Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Dream gifts: the mystery name of a Goddess

It's happened again. My dreams have given me the assignment of tracking a mystery word. I am pretty sure that this time it is an ancient name of the Goddess in Celtic realms. In a dream in the early hours:

I am walking with a friend on the embankment of a river in a great city, near the museums. The whole scene is wrapped in thick fog, and it is getting quite dark. However, our spirits are bright. We are discussing a female name in an ancient inscription that is new to us and may only just have been discovered. The name is something like SOMERSA.

I can see the letters, in Roman capitals, in a longer text, but cannot freeze the whole tableau as I rise from the dream. And as I listen to my voice in the dream, I am not sure whether I pronounced the name as "Somersa" or "Sumersi".
     Fully awake, I am happy and excited. As so often in my life, I feel that an unknown word from a dream is a gift that will open rich new avenues of exploration..
     I am fairly certain that the mystery word is the name of a goddess. I think of the Gaulish name of a great Celtic goddess: Rosmerta. Her name appears on a number of inscriptions from what are now France, Germany, Luxemburg and Romania. Etymologists think that her name means “Great Provider”. Smert, the stem, means “provider”. Ro means “very” or “great”. The –a suffix is a typical Gaulish feminine ending.
     In the iconography, Rosmerta is usually shown holding a cornucopia and a purse or patera. In Roman times, she is often accompanied by Mercury holding the caduceus of the divine messenger and a money bag. In one image, Mercury offers his money bag to her, a worthy consort indeed. In a statue from Clermont-Ferrand, she is not merely wearing a winged cap, like Mercury; her head has sprouted wings.
     Mercury and Rosmerta. A political marriage between a Roman deity and a Celtic goddess? The Romans were fond of this kind of mix-and-match. It seems that Celtic realms as far east as the modern Czech Republic, the deity the Romans named Mercury had a previous and parallel Celtic identity, as Vinucius, the “Raven-Wise”.
     The Romans had another name for Rosmerta: Abundantia. She is the personification of abundance. A marvelous statue of the goddess under this name, now in the 
Musée de la civilisation gallo-romaine, in Lyon, shows her with an offering dish containing two birds in her right hand, while her left hand holds up an abundance of fruits in a fold of her dress.
     If I play a little word assembly game, putting the modifier Ro in front of my dream word and compressing it a little I get Rosmersa. Close to the more familiar goddess name, but not a match. And I hear the hiss of that final S in my mind. No getting away from that.
      Maybe my flirtation with Rosmerta and abbondanza is coming down like that river fog over a fresh revelation that I have yet to grasp. I listen to the name I dreamed, as I spoke it in the dream. Was it Somersa, or Sumersi?
Some might associate either version with ancient Sumer (to which other dreams call me) or with the Sumari songs of Jane Roberts. For me, the trail goes cold when I turn in those directions. I do hear the echo of “Summer” in the name. A goddess of abundance might well have a summery name.
     The dream detective in me will remain poised for new clues. Maybe he will try to go back into the mists of that dream, and see if he can view the inscription and hold it in steadier focus. Perhaps he will try to fold time, as a dream archaeologist, and journey back to the world from which it comes.

Graphics: Top, Rosmerta as Abundantia. Bottom, Morning by the River Vltava in Prague.


nina said...

Abundantia or Provider is a brilliant expression of the female sacred energy. I remember her bountiful manifestation in one of my dreams.
I get lost in the outskirt of the city and while strolling around, notice a garden with small babies and toddlers, joyfully playing together with puppies. Eight kids, three dogs and one young, very happy mum. Amazed at the scene I continue in my exploration and come upon a dull building. I enter it and get lost again. Suddenly everything changes. From anonymous hallways I find myself in a pleasantly darkened chamber. I understand this is an exhibition of the female circle. Everything is tuned in natural, harmonious colours. The walls are covered in black, velvety material, on which sit and shine small stones with fine drawings, a bit like cameos but far more simple. Then my sight falls on the big stone, it´s a huge sarcophagus, made from granite-like material, delicately structured. One can distinguish the artistic touch but it is clearly made with a lot of consideration to nature. I wake up from the dream quietly enchanted and with a feeling that female natural creativity is available here and now to all of us.
Of course I have no idea about the origin of names Somersa or Rosmerta but today to my ears they resonate a lot with Sanskrit maitri, sometimes translated as a loving kindness or benevolence.
Thank you very much for the wonderful piece of writing.

CuriousWitch said...

What a lovely name! So many (most? all?) of the continental rivers are Celtic (or pre-Celtic) goddesses. As I understand it, each locale may have had its own name for Her, and perhaps the resonantly-beautiful 'Somersa' is one of Her names that was never written down or engraved on anything except signs in the dreamworld.