Welsh Mythology

The Gods and Spirits of Wales


Welsh Horse Goddess

Horse Goddess of Death

Accursed mother of Pryderi. Having been promised by her father to a gent called Gwawl she was not happy, and opted for Pwyll. This caused the laying on of a curse by the rejected suitor, and the abduction of her child, leaving her open to accusations of murder.

After seven years of living hell, Pryderi was restored to the bosom of his family and Rhiannon sighed with relief. She sighed with even more relief when Pwyll died because it left her free to marry someone a little more caring. With her son’s full approval she chose Manawydan.

But at the wedding feast, a mysterious mist came down. When it cleared, it had cleared off with everything. Only Rhiannon, her new hubby, her son Pryderi and his wife Cigfa were left standing on desolate land. They struggled to stay alive and survive, but the land was barren, and they trekked to England like beggars.

Pry and Man managed to retain their pride and took jobs in the leather industry. Ever resourceful, the two couples pulled together and were soon successful freelance leatherworkers. But just as they were beginning to thrive, they were driven out by the jealousy of local workers who could not compete.

As a few years had passed, they decided to return to Wales to see if the situation had improved. The curse however was still at work. Now Rhiannon and Pryderi vanished, having been turned into horses and spirited away to do donkey work. The remaining two had no idea about this and after fruitless searching had to struggle on alone. Manawydan refused to be beaten, and managed to cultivate some land and grow a wheat crop. Before they could reap any benefit the fields were stripped by legions of mice.

Manawydan was so angry he caught one and was going to execute it by hanging. A passing stranger was most upset and pleaded for the life of the mouse. You can imagine the answer he got. But the stranger begged and promised him absolutely anything he wanted to keep the mouse from the scaffold. So Manawydan thought about this and asked for his wife and son. And suddenly there they were.

The stranger then confessed to being Llwyd the magician. It turned out his friend Gnawl had put him up to the whole cursing thing. ‘We was just jokin’ like — didn’t mean no harm really isn’t it? Didn’t want no killin’ like. This mouse is my missus really. Anyway it was all really Pwyll’s fault, look you. Now you got your missus back and I got my missus back. Fair’s fair isn’t it?’

Evenrtually Rhiannon, who started off as human, became regarded as an eerie horse goddess modelled on Epona. We are still trying to work that one out. How the Gods laughed. They do like a good joke.

Rhiannon Facts and Figures

Name: Rhiannon
Pronunciation: Coming soon
Alternative names:

Gender: Female
Type: Goddess
Celebration or Feast Day: Unknown at present

In charge of: Horses
Area of expertise: Horses

Good/Evil Rating: OKAY, not bad
Popularity index: 17258

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Article last revised on May 23, 2019 by Rowan Allen.
Editors: Peter J. Allen, Chas Saunders

References: Coming soon.

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