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Saturday, 6 September 2008

Veleda


Who was Veleda?
According to the Roman writer Tacitus writing in 98CE she was a Germanic Vala, a wise woman or prophetess from the Bructeri tribe and gained authority during the Batavian revolt due to foretelling success for the Germani and the destruction of the Roman legions.
Allegedly she lived in a tower along the river Lippe.
The Bructeri were a Germanic tribe located in northwestern Germany between the rivers Lippe and Ems south of the Teutoberg forest in present day NordRhein-Westfalen. Reportedly they were allies with the Cherusci, the tribe led by the great Germanic chieftain and hero Arminius[Hermann].
Her kinsmen controlled access to her and would pass questions to her from those who came seeking consultations and then pass the answers back. She was held in high esteem by both the Germanic and Roman peoples. The Romans captured her in 78 CE and she was taken to Rome.
An inscription from the Italian town of Ardea refers to Valeda as "the tall maiden whom the Rhein-drinkers worship". Her fate is unknown.

"Tradition has it that various armies, already wavering and about to give way, have been rallied by women through steadfast entreaty and baring of breasts, revealing captivity close by. This they fear far more keenly for the sake of their women, so much so that to bid a state include well-born maidens among its hostages is to bind its spirit to greater effect.
Not only that, they even think that there is in them some holy and prophetic force, and they neither scorn their advice nor ignore their utterances. In the days of the Divine Vespasian we saw how Veleda was long esteemed by many as a supernatural power, and they have in the past revered Aurinia also, and many others: not like sycophants, though, making them gods."
Tacitus Germania, 8.1, 8.2.]
Other such inspired women include the Alemannic-Frankish woman Thiota, the seeress of the Semnones Ganna of the 1st century CE, Waluburg and the Gothic Haliarunnos.
This tradition continued well into the Viking age as testified in the Icelandic sagas, the most famous Icelandic sybil being Thordis Spakona.
Indeed the sagas reveal that even ordinary housewives were endowed with the ability to foretell the future, gifts of healing and the power to work spells of protection and power.