The Divine Mother Bear

By Liagis Nemetodubnâcos

With Mother’s Day fast approaching, and Spring showing itself after a much needed winter of stillness and reflection, there’s a Dewa that’s been heavy on my mind. That Dēwā (goddess) being the divine mother, and she-bear Artio. Artio is a continental Celtic Dēwā, who is most revered in the Swiss and French Helvetian Cultures, but is loved, and worshiped/ known by many Gaulish polytheist practitioners today. Artio is a Dēwā of knowledge-freely given, unrelenting motherly love and fierce protection, one of rebirth, and regeneration, and symbolizes the fertility of the feminine, and of the earth; As Artio, and the artā (bears) go into hibernation for the winter, so does the earth, and in spring all give birth to new life.

An interesting take on Artio’s Motherhood that is UPG (unverified personal gnosis) by a different author and follower in the Artobessus (bear custom), states that the Myth of Ursa Major and its seven stars are the seven children of Artio. The myth goes that Calisto who is tricked, or unchaste (depending on the telling) by Zeus into laying with him and then is turned into a bear out of jealousy, by Hera and then killed by Artemis, who did not know the difference from a natural bear. After this transpired Zeus then cast Calisto into the Albios (the heavens) and created the seven stars of Ursa Major (Great Bear).

The author of this particular article goes on to state that they’ve attempted to reach out to Artio’s children and were met with a “nope, not for you, yet.” To paraphrase the feelings portrayed. Not only does this reinforce the notion of the UPG above for me, but when you bring your eyes to the attention of the attached devotional image at the end of this article, I hope you feel the blind animosity of the badger in her energy, a perfect example of a mother’s love and protection. The Divine Mother has come into my interest, not by coincidence, but in times of transition in my craft and personal praxis. This is the year I turn thirty and on top of the universal Saturn return, it is also a personal Saturn return as well. As such I’m going through many challenges, and restructures and as my path starts to become more animistic and natural my reflection of the archetypes and energy I’m drawn to is changing as well. This is where Artio comes into view, Hel is my Matron and Fultrua and will always be that for me, the Mother in the dark that will always be there for me, but raising my kids, and embracing this next cycle of life, the lessons that Artio can teach are insurmountable, and I’m grateful that she’s reached out and driven me forward to start these next steps with her, and learn from the Divine Bear and Mother of the Bern, and of the Alpines.

As a stay-at-home father, I want to give all mothers the shout and show of support that they deserve in these trying times of child rearing, and life’s uncertainty, and pitfalls. You are amazing, and wonderful beings, and you all have the energies, and embodiments of the great mother Goddesses we know, whether it be Frigg, Gaia, Leto, Hathor, and of course Artio. Hang in there, and keep going, your kids see you, your partners see you, and from one parent to another I see you. Thank you to all the mothers out there, doing their darndest.
So for those who may not know me, I’m better at conversing and expressing through my bindrune and sigil art. And as such I wanted to create a devotional piece for Artio, but with the challenge of keeping it Celtic and roots, and not using any Runic works, (runes are almost a primary language for me at this point). It was a fun and inviting challenge that I feel I lived up to and that Artio has accepted and I wanted to share it with you all. The inspiration for the Ogham translations are keywords that I most immediately associate with Artio at this beginning phase of devotion. Those words are: Artio, Arto, Mother, Bern, Spring, Protection, Fertility, Alps, Hibernation, Calisto, Artobessus, Ursa Major, and Dubnos (the deep).

Thank you to Artocatos Taranicnos for the amazing article that has facilitated this deep dive and to Abonigenâ Moniyocnā, for your willingness to share and candor as a friend.

Hail the Dēwoi, Hail the Dēwā!

The image depicts a bear whose outlines are made of Ogham inscriptions, which variously say Artio, Arto, Mother, Bern, Spring, Protection, Fertility, Alps, Hibernation, Calisto, Artobessus, Ursa Major, and Dubnos.