Celtic Goddesses - Arianrhod
Arianrhod is known as the Lady of the Silver Wheel (Full Moon). She is a major Welsh Goddess with her festival celebrated each year on December 2nd. Her name is derived from the Milky Way and/or the zodiac and the Moon.
Arianrhod is revered as the Mistress of the Otherworld's Tower of Initiation, known as Caer Sidi, which is where poets learn starry wisdom and the dead go to rest in between incarnations. Henceforth, she is a Goddess of Reincarnation.
In Welsh Celtic mythology, she is the Goddess of Fecundity, the Welsh Moon Mother and Goddess of Fertility. In Welsh, arian means “silver” and rhod means “wheel.” Arianrhod is represented by silver, wheels, a sheaf of wheat and nets. The Celts of Wales regard her as a Goddess of Childbirth, the Moon, Fertility and Fate.
According to the Fourth Branch of the Mabinogi, Arianrhod's uncle, Math fab Mathonwy, would die if he did not keep his feet up in the lap of a virgin maiden at any time that he was not at war. Goewin was his original footholder. However, Arianrhod's brothers lusted after Goewin.
Waging war against King Pryderi of Dyfed, they force Math to leave his court. While he is gone, Arianrhod's brother, Gifaethwy, rapes Goewin. Upon Math's return to court, he turns both brothers into a series of mated pairs of animals. He then marries Goewin to alleviate the pain of her shame, but he must find a new virgin maiden to hold his feet on her lap.
Arianrhod's brother, Gwydion, suggests Arianrhod herself for Math's new footholder. To test her virginity, Math requires her to step over his magician's rod. Upon doing so, she immediately gave birth to a son who immediately vanishes to live in the sea as a sea spirit. She then gives birth to a second son, Lleu Llaw, whom her brother, Gwydion, grabs and takes away before anyone can notice.
Years pass before Gwydion takes the babe to see his mother at her home in Caer Arianrhod. Still angry and bitter about her humiliation at Math's court, Arianrhod curses the boy that he will never have a name unless she herself gives it to him. Arianrhod had no intention of ever giving the child a name.
Still quite the master of lies and deceit, Gwydion disguises his sister's son as a shoemaker and they return to Caer Arianrhod. This time, while Arianrhod is being fitted for new shoes, she watches as the boy kills a wren with a single stone. Arianrhod makes comment that the fair-haired one, “lleu,” has a skillful hand, “llaw.” Her brother reveals the disguise and tells her that she has just given her son a name, Lleu Llaw Gyffes.
Arianrhod then places a second curse on her son. This time, she tells him that he shall never be armed unless she herself arms him.
Eventually, Gwydion and Lleu return to Caer Arianrhod once again, now disguised as bards. As an accomplished storyteller, Gwydion entertains his sister's court. Late that night, as everyone slept, Gwydion summoned a fleet of warships to threaten attack on Caer Arianrhod. Giving everyone weapons and armor to aid in her fight, Arianrhod breaks the second curse she had placed on her son.
Upon the revelation of being tricked yet again, Arianrhod places a third and final curse on her own son. He will never have a wife from any race currently on this earth.
Gwydion and Math manage to break this curse by creating a woman out of oak blossom, broom and meadowsweet. They named her Blodeuwedd (“Flower Face”).
With the three curses, Arianrhod robbed her son of the three aspects of masculinity: a name, arms and a wife.
Arianrhod is the daughter of the Mother Goddess Donn and her consort, Beli Mawr. Her uncle, Math ap Mathonwy, is the King of Gwynedd. She is the sister of Gwydion, Amaethon, Hyveidel, Gofannon and Gilvaethwy.
Arianrhod bore two sons out of Magickal means. Her first son was Dylan ail Don, a god of the sea or sea spirit. Her second son was Lleu Llaw Gyf, the Young Lord, who was babynapped and taken as a foster child by Arianrhod's brother, Gwydion. Lleu Llaw Gyf means “the lion with the steady hand.” According to legend, Lleu Llaw Gyf grew at twice the normal rate. At four years of age, he was the size of an eight year old.
Arianrhod's consort, Nwyvre, has survived only in name.
This Celtic Goddess is represented by the constellation, the Corona Borealis or Northern Starcrown, which is named Caer Arianrhod in Welsh. Caer Arianrhod is the very same constellation associated with Ariadne, a Greek form of Arianrhod. This constellation is thought of as the palace of Arianrhod with she herself as the Moon.
Offerings to the Lady of the Silver Wheel should include silver coins, wheat and/or green and white candles. She is well to be called upon when the Moon is Full.
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