The Celtic Goddess Arianrhod
By Judi Singleton
('Silver Wheel') Major Welsh Goddess. A star
goddess. Her palace was called Caer Arianrhod (Aurora Borealis), Goddess of time
and karma. Mother aspect of the Triple Goddess in Wales. Goddess of beauty, the
Moon, fertility and reincarnation. Mother of Llew Llau Gyffes by her brother
Gwydion. Her consort Nwyvre ('Sky, Space, Firmament') has survived in name only.
Caer Arianrhod is the circumpolar stars, to which souls withdraw between
incarnations, she is thus a Goddess of reincarnation. Honoured at the Full Moon.
Celtic Moon-Mother Goddess. Called the Silver
Wheel that Descends into the Sea. Daughter of the Mother Goddess Don and her
consort Beli. She is ruler of Caer Sidi, a magical realm in the north. She was
worshiped as priestess of the moon. The benevolent silver sky-lady came down
from her pale white chariot in the heavens to watch more closely over the tides
she ruled. Her Festival is on 2nd December, she is also honoured at the Full
In addition to native variations by locality or
over time, there are often several possible transliterations into the Roman
alphabet used for English, Arianrhod Aranrhod - Arianrod.
A star and moon Goddess, Arianrhod was also
called the Silver Wheel because the dead were carried on her Oar Wheel to Emania
(the Moon-land or land of death), which belonged to her as a deity of
reincarnation and karma. Her consort Nwyvre 'Sky, Space, Firmament' has survived
in name only. Caer Arianrhod is the circumpolar stars, to which souls withdraw
between incarnations, thus she is identified as a Goddess of reincarnation. The
Mother aspect of the Triple Goddess in Wales, her palace was Caer Arianrhod
(Aurora Borealis), or the secret center of each initiate's spiritual being.
The moon is the archetypal female symbol,
representing the Mother Goddess connecting womb, death, rebirth, creation.
(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, such as the famous Coligny Calendar, not by the sun,
but by the moon. Ancient astrologers took their observations from the position
of the moon and its progress in relation to the stars - the starry wheel of
In Celtic Myth the Goddess has three major
aspects: the maiden, the mother and the crone. These three represent the three
stages in life of a woman. Blodeuwedd is the flower maiden, Arianrhod represents
the mother and The Morrigu at last is the crone. These three aspects of the
Celtic goddess may have different names in different regions and regional
legends. For example, Morrigan also takes the mother role at times.
Arianrhod is said to be able to shapeshift into a
large Owl, and through the great Owl-eyes, sees even into the darkness of the
human subconscious and soul. The Owl symbolizes death and renewal, wisdom, moon
magick, 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
Arianrhod is the daughter of the Welsh Goddess
Don and the sister of Gwydion. Gwydion was counselor to King Math who could only
remain alive if his feet lay in the lap of a virgin at all times except when he
led his armies into battle. During one such battle the virgin who had held King
Math's feet was raped, and so there was need for a replacement. Gwydion
recommended his sister, Arianrhod. King Math put her virginity to the test by
asking her to step over his magic wand. As she stepped over the wand she gave
birth to a boy child with yellow hair. The child cried loudly, and Arianrhod,
humiliated, ran for the door, dropping yet another small object on the ground in
the process. Before anyone could catch a glance at the object, Gwydion wrapped
it and hid it inside a chest. King Math then performed rites for the yellow
haired boy child, naming him Dylan. Dylan immediately ran for the sea and
received the sea's nature and was never seen again.
A time later Gwydion presented Arianrhod with the
object that he had hidden in the chest - a second boy child. Arianrhod was
outraged at the "evidence" of her humiliation at the hands of King
Math and rejected the child.
She laid on him three curses:
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
Gwydion was outraged by these curses and worked
to break them. He disguised himself and the boy child as shoemakers and traveled
to Caer Arianrhod. When Arianrhod went to have shoes fitted, the boy child threw
a stone at a bird and deftly hit it. Arianrhod commented on the child's skillful
hand. At that Gwydion revealed himself and the child and stated that she had
just named him - Llew Llaw Gyffes, the Shining Skillful Hand. This threw
Arianrhod into a firey rage and she stormed back to Caer Arianrhod swearing that
the boy would never bear arms or have a human wife.
Again Gwydion tricked Arianrhod into breaking her
own curse. He disguised himself and Llew as travelers and sought refuge in Caer
Arianrhod. While they were there Gwydion caused an illusion showing a powerful
armada of ships advancing on Caer Arianrhod. Making ready for battle Arianrhod
threw open her armory and armed her retainers. Gwydion suggested to Arianrhod
that she give arms to him and Llew (still in disguise) and they would fight at
the defense of the castle. She readily agreed and thereby, unwittingly, granted
arms to her son, breaking the second curse. Gwydion then revealed themselves to
Arianrhod and told her that she may as well take the arms back from her son, as
there really was no battle to be fought.
Enraged at being tricked a second time, Arianrhod
took comfort in her third curse - that Llew would have no human wife. Gwydion,
upset at the cruelty Arianrhod was showing her son, vowed to break this curse
also. Gwydion went to King Math and explained Llew's plight. Combining their
magic they created a woman made of flowers, Blodeuwedd, to be wife to Llew, and
broke Arianrhod's third curse.
Humiliated by King Math, thwarted by her son,
forsaken by her brother, Arianrhod retreated to her castle Caer Arianrhod. Here
she later drowned when the sea reclaimed the land.
 Gruffudd, Heini. Enwau i'r Cymry/Welsh Personal Names (Talybont: Y Lolfa,
1984) s.nn. Ariannell, Arianwen, Arianrhod.
 Bromwich, Rachel. The Welsh Triads (University of Wales Press, 1978) p.277.
 Evans, J. Gwenogvryn. The Text of the Book of
Llan Dav (Aberystwyth: National Library of Wales, 1979) (Facsimile of the 1893
Oxford edition) p.82.
 Bartrum, P.C. Early Welsh Genealogical Tracts
(Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1966) p.15, 18.
 O'Brien, M. A., ed. Corpus Genealogiarum
Hiberniae (Dublin: The Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1976).
 Royal Irish Academy. Dictionary of the Irish
Language: based mainly on Old and Middle Irish materials (Dublin : Royal Irish
Academy, 1983) s.v. argat.
 Withycombe, E.G. The Oxford Dictionary of
English Christian Names, 3rd ed. (Oxford University Press) s.n. Ariadne.
 Solin, Heikki & Olli Salomies.
Repertorium Nominum Gentilium et Cognominum Latinorum s.nn. Arianius, Arrianilla,
Ariannus, Arrionilla (Hildesheim: Olms-Weidmann, 1988).
About The Author: Judi Singleton is the publisher
of Jassmine's Jornal
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