Tag Archives: celtic folklore

arianrhod ~ goddess of the silver wheel

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It was through two wonderfully knowledgeable women, in the dark folds of the Red Tent, that the gift of the mystical story of our local and incredibly powerful Celtic Moon Mother Goddess Arianrhod was unfolded to me for the first time.

The name Arianrhod (ah-ree-AHN-rhohd), is from arian, meaning ‘silver’ and rhod meaning ‘wheel’ or ‘disc’. She is the Welsh moon and star Goddess. The ‘Silver wheel that descends into the sea’ may represent the moon or circumpolar stars, to which souls withdraw between incarnations.  She is often identified as the Goddess of reincarnation. The silver wheel is also likened to ‘a cylinder through which deities, gods goddesses and ancestors become accessible; like a silver bridge into the void’.

She is the Daughter of the Mother Goddess Don. She is also ruler of Caer Sidi, a magical realm in the North. She was worshiped as priestess of the moon (the archetypical female symbol) coming down in her pale chariot to watch over her tides. Representing the Mother aspect of the Triple Goddess in Wales, her palace was Caer Arianrhod, or the secret center of one’s spiritual being, where at low tides, horses ‘dart and play on the surf’.

She also carried the dead on her Oar Wheel to Emania, the Moon-land or land of death; she represented the archetypal cycle of womb, death, rebirth, and creation. Ancient astrologers took their observations from the position of the moon and its progress in relation to the stars – the starry wheel of Arianrhod. Albion, the old name of Britain, meant ‘White Moon’. The Celts “know well the way of seas and stars”, and counted time not by days, but by nights, and made their calendars, not by the sun, but by the moon.

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Arianrhod is said to be able to shape-shift into a large Owl, and through the great Owl-eyes, sees even into the darkness of the human subconscious and soul. The Owl symbolises death and renewal, wisdom, moon magic, and initiations. She is said to move with strength and purpose through the night, her wings of comfort and healing spread to give solace to those who seek her.

Her Festival is on 2nd December, and she is also honoured at the Full Moon.

One of many stories of Arianrhod forms part of the Mabinogion, a collection of 11 ancient pre-Christian Welsh myths, some dating as far back as the Iron Age.

This story tells of Goddess Arianrhod, daughter of a Goddess, and niece to the Math the King of Gwynedd.

King Math, was compelled by a taboo to keep his feet in the lap of a virgin whenever he was not actively engaged in battle. After his first ‘footholder’, Goewin, was seduced by Arianrhod’s brother, Math asked Arianrhod to take her place. She is forced to step over a magician’s rod to prove her virginity. As she does so, she immediately gives birth to two sons; one called Dylan, the other who is eventually named Lleu who is taken away to live with Arianrhod’s brother and raised in a magic forest.

Arianrhod is enraged at the humiliating virginity test she endured at the court of her Uncle, and directs the anger she has for the Masculine towards her one remaining son.

She places three curses over Lleu during his life: He shall have no name except one she gives him. He shall bear no arms except ones she gives him. He shall have no wife of the race that is now on the earth. These deny him the three ancient aspects of masculinity.

Her brother cleverly manages to trick her each time, dispelling all of her curses, and eventually creating Lleu a bride, Blodeuwedd, out of Oak blossom, broom and meadowsweet. Arianrhod retreated to her castle Caer Arianrhod. Here she later drowned when the sea reclaimed the land.

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The sunken ruins of the island on which she dwelled, Caer Arianrhod is to be found off the coast near to the pre-historic mound of Dinas Dinelle, in North Wales. On a low spring tide this ancient relic can sometimes be viewed from the shore. I can see this exact spot of coastline from my bedroom window, and now the incredible view has taken on a new meaning as I inwardly reflect on, and celebrate the Goddess of the Silver Wheel.

Once, Caer Arianrhod would have been on dry land and forested, according to ancient sea level studies. There is lots archaeological evidence to suggest that humans occupied the area from as early as the Neolithic period, though to take a boat to the island it would have been more likely to be Bronze age times, when the sea levels rose slightly. There are recorded stories about women living on Anglesey who, upon looking into the waters saw a town that had been flooded by sea, and who’s walls could still be seen at low water. One local blogger reported sightings of the Island in April of this year.

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Hymn to Arianrhod

Arianrhod of the Silver Wheel

By all the names men give thee –

We, thy hidden children, humbly kneel

Thy truth to hear, thy countenance to see.

Here in the circle cast upon the Earth

Yet open to the stars – unseen, yet real –

Within our hearts give understanding birth,

Our wounds of loss and loneliness to heal.

Isis unveiled and Isis veiled, thou art;

The Earth below our feet, the Moon on high.

In thee these two shall never be apart –

The magick of the Earth and Sky.

Thanks very much to all the incredible web sites there are out there which gave me inspiration and information, especially the white goddess who wrote the prayer and passages about the Owl and Celtic astrologers.

For more information about size and shape of reef click here.

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