The Goddess Way: Ancient Stories for Modern Hearts

Judith Shaw both paints and writes about the Goddess, great symbol of life, death and the natural world. For the past few years she has focused on the Celtic Goddesses, whose stories are explored here in The Goddess Way.

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Blodeuwedd, Flower Goddess

Blodeuwedd, known as the Ninefold Goddess of the Western Isles of Paradise, was a goddess like no other in the manner of her birth. She is one of the main figures in the Mabinogion, the Welsh cycle of stories of the early Celtic Goddesses and Gods.

Divinatory Meaning

Beauty, relationship, hope, innocence, loss of innocence. Claim your own power. Maintain your inner strength and resolve. Resist the pressures and expectations of the world as you forge your own path and determine our own fate.

Her Story

To make sense of Blodeuwedd, her short life, her actions, and her transformation we must look back to the story of Arianrhod, Celtic Sky Goddess. Blodeuwedd was created by the magician Gwydion, Arianrhod’s brother, in an attempt to break the third curse Arianrhod had laid on their son Llew. That curse - “the boy shall have no wife of the race that is now on the earth” - was more difficult to break than the first two. See Arianrhod’s story to understand why she placed three curses on her son. 

To become king Llew had to marry a woman, a goddess, a representative of the land. Gwydion, with King Math’s help, created a woman out of flowers to be Llew’s wife.  What better representation of the land than a woman made of nine different flowers -  blossoms of oak, meadowsweet, broom, cockle, bean, nettle, chestnut, primrose, and hawthorn. She was named, Blodeuwedd, meaning “Flower Face.” She was the earth in full bloom, making Llew’s sovereignty legitimate and imbued with the ability to continually heal and renew him

So Blodeuwedd was born a full grown woman, beautiful and passive. She was created for the purpose of becoming Llew’s wife. It was expected that she would accept this role without question. And so she did… at first. Until the day when she was alone with her ladies and first laid eyes on Gronw, a handsome huntsman. Her heart quickened and her first, sovereign desire awakened. Grown’s heart quickened also; their fate was sealed. 

Now she could no longer accept the destiny that others had laid on her.  Now she had a mind and a heart of her own. But she was trapped in a marriage to a man she did not love.  

Out of desperation she and Gronw plotted Llew’s death, for what other way could she ever be free of him. Yet this was a difficult task to accomplish as Llew, like many Celtic heroes, had magic surrounding how he could be killed. Llew could not be killed indoors or out, on horse or on foot, and the spearhead used to kill him had to be made during sacred time. 

These conditions were secret. Gronw urged Blodeuwedd to discover Llew’s secret so that he could kill him, thus freeing them to follow their love. Blodeuweed, using guile as many powerless woman have done, pretended to be worried about Llew’s possible death. She persuaded him to tell her the conditions which she shared with Gronw. 

She then persuaded Llew to actually show her the circumstances. To put her fears to rest he showed her the strange, improbable conditions.   

Llew, with Blodeuwedd’s help, prepared a bath by the side of a river which was covered with a thatched roof, thus being neither indoors nor out. Then Llew put one foot on the edge of the bath and the other on the back of the goat, thus being neither on horse nor on foot. Gronw was hiding, ready to act.  He threw the sacred spear he had prepared, hitting Llew in the side, who immediately turned into an eagle and flew away.   

Blodeuwedd and Gronw ran off together. Soon Gwydion found Llew and nursed him back to health. Blodeuwedd’s supposed treachery created the conditions in which Llew could experience ritual death and rebirth, further legitimizing his kingship. 

When he found the lovers he killed Gronw. But Gwydion couldn’t bring himself to kill Blodeuweed, his own creation. He turned her into an owl. Blodeuwedd, in her short life, went from an innocent, meek wife to a women of passion and action and finally into a solitary night predator. She became a Goddess of Life and Death. 

Though Blodeuwedd was created by men to fulfill their own need, to assure Llew’s right to rule the land, she ultimately awakened to herself, to her own desire, to her own fate. Storytellers have judged her harshly, calling her the epitome of feminine passivity, the ultimate betrayer; the fickle and faithless wife. Her story can be seen as one of reclaiming her own power, of determining her own fate. 

Blodeuwedd helps us leave behind the innocence and passivity of our youth. She blazes the path, through pain and suffering, to connection with the powerful Divine Feminine, which always holds life in one hand and death in the other. 

Judith's deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle cards with guidebook is now available.  Let the Wisdom of the Goddess by your guide. Order yours here

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Judith Shaw, a New Orleans native and graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, has always been interested in myth, culture and mysticism. Her work, inspired by the goddess, nature and sacred geometry, combines whimsy and the esoteric - whimsical tree paintings which often look like women dancing are intertwined with esoteric symbols such as those found in sacred geometry. After graduation, while living in Greece, the Goddess first appeared in her artwork. The Divine Feminine, in all of Her manifestations in this world, continues to inspire Judith.    Judith has also lived in Mexico and visited France, Italy, Turkey, China, Guatemala, and Jamaica. She now lives in Albuquerque where she divides her time between painting, writing, yoga, gardening, bee keeping, and hanging out with friends and family.  She is putting the final touches on a deck of Celtic Goddess cards which will be published soon.  


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