The Origins of Arianrhod

As most of y’all know I’ve been exploring Proto-Indo-European religion via the ADF. It’s been quite the ride so far, but perhaps nothing has been as meaningful for me as my new and deeper understanding of my Lady, Arianrhod of the Silver Wheel.

Arianrhod shows a different face to me than others seem to see. I’ve never known why, exactly, but finding people who see Her the way I do is one of the reasons I started blogging in the first place. It’s been a lonely road.

My PIE studies may have led me to some answers, although those answers kick off a whole other range of questions.

The Quest

I’ve been pretty open about my Lady and how the way I honor Her is different – sometimes wildly – from the standard stuff associated with Her. Stars yes, moon no. Fire is Her primary elemental association with me, and lore-wise She’s rarely associated with fire at all. Her being the vehicle of manifestation from potential isn’t referenced anywhere except a VERY loose read of the Welsh Triads, and I give that primary emphasis while most folks working with Her seem to ignore it completely. Ritual and petitionary prayer yes, magick not really. Rites of Passage yes, mystic moon mommy (or any other life stage) no. Her representation on my altar has been an armillary sphere, representing atomic/cosmic/universal order, and I haven’t seen that anywhere in relation to Her. And on and on it goes.

As a result my work with Her is different from pretty much everyone else’s. The difference is so stark that I’m often uncomfortable in public rituals involving Her. It usually feels like calling for my mom and having someone entirely different show up.

So, of course, as I started walking a more Proto-Indo-European path I started looking at Arianrhod through a PIE lens too. Could that lens maybe help explain why She’s so different with me than with others?

Following Breadcrumbs

PIE practices are, at core, based on linguistic reconstruction. It’s an academic approach encoded in the very language we speak.

So I started searching for the origins of Arianrhod’s name.

The first breadcrumb I found linked Arianrhod to a reconstructed PIE goddess named Arta. Arta is apparently the goddess of universal order and is specifically linked to cycles and time, as well as rites of passage.

That started clanging bells hard, so I started chasing more threads to see if they could add any information or clarity.

The PIE root of Arianrhod’s name is also linked to the Vedic idea of Ŗta (an obvious link to the name “Arta”), which refers to that which upholds and maintains the Wheel of Dharma (another wheel, and here meaning righteous law) and the order of the universe. That just plays right in with everything else.

The root of Arianrhod’s name in Proto-Indo-European is also shared by Varuna, a Vedic god associated with sky,  water, justice, and truth.

Varuna’s connections to sky and water brought to mind Arianrhod’s homes – according to which sources we credit, Her home is either in the Corona Borealis (sky) or in the sea off the coast of Wales (water). Or both.

Varuna’s streak of demonic violent tendencies, according to myth, led to His demotion and Indra taking away most of His powers. That reminded me of the gist of Arianrhod’s story, where responses to Her behavior led to Her losing Her place. It also reminded me of the “test of truth” in Her story (stepping over Math’s staff) and the justice or perceived lack thereof in the challenges She set Her son.

Varuna is called upon to this day to still the waters of the mind, bringing calmness and peace. This is strongly reminiscent of Arianrhod’s focus (with me) on centering and balance, although it’s not part of Her general lore. Up until very recently I also based my entire Wheel of the Year on the image of a stone dropping into a still pond and the ripples resulting from that, which brings that water connection to the fore. The rings made when a stone is dropped in a pool also reminds me of the rings in an armillary sphere, which pulls all of those associations back around again.

All of that led me to the Zoroastrian concept of asha, which shares the same PIE root as Arta and thus Arianrhod. Asha is linked to fire, truth, manifestation, cosmic order, and right action/right working.

All those things I honor with Arianrhod that didn’t make sense? That seemingly came out of left field and didn’t gel with anything about Her in common practice? They’re connected to Her linguistically. THIS is the goddess I’ve been working with! It even explains why the first goddess She had me work with that wasn’t Her was Hestia! Hestia’s damn near a direct continuation of the Proto-Indo-European goddess Wéstyā, who was the heart of PIE worship, so it makes sense that Arianrhod/Arta would guide me there.

Where to now? 

I am no linguist, and I’m certainly not an expert in this field. I also have no idea what to do with this information in a broader sense, or how to answer all the questions raised by it. The primary book I have on reconstructed PIE practice doesn’t even mention Arta. And yet here we are, here am, and and here is all this information that gels with what I’ve been shown even if I could never explain why. It’s at least a start at verifying my UPG.

Are Arta and Arianrhod the same deity? Am I working with a long forgotten face of Arianrhod, or a newer face of Arta? Have I been working with Arta this whole time under Arianrhod’s name (maybe because Arianrhod was more accessible)? Is Arianrhod simply Arta viewed through a Welsh filter? Does any of this relate to why I’m so solidly Hers, yet She’s the only Celtic deity I’ve ever been called to honor?

I have more questions than I have answers, but I have what may be a direction to follow, and hope that I will eventually find more information that relates. That’s more than I’ve ever had before. I’m excited to see what else I can learn!

One Small Thing

I’ve been away from my blog for a bit.

That being said, I thought the post I’m sharing here was a very timely reminder! Enjoy the read, and may you find it as helpful as I did!

Feathers in Amber

desk_4-27-18In my altar makeover earlier this year, I took down some framed pictures I had of Carolina Parakeets and Passenger Pigeons because I didn’t have any room for them on top of the altar itself. But I took them out again this week because I’m celebrating All Species Week, a personal observance where I honor every species of Ancestor Bird, particularly the ones that haven’t been discovered or named by human beings.

After my morning devotions to the Ancestor Birds, I took the one picture, of Carolina Parakeet, my very first spirit ally, to my home office with me while I was working. I just wanted that awareness that today is a special day to stay with me.

It immediately looked at home on my desk–maybe it helps that I’ve got a bunch of other bird items nearby! But then I realized, this is something I can do all the…

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Pagans Don’t Have to Hug: Non-Sexual Consent

As our society grapples with the idea of consent through the #metoo movement, it’s becoming ever-more-important in Pagan groups too. The latest scandal rocking segments of the Pagan community are just that – the latest in a string. I’ve been talking about the need for consent culture since Kenny Klein. Others have been talking about it longer than I have. This isn’t a new concept.

What IS new, I think, is that more folks than ever seem open to hearing about it. However, there are still lots of folks who think consent only applies to sexual interactions, and don’t really get how it can apply non-sexually too. Here’s a great example.

Feathers in Amber

With thanks to Caer, who is always there to remind me that my voice deserves to be heard.

consentIn our concern to address the most egregious breaches of consent in Pagan communities, the basis for consent culture is often overlooked. At its heart, consent means that no one can touch you in any way you aren’t expressly ok with. They have to ask for consent; you can give, refuse to give, or revoke that consent at any time; you do not have to offer any kind of justification as to why you don’t want touched by a particular individual under particular circumstances.

Many people don’t realize that this means more than sexual forms of contact. In fact a lot of times, people who are violating boundaries of consent have no idea that’s what they’re doing.

As an example, I’m going to talk about something that happened to me. For awhile…

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POLL: Hurdles to Devotional Work

I’m a big proponent of regular devotional work. Daily, weekly, whenever we feel moved – as far as I’m concerned the timing doesn’t matter so much as long as we do it.

Every time I see devotions talked about in Pagan or polytheistic circles, though, I see a few people swearing by the practice and a metric fuckton of people saying they don’t/can’t/won’t. Why is that, do you think?

I asked about it on my Facebook and got some great feedback, but then I decided I needed a larger sample size. Hence this poll! Please complete it, share it, whatever. If there’s something I missed in the answer selection, or a point you’d like to expand on/clarify, please leave a comment. I really want to know what y’all think!

Enough PIE to Go Around: A Response to “Survivor? Or Pioneer?”

Oh, look! Feathers in Amber posted a response to my previous post and offers some excellent additional points too! Absolutely worth the read, so head over and check it out!

Feathers in Amber

“If you are like most people, then like most people, you don’t know you’re like most people.”
–Daniel Gilbert

You may not realize it, but Caer Jones just wrote the most important post on polytheism you’ll read all year. This is the point at which I pause and urge you in the strongest terms to go read it before continuing with my article. Got it? Alrighty.

bronzehittitefigures These bronze animal figures are from one of the earliest Indo-European cultures, the Hittites.

Jones addresses a lot of important concepts in her article. The first is that most of what we consider modern paganism or polytheism is descended from a culture known as the Proto-Indo-Europeans. You won’t find the Proto-Indo-European nation on a map, nor are there any ancient documents written in their language. As far as we know, they didn’t have writing, and our best conjecture of the language they spoke is…

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Ask the Puritans for Your Money Back

I’ve blogged about some of these topics before, as have many others, and I’m sure we’ll keep seeing stuff like this until we’re all better able (and more willing) to get out of our own way. Always good to have a reminder!

Feathers in Amber

Recently, I made a little post on Facebook. It read simply:

“Does anyone have a recipe for money drawing oil? Much obliged!”

Hardly headline news, right? I certainly didn’t think it was going to be a request that merited a full-blown blog post. But before I tell you more about what I intended when I wrote those two sentences, why don’t I give you a little tour of the responses?

Some of the people replying to me made a lot of assumptions right off the bat. These included:

  • The assumption that the money drawing oil was for me, or for a working I was doing on my own behalf, rather than a friend or client.
  • The assumption that I was not aware that I could purchase the oil already made.
  • The assumption that I asked about the money drawing oil because I was currently in financial difficulty.
  • The assumption that…

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Updates and Journeys

So, updates! I’ve been diving into studies of proto-Indo-European everything of late, and my studies in that area are leading to some really fascinating clarifications/expansions/outright changes to my practice.

One of the most interesting updates – to me, anyway! – is how it’s changed my approach to the Wheel of the Year. My Wheel has always been extremely individualized, and some of that’s still there, but studying PIE stuff has also shown me that I wasn’t nearly as off from PIE practice as I thought I was! I just filter it through a more modern perspective, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you’re interested in checking out where that’s at now, pop on over to The Wheel of the Year and take a look-see! I expect some further changes to it as I go, but that’s then.

Also in that vein, I am officially working on the Dedicant Path for the ADF, with proto-Indo-European as my hearth culture focus. Expect lots of similar updates and realizations over the next little bit! I for one am super excited about it.

I hope that y’all will join me on this new journey in my life. It’s been a long time coming.

Have a lovely day!

Eclipse/New Moon Prayer Ritual

I’ve been inspired by Stevie Miller over at Grundsau Burrow. She’s been holding regular formal prayer rituals of late and I think that’s a damn fine idea. I’m hopping on the bandwagon and joining in. In these trying times we need all the help we can get!

That being so, when better than the coming solar eclipse? I’ll be continuing this practice on every new moon for the foreseeable future, but this seems like a great time to start!

solar-eclipse-clouds

This is an open call for prayers to be ritually made on your behalf on August 21st. If you would like to participate, please let me know your name and what you’re praying for so I can add you to the list and do the prep work. You can comment here, tag me on Facebook, PM me, email me, whatever makes you comfy. And feel free to share! I’m taking the whole day off to make this happen, so let’s get it rolling!

I will stop accepting prayer requests at 5:30a EST, August 21st.

*Note: I reserve the right to refuse prayers for anything I find ethically dodgy. Thank you for your understanding.

Tarot Blind Dates!

Oh, this is just too clever. I had to share! Estara T’shirai over at Caw, Motherfsckers is currently doing a series of posts where the Court cards go on blind dates with each other. How well do the Page of Cups and Queen of Swords click?

(Mucha Tarot) Ariel arrives on time, as she always prefers to do; her outfit is smart but not pretentious. She signed up for this out of idle curiosity, and now sits with a glass of sparkling wine, hoping for a good conversation to arrive. Shelley runs late. She made sure to put something visible in […]

via Tarot Blind Date: Page of Cups/Queen of Swords — Caw, Motherfsckers

Or the Knight of Cups and the Queen of Pentacles?

(Mucha Tarot) Amber has made a comfortable living for herself, and it shows. She wears brands that are both well-made and well-known. She knows her best colors and shapes and wears them; she’s always in season, and her makeup game is on point. Having made a priority of her career early in life, she is […]

via Tarot Blind Date: Knight of Cups/Queen of Pentacles — Caw, Motherfsckers

What a great way to get more familiar with Court card personalities! I highly recommend heading over and checking these posts out. They’re quick reads. And when you’re done, maybe try doing a few of these yourself!

The Hanson-Roberts Tarot – Tarot Review

Back in the dawn of time, when I was but a wee lass, I watched my aunt read Tarot with the Hanson-Roberts deck. I loved to watch the cards flip and I never forgot the Queen of Rods – it was the card I most associated with her. Years later, when I went back to find this deck, it was the image of the Queen that let me know I’d found the right box.

Honestly, though, it wasn’t all that hard to find. As far as I can tell it’s been in continuous print since 1985. It’s definitely an RWS-inspired deck, and that combined with the non-threatening size and artwork makes it suitable for beginners and advanced readers alike.

The Deck

One of the first things I noticed about this deck as an adult is that the cards feel tiny. They’re regular playing card size! Those with small hands will find this deck a better fit for them, and it makes larger spreads much more doable in tight quarters. It’s also helpful if you like to have clients shuffle your deck, as it’s more easily managed by people unused to Tarot-sized cards.

A card from the Hanson-Roberts deck on top of a card from the Gilded Tarot. The size difference is obvious.

A card from the Hanson-Roberts deck on top of a card from the Gilded Tarot. The size difference is obvious. And isn’t that reversible back design pretty?

The deck comes in a tuck box with a LWB. The smaller size of this deck makes it wonderful for travel. The tuck box fits nicely in a purse, for instance, and the box can take a decent amount of wear before it needs to be replaced.

The Hanson-Roberts Tarot. The tuck box is in the center, flanked by the 2 title cards that come with the deck. The LWB is below the tuck box and the deck is fanned out below.

The Hanson-Roberts Tarot. The tuck box is in the center, flanked by the 2 title cards that come with the deck. The LWB is below the tuck box and the deck is fanned out below.

The card stock is standard and these cards shuffle well. The art has an almost fairy-tale feel and is done with pencils, making the images both vivid and soft. The portrayed figures are also more dynamic than seen in decks like the original Waite-Smith, with a full range of human emotion and a sense of movement.

A selection of cards from the Hanson-Roberts. Here we see the energy of the Knight of Swords, the wonder of the Star, the utter desolation of the Five of Pentacles, the dreamy quality of the Seven of Cups, and the triumph embodied in the Six of Rods.

A selection of cards from the Hanson-Roberts. Here we see the energy of the Knight of Swords, the wonder of the Star, the utter desolation of the Five of Pentacles, the dreamy quality of the Seven of Cups, and the triumph embodied in the Six of Rods.

Suits are also standard RWS, except that here the Wands are called Rods (a common substitution). There’s also an emphasis in this deck on blooming, on florals and greenery. It all contributes to the lush feeling of the art, helping the deck feel more friendly and approachable.

The Fool and the four Aces from the Hanson-Roberts Tarot.

The Fool and the four Aces from the Hanson-Roberts Tarot. Note the greenery on every card.

One thing I especially appreciate about this deck is that it’s obvious the Minors got as much time and attention as the Majors. That can be hard to find sometimes, but all the cards are visually consistent and equally well-thought out across the deck.

It should be noted that esoteric symbology is less prevalent in this deck than found in, say, the original RWS. I personally don’t miss it, but as always YMMV.

And now I’m going to include another gratuitous pic of the artwork because I’m writing this and I can. 🙂

Cards from the Hanson-Roberts Tarot. The top row is the Page of Cups, the Seven of Cups, and the Eight of Swords. The bottom row is the Eight of Rods, the Moon, and the Four of Swords.

Yes, here’s that dreamy Seven of Cups again (oops). We’ve also got the Page of Cups looking surprised at the fish in his chalice (as we all would be!), one of the most stunning Eight of Swords cards in any deck anywhere, an Eight of Rods that really appeals to me, a lovely Moon, and a rather quietly reflective Four of Swords. I’ve never pictured myself as the guy in the tomb when this card appears – I’m visiting the tomb, with all the quiet contemplation one should have in holy places.

The deck comes with a LWB, but as we’d expect of a deck with this kind of longevity and popularity there are companion books on the market. Two, in fact, and which one you get depends on what exactly you’re looking for.

Tarot Unveiled is a Tarot 101 book using the Hanson-Roberts images. It’s been around for awhile, and you can find used copies on Amazon for under $2 plus shipping. If you’re relatively new to Tarot this is the book to get.

The Hanson-Roberts Tarot Companion Book is written specifically for the Hanson-Roberts deck. It’s more like the book you’d find in a Tarot set than a Tarot 101 book and is around $13 used plus shipping on Amazon. If you’re looking for something specific to this deck and are beyond 101 stuff this would be the book for you.

Using the Deck

The somewhat cutesy art might make you think this is a fluffy deck, but it is surprisingly well-rounded. The Hanson-Roberts is one of my favorite RWS-inspired decks because it’s so universal. It’s a deck that will grow with a reader, from beginner to advanced, and everyone will appreciate how easy to manage it is.

Even better, this deck nicely works with all three purposes I have for a deck. They read beautifully, they can be great tools for Tarot spellwork, and the life in these cards makes them useful for meditation despite the smaller size. It’s like a trifecta of awesome!

The Hanson-Roberts has stood the test of time for good reason. If the art style appeals to you I say go for it. It’s a great buy.

Available here.