Winter is time of going inward for healing, rejuvenation and rebirth as the Celtic Wheel of the Year turns to its northern-most point. Even so, the Solstice itself celebrates the return of the light. Arianrhod, as a Goddess of the moon, sea and stars, rebirths the sun each year and carries us back to the womb, and our seasonal resting place in her Northern Castle of Initiation.
Like the eight limbs of yoga growing out of the rooted tree’s trunk, the Celtic Wheel of the Year, also known as the wheel of life, has eight seasonal spokes originating from a central hub or well of sovereignty. Often represented by triple goddess iconography, each turn of the wheel guides us through the seasons, their energies and symbolism.
Whether that movement is gauged in the cycles of annual or daily time; by the inner rhythms of our relationship to known and unknown forces; or with the four winds of the galactic overlay; each cycle builds on the first, encouraging us to grow into our sense of spirit embodied. We are holograms for the divine and its elemental origins are imprinted in our cells; with intention and practice, we come to the spiritual threshold, a place of integrity with a view to autonomy and oneness with the divine inside. This what the yogis called samadhi and what the Celts embraced as the descending energy of the divine.
“Look into the wintry northeastern sky to the Corona Borealis;
There you will see the Crown of the Goddess.
Beyond this jeweled archway into the underworld is
The Northern Castle of Initiation, Caer Sidi.
Deep in a sea of brilliant lights lies the Aurora Borealis;
There you will find Arianrhod,
Queen of the moon, the sea and the stars.
As her Silver Wheel turns the middle world past the Solstice point,
Arianrhod guides our souls into the upper world.”
In times of ascension information overload and outer world chaos, go within, into your sovereign center, invoking the energies of the Goddess through the eight spokes on the Celtic Wheel of Life.
Winter Solstice: Myths and Stories
During the season of Samhain, we began the long journey back to our origins, returning to a time before birth where we curl up in the Mother’s womb. We celebrate this return to the Mother at midwinter, the time of longest dark and shortest light. Winter is a time for inner world magic, dreaming, healing, visioning, birth, death and rebirth. It is a time when the light is born again.
On this Solstice point, or Yule, we stop for a moment, basking in the last of the Sun’s waning light and the first of the expanding light. From here we move even further inward, gathering patience and courage to go deep into stillness for a timely respite.
Inside the great womb of all earthly life, we experience sensations of safety, the murmurings of those who lie sleeping, and scents of the dank and musty soil, our earthen bones. In this container we are enveloped by darkness, accompanied only by our inner vision and our desire to grow. This is the place and the time when we rest, restoring and healing for a while, before making our way back into the light, bit by bit, as inspiration beckons, awakening us again at Imbolc on Brighid’s Day.
Si an Bhru: Newgrange, County Meath, Ireland
Along the River Boyne (Brugh na Boinne) in Ireland, Newgrange was built by the ancients long before the Celts arrived in Ireland. On the shortest day of the year, the tribes of the time celebrated as the light was reborn each Winter Solstice, shining into the cairn where they hibernated and dreamed, awaiting illumination and the return of Spring.
Arianrhod: Goddess of Winter Solstice and Queen of the Castle of Initiation
Like Sophia, Arianrhod is a mother of god. A Welsh Celtic Goddess of the moon, stars and the sky, her name means “Silver Wheel,” or “Silver Circle.” Arianrhod is the goddess of the wheel of the year, the full moon, destiny, fertility, feminine power, birth, death and reincarnation. She is the daughter of Don, whose Irish counterpart is Danu of the Tuatha De Danann. Known as a triple goddess, she has triune relationships with Blodeuwedd & Morrigu; Blodeuwedd & Cerridwen.
Some of her other identities are “virgin white goddess of birth, initiation, death & rebirth,” and the “silver wheel that descends into the sea.” Her’s is the “Castle of the Silver Wheel,” a northern revolving castle, which is sometimes referred to as the great turning island surrounded by the sea in the sky.
Astronomically speaking, Caer Arianrhod is sometimes known as the Pole Star, seen only and always in the northern skies of the Milky Way. It can be found off the tip of Ursa Major, the Big Dipper. Some say her castle is the Aurora Borealis or Milky Way and therefore, the heavens swirl around her castle. Others say that Caer Arianrhod is the constellation, Corona Borealis, or her Greek counterpart Ariadne’s Crown.
She is also the mother of the Sun and Moon, the mother aspect of a goddess triad with maiden Blodeuwedd and crone Cerridwen, and is said to be one of the five goddesses originating from the Isle of Avalon. The other four are Blodeuwedd, Cerridwen, Branwen and Rhiannon. Arianrhod is one of the many goddesses whose stories, symbology and related invocational rituals have been lost through time. Much of what we know about her now originates from the Medieval Welsh myths of “The Mabinogion.”
As the Celtic goddess of time, her Silver Wheel represents life and karma as she embodies the turning of the year on the Celtic Wheel of Life. Some of her other symbols are the cauldron-a symbol of feminine power; the white sow-signifying connection to the underworld; the northern Pole Star and the upper world where she reigns at Caer Arianrhod which is also known as Caer Sidi. She is specifically associated with the winter season because she rebirths the Sun every year at the Solstice.
Caer Sidi is known as the otherworldly tower of initiation, a place between time, where souls reside after death before their next incarnation. In some myths, Arianrhod is said to ferry a boat known as the Oar Wheel, carrying the souls of dead warriors to Emania, or Moon-land, where they would then reside until they reincarnated.
Invocation to Arianrhod
“Hail Arianrhod, we call on you now!
Your silver wheel of light is our pole star in the night. We know you are there, as we can see your crown of stars, even from our place in Earthly life.
Guide us to your castle of initiation, into the heavens to float like the moon and the stars of the upper world.
Make room for us, Mother, in the blessed warmth of your cauldron, as we stop for a season to restore and heal, to learn and resurrect ourselves alongside you, as you rebirth the Sun each year.
Hail Ariarhod, we call on you now!
We wade through the fiery winds and the rains of time to find the portal for your castle in the sky.
Carry us in your boat, singing us home as we listen to the sounds of your oars skimming across the top of the waves.
You gracefully move the boat through the gentle seas that hover in the sky, back to the Moon Land where you reign strong.
Hail Ariarhod we call on you now!
Your gifts are wings to fly, and silently we make our way through the darkness of the season, grateful as we welcome the expanding light once more.
We honor your knowing of the upper world, the underworld, and all other worlds.
Your purpose is clear and we follow you homeward, into the realms of Caer Sidi, Caer Arianrhod, the castle of initiation and rebirth.
Hail Arianrhod we call on your now!
Hail Arianrhod! We have found our way home!
Hail Arianrhod! We can rest now!
Hail Arianrhod! We lie in stillness until time comes to part the veils of winter!
Hail Arianrhod! We are restored!
Hail Arianrhod! We have remembered the magic of the Goddess inside ourselves!”