The Temple of Brigantia's altar to Senua
March 6, 2004, Wells, Maine

The Goddess

In the fall of 2002, an explorer with a metal detector found a hoard of treasure in a field in middle England. The find included a statue of a goddess, believed at first to be the Roman Minerva, and several offerings of jewelry and precious metals. As they studied the artifacts found in the field, researchers discovered that the statue and offerings belonged to a goddess whose name had previously been lost to history: Senua.

Scientific and archaeological work is still going on to find out more about Senua, but a few things are known: She was apparently a fairly important goddess, to receive offerings of precious metals. She received offerings from both men and women, from people whose names are both Celtic and Roman.

Her statue and her treasures had been buried sometime in the 3rd or 4th centuries, perhaps to keep them safe during an invasion or during a time when pagan temples were being destroyed. They were carefully placed in the earth, the statue on top, but whoever buried them never came back for them.

Word of Senua's treasures became known to the wider world in the summer of 2003, and her statue and artifacts are now on display in the British Museum.

The Temple

Fountain on north altar

We are a group of modern Pagans in New England, part of a religious movement that finds divinity in nature and meaning in the pre-Christian deities of various cultures. While we are not scholars, members of the Temple of Brigantia value historical fact and seek to base our practices in history, without at all claiming that ancient peoples did what we do.

We have made a special study of the Celto-Roman period of history, because there is a reasonable quantity of information available to do so, because we believe this time period offers an interesting example of how differing peoples can exchange religious information, and because we have found beauty and inspiration in the known deities and temples of that time.

Like many people, we were intrigued and pleased to read of this "new" Celto-Roman goddess. We determined to craft a modern ritual honoring Senua and celebrating her rediscovery.

We began by studying the available articles about Senua, and photographs of her artifacts. We also studied (to the best of our ability, from 3,000 miles away) the landscape in which she was found, and what is known of the land's use and inhabitants during the Celto-Roman period.

When we reached the limits of known facts, we entered the realm of religion and worship. Within Paganism, meditation is a known and accepted way of forming connections with the Divine. We meditated as a group, and came up with a shared visualization of a town and a spring where Senua's temple might have stood. Finally, we performed a private religion in which we made offerings of food and wine to Senua, with prayers that our community might share in her worship and the blessings of her rebirth.

Descriptions of religious experiences are, of course, highly subjective, but all of us who partook of that work believe that Senua exists as a deity, that she heard and received our prayers, and that she was pleased to receive our attention after being so long neglected.

This having been done, we created a ritual with which to celebrate Senua in the wider Pagan community in our area. It follows the general outline of a standard Wiccan or Pagan ritual, but the offering of coins into the well is specifically based on ancient practices, and the blessing with water is an imaginative connection to Senua's affiliation with a spring.

On March 6, 2004, a group of 28 people gathered in a private home to worship and welcome Senua. As far as we know, these were the first offerings to Senua in more than 1,500 years.

Text of Senua Ritual

Links to information about Senua

Recommended books about Celto-Roman religion

Temple of Brigantia home page


Text and images on this page ©2004 Temple of Brigantia. Permission is given to use the Senua Ritual in nonprofit religious settings; otherwise, all rights are reserved. E-mail with questions or republication requests.