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~ Rhiannon ~
(Information provided by Jenny)
Rhiannon (her name meaning "Maid of Annwn") is a goddess from Welsh mythological history. She is a goddess of earth, fertility, horses and birds. She finds antecedants in the British Goddess Rigantona ("Great Queen") and the continental Celtic horse-goddess Epona, who was also associated with foals, dogs and birds like Rhiannon. She has links to the Underworld and is much featured in the Mabinogion. In the Mabinogion she is intelligent and wise, and doesn't hesitate to speak Her mind.
In the later Christianized version of the tale, Rhiannon's first husband was Pwyll, ("Never was there a man who made feebler use of his wits", in Rhiannon's own words) who had once done a stint as King of the Underworld.
She appeared to Pwyll, lord of Dyfed, as a beautiful woman in dazzling gold on a white horse. Pwyll sent his fastest horsmen after her, but could not catch her. On the third day, he spoke and she told him she wanted to marry him instead of her espoused husband Gwawl. Pywll was to meet her in a year and a day.
He won her at the court of her father, Hefeydd the Old, by her aid. She bore Pwyll a son, Pryderi, who vanished the night of his birth while the new mother and the women sent to guard them slept. In fear of the consequences for slacking off on their duty, the serving-women killed a puppy and smeared Rhiannon with its blood and accused her of murdering her own son. Their word won over Rhiannon's own, and as punishment she was made to sit outside the castle on a horse-block, telling her story to any who would listen and offer each visitor a ride on her back for seven years.
The child, meanwhile, turned up at the court of Teyrnon, whose mares foaled on May eve and lost the foals mysteriously. When Teyrnon kept watch, he saved a foal from a mysterious beast and also discovered, outside the stable, a child, whom he and his wife adopted. Then child grew to young manhood in seven years, and was given the foal rescued on the night he was found. Teyrnon recognised his foster-son's resemblance to Pwyll and returned him to his family, where he was named Pryderi ("worry") by his mother.
Later, after Pwyll's death, Rhiannon married Manawydan, (the Welsh equivalant to Manannán, the Irish Sea God) brother of Bran and Branwen and son of Llyr, a great magician. One day, all of Dyfed turned into a wasteland, and only Rhiannon, Manawydan, Pryderi, and his wife Cigfa, were spared. Manawydan and Pryderi, out hunting, followed an enormous white boar into a caer, where Pryderi saw a golden bowl; when he touched it, he was enspelled. Rhiannon went after him and fell under the same spell. The caer then vanished, taking them with it. She was rescued when Manawydan captured the wife of their enemy, Llwyd, who was taking revenge for the illtreatment of Gwawl.
Rhiannon is deeply associated with horses: Pwyll first sees her riding a marvelous white horse that no one can catch; The vanished child was found by Teyrnon in place of a new-born foal; and her punishment is to act as a horse. She is most often thought to appear as a tall, slender, beautiful woman dressed in royal robes of gold, riding an unearthly white mare. Her mare, which can run faster than any other, symbolizes power and rulership.
Birds have always been associated with this goddess, so sometimes she was referred to as "Rhiannon of the Birds." Rhiannon is accompanied by three blackbirds which were said to sing so sweetly that listeners could sit entranced for years. The songs of her birds could wake the dead or lull the living to sleep for seven years. With their sweet songs, Rhiannon's magical birds could heal the sick and wounded and soothe the souls of the most troubled of mortals.
The songs of her birds are believed to be able to bring restorative, peaceful slumber. Birds bring the energy of Transcendence and as animals of the Earth and of the Sky, these feathered friends help us to bridge the energy of Heaven and Earth. Bridging the ability to traverse the physical plane while simultaneously remembering our Freedom of Spirit, and with this remembrance we take flight and transcend the illusions of separateness and limitation.
Rhiannon is also considered an Otherworld Goddess and in this aspect Her Light illuminates the path for those who are making their journey from the physical plane back to the Celestial Spiritual Plane. Within this role Rhiannon's birds assist with the transition process through signing their songs of transcendence, which assures the transition (the physical death) is painless and peaceful. Rhiannon rides her white horse within the sacred service of guiding newly transitioned souls back to the Light, ensuring safe passage back to Spirit.
As an Otherworld Goddess, Rhiannon has been associated with the Fairy Kingdom and within this realm she retains her high status of Queen. This versatile aspect of the Lady has also been associated with the Isle of Avalon and with the likes of Vivienne and with the Lady of the Lake.
Within these Otherworld Aspects, Rhiannon reminds us of our ability to move within and around the magical realms. Both Birds and Horses are often utilized within the shamanic journey to move within different realms and dimensions. Rhiannon and her trusty totems are awesome journey guides and guardians for those who desire to explore other realms.
She is a goddess of change, movement, and magic. She comforts in time of crises, loss, and illness. She gives us gifts of tears, forgetfulness (to promote healing), and humor to ease our sufferings in this life and guides us to the next. Her qualities include strength, sexuality, fertility, and over coming doubt.
Rhiannon gallops into your life to tell you how to work with doubt. To doubt someone or something when your instincts are giving you warning signals is healthy. To spend time doubting yourself is self-negating and not very helpful. The best way of working with self-doubt is to turn it into self-questioning. Self- doubt leads you nowhere. Self-questioning gives you answers. Do you get stuck in doubt and let it turn your optimism into despair, your confidence into low self-esteem, your vitality into sluggishness and procrastination? Does doubt align itself with your fears to keep you from succeeding? Do the doubts of others shipwreck your dreamboat? Perhaps where the outside world is concerned you need to exercise a bit more skepticism, rather than trusting blindly. The Goddess tells you not to let doubt erode your sacred self. Allow yourself to question rather than doubt so that you can gain the answers you need to continue on your path to wholeness.
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