The Story of Britannia and Hibernia

In Hyperborea1, there are many deities whose mythos were unknown to the ancients, or whose tales were lost to time. This version is only one that may be revealed to people both ancient and of today’s age.

In the journeys of Herakles, He once layed with Keltine, daughter of the king Bretannus, and bore the Divine Goddesses Britannia (Prydein) and Hibernia *Ériu), and the other gods and goddesses known to the Keltoi peoples. Britannia being brown-eyed and sandy-haired, lithely-muscled and boyish in frame; Hibernia had dark hair and blue eyes, round and feminine.

Britannia was raised in the temple of the Dioskouri, and guided Her people across the Channel separating a tiny pair of islands fortold to her to be a safe-haven for the Keltoi, where they would enjoy a favoured temperate climate and master the seas that surrounded them.

Hibernia was a priestess of Apollon, and praised Him with song. She directed use of the great stone circle of Wiltshire, and was the first to dedicate offerings to Him there, brought over many weeks by foot and by ship from Delphi.

The Divine sisters, being the eldest two, each had different ideas about how to guide the pantheon of Gods and Goddesses and the people bestowed upon Them. Britannia, the eldest of Them all, sought rule, conquest, and dominance. Hibernia wanted to guide Their people in a balanced life, and strife broke out amongst the Gods and Goddesses of the Keltoi, and amongst the Keltoi themselves. The fighting lasted for centuries, some say it even ended.

The two Goddesses continued in their dichotomous existence: When Britannia led the Keltoi to modernise, reasoning it logically, Hibernia sought tradition for its own sake.

In spite of Their differences, the Sisters always sought the guidance and wisdom of each-other, and when Their people become too violent in their in-fighting, the Goddesses are saddened, but when even one from Britannia’s island and one from Hibernia’s can come together in friendship or love, the goddesses rejoice and are glad.

1: There’s a long, nay ancient trandition that “Hyperborea = British Isles“, and not merely the mythical winter home of Apollon. It’s even said that Stonehenge, at one time, was used as a temple of Apollon and that there was an annual offering couriered from Hellas to “Hyperborea”, and that it actually reached Britain.



It’s been a while since I’ve done a painting for the theoi — perhaps tellingly, my last one is Narkissos, left unfinished after my surgery in 2008 went awry.

I’ve been feeling the push to paint again quite recently, and the image I’m getting is for Britannia, and will most likely be in watercolours — indeed, one of the main things holding me back this last week is the search for where I unpacked my watercolours to.

“But Ruadhán!” you might wish to interject with, “That’s not a Hellenic goddess!”

Well, I suppose in the strictest sense, you’d be correct, but my reasons include ancestor-worship (definitely an ancient Hellenic practise) and the name “Britain” ultimately comes from Hellenic etymology. Of course, I’m only really justifying myself in public because I’m sure my #1 fan would love nothing more than to use this and the forthcoming painting as “evidence” that I’m somehow “not practising Hellenic religion/reconstruction” anymore, possibly ever (as he’s done this to others in the past, for lesser reasons) — which is hilarity-on-a-stick, true, but best to make such lunacy apparent from the start, den eínai?

My envisioning of Britannia is based part in the traditional Roman and part in the Mod subculture, and may even seem reminiscent of a certain scene from Derek Jarman’s Jubilee — and I’m sure at this point, you probably have the same mental image I do, especially if you’re familiar with my painting style.

One thing that I regret not posting about this year is my ritual and prayer for my re-envisioning of Shrove Tuesday as Pancake Feast of Britannia and St. Patrick’s Day as Bacon & Cabbage Feast of Hibernia. I intend to remedy this, but at a more seasonally-appropriate future time.