Pagan Portals: Artio and Artaois
A Journey Toward the Celtic Bear Gods
by Andrew Anderson
Publisher: Moon Books
Publication Date: July 1, 2021
Andrew Anderson’s Artio and Artaois – A Journey Toward the Celtic Bear Gods is tour de force exploring ancient European bear worship – Arctolatry – from the Neolithic through its echoes in the twenty-first century. After meeting an ancient she-bear spirit when he invokes a guardian for his home, he discovers she is Artio, a Celtic Bear Goddess, and follows her trail through Europe and the United Kingdom on a pilgrimage in search of her roots and worship. During his journey, he finds her male counterpart Artaois as well. Anderson weaves his personal journey with folklore, mythology, art and archaeology to draw us into the ancient story of the bear cults and how it is still relevant for us today.
The book has 5 chapters, tracing Anderson’s journey through Europe to see artifacts of bear veneration. His journey begins with a trip to Bern to see the city’s Bear Garden, where live bears have been kept since the 16th century, and to Bern’s Historical Museum to see an ancient statue of a bear facing a woman seated on a throne. He writes at length about the impact this statue had on him, seeing Artio in her oldest known representation. Anderson leads us with mythology, well-sourced research and spirituality to the conclusion that Artio “becomes a potent expression of humanity’s earliest worship of a Goddess and a universal mother. She is not A goddess, but THE goddess, a manifestation of the very first female deity worshipped by humans,” perhaps the goddess of fertility, life, death and rebirth. Thought provoking and intriguing! Because there is so little available early material about Artio and Artaois, Anderson also offers his thoughts about the possibilities that the essence that these beings carry – the powers and gifts conveyed through their worship, sourcing it in archaeology and folktales. There is the suggestion of connection between Artaois and Arthur in his research; nobles often used a bear in their coat of arms to indicate that they were great warriors and protectors, like Arthur. Bears hibernate; they go off and sleep, as Arthur has done until he is called again. Artaois also carries qualities of the Mercurial trickster. Anderson follows this exploration with a survey of bear veneration in cultures outside of Northern Europe; it is indeed one of the most ancient forms of worship by humans. Most interesting of all is Anderson’s discussion of bear portrayal in our current culture, from Pooh to the His Dark Materials and The Lord of the Rings trilogies to the movie Brave. Artio is even a character in the videogame Smite. Anderson ends the book with a chapter on incorporating veneration of Artio and Artaois into his own practice. He suggests dates for observances based on the Wheel and the Year and the hibernation practices of bears and also provides resources for creating a Bear Feast, complete with songs! There is an excellent bibliography and resource section which I am using to dig deeper.
This is a wonderful book, slim yet mighty in its depth and breadth. Anderson’s brilliant weaving of his research with his personal journey and insights creates an immersion in the ancient and on-going story of the bear-human relationship. His writing is thought-provoking and inspiring. Highly-recommended – in fact, a must read!!!
Andrew Anderson is currently studying the Druid grade with the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. He is a freelance Tutor for English and Creative Writing, as well as a Celebrant, Theatre Director and Period Interpreter. He is the author of The Ritual of Writing – Writing as a Spiritual Practice, published by Moon Books. Andrew loves story-telling in all its forms, whether it be poetry, novels, theatre, film or TV. He loves working with the spirit of a place and loves spending time in the Cotswold hills. He lives in Stratford-upon-Avon.
About the Author:
Susan Rossi is a Practitioner and Teacher of Shamanic Arts. She is a long-time explorer of The Mysteries – the connections between mind, body, spirit and how to live in right relationship to all of the energies streaming through the cosmos. She works with clients as an astrologer, coach, ceremonialist and guide to the wisdom that each of us has the capacity to access. Her focus is on guiding clients to unblock and rediscover their inner wisdom. Art, exploration of the birth chart, ceremony, legacy writing, hypnotherapy, energetic healing practice and creation of sacred tools are integral pieces of her practice.
Susan trained in Soul Level Astrology with master astrologer Mark Borax. She delights in exploring with individuals the planetary pattern under which their soul choose to incarnate.
Open Channel Astrology www.openchannelastrology.com
Flying to the Heart www.flyingtotheheart.com