In the First branch of the Mabinogion, we are introduced to two deities: Rhiannon and Arawn; two archetypes: Pwyll and Pryderi; and one location: Annwvyn.
Pwyll - "The Fool"
The archetype of the Fool is to be understood like the Fool in the Major Arcana of the tarot. Pwyll is an “innocent” and a bit naive , blindly going about his life and constantly bumping into magic and Deity. Because of his honest, gallant nature and his best intentions, he always emerges a hero. The Fool is an optimist, never considers the repercussions of his actions, but has faith in himself and his fellow man. In the Welsh language, Pwyll means “mind”.
Pryderi - “the Mabon”
Pryderi represents the archetype of the Mabon, or the Son of the Mother (and the Son of Light) He is technically the son of the Horse Goddess (Rhiannon) and his birth is on Beltane Night. Notice his mysterious appearance in place of the foal at the house of his foster father, Tiernyon.
Annwvyn - "Beyond the Veil"
Annwvyn is the otherworld, the underworld, or in other words, the place beyond the veil. It is the home of magic. One clue that a character in the Mabinogion is about to cross the veil into the land of Annwvyn is by reference of color. Specifically white and red. While Pwyll is hunting, he notices dogs with strange coloring: “For their hair was of a brilliant shining white, and their ears were red; and as the whiteness of their bodies shone, so did the redness of their ears glisten.” This is a clue for the reader that Pwyll has crossed the veil. Other tips throughout the stories that one is about to enter Annwvyn are the hunt for a stag, and severe fog banks (as in the second story - Rhiannon's Courtship).
Remember that Annwvyn is not a geographical place on the map, it is the world of magic that lives both within and without our own world. We are always just one breath away from Annwvyn, we need only to adjust our vision and lift the Veil.
Arawn is the Lord of the Forest, and his incarnations include Gwyn ap Nudd, Herne the Hunter, and the Holly King.
In the First Branch, Rhiannon portrays the Modron, as Pryderi’s mother; she appears as the Horse Goddess at the Mound of Arberth; and as the Great Queen in her home at the palace of her father Heveydd (which is located inside Annwvyn). It is also argued that Rhiannon was the wife of Arawn in his palace, and that is where she first met and set her eyes on Pwyll.
© MoonShine, Inc. Yule, 2017