Saturday, March 22, 2014

Rhiannon, Welsh Goddess of Horses and Magic

Rhiannon is the Welsh Goddess of horses, creativity, inspiration, movement and sovereignty. Her name is said to be derived from the ancient Celtic Goddess Rigantona which means "Great Queen". Rhiannon is often depicted as a beautiful woman riding her otherworldly white mare with mystical birds that fly at her side. These birds sing songs of enchantment that are said to lull people into a peaceful sleep and wake the dead.

Her myth appears in the Mabinogion, which is a collection of Welsh/Celtic mythology. One such tale about Rhiannon involves her marriage to king Pwyll. One night, after a feast with his men, Pwyll decides to take a walk to the mound in the forest. Upon the mound he notices a woman in the distance riding a beautiful white mare. He sends one of his men after her so that they may speak but the man is never able to catch up to her. The next night Pwyll returns to the mound and again sees Rhiannon riding in the distance so he sends another one of his men after her and he also cannot seem to catch her. Pwyll suspects some sort of trickery or magic so the next night when he sees Rhiannon he rides after her himself. He also cannot catch her so he calls out to her to stop so that they may speak. She stops her horse and tells him he should have said that to her earlier. 

She tells Pwyll that she is here to marry him as she does not want to marry the man her father has chosen for her. After sometime the two are married and have a son named Pryderi. The couple hires women to watch over their child at night. One night the women all fall asleep and when they awake the cradle is empty and the child gone. Terrified that the king will kill them upon hearing this news the women decide to blame Rhiannon. They sneak into Rhiannon's room where she sleeps and smear blood over her face and body. They then tell Pwyll that Rhiannon murdered and ate her baby. Rhiannon is punished for this crime by having to sit by a horse mounting block and offer to carry visitors to the courts on her back. The boy was found by the stables by a man names Teyrnon and he and his wife raise him as their own. Years later when they realize that the boy belongs to the king, they return him home to Rhiannon and Pwyll.

In this myth we can see that Rhiannon has to carry the burden of blame even for something she did not actually do. Though she gets through it carrying the weight of it on her back and in the end when the truth prevails she is stronger because of it. This teaches us to always be true to ourselves and through this we achieve strength. To not be true to ourselves is a heavy and unnecessary burden to carry. Through truth we achieve freedom.

Rhiannon is a lunar Goddess and is also associated with the underworld. She rides her white mare while guiding souls back to the spirit world to ensure their safe passage. Both horses and birds are viewed as otherworldly creatures in Celtic myth.  Rhiannon is associated with the Gaulish Goddess Epona, also a horse Goddess, whom the Romans worshiped as well. She is also viewed as a faery Queen and has associations with the Lady of the Lake.

Rhiannon is a creative Goddess and can be called upon for any creative endeavors we are taking on. She can also be called on for those seeking to explore the magical realms. Let her guide you with her mystical white mare and sweet singing birds. Since she is connected with movement in general you may also call on her for any kind of travel. She can also help you on your path for self truth.

Art courtesy of Kim Dreyer

1 comment:

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