Or, Rhiannon, Welsh Goddess of the Moon, Faeries, and Inspiration.
OK, so I can only read a few odd words and street signs in Welsh. Google Translate is my friend. But it is the one place that I actually feel like it's home, and I plan on going there in the lifetime that life and funds allow. That's just it, isn't it? Life. I have dreams, plans, and goals, and every time I think that I'm getting close to actually accomplishing something that will give me a step higher, life gets in the way and kicks me down. It happens to a lot of us. Some people just wallow in self pity, and fall further down, never trying to fix what could be an opportunity for a different path. Some of us can pick up, dust off, and just carry on.
I try to be one of these people, as difficult as it can be, that dusts off and carries on. I've had failed relationships and marriages, one of the marriages ended in a very ugly way with my boys deciding to live with him and not speak to me. I've been classed as homeless a couple of times, including sleeping in a car in a car park on a North Sea beach at the beginning of winter. Each time something happens, I push through the biggest part of my broken heart, because if I don't carry on, who will do it for me? Especially now that it's just me and the Imp, my 3 1/2 year old daughter.
I draw my biggest inspiration from my patron goddess, Rhiannon. I was drawn to her from the beginning of my path as a Pagan, and she has steadfastly remained by my side as my strength and comfort. I was called to her before I even knew that Wales was a country-principality in its own right (I emigrated from Indiana to England over a decade ago. I've been a declared Pagan for longer than that). She was supposed to marry an immortal like herself, but instead she chose to marry a mortal prince, and in joining him, the faery world was closed to her. After the birth of her son, the servants that were supposed to be watching over him after the birth, in order to allow the new mother to heal. One evening they all fell asleep and woke to find the baby gone. So they wouldn't be punished, they killed a puppy and spread its blood on Rhiannon and scattered the bones, to make it seem like she had eaten her own child. In his grief and anger, Rhiannon's husband sentenced her to wear a heavy horse collar at the castle gate, to great visitors, tell them of her criminal story, and carry them on her back to the castle. Because of respect for her humility and grace, very few took up her offer to be carried. A few years later, a farmer and his wife arrived. In the middle of a storm, he found an infant crying in the middle of a field. He and his wife took in the child, and when the story of Rhiannon reached them, they realised that the child belonged to her and sought to return him. Her husband, Pwyll, returned her to her place of honour at his side, and Rhiannon, in seeing that her husband and the people were ashamed, forgave them, understanding why their beliefs had been misplaced.
When anything goes dramatically wrong in my own life, I think to the story of Rhiannon. She held fast through her burdens, and when things got better she didn't continue to weigh down her heart. It is a very difficult thing, at times, especially when people persist in reminding me of the worst that has happened, when they think that I should remain bitter and grieving. I personally can't carry on for too long in a constant state of grief. Too long of that carrying on makes my physical health decline. That's not good for me, and not good for the Imp. I've found that the best thing for us is for me to get up and carry on. I do find it difficult to not hold a grudge, and I fully admit that there's two that I still strongly hold. But I have yet to be given a reason to forgive those two people because I'm still tormented on a regular basis by the consequences of their actions.
Stevie Nicks, in 1976, performed my most thought-provoking song for the first time:
Yes, she was singing about a Welsh witch, and the lyrics are quite simple, but it regularly brings the images of my Goddess to me, with the metaphorical use of some of her symbolism, of songbirds (she's also represented regularly by horses and dragons) and birds in flight. Though the wings of a bird is a very delicate system, there is great strength that allows them to fly in even the strongest of winds. A bird does everything with their whole heart, as Rhiannon survived everything by the strength and courage of her heart. And I will carry on doing the same, and teach my daughter to do the same.
Topsy-Turvy of the Mischievous Heathen
"Celtic Myth and Magick" by Edain McCoy, Llewellyn Publications (1995)
This was originally posted on 12/07/11 over at The Pagan Mom Blog