigns. Dio Cassius describes the rites of Andraste as resembling those of Maenads, the female devotees of Dionysus. He did not intend this as a compliment. The comparison was given in the context of describing Boudica’s massacre of Roman women in London.
Dio Cassius writes that following the sack of London, Boudica’s female prisoners were sacrificed in Andraste’s grove: victims’ breasts were cut off and stuffed into their mouths beforethey were vertically impaled on great skewers. (What happened to male prisoners—if there were any—is unclear.) Roman senator and historian Tacitus (circa 56 CE—circa 117 CE), who lived closer to Boudica’s time, also describes the scene but not in terms of sacrifices to Andraste. He suggests that Boudica and company were already aware of their fate and eventual defeat and so were exacting revenge in advance. The Romans identified the goddess Andraste with their own goddess, Victoria.
Place: The only thing truly known about Andraste’s rites is that she was venerated in a grove. If you seek her, this is the place to start.
Dionysus; Nike; Victoria
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by :Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.