Arianrhod, The Crown of the North: Five


Right, so let’s see–where was I?

Actually, yeah.  Where was I?

Stone halls lit with torches and a light from windows I couldn’t see.  I wish I could remember the walls–bare, I think, at least from my vantage.  Mostly, there were just lots and lots of people.  Drest strangely, or foreign though familiar.  That is, queer but not unrecognisable.  

The hall’s crowded.  Enough space to move your feet a bit, not so pressed that your arms are pinned to your side.  Think of a performance about to take place in a medieval castle (and we’ve all been in how many of those? None, in my case), and you’ll get the sense of the place. 

Everyone’s standing, relaxed but alert for something.  Again, like the waiting for a performance. 
I know some of the people there.  Not by name, or not currently.  I did, or will, or do in that place.  

I’m a little nervous for some reason, not speaking to anyone, staring in the direction the rest of them are standing, towards a stone platform.  Not a throne, not even necessarily a dais; just some raised area.  We’re all waiting in anticipation for something, and then there’s a sound from the voice of one person, then another and another.  Not quite a chant, but a mere call, and people start looking around.  I do, too.

“Hey.  What’s wrong?” asks a person next to me, a woman I think I’ve seen again in some dreams.

“Who are they calling for?” I ask.

Her expression looks a bit odd.  “You.”

My turn to look confused.  “No they’re not.  That’s not my name.”

She continues to look a bit baffled, and then her face softens a bit, suddenly looking wise.  “Oh.  You don’t know it yet, do you?”

I got a bit frustrated, I’ll admit.  I’m often frustrated in my dreams.  “Know what?  My name?  That’s not my name.”

She laughs.  “It is, or will be.”  And, after I told her I didn’t even know how to spell the word she called my name, she found some parchment and wrote it for me.

I didn’t go up to the platform or anything else.  All I did was stare at the words written on the paper in my hand in this dream, and then woke, staring at my open, empty palm.

True story, as best I remember it.  The name on the page in my dream was long; I didn’t think most people would call me that.  So I shortened it to the first four: Rhyd. About 14 years ago now, I guess.

Where was I?  Oh–

XII: Places associated with Arianrhod and her worship

Thresholds: I encounter Arianrhod more often in liminal times than any other.  The time between sleeping and waking is when I’ve had the most dreams with a voice whom I think has been her or someone representing her.  I’ve woken multiple times with some voice repeating in my head, reminding me to remember what she’s said.  I try to write it down, but often times it’s some magical practice; that is, spells.

[I’m not a very good witch, by the way.  My magic consists entirely of drinking some mugwort tea occasionally, sometimes doing something minor that comes to me.  I had the great pleasure of living with a rather adept witch who did lots of magic.  I once had to use Rue a little bit to undo some overflow or something, which contributed to him getting a bit ill for a few days (I didn’t put in his food, don’t worry). But besides the occasional spells I’ve gotten in dreams, I’m not much good at it.  I think this is important to her, though]

Water and Sky: Not just either, but both.  There’s a…gate, I guess, that you can open by gazing upon the reflection of the sky on water.  I got a hint of this from the aforementioned witch and practice it as much as possible.  I’m not quite sure what happens here, really, except that the play of light upon rippling or still water, blue on silver on blue, is a way to find her.

Shorelines: I’ve heard this and read this from other people, and have done it once.  I think it’s related to the Sky-on-Water gate.  Staring out to sea from a beach on a cloudy day near sunset, especially if the sun is behind you, seems to be something.

The stars: Particularly when the moon isn’t in the sky, or isn’t very bright.  I know lots of people associate Arianrhod with the moon and call her a lunar goddess; I haven’t found this to be true yet.  They could be right, I don’t know.

The White Tower: I mentioned this at the beginning of the series.  Go find some still water.  Stare at the moon in it, while also looking at the moon above you.  See what arises between them.  This is part of her mystery.  It’s said her tower revolves, or is a labyrinth.  If it’s the latter, there’s another goddess, a mortal raised to deity, who’s familiar with labyrinths…
Fun thing about white towers?  The Marian cults in Europe represented her as a white tower.
Also fun thing?  There’s a god who’s head was buried at the base of one.  He’s in the Mabinogian, too.

The Stars seen through the Needles of Pine: There’s a mystery here that is related to why I link Arianrhod to Dionysus.  If anyone is on good terms with Dionysus and also Arianrhod and wants to try this, let me know how it goes.  Stare from the base of a pine tree at the light of the stars as they filter through the branches and needles.  Then, think about Desire.

XIII. What Arianrhod Cares About.

Withdrawal.  Sovereignty.  Magic.  Desire.

On a Sunday, at the time of dawn,
Between the bird of wrath and Gwydion
Thursday, certainly they went to Mona
To obtain whirlings and sorcerers.
Arianrhod, of laudable aspect, dawn of serenity
The greatest disgrace evidently on the side of the Brython,
Hastily sends about his court the stream of a rainbow,
A stream that scares away violence from the earth.
The poison of its former state, about the world, it will leave.

From The Chair of Cerridwen, by Taliesin

From reading the story of Arianrhod in the Mabinogion, it would be easy to suggest that Arianrhod cares about women who reject their children.  This may be true; I don’t know.  I used to have an obsession when I was younger about the stories of mothers who drown their children.  Strange obsession to have, yes.  But Ceridwen is said to have drowned or killed children, according to Robert Graves.  Graves, like all poets, including Taliesin, including me, should be shot.  And also listened to.

The dreams about gods withdrawing into the sea which I had just before starting this series haunt me.  Arianrhod seems to have been among them, and possibly with other goddesses.  I don’t remember any gods, but I do not dream vividly.

I greatly suspect–actually, fuck that, believe–that some gods chose to withdraw from humanity while others, more powerful or more wily, according to their characteristics, chose to subsume the myths of saints (see Sannion’s discussion of St. Martin of Tours and Dionysos).  Some have been active and blatant for quite some time (despite what the disenchanters tell ye’), while others chose, well–to withdraw.

Arianrhod withdrew to Caer Arianrhod, now under sea and in the stars.  Some gods kick you in the face (again, Dionysos), others send an owl to you in a vision right after Dionysos has kicked you in the face (and just so we’re clear, I did get enjoy getting off kicked in the face.)  A warning, a summons, a reminder not to get lost, a bidding to withdraw.

Sovereignty, like The Morrigan.  In fact, The Morrigan showed up apparently to test me on the whole sovereignty question with Arianrhod.  I didn’t expect that (it’s untidy…).  Did The Morrigan show up on behalf of Arianrhod? Is The Morrigan a title of multiple triple goddesses including Arianrhod?

I’m gonna say yes to all of that.  I got no better answer.

Magic.  She just pretty much demanded that I start learning it.  Like, a few hours ago.  Actually, years ago, and then again and again.  I’m a lazy fuck.  Know when it all comes to you at once and you realise you’ve just been happily holding on the disenchantment because it’s easier?  Yeah.  Like that.

Desire.  Read her story again.  She had two children, yeah?  One to the sea, one a king from whom she took everything.  Who’d she sleep with?

Stare at her stars through the trees and ask her.


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