I am a High Queen and I am a horse-servant.
Rhiannon is an old Welsh Goddess of the earth and fertility, of horses and birds, Who has links to the Otherworld and Who is much featured in the Mabinogion. She finds antecedents in the British Goddess Rigatona ("Great Queen") and the continental Celtic horse Goddess Epona, Who is also linked with dogs and birds like Rhiannon.
In the later Christianized version of the tale, Rhiannon is an Otherworldy woman whose first husband was Pwyll, ("Never was there a man who made feebler use of his wits," in Rhiannon's own words) who had once done a stint as king of the Otherworld.
Their son Pryderi vanished the night of his birth while the new mother and the women sent to guard them slept. In fear of the consequences for slacking off on their duty, the serving-women smeared Rhiannon with the blood of a puppy and accused Her of murdering Her own son. Their word won over Rhiannon's own, and as punishment, She was made to sit outside the castle on a horse-block, and offer each visitor a ride on Her back for seven years. Pryderi was eventually restored to Her by his foster-father Teyrnon, who recognized the boy's resemblance to Pwyll.
She later took Manawydan (the Welsh equivalant to Manannán, the Irish sea God) as husband after Pwyll died.
Rhiannon is said to possess marvelous birds that can wake the dead or lull the living to sleep. In the Mabinogion She is intelligent and wise, and doesn't hesitate to speak Her mind.
Rhiannon is deeply associated with horses: Pwyll first sees Her riding a marvelous white horse that no one can catch; the vanished child was found by Teyrnon in place of a new-born foal; and Her punishment is to act as a horse.
This card in a reading indicates a time of trial or injustice, that, with patience and faith, will come right in the end. Misunderstandings and mis-communications or outright manipulation may be in the air, but understanding the deep roots of the situation to see the truth will help.
Alternate spellings: Riannon
Pronunciation: hree AN non
To read Her tale, go here.
This design is available on prints.