Goddess Rhiannon

Rhiannon, Horse Goddess

Submitted by: swampy

“Rhiannon rings like a bell thru the night
And wouldn’t you love to love her
She rules her life like a bird in flight
And who will be her lover…
And who will be her lover…

All your life you’ve never seen
A woman – taken by the wind
Would you stay if she promised you heaven
Will you ever win…

She is like a cat in the dark
And then she is the darkness
She rules her life like a fine skylark-
And when the sky is starless-

All your life you’ve never seen-
A woman – taken by the wind
Would you stay if she promised you heaven
Will you ever win…

Dreams unwind.
Love’s a state of mind.”
(by Stevie Nicks, sung by Fleetwood Mac)

Rhiannon (also called Rigantona (Gaulish) or Regina) is a Welsh Moon Goddess, Horse Goddess, and War and Battle Goddess. She also is a Goddess of Fertility, Death and the Otherworld. Her name translates as “divine” or “great queen” and there are those who think that She is a Welsh version of Epona.

Rhiannon’s father is Heveydd the Old, and She was married to both Pwyll and Manann. Rhiannon is usually pictured riding Her pale white horse. Some say that Rhiannon’s home is near the magical mound of Arberth, not far from St. Bridget’s Bay in Wales, since Rhiannon has often been seen there riding by in golden silk brocade. Others say that Her home is on the island of the Sidhe folk where the souls of the dead reside. There She has been seen with three sacred birds that perch upon Her shoulders.

Most of the stories about Rhiannon appear in the Mabinogion, which is a collection of Welsh myths. In one of these, the story of Rhiannon’s marriage to Pwyll is told. Rhiannon, riding Her horse, appeared to Her future husband Pwyll three different times before he was allowed to catch Her. Though promised in marriage to Gwawl Ap Clud, a minor sun deity, She was determined to have Pwyll. Pwyll went to ask for Her hand, but instead was tricked into giving Her to Gwawl as a matter of honor. A year and a day later Rhiannon used Her magick, a bit of conspiracy, and the guise of honor, to get away from Gwawl. Gwawl followed them, but Pwyll caught him up in a bag and then tried to have him slain by telling everyone he was a badger.

After her marriage to Pwyll, Rhiannon gave birth to a son who was named Pryderi (which means “trouble”). Later Rhiannon was falsely accused of killing Pryderi, who was actually kidnapped. All six of Her handmaids fell asleep when the child disappeared and, fearing they would be punished for their negligence, they killed a dog and smeared Rhiannon with the blood. They then sat bones near Her bed, and accused Her of eating the child. Rhiannon was deemed guilty, but Pwyll, instead of having Her killed, stood Her at the gate of his city to carry people in on Her back like a horse. Her lost child was returned years later when a servant discovered him on Bealtaine. After Pwyll’s death Rhiannon married Manawydan (Manannan).

In Her role as a death Goddess, Rhiannon can sing sweetly enough to lure all those in hearing to their deaths. When Her song is joined by the singing of Her magickal birds, it is said that the song is so beautiful that it can wake the dead to life and heal all sadness and pain. In Magick and Ritual, Rhiannon can aid you in overcoming enemies, exercising patience, working magick, moon rituals, and enhancing dream work. Rhiannon is associated with horses, especially pale white mares (the horse represents the power and fertility of the Kingship of the clan); silver; blood; the waning moon; jasmine; moonstones; and the color white.

There are two Pagan festivals connected with Rhiannon. ‘Gwyl o Rhiannon’ (the Feast of Rhiannon) is celebrated at sundown on December 2. ‘Rhyfeddod Lleiaf o Rhiannon’ (the Lesser Mysteries of Rhiannon) is celebrated from sundown March 3 through dawn March 6. Both these dates are still celebrated in modern times by some Welsh Witchcraft traditions.

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