As far as gods and goddesses from the Celtic world go, Epona is pretty unique: she was among the few to have been incorporated into regional Roman pantheons, and the only one to be worshipped in Rome itself. Epona was a fertility goddess from Gaul (Ancient France), principally associated with the protection of horses, ponies and donkeys. She was usually depicted alongside these animals – sometimes specifically foals as part of the broader symbol of fertility– carrying a bowl or horn of fruit and grain. Epona’s name meant “Divine Mare” in Gaulish, and she became widely venerated across the Roman Empire by the armies’ cavalry, who prayed for her to shield their mounts in battle.

Reflecting both Celtic and Ancient Greek lore, Epona was said to be the beautiful offspring of a heroic warrior and a white mare. Virtually nothing remains of tales involving her, but she is generally equated with the Welsh mythical figure Rhiannon or the Irish goddess Macha, despite having little in common beyond their association with horses. Some scholars believe Epona’s earlier role in the Gaulish pantheon was as a Mother Goddess, or even connected her to death, where her horses would lead souls into the afterlife. Despite her former prominence, however, we may never know her secrets.