Monday, July 21, 2008

St. Anne - 1st century saint - July 26th

Saints are those strange creatures that belong in the rote of church festival days, they seem at first glance rather boring, but it is a good idea to look at their background, and see where they actually come from.
St. Anne is a first century saint, she belongs fully in the Celtic tradition, of transferred pagan goddess to christian cult saint. The early 'desert' monks will have taken the stories of the old pagan gods and moulded christian figureheads on them.
St. Anne is also remembered on Tan Hill, in the Pewsey Vale, Tan being corrupted into Anne, and it is here on this hill that up to the 19th century livestock fair was held on her date.
it challenges the assumption that Lugh was always bound up in the Lughnasa festival of August 1st, here we have St.Anne fair being held on a date very near to the harvest festival...
St.Ann may possibly derive from the Celtic goddess Anu, described in Cormac's Glossary as the Mother of the Irish Gods, and Anu's identification as an 'earth mother' is brought out more explicitly in the name of a Kerry mountain 'The Paps of Anu'(Da Chich Anann). There is of course another goddess that vies for attention here, this is Aine, seen also as a fertility goddess, though with a more varied background, and of course the two could be one goddess., with there stories interchangeable in Irish mythology.

Her christian counterpart is seen as the apocryphal mother of the virgin mary. There is an ancient carving at St.Anne's Well at Llanfihangel, the well here used to feature water spouting from her breasts, but her breasts were later smashed off.
There is a St.Anne's Well at Malvern Wells (formerly Welsh territory), and another famous votive well dedicated to her at Trellech in Monmouthshire. Trellech of course has three great megaliths - Harolds Stones, nine wells, and a tumulus, but her most famous shrine is in Buxton, Derbyshire, and many dedications can be found in Brittany.
ref; Book of Welsh Saints - T.D.Breverton.

There is another Anna - 5th to 6th, mother of the great saints Samson, Tydecho and Tathan, and her saints day also falls on the 26th July.

This link.... http://www.wiltshirewhitehorses.org.uk/tanhill.html talks of a small circle below Tan Hill, and also a White Horse, that no longer exists. When the circle was made is difficult to say, but there is the same pagan theme that seems to exist around the hills and valley of Pewsey, and of course why was a nearby hill called Milk Hill, a winding thread that leads back to the Goddess Aine patron of cattle......

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