About Arianrhod

midnight-messenger

“Midnight Messenger” by Anne Stokes. The closest representation I’ve ever found to how Arianrhod appears to me.

When we look at all the ancient stories and myths, we’re seeing a story that was likely passed down verbally for generations before someone decided to preserve their version and write it down. It’s like the children’s game of Telephone.

Then we play even more Telephone with it by translating it, changing it, embellishing it and stripping things away from it. Only after all that do people in Academia study it, interpret it through whatever lens they’re using, and produce the “authoritative version”.

In other words, don’t believe everything you read.

I follow the Welsh goddess Arianrhod, Lady of the Silver Wheel. In the feudal sense of the term She is my Lady (I refer to Her that way quite a bit). You could also call Her my Mistress in the BDSM sense of the term, except I’m not a slave. I make the choice to serve Her, honor Her, and love Her every single day.

So who is She?

The stories don’t tell us much. She comes down to us in one story of the Mabinogion, a few fragments of other myths semi-preserved in other stories, and some surviving beliefs and customs in her native Wales. She does not look good in these stories, to say the least. We’ve also got a more modern take from Robert Graves, who co-opted Her as the Mother in his Welsh “Maiden/Mother/Crone” trio – and while She did give birth, the “loving moon mommy” is not Her role! Other sources show other associations, and there’s no telling where those came from.

I have been working with Her since She Called me at 12, damn near 20 years ago. She has occasionally asked me to work with other deities, but for the most part She has been my focus for all that time. So I can tell you what I’ve learned. It’s mostly UPG*, but one of the reasons I’m sharing this online is because I know there are other people out there working with Her, and I’d love to connect with some of them and get some other perspectives!

Above all else Arianrhod is a liminal goddess. She stands at the moment of transition between What Was and What Will Bethe instant that potential is made manifest. Her primary emphasis, in fact, is encouraging that moment of manifesting potential. Rites of passage are especially important to Her, because during the moment of “becoming” the celebrant briefly enters Her realm.

She does not fit neatly into the life stage of Maiden or Mother or Crone – She is all of them, and none of them, because She stands outside of the cycle in order to monitor its passage. Stories say that She hosts the dead between incarnations, giving them rest and peace before rebirth. Again She dwells at the liminal space, whether its between stages of life or between lifetimes.

And that also shows another side of Her personality. She will comfort you, She will give you peace and rest – but only for a time. You can’t stay in Her Tower, you can only visit. She will implacably send you out to fight again, to live and die again, because it is only by doing this that you will realize everything you can be.

As a goddess of the liminal She has no tolerance for stasis. It is only change that encourages – and rewards – growth. So it doesn’t matter if She has to push you, drag you, or simply hold your hand. She will create obstacles, challenge your preconceived notions, disrupt your routine, and throw you curve balls, just so you can learn how to handle them. Or, alternately, to prove to you that you’re strong enough to bear the burden. Often our strength and resources have to be tested to be known. Arianrhod will test you right to the breaking point, walking that fine line between “too much” and “not enough”. There’s always the chance you might fail – which creates another kind of opportunity to grow. Which challenges the meaning of “failure”, and your relationship to it. Which is another growth opportunity.

This part goes back to her role in the Welsh Mabinogion. On a surface reading She comes off as just about the worst mother ever. But when I read it again, after working with Her for awhile, I saw the “curses” as challenges, instead. This is why statues of Arianrhod are now appearing with descriptions like “the Goddess of Transformation and Obstacles”.

It is this aspect of Arianrhod that links her with the concept of Ordeal workings. Before I even knew what an Ordeal working was I was doing them at Her direction. Now I not only undergo Ordeals, I’m slowly beginning to learn how to safely conduct them for others. And so the Wheel spins round…

Ordeals are just one of the many tools in Her toolbox, all designed to encourage that moment a potential is realized. And that brings us to an interesting personality quirk. She is a bit OCD. She can’t stand to see potential wasted. She doesn’t even seem to care what the potential is for, so long as it is the very best it can be. Do you have the potential to be a world-class poet, or mathematician, or plumber? Or simply yourself? No matter what it is, She will help you realize it.

She’s the same way with ideas, visions, concepts, dreams,  projects, and poems. If you get stuck, call on Arianrhod – She’ll support you across the rough spots. She won’t do it for you – how would you learn that way? – but She’ll offer support and different perspectives along your path.

And that, of course, is her link with inspiration. It again goes to the liminal. The birthing of an idea, of a vision, is also a moment of change. Poets and artists are said to go to the Tower of Arianrhod when seeking inspiration, finding it in the sacred well She tends. Dreamers can visit the Tower as well, seeking answers to pressing questions. Arianrhod will help as much as She is able.

That, of course, links Her with divination. Arianrhod is said by some to weave the tapestry of life and death – and since She knows what is and what has been, She can offer guidance. However, while She can tell you a lot not even She knows exactly how the future will turn out. We all have the potential within us to change things. So Arianrhod’s approach is to help you see all the choices and potentials ahead of you – it is up to you to chart your own course. You alone have the responsibility for guiding your life, because you are the one who will grow and develop by doing so, but She’ll assist by giving you the most information available.

If you want absolutes and blind obedience, Arianrhod is not for you. If you want a comfortable deity who condones delusion and fuzzy focus look elsewhere. But if you want a demanding taskmistress who will support you, guide you, and kick your ass by turns, strictly and sincerely to help you grow into the best you can be, maybe think about developing a relationship with Her. If you already work with Her I would love to hear from you – please feel free to comment!

* UPG: Unverified Personal Gnosis. A term popularized by the Heathen/Asatru community. Refers to information you’ve gained through personal experience, but can’t back up in the stories and lore. If several people, preferably having no contact with each other, happen to have the same UPG it becomes a SPG (Shared Personal Gnosis). And if it is later somehow verified it becomes a VPG (Verified Personal Gnosis). Just in case readers might not be familiar with the terms!

I refer to the Mabinogion quite a bit in the above. Haven’t read it? It’s available all over the web as a free download. The most common version, by Lady Charlotte Guest, isn’t my favorite, though – I prefer Patrick Ford’s Mabinogion and Other Tales, which I got used on Amazon for like $3.

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23 thoughts on “About Arianrhod

  1. Hi. I feel compelled to respond to something you’ve said here, and it’s not even about all the wonderful information about your Lady.

    It’s about the concept of slavery. I have a real life, flesh and blood slave. I did not coerce her into this arrangement; she chose it because it fulfills her, it helps define who we are to each other, and it is a deep calling in her soul to serve someone else. So when you describe your relationship with your Lady as similar to a BDSM Mistress, there is no reason to shy away from the word “slave” if that’s what it feels like to you.

    (For me, although there are parts of my relationship with Thems I Serve that are non-consensual at times, I do not see myself as a god slave, or a slave to my gods.)

    Anyway, good luck with your journey.

    • Caer Jones says:

      Greetings, and thanks for the response!

      I have a lot of experience in BDSM-style relationships, M/s and D/s, so I’m certainly not disregarding that as a valid path or anything. For me, the biggest difference between my relationship to Her and a typical M/s relationship is that I argue. She’ll point out other perspectives, and while usually I do end up agreeing I have been known to flat-out say “no”. It’s not common by any stretch, and it’s not done lightly, but it has happened. And that’s ok. Part of our relationship is that She wants me to argue occasionally (as long as I’m still willing to fully consider Her view), because when I do that I show that I’m engaging with Her on all levels. Sometimes I think She asks things that require me to argue just to see if I’m paying attention! She’s a deity, and just because Her perspective is broader than mine does not necessarily mean that She’s always right. It’s my responsibility to question – and refuse if necessary. When I obey it’s because I truly agree and get Her goals, even if I don’t like the methodology.

      Those I’ve spoken with who are in M/s relationships with their deities tend obey without question, even if it seems ethically wrong or somehow destructive to other areas of their lives, and seem to be punished somehow when they refuse. I’m not in their relationships or anything, but that’s what I’ve gathered. *shrug* That’s totally ok if that’s what is best for their relationship, but that’s not how She and I interact. It seems a significant enough distinction for me to leave them the M/s terminology. You could say She and I are D/s, I suppose, but the feudal “Lady” seems to fit better.

      I hope that’s clear!

      • Diane Awenydd-Evans says:

        While some Deities enjoy slave-like devotion to themselves, our Lady Arianrhod will not tolerate it from her children. At least that is my experience. She always demands that I take and hold responsibility for my own destiny. That is how I serve her and honor her, by never surrendering my own sovereignty and by encouraging others to acknowledge their own. Merry meet again Caer.

      • Caer Jones says:

        That’s certainly been my experience!

  2. reikiheidi says:

    Hi, thank you for sharing your knowledge and experiences. I recently had a vision of Arianrhod – and She is not a Goddess that I have worked with before – She came to me when I asked the Triple Goddess for help with something! So I have been trying to look into Arianrhod and how to work with Her, and honour Her. So glad I found this post 🙂
    Blessings be to you.

  3. Awen says:

    I really like this. It’s slightly different from my own personal gnosis, but that is definetely a good thing! I am about to finish my 30 questions Deity Challenge thing on Arianrhod, I will be the first blogger I know of to do it. You might want to check it out. Maybe even leave a comment? 😉

    http://awenstormfool.blogspot.com.es/search/label/30%20Day%20Deity%20Challenge

  4. Ooh Chiara says:

    When she comes to you, is her hair sometimes tied back with a jewelled web thing decorating it, and a silver chain at her waist?

    I think she is who I was introduced to and who I’ve been searching for! I’m studying Avalonian Wicca at the moment and in meditation she came to me this morning. The penny dropped when I saw the image at the top of this page of it being the closest to how she appears to you.

  5. […] within Friday’s meditation, coming across Not All Who Wander Are Lost and her write-up on her experienced with Arianrhod that it was really cemented in my mind – this is who I met and who I have been searching […]

  6. […] within Friday’s meditation, coming across Not All Who Wander Are Lost and her write-up on her experienced with Arianrhod that it was really cemented in my mind – this is who I met and who I have been searching […]

  7. […] She can’t stand to see potential wasted. She doesn’t even seem to care what the potential is for, so long as it is the very best it can be. – Not All Who Wander Are Lost: About Arianrhod […]

  8. aurora roses says:

    She came to me in a dream since i was 11-14/15. Is this unusal or strange… i would be in a spiral of space and she would be showing me what to do but would not help then would rush me and id fall through space? This could be so wrong. But im sure she was in my dreams.

  9. Amazon says:

    She is my lady too.

  10. Astryd says:

    She is my guiding goddess. I actually just discovered this which is so amazing! As a child I had visions of owls over my bed at night. I was actually very terrified of them because of their eyes that were black and it was if I might sink into them. My entire life has been one of struggle and growth. When I first began to practice as a teenager, she was the woman who came to visit me and who I saw as my guiding lady but I could not put a name on her. I searched through many myths, and nothing felt right.

    I joined the Navy at 19 and then there was the war and one struggle came after another, but miraculous things occurred around me to give me that last bit of strength to follow through. I went through a Christian phase which I was called to do (for some strange reason) and even when I was a practicing Christian, other pagans and wiccans would remark how they could see the goddess was behind me.

    In the beliefs of the LDS church, there is a sort of Heavenly Mother. Each time I would be given a blessing, the priest would stop and remark that “Heavenly Mother is very pleased.”

    Now I am free from the constraints of that faith and am practicing again. She came to me when things were so tough and through a divorce and being shunned by almost all of my former associations because nearly all of them were in that church. She led me here, and I gained a fascination with astrology, and tarot, and the runes. To the point where I will continue divination sessions for hours. Sinking into my mind and thinking of possible outcomes matched with possible choices is the most favorite thing I do spiritually, and it has helped me gain a clearer perspective to get me through the past three years of struggle.

    I have also worked with Artemis, Apollo, and Demeter but I feel that from birth to death Arianrhod is the goddess who is over me. She chose me before I even knew what she was. I have known her, but not her name for so many years. The answer actually came to me as I was researching the magikal properties of wood for a new wand. I saw her associated with one of the woods and then it listed what she was goddess over. I just stopped my research and dug in deeper, and was utterly astonished. I had finally found her in a mythology!

    Thank you so much for giving me this view about her, which… it is actually kind of strange to hear these things from someone else. I almost thought I was crazy or maybe just had a goddess all to myself, because no one that I know follows her or has even spoken of her.

    You are right about the Triple Goddess. She is close to that, but not exactly that. I would sort of think of them in my work, and sort of not… because it wasn’t really the thing I was seeing.

    I’m so glad to finally have a name for the Goddess who has grown me into the person I am today. With her, I have traveled and gone on many adventures around the world. I’ve seen so many things and in that process have grown a deep empathy for humanity and a great desire to manifest my gifts for the good of the world. I am also a writer, a teacher, and a mother and she is always a goddess who shows me the way to kindness, acceptance, and the beauty and wonder which comes through transformation.

    Blessed be.

  11. I have been trying to find my path for most of my adulthood now it seemed I finally found her.. my lady.. Everyday of my life has been a challenge and there seemed to be no let up on the cycle. Now, with your narration, I finally understand why.

    Just a month ago, I have been reading about welsh and celtic traditions. And I had a conversation with my eclectic friends and they agreed to have a session with them. During that session (I forgot what it was called) I described to them who I was seeing while my eyes was closed. After that session my friend who was familiar with celtic deities said Arianrhod. That she is my Goddess. Now I really believe her.

    Thank you for this wonderful article

  12. EliOwl says:

    Hello,
    I do believe she is calling to me. I’ve been following the path of Wicca and then straying from it since I was in middle school. But now, as I have grown and have aged with newfound wisdom I find my travelings to keep leading me back to Wicca. And thus I have delved into the search for knowledge and wisdom. And each time I felt a tug like a string as if an energy was pulling at me. I have found that through meditation I believe my familiar is an owl. When I started truly looking into Wicca the first three days I heard an owl hoot three times. I took that as a sign I was doing something right– aha. As I continued though I found myself hovering around the triple goddess, the moon, the water and the archetype mother. I feel a special connection to this Goddess, I have spent my life with a motherly instinct to pain. I currently work as a CNA and decided to just recently go for my RN. As this is all things good and my personal thought process as to why I connect with this goddess I do believe she called to me with even a stronger pull for recent events that have transpired and has left my motherly side somewhat empty. I think because of this I am feeling more connected to not just my empathic abilities but is the reason why Wicca called to me once more. I have found that some actions and choices we must take are not ones we desire but sacrifices that have to be made in order to truly grasp the gifts you are given. And this is what the goddess has said to me through this very hard time.

  13. A male witch says:

    I wanna ask when we do an invocation for Goddess Arianrhod, afterwards it is likely to find a feather, because i have found one feather.

    • Caer Jones says:

      That’s not been my experience with Her, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen! I’d recommend some divination on it just to see. Do you FEEL that it has meaning? Best of luck!

  14. Hello there, I just found your blog. Thanks for your perspective on Arianrhod and her Tower. She’s a deity whose stories I know, but who I have not had any personal experiences with. As a whole I really struggle with the story of Lleu attempting to win a name, arms, and a wife, after they are forbidden. I think it’s the way it’s assumed he should strive for social norms… me being an anarchic kind of person. I can see how Caer Arianrhod may be viewed as a place of challenges and obstacles which might take the form of ordeals (although I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable with participating in ordeals constructed by humans). It’s good to hear of others devoted Brythonic/Welsh deities – there aren’t many of us around!

  15. bevan313 says:

    Amazing! I really identify with her. Thank you.

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