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Tag: Y Mabinogi

Birthing polarity: When one becomes two

Birthing polarity: When one becomes two

Light is meaningful only in relation to darkness.

—Louis Aragon


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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From plucked flower to living goddess

From plucked flower to living goddess

So they took the blossoms of the oak, and the blossoms of the broom, and the blossoms of the meadow-sweet, and produced from them a maiden, the fairest and most graceful that man ever saw.

—The Mabinogi


I never cared much for flowers.

They’re too showy. Too perfumy. Too easily bruised.

I prefer the solidity of a tree trunk planted in the earth, or the no-nonsense prickliness of a pine branch. I savor the aroma of fresh sage or mint or lemongrass—not the latest blooms. Where other women might gather bouquets of wildflowers, I come home with my pockets full of rocks.

So when I first read the Fourth Branch of Y Mabinogi, a collection of Welsh tales, I wasn’t much interested in the pretty little maiden named Flower Face, fashioned out of blossoms and magicked to life to serve as the compliant bride of a would-be king.

I had eyes only for Arianrhod. The remote brilliance of the potent Star Goddess who reels at the heart of all creation beckoned me like a flare in the night. Her labyrinthine fortress held me captive as I sought to untangle the threads of her enigmatic nature. Blodeuwedd, her flower-faced daughter-in-law, was to me just a footnote in Arianrhod’s tale of enchantment.

But that was just because I hadn’t met her yet.

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