Celtic Goddess Arianrhod (ah-ree-AHN-rhohd) has a long and celebrated history. Through the years, she has gone by many names: Goddess of the Silver Wheel, Goddess of Reincarnation, Welsh Star, Mother-Moon Goddess, and the Silver Wheel that Descends into the Sea. Her name actually translates as ‘silver’ (Arian) ‘wheel’ (Rhod) in Welsh.
With skin as pale as the moon, Arianrhod is a beautiful and powerful Dark Goddess. She is the daughter of the Great Mother Goddess Don and her consort Beli. And like her mother before her, Arianrhod is a symbol of feminine power and sovereignty. She rules fertility, birth and rebirth. She is also a weaver of cosmic time and fate, the one who decides when a Soul is ready to be reborn.
Arianrhod lives in the far north, on the magical island of Caer Sidi (Revolving Castle) with her female attendants. The ancients believed that her castle, Caer Arianrhod, was located in the Corona Borealis, a group of circumpolar stars that appear to rotate around the North Star. Corona Borealis means Northern Crown, which is very fitting for a powerful sovereign Goddess. Legend tells us that poets and astrologers learned the wisdom of the stars at Caer Sidi.
The moon is an archetypal symbol of the ancient Mother Goddess that is connected to the female womb, death, rebirth and the sacred feminine power of creation. The Celtic people counted time not by days, but by nights, and made their calendars focused on the moon instead of the sun. Ancient Celtic astrologers took their observations from the position of the moon and its progress in relation to the northern stars. They were guided by Arianrhod’s silver wheel of stars.
Arianrhod’s starry home is also known as Annwn, the Otherworld or Land of the Dead. When people die, it is said that Arianrhod’s attendants bring them to Caer Sidi. There, in the stillness of the hub of Arianrhod’s silver wheel, the Souls of the dead are nurtured by Arianrhod’s attendants while waiting for their fate to be decided. Arianrhod is able to shape shift into a large owl. Like the moon, the owl is an ancient symbol of death, rebirth, magic, spiritual wisdom and initiation. With her great owl eyes, Arianrhod can see into the depths of each human soul. She is said to move through the dark of night with power and purpose, her wings spreading to give comfort and healing to all who seek her.
As is the case with most of the powerful Goddesses, stories tell us that Arianrhod was eventually humiliated, tricked and stripped of her children and her sovereignty by a Christian warlord. For Arianrhod, death was said to come when the sea reclaimed the land where the Christian lord had forced her to live in exile.
And yet… when I look up and see her silver wheel of circumpolar stars that continues to revolve in our night sky year after year, I can still feel her power and grace. Arianrhod is there amongst the stars, patiently waiting for us to rediscover her.