I love to explore the Divine Feminine and write about Goddesses. For a list of those, click on the link: Goddesses. In order to become more balanced within ourselves and, through that, to bring greater balance and harmony to the world around us, we must find greater balance between the masculine and feminine energies within ourselves that each one of us possesses, regardless of physical gender or any other ways of self-identification.
The Virgin Mother Goddess
Arianrhod is a Goddess from Welsh mythology who conceived two sons by magic. There are three alternatives to the root of her name, the most likely of which is Proto-Celtic, Arganto-rotā, meaning Silver Wheel, which makes her a Moongoddess. Celtic mythology has changed over time and there are several versions of this myth. Below, I am reiterating the most commonly known one.
Her uncle Math is a Magician King, whose successor and student in magical arts is Gwydion, has to rest his feet on a virgin when he is not at war, as he stands under a particular curse. As his nephew desires his footholder, he and his brother engineer a war, so Math has to leave court during which time, his nephew rapes the virgin. When Math returns, he marries the girl to alleviate her shame. However, he is in need of a new footholder and Gwydion suggests his sister Arianrhod.
He had first proposed marriage to her, knowing that the line of Don the Mothergoddess can only be passed on through the female line. As he desires to sire a heir of this line, he endeavours to convince Arianrhod to marry him. However, she values her independence too much and turns him down. Then Gwydion suggests Arianrhod as the new virgin in whose lap Math should henceforth place his feet when he is at home and not engaged in battle.
Arianrhod is told to step over Math’s magician’s rod to test her virginity. As she obeys, she immediately gives birth to a boy and a blob. The boy, Dylan, is a sea spirit and flees to the ocean as soon as he is born. His uncle Gwydion takes the other boy away and places him in a chest so no one will see him. Gwydion, as Math’s apprentice, must have known of the powers of this magical rod and thus, through guile and trickery, forced Arianrhod to conceive his child.
Unnoticed as a blob, Gwydion takes the boy away to raise him in a magical forest, where he grows at twice the rate of a normal boy. When he is the size of an eight-year-old but in reality only four years, his uncle takes him to visit his mother.
The Three Curses
However, Arianrhod is angry with the boy for being the source of her humiliation at Math’s court and places a curse on him, saying that he will never have a name unless she gives him one herself. Because of this, her brother, the boy’s uncle, disguises the boy as a shoemaker and during the fitting, Arianrhod remarks that the fair-haired boy has a skilful hand because she sees him kill a small bird with a single stone, which is Lleu Llaw Gyffes in Welsh. Then Gwydion points out that she has just given the boy a name.
Upon this, Arianrhod places a new restriction on the boy, that he would never be armed unless she armed him herself. A year later, Uncle and nephew return to Caer Arianrhod, the boy’s mother’s home, this time disguised as bards. Gwydion is a gifted storyteller and entertains all the guests at his sister’s banquet. When finally everyone has gone to sleep, he conjures up a warfleet and upon waking, Ariorhod arms every man in order to fight against the enemy. In this way, she also arms Lleu and breaks her own curse on him in the process.
Arianrhod then places the final curse on her son. She says that he will never have a wife from amongst any people that walk the earth at this time. However, eventually, her brother Gwydion and uncle Math break this curse by creating a woman made from oak blossoms, the yellow-blossoming broom shrub, and the beautiful white-blossoming meadowsweet flower. This ethereally beautiful woman is then named Blodeuwedd which means Flower Face.
With her three curses, Arianrhod denies her son the three aspects of masculinity, as it was perceived by the ancient Celts, which are a name, arms and a wife.
Off the coast of northern Gwynedd, at low tide, a rock formation can be seen that is called Caer Arianrhod, thus giving us a reliable landmark to pinpoint where this story had supposedly taken place.
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A Castle in the Sky
Arianrhod is a Sky or Moon Goddess. She is the epitome of feminine celestial power who rules over fertility, childbirth and reincarnation. She is the most powerful child of Don, the primeval Mothergoddess, a parallel to the Irish Dana or Danu, and was described as very pale and very beautiful. She is a Virgin Goddess, but not in the Christian or modern meaning of the word, but in the original ancient one. She was a woman all unto herself, independent, who doesn’t need protection from a man. She was also said to enjoy her sexuality with a pronounced preference for mermen.
Arianrhod is the Goddess of the Silver Wheel and thus associated with spinning and weaving, weaving the tapestry of life itself, as she also rules arts, magic, and manifestation, the fundamentals of the conscious creation of life and its ongoing flow and change of events. Her son Lleu was a Sungod and her son Dylan a creature of the sea, both conceived by magic and trickery.
Arianrhod’s palace, Caer Sidi, which is supposed to mean revolving castle, was a place associated with the heavenly constellation of Corona Borealis, the constellation of stars moving around the apparently motionless North Star, where she lived with her female attendants and where astrologers learned their science, it is said. But Caer Sidi is also known as the Otherworld, the land of the dead.
In her capacity as Silver Wheel, Arianrhod was responsible for the souls of warriors who died in battle. She collected them on board of her ship, the Oar Wheel, and transported them to Emania, a place which is also known as Moonland. In the Northern sky, whirling around the ever stationary North Star, Arianrhod presided over the fates of departed souls, nurturing their journeys between lives, which makes her the protectress of the dead and in charge of reincarnation.
Arianrhod’s animal familiars are Owl, which had a long association with death in Celtic, and generally European mythology, and Wolf which, to the Celts, is linked to the power of the moon in Welsh folklore. The tree associated with her is the birch, standing for new beginnings. Because of her preference for mermen and her son Dylan, she is also closely associated with the sea.
Facing the Fire
When you work with the archetype of the Goddess Arianrhod, delve into your own soul. There you must seek the knowledge of past lives, release anything from the past that limits you in any way, and instead, allow rebirth and renewal to occur. You should also be aware of the moon and the magic of her flowing changes and the cycles in nature on a universal, as well as individual level. The moon moves around the earth in the heavens and causes high and low tide, light and dark at night, depending on the phase it is in. It is also the ruler of the female menstrual cycle, of birth, life, death and rebirth.
At this time, also open your heart to the infinite possibilities of the stars. You may also wish to read about and meditate on both the Tarot’s Major Arcana cards, the Moon and the Star. As you explore the celestial wisdom and science, maybe delve deeper into astronomy and astrology as well, keep an open mind in the spirit of the initiate who seeks truth of yourself and others. Let all previous judgement and any preconceived ideas go and look at everything with new eyes. You will notice how your perception changes and you spend less and less time worrying about what others might think or say, rather than being solely concerned with the truth and your fidelity to being true to yourself.
In the Tarot, the Moon stands for the unconscious, for illusions, as well as dreams. Arianrhod is betrayed. She trusted the wrong people and was harmed because of it. At the same time, she is strong and in touch with her own cycles, needs and desires. And in her connection as the Star, she brings hope and clear-sightedness, an elevation of the spirit through celestial divine energies.
When meditating with this powerful Goddess, connect to these divine energies, see the link between the macrocosm and the microcosm, see the divine geometry in all things and how all is interconnected on a larger as well as a minuscule scale. Use your newfound knowledge and wisdom to enhance your powers of creation and manifestation, as you better understand the correlation between divine energy, thought and bringing this energy into a form you desire, thus bringing it into physical manifestation in your personal reality.