For today’s post I would like to take a brief look at a particular aspect of the goddess Rhiannon! Rhiannon is most associated with sovereignty and horses, however she is also a lunar goddess. The moon has long been associated with the feminine and feminine mysteries! Her lunar associations are often connected to the waning moon. It is during the waning and new moon phases that we see transformation, death, rebirth, and change.
As a goddess associated with the Otherworld and being a faerie queen, it makes a lot of sense that the phase of the moon she is often associated with is one of transformations and rebirth! Her very nature is one of causing transformations as we see in her stories from the Mabinogion. She caused Pwyll to become king of Dyfed with their marriage, and the same thing would happen with her second marriage. It was her plan that circumvented her undesirable union (in order to marry Pwyll instead), as she gave Pwyll a magic bag that allowed them to trap her would be suitor!
Rhiannon’s stories are filled with magic, and she is often the cause. Her three songbirds have the power to lull the living to sleep and to raise the dead. This shows her as a goddess with some dominion over the nature of the cycle of life! It also further shows a connection to the waning moon. Given she became a mother, that also connects her to the full moon (associated with pregnancy). Finally her marriages as a sovereignty figure make her a flower bride, which is associated with the waxing moon (and maidenhood)!
When we look at these tales of Rhiannon, and her lunar associations, we can see she can be given to be all three aspects of the goddess at different times! In the beginning of her story in the Mabinogion she is the maiden (flower bride) aspect, when she becomes a mother she is the mother aspect, and when her birds are showing her as having dominion over the cycle of life she can be seen as the crone, with the new moon (although she is always said to be presented as youthfully beautiful, even by the time her son is a grown man)! To me this makes Rhiannon truly a great goddess, and we can see her associations as being that of the classical triple goddess when deepen our understanding of her mysteries. Her lunar aspects allow us to view her as a goddess of the feminine mysteries, as the moon is connected to both the ocean tides and women’s menstrual cycles! I need to also mention that certain sources also associate her with the sun, which is largely uncommon as most deities are only associated with one or the other, further asserting her dominion of the Otherworld!
I hope you have enjoyed this brief look at Rhiannon as a lunar goddess, and triple goddess! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is Rhiannon Artwork by Amy Dale. I found the image on churchofasphodel.org.
- The Mabinogion translated by Sioned Davies
- Rhiannon: Divine Queen of the Celtic Britons by Jhenah Telyndru