Trebaruna was worshiped by the Lusitanians and Vettonians, two neighbouring tribes who spoke an ancient Indo-European Pre-Celtic language in Western Iberia.
Usually associated with the protection of the home and family, she has other important functions that I shall discuss in this post.
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In the ancient Vettonian region 2 inscriptions were found: 1 in Bohonal de Ibor and another in Oliva de Plasencia, both in Extremadura, Spain.
The Lusitanian area has 6 inscriptions: 3 are in Castelo Branco, of which 1 in Fundão, 1 in Idanha-a-Nova and the other in Lardosa. There is 1 in Cascais, Lisbon, 1 in Coria, Spain (near the border with Portugal) and the other is in Cabeço das Fráguas, Guarda. The latter inscription is in the Lusitanian language.
This makes a total of 8 inscriptions.
Please note that this section can be updated as new archaeological findings are made.
The name of this deity appears under several forms: Triborunni, Trebarune, Trebarona, Trebaroni and Trebaruna. This is most likely explained by differences in local dialects.
J.L. Vasconcelos was the first to analyse her etymology. He suggested a root in Proto-Celtic *treba, which means “home”, and *runa, which means “secret” or “mystery”.
Curado compared Trebaruna with Vedic Varuna, giving her supreme functions, but this seems particularly unlikely as Reo takes that spot. Besides, the etymology of the name Varuna is much different, coming from what would mean “to bind”.
Prósper suggested a root in *arawn, which would mean “the one who protects”. Búa Carballo suggests that *trebar has the meaning of “wise”.
The functions of Trebaruna
Looking at the etymology, we can see in Trebaruna a deity similar to Greek Hestia, Roman Vesta or, even, the Lares, guardian deities in Roman religion.
Trebaruna is, then, a goddess who protects the family and the household, but she could also have a role in protecting a community or village. Being tied to the concepts of “secrets” or “mysteries”, she could also be a weaver of fate. Therefore, she presides over the destiny and luck of each member of the family. Here, we can see a similarity with the Norse spirit Hamingja.
For those who don’t know, Hamingja was a female guardian spirit in Norse Mythology. Each person has their own Hamingja, which presides over luck and happiness. In Old Norse, hamingja was, in fact, the word for luck. In Modern Icelandic, it means happiness, luck or fortune.
When a person died, his or her Hamingja would reincarnate in their descendants. This means that one’s actions in life would affect the luck and happiness of the generations to come. Therefore, the Hamingja is one of the most important concepts in the reincarnation belief of European paganism.
The inscription of Fundão was made by a man called Tongius. It so happens that in this same location, an inscription also made by this man was found. This one was dedicated to the Roman Goddess Victoria.
J.L. Vasconcelos argues that this was an interpretatio romana of the Goddess Trebaruna. She would’ve acquired war functions, which isn’t entirely impossible since she is already associated with the protection of individuals or families. Also, Victoria determined who would be successful in battle. As it was mentioned earlier, Trebaruna was most likely associated with destiny and luck, which can make the interpretatio romana hypothesis more plausible.
Finally, we must also take into account that the cult of Victoria was widespread in the Iberian Peninsula after the Roman conquest, particularly in the same areas where the cult of Trebaruna was present. This further suggests an equivalence of Trebaruna with Victoria.
Much like Nabia, we have in Trebaruna a very important polyfunctional Goddess. One should live honourably if he wants to be favoured by Trebaruna’s weaving of fate and luck, while taking proper care of the household and family. If a comparison with the Hamingja is valid, then your actions could affect the luck of your lineage, even more so if we consider that you will, eventually, be reborn through them.
Assuming that the interpretatio romana hypothesis is correct, it is possible that her functions more oriented to war and battle appeared in the wake of the Roman invasion of Iberia. While she can also be associated with the protection of communities, I don’t see her necessarily as a tutelary deity, mainly due to the lack of epithets. We have seen some tutelary aspects in Nabia, and we shall see them again when I write about Bandua, who is, most likely, the Western Iberian deity closest to Tutela.
Given her similarities with Vesta and Hestia, her symbol could be the hearth and/or the fire of the home. With her side more associated with Victoria, Trebaruna could be seen as a personification of victory and the one who decides the winners of a battle/war.
The inscription which is in the Lusitanian language mentions a lamb being sacrificed to Trebaruna (oilam usseam Trebarune). As such, we could infer that this was one of the animals associated with her.
1. J.L. Vasconcelos, Religiões da Lusitania na parte que principalmente se refere a Portugal, pp. 300-301.
2. Daniela Ferreira, Memória Coletiva e Formas Representativas do Espaço Religioso, p. 73.
3. Jorge de Alarcão, A religião de Lusitanos e Calaicos, in Conimbriga XLVIII, p. 106.
4. The Self and Its Parts, Norse Mythology for Smart People.
5. Ana Miguel, As epígrafes em língua lusitana: Memórias escritas da língua e da religião indígena, p. 32.