Rhiannon comes to me in my dreams.
She ebbs and flows like the waxing and waning
of the moon.
clop, clop, clop
and then, in a rush of beating wings
leaving a swirl of tiny white petals that spiral like stars.
Each night her story is revealed to me
in ever-growing layers that
that echo my own
joy and pain
and loss and gain,
until I realize that
her story is my story, and my story is hers.
She tantalized Pwyll
as I once tempted my first lovers,
and invites him into her bed
to open herself
in an agony of passionate joy.
Her jealous maids
smear blood on her skin
and their faces are all the
women in my life who ever
deceived or rejected me.
Her longing for her missing son
is my own gut-wrenching pain
at the loss of my son and grandson
who have been so long estranged from me.
Her love for Manawydan,
tastes as full and mature
as a red wine
I drink to celebrate my second marriage.
Night after night,
we uncover new depths to her story.
Together we unpack her burdens
to reveal the lessons and find the truths
I need to lean on as I travel forward.
She teaches me
to listen the stories of my children
when they tell me
how hard it is to live in such an uncertain world.
I realize how important it is for them to
travel their own path
and not be saddled by the regrets and needs
of the elders who have harmed them.
She shows me how to shoulder
the burden of my aging beloveds.
I learn ways to honour their stories of love and loss
and help them understand the value of their wisdom.
She helps me find the strength I need
to bear the challenges of my own aging.
And then one night,
she reaches down and grasps my hand.
She pulls me up on to her horse
and together we fly
across the emerald fields
and rolling velvet hills of my ancestors.
I hear the rush of wind in trees
and feel the cool water of
mountain lakes and rivers.
Together we tumble deep into the earth
to drink from underground aquifers
and listen to the hidden messages of the mycelium.
And I realize that though her story is my story
and my story is hers,
the only truth I need to understand
is my own.
This poem is dedicated with gratitude to my “Women in the Mabinogi” writing group — cherished companions traveling together to explore some of the deeper stories of the many women who are often only briefly mentioned in the Welsh Mabinogi.
Rhiannon is a Celtic Sovereignty Goddess who appears in the First and Third Branches of the Welsh Mabinogi. She has been associated with Epona, who was worshipped by the Celts of Gaul and Britain. In recent times, Rhiannon has been adopted by modern pagans as a Goddess associated with horses and birds and of transformation.
Rhiannon’s appearance and disappearance to Pwyll as she rides her pale white horse at the very beginning of the Mabinogi reminds me of the ebb and flow of the moon and of our monthly menstrual cycle and I have found that she often cycles in and out of my own dreams. She has helped me understand my life experiences and is teaching me lessons that will help me as I move forward in my life.
This poem is dedicated with gratitude for the work of my teachers Gwilym Morus and Kris Hughes and a small group of fellow students who have come together to explore some of the deeper stories of the many women who are often only briefly mentioned in the Welsh Mabinogi.
This magical song written and performed by Gwilym Morus perfectly captures the ebbing and flowing of Rhiannon’s visits to my dreams. More of his enchanting music can be found here.
Sioned Davies, The Mabinogion: A New Translation. Oxford World’s Classics, 2007
Judith Shaw, Rhiannon, Goddess of Birds and Horses. FAR, March 13, 2013
Jhenah Telyndru, Pagan Portals – Rhiannon: Divine Queen of the Celtic Britons. Moon Books, 2018.
BIO: Diane Finkle Perazzo is a writer, editor, poet and Reclaiming eco witch who lives in Ottawa Canada — unceded original territory of the Algonquin, St Lawrence Iroquoian and Anishinabewaki, (ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᒃ) people. For many years Diane has written and edited resources to enhance wellness and improve health equity for those at risk of physical and mental health challenges. As she eases into her crone years, her writing has become more focused on crafting words that strive to echo the magical and mythic voices of the living land and her beings. More of her poetry and stories can be found at www.dianeperazzo.com.
3 thoughts on “Rhiannon by Diane Finkle Perazzo”
Thanks, Diane, for an inspiring post. I love exploring (lesser-known women in) old stories for how they are relevant to our lives today.
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Thank you for this wonderful poem and sharing this new look at Rhiannon. I had always puzzled over her story and what it might mean to us today, and now I feel as if I have a much deeper understanding of its many layers. I can feel your connection to her through your words, which really brings her to life!
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Oh this is just beautiful this merging with myth and dreaming storied lives that we live – thank you
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