Attestation: With over 160 votive altars found in the Dutch province of Zeeland near the northern seas, Nehalennia is a well attested, but not quite a well known Goddess. Many of these altars, but possibly not all, may have been erected to commemorate safe passage through the northern seas. One such votive stela to Nehalennia reads: Deae Nehalenniae Vegisonius Martinus cives Secuanus nauta v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito) translated as “To the Goddess Nehelannia, Martinus the weaver a citizen of the Sequani, a sea trader/merchant, fulfilled his vow, gladly and with merit.” The Sequani were a gaulish tribe from the modern region of Franche-Comté and Burgundy near the Saône River, a tributary of the Rhône. Vegisonius is an obscure name possibly derived from \*wegy-o/a- meaning “weaver” granting another layer to the one who worshipped her*. Possible Interpretatio Romana: Fortuna, Proserpina, and Victoria according to Miranda Green.
Etymology: The origin of her name is uncertain but it is possible to find meaning through reconstruction. With her name possibly coming from celtic sources we might be able to find multiple layers of meaning. Related to Welsh halein “salt” and heli “sea” there is *halen– “sea” and *ne- “on, at”. Adding the feminine *-ja ending we might have “she who is at/near the sea.”
Depiction: Most icons of her include marine and seafaring imagery, a cornucopia or basket of fruit, and a dog.
TFA Interpretation: Within TFA, Nehalennia is a multifaceted Goddess. Carrying her cornucopia or basket of fruit she is a goddess of abundance. The seafaring imagery reveals her as a patron and protector of sailors and traders. Her companion dog, Kol (coal), might give us underworld or chthonian associations such as a guide of the dead and fertility of the land. She is the Wevandiwîf (Vegisonius, Weaving-woman) who weaves the nets/threads of good fortune. She is the Feriandimagith (Ferrying-maiden) who guides Gods and men down the Rin to their fates.
Huge thanks to Selgowiros Caranticnos and Tegos Skrībbātous for their help with etymology.