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 Moon.
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 Arianrhod.
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 seek her.
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
He shall bear no arms except ones she
He shall have no wife of the race that is
now on the earth.
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)
 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
 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.
 Solin, Heikki & Olli Salomies.
Repertorium Nominum Gentilium et Cognominum Latinorum s.nn. Arianius,
Arrianilla, Ariannus, Arrionilla (Hildesheim: Olms-Weidmann, 1988).
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