Goddess Branwen


Branwen is a Welsh goddess of love and beauty. 

Branwen, one of Avalon's five goddesses, means "White Raven" or "White Breasted." 

  • She is a Maiden goddess of springtime, inspiration, and sovereignty. 
  • Branwen, the sea's daughter, frees abused women from servitude and gives them a fresh start. 

She is the epitome of energy and independence. 

  • Branwen is believed to represent Venus, or the morning star, since she is shown as a lovely young lady. 
  • Her emblems include all birds and the waxing moon.

Branwen, Daughter of Llyr is a major character in the Second Branch of the Mabinogi, which is sometimes called the "Mabinogi of Branwen" after her. 

Branwen is a daughter of Llŷr and Penarddun. 

She is married to Matholwch, King of Ireland, but the marriage does not bring peace. 

The story opens with Branwen's brother, Bran the Blessed, giant and King of Britain, sitting on a rock by the sea at Harlech and seeing the vessels of Matholwch, King of Ireland, approaching. 

Matholwch has come to ask for the hand of Branwen in marriage. 

Bran agrees to this, and a feast is held to celebrate the betrothal. 

During the feast, Efnysien, a half-brother of Branwen and Bran, arrives at the stables and asks of the nature of the celebration. 

On being told, he is furious that his half sister has been given in marriage without his consent, and flying into a rage he mutilates the horses belonging to the Irish. 

Matholwch is deeply offended, but conciliated by Bran, who gives him a magical cauldron which can bring the dead to life; he does not know that when the dead are brought back, they will be mute and deaf. 

When Matholwch returns to Ireland with his new bride, he consults with his nobles about the occurrences in the Isle of the Mighty. 

They are outraged and believe that Matholwch was not compensated enough for the mutilation of his horses. 

In order to redeem his honor, Matholwch banishes Branwen to work in the kitchens. 

Branwen is treated cruelly by her husband Matholwch as punishment for Efnysien's mutilation of the horses, though not before she gives birth to an heir, Gwern. 

She tames a starling and sends it across the Irish Sea with a message to her brother and Brân brings a force from Wales to Ireland to rescue her. 

Some swineherds see the giant Bran wading the sea and report this to Matholwch, who retreats beyond a river and destroys the bridges. 

However, Brân lays himself down over the river to serve as a bridge for his men, he said ("He would be a leader, let him be a bridge"). 

Matholwch, fearing war, tries to reconcile with Bran by building a house big enough for him to fit into in order to do him honour. 

Matholwch agrees to give the kingdom to Gwern, his son by Branwen, to pacify Bran. 

The Irish lords do not like the idea, and many hide themselves in flour bags tied to the pillars of the huge, newly built house to attack the Welsh. 

Efnysien, inspecting the house prior to the arrival of Bran and his men, uncovers the men hidden in the bags and kills them all by crushing their heads one by one. 

At the subsequent feast to celebrate Gwern's investiture as King of Ireland, Efnysien, in an unprovoked moment of rage, throws his nephew Gwern into the fire. 

This causes chaos between the two countries, and they start fighting each other. 

The Irish forces at first appear to be losing, but by resurrecting their dead soldiers using the magical cauldron begin to win the battle. 

However, Efnisien sees what he has done, and regrets it. 

Disguised as a dead Irish soldier he is thrown into the magical cauldron, and pushes against its walls so that it breaks into four pieces. 

Efnisien dies in the attempt. 

The war is still extremely bloody, and leaves no survivors except for Branwen, Bran, and seven Welsh soldiers. 

They sail home to Wales. 

Upon reaching Wales, they realize that Bran has been hit by a poisoned arrow to his leg, and he dies. 

Branwen, overwhelmed with grief for everyone she has lost, dies of a broken heart. 

In the ensuing war, all the Irish are killed save for five pregnant women who lived in Wales who repopulate the island, while only seven of the Welsh survive to return home with Branwen, taking with them the severed head of Bendigeidfran. 

On landing in Wales at Aber Alaw in Anglesey, Branwen dies of grief that so much destruction had been caused on her account, crying, Oi, a fab Duw! Gwae fi o'm genedigaeth. 

Da o ddwy ynys a ddiffeithwyd o'm hachos i!, "Oh Son of God, woe to me that I was born! Two fair islands have been laid waste because of me!" She was buried beside the Afon Alaw. 

Brân had commanded his men to cut off his head and to "bear it even unto the White Mount, in London, and bury it there, with the face towards France." And so for seven years, his men spent feasting in Harlech, accompanied by three singing birds and Brân's head. 

After the seven years they go to Gwales in Penfro, where they remain for eighty years. 

Eventually, they go to London and bury the head of Brân in the White Mount. 

Legend said that as long as the head was there, no invasion would come over the sea to Britain. 

At Llanddeusant, Anglesey on the banks of the Alaw can be found the cairn called Bedd Branwen, her supposed grave. 

Now in ruins, it still has one standing stone. 

It was dug up in 1800, and again in the 1960s by Frances Lynch, who found several urns with human ashes. 

It is believed that if the story of Branwen is based on real events, these must have taken place during the Bedd Branwen Period of Bronze Age British history. 

Branwen, Goddess of Love and Beauty, daughter of Penardim and Llyr, sister of Bran the Blessed, King over all the Island of the Mighty, was loved by her people for her gentleness, compassion and beauty. 

As Mother of the king to come in the tradition of the Old Tribes of the British Isles, she is the embodiment of Sovereignty. 

She is the Center from which all life emerges. 

She rules over the Land, both its spirit and its manifestation. 

Her vision is long, seeing the whole, the greater scheme of things. 

Sometimes this knowledge can be too much to bear. 

Branwen (“white raven”), is most likely an ancient Goddess whose sacred spot is Cadair Bronwen (Branwen’s Seat), a mountain peak in the Berwyn range of Wales. 

Cadair Bronwen is topped with a cairn that resembles a nipple from afar. 

Branwen’s story falls within the category of the ‘Slandered Wife’. 

Parallels can be drawn with the story of Rhiannon from the first branch of the Mabinogion, in that both Goddesses are falsely accused and suffer persecution after their marriages to men from a world different than their own. 

These types of tales are numerous in a time when the old way of feminine autonomy and sovereignty was giving way to a male-dominated world. 

We first meet Branwen on the day that the Irish King, Matholuch, came to call. 

His fleet arrived on the shores of Wales with a great shield pointing outwards as a token of peace. 

He called out to Bran that he had come to ask for the hand of Branwen in marriage. 

Bran was very surprised as never before had a woman of the old tribes, much less She who would give birth to the next king, left her people to marry a foreigner. 

Nonetheless, Matholuch was invited ashore and Branwen was called for. 

She arrived in all her raven-haired, white-breasted beauty. 

She blushed deeply upon seeing Matholuch, tall and handsome with golden-red hair shimmering around him. 

His face lit up with joy and desire when he saw Her. 

A feast was prepared and the two, the Goddess and the King, spent the evening in conversation as they fell in love with one another. 

Though Branwen dreaded the thought of leaving Her people, She was in the grip of first love and She knew that she had to go with him. 

Matholuch was also in the heat of first love, but he never lost sight that She was the gateway into the world of kings to come. 

In his mind their son would rule both Ireland and the British Isles. 

Manawyddan was not in favor of their union, but he acquiesced to their brother the King’s decision – since Branwen wanted to go with Matholuch, it would be so. 

Her other brother, Nissyen also said nothing against the marriage. 

The marriage feast and consummation were held at Aberffraw. 

For many days after, the men of Ireland and Wales hunted together in celebration. 

Night after night Branwen and Matholuch shared the fire of their growing love. 

But Nissyen’s twin, Evnissyen, who was best at stirring up trouble, had been absent during all this time. 

When he learned of the marriage, he was angry to have been left out of the decision-making. 

In his anger he maimed the Irish horses in a terrible manner. 

Evnissyen’s act of terror caused an uproar and threatened war between the two peoples. 

The Irish marched off to their ships, stoney-faced with anger. 

Deep in the hearts of Bran and his brothers, they knew that the only true atonement would be the death of Evnissyen in retribution for the Irish loss. 

But this they could not do as it violated the very essence of the way of the Old Tribes. 

So instead, Bran called to Matholuch to return and accept a face-price such as had never been offered before. 

The two kings, with Branwen at their sides and their people all around, came together again to settle the matter. 

Seeing that Matholuch was still uneasy, Bran offered yet another boone to his face-price, the cauldron of rebirth. 

Any man who is killed can be thrown into this cauldron and will emerge to fight again. 

Bran the Blessed warned Matholuch that a wise king would not use this cauldron as these unearthly beings can do nothing but fight. 

Ultimately they could be a worse fate to deal with than the enemy on the battlefield. 

And so it was settled and Branwen sailed to Ireland with her man. 

The people were dazzled by Her beauty and charm. 

They were happy for a few years. 

Soon their son, Gwern, was born. 

Matholuch felt sure his plan for his son to become king after him was well underway. 

Never before had a king’s son become the next king in Ireland. 

In the Old Ways it was decided by Druidic visions; the New Tribes decided kingship by violence. 

Up to this point, news of the maiming of the Irish horses had not reached the ears of the Irish people as the High Druid had placed a “gessa” on them that forbade them to speak of the incident. 

But the High Druid died when Gwern was a baby and men’s tongues loosened with news of the insult. 

The Irish were furious, blaming Matholuch for not getting blood vengeance. 

Ultimately they demanded that the King put Branwen aside and punish Her for Her brother’s sin. 

And he, coward that he was, acquiesced to their demands. 

For three years Branwen endured shame and daily beatings while working in the hot kitchen. 

She was alone, without a friend in the world, tormented by all around her. 

She endured it all with pride. 

But the one thing she could not endure was living with the shame that she had chosen such a weak man as her own. 

Finally one day she found a wounded baby starling. 

She remembered Her mother’s starlings that she had taught to speak as a young girl. 

An idea hatched in her mind and hope was reborn. 

She nursed the starling back to health and slowly taught it where to go, who to find, and what to say. 

Finally the time arrived for the starling to fly. 

All night Branwen passed her power, her words and her need to the starling. 

With the dawn she released her friend into the air who flew away toward Wales, the Island of the Mighty. 

It was a long and terrifying journey but the starling reached its destination. 

It found Bran and spoke the words Branwen had taught it. 

Horrified at the news, Bran amassed the men of Wales and set out across the water to free Branwen. 

Upon their arrival, and due to Branwen’s urgings for a peaceful settlement, Branwen’s release was negotiated. 

The face-price for peace was that Branwen’s son, Gwern would be the Irish High King and the building of a house large enough to house Bran the Blessed, who was a giant among men. 

But once again Evnissyen intervened and catastrophe ensued. 

During a celebration of the house building and Gwern’s kingship, Evnissyen threw Gwern into the fire, killing the boy who all loved. 

War broke out between the two peoples that destroyed them both. 

At the end of that day many lay dead but worse was yet to come. 

The Irish made the fateful decision to use the cauldron of rebirth to obtain demon warriors. 

Terrible battles raged. 

Finally Evnissyen, who finally accepted responsibility for what had arisen, sacrificed himself by going into the cauldron alive and breaking it apart from within. 

Toxic fumes engulfed all and by morning everyone was dead, save those sheltered in the Halls of Tara and the House of Bran. 

Bran sent word to the Irish that they would leave the island on the morrow to what peace and reconstruction could be had. 

Treachery once more reared its ugly head as the remaining Irish warriors ambushed the remaining Welsh, ultimately delivering a death blow to Bran in the form of a poisonous spear. 

Bran, not wishing to endure a lingering death asked his brother to cut off his head and carry it back to Wales. 

Branwen then died of a broken heart. 

Only seven men returned to the Isle of the Mighty, accompanied by the magical, talking head of Bran. 

Branwen’s story is truly one of sorrow. 

But as Goddess of Love, love infuses her story from beginning to end. 

Through love she seeks to unite the two lands. 

With love, she forgives and continues to seek peace even after her years of suffering in the kitchen. 

She sought this peace not only for the people but also for the land. 

And yet she also knows how to set boundaries, having finally shut Matholuch out of her heart forever. 

And in the end it was She, Great Goddess of Love, not any of the men, who died of a broken heart at the destruction surrounding her. 

She made the ultimate sacrifice, dying to the old so that new life could be born again. 

Branwen is associated with the starling, the raven, the cauldron and the cup. 

Her colors are white, silver and green. 

Her planet is Venus. 

Call on Branwen when you can’t see the forest for the trees and She will help restore your vision to one of wholeness. 

Call on Branwen when you are challenged and lacking in empathy and She will help you feel love again. 

Call on Branwen for the courage to persevere during times of danger and fear. 

Learn from Branwen how to maintain your courage and determination during stressful situations. 

And finally learn how not to let duty to your relationships override your own Sovereignty. 

Llyr, in Celtic mythology, leader of one of two warring families of gods; according to one interpretation, the Children of Llyr were the powers of darkness, constantly in conflict with the Children of Dôn, the powers of light. 

In Welsh tradition, Llyr and his son Manawydan, like the Irish gods Lir and Manannán, were associated with the sea. 

Llyr’s other children included Brân (Bendigeidfran), a god of bards and poetry; Branwen, wife of the sun god Matholwch, king of Ireland; and Creidylad (in earlier myths, a daughter of Lludd). 

Hearing of Matholwch’s maltreatment of Branwen, Brân and Manawydan led an expedition to avenge her. 

Brân was killed in the subsequent war, which left only seven survivors, among them Manawydan and Pryderi, son of Pwyll. 

Manawydan married Pryderi’s mother, Rhiannon, and was thereafter closely associated with them. 

Little is known about the religious beliefs of the Celts of Gaul. 

They believed in a life after death, for they buried food, weapons, and ornaments with the dead. 

The druids, the early Celtic priesthood, taught the doctrine of transmigration of souls and discussed the nature and power of the gods. 

The Irish believed in an otherworld, imagined sometimes as underground and sometimes as islands in the sea. 

The otherworld was variously called “the Land of the Living,” “Delightful Plain,” and “Land of the Young” and was believed to be a country where there was no sickness, old age, or death, where happiness lasted forever, and a hundred years was as one day. 

It was similar to the Elysium of the Greeks and may have belonged to ancient Indo-European tradition. 

In Celtic eschatology, as noted in Irish vision or voyage tales, a beautiful girl approaches the hero and sings to him of this happy land. 

He follows her, and they sail away in a boat of glass and are seen no more; or else he returns after a short time to find that all his companions are dead, for he has really been away for hundreds of years. 

Sometimes the hero sets out on a quest, and a magic mist descends upon him. 

He finds himself before a palace and enters to find a warrior and a beautiful girl who make him welcome. 

The warrior may be Manannán, or Lugh himself may be the one who receives him, and after strange adventures the hero returns successfully. 

These Irish tales, some of which date from the 8th century, are infused with the magic quality that is found 400 years later in the Arthurian romances. 

Something of this quality is preserved, too, in the Welsh story of Branwen, daughter of Llŷr, which ends with the survivors of the great battle feasting in the presence of the severed head of Bran the Blessed, having forgotten all their suffering and sorrow. 

But this “delightful plain” was not accessible to all. 

Donn, god of the dead and ancestor of all the Irish, reigned over Tech Duinn, which was imagined as on or under Bull Island off the Beare Peninsula, and to him all men returned except the happy few. 

Branwen is an ancient Goddess from Wales. 

She is also a major character of the famous book Mabinogi (Mabinogion). 

Although she is often related to folklore, there are some interesting pieces of evidence suggesting that the goddess could have been based on a real woman from history. 

Branwen is known as a goddess of love and beauty, a beautiful lady from the mountain peak in the Berwyn range of Wales. 

It is difficult to find out exactly when her cult began. 

Legends say she was a daughter of Penarddun (or Penardim) and Llyr. 

Later, tradition says that Branwen married the King of Ireland, but the marriage didn't bring peace between the Welsh and Irish. 

The Old Tribes of the British Isles considered her the king’s mother and saw her as the embodiment of Sovereignty. 

She was seen as the center of everything in the kingdom, a woman with visions showing the greater scheme of things. 

However, her knowledge was believed to be too much for her sometimes. 

The name Branwen means ''the white raven''. 

The most popular story about her is the tale of a mistreated wife. 

Matholwch and Branwen Branwen’s story starts with a scene when her brother, Bran the Blessed (Bendigeidgfran), King of Britain is sitting on a rock near the seaside. 

He was watching the vessels of Matholwch, King of Ireland. 

The Irish King was coming to Wales to ask for Branwen’s hand in marriage. 

Startling New Evidence Suggests Stonehenge was First Built in Wales then Transported and Reconstructed 500 Years Later in England The Peculiar Narrative of the Red Lady of Paviland, A Man from Paleolithic Wales Bronze Age gold rings of a high-status person found in Wales When the celebration for the union started, Branwen’s half-brother named Efnisien arrived to the feast and asked the purpose of the gathering. 

When he discovered the reason behind it he was extremely angry. 

He couldn't stand the idea of Branwen marrying the Irish King, so he mutilated Matholwch’s horses. 

The Irish ruler became very offended and uneasy by his reaction. 

But Matholwch felt better when he received his gift from the host of the party – a magical cauldron which could bring the dead back to life. 

However, Matholwch didn't know that if he brought the dead back to life with the cauldron’s powers they would be mute. 

He first believed that he received the gift in kindness, but with time realized the cruelty behind the gift. 

When he finally took Branwen to Ireland, Matholwch treated her badly, as if he wanted to punish her for her brothers’ actions. 

The conflict between Wales and Ireland escalated when Branwen sent a message to Wales asking for rescue. 

This plea for help started a long and bloody war, which ended with the death of many men and women of both realms. 

Branwen also apparently died from her insufferable grief. 

It is said that she was buried beside the river Alaw. 

Her tomb has never been forgotten. 

For many centuries, people who live in the area of Llanddeusant on Anglesey in Wales have believed that they know the location of the tomb of the “real Branwen.” 

The site is traditionally called the Bedd Branwen, but there is no inscription to identify it. 

The location was excavated during the 19th century, but professional research wasn’t completed at the site until the 1960s by Frances Lynch’s team. 

They discovered several urns which still contained human ashes. 

According to the old Welsh stories, it is the burial place of brave Branwen, but there is no way to confirm that. 

Researchers still argue if her story is based on real events or is pure myth. 

If the tomb does belong to her, it means that Branwen lived during the Bronze Age Period. 

This suggestion brings more questions about her life, mythology, and roots of the Welsh traditions. 

Many ancient deities have become popular in modern culture. 

But Branwen is not as well-known as other northern goddesses, such as Morrigan and Brighid. 

She appears in some movies and books, but most people who mention her name are those related to pagan beliefs. 

Modern believers in her powers say that Branwen is associated with the raven, the symbol of the cauldron, and the cup. 

She is typically depicted in green, white, and silver, and connected with the planet Venus. 

However, the possibility that Branwen could be a real person makes her even more fascinating. 

A big problem about myths from the territory of the current United Kingdom and Ireland is that many stories are actually partially true, but described as legends. 

On the other hand, many legendary stories which are believed to be real are, in fact, fiction. 

It is easy to get lost in the pre-Christian tales written by monks. 

Nonetheless, in the case of Branwen, she seems to be so close to the Welsh culture that it would be really surprising if her story does not have some truth behind it. 

Branwen – Goddess of White Ravens in Welsh Mythology. 

Branwen was the radiant goddess of love in Wales during the Iron Age. 

She was known in Celtic mythology as one of the three most important goddesses of Britain. 

Branwen was portrayed as a tragic heroine whose beauty, loyalty, compassion and devotion were admired throughout history. 

Branwen was a beautiful young woman with long, fair hair and snow-white skin. 

Her personality was gentle, joyful and charming. 

She was the size of a normal woman whereas her brother Bran was a giant of a man. 

The goddess was also known as Bronwen meaning “White Raven” or “White Breasted” in Welsh. 

White ravens found in the wild were considered sacred to the goddess, Branwen. 

Ravens were associated with prophecy and dreams in the Celtic religion. 

The druids believed ravens were able to travel to the Otherworld and return with messages of ancient knowledge and wisdom from the deities. 

White animals and birds were particularly sacred and taken as an omen by the Celtic tribes that a god or goddess of the Otherworld was near. 

The legend of Branwen described the goddess as the daughter of Llyr, the god of the sea, and Penarddun. 

Branwen’s siblings were her brothers, Bran and Manawyddan. 

Their home was in Harlech along the coast of North Wales. 

Bran was the High King of Britain when he arranged a marriage between Branwen and Matholwch. 

Matholwch was the king of Ireland. 

The marriage was also a political union as Bran hoped the son of his sister, Branwen, would one day rule both islands. 

Matholwch and Branwen fell in love during their first meeting and the beautiful maiden was happy with the arranged marriage. 

Branwen remained silent and kept her thoughts to herself throughout most of the story. 

She did not rebuke her half-brother, Evnissyen when he mutilated the magnificent horses given by Bran to Matholwch as a wedding gift. 

The only occasions she voiced her opinion was in times of crisis or sorrow. 

The crisis in Branwen’s life was her unhappy marriage to Matholwch while she lived in the palace of Tara in Ireland. 

Matholwch turned against his wife, Branwen, despite her good conduct as queen. 

The courtiers and the people of Ireland resented a foreign queen and blamed poor Branwen for the insult caused by her brother, Evnissyen. 

Branwen was sent to the palace kitchens by Matholwch atter the birth of their son, Gwern. 

Gwern was fostered by a respected Irish family. 

Her only friend was a starling which Branwen nursed back to health. 

The starling flew to Bran and told him of the plight of his sister, Branwen, in Ireland. 

Bran immediately rallied his army and they crossed the Celtic sea to rescue Branwen from Matholwch. 

Matholwych was terrified of the giant, Bran, and negotiated a peace treaty whereby Gwern became king of Ireland. 

A huge tent was built to accommodate Bran and preparations were made to celebrate the treaty. 

Bran and his warriors attended a great feast where they enjoyed the happy mood and hospitality of Matholwch and the Irish. 

Sadly, Evnissyen lost his temper and killed Branwen’s son, Gwern, by throwing the poor boy into a fire. 

A fight ensued between Bran and his warriors and Matholwch and the Irish. 

Bran nearly lost the battle until Evnissyen sacrificed his life to save his brother, Bran, and fellow Welsh men. 

Evnissyen hid in the magical cauldron which brought the Irish warriors back to life. 

The presence of Evnissyen caused the magical cauldron to explode. 

Matholwch and most of his men were killed. 

Bran survived the battle but died before Branwen and the remaining seven Welsh warriors were able to sail home. 

Bran ordered his head be removed from his body and carried to the sacred place where the Tower of London now stands. 

Branwen and the seven Welsh warriors sailed home to Harlech in Wales with Bran’s head. 

The head of Bran often spoke and entertained them during the voyage. 

The journey home filled Branwen with sorrow. 

She mourned the loss of her brothers, the deaths of her husband and son and all the warriors who died during the battle. 

Branwen and the Welsh warriors arrived shore of Aber Alaw on the small island of Anglesey, off the north coast of Wales. 

Branwen killed herself as she was heartbroken for causing so much suffering and death. 

The seven warriors buried the body of the beautiful Branwen in a four-sided grave in Aber Alaw. 

The burial site of Branwen may be found in a place called Bedd Branwen, or “Branwen’s grave” on the Island of Anglesey. 

Excavations of the ruins of Bedd Branwen found evidence of urns with the cremated ashes of humans. 

The legends of Branwen are now thought to be based on the actual events of a famous woman of the Iron Age. 

Branwen was a central character in the Second Branch of the Mabinogi. 

She was described as one of the most important goddesses of Britain. 

The three goddesses of Britain were Rhiannon, Branwen and Cerridwen

The triple goddess was embodied by the three representations of maiden, mother and crone. 

Branwen was possibly the mother aspect of the triple goddess in the legend. 

The mother-earth goddess was venerated as a deity from which all life flowed. 

The gifts bestowed by the earth-goddess were fertility, wisdom, and abundance. 

The ability of women to give life was celebrated as one of the more important divine attributes of the earth-goddess. 

The season of spring and the full moon were associated with the goddesses of motherhood. 

Branwen may also have been the maiden who symbolized youth, hope and new beginnings, The love that blossomed between Branwen and Matholwch also represented the desire for a union between Britain and Ireland. 

The goddess, Branwen, was the embodiment of sovereignty and the land, meaning the island of Britain. 

The marriage between Branwen and Matholwch granted the kingship of Britain to their son, Gwern. 

However, Matholwch’s mistreatment of Branwen ensured his bloodline could never rule Britain or Ireland as the young boy, Gwern, sadly died. 

Branwen was also one of the five goddesses of Avalon in the legends of King Arthur. 

The five goddesses of Avalon were Rhiannon, Branwen, Cerridwen, Blodeuwedd and Arianrhod

Branwen was a goddess with a mild and gentle personality. 

She differed from the other female deities who were often described in Celtic mythology as vain, spiteful and even violent. 

Branwen represented a goddess of love which was interpreted as kindness, compassion, loyalty, patience, quietness, innocence and generosity. 

The quiet sense of duty to her family, then as a wife and finally as a queen made Branwen unique among the Celtic goddesses. 

Branwen remained a popular goddess of love because she was considered to be worthy as a goddess of sovereignty and a brave heroine. 

The Symbols of Branwen.

Branwen's name means 'blessed, white raven,' which is one of her main symbols. 

She's also represented by starlings, as they were her only friends in her time of need. 

If you are searching to make an altar to Branwen, you will need to use the colors green, white, and silver. 

A cauldron or cup is also an appropriate symbol to represent her wedding gift. 

Branwen is a Goddess of two lands, Ireland and Wales. 

Branwen’s tale begins in Wales. 

It is from Her home there that She agrees to ally Herself to the land of the Green Isle (Ireland) through marriage to King Matholwch. 

In keeping with Her compassionate, peace-seeking nature, this is a marriage of uniting countries and not one of romantic love. 

It is not long until trouble begins to brew. 

Some say it is the pressure from his people that causes Matholwch to dishonor Branwen due to the actions of Her brother, Efnisien’s anger. 

Some say it is of his own will, but regardless of instigating factors, Matholwch treats Branwen shamefully, casting Her from Queen to work in the kitchens. 

Here She is treated poorly and beaten regularly. 

Although many would see those of peace and love as weak, it is not so and Branwen’s character exemplifies this. 

Through Her abuse She stands strong, maintains what dignity She has, and plans Her escape. 

Training starlings with crumbs of bread from the kitchen, She teaches them to speak in their song. 

Once Branwen is satisfied that the birds’ new skills are mastered, She sends the starlings on a journey to Wales to tell Her brother Bran of Her poor treatment and enlist His help. 

Bran is of course outraged at the abuse of His sister. 

Amassing the armies of the Isle of Mighty, He crosses the waters to free Her. 

To the oracular priests of Ireland a visage appears upon the waves. 

They see a mountain and forest floating on the water growing ever nearer. 

They are confused by their visions and hearing of this King Matholwch seeks out Branwen asking of its meaning. 

Branwen already is well aware of what this vision portends. 

She tells Matholwch that it is Her brother, the giant Bran, walking beside the ships of Wales as the armies of the Isle of Mighty come to free Her. 

Upon their arrival, treaties for Branwen’s release are negotiated. 

Branwen urges both sides for a peaceful resolution so that the land is not destroyed. 

But Efnisien in his bitterness stirs anger amongst the men and fighting begins. 

A great battle ensues, where warriors and great men seek to trade items of war time glory, but in the end only devastation remains. 

Ireland is devoid of life, only five pregnant women2 who hid in caves1 are left to repopulate it. 

The armies of the Isle of Mighty fend no better, for only seven men remain2 along with the magickal head of Bran which still has life. 

Branwen is freed, but She is devastated by the destruction She feels She is responsible for. 

Within a matter of days She lies dead too from Her heartbreak. 

Branwen’s story is filled with sorrow. 

It is also ripe with the guidance She provides to help us heal our inner selves which in turn helps to heal the world around us. 

Let’s look first at Branwen as a Goddess of Love. 

It is Branwen’s Love that unites the two lands. 

Goddess Alive! by Michelle Skye elaborates quite beautifully on Branwen’s Love saying that it is from Her connection to the land that Branwen’s vast love for all arises. 

Associated with the Waxing Moon, Branwen gives us the gift of hope. 

Her love is all encompassing, unwavering, and She easily forgives. 

Branwen teaches us by gently asking us to open just a little more and let another layer of our hard outer shells fall away. 

Branwen’s great heart filled with love, associates Her strongly with the Heart Chakra. 

In my own work I have found Branwen to be steady and gentle in Her assistance to help us open in love. 

When opening to Branwen’s love, we are healed by Its vast power. 

Love has the power to heal and Branwen is quite gentle in taking our emotional wounds and wiping our tears away. 

More subtly, it is through Branwen’s great love that we see Her empathy. 

So many today, myself included, struggle at times wondering at the purpose of empaths. 

Overwhelmed, we grow angry at our gift and call it a curse. 

It is at these times that the Great Empath Branwen is crying with us. 

She feels our pain as Her own. 

Filled with compassion, She feels sorrow at our sadness. 

It is here that Her love greatly heals and teaches us. 

A purpose of empathy is to grow in love. 

When we experience the energy of emotions and allow our hearts to open, we can flow through the sorrows around us without being overwhelmed. 

And yet Branwen does not ask us to open to the maelstrom of the world around us either. 

She beseeches us to respect our limitations and use our empathic gift of love wisely. 

Branwen can teach us how to set boundaries healthfully while allowing our love to be expressed freely, shielding us from taking on too much. 

Master of the intricate layers we each have, She is ever willing to gently help arrange them optimally so that each time we grow a little closer to seeing empathy as a healer’s gift and not the curse of the weak society portrays it as. 

Working with empathy in our age is a learning process and Branwen’s tale shows us that She too knows what it is like to be overwhelmed with emotion. 

In the end of Her myth She dies from the heartache of the devastation. 

This can speak to us metaphorically. 

Death from heartbreak is akin to the inner numbness from internalizing too much of everyday life or even disaster around us. 

This portion of the myth also reflects the societal inflicted guilt associated with the actions of others. 

We do not hear of Efnisien feeling bad for instigating and spurring on the rage and destruction, it is Branwen taking on the blame. 

This too could connect Branwen to an old Irish and Welsh tradition that can be associated with modern interpretations of Shamanism, that of Sin Eater. 

She also works with an animal ally, Starling, which is another Shamanic practice. 

It is strange that while certainly saddened, it seems that none of the men after the battle are recorded in the myth as showing signs of the stress from the ordeal they just went through. 

One could surmise that Branwen is also a Goddess of Shamanism, in that using Her empathy She took on the energetical impact of the disaster and transmuted5 the energy. 

Thus the symbolic death as all things must die to be reborn anew. 

Due to the magnitude of this transmutation it would seem that Branwen is a Master of Shamanic abilities. 

Finally we come to Branwen’s gift of Prophecy. 

It is Branwen who is able to discern the vision of Ireland’s Oracular priests when they themselves are not.1 When the leaders of the two countries come together, Branwen urges for peace. 

Not just for peace’s sake, but so that it does not destroy the land. It would seem that She has already foreseen that this will not only be a bloody battle, but that it will almost completely eliminate the peoples of both lands and that they will be united no more. 

Prayer for Branwen’s Assistance For empaths, healers, and all visionaries.

Blessed Goddess of Love Divine Show me how to heal with my empathy Help me be fully in my power lest the feelings overwhelm me. 

For centered and whole, I can share Your healing Love abundantly. 

Blessed Goddess of Radiant Beauty Open my eyes so I may always see the splendor before me So that I may know that in everything there is beauty. 

For in seeing beauty, I feel joy and add to the beauty around me. 

Blessed Goddess of Will so Strong Guide me to face my challenges creatively And to see the ways to their resolution clearly For in seeking new ways, I bring the essence of change to our society. 

A Healing Ceremony with Branwen 

Prepare for and start the ritual in your normal manner. 

If you would like to use crystals for this healing, Rose Quartz would be highly appropriate, or your favorite pink, red and/or green crystals would work too as these all correspond to the heart chakra. 

Candle colors would be the same, with the addition of white to the list of possibilities. 

For incense, Rose in the form fresh flowers, oil, sticks or powered blossoms would work nicely. 

After smudging/cleansing yourself, ask Branwen to allow you to be a vessel through which to transmit Her healing Love. 

Speak from your heart or create an invocation that resonates for you such as: Goddess Branwen, I ask you to send Your healing Love through me now So that _name_ may be healed fully. 

Allow yourself to be open to receive Her Love and letting it flow through you. 

The energy will resonate strongly in the heart chakra. 

Breathing deeply will allow the chakra to open more fully so that the energy may flow more freely.4 Take a few moments to feel this unconditional love, let it grow and flow through you. 

Then place your hands lightly on the shoulders of the person you are seeking to heal and let Branwen’s Love flow through you into the other person. 

If you are performing this healing for yourself, lightly and lovingly place your hands over your heart chakra and let Branwen’s healing Love circuit through you. 

When you feel it is time to be done, it is. 

Offer thanks to Branwen. 

If you are using incense this would be a good time to use a bit more in an offering of thanks to Her. 

Express your thanks to Branwen using your own words or: Blessed Branwen, Thank you for your gift of unconditional Love and the healing it brings. 

May I always remember the power of Love and express it wholeheartedly. 

With gratitude and blessings, in the Highest Good of All, SO MOTE IT BE! ...and so it is. 

End the ritual in your normal way and ground well afterwards. 

As with any energetic healing, make sure to consume extra water throughout the day and take it easy. 

This is true whether you were giving or receiving the healing. 

Branwen has great love for Mother Earth and all Her inhabitants. 

Feel free to heal plants, animals, the water, air, land and all things with Her love. 

Thank you for sharing in the gift of Love.