Where They May Be Found: Arianrhod

(this was originally published on A Sense of Place last year.
For some reason, it’s been hardcore in my head the last few days. I’ve been feeling a ‘summons,’ I guess.
Also, I guess I’ve a lot of new readers since then, I figured I’d repost it here, and may do so for other pieces.
It can also be found in Your Face Is a Forest)

Where They May Be Found: Arianrhod

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

–Oscar Wilde


In What Earth Sees of Sky

I was once told by a man in a dream to look for the gods in the rain, and what’s in-between the rain. But I don’t meet Arianrhod in the rain, but what’s before and what’s after.

A decade ago I began staring at puddles again. Ever done this? Since you were a kid, I mean, playing in the little lakes upon stone, pooling water from rains standing still as glass until you stomp them? When I was really young, I’d watch the wind ripple their surface and imagined they were strange, silver coins, there and gone.

The Welsh word for money is Arian, which is the word for silver.

When you stare at a puddle, you see yourself reflected, but it is a different sort of mirror. I once foolishly imagined we had no mirrors before mirrors, and then remembered that we’ve always had still water on stone. We’ve always been able to look down past our feet into the world as seen from the earth, what we’d look like if stone had eyes like ours.

You can see yourself, shadowy but there, an image I suspect closer to “truth” than the ones we see in polished surface. When I feel unwell, or lost in the world, I stare at myself like this and smile.

But I’m not the only vision in the water, and never the most interesting.

She’s on the surface, and I don’t know how this works. She’s what becomes of the sky in water, silver and blue like the kingfisher. The sky before storms, the sky after storms, so many blues that people just shrug and call it grey.

 Above A Meadow, Amongst Chamomile


Matricaria_recutita_Prague_2011_2The last night in Bretagne, end of three months travelling with another.  After the festival on the Rhine where the wind swirled mist from the surface of the river into spirals of air-and-water, where sailors meet the arms of the Rhine’s daughter.  After two weeks in the medieval city.  That night before the night before we’d return, we took a train to Rennes to say goodbye.

Tired.  Our place taken.  Only a field left in which to camp.  Raining (and you learn to distrust the rain when camping, despite its beauty).  Just some grass and


and a

And a broken beautiful screaming sky, every blue and violet and rose and, and, and gold and over and over again and that

arcing dancing silver.

We watched for hours in the wet grass and didn’t hold back the tears and couldn’t understand why we smelled chamomile until we gathered so many blossoms for our last tea there and oh.

That dream.

In Dreams When You Are Not Asleep

Light on a river refracts into patterns so hypnotic you almost disappear and find yourself there, suddenly. Elsewhere. Electricity is too simple, too banal and human to describe the celestial sense, but it’s the only cognate I know.

When I think of the gods receding from our view because of what we’ve done with the earth’s blood, the petty uses into which we channel such power, I think of her receding, walking backwards into the ocean towards her isle, disappointed.

She’s in dreams, strange blue-and-silver dreams. An owl, its feathers dripping in chemical fire like the phoenix, flying towards me just after I met another god. She was somewhere in the court of that castle where I got my name, because I’m pretty certain it was her castle.

And then there are all the other women around her, not her I now know but women who serve her, and sometimes they appear and more often than not seem disappointed in me. Not upset, I don’t think. Usually just “oh. You forgot again? You’re always forgetting.”

I am always forgetting.

I am always forgetting to look up just before and after sunset when her colours are everywhere.

I am always forgetting to look down at what springs through pavement, what pools there, and what it sees.

I am too often forgetting to look up after dark, outside amongst the trees, the stars wheeling endlessly above.

Where Stars Dance, Just Before Death, Just Before Life

The sky is a sea, the sea’s skin the reflection of sky. Light from one to another, light so far and hot (like the candle flame–yellow and red but look closer at the source and see the color it starts as).

Stars are balls of flaming gas if animals are mere food and trees are mere fuel, humans mere workers and puddles mere bits of water.

When I first heard the phrase “the music of the spheres” I got terrified, because I’m pretty sure it was that alien sound I’d heard in silence as a child, not the ringing of tinnitus but that electric–no, pre-electric, or what electric wants to be but cannot because it only powers human-things, not every-being things–that, sound.

I’ve heard that silence and noticed what I couldn’t hear but tried to hear and the strain tires so much you cannot imagine sleeping, what the stars are saying, what the stars are singing.

Ariadne’s Crown is Arianrhod’s Castle.  This isn’t a mistake, but it also isn’t a simple She is She, anymore than I am you.

And if we’re standing, you and I, under those stars long enough, they wheel about us even as the earth wheels below us, and somehow in the same, the correspondence but not equivalence, she is there, receding like the tide, surging like the floods, singing like the stars.

Stare past the reflection at what you can’t see without it.  Cry for what is lost even as it returns to drown you in those stars.  And call her name, but know you may need a new one of your own.

4 thoughts on “Where They May Be Found: Arianrhod

  1. Damned fine poetic prose, except for what’s poetry.
    Have you ever read Sara Teasdale’s nature poems? I got turned on to them in 8th grade–two from the volume Stars Tonight (at least IIRC that’s the title). Dovetailed right into a blooming interest in astronomy, in part due to Chesley Bonestell’s art–which actually portrayed starscapes very similar to Hubble photos.

    It’s been too long since I’ve seen any puddles herer in California. When my son was a pre-schooler, he liked to play in puddles–something my mom never let her daughters do. I decided that there was no problem if he either wore boots or bare feet–but not just socks. I even had a cat who liked puddles to play or stand in. That is part of the reason why we jokingly refer to condoms as “kitty booties”.

    I love watching the sky–stars, clouds, light under rainclouds (my favorite), clouds with moon, the colors of sunset–to the point where I refer to red/yellow/orange/pink blends as “snset colors”. Most rosarians tend to get the idea. I also love watching water moving, and I adore photos of flora mirrored by still water. It’s a sensory/sensual thing for me. My spirit flies when I see such vistas.

  2. This is beautiful.
    Aranrhod (or Aranrhod, as my order would have it) – she fascinates me. I was almost named for her, which got me wondering about her from a very young age, although I have yet to seek her out or find her anywhere outside the stories of the fourth branch. There is something fierce in her, too: one of her children is Gwenwynwyn, white poison, who chased Julies Caesar from Britain, and her fortress is guarded with deadly currents. I would like to know her better.

  3. Also, you reminded me of this:
    “Yes! The sun would have risen just the same, yes?”
    “Oh, come on. You can’t expect me to believe that. It’s an astronomical fact.”

    “Really? Then what would have happened, pray?”
    ― Terry Pratchett, Hogfather

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