Queen Boudicca: “I thank thee, Andraste, & call upon thee as woman speak to woman, those over whom I rule are Britons, men that know not how to till the soil or ply a trade, but are thoroughly versed in the art of war & hold all things in common, even children & wives, so that the latter possess the same valour as the men. As the queen, then, of such & of such women, I supplicate & pray thee for victory, preservation of life, & liberty against men insolent, unjust, insatiable, impious”
These are the words said to have been spoken by Britain’s famous warrior Queen Boudicca & were spoken in order to invoke the warrior goddess to aid in gaining victory over enemy Roman forces. We know little of the goddess Andraste but she features predominantly in many of the tales linked to the famous Iceni Queen.
One story of the Queen & goddess was recorded by the ancient historian Dio Cassius & tells us of an occasion where Boudicca, as a form of divination, releases a hare from her cloak in honour of Andraste, the direction the hare then took was seen as an indication of victory & helped convince many of the Celtic tribes to follow Boudicca into battle against the Romans.
Another Roman historian who wrote of Boudicca was Tacitus & in his writings, he tells us of a darker side to the worship of Andraste. He writes of how after the Celtic armies sacking of Londinium, where thousands of Romans were slaughtered by Boudicca’s forces, a number of women were rounded up & taken to a sacred grove dedicated to Andraste, there they were killed, their breast cut from their bodies & stuffed into their mouths before their heads cut off & impaled onto spikes.
It seems clear that the Warrior Queen Boudicca had a deep spiritual relationship with Andraste & its thought that she would invoke the name of the goddess in order to incite her troops before battle, a custom known to be practised by the Celts before going to war. The relationship between the two has led some to suggest that before the events that led Boudicca to fight against the Romans she may have been one of Andrastes’ priestesses & that some of those who followed her may even have thought of her as the goddess incarnate, so intimate was their relationship.
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