Celticsprite’s Blog

"Incantations" by Mike Oldfield: The Presence of the Moon Goddess on his work
September 30, 2011, 6:51 pm
Filed under: Influential Musicians, Memorable Data

Due to the recent deluxe remastered release on the 33rd anniversary of this emblematic “Incantation” album, I suddenly reflected upon the lunar symbolism on some of the works of this renowned musician, who curiously before starting a solo career, also took part in early 1970 on the album Shooting at the Moon, the second solo album of Kevin Ayers. (Ayers was a founding member of the pioneering psychedelic band Soft Machine in the late 1960s, and was closely associated with the Canterbury scene).

Though Mike Oldfield has celtic blood (from his Irish Mother) and included some celtic instruments on his albums and even dedicated an entire album to Celtic songs, this specifical references to the moon are certainly not to any Celtic Moon Goddess at all.

For those not acquainted with Mike Gordon Oldfield, he is a talented English multi-instrumental musician and composer, whose musical styles have been varying over the years blending progressive rock, folk, ethnic or world music, classical music, electronic music, New Age, and even dance.

His music is often elaborate and complex in nature.

He is best known for his hit 1973 album Tubular Bells, which launched Virgin Records, and for his 1983 hit single “Moonlight Shadow”, from “Crises” (1983) and “Tr3s Lunas” (also known as “Tres Lunas”) (2002) two of his 26 official albums, not only have direct reference to the Moon but also depict a full moon on their covers.

The album’s cover art was by Terry Ilott. Oldfield makes reference to the artwork with the line, “the watcher and the tower, waiting hour, by hour” (printed in the back cover of the LP, and sung by Mike Oldfield on the title track). In the interview mentioned before, Oldfield stated that “he is the man in the corner and the tower is his music”.

When translated from the Spanish language to English, the album name Tres Lunas is Three Moons. This is reflected in the typeface on the album cover, with the letter ‘e’ being replaced with a numeric ‘3’. Oon this work the lunar symbolism is present along with the trinity of the number three.

But let us concentrate now on the “Incantations” double album. Originally released in November 1978, was Oldfield’s first and only studio double album. Comprising of four parts of the title track, it was a masterpiece of minimalism, with Oldfield again playing many of the instruments, with old friends including David Bedford conducting the choir and orchestra, Pierre Moerlen on drums and Mike’s sister Sally on vocals.

It is probably fair to say that “Incantations” used lyrics more heavily than any of Mike’s previous albums. Most of the lyrics used on “Hergest Ridge” and “Ommadawn” were seemingly nothing more than nonsense lyrics, courtesy of Clodagh Simmonds, though a few Irish Gaelic words found their way onto “Ommadawn”, and on the song “On Horseback” which of course had lyrics in English.

“Incantations”, however, drew on two works of English literature for its lyrics, and also incorporated some lyrics in Latin. On looking at them more closely, it emerges that, despite being from different sources, and seemingly being about different things, the lyrics share common themes.

As posted on the awesome open website dedicated to Mike Oldfield: Tubular Let’s start with the lyrics heard first in Part 1, then move on to those from Part 2 and Part 4.

Part 1

In Part 1 at 9:41 and Part 2 at 7:44 we hear the words:

“Diana, Luna, Lucina”

  • Diana was known by the Romans as the virgin goddess of the moon, as well as of fertility. Women worshipped her as Diana was said to give an easy birth for their children (hence Diana’s position as patroness of childbirth). Diana’s being equated with the Greek goddess Artemis led to her becoming goddess of hunting, as well as nature and animals.
  • Luna was also a Roman goddess of the moon, though she later became combined with Diana. The Latin word Luna means ‘moon’.
  • Lucina was the name given in Roman mythology to Juno (queen of the Olympian gods) as goddess of childbirth. The name comes from the same root as lucinus: bringing to the light.

Part 2

The next set of lyrics we hear are in Part 2 at 11:40. These are from American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem “The Song of Hiawatha”. The poem is written in 22 parts, plus an introduction. If you would like to read the whole work, you can read it online at Poets’ Corner.

The section including lunar references is used, at 16:54 of Part 2 is from part XII of the poem, titled ‘The Son of the Evening Star’:

Can it be the sun descending
O’er the level plain of water?
Or the Red Swan floating, flying,
Wounded by the magic arrow,
Staining all the waves with crimson,
With the crimson of its life-blood,
Filling all the air with splendor,
With the splendor of its plumage?
Yes; it is the sun descending,
Sinking down into the water;
All the sky is stained with purple,
All the water flushed with crimson!
No; it is the Red Swan floating,
Diving down beneath the water;
To the sky its wings are lifted,
With its blood the waves are reddened!
Over it the Star of Evening
Melts and trembles through the purple,
Hangs suspended in the twilight.
No; it is a bead of wampum
On the robes of the Great Spirit
As he passes through the twilight,

Walks in silence through the heavens.

It would seem, to look at these sections, that there was nothing in common here with the Latin lyrics first found in Part 1. However, if we look at Part III of the poem, ‘Hiawatha’s Childhood’ (which you can find on the Poets’ Corner page if you want to read the whole thing), we find the line “From the full moon fell Nokomis”.

She is also later referred to as ‘Daughter of the moon’.Nokomis is Hiawatha’s grandmother, and the one who cares for Hiawatha after his mother dies. In that, we have the connection with the moon – ‘luna’ from the first set of lyrics.

The canoe that’s described in ‘Hiawatha’s departure’ is carrying a group of visitors, led by “The Black-Robe chief, the Prophet, / He the Priest of Prayer, the Pale-face”. This is a Christian priest, come to preach Christianity to Hiawatha and his people. After doing this, the visitors fall asleep. While they sleep, Hiawatha asks Nokomis to take care of them, and then departs westward, into the setting sun.

The image of the Red Swan comes from a tale from the Chippewa (Ojibwe/Anishinaabe) nation of native Americans, which tells of a red swan who is one day spotted by a young native man when out hunting. He is struck by its magnificence, as it fills all the air around him with a red glow. He shoots all his arrows at the swan, determined to catch it, but misses each time. He returns later with three magic arrows and with the third he hits the swan. To his surprise the swan doesn’t fall over, dead, but instead flies off towards the setting sun (and so he is led off on a great adventure).

The imagery of the swan ‘filling all the air with splendour’ ties in, as does it being ‘wounded by the magic arrow’ (though it seems in the story that the swan is not really wounded by the arrow through its neck, or at least not affected by it). Longfellow seems to suggest that the swan is bleeding – “staining all the waves with crimson, with the crimson of its life-blood”. The version of the tale I read certainly does not have the swan bleeding. This use of native traditional imagery, blended by Longfellow into his own imagery, is something that occurs throughout ‘The Song of Hiawatha’.

Part 4

The lyrics found in Part 4 (starting at 15:03) come from the beginning of Act 5, Scene 1 of the play ‘Cynthia’s revels’ (or ‘The Fountain of Selfe-Love’) written by Ben Jonson in 1599 (Performed 1600, published 1601). The section is often known as ‘Hymn to Diana’ (though also known as ‘Ode to Cynthia’, ‘The Hymn of Hesperus’ and ‘Queen and Huntress’ – I would imagine that, coming from a play, Jonson didn’t title the ‘poem’ himself) and is sung by the character Hesperus. This version uses modernised English spellings. Anyone interested in reading the whole play, with original spellings, can find it online at the Public Domain Modern English Text Collection of the University of Michigan, though I must say that this version doesn’t clearly identify characters, making it less than ideal.

Queen and huntress, chaste and fair,
Now the sun is laid to sleep,
Seated in thy silver chair,
State in wonted manner keep:
Hesperus entreats thy light,
Goddess, excellently bright.

Earth, let not an envious shade
Dare itself to interpose;
Cynthia’s shining orb was made
Heaven to clear when day did close:
Bless us then with wishèd sight,
Goddess, excellently bright.

Lay thy bow of pearl apart,
And thy crystal-shining quiver;
Give unto the flying hart
Space to breathe, how short soever;
Thou that mak’st a day of night,
Goddess, excellently bright.

Mike made some alterations to the poem for its use in Incantations. I’ll look at the poem in its original form, then detail Mike’s alterations below.

The poem addresses the moon goddess Diana, or Cynthia (this name presumably coming from Cynthus, the hill in Delos which was the birth place of Diana and Apollo).
In literature of the time, Queen Elizabeth 1st (of England) was often addressed as Cynthia, as like the goddess, Elizabeth had a reputation for being a virgin. She also was seen to outshine all her court.

‘Cynthia’s Revels’ was an attempt on Jonson’s part to gain favour in Elizabeth’s court. A key feature of the play is that there is to be a night of celebration in Cynthia’s court, where a play will be performed. Not coincidentally, Elizabeth held regular nights of festivities at which such entertainment was provided; it was on one of these nights that Jonson hoped that ‘Cynthia’s Revels’ would eventually be performed. We therefore find things in the play that aim to compliment Cynthia, and therefore Elizabeth as well. This ‘Ode to Cynthia’ is a particularly visible form of this flattery of the queen.

The play was indeed performed at Queen Elizabeth’s court. It seems it wasn’t a complete success however, partly because the play was a heavy satire on the exact type of people who were sat in the audience – that is, the royal courtiers. Jonson, however, later met with success in the court of Elizabeth’s successor, King James.

It asks of the moon that, now the sun has gone down, she keeps the ‘state’ in the ‘wonted manner’. The poem is asking her to keep the situation the same even though the sun has gone down; that is, keep it light (that is, to make a ‘day of night’), by shining.

Hesperus is god of the evening star, or the planet Venus as we now know it to be (back then, the belief was that there was Eosphorus, the morning star and Hesperus the evening star – we now know that these are both in fact Venus, but as they appeared at different times, they were believed to be separate objects and so were given different names). Being one of the first ‘stars’ to appear, it is seen by Jonson that Hesperus ‘entreats’ the moon’s light – it comes up first, then asks the moon to shine.

The second stanza (verse) asks the earth to “let not an envious shade dare itself to interpose”. Shade in this case means shadow; it’s asking the earth not to eclipse the moon, by allowing its shadow to get in the way, as Cynthia’s shining orb (the moon) was made to ‘clear’ (in this case, brighten) the heavens when the day has finished. Cynthia is asked to “Bless us then with wishèd sight”, in other words, to let us see this sight that we wish to see – her appearance (the sight of her being so wonderful that her appearance is a blessing).

The third stanza addresses Cynthia the huntress, as opposed to the other two stanzas which address Cynthia as moon goddess. It seems to refer to the legend of Diana and Actaeon where Diana, when tired from hunting, bathed in her sacred valley, in a small pool fed by a fountain, in a cave. Diana had given her bow and quiver (the implements of archery associated with Diana) and her javelin to one of her nymphs (therefore having laid them ‘apart’ – to one side). Actaeon stumbled across this cave while hunting for deer, and saw Diana naked in the pool. Diana was enraged, and wanted to reach for her arrows. She was unable to, so turned Actaeon into a stag (a hart) instead. He ran away, but was startled by the sight of his own reflection in a pool of water, and stopped. When he did so, his dogs caught up with him and, not recognising Actaeon, tore him apart.

Here, however, Jonson is making a request; for Cynthia to put down her bow and quiver, and stop hunting, allowing the ‘flying hart’ (escaping deer) ‘space to breathe’, and live at least for a little time without fear of attack. Whoever this is aimed at (whether Cynthia, Queen Elizabeth, or both), it seems that Jonson would rather have her making a ‘day of night’ than ‘hunting’ people (perhaps acting rashly in the process).

Mike’s alterations make it read like this…

Queen and huntress, chaste and fair,
Now the sun is laid to sleep,
Seated in a silver chair,
State in wonted manner keep:

Earth, let not an envious shade
Dare itself to interpose;
Cynthia’s shining orb was made
Heav’n to cheer when day did close:

Lay thy bow of pearl apart,
And thy crystal-shining quiver;
Give unto the flying hart
Space to breathe, how short soever;

Hesperus entreats thy light,
Goddess, excellently bright.
Bless us then with wished sight,
Thou who makes a day of night…

Related Sources :

"Foggy Dew" : A collaboration with "Aoifé" on "Peace Partners"
September 28, 2011, 3:31 pm
Filed under: Memorable Data, Mp3 Downloads, Suggested Albums

<a href=”http://shop.peace-partners.org/track/foggy-dew-trad”>Foggy Dew (trad.) by Aoife</a>

For those interested to colaborate with a noble cause, I am proud to announce that my musical colaboration of the traditional Irish song “Foggy Dew”with the awesome singer Aoifé is now available from Peace Partners .

Peace Partners has the blessed mission to gather as many artists as possible, ranging from amateurs to professionals, across different genres, and develop an album together that would not only promote the ideals of peace and freedom through music, but also would foster International collaborations as part of this process.

All proceeds are donated to organizations that demonstrably improve this world we all share. Amnistie internationale Canada francophone and War Child Canada have already signed on as part of the Peace Partners project. Reflective of our intent, it has been proposed that we submit the album to the United Nations, as a testimony to the hope that continues to exist in the world.

Foggy Dew – Digital Track

BUY NOW : $0.99 USD

Download“Foggy Dew”
by Aoife

in your choice of MP3 320, FLAC,
or just about any other format you could possibly desire.

Music Copyright by Eliseo Mauas Pinto – © 2011 –

the traditional Irish song”Foggy Dew”

is arranged entirely by Eliseo Mauas Pinto

released 30 September 2011

-Aoife (Elisabeth Popp Sambleben) – vocals;
-Eliseo Mauas Pinto: Irish Harp & Whistles;
-Gabriel Bollani: midi programming & engineering;
-Silent Company (Billy Ramirez): vocal production;

Tags: ethnic folk pop rock world Canada

License: Some rights reserved

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The Wheel Of The Year Festivals: A journey from birth to death to rebirth
September 27, 2011, 4:25 pm
Filed under: Celtic Celebrations, Celtic Symbolism
On a couple of previous posts I discussed about the lunar influences on theThe Gaulish Lunisolar Calendar System Properties and Months and Historical Sources, which in fact is an attempt to reconcile both the cycles of the moon and sun, as is the modern Gregorian calendar.

It is time now to take an insight to The Wheel Of The Year, a NeoPagan calendar based upon the annual cycle of Earth’s seasons. Seasonal Festivals or Celtic Sabbats, and the observance of Solar energies at the solstices and equinoxes and the Fire energies on the cross quarter days, is a common theme throughout the world.

The festivals themselves have historical origins in Celtic and Germanic pre-Christian feasts, and the Wheel of the Year, as has developed in modern Paganism and Wicca, is really a combination of the two cultures’ solstice and equinox celebrations. When melded together, the two European Festival Cycles merge to form eight festivals in modern renderings.

These festivals have been utilized by European cultures in both the pre- and post-Christian eras as traditional times for the community to celebrate the planting and harvest seasons. The Wheel of the Year has been important to many people both ancient and modern, from various religious as well as cultural and secular viewpoints.

Natural processes are seen as following a continuous cycle. The passing of time is also seen as cyclical, and is represented by a circle or wheel. The progression of birth, life, decline and death, as experienced in human lives, is echoed in the progression of the seasons. This cycle is seen as an echo of life, death and rebirth of the God and the fertility of the Goddess.

The full system of eight yearly festivals held on these dates is unknown in older pagan calendars, and originated in the modern Wiccan religion.

These eight major festivals (or “sabbats”) are distinct from the Wiccan “esbats” (being considered the Wicca as the largest Contemporary Pagan religion and Neo-Druidism forms the second largest) ,which are additional meetings, usually smaller celebrations or coven meetings, held on full or new moons. Janet and Stewart Farrar describe esbats as an opportunity for a “love feast, healing work, psychic training and all.

The First Four “Quarter Days” or “Solar Festivals” fall on solstices and equinoxes, and are loosely based on or named after the Germanic festivals.

The Other Four “Cross-quarter Days” are similarly inspired by the Gaelic “Fire Festivals”.

The Four Fire Festivals

Candlemas, Imbolc

Oimelc, Brigit, Brigid’s Day, Bride’s Day, Brigantia, Gŵyl y Canhwyllau , Disablot

1–2 Feb (alt 2–7 Feb)

Beltane, Beltaine, May Day,

Gŵyl Galan Mai , May Eve,Valpurgis,Cetsamhain,Roodmas,Shenn do Boaldyn

1 May (alt 4–10 May)

(Beltane derived from the Irish Gaelic “Bealtaine” or the Scottish Gaelic “Bealtuinn”, meaning “Bel-fire”, the fire of the Celtic god of light (Bel, Beli or Belinus).)

Lammas, Lughnasadh

1st Harvest, Bread Harvest, Festival of First Fruits, Gŵyl Galan Awst ,Frey Fest

1–2 Aug (alt 3–10 Aug)


All Hallow’s Eve, Last/Blood Harvest, Ancestor Night, Feast of the Dead,

Nos Galan Gaeaf,Winter Nights,Feile Moingfinne, Halloween

31 Oct – 2 Nov (alt 5–10 Nov)

(*Note: Samhain is pronounced sowen, soween, saw-win, saw-vane or sahven, not sam-hayne)

The Four Solar Festivals

Winter Solstice – Yule –

Dec 21st/22nd
(Yule from the Anglo-Saxon ‘Yula’, meaning ‘wheel’ of the year.)

Spring Equinox – Ostara –

Mar 21st/22nd

Summer Solstice – Lithia – Midsummers Eve –

June 21st/22nd
(Midsummer, Gathering Day, Summer Solstice, Alban Heffyn, Feill-Sheathain)

Autumn Equinox – Harvest – Mabon –

Sept 21st/22nd
Gwyl canol Hydref or Mabon: (pronounced May-bon. Also known as Harvest Home, Harvest Tide, Fall Equinox, Autumn Equinox etc.)

While most of these names derive from historical Celtic and Germanic festivals, the non-traditional names Litha and Mabon, which have become popular in North American Wicca, were introduced by the American academic, poet and influential figure in the Neopagan religion of Wicca Aidan Kelly in the 1970s.
Honouring the Wheel of the Year
teaches us the dance of creation,
which is found again and again in Nature and in our lives …

in the waxing and waning of the moon

in the rising and setting of the sun

in the inhalation and exhalation of each breath

in the beginning and ending of any endeavor

in the journey from birth to death to rebirth

When we celebrate these holidays, we join in partnership with the Earth, lending our energies to the turning of the Wheel to restore and perserve harmony and balance. (1)

Related Sources:

Celtic Symbolism: "Night and Sleep Blessings"
September 26, 2011, 2:09 pm
Filed under: Celtic Christianity, Celtic Symbolism
I found these curious examples of “Night Prayers and Blessings” on the collection of folk poetry from the Western Isles of Scotland: Carmina Gadelica – Hymns and Incantations -Ortha Nan Gaidheal – Volume I -by Alexander Carmichael -[1900] . Carmichael spent years collecting folklore from the vanishing cultures of Scotland. The poems in this volume include prayers, invocations, blessings and charms. English translations are done by the author, and the beautiful initials from the first edition. They are a synthesis of Christian and pre-Christian belief systems. All rights reserved by the author.

THE night prayers of the people are numerous. They are called by various names, as: ‘Beannachadh Beinge’–Bench-Blessing, ‘Beannachadh Bobhstair’–Bolster Blessing, ‘Beannachadh Cluasaig’–Pillow Blessing, ‘Beannachadh Cuaiche’–Couch Blessing, ‘Coich Chuaiche’–Couch Shrining, ‘Altachadh Cadail’–Sleep Prayer; and other terms.

Many of these prayers are become mere fragments and phrases, supplemented by the people according to their wants and wishes at the time.

It is touching and instructive to hear these simple old men and women in their lowly homes addressing, as they say themselves, ‘Dia mor nan dui, Athair nan uile bheo,’ the great God of life, the Father of all living. They press upon Him their needs and their desires fully and familiarly, but with all the awe and deference due to the Great Chief whom they wish to approach and to attract, and whose forgiveness and aid they would secure. And all this in language so homely yet so eloquent, so simple yet so dignified, that the impressiveness could not be greater in proudest fane.




DHE, teasruig an tigh, an teine, ’s an tan,
Gach aon ta gabhail tamh an seo an nochd.
Teasruig mi fein ’s mo chroilean graidh,
Is gleidh sinn bho lamh ’s bho lochd;
Gleidh sinn bho namh an nochd,
Air sgath Mhic Mhuire Mhathar
’S an ait-s ’s gach ait a bheil an tamh an nochd,
Air an oidhche nochd ’s gach aon oidhche,
An oidhche nochd ’s gach aon oidhche.

GOD shield the house, the fire, the kine,
Every one who dwells herein to-night.
Shield myself and my beloved group,
Preserve us from violence and from harm;
Preserve us from foes this night,
For the sake of the Son of the Mary Mother,
In this place, and in every place wherein they dwell to-night,
On this night and on every night,
This night and every night.




AN ainm an Tighearn Iosa,
Agus Spiorad ìocshlain aigh,
An ainm Athar Israil,
Sinim sios gu tamh.

Ma tha musal na dusal,
Na run air bith dhomh ’n dan,
Dhia fuasgail orm is cuartaich orm,
Is fuadaich uam mo namh.

An ainm Athar priseil,
Is Spiorad iocshlain aigh,
An ainm Tighearn Iosa,
Sinim sios gu tamh.
* * * *
Dhia, cobhair mi is cuartaich mi,
O ’n uair ’s gu uair mo bhais.

IN name of the Lord Jesus,
And of the Spirit of healing balm,
In name of the Father of Israel,
I lay me down to rest.

If there be evil threat or quirk,
Or covert act intent on me,
God free me and encompass me,
And drive from me mine enemy.

In name of the Father precious,
And of the Spirit of healing balm,
In name of the Lord Jesus,
I lay me down to rest.
* * * *
God, help me and encompass me,
From this hour till the hour of my death.




LAIGHIM sios an nochd mar is coir
An cluanas Chriosda Mac Oigh nan cleachd,
An cluanas Athair aigh na gloir,
An cluanas Spioraid foir nam feart.

Laighim sios an nochd le Dia,
Is laighidh Dia an nochd a sios liom,
Cha laigh mi sios an nochd le olc, ’s cha dean
Ole no fhiamh laighe liom.

Laighim sios an nochd le Spiorad Naomh,
Is laighidh Spiorad Naomh an nochd a sios liom,
Laighim sios le Teoiridh mo chaoimh,
Is laighidh Teoiridh mo chaoimh a sios liom.

I AM lying down to-night as beseems
In the fellowship of Christ, son of the Virgin of ringlets.
In the fellowship of the gracious Father of glory,
In the fellowship of the Spirit of powerful aid.

I am lying down to-night with God,
And God to-night will lie down with me,
I will not lie down to-night with sin, nor shall
Sin nor sin’s shadow lie down with me.

I am lying down to-night with the Holy Spirit,
And the Holy Spirit this night will lie down with me,
I will lie down this night with the Three of my love,
And the Three of my love will lie down with me.




THA mis a nis a dol dh’ an chadal,
Gu mu slan a dhuisgeas mi;
Ma ’s a bas domh anns a bhas chadail,
Gun ann air do ghairdean fein
A Dhe nan gras a dhuisgeas mi;
O air do ghairdean gradhach fein,
A Dhe nan gras a dhuisgeas mi!

M’ anam air do laimh dheis, a Dhe,
A Re nan neamha neomh;
Is tu fein a cheannaich mi le t’fhuil,
Is tu thug do bheatha air mo shon,
Comraig mis an nochd, a Dhe,
Is na h-eireadh dhomh beud no cron.

Am feadh bhios a cholann a tamh ’s a chadal,
Biodh an t-anam a snamh an sgath nam flathas,
Micheal cra-gheal an dail an anama,
Moch agus amnoch, oidhche agus latha,
Moch agus anmoch, oidhche agus latha.

I AM now going into the sleep,
Be it that I in health shall waken;
If death be to me in the death-sleep,
Be it that on Thine own arm,
O God of Grace, I in peace shall waken;
Be it on Thine own beloved arm,
O God of Grace, that I in peace shall waken.

Be my soul on Thy right hand, O God,
Thou King of the heaven of heavens;
Thou it was who bought’st me with Thy blood,
Thou it was who gavest Thy life for me,
Encompass Thou me this night, O God,
That no harm, no evil shall me befall.

Whilst the body is dwelling in the sleep,
The soul is soaring in the shadow of heaven,
Be the red-white Michael meeting the soul,
Early and late, night and day,
Early and late, night and day.




TA mi cur m’ anama ’s mo chorp
Air do chomaraig a nochd, a Dhe,
Air do chomaraig, Iosa Criosda,
Air do chomaraig, a Spioraid na firinne reidh,
An Triuir a sheasadh mo chuis,
Is nach cuireadh an cul rium fein.

Thus, Athair, tha caomh agus ceart,
Thus, a Mhic, thug air peacadh buaidh,
Thus, a Spioraid Naoimhe nam feart,
Da mo ghleidheadh an nochd o thruaigh;
An Triuir a dheanadh mo cheart
Mo ghleidheadh an nochd ’s gach uair.

I AM placing my soul and my body
On Thy sanctuary this night, O God,
On Thy sanctuary, O Jesus Christ,
On Thy sanctuary, O Spirit of perfect truth,
The Three who would defend my cause,
Nor turn Their backs upon me.

Thou, Father, who art kind and just,
Thou, Son, who didst overcome death,
Thou, Holy Spirit of power,
Be keeping me this night from harm;
The Three who would justify me
Keeping me this night and always.

Symbolism of Rhiannon on the Mabinogion
September 23, 2011, 4:38 pm
Filed under: Celtic Moon Goddess, Celtic Symbolism

The Mabinogion

It is acknowledged that the
Mabinogion is the most valuable written source where the character of Rhiannon appears.

Mabinogion(măbĭnō`gēən), is the title given to a collection of medieval Welsh stories. Scholars differ as to the meaning of the word mabinogion: some think it to be the plural of the Welsh word mabinogi, which means “youthful career”; others think it derives from the Welsh word mabinog, meaning “aspirant to bardic honor.”

The stories in the Mabinogion are found in two manuscripts, the White Book of Rhydderch (c.1300–1325) comprising the The Four Branches of the Mabinogi: Culhwch and Olwen; The Dream of Macsen Wledig; Lludd and Llefelys; Peredur; Owain (also known as The Lady of the Fountain); and Geraint and Enid; and the Red Book of Hergest (c.1375–1425) which most notably, contains the tale of the Dream of Rhonabwy.

The first four tales, which are called collectively The Four Branches of the Mabinogi, are divided into Pwyll, Branwen, Manawydan, and Math; their connecting link, now obscured by many accretions, is the story of Prince Gwri or, as he is later called, Pryderi, who is the child of Pwyll Pendefig Dyfed and Rhiannon.

Rhiannon features in both the first and third branches of the Mabinogi, the tales of:

(a tale that revolves around his friendship with the ruler of the nether-realm, his finding and gaining Rhiannon as a wife, the birth, loss and re-discovery of his son) &

(a tale that recounts how Pryderi ,-who survived the war in Ireland-, offers his own realm to Manawyddan and gifts him his mother, Rhiannon to be Manawyddan’s wife).

The Character

As commented on a previous post, Rhiannon is probably a reflex of the Celtic Great Queen goddess Rigantona and may also be associated with the horse goddess Epona.

In some versions of the legend, Rhiannon was the Celtic goddess who later became Vivienne, best known as the Lady of the Lake. She was the Celtic goddess who gave Arthur the sword Excalibur, empowering him to become King in the legends of Camelot.

As a Celtic Moon Goddess she is reputed to be extremely beautiful and have a tremendous singing prowess. She was born at the first Moonrise. She is generally pictured as being dressed in gold and riding a milk white horse, with birds around her head who are reputed to be able to sing the living to sleep and raise the dead with their song. Wiccans usually celebrate her feast day on July 4, but she is also celebrated at Beltane.

Her First Branch Story in Brief

Upon ascending the magical mound of Gorsedd Aberth, the Demetian king Pwyll witnesses the arrival of Rhiannon. Pwyll immediately fell in love, and when Rhiannon rode by, he followed her, but he could never bridge the distance between them, no matter how fast or long he rode.

Pwyll sends his best horsemen after her, but she always remains ahead of them, though her horse never does more than amble.

After three days, he finally calls out to her, and Rhiannon tells him she has come seeking him because she would rather marry him than Gwawl ap Clud, who was one of her “own kind”, much to the distress of her family, smiling to let him know all he had to do is ask for her.

A year after their meeting, Pwyll accidentally and foolishly promises Rhiannon to Gwawl, before managing to win her back through outwitting, bloodying and dishonouring his rival, with the magical use of a sack that could never be filled up.

A couple of years later, Rhiannon gave birth to a son, Pryderi, at the Winter Solstice.

However, on the night of his birth, he disappears while in the care of six of Rhiannon’s ladies-in-waiting , and the servants panicked.

They schemed and decided to put puppy blood on Rhiannon’s face as she was sleeping, and scattered puppy bones all around her.

Rhiannon is forced to do penance for her supposed crime, since everyone believed Rhiannon had eaten her baby.

As punishment, she humbly stood at the castle gates with a horse’s collar around her neck. She was obliged to offer to carry anyone who came to the gates inside to their destination. She never complained over the long seven years she was humiliated this way.

One day, her son came to the gate, and mother and son immediately recognized each other, and Rhiannon’s good name was restored. The boy is eventually reunited with Pwyll and Rhiannon and is renamed Pryderi, meaning “loss”. Some time later, Pwyll dies peacefully and Pryderi ascends to the throne, marrying Cigfa and amalgamating the seven cantrefs of Morgannwg to his kingdom.

Symbolism of Rhiannon on the Mabinogion

This shows how incredibly forgiving and truly regal she was. She knows hardship, and comforts us with understanding when we call on her.

The story of the Celtic goddess Rhiannon reminds us of the healing power of humor, tears, and forgiveness.

The goddess Rhiannon is a goddess of movement and change who remains steadfast, comforting us in times of crisis and of loss.

She is a goddess of love, even sexual love, giving her associations also with Venus, and her transformative powers are strongest when used for love of others or self. She is thought of as an example of true love and beauty, and it is said one can only completely know Rhiannon when they truly love themselves. She also shows us, through love and intent, that transformation is really possible. She represents the constant ebb and flow of life and how we are ALWAYS able to create change.

Rhiannon is also known as a Goddess of Doubt, in that she helps us to work out the doubt we have in our lives, and helps us listen to our instincts. She encourages us to seek answers to our questions and not to blindly trust.

Though depicted with a human form Rhiannon she may euhemerize an earlier goddess ofCeltic Polytheism.

Similar euhemerisms of pre-Christian deities can be found in other medieval Celtic literature, when Christian scribes and redactors may have felt uncomfortable writing about the powers of pagan gods. In the Táin Bó Cúailnge, for example, Macha and Morrígan appear as larger-than-life figures, but are never described as goddesses, very similar to the presentation of Rhiannon in the Mabinogion.

Proinsias Mac Cana states:
“[Rhiannon] reincarnates the goddess of sovereignty who, in taking to her a spouse, thereby ordained him legitimate king of the territory which she personified”.

According to Miranda Jane Green, “Rhiannon conforms to two archetypes of myth … a gracious, bountiful queen-goddess; and as the ‘wronged wife’, falsely accused of eating charlotte”.

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Celtic Moon Goddess Rhiannon: Symbols and Sacred Objects
September 23, 2011, 3:27 pm
Filed under: Celtic Jewellery, Celtic Moon Goddess, Celtic Symbolism

As I have commented on a previous post, Rhiannon is associated to a “Goddess of fertility”, and also to the moon, night, and death. Her name means ‘Night Queen’. She is associated with horses and has otherworldly birds in her posession. Along with Arianrhod, bears the symbolism of Celtic Moon Goddess with “Fertility” as a common quality and power.

Some also associate her to the Irish “Macha” and the Gaulish “Epona“, the “Horse Goddess”; but I guess it is because of it’s relation with the horse as depicted on the welsh Mabinogion, which does not present Rhiannon as anything other than human.

She is probably a reflex of the Celtic Great Queen goddess Rigantona.

Rhiannon thus bears the stamp of two important Gaulish cults: that of the “Horse Goddess” Epona on one hand; and Matrona, the “Great Mother”, on the other. Rigantona ‘Great Queen’, as Rhiannon would have been known in Romano-British times, is best considered a local variant of this composite figure.

Goddess symbols, individualized for each goddess, were incorporated into the worship of the ancient goddesses, were often worn as jewelry, and also used in the household decor as talismans to seek the goddesses special gifts, blessings, or protection. A large number of goddess symbols have survived in statuary and other works of art.

Many of the goddess symbols come from the legends surrounding a specific goddess and were “characters” in her story. Other goddess symbols were derived from the rituals used in the ancient rites of worship of these pagan goddesses.

Rhiannon is often represented by symbols associated with her astonishing “other-worldliness”.

Moon, horses, horseshoe, songbirds,
gates, the wind, and the Number 7.


Horse, badger, frog, dogs (especially puppies),
canaries and other songbirds, hummingbirds, and dragons.

Narcissus and daffodils, leeks, pansies, forsythia,
cedar and pine trees, bayberry, sage, and rosemary

Sandalwood, neroli, bergamot, lavender,
narcissus, and geranium.

Gems and Metals
Gold, silver, cat’s eye, moonstone,
crystal quartz, ruby, red garnet, bloodstone, turquoise, and amethyst.

Dark green, maroon, gold, silver,
rich brown, white, black, charcoal grey, and ruby red.

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Britain’s Landscape Symbols and Mysteries: Trethevy Quoit
September 22, 2011, 6:33 pm
Filed under: Celtic Symbolism, Standing Stones
Most people tend to expect ancient relics to be located in the middle of nowhere, far from habitation or modern buildings.

However, the highly impressive well-preserved megalithic tomb is situated in a field amazingly close to the back of a row of cottages near St Cleer, Cornwall. It is known locally as “the giant’s house” Standing 9 feet (2.7 m) high, it consists of five standing stones capped by a large slab.

Trethevy Quoit is situated in the Caradon District north of Liskeard in the village of Tremar Coombe. Nearby are The Hurlers, three stone circles dating from the late Bronze Age. The site is managed by the Cornwall Heritage Trust on behalf of English Heritage.

Like other portal tombs of this type, Trethevy Quoit was originally covered by a mound. The remnants of this suggest a diameter of 6.5 meters. The remaining seven stones and the 3.7 m long and 10.5-ton cover slab were inside the mound. The huge capstone here weighs about 20 tonnes, and manoeuvring it into position was a considerable feat of engineering.

At the upper end of the cover slab is a natural hole, which may have been used for astronomical observation. This hole has provoked much curiosity over the years, but the exact reason, and whether it really did have a purpose or not, remain unknown.

Curiously, the sloping angle of the top of this hole is reminiscent of many free-standing stones, as discussed on my previous post regarding the Stones of Stenness, in the Orkney Isles (Scotland).

The group of horizontal stones is composed of a fallen back wall, two side wall stones, which overlap, a front stone and a somewhat remote flanking stone.

The special feature of Cornish portal graves is that by such stones sometimes a smaller partially closed area is created before the front end. Some stones have hole-like perforations as decoration.

Also known as cromlechs and portal dolmens, excavations have shown that these kinds of sites were constructed in the early and middle Neolithic period between 3700-3300 BC. They were used over long periods as communal tombs or ossuaries to house the bones of the ancestors.

Due to the acidity of the soil no bones have been found in Cornish quoits, but excavations elsewhere have revealed human bones in the chambers and pits and postholes in the forecourt area. It was not unusual for quoits to have been the focus for Bronze Age funerary rituals in the form of cremations placed in burial urns.

It may be that in prehistoric times the ancestral dead were considered to be mediators between the community and its gods, and that places like this were an important interface between these two worlds.

The front stone is often called an entrance stone, although in most portal graves this can not be moved. The Trevethy Quoit is a rare exception here, because a small rectangular stone moving at the bottom right of the front allows access to the grave chamber, which is now opened only very rarely.

One unusual feature is the doorway, which has been cut out of the entrance stone. According to historical theories, this may have been used to enable bodies to be put into the chamber. This theory is supported by the remains of a mound lying at the base of the structure — the mound is thought to have originally acted as a ramp to aid access to the chamber for burials.

The back of the chamber has collapsed inwards and now forms a pile inside the chamber. Erected this stone would be about the height of the front stone, so that the cover slab would not have once been held-up by the side stones, but rested almost horizontal solely on the front stone and rear walls. However, there would have been between the support stones and the side walls a considerable gap, by which soil could have penetrated into the grave chamber. It is therefore likely that the collapse of the rear wall and the falling-down of the cover slab damaged the side stones.

Trethevy Quoit was first mentioned in 1584 by J. Norden, in a topographical and historical account of Britain, but which was first published in 1728.

Hencken in 1932 wrote the first modern representation, in which he explained the special nature of the antechamber, and pointed out parallels to structures in Brittany. Recent excavations showed that this type of megalith was erected in the Neolithic period between 3700-3500 BC and were used over a long period of time as community graves.


Address :St.Cleer, Cornwall –View location map
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Nearby sites

The Hurlers Stone Circle (2.5km)
King Arthur’s Hall Stone Circle (15.7km)
Trippet Stones Stone Circle (14.2km)
Stripple Stones Stone Circle (13.2km)
Duloe Stone Circle (10.8km)

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