Ancient Mysteries of the Skies: The Girdle of Arianrhod


Unraveling some of the mysteries of our culture has had all of us stumped. The name, Arianrhod, is Welsh from the word arian "silver" and rhod "wheel." The Proto-Celtic word would be Arganto-Rota. The silver wheel. Even saying it sounds like some myth. The Mabinogian is what is left of a body of Welsh myths. Arianrhod also has a castle, for which she is named. Some have speculated that Caer Arianrhod is the Corona Borealis, the Moon, or the circumpolar stars. Arianrhod is a weaver and a calendar goddess, a riddler and a fate goddess. This leads to other speculation, but I draw you back to the myths of the snake and the image of the Water Bearer, which used to be Gula, who was also a weaver/spinner. Spinning is associated with the wheel. In Viking mythology, Frygg is the same goddess and her rokr, or spindle is said to be the stars or the galaxy and was the old constellation of Orion. The belt was her spindle.

Over and over, we see some images coming together in mythology: a white or silver goddess who spins, who is associated with night, the moon and stars, a spindle or a wheel, and some kind of creation myth as well as myths of riddling and independence, as well as judgement, ambivalence, fate and gambling. Heroes run into her all the time. This goddess fascinated Robert Graves, but he got her confused with the other white goddess of death and sex, the Baba Yaga and the Aphordite, rather than the Athena goddesses. This is Ma'at of Egypt, not Isis. Bridget is a closer representation despite her association with fire, she also rules the winter at Imbolc, which is now associated with Aquarius, our Water Bearer, or Gula. If we look at the ancient calendar again, we see that Gula, or the water-bearing goddess of spinning and fate ruled the winter solstice, while her counterpart, the roaring sun of Asharte, full of sex, life, children, fruit, heat and hunger, ruled the summer.

I want you to imagine being in an older world. One of the things that everyone notices right away when out in the country is the brightness of the stars. The next thing that notice is that the Milky Way is very visible and dominates the sky.

Here is a picture, compliments of my astronomy program called Stargazer. You can see here the Milky Way as it stretches across the sky from east to west. And below, the Milky Way again, almost the same stars, but a different orientation. The Milky way is looking at the spiral of our galaxy edge on. The difference you see here is due to the angle of the Earth

In this next image, which I call "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" you can see what is meant by this mysterious story title. See the sun having just set in the west and the moon rising in the east and what is in the middle? A bridge of stars, a belt of stars, a river of stars, or so the galaxy has been called. It is also a way of milk, which is the meaning of the word "galaxy." This was also known as the bridge or river or road of the dead, which were birds flying or stars.

If you will look at these two images, you see a great difference, for the Way is north-south, not east-west. They were taken at opposite days of the year, so you can see that one is the reverse of the other

However, in this image, the Way is taken at different times of night. First we see the East of the Sun, West of the Moon bridge, and then we see two images during an eclipse of the moon, but look what happens at moonset.

When I first saw this image, I did not believe it. How could the spiral arm become a circle around the sky? And yet, it does. What is even more interesting is that this girdling effect is no longer visible at our latitudes. It was visible at the latitude of Stonehenge in about 2500 and then in Classical Greece about the time of the great astronomers there. It is now visible at about 20 degrees north latitude. I think that the wheel of Arianrhod or the girdle or the skein of thread starts appearing to be a very clear myth about the Galaxy.