Family & Other Connections
Sister to Gwydion, Gilfaethwy and Caswallon, and assumed to be the daughter of the mother Goddess Dôn.
Niece to Math fab Mathonwy.
Information & Stories
Math, Arianrhod’s uncle, is cursed so that unless his feet rest in the lap of a virgin while he is not at war, he will die. When Arianrhod is suggested to hold his feet she must step over his magician’s rod to prove her virginity, as she has been seen spending time with both men and mermen. When she does this she immediately gives birth to two babies.
The second is named Dylan Ail Don, or “Dylan the Second Wave”. He is a water spirit, and as he is baptised he escapes and plunges into the ocean, immediately taking on the form of a sea creature and swimming away.
The first child born was more a kind of entity than a baby, and was taken away by Gwydion and hidden in a chest at the foot of his bed. This creature grows more rapidly than any normal child, and when he is four years old – and the size of an eight year old – Gwydion takes him to see his mother.
Arianrhod is still upset at her humiliation, and places a tynged or curse upon the boy that he shall never have a name unless she gives him one. Gwydion takes the boy away and disguises them both as shoemakers. They return to fit shoes for Arianrhod and she watches as the child kills a wren with a single thrown stone. She remarks ‘the bright one struck with a deft hand’, and Gwydion exultantly cries, ‘Lleu Llaw Gyffes (“bright, with a deft hand”) will be his name then’.
Angered at being tricked, Arianrhod places another tynged upon Lleu, that he shall never bear arms unless she arms him. Gwydion and Lleu leave, and return after a few years, disguised as bards. When Arianrhod’s court are asleep Gwydion conjures a fleet of warships, and on waking Arianrhod gives them arms so they can help her fight. Her second tynged is then broken, and when Gwydion reveals this Arianrhod places a final tynged on Lleu – that he shall never take a wife from any race that is on the Earth. Gwydion and Math break Arianrhod’s final curse by creating Blodeuwedd (“Flower Face”) from oak blosson, meadowsweet and broom.
Arianrhod is associated with fate and the turning of the wheel, as well as motherhood, fertility, reincarnation, and sovereignty.
Other sources note Arianrhod’s family differently; her father is said to be Beli Mawr, and her brother Caswallawn. Also, some sources give Gwydion as father to Arianrhod’s sons.