Andred, Ancient Goddess of the Druids?
Andred is a little-known goddess of the pre-Roman British isles, whom the Romans referred to as Andraste. It was said by Roman historian Dio that she was invoked by Boudica before the Iceni rebellion of 60AD.
Boudica’s speech, taken from Roman History, by Cassius Dio:
Let us, therefore, go against them trusting boldly to good fortune. Let us show them that they are hares and foxes trying to rule over dogs and wolves.”
When she had finished speaking, she employed a species of divination, letting a hare escape from the fold of her dress; and since it ran on what they considered the auspicious side, the whole multitude shouted with pleasure, and Buduica, raising her hand toward heaven, said:
“I thank thee, Andraste, and call upon thee as woman speaking to woman; for I rule over no burden-bearing Egyptians as did Nitocris, nor over trafficking Assyrians as did Semiramis (for we have by now gained thus much learning from the Romans!), much less over the Romans themselves as did Messalina once and afterwards Agrippina and now Nero (who, though in name a man, is in fact a woman, as is proved by his singing, lyre-playing and beautification of his person); nay, 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 and hold all things in common, even children and wives, so that the latter possess the same valour as the men.
As the queen, then, of such men and of such women, I supplicate and pray thee for victory, preservation of life, and liberty against men insolent, unjust, insatiable, impious, — if, indeed, we ought to term those people men who bathe in warm water, eat artificial dainties, drink unmixed wine, anoint themselves with myrrh, sleep on soft couches with boys for bedfellows, — boys past their prime at that, — and are slaves to a lyre-player and a poor one too.
Wherefore may this Mistress Domitia-Nero reign no longer over me or over you men; let the wench sing and lord it over Romans, for they surely deserve to be the slaves of such a woman after having submitted to her so long. But for us, Mistress, be thou alone ever our leader.”
Published in Vol. VIII of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1925
There are very few historical mentions of Andrad other than Dio, though some researchers have made comparisons to other goddesses, such as Nike, Bellona, Magna Mater (Great Mother), Cybele, and Vacuna, as they are all goddesses who ride chariots. Our own opinion is that the Andred evoked by Boudica against the Romans bears more resemblance to the Egyptian deity Sehkmet.
Sekhmet, who is depicted as a lioness, the fiercest hunter known to the Egyptians, was seen as the protector of the pharaohs and led them in warfare. Sekhmet’s name comes from the Ancient Egyptian word “sekhem” which means “power”. Sekhmet’s name suits her function and means “the (one who is) powerful”. She also was given titles such as the “(One) Before Whom Evil Trembles”, “Mistress of Dread”, “Lady of Slaughter” and “She Who Mauls”. She was evoked before war and could only be satisfied with the blood of battle.
Of course, many researchers will be happy to dilute Andred down to the mother goddess, or the moon goddess, and there are enough connections to make a safe assumption like that. However, it is our belief that as the Romans – let alone modern pagans – were never privy to the secrets of the Druids, we cant just accept the Roman reports. We must question the orthodox viewpoint, which was based on Roman hatred of the older religion of the Britons.
We can see the Romans and the Druids held opposite religious beliefs. Dio states that when Boudica released a hare as a divination technique ‘it ran on what they considered the auspicious side‘. Maybe he said this because the Britons’ auspicious side was the opposite to the Roman side. Romans would divine with birds, so if a bird flew to the left (sinistra) it was a bad omen.
Were Boudica and her people practising a left-handed religion? The Druidic tradition perhaps? And was the ‘rebellion’ of 61AD just about Boudica’s mistreatment? The passage of time between the two events doesnt suggest so, especially when we look at the other event of the year 61, the destruction of the Druid base at Anglesey. Were Boudica, and the number of British tribes who supported her trying to make one last strike for the rebellion against the Romans, a rebellion which had been virtually non-stop since the apparent Roman ‘invasion’? It couldnt have escaped Boudica’s attention that the Druids – the highest spiritual authority bar none in pre-Roman Europe – were about to be destroyed forever. As a result of the Iceni rebellion the Roman forces were drawn away from Anglesey, did this allow some Druids to escape and go into hiding?
A curious reference comes from the Anglo-Saxons. A beautiful ancient forested area in the English county of Sussex known as ‘The Weald’ had by Anglo-Saxon times retained the name Andredes weald, meaning “the forest of Andred”.
Could this forest have been a sacred grove of the Druidic goddess Andred? Interestingly, the Weald encompasses Ashdown forest, the scene not only of the Winnie the Pooh books, written by British Intellience asset AA Milne, but also of the infamous Druidic ritual of WWII, where Crowley, Flemming, Churchill et al gathered to repel the German forces.