As the Wolf Full Moon rises to its peak this evening, we are enjoying the drama of a blizzard outside our windows. (enjoying especially since the power is still on!) Our plans to visit with the Goddess Arianrhod in Her crystal castle this evening, in ritual, are put on hold for the time being, but She is still very near in my thoughts.
The Welsh myths that describe Arianrhod portray Her as cruel and deceptive. She was to have been the ceremonial virgin to serve Her uncle, the King Math ap Mathonwy, but was magickally impregnated (in theory) by Her brother Gwydion. She bore two sons but rejected them, placing three curses (geis) on one of them. Gwydion tricked Her into giving this son—Lleu Llaw Gyffes—his birthright name, weapons and a wife. I suspect that thousands of years of patriarchy have cast a pall over the original story—the idea of a wife being one’s birthright anchors this firmly into the category of male privilege.
What if we see the birthing of Arianrhod’s two magickal children as miraculous instead of shameful or deceitful—as we have seen in other myths? One child, Dylan, flew directly to the ocean, his home, a mystery in itself. The other, who would become Lleu, was stolen and imprisoned by Gwydion, who imprinted the creature with his own ideas of what a boy child should be. Upon seeing him, Arianrhod laid Her curses on the child, saying he would not pass his important milestones without Her help. The story tells that Gwydion tricked Her into providing that help twice, and used his own magick to create a wife for Lleu Llaw Gyffes.
In discussion with our Assembly Elder Michael Smith, I learn that Arianrhod is a Goddess of love and honesty, although it certainly doesn’t seem that way at first glance. From the myth, a virgin is portrayed as a woman who has not had intercourse with a man, rather than a woman who is Her own person and wields Her own power. Being required by King Math to “step over the magickian’s rod” (ahem), She is discovered to be pregnant, filled with Her own magick, and therefore not a blank slate, untouched, for the King’s purposes. Arianrhod does provide Her son with the gifts, but these are things that he already possesses; his true self (name) and his ability to use his own power (the weapons). Who can blame Her if She looks at the situation with anger and bitterness? Gwydion has taken Her magickal potential, and turned it into a creature under his own control.
To approach Her in Her castle requires the strength of Will to move past the forms and structures built by others for their own purposes, and arrive at the very Center of True North. If we approach this Goddess with the intention to understand Her more fully, we should start with the desire to understand what our own gifts and skills are, without any overlay of belief that has been applied to us by others. Ask Arianrhod to help you look at yourself with honesty, unflinching, and reveal your gifts to you from a place of truth.
And don’t be too surprised if this Full Moon in Leo turns this all into a huge production!