Tag Archives: Morrigan

Rhiannon

Rhiannon is a Welsh goddess of the earth, fertility, birds and horses.  She appears in the first and third branches of the Mabinogion, as well as the Arthurian tale of Culhwch and Olwen.  Through her marriage to Pwyll pen Annwfn she is also connected to the Otherworld.

Rhiannon is thought to be predecessor of the Brittanic goddess Rigantona (‘Great Queen’), and therefore could have a possible link to the Irish Macha and Morrígan (also ‘Great Queen’).  She is also linked to the Gaulish goddess Epona through their association with horses.

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The First Branch of the Mabinogi, Pwyll Pendefig Dyfed , tells of how the Demetian king Pwyll sees Rhiannon in a forest riding a shining white horse.  Even though she is already engaged to Gwawl ap Clud, Pwyll and Rhiannon eventually marry.  They produce a son, however the boy disappears on the night of his birth while under the watchful eye of Rhiannon’s ladies-in-waiting.  Fearful of the king’s wrath, the ladies smear dog’s blood on the sleeping Rhiannon, and claim she killed her son by eating him.  Rhiannon was found guilty, and as punishment was forced to stand outside the castle for seven years and offer strangers a ride on her back like a horse.

Meanwhile, the boy is found outside a stable by Teyrnon and his wife, who claim the boy as their own and name him Gwri Wallt Euryn (‘Gwri of the Golden Hair’).  The boy grows quickly, and soon his resemblance to Pwyll grows more obvious.  Teyrnon realizes Gwri’s true identity, and he is eventually reunited with Pwyll and Rhiannon.  Gwri  is renamed Pryderi, meaning ‘loss’.

Rhiannon later marries Manawydan fab Llyr (equivalent to the Irish Manannán), the god of the sea, after Pwyll’s death.  Their adventures, outlined in the Third Branch of the Mabinogi, Manawydan fab Llŷr, describe how a magical mist descends over the land of Dyfed, leaving it empty of animals and humans apart from Rhiannon, Manawydan, her son Pryderi and his wife Cigfa.  The group travels to England where they unsuccessfully try to make a living making saddles and shoes.  Pryderi and Rhiannon eventually get trapped in a magical fort and vanish from sight.

Manawydan and Cigfa continue to try to make a living by farming, however their crops are continuously destroyed.  Upon catching one of the mice who had devoured his grain, he finds out that the mice were attendants of the mage Llwyd ap Cil Coed who had been magically transformed.  Llwyd was friend to Gwawl, Rhiannon’s former fiancé, and they find out the trouble which had plagued the group was done out of revenge.

Rhiannon had three magical birds, the Birds of Rhiannon, whose song can wake the dead or lull the living to sleep.  One of the birds was thought to be Badb, the crow, which deepens Rhiannon’s link to the Morrígan.

Rhiannon is a symbol of strength and perseverance in the face of adversity.

Wiki – Rhiannon
Thalia Took – Rhiannon
Celtic Deities – Rhiannon
Mary Jones’ Celtic Encyclopedia – Rhiannon

© The Celtic Journey (2013)

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The Morrígan, Great Queen

Morrígu, Morríghan, Morrígna, Morgan, Badb, Macha, Nemain, Anand, Fea

The Morrígan is a Celtic goddess of war, death, battle, strife, sovereignty, rebirth, fate, prophecy and magic.   She is also known as The Great Queen, Phantom Queen, Specter Queen, or Supreme War Goddess.  The Morrígan is associated with the sometimes frightening aspects of female energy and is often seen as an omen of death.  She often took the shape of a raven or crow, however her other forms included an eel, wolf, cow and horse.

The Morrígan is commonly seen as a Triple Goddess.  In texts of the Celtic Mythological Cycle, they are seen as sisters, the daughters of Ernmas and granddaughters of Nuada of the Tuatha Dé Danann.  They include Badb (‘fury’, ‘crow’) and Macha (‘battle’, ‘raven’), with the third being either Nemain (‘frenzy/fury’), Anand (aka Morrígan), or Fea (‘hateful’).  It is uncertain as to whether the Morrígan represents one or each or these goddesses, or all of them collectively.  Interestingly, Ernmas’ first three daughters are thought to be Ériu, Banba, and Fódla, the patron goddesses of Ireland and wives of the last three Tuatha Dé Danann kings.

The Morrígan appears in both the Ulster and Mythological Cycles of Celtic mythology, where she is found to have relations with the Ulster war hero Cú Chulainn.  She is thought to have helped the Tuatha Dé Danann defeat the Firbolg at the First Battle of Mag Tuireadh and the Fomorians at the Second Battle of Mag Tuireadh.  It is said that she mated with the Dagda before the battle with the Formorians in exchange for her battle plans, which led the Tuatha Dé Danann to victory.

Morrigan_JessicaGalbreth

Through her role as war goddess, she is often compared with the Germanic Valkyries.  Her role included being a symbol of imminent death or could influence the outcome of war.  In the form of a crow, she often appeared flying above the battle, inspiring either fear or courage in the hearts of the warriors.  Through her ability to predict the death of warriors, she is sometimes associated with the wailing banshee (bean sídhe) of folklore.

Some have attempted to link the Morrígan with the Morgan le Fay from Welsh mythology, however it is likely that the two names are not related linguistically.

Wiki – Morrigan
Pantheon – Morrigan
Celtic Deities – Morrigan
Thalia Took – Macha

© The Celtic Journey (2013)

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Tuatha De Danann

The Tuatha Dé Danann, or “people of the goddess Danu”, were an ancient race of supernatural beings in Ireland.  They were said to have arrived from four great cities to the North, Failias, Gorias, Findias, and Murias, with several treasures.

The first was the Stone of Fal (Lia Fail) from Failias, which would scream whenever a true king of Ireland would place his foot on it. This was eventually placed on the mound at Tara, the mythical seat of the High Kings of Ireland. The next was the Sword of Nuada from Findias, a weapon that only inflicted mortal blows when drawn. The third was the Spear of Lugh from Gorias, which never missed its target. The last was the Cauldron of Dagda from Murias, from which a constant supply of food came forth.  These treasures also correspond to the four elements, with Lugh’s Spear representing Fire, Nuada’s Sword representing Air, Dagda’s Cauldron representing Water, and the Stone of Fal representing Earth.

With their King Nuada, they fought and defeated the Fir Bolg, the inhabitants of Ireland at the time.  Nuada lost an arm in battle, and was no longer allowed to be king because of it.  The half-Formorian Bres was chosen to be king instead, whose tyranny led to a battle against the Formorians.  In this second battle, King Nuada was killed by the Formorian King Balor.  However Lugh killed King Balor, defeating the Formorians, becoming High King of the Tuatha people.

They were eventually defeated at Teltown by the mighty Milesians (thought of as the first Celts).  Legend states that the Tuatha Dé Danann were allowed to stay in Ireland, but were forced underground.  They became known as the Faery People, or people of the Sidhe, and can be found in the faery mounds that still exist in Ireland today (such as the Brú na Bóinne, Newgrange).

The Milesians chose the name of the Tuatha Dé Danann goddess, Eriu, as the name of their new kingdom. Eriu (or Eire) is still used as the name of Ireland.  Eriu’s sisters, Banba and Fódla, are still sometimes used as poetic names for Ireland.

The Tuatha Dé Danann people are surrounded by myth and legend.  Ancient manuscripts depict the Tuatha people as real-life kings and queens, however they exhibit many ties to pre-Christian deities of Ireland.  The Tuatha Dé Danann included great heroes and deities, including Lugh, Danu, the Dagda,Brigid, Áine, Oghma, and the Morrígan.

And although defeated, they still exist in legends today.

Wikipedia
Magick and Mythology
Tuatha De Danann

© A Year And A Day (2012)

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Goddess Alive

Goddess Alive: Inviting Celtic & Norse Goddesses Into Your Life  Michelle Skye (2007)

The changing of the seasons, phases of the moon, even our personal experiences-all are reflections of the Divine Feminine. Create a stronger connection to the sacred world and your own divinity by welcoming these thirteen powerful Celtic and Nordic goddesses into your life. (Amazon)

The Winter Solstice: Cerridwyn, Welsh Goddess of Rebirth and Renewal
Imbolc: Brigid, Irish Goddess of Fire
The Spring Equinox: Eostre, Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring
Beltane: Freyja, Norse Goddess of Love and War
The Summer Solstice: Áine, Irish Goddess of Faeries and Fertility
Lammas/Lughnasadh: Danu, Irish Mother Goddess of Wisdom
The Autumn Equinox: Modron, Welsh Mother Goddess of Mystery
Samhain: Hella, Norse Goddess of the Underworld

Waxing Moon: Branwen, Welsh Goddess of Sovereignty
Full Moon: Maeve, Irish Goddess of Personal Power
Waning Moon: The Valkyries, Norse Goddesses of Battle Magic and Soul Journey
Dark Moon: Morrighan, Irish Goddess of Magic and Death
New Moon: Rhiannon, Welsh Great Queen and Horse Goddess

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