Tag Archives: north wales

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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the red tent ~ a place to celebrate our womanhood

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I have just finished my 9 month apprenticeship training with Alexandra Pope called ‘The Way of the Menstrual Cycle;’ a wonderful experience for me – not only a fascinating topic, but also it was the first time in my life I had experienced sitting in a circle, surrounded by a loving wise experienced and supportive group of just women, all sharing their truth. It was so refreshing and honest, frank, deep, funny, and grounding. I learnt so much.

Several of the women I met already hold Red Tent groups around Britain, and the conversation sparked something within me. I had read Anita Diamant’s book ‘The Red Tent’ a couple of years ago, and had dreamed of the possibility of this becoming a reality. And now I know I am not alone. There is now a world-wide Red Tent Movement, which aims to ‘‘seed Red Tent New Moon Circles in every suburb, town, state and country to reawaken the gifts and wisdom of the feminine.’ Even a film has been made about such gatherings of women, called ‘Red Tent Movie – Things we don’t talk about.’

I now feel SO inspired to do something to help my fellow sisters, that I am writing this with the intention to attract other women who share the same passion! I would love your comments about the Red Tent movement, your experiences of circles of women, or if you live in North Wales and would like to come to my new circle…please feel welcome come along.

Visit woman’s wheel for more advice and red tent information by clicking here.

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Traditionally the Red Tent performed a number of functions, including: rite of passage instruction and ceremonies, teaching and sharing of healing methods, teaching and sharing of pampering and beauty treatments, meditation and healing for self and the greater community, sharing of recipes, child rearing tips and life experience, sharing of personal stories and parables for spiritual teaching, counselling and emotional support, lunar and seasonal sacred ceremonies, and teaching and sharing of crafts, to name but a few.

A modern day red tent usually involves a circle of like-minded women sharing with each other and allowing each woman to have some time to express herself. It might be enough for the rest of the circle just to listen to her, to witness her. Or it might be a discussion on spirituality, astrology, menstruation, health, some kind of support on her life journey, gentle motivation, setting an empowering intention, or simply a back-rub!  It is really to create some special time to express her own needs; a gift that women rarely bestow upon themselves with the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Women can also contribute something to the circle – whether that be a song, a poem, a piece of art, an inspiring quote, reciting a dream or story, an insight into their last menstrual cycle, or just to have a discussion about ecological cleaning products or household tips! Occasionally one of the women may want to lead an activity, such as craft or an alternative therapy. Anything goes, but generally the red tent gathering just flows along beautifully with no rigid set pattern.

The following information has been copied directly from a free download available by visiting Tanishka’s website.

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Why is the Red Tent held at New Moon?

‘New moon is the time of the month, 2 weeks after full moon when we tend to feel tired, inward & vulnerable. It’s when our insecurities & old wounds surface… our shadow self that we often try to hide from others. But if we don’t learn to accept & heal our shadow (like Peter Pan) we never grow up & so we end up with a society so afraid of aging we think it normal to carve ourselves up rather than be publicly seen as an elder.

It is for this reason women of all indigenous societies for thousands of years gathered together at his time to reflect upon their lives, offering emotional support & healing to one another rather than expect their partner to intuit & fulfill all their emotional needs. The new moon is also the time when most women experience their ‘moontime’ or ‘heavenly water’ as it was known in traditional Chinese medicine.

So this custom offered a time out to working women & mothers, enabling them to turn inwards & rest & replenish when their lunar tide was out each month & their life force at its lowest ebb. Another reason for this time honoured practice was that during one’s moontime (the most common time for women to menstruate) & generally at new moon, women are at their most psychically open. When they were considered to be, ‘closest to God’ as it’s the most inward time of the cycle, making it the ideal time to meditate on behalf of themselves, each other & for the greater good – channelling intuitive insights & guidance.’

The Cultural Cost of the Omission of The Red Tent

‘The Red Tent also helped to sustain healthy partnerships & marriages. Because just as our bodies are ruled by the moon, so too are our emotions. And just like the moon women are changeable & emotional beings. So when we experience the dark time of our emotional lunar cycle, it is best for the longevity of our relationships that we take sacred space from our partners & children so they don’t experience our destructive side when we are in the little death phase of our monthly mandala.

If we take this time to focus on our inner needs at this time we can return to our loved ones full of self love & nurturing so we have it to give to them the rest of the month without burning out. Without this cyclic acceptance of our need to give back to the self we end up with a Western epidemic of breast cancer in the ‘civilised world’ where women are culturally expected to nurture 24/7 without asking for anything in return. Just as we need to breathe in before breathing out, so too women need to take time & sustenance for themselves if we are to continue giving to others from a centred & full sense of self.

Similarly, by taking responsibility for our emotional well being through a monthly practice we lessen our need for emotional comfort through overeating, as the sacral energy center which resides in the abdomen is governed by the moon. When women don’t honour their emotional needs the result is gluttony, the vice of the sacral chakra.

So with the omission of Red Tents giving women a regular time to process their emotions we see eating disorders as common place, particularly amongst teenage girls. Other feminine health complaints such as menstrual disorders & depression are also often alleviated through this simple, cyclic practice.

For women raised in a Western (masculinized or yang) culture that had no understanding of ancient women’s traditions so dismissed them as old wives’ tales or feared them as the work of the devil, we can now see the physical cost of women who aren’t in touch with their feminine essence as infertility is now at an all time high in the West. New moon circles offer the most fundamental & practical way to attune women’s natural hormone cycles to the moon, regulating their endocrine system without the invasion of synthetic hormones.’

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“I want to build a moon lodge

where old womyn braid my hair

brushing slowly, gently

the tangles of my life free

where there are no walls

only painted cloth

flowing, circling

blanketing me from the world”

~ Jessica Todd

See how the red tent has grown! Visit woman’s wheel for more advice and red tent information by clicking here.

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