Artio: Celtic Bear Goddess
By Wave Walker (Donna)

Artio Bear Goddess
Artio Bear Goddess Photo used with permission
From Robin @

In the Gallo-Roman religion, Artio is the ‘Bear Goddess’ and was worshipped at Berne, which actually means ‘bear’. Artio is seen above in a statue found now in the Historisches Museum in Bern, Switzerland.

This statue was uncovered in a vegetable garden in Muri, Switzerland in 1832. The inscription reads “Deae Artioni Licinia Sabinilla “– “To the Goddess Artio from Licinia Sabinilla”. (one of our sisters of yesteryear). Other inscriptions to this Goddess have been found at Daun and Stockstadt in Germany; also in Weilerback in Luxembourg.

The Celts ancestors came from what is today Germany, Austria and Switzerland bringing their Gods and Goddess with them. The Helvetii , a celtic tribe who migrated from the area of modern Bavaria to Switzerland worshipped Artio as the ‘She- Bear’. This tribe eventually became a part of the Roman Empire and the Gaul and Roman Gods and Goddess took on each other’s attributes. Some believe that Artio then was absorbed into the Goddess of Diana as the tribes were taken over by the Romans. Both the Roman Goddess Diana and the Greek Goddess Artemis are attributed to bears in myths and may have gained this from the followers of Artio.

Throughout all of Celtic Gaul and Britian there have been similar deities that appear in bear form as the Goddess of wildlife. Making this an important part of their spiritual life.

The Celtic tribes sometimes shortened her name to Art, in Irish Art meant God ; but its earlier meaning was ‘Bear Goddess.’ Stone figures of bears have been found in many digs of ancient Celtic past; some were found during the restoration of Ireland’s Armagh Cathedral in 1840. Based on the niches found in caves across Europe which hold bones and skulls of bears have been found to be arranged with care; many archaeologist have claimed that the bear is the oldest European deity.

About 6,000 years ago the ancestors of the Celts invented the ‘Old Europe Script’ it is known to be the earliest proto-language. The first ever written sentence reads: “The Bear Goddess and the Bird Goddess are the Bear Goddess indeed.” Dr. Toby Griffin who has been working on the translation of this script believes that this means the Bear Goddess and Bird Goddess have merged into a single deity. This deity later became Celtic Goddess Artio, Roman Goddess Diana and the Greek Goddess Artemis.

Some believe she was absorbed into Christianity as The British Saint Ursula (‘Little Female Bear’) a Latinized form of the Saxon ‘Ursel’ meaning (‘She Bear’). Her feast day is October 21 which would follow along with the harvest attribute of Artio.

Both the Roman Goddess Diana and the Greek Goddess Artemis are attributed to bears in myths and may have gained this from the followers of Artio.

Artio Safe

Poem to Artio

Artio dear Goddess,
Gentle Lady, Kind spirit.
Bear Goddess
Grant us your fullness
Your Kindness, and Grace

Artio Mandala

Artio's sacred things:

Artio is believed to have been absorbed into the Roman Goddess Diana when her people became a part of the Roman empire. So many of Diana’s sacred attributes could also be from Artio.

Ritual to thank Artio


  1. Bowl of Fruits and flowers,

  2. White candle in the shape of a bear
  1. Cast Circle

  2. Light candle

  3. Invite Artio to the circle and thank her:

    Praise Artio for your love of the beasts
    Such compassion and peace
    Humbled I am by your selfless love
    Guide me as I open my eyes, spirit, and mind
    To the life of our sisters and brothers of the land

  4. Meditate on the burning candle while thinking of the gifts of Artio and how to incorporate them into my life

  5. Leave the fruit and flowers as a gift

  6. Thank Artio for coming

  7. Put out candles

  8. Open the circle

  9. Continue on the path of learning of nature and all it holds for me


Also from these books:

Animals in Celtic life and myth by Miranda Green
Roman Trier and the Treveri by Edith Mary Wightman

This page is the intellectual and creative property of WaveWalker
June 2009