command, from the physician Divos. The worshippers then fulfulled their vows, leavingus their many records of this flourishing faith over the course of four centuries. Sincethose who set up the stones had learned to write in Latin, as soldiers and sailors of theRoman Empire, the inscriptions are in Latin and the matron names are latinized, eventhough the folk who set them up were Germanic or Celtic. All of the examples given hereare names thought to be of Germanic origin.The primary functions of the mothers, as shown in the inscriptions, were to help in timeof need, to protect, to watch over a family or clan, to help in fertility and childbirth, toheal, and possibly to give protection in battle. In addition, many of the inscriptions appearto be to water goddesses or spirits, who have the name of the river or spring in whichthey reside. These were perhaps being propitiated by believers seeking safety in travelingon the water, and/or a good harvest of fish. In the case of spirits of springs, folk wouldhave wanted to make sure the spring did not dry up. The names of the mothers aremultitudinous; more than 100 different clearly Germanic names have been found to date.Frequently the names are those of clan-mothers or folk-mothers, as can be seen inexamples of inscriptions to the Swabian mothers, German mothers, paternal Frisianmothers, and the mothers of the paternal family of Kannanef. Others--goddesses or spiritsof places--are named for the river or spring where they live, such as the Renahenae of theRhine, or for the town or area they watched over, like the Albiahenae matrons of the townof Elvenich. Frequently the mothers are named for their attributes, such as giving andprotectiveness (Gabiae, Friagabiae, Alagabiae) or the powerful ones (Afliae). In the caseof the Ahueccaniae, the first element of their name is thought to relate to water, and thesecond element to Anglo-Saxon wiccian: to make magic and to Middle High Germanwicken: to prophesy, creating a very interesting combination! The Alaferhviae, depictedtogether with trees, are thought to derive their name from an Old High German word fortree or oak; other matron names also seem to have a linguistic connection with trees/oaks.The Audrinehae probably means the friendly powers of destiny, showing a connectionwith the Lesser Norns. These are just some examples of name-derivations; there are manymore. Quite often the derivations of their names are obscure.In the general area of the largest cult centers, as many as 360 monuments name the samethree sets of matrons: the Aufaniae, Suleviae, and Vacallinehae; in addition are stoneswhich mention only one of the three. The matrons Vacallinehae have at least 130inscriptions dedicated to them alone, with another 150 fragments that may have beentheirs as well. The name Vacallinehae is probably based on a place-name; thus thesemothers were probably the protectresses of the folk who lived in that particular area.More than 90 inscriptions to Aufanie have been found, who appears to have been a singlegoddess rather than a collection of mothers as were the Vacallinehae. Aufanie was oftennamed as "
" or "
," making her divine status quite clear,while other times she was titled "
." One interpretation of her name, basedon a Gothic derivation, is "
generous ancestral mother
." About 40 inscriptions arededicated to the Suleviae matrons; these inscriptions have been found scattered all overEurope and tend to be more informative about the matrons than most votive stones are.These inscriptions show that the Suleviae were considered guardians of the private,domestic sphere, guardian spirits of the household.