Grainne, Celtic Sun Goddess

Grainne, Celtic Sun Goddess painting by Judith ShawIn the ancient Celtic world the Goddess was the One who expressed Herself through the many.  Grainne is such a one. She is both Winter Queen/Dark Goddess, nurturing seeds through winter, and Solar Sun Goddess, welcoming the rebirth of spring.  She is Aine’s sister or another aspect of Aine. She, like Aine, was honored at the summer solstice and the first grain harvest of early August with bonfires and torchlit processions on top of her sacred hill at Leinster, Ireland.  Remnants of these festivals are still found in folk ritual today.

Grainne is a part of the triple goddess formed by Herself and Her two sisters, Fenne and Aine.  Both Grainne and Aine were seen by locals as beautiful, golden-haired goddesses who visited their fields and hilltops to protect and nurture the land, people and animals.

A Sun Goddess and master herbalist, Grainne rules herbs, knowledge, the sun, and fire.

Today Grainne is most known from the elopement story of Diarmaid and Grainne, with a similar theme to the later Welsh story of Trystan and Iseult and to the even later tale of King Arthur and Guinivere. These tales portray the unhappy love triangle of two men who both love one woman.  Usually the woman is married to or promised to the older, more powerful man yet is in love with the younger man. In theses tales it is the woman who chooses the man, compelling him to act as she desires. The woman’s choice of the younger man is reminiscent of the Sovereignty Goddess who chooses youth over an ailing king.

Read the rest of the story on my post on the Feminism and Religion site.  You might want to visit some of the sites I have listed in my sources as they give more details of the magical events in the elopement story of Grainne and Diarmaid.

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