Greetings to you, Arianrhod, Silver-Wheel.
Greetings to you, Crown of the North.
You who deny in order to fulfill, I greet you.
You, Queen of Witches, Initiator of Bards
May I remember my times in your Caer
And embrace the Stars that wheel around you.
Featured image by Alfredo J G A Borba via Wikimedia Commons
If you linger here, transfixed by the beauty of what you see,
then you will be a captive forever.
But, if you have the strength to turn and walk out of the Spiral Castle,
then the hidden secret of House Arianrhod will be revealed to you.
—Lyn Webster Wilde, “Becoming the Enchanter”
I spent years seeking Arianrhod. Came up empty-handed more often than not. She’s an elusive goddess—a fleeting shadow in the corner of my eye, sensed rather than seen.
She dawned on me slowly, the way the first stars appear when you’re not looking. Before you know it, you’ve got a sky full of them.
She’s an enchanter, an illusionist. She hides in plain sight. A riddler, a trickster. She diverts our attention from her sleight of hand. Her bright Silver Wheel “mirrors us back to ourselves and flashes tricksy images into our mind’s eye that can easily confuse … what is real and what is not? And what is reality anyway?” says shaman and author Elen Sentier.
Arianrhod demands we master the enchanter’s art of clear sight. She tests our grasp on reality. In myth, she grants the gift of prophetic sight. In practice she drives us hone our gaze—to see through illusion and spot the hidden.
Most often when I meet her, she takes me by surprise. But I’ve gradually learned where to look for her.
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On a Sunday, at the time of dawn,
Between the bird of wrath and Gwydion
Thursday, certainly they went to Mona
To obtain whirlings and sorcerers.
Arianrhod, of laudable aspect, dawn of serenity
The greatest disgrace evidently on the side of the Brython,
Hastily sends about his court the stream of a rainbow,
A stream that scares away violence from the earth.
The poison of its former state, about the world, it will leave.
— Taliesin, The Chair of Cerridwen
Featured image by Jiaqian AirplaneFan—Rainbow near of Montmorency waterfall, CC-BY-3.0
O Arianrhod of the Silver Wheel,
By all the many names men give to thee —
We, all thy hidden children, humbly kneel
Thy truth to hear, thy countenance to see.
Here in the Circle, cast upon the Earth
Yet open to the stars — unseen, yet real —
Within our hearts give understanding birth,
Our wounds of loss and loneliness to heal.
Isis Unveiled, and Isis Veiled, thou art;
The Earth below our feet, the moon on high.
In thee, these two shall never be apart —
The magic of the Earth, and of the sky.
—Janet & Stewart Ferrar, The Witches’ Goddess
Featured image by Brian Tomlinson—Tree and Star Trails, CC-BY-2.0
Light is meaningful only in relation to darkness.
The goddess Ceridwen has two children. One bears the face of the most beautiful maiden in the world. The other, misshapen, becomes known for his unparalleled hideousness.
The goddess Arianrhod steps over a magic wand and gives birth to twins. One emerges from her womb perfectly formed and takes to the sea, spending his life beneath the waves. The other, a mere blob, is nearly overlooked but eventually grows up to claim his birthright as a sun god.
Light and dark. Life and death. Order and chaos. Love and fear. Self and other.
As humans, we inhabit a world divided in two. Two genders. Two hemispheres in our brains. Two divine forces—good and evil—that clash endlessly with each other. The very atoms from which we’re made are composed of both positive and negative particles.
According to Hermetic wisdom, “all manifested things have two sides, two aspects, two poles.” This dual nature is reflected in mythologies the world over, which are peppered with examples of twin deities existing as pairs of opposites. In Zoroastrian mythology, the twins Ahriman and Ahura Mazda represent the spirits of evil and good. An Egyptian creation myth pairs the earth god Geb and the sky goddess Nut together as twins.
In Y Mabinogi we find two powerful creator-goddesses, Ceridwen and Arianrhod, who give birth to children with opposing characteristics, each pair representing one of the most basic and fundamental dichotomies: dark and light. In both cases, the duality of their offspring receives only a brief mention within a much larger tale, yet these few lines speak volumes about the nature of human consciousness—and how we can develop its potential.
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