Ritual for Arianrhod and Blodeuwedd

Our grove performed this ritual at Ostara in 2013, but it can be used for pretty much any High Day.  What I tried to do was inter-weave the invocations to the Welsh Goddesses Arianrhod and Blodeuwedd into their story.  Thus this part appears as the Key Offerings section of the Druidic rit.  I love this story for many reasons, but one of the best reasons is how beautifully it illustrates the Indo-European tri-functional cultural perspective as Llew Llaw Gyffes seeks a name (magic), arms (warrior), and a wife (fertility/love).

 

Druid  begins the invocations:

“Once there was a king in Wales
by the name of Math ap Mathonwy
who could only rest if his feet should lie in the lap of a maiden.

He consulted with Gwydion the Druid as to
which maiden he should choose, and Gwydion’s reply was
that he should choose the Goddess Arianrhod.

So Math ap Mathonwy went to the the castle of Arianrhod,
and there he called unto her:

“Arianrhod!

Goddess of the Silver Wheel that descends into the sea!
I open myself to the night sky that is your domain!
Daughter of Don, come to me tonight!

Arianrhod, accept my sacrifice!”

Druid makes the Arianrhod sacrifice.

“And so the Goddess came forth from her castle
to meet with Math ap Mathonwy, and the king explained
his purpose and asked if she was a maiden, to which she responded

‘I am that I am’.

Then Math brought forth his magic staff and laid it on the ground,
and asked her to step over it.  And, as she did so, she immediately
gave birth to two boys, and thus being shown as no maiden,
Arianrhod fled back into her castle.

Of the two boys the first was taken by King Math and does not
concern us.  But the second was adopted by Gwydion, and he grew
faster than any boy should, such that by the time he was four
years old he appeared to be eight.

Now, when the boy had turned four, Gwydion took him back
to the castle of Arianrhod.  There they were greeted by the Goddess,
who asked Gwydion whose son accompanied him and what his name was.
“He is thy son, but as yet he has no name.” replied Gwydion.

Arianrhod was most displeased with this response and the reminder of how Math had treated her.  

“Well then,” she said, “I lay this destiny upon him,
that he shall have no name unless he should receive one from me.”

And so replied Gwydion the Druid, “This is a cruel destiny that you
bestow, but the boy shall have a name nonetheless.”  With this, he left.

Several weeks later, however, he and the boy returned in disguise,
pretending to be cobblers and set up shop near the castle port.
Then Arianrhod, having a fondness for such things, came to them
to be measured for new shoes.  

While there, a wren happened to come and land upon the deck of a boat,
Seeing this, the boy took up a stone and flung it at the wren,
hitting it in the leg.  This caused the Goddess to muse
“it is with a skillful hand that the fair-haired one has hit it.”

At that Gwydion revealed himself, saying “And now the boy has a name,
and a good one at that: Llew Llaw Gyffes shall he be called”,
which means “the fair-haired one with the skillful hand”.

This infuriated Arianrhod, who said “Very well, let him have a name.
I will lay a destiny upon this boy, that he shall never have arms and
armour until I invest him with them.”  To this Gwydion replied,
“Let thy malice be what it may, he shall have arms.”
And the Druid took Llew Llaw Gyffes and together they departed.

Some weeks later they returned to the castle yet again,
this time disguised as bards, and they were warmly welcomed
by Arianrhod.  They feasted, and Gwydion sang songs to entertain
their host.  They were then given chambers in which to rest,
but Gwydion used the night to work great magic,
and caused a host of war ships to appear on the sea
with a great din of trumpets and drums.

Come the morning, they found Arianrhod in a panic,
sure that her castle was being invaded.  “My Lady”, said Gwydion,
“if you but give us armour and weapons we shall do our best to
defend your home”, and she graciously opened her armoury to them
that they might select the best armour and weapons she had.

Once Llew Llaw Gyffes was thus armed, Gwydion again revealed
himself, and the host of ships dissolved into mist.  Arianrhod was again
furious at having been tricked, and pronounced “Now will I lay a destiny
upon this youth, that he shall never have a wife of the race that now
inhabits this earth.”  

“Verily,” replied Gwydion, “a wife shall he have notwithstanding.”  

And with that, the two departed and returned to the castle of Math ap
Mathonwy and there complained bitterly of Arianrhod’s curse.

Then Math and Gwydion consulted, and decided that they shall create a
wife for Llew out of flowers, and they went to the forest and collected from
the oaks their blossoms and gathered them together, and with great
magic they called out:

“Flower of the mighty oak
spirit of nature, spirit of love,
spirit of spring, spirit of beauty,
Blodeuwedd, heart of the forest come to us!

Blodeuwedd, accept our sacrifice!”

Druid makes the Blodeuwedd sacrifice.

“Thus from the blossoms of the oak they forged
a woman of unsurpassed beauty,
and Blodeuwedd they named her.

Then Llew Llaw Gyffes and Blodeuwedd were wed,
and a wife he had though of no race that previously inhabited the earth.
And they were happily married for many years.

But a Spirit of the Land, though she may seem so for a time,
is not tame… they are wild and free at heart,
and dangerous when caged.

Thus, when a handsome knight came to their lands hunting stag
one day, she fell in love with him, and together they conspired to
kill Llew Llaw Gyffes that they might be together.

This conspiracy took careful and long planning,
but eventually they lured Llew into a trap,
wounded and poisoned he barely escaped,
taking the form of an eagle and flying through the air,
screaming from his pain.

Now when Gwydion heard the news of this,
he hastened forth in search,
until he spied a wounded eagle sitting up in a huge oak tree,
and he called forth to it:

“Oak that grows between the two banks;
Darkened is the sky and hill!
Shall I not tell him by his wounds,
That this is Llew?”

“Oak that grows in upland ground,
Is it not wetted by the rain?  Has it not been drenched
By nine score tempests?
It bears in its branches Llew Llaw Gyffes!”

“Oak that grows beneath the steep;
Stately and majestic is its aspect!
Shall I not speak it?
That Llew will come to my lap?”

Then Llew came down to Gwydion, who by his magic returned him
to his human form and took him back to the castle of Math
where he was healed.

As for Blodeuwedd, she was eventually caught by
Math and Gwydion, and through their magic they cursed
her to spend the rest of her days as an owl,
which is why the Welsh call this bird Blodeuwedd,
which means “flower face”.

 

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