Reclaiming Nonna: Forgotten Goddess

by Becky Thomas

Nonna's WellOn the cliff-top peninsula just outside St Davids lies the ruined chapel of St Non. Here, at this wind-swept sacred place, the sense of the goddess is strong and it was at this place that I began to hear Nonna whisper to me, began to sense her calling me to dream her alive and reclaim her once again from the mists of time in which she has been lost for a thousand years and more. Here I will tell her story.

The coastal area of Pembrokeshire, the county in which St Non’s Chapel is found, was part of the pre-Roman tribal area called Demetia. This remote western region of Wales was never fully settled by the Romans and was difficult to defend from the constant bombardment of attacks coming from the sea so Magnus Maximus, Emperor of Britannia, shrewdly invited the Irish Deisi tribe to settle the region and to defend it on behalf of Rome. The Deisi claimed direct descent from the sun god Beli Mawr, who according to the early Welsh Christians was the spouse of Anna “The Prophetess”, who was said to be either the daughter of the Virgin Mary, a cousin of Mary or daughter of Joseph of Arimathea by his first wife. However the pagan population considered Beli Mawr to be the consort to the Welsh mother goddess Dôn who is one and the same as the Irish mother goddess Danu. The Deisi brought with them the Tuatha Dé Danann, the Irish pantheon which would eventually amalgamate with the native belief system. Continue reading "Reclaiming Nonna: Forgotten Goddess"