One of my favorite goddesses is the Gaelic goddess Nicnevin also known as The Queen of Elphame, Queen of the Fairies of Fife or Gyre Carlin, the Bone mother.
The Fairy Queen, illustration by Arthur Rackham
Nicnevin name evolved from the Gaelic Nic an Neamhain, meaning “Daughter of Flap,” spirit-woman or goddess who personifies the frenzied havoc of war. She is symbolized by flying geese similar to the symbols of the Roman goddess Juno. Succeeding the chaotic Christian witch trials, she was then categorized as a Seelie (benevolent fairy) Queen of Elphame and Unseelie (malevolent fairy) Nicnevin goddess of Witches. She represents both sides of the divine feminine.
The wild hunt: Asgårdsreien (1872) by Peter Nicolai Arbo
Nicnevin is associated with the dead riders of the night in German folklore of the Wild Hunt. She is a shape shifter representing once more the divine feminine. She can morph into an old crone or a beautiful young woman dependant upon her situation. Nicnevin is the goddess of witches, magic, crossroads and the dark moon.
Queen of the Unseelie by Brian Froud
Nicnevin is revered by witches on Samhain, the Celtic New Year, here she is celebrated with prayers and feasts in her name. The Rites of Nicnevin are practiced on November 1st. During this seasonal celebration she is known to grant wishes and answer pagan’s thoughtful prayers. Nicnevin is the legendary mother witch, Hecate, or Habundia figure of Scottish fairy lore.
Fairies have existed according to fairy-lore for a very long time. They are well known in many cultures and in different regions around the earth. Many legends speak of the Fae having a special leader who was a mystical queen who cleverly ruled over Fairyland.
Other well known goddesses that have been linked to the Fae. One of them was the famous queen Morrigan. Another one was Danu, a Celtic mother.
Her name is The Queen of Elphame, and she turns up in the folk tradition of Lowland Scotland. The Queen of Elphame is most notable for her role in the medieval ballad and later fairy tale called “Thomas the Rhymer.”
According to Scottish Folklore the Queen of Elphame, is the fairy ruler of Elphame (Elf-home; compare Norse Álfheimr), the underworld Scottish fairyland. She appears in a number of conventional mystical ballads, including Thomas the Rhymer and Tam Lin. She also appears in a number of accounts from witchcraft trials and confessions, including the confession of Isobel Gowdie.
Alexander Montgomerie, in his Flyting, described her as:
Nicnevin with her nymphes, in number anew
With charms from Caitness and Chanrie of Ross
Whose cunning consists in casting a clew.
The Arrival of the King & Queen of Fairies – E Stuart Hardy.
Sources & References:
Katharine Briggs, A Dictionary of Fairies (Penguin, 1977; ISBN 0140047530
Thomas Wright, Narratives of sorcery and magic, from the most authentic sources (Redfield, 1852)
Rossell Hope Robbins , The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology, 1959.
The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries, by W.Y. Evans-Wentz, available at: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/ffcc/ffcc002.htm