Rhiannon painting - Hrana Janto
What Rhiannon says to me ~
I am The Lady Sovereign. The courage of all Goddesses fill Me, The Witch Warrior lives within My soul. Flowers bloom at the beating hooves of My White Night Mare as I ride across the land, drenched in the Moon's silver glow. Ride with Me, and know thyself ...
Rhiannon's name translates as "divine" or "great queen". She is a potent symbol of fertility, yet she is also an Otherworld and death Goddess, enhancer of dreams, and a moon deity who is symbolized by a white horse. Her original name is thought to be Rigatona (Gaulish), also meaning "great queen", indicating a much higher status in the Celtic pantheon than she enjoys today.
Rhiannon, while riding her White Night Mare, appeared to her future husband Pwyll as he sat upon a magical mound awaiting mystical visions. He returned daily, and each day, she made herself visable to him but he was unable to catch up to her. He sent his finest riders after the horsewoman, and still she outran them. After three days, Pwyll rode after her for himself once again. No matter how hard he drove his horse, though she appeared to be at no more than a gallop, she was far ahead of him. Finally, a tired Pwyll had had enough. He called out to her, exasperated, "Lady, for the sake of the man you love best, stop for me!" And she did. Though promised in marriage to another, she was determined to have Pywll. A year and a day later, Rhiannon used her magick and her womanly wit to get out of marrying the minor sun diety she loathed, and was wed to Pwyll just as she had desired.
Rhiannon was also falsely accused of killing her newly born son. He was actually kidnapped one night when her handmaids had fallen asleep. Fearing they would be punished for their negligence, they conspired to set Rhiannon up to save their own skins. They killed a dog and smeared her with the blood, sat the bones near her bed, and convinced her that she ate the child during the night. She was deemed guilty. Being Otherworldly, many thought her capable of such a terrible deed, but Pwyll Lord of Dyved, knew better in his heart. Instead of having her killed, Pwyll ordered her to stand at the gates of his city near the horse mounting block bound to the bridle ring in the wall by her long flowing hair. As each person came to the gate of the city, Rhiannon was to tell them her story and carry them through on her back like a horse.
Thankfully, the lost child was returned after years of grief, when it was discovered that the god she spurned to marry Pwyll was the abductor. Rhiannon and Pwyll's son had been left in the care of a childless couple who brought up Gwri White Locks, as he was known to them, to be a handsome, whip-smart seven year old. His relieved parents changed his name to Pryderi, which is Welsh for "trouble" or "anxiety".
In her guise as a death Goddess, Rhiannon had birds that were said to sing sweetly enough to lull the living to sleep, and to make the dead rise from their graves. That may be what relates her to Germanic stories of lake and river faeries who sing seductively to lure sailors and fishermen to their deaths. Her white horse images also link her to Epona, and many scholars feel they are one and the same, or at least are derived from the same archetypal roots.
Call upon Rhiannon to bless rites of fertility, Sex Magick, prosperity and dream work. Work with Her to enhance divination skills, overcome enemies, develop patience, and to gain self confidence. She is most definitely a Fae that every woman can relate to on some level. Her perserverance and will is an example of what we as women are, have been, and will continue to be for millennia to come. Solid, unwavering beauty and strength, like Mother Earth below our feet. ~ Blessed be
A few very good books with information about Rhiannon, as well as other women in Celtic legend are; Women in Celtic Myth by Moyra Caldecott - Women of the Celts by Jean Markale - The Women of Celtic Myth and Legend; On The Edge Of Dream by Jennifer Heath.
Ride a cockhorse to Banbury Cross
to see a fine lady upon a white horse,
With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes
she shall have music wherever she goes.
~ Anglo-Celtic Nusery Rhyme
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