Henwen

Henwen
Henwen by Mielle de Lange ( click on image for credits )

Henwen : Ancient White One

Henwen is a goddess of fertility, abundance, and prosperity venerated in the form of a great white sow, tended by Coll ab Collfrewi, one of Britain’s three great swineherds. He pastured her in a valley in Cornwall. All was well until Henwen conceived. A prophecy foretold that Henwen’s progeny would harm Britain, and so King Arthur attempted to capture and kill her. (An alternative version suggests that Henwen was specifically a threat to him.)

Arthur assembled a host of knights against this one big pig but she escaped, tunnelling through Earth until she reached the sea. An ocean may stop a regular pig but not a goddess. Henwen plunged into the depths with Coll hanging on to her bristles the whole time. (It’s unclear if he’s just hanging on or if he was instrumental in trying to save her.) Periodically emerging, wherever she touched Earth, Henwen brought forth from her own body incredibly fine wheat and barley, plus bees that produce the best honey in Britain. She gives birth to an eaglet, a wolf, and a ferocious cat. (No domestic cats existed in Britain at this time, only wildcats.) Exactly what happened to Henwen is unclear. She was not captured and so is presumably still free and roaming.

A hidden goddess lurks beneath this legendary pig, possibly similar to that other great white sow, Cerridwen. Henwen was an oracular sow. Letter sticks formed from rods made of ash and carved with runic symbols were stuck into the ground. Henwen, when asked a question, would point her nose at different sticks in turn, spelling out an answer. Her oracular powers were only invoked in times of emergency. Invoke her for fertility, abundance, and adventure as well as prophetic answers.

ORIGIN:

Wales

OFFERINGS:

Ale, mead, barley wine

SEE ALSO:

SOURCE:

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.

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