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Saturday, 4 May 2013

Hellivesa – a Germanic divine seeress


Hellivesa-1-webDedicatory inscription, found at the town Gleuel, near Cologne in Germany.
The inscription in the stone reads:
Ahueccanis / Avehae et Hellivesae / Sexti Val(erius) Peregrin(us) / et Val(erius) Felicio fratres / ex reditu ipsarum / l(ibentes) p(osuerunt) / Muciano et Fabiano co(n)s(ulibus)
Which means:
The brothers Sextus Valerius Peregrinus And Felix dedicate this altar to the ‘ahueccanic’ goddesses Aveha and Hellivesa, payed with the earnings from the temple.
Hellivesa is likely a Germanic goddess who was venerated in the region directly west of Cologne.The related literature offers two possible explanations for her name and meaning:
  1. Her name points to the small river Elle, nowadays called Ellebach  which streams in the aforementioned region and flows into another small river, the Rur. In this explanation, this goddess is seen as a local river goddess of that Ellebach river.
  2. In the second explanation the first word of the inscription ‘Ahuecanis‘ is drawn into the case:
    The first part of that term is assumed of being related with Germanic ‘*ahwō-‘  and Old High German ‘aha‘ which both mean ‘water’.
    The second part ‘-canis’ is brought in relation with later Germanic ‘*galan‘ singing spells (incantations), *seiþan and *sīþan meaning performing magic and Indo-european *wigulōn, *wihulōn, meaning to prophesy and to cast spells, to perform magic.
Hence, the term ‘ahuecanis’ would point to the two goddesses Aveha and Hellivesa who are either divine seeresses using water for their magical practice or water goddesses who are seeresses, sooth-sayers or prophetesses.

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