The Great Protectress of Aventicum
Anextlomarâ is probably one of the most obscure figures in the Helvetii pantheon. The only evidence we have of Her is a single inscription in the Helvetii capital city of Aventicum which is now Avanches, Switzerland. While a single inscription isn’t much to go off of, it was a good start to reconstruct from. Through etymology, comparisons to other Gods, delving into the Gallo-Roman aspects, and looking at unverified personal gnosis (UPG) and divination I was able to speculate and reconstruct Anextlomarâ.
Inscription and Etymology
As previously stated, we only have one single inscription found in the Helvetian capital city of Aventicum. Aventicum was very likely named after the Goddess Aventia and it’s location made it a prosperous trading spot along the road that connects Italy with Germany. Aventicum was established as one of 12 cities after Roman occupation. While we know the territory the Helvetii had prior, we have no hard evidence to place pre-roman settlements with a few possible except one like Yverdon, Zürich, and maybe Bern as well.
When Switzerland became Romanized, they were allowed to maintain their Gods and beliefs but Roman influence bled in and the Gallo-Roman synchronization began. Anextlomarâ and the other Dêwoi (Gods) of Aventicum very likely received a Roman makeover. The Gallo-Roman pantheon would pop up all over Gaul, taking Celtic Gods and synching them with Roman counterparts. Gobannos, God of Smithing, would become Cobannos in some places. Taking on features of Mars, Cobannos was a youthful, beautiful God of weapon crafting. The Celtic elements remained while adopting Roman features.
Anextlomarâ is no exception. She’s been equated with the Greco-Roman God Apollo which will be discussed later on. Something to note, at this time the Roman Imperial Cultus was becoming popular and was even found in Aventicum in the same inscription as Anextlomarâ. This Imperial Cultus venerated Roman Emporers and other important Roman figures. The inscription specifically reads, “Anextlomarae et Aug(usto) Public(us) Aunus, (To Anextlomara and to August, Publicus Aunus)”.
This inscription really has no found context but it can assumed that it was maybe someone’s personal dedication to both Celtic and Imperial beliefs. Before we dive into the etymology, it should be established how “x” was pronounced to the Gauls. In Gaulish, “x” would have made a “chh” sound like in the Scottish “Loch”. It’s important to make this distinction to better honor Anextlomarâ with proper pronounciation, but I digress.
Her name breaks down to anextlo-, anexto- signifying “protection” and maro-, “great”, “big”. Anextlomarâ is therefore “The Great Protectress” or “With Great Protection”. This inscription could signify a unity between the Dêwoi of the Helvetii and the new Roman Imperial Cult. Anextlomarâ may have represented the amalgamation of the Gaulish and Roman cultures, which isn’t always a peaceful process, and protection would be something that the Romanized Gauls would have valued. Aventicum was also a massive trade hub along the main route to Rome through Switzerland and trade roads would have been prime targets for theives, bandits, and likely the various Germanic warbands which would travel south, especially during the Alemanni and Burgundi invasions. A protective figure would have been paramount to living in a wealthy city and Anextlomarâ would have fit that role perfectly.
Marâ vs Marus
A somewhat common occurrence in Gaul was the various tribes to have, what seems to be, worship of the same God but having alternate genders. One such example is Artio and Artionos. With Anextlomarâ we have such an occurrence. Over in Aedui territory, modern day Le Mans in Sarthe, a department of France, there’s another inscription but not to Anextlomarâ. Instead it’s a masculine, Anextlomarus or Apollo Anextlomarus. This raises many questions. Is this the same deity? Is He a brother or a husband of Anextlomarâ? Is Anextlomarâ a feminized version of a Aedui God?
The answers are uncertain but one could look at the estranged pair as symbolic to the relationship of the tribes. We do not have a historical origin of either the Aedui or the Helvetii but in Caesar’s, “Conquest of Gaul”, they are presented as rival tribes. The Aedui were allies of Rome while the Helvetii fought against them. But there doesn’t seem to be any hatred between the tribes but during the Helvetii migration, it was made clear that travel through Aedui territory was not an option. The Helvetii even welcomed the Aedui nobleman Dumnorix. Dumnorix allied himself and his anti-Roman warband with Orgetorix, a Helvetian Cheiftan, even marrying one of his daughters.
Perhaps the Aedui and Helvetii were once part of the same tribe, or allied, sharing culture and Gods. With the rise of Rome, they divided and subsequently divided Anextlomarâ. The Hevletii saw Her as feminine and the Aedui saw masculine, most likely due to Roman influence. The Aedui even equated Anextlomarus to the Greco-Roman God Apollo. There is some allegorical symbolism when looking at history. The Aedui Cheif and Druid was Diviciacos. Diviciacos was a Roman ally but his younger brother Dumnorix was vastly anti-Roman. This caused Dumnorix to take his faction of anti-Roman Aedui to the Helvetii. Like Anextlomarâ and Anextlomarus, these two figures in history were forever divided.
Goddess of Light
To begin understanding who Anextlomarâ is we need to start with looking at the God with whom the Romans and the Aedui equated Her with. Commonly, we see Romans synching Mars, Mercury, and Jupiter with Gaulish Gods but not often do we see Apollo. Technically, the Aedui Anextlomarus is specifically paired with Apollo but if Anextlomarâ is the same or in any way related to Marus then to draw from Apollo is a valid action. Apollo is one or the major twelve Olympians in the Greek pantheon. He’s the God of light, art, truth, oaths, omens, healing, disease, and is famous for his Oracle at Delphi. While all these aspects wouldn’t likely apply to Anextlomarâ, but there are some key features that we can work with and can link to other deities.
Firstly, we need to look at light. Gods and Goddesses of light are typically seen as beautiful, the fairest of their pantheons. This includes Apollo. It should be said that there is a common misconception that Apollo is a sun God because of this. Over time Apollo and Helios, the Titan who is the Greek sun God, were amalgamated together. While it’s easy to link light with the sun, we need to keep in the perspective of Proto-Indo-European (PIE) eyes where they are more often separate concepts. Light is the opposite of darkness which is clear and obvious and instead of looking at the two as “good” and “evil”, we need to examine how they are symbolic in the ancient world.
Darkness is mysterious, chaotic, and wild in most beliefs. Not necessarily bad but representing the unknown, the unpredictable side of nature. The opposite is light. Light represents order, law, and being able to see the world around us. We see this split especially in the Norse world. The Gods in the north are split between Aesir and Vanir. The Vanir are Gods of the Earth/Nature, magic, and the untamed side of life while the Aesir are order, war, and society/civilization. This could also be applied to the Gaulish world. Gaulish Gods are seemingly divided into two categories (some are liminal and represent both at the same time). One is Ueronados which is the Upper World and the celestial realm of Albios. The other is Andernados or the Lower World and the cthonic realm or Dubnos also known as Antumnos (Underworld or Otherworld).
In Gaulish Polytheism, light is part of Samos, the cosmic principle that comes from Albios. The association with Apollo and Anextlomarâ then tells us that She is a celestial being from Albios. Like the Aesir, Anextlomarâ is a Goddess of order and civilization which is appropriate, since She was clearly worshipped highly in Aventicum.
To help support this, we turn back north to look at another light deity, Baldr. Jacob Grimm broke down Baldr’s name and traced the root as the Gothic word balþs (brave) but Baldr does appear across Germany and in Bavaria (which shares the Alps with Switzwerland) as Palter. On the surface, Baldr and Apollo are similar as Gods of light and being the most beautiful Gods in their pantheons. If we look deeper we do find deeper links. In the story of the Death of Baldr, from the Norse Eddas, Baldr is plagued by prophetic nightmares of His death. This is important as Apollo is the God of omens and prophecy. Keep in mind that in most sources Baldr is the father of Forseti, who’s the God of foresight and prophecy.
In response to this, Frigg, Baldr’s mother, travels the world making everything swear an oath to never harm Baldr. Up until Loki or Hödr (depending on which version of the story you read) intervened causing Baldr’s death, Baldr was invulnerable to everything in all the nine worlds (excluding mistletoe). Baldr recieves an omen and is given ultimate protection from an oath. All of these are aspects of Apollo, but they are also associated with a Celtic deity, Lugh. While not specifically a God of light, Lugh is a God heavily associated with truth, omens, and law. While the Celtic world has hundreds upon hundreds of Gods and Goddesses, Lugh’s name links three together.
The meaning of Lugh’s name is still a matter of debate. Some scholars propose it derives from the PIE root *(h2)lewgh- meaning “to bind by oath” (compare Old Irish luige and Welsh llw, both meaning “oath, vow, act of swearing” and derived from a suffixed Proto-Celtic form, *lugiyo-, “oath”), suggesting He was originally a god of oaths and sworn contracts. In the past, His name was generally believed to come from the Proto-Indo-European root *leuk-, “flashing light”. Lugh and His equivalents, Lleu Llaw Gyffes (Welsh) and Lugus (Gaulish) all share these attributes with Baldr and Apollo. Lugh is also depicted as a protective savior of the Tuathe De Dannan much like Apollo and Baldr (in the case of returning from the dead after Ragnarok). Though it should be noted that “flashing light” is commonly seen as lightning and not light in the context that we’re looking at. But that itself should be considered as well.
Lightning, Fire, and Daylight
When looking at mythology, light appears in three forms: Lightning, Fire, and the Sun. All three are associated with protection. Lightning, which some cultures consider to be “divine fire”, is the ultimate weapon used against chaotic beings by the chief sky Gods like Zeus, Jupiter, Taranis, Perkunas, and Indra. Lightning is also used by heroic Gods like Thor and, of course, Lugh. While lightning is divine protection, fire is the protector of humanity and symbol civilization. The use of fire has kept the darkness and cold of night and winter at bay and helped raise humanity out of the caves and into civilization. Most famously is the story of Promethesus who stole fire of Olympus and gave it to humans.
With fire, people could now cook their food, fend off the elements, keep wild animals at bay, and illuminate the night. Fire can be destructive and chaotic, as it is a force of nature, but it is the tool humanity needed to advance. Lastly, we have the sun. As previously stated, it needs to be noted that a solar diety, and in some cases lunar deities, embody the sun, but in many cases the light from the sun has a God or Goddess all its own. In Norse Mythology, Suna is the sun goddess but Baldr is daylight and Dagr is the dawn. Helios is the sun god but Apollo is also daylight and figures like Aether and Eos represent aspects like the dawn and the day.
This scenario of the sun and daylight being separate deities functioning together appears across the world and is also seen with the moon and stars which we will come back to later on. With all this in mind, the sun, dawn, and daylight are almost primordial protectors. The warmth of daylight protects us from the cold and fears of the dark of night. The sun is a major part of the Samos principle. A cosmic protector that humans need to survive. Looking at all this and the connections to Apollo, Baldr, and Lugh, it cpuld be said that Anextlomarâ is a Goddess of fire (protector of civilization), daylight (protection from night), omens, oaths, and truth. There’s a possibility to have connection to lightning as divine protection but there’s not enough evidence to support it.
The Goddess Aspect
We’re not finished quite yet though. We’ve delved into and compared Anextlomarâ to Gods of light but we need to look at a crucial feature… She’s a Goddess. Many of the aspects observed so far are masculine and therefore the data for Anextlomarâ is still incomplete. It’s not uncommon for Gods and Goddesses to have qualities and features of one of or both genders. While we’ve covered the masciline aspect of Anextlomarâ, we now need to look at Her feminine aspect. To start, we assume that Anextlomarâ is most likely the fairest and most beautiful of the Helvetic Pantheon because of being a Goddess of Light. Therefore we can take that detail and apply it to what we commonly see in the fairest goddesses of the world.
Love and Marriage
Starting again in the Greco-Roman world, the fairest of all the Goddesses is, of course, Aphrodite (Greek) and Venus (Rome). These Goddesses are renown for their beauty and power over lust and love. While it wouldn’t be wise to assume that Anextlomarâ and Venus are the same. On the contrary, seeing how it’s been established that Anextlomarâ is order and civilization while Venus and Aphrodite are more focused on wild passion and pure lust, it can be seen that Anextlomarâ could be love within order. More specifically marriage and union.
Venus and Aphrodite take on lovers aside from their respective husbands, Vulcan (Rome) and Hephestus (Greek), mostly with Mars (Rome) and Ares (Greek). There is some archaeological proof to support the contrast. In Aventicum, Anextlomarâ and, a possible consort, the Dêwoi Cissonius are two prominent Helvetti deities found. While there were other Gods worshipped in the city, it could point to a divine paring between Anextlomarâ and Cissonius. Anextlomarâ represents union and marriage and Cissonius, or Cissonios, with His Mercury and Bacchus similarities, could represent revelry and celebration much like a wedding reception. With that said, we can theorize that Anextlomarâ and Cissonius were central to Aventicum society, or at least highly honored Dêwoi, of Aventicum and could have been involved in marriage ceremonies and rituals. With an association with binding oaths, it wouldn’t be hard to believe that marriages were done in Her name and/or vows were bound in Her name and the celebration after would have centered around Cissonios.
Continuing on back to the Norse pantheon there are another pair of Goddesses we need to discuss, Freyja and Frigg. Initially when starting this research it seemed that Freyja would have made a good connection, with Her being a Goddess of love and beauty. But after much reading it’s become apparent that Anextlomarâ has alot more in common with Frigg than initially thought.
To start off, Freyja’s name never leaves Scandinavia while Frigg’s name has Germanic roots. There is the ongoing scholarly debate about whether or not that Frigg and Freyja are the same deity. Both are ladies of love, beauty, and patrons of women in Scandinavia. One way to look at it is that Freyja represents love in the Vanir (nature) perspective while Frigg is the Aesir (civilization) version of love so for this analysis we will focus on Frigg.
The theonyms Frigg (Old Norse) and Frija (Old High German) are cognate forms (linguistic siblings of the same origin) that descend from a substantivized feminine of Proto-Germanic frijaz (via Holtzmann’s law).
Frijaz descends from the same source (PIE) as the feminine Sanskrit noun priyā and the feminine Avestan noun fryā (both meaning “own, dear, beloved”). In the modern period, an “a” suffix is sometimes applied to denote femininity, resulting in the form Frigga. This spelling also serves the purpose of distancing the goddess from the English word frig.
In the Eddas, and other sagas, Frigg is the wife of Odin and the only Goddess Odin trusts to call upon for advice and wisdom. She is the Goddess of knowledge and foresight much like Her Grandson Forseti. Where as Freyja is more like Venus and Aphrodite in the way that She’s more lustful, Frigg is a devoted wife, mother, and Queen of the Aesir. This is much more in line with the character of Anextlomarâ.
This connection may point out that Anextlomarâ might have been a Goddess of sovereignty prior to Roman occupation. Various tribes of Gaul had a divine pairing to represent sovereignty like Sucellos and Nantosueltâ or Taranis and Eponâ.
Rosmertâ and the Rûnâs
However, there is one sovereignty pairing that is more significant for this topic, Lugus and Rosmertâ. We’ve already discussed Lugus a bit but Rosmertâ is another Goddess of omens and prophecy. What’s so significant about this connection is that Lugus and Rosmertâ could be epithets for Cissonius and Anextlomarâ.
Both Lugus and Cissonios are equated with Mercury, and Rosmertâ could be equated with Apollo under the same similarities as Anextlomarâ (omens and protection). Most likely Lugus and Rosmertâ are separate from Cissonius and Anextlomarâ but it’s not an impossibly that they are the Helvetian variation of Lugus and Rosmertâ.
Another solid link between Rosmertâ and Anextlomarâ is the lepontic language. Most, if not all, Gaulish polytheists associate divination with Rosmertâ and the leptonic runes or Gaulish Rûnâs. Treated in a similar way as Norse Runes, these letters are used for divination and are connected to both Rosmertâ and Carnonos by modern GaulPol. These letters and the language were centered in what is now Lugano, Switzerland.
The Helvetii would almost be 100% likely to speak this language even though it’s Rheatian in origin (named after the Lepontii Tribe) and while it’s unsure if the Helvetii or the Rheatians used the language for divination in those days, much like the runes in Scandinavia, but in a modern context the Rûnâs and divination could be an aspect of Anextlomarâ as much as it is for Rosmertâ.
Brigantiâ and the Hearthfire
Many Celtic Goddesses could be looked at for comparison like the Welsh Branwen or the Irish Clíodhna but the Goddess of the Brigantes tribe, Brigantiâ is just as similar to Anextlomarâ as Rosmertâ is. Brigantiâ is the Gaulish Goddess of protection, mountains, hearth, and fire.
Again we’re seeing fire and protection but something to note is the hearth aspect. The hearth is very important to the ancient world as it was where the family and/or the community would come together in friendship or for meetings etc. This one act features both fire and unity so it very well could be applied to Anextlomarâ.
To conclude this analysis, looking at all the comparisons, we can make a few assumptions about Anextlomarâ’s place in the Helvetian Pantheon and in the culture of the Helvetii. We’ve established that Alpes is most likely the primordial mother of the Helvetic Gods which would make Anextlomarâ a daughter or granddaughter of Alpes.
It’s doubtful that Aventicum would have had a Oracle like Apollo did in Delphi but it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that Anextlomarâ might have had a Cultus with priests and/or priestesses dedicated to Her and maybe even using Rûnâs for divination. This Cultus might have also performed marriages, been used to appoint Chiefs (prior to Roman occupation), or been invoked Anextlomarâ for protection prior to battle.
It’s not likely Anextlomarâ had a day of the week named after Her like Frigg but Anextlomarâ was likely a matron of the city of Aventicum with Her husband Cissonius. A guiding figure and protector of women and, prior to Romanization, a Queen Goddess of sovereignty.
The only known facet of Anextlomarâ is that She is a Goddess of Protection found only in the city of Aventicum. There’s no known iconography of Her and most Google searches will pull up Anextlomarus. The fact that She is inscribed in the Helvetii capital must have significant meaning. The fact that Her name was carved before, and technically above, the name of the deified August might have deeper meaning. At the end of the day, I’m hoping to have discovered who Anextlomarâ is and what She meant to the Helvetii. Honor to the Great Protectress of Aventicum.
Divination and UPG
When using divination prior to and during this research, these same elements of sun(light), fire, prophecy, oaths, and truth came up time after time, again and again and again using tarot, elder futhark runes, and leptonic rûnâs both separately and together (my own personal divination system). Also fire came up in a personal experience which is now part of my own gnosis, specifically two candles next to each other. For reference, Wildwood Tarot, Elder Futhark, and Lepontic will be abbreviated as WWT, EF, and LP.
#1 Who is Anextlomarâ
WWT- The Ancestor
Meaning- Anextlomara is an ancient Goddess but probably 2nd generation. She is a prominent feminine figure associated with protection, union, marriage, birth, and love. Anextlomara is most equated with Apollo in Greco-Roman faith. He’s the God of light, protection, healing, truth, omens, music, and dance. This does line up slightly with #1 on the spread. It does point to connections to Rosmertâ, Brigantiâ, Baldr, and Freyja.
#2 First Aspect of Anextlomarâ
WWT- 8 of Bows: Hearthfire
LP- Thunder Rûnâ
Meaning- Again we have unity as a theme but also divine communication, omens, and of course protection. More imagery to Rosmertâ and Brigantiâ here. The runes we see here point to Odin and Taranis who are Sky Fathers which is a clear sign that Anextlomara is of Albios. The connections to Odin and Rosmertâ screams foresight and omens but with the Apollo connection I wonder if Anextlomara had a Oracle/Druid/Seer dedicated just to Her?
#3 Second Aspect of Anextlomarâ
WWT- Two of Vessels: Attraction
Meaning- For a third time there’s solid signs of love and protection. Nauthiz is an interesting sign as it is a winter rune for patience. To accept the past and look towards the future. Change, duty, keeping our word which falls under the Apollo oath connection. Nauthiz could mean a tie to Alpes who is a deliverer of hardship during winter so maybe Anextlomara is the guide and protector during this hardship.
#4 What Anextlomarâ has Dominion over
WWT- Queen of Arrows: Swan
Meaning-Anextlomara has dominion over guidance and protection. She grants us wisdom to overcome adversity and rewards with prosperity. She faces adversity with courage and strength, protecting those She loves. Blessing and guarding those who are just and honest.
#5 What Symbolizes Anextlomarâ
WWT- Knight of Vessels: Eel
Meaning- Loyalty, Protection, and Love are Anextlomara’s symbols. Perhaps looking at horned animals like goats or elk. The symbol in Tarot was an eel but that doesn’t seem to fit Her. Bits of Taranis symbolism which points to Bull a horned animal. Maybe Elen of the Ways connection?
*To gain some additional symbolism, and possibly iconography, I added some additional draws to my reading. These additional draws are less details and looking for more clear symbolism to attempt to build common symbolism and therefore establish a speculative idea of iconography for Anextlomarâ*
#6 Additional Symbolism
WWT- Five of Arrows: Frustration
Meaning-Looking on the surface we’re seeing the goat again.
#7 Additional Symbolism
WWT- The Shaman
Meaning- Hearth, Elk, and Magic. Hints of Freja again and with Her feathered coat could be a falcon type bird?
#8 Additional Symbolism
WWT- 4 of Arrows: Rest
Meaning-Sun/Light, horned animal again, the tarot has a butterfly on it but doubtful it is associative with Her.
#9 Additional Symbolism
WWT- The Forest Lovers
Meaning- In the end here we again see love but we also see birch which has popped up a few times very subtly. Lastly support is a common theme as well.
Looking at the research, personal gnosis, and divination, we can conclude and rebuild Anextlomarâ in a tangible way. While we can never truly know how the ancients saw and depicted Anextlomarâ, we can at least honor this Goddess with a modern interpretation.
First and foremost, protection is the paramount feature of Anextlomarâ. Etymology, UPG, and the divination reading all point at protection above all else. Because Anextlomarâ is a representation of both ancient Celtic and a Gallo-Roman amalgamation, we could establish some iconography and animal symbolism. A common symbol of protection would be shield and armor which would fit with Her similarities to Brigantiâ. However, shield and armor wasn’t as apparent in the divination reading. If one wanted a Gallo-Roman interpretation, they could imagine Anextlomarâ clad in armor, drawing from a more Minerva/Athena image. But with horned animals and antler imagery being a reoccurring theme, my personal depiction of the Protectress is either a horned Goddess or a Goddess wearing a horned crown, specially gait horns as goats are very protective and territorial which fits very well.
Going back to Gallo-Roman interpretation, one could associate Anextlomarâ with dogs. Celts had dogs as well but from personal experience, the dog I saw looked more like a breed that a more Romanized person would have had but that’s not to say that a more Celtic interpretation couldn’t have dog symbolism either.
From all the comparisons and also from divination, we can establish that Anextlomarâ is a Goddess of love, particularly of union/marriage. She is a Goddess with feminine and motherly aspects such as guidance, childbirth, and omens/divination all of which can be associated with light, in one form or another. Because of Her Association with marriage and union, it would be appropriate for one to invoke Anextlomarâ during a wedding ceremony. Additional symbolism for Anextlomarâ that I found was lavender and birch as well as twin flames.
While the city of Aventicum was likely named after Aventia, Anextlomarâ stands tall as a prominent goddess in the Helvetian capital city, protecting Her people with a guiding light.