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A Story of Rhiannon

Most of the stories I know where given to me at my initiation and during the years of my training. I cannot write them or tell them to any but initiates. However, ther eis one that I may pass on.

My great-mother spoke this one to me when it was known that I would take Rhiannon as my patroness. It is given to those who seek her, men and women. There is a similar story I once found in a book, but it was much more crude and the details are all wrong. That is the only time I have ever found this story in written form. This may be the fisrt time it has ever been written as it is meant to be told.

A man lost at sea was washed up upon on an island. The island seems to be deserted and uninhabited until he finds a fount mounted on a pedistal. This relic is very old, but the water is clear and the man thirsty. He bends to drink, but stops short when he sees the reflection of a beautiful woman in the still water. He looks up and she stands before him.

She is tall and thin and frail looking, yet she radiates strength. She is dressed in a silver white gown and her silver gold hair hangs past her waist. Her age is undeterminable, but her eyes speak of ageless wisdom. Three birds attend her, fluttering about her shoulders, but never landing. The strange and enchanting woman welcomes him, leads him to a cottage and tells him he is welcome to stay as long as he wishes. She leaves him at the cottage to consume the dinner that is awaiting him on the table. Being hungry, the man set in to eat without questioning his hostess. The food is simple faire, but he notices there is no meat. Nonetheless, his needs are met, he is clothed and fed, although he never sees those who serve him.

The woman comes to visit him and after drinking too much of her wine, he pressured her to sleep with him. She refuses, but after drinking more of her wine, he persists and pesters her to sleep with him again. The woman's face "becomes like the dark moon" and she warned him that he must offer no offence to any person or animal on the island and that if he should use force on any creature there, dire consequences would follow.

The man wanders the island and meets many tame animals who appeared to be much more intelligent than any other animals he had encountered before. He often sat and visited with them and although he could not speak to them, he did feel that they where his friends, recognised him and appreciated his visits. They seemed to talk amongst each other, but he could not understand them.

The next time the woman came to visit the man he was drunk again. She sat with him, but he was abusive and grabbed her and tried to force a kiss on her. Somehow she ascaped his grasp and snapped his wrist. "I see that you are out of your head with my wine" she said."I will forgive your behavior this one time, but remember what I have said. Show only kindness to every thing living here."

The man roamed the island in a foul temper, nursing his broken wrist. He stormed and stomped and cursed his ill luck under his breath. He came upon a white rabbit that he often visited while wandering and the rabbit began to follow at his side. It's expression looked worried, but compassionate. The man did not want to be seen in such a mood and began to feel the rabbit was mocking him. In a fit of anger the man grabbed up the rabbit, snapped it's neck and threw it's body in the bush. But the rabbit changed into something else, something with gossamer wings and a long thin body and it flew away, crying as it went.

The man did not notice this, for he had only just realized that his wrist was healed. He stomped off and began to walk back to the cottage, but a storm quickly blew up and he was buffeted by rain and winds. By the time he reached the cottage and collapsed into bed he was cut, scraped, cold and soaked to the bone.

When he awoke in the morning he was no longer in the cottage, but on the beach. The shining woman stood before him. "You have killed one of my children" she told him. "I have warned you against this. Now I must send you away." "But what if I refuse to go?" he asked. "I am the Goddess Rhiannon, and this is my island. You stand on my land. You may not refuse."

With these words Rhiannon became as large as the moon and she picked the man up like a doll in her hands and she broke his legs, snaping the bones like twigs and she broke his arms, crushing the bones in her palms. She then pushed his mangled limbs into his torso and shaped him into a piece of driftwood and threw him into the sea, cursing him as the tide carried him away.

The man is found on the shore of his homeland and taken in and fed by his kind family. He has lived a hundred years now and he wishes to die, yet he shows no sign of nearing his death. His mishapen limbs are useless to him now and he cannot do more than feed himself and stagger a few steps. Even this causes him great pain. But every full moon he staggers and crawls out to the garden, where he looks at the moon's reflection in the well and he cries and cries, his tears making ripples in the still, clear waters of the well.

May the Moon dance in your shadow,
- Ashley
Child of Rhiannon
December 8, 1993
(posted on Usenet group alt.pagan)

 

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