The Celtic Empire at its peak stretched from Eastern Europe all the way to England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Many of the regions and tribes within the Celtic Empire had their own pantheon of gods and goddesses, while some of these deities were worshiped widely. This article focuses solely on the Welsh Celtic Goddesses and Gods but is by no means an all-inclusive list.
The Welsh Celts were a proud group of people – their gods and goddesses reflected their beliefs and values. Some of the Welsh goddesses and gods are also found in the English, Scottish and Irish Celtic pantheons. This is because as people traveled or conquered neighboring peoples, they brought their deities with them.
Aeronwen is thought to be the same goddess as Agrona, a war goddess whose name means “carnage”. She is a Welsh Goddess of fate – determining who wins and loses in battle. The River Dee is dedicated to Aeronwen and is where sacrifices were made in her name. There is also speculation that Aeronwen is the Welsh version of the Irish warrior goddess The Morrigan. Aeronwen is associated with the color black, the number 3, and the battlefield.
Arianrhod is one of the more well-known Welsh Goddesses, though there isn’t a whole lot of information on her from the past. Her name means “Silver Wheel” which refers to the moon. Because of this, she’s regarded as a lunar goddess – associated with the moon and women. This Welsh Goddess is mentioned in the fourth branch of the Mabinogi as a mother of twin boys – Dylan ail Don and Lleu Llaw Gyffes. She is the daughter of the Great Goddess Don.
Blodeuwedd is a Welsh Celtic Goddess that takes the form of an Owl. She is the wife of Lleu Llaw Gyffes (son of Arianrhod), and she was created from three things: meadowsweet flowers, broom, and oak by Gwydion (Arianrhod’s brother). The tales of Blodeuwedd paint her as a cheater and traitor to her own husband, as she takes on a lover and plots to kill her husband with him.
In Judika Iles’ Encyclopedia of Spirits, she is referred to as the Welsh equivalent of Delilah (the woman who betrays Samson in the Old Testament). In modern times, many pagans see Blodeuwedd as a protector of women who are forced into betrothal. She brings these women aid when they want to choose their own lover OR to remain single. When she appears, she takes the form of an owl.
This Welsh Goddess is the sister to Manawydan and Bran, as well as the daughter of Llyr. Branwen is known for her great beauty. In the Mabinogi, Branwen marries into an abusive relationship and is then rescued by her brothers. The battle results in pure destruction and only pregnant women survive in Wales. Branwen dies from a broken heart because of all the death she’s caused. She is a protector of abused women, and also a goddess of true love and healthy marriage.
A period of the Bronze Age is named after her – Bedd Branwen Period (1650-1400 B.C.). There is a ruined grave on the Alaw Riverbanks that is Branwen’s resting place. Archaeologists found two urns with human remains there; it is theorized Branwen was an actual person during the Bronze Age.
Cerridwen is a beloved Welsh goddess to neo-pagans and witches today. She is a “keeper of the cauldron of knowledge, a witch, herbalist and shape-shifting lunar deity” according to Judika Iles in the Encyclopedia of Spirits. The Book of Taliesin speaks of Cerridwen and her cauldron of transformation. Cerridwen married a giant named Tegidfoel and had two children – a daughter Crearwy and a son Afagddu. Cerridwen knows all forms of magic and wisdom – she brewed a potion that could grant her son all-encompassing knowledge. The color white belongs to her and her sacred animal is the pig.
Not a whole lot is known of the Welsh Celtic Goddess named Modron. She is the Great Mother of the Divine Child Mabon, and is linked to the Autumnal Equinox (aka Mabon). Modron may be the same Goddess as Rhiannon, as their stories are similar (children stolen from them in the night to be returned to them later after much suffering).
Perhaps one of my favorite Welsh Celtic Goddesses is the horse-goddess Rhiannon. She is talked of at length in the Mabinogi, as well as in other Welsh mythology. Some say she came from the land of the fae, and was a princess before being taken as a wife for the Welsh hero Pwyll. Hers is a tragic story – she gives birth to a son who is stolen from her when he is a baby. She is blamed for the disappearance of the babe and suffers a brutal punishment until her son returns as a grown man. She bears her punishment proudly and humbly and her strength is therefore an inspiration to women.
Rhiannon is associated with horses, and she is sometimes said to be the same goddess as the Celtic horse-goddess Epona. Birds are also her friends. She is now looked upon as a goddess of true love, motherhood, divination, strength, abundance, and happy marriages. Learn more about how to work with Rhiannon in this article.
This Welsh Celtic god is spoken of in the Mabinogi as being the king of Annwn (the Welsh Celtic Otherworld). He switched bodies with Pwyll in order to be paid for a “misdeed” by Pwyll. It is also said that these two become friends towards the end of their entanglement. As Christianity took over Wales and pushed out the old ways, Arawn was no longer considered a god but rode the skies with other spirits as part of the Wild Hunt. Arawn is seen particularly on the eves of saints’ feasts as well as on Yule (Winter Solstice) night.
Bran was a Celtic god believed to have originated in Wales. His name translates to “raven”. Some believe Bran began as a giant, a hero and a king, then deified after his death. Legends also say he was a son of the powerful sea god Lyr. He was a brother to Branwen and Manawydan. After a brutal battle, Bran was killed and told his brothers to cut off his head and return it to his kingdom. His head talked to his brothers until they placed it in a hill that’s now where the Tower of London sits, facing France so as to ward off any future dangers. The ravens that guard the Tower of London are Bran’s, and the story goes, if they were to ever leave the Tower – England would fall. You can read more of Bran’s story in the Mabinogion.
Hafgan is the rival of Arawn, and he too is a king of the Welsh Celtic Otherworld. When Arawn switches places with Pwyll, he asks Pwyll to kill Hafgan. And of course, Pwyll is able to defeat Hafgan and then Arawn takes over…uniting both kingdoms into one in the Otherworld.
The name of this Welsh god is also the name of a modern pagan holiday celebrating the Autumnal Equinox. He has also been called The Boy, The Young Man and the Son of Modron. To put it simply, Mabon was and is seen as a “Divine Child” and as such his legend is found in the Welsh tale “Culhwch and Olwen”. Mabon was stolen from Modron when he was only three days old but then eventually rescued by King Arthur’s men. He is both one of the youngest and oldest souls, making his life a paradox. This balance is celebrated at the Autumnal Equinox, as the light and dark are at an equal stasis. Mabon was a hunter spirit with a magical horse and hound. He is a god of the forest and protects and frees wild animals. Two things we know for sure – he is an ancient Celtic god and he was the son of Modron (the Great Mother).
Perhaps best known as the Welsh Celtic Goddess Rhiannon’s husband, Manawydan is a son of the sea god Llyr, and he is a brother to Bran and Branwen. He may be the same god as the Isle of Man’s sea god – Manannan Mac Lyr. Manawydan is one of the gods who takes Bran’s head to the mound under the Tower of London. He is a Welsh Celtic God that is spoken of in two branches of the Mabinogi, and rescues his wife Rhiannon from an evil curse in the third branch. We could assume that he is a god of the sea; however, there is no text or archaeological evidence supporting this assumption. In some Arthurian legends, he is a knight of King Arthur’s.
Now that you’ve learned about the Welsh goddesses and gods, you might be wondering how to work with them in your practice or how to simply bring their energy into your life. Research and study are the first ways to connect with the Welsh Celtic pantheon. From there, here are some suggestions for each Welsh Celtic deity:
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