As a child I was often fascinated by the imagery on old English coins and in particular the figure of Britannia on pennies, ha`pennies and farthings. This imagery continued with decimalisation in the early 1970s.
It is commonly believed that the concept of Britannia as a tutelary Goddess began with the Roman invasion but this is not the case. Although she is equated to the Roman Goddess Minerva Her history and origins precede the Romans.
Professor L. Austine Waddell in his remarkable and fascinating The Phoenician Origins of Britons, Scots and Anglo-Saxons Discovered by Phoenician and Sumerian Inscriptions in Britain by Pre-Roman Briton Coins makes it very clear that She originated with the earliest Aryan invaders of the British Isles. In Professor Waddell`s works he establishes that the Phoenicians like the Sumerians and the founders of Egyptian civilisation were originally Aryans. They did of course rule over other peoples, namely Semites who later became associated with the term Phoenician but originally they or their leaders were Aryan.
Professor Waddell was also one of the first scholars to recognise the Hittites to be Aryan. This is today now commonly accepted but this was not so in the 1920s. Modern science is beginning to validate this great man`s theories.
Professor Waddell identifies ancient Phoenician coins from Lycaonia in the 3rd century CE that also bear the image of this deity but bearing a cornucopia rather than a trident. Some of the coins also feature a shield with an equilateral Sun Cross, marking Her to be a solar deity.
"These coins, with others of the same type elsewhere, are of immense historical importance for recovering the lost history of the Britons in Britain and in their earlier homeland, as they now disclose the hitherto unknown origin of the modern British marine tutelary `Britannia`, and prove her to be of Hitto-Phoenician origin."[Waddell]
Professor Waddell draws a link between the ancient ruling Aryan clan, the Barats and the name of Britain and hence of this Goddess. Studies of Her portrait show Her to be both graceful and beautiful, a notable Aryan characteristic.
"Usually the head only of this goddess is figured on Phoenician coins, and it is a fine Aryan and non-Semitic type; see for example the Phoenician `Barat` coin from Carthage, and Phoenician coins generally. In these coins of Lycaonia the general resemblance to Britannia will be noticed-Britannia hitherto being supposed to have been first invented by the early Romans in Britain in the 2nd century A.D. in practically the identical form still surviving on our modern British penny."[Waddell]
Britannia or more correctly in this context Barat is featured on the Lycaonian coins as seated on a chair of a ship amidst the waves. In some coins She holds a cornucopia and in others possibly a sceptre or a cross. In Her other hand She holds the tiller of a rudder. The shield beside Her chair features the Sun Cross, likened to a St. George Cross within a Sun Disc. On modern pre- and post-decimal coins this cross is now the eight spoked Union Flag. The eight spokes like the four are significant and relate to cardinal and ordinal directions and the wheel of the year. Some shields portray instead the rayed sun so the solar implications for Her cult are obvious.
"Her proper name is now disclosed by the Vedic hymns of the Eastern branch of the Aryan Barats to have been Barati, meaning `Belonging to the Barats.` She is also called therein `Brihad-the Divine`[Brihad-diva]..."[Waddell]
Britannia`s association with the trident draws a link with the Roman Neptune or the Greek Poseidon who many will know was the founder and tutelary deity of Atlantis.
"In these Vedic hymns all the attributes of Britannia are accounted for; her tutelarship of the waters and of ships, her lighthouse on the sea, her Neptune trident[as well as the origin of Neptune himself and his name], her helmet and shield, her Cross on the shield as well as the cornucopia, which she sometimes bears upon the Phoenician and Greco-Roman coins, taking the place of the corn-stalk on the Briton coins. "[Waddell]
Rige Veda 2.35 is devoted to the `Son of Waters` who the Indo-Aryans called Napat. Napat may be the origin of Neptune.
"The Son of Waters, gathering strength in waters, shines for his worshipper to give him treasures."[Rig Veda 2.35.8]
Often deities who were originally female were subsequently replaced by male ones. An obvious example from Germanic mythology is the Nerthus referred to in Tacitus` Germania, worshipped by the Angles and six other tribes in northern Germania. Later Njord became prominent amongst the Scandinavian peoples and the root of Njord is to be found in Nerthus. Some speculate that they simply formed a divine pair as did their offspring Frey and Freyja.
"In the Vedic hmns she is called `The Great Mother[Mahi] and `Holy Lady of the Waters` and is hailed as `First-made mother` in a hymn to her son `Napat the son of the waters` who has a horse[thus disclosing the remote Aryan origin of the name and personality of the old Sea-god, Neptune, and his horses, and accounting for Neptune`s trident in her hands]. She is a `Fire-Priestess` and `shows the light`[thus accounting for the Lighthouse on the older British coins with Britannia]. She is personified Fire and sits upon the sacred Fire[thus accounting for the St. George`s Cross which, we shall find later, symbolizes Fire of the Sun]. She is associated with the twin horsemen of the Sun[Aswin or Dioscorides], represented on the British coins, and coins of Syracuse[an ancient Phoenician colony] etc."[Waddell]
The concept of fire on or in water reminds me of Woden`s eye[the sun] being hidden in the waters of Mimir`s well. Professor Waddell also finds a connection between Barati and Bairthy, the Egyptian Goddess of the Water. Their functions are identical.
"Thus the tutelary Bairthy of the Ancient Egyptians and Assyrio-Babylonians appears to have been designated by them as `The Warrior Water-goddess of the Sailor Phoenicians of the Land of the Fire-drill cult."[Waddell]A link may also be drawn between Neptune and the Celtic sea-God Manannan mac Lir who also was associated with horses, an Aryan totemic symbol. He is the tutelary deity of the Isle of Man whose flag consists of a three-legged triskelion, a clear solar symbol.
"The Poseidon of the Tuatha De Danann Pantheon was called Lir, but we hear little of him in comparison with his famous son, Manannan, the greatest and most popular of his many children."[The Mythology of the British Islands, Charles Squire]
Barati was also the tutelary Goddess of Crete, Brihad-the-Divine, the divine daughter of Phoinix, the King of Phoenicia, thus demonstrating the Aryan origin of Cretan civilisation via the Aryo-Phoenicians.
There may also be an association with the Irish Goddess Brigid, the daughter of The Dagda of the Tuatha De Danann. She also was a solar deity as evidenced by the rather interesting Swastika-like Solar Cross associated with Her.