According to Welsh mythology, Arawn is the ruler of the realm of Annawn or the Otherworld – the idyllic resting place of the dead. As a responsible guardian of his realm, Arawn is just and fair, honoring the promises he makes, but does not tolerate disobedience of any kind. Aran represents honor, duty, war, revenge, death, tradition, terror, and hunting. The Guardian of the Lost Souls. However, being associated with death, Arawn was often feared and considered evil.
Arran in Welsh folklore
Some scholars believe that the name Arran may be of Biblical origin. It is believed to be derived from the Hebrew name Aaron, who was the brother of Moses. Aaron can be translated as excellent.
Others associate Arawn with another Gaulish deity – Cernunnos, as they are both closely associated with the hunt. Another theory claims that Arawn is the Welsh equivalent of the Celtic deity Arubianus as their names are quite similar. The Mabinogion – A collection of Welsh myths consisting of twelve stories. In the first branch, Arawn encounters Pwyll, lord of Dyfed.
Pwyll accidentally finds himself in the realm of Arawn. He had kept his hounds to chase the stag, but once he reached a clearing in the woods, he found a different pack of hounds at the stag’s carcass. These predatory animals looked strange; They were exceptionally white with bright red ears. Even though Pwil recognized that the hounds were from another world, he followed them to feed his dogs.
Pwyll and Arawn
Pwyll was then approached by a man in a gray cloak riding a gray horse. The man turns out to be Aravan, the ruler of the other world, who tells Pwel that he needs to be punished for the great dishonor he had committed. Pwyll accepts his fate and agrees to trade with Arawn, taking on each other’s forms for a year and a day. Pwyll also agreed to fight Hagdan, Arawn’s greatest enemy, who wanted to merge his kingdom with Arawn’s realm and rule the entire Otherworld.
To avoid another indignity, Pwyll confers upon Arawn’s beautiful wife. Even though they slept in the same bed every night, she refused to take advantage of him. After a year has passed, Pwyll and Hagdan face each other in battle. With a powerful blow, Pwil heavily wounds Hagdan, but refuses to kill him. Instead, he called on his followers to join Arran, and with this act, the two kingdoms of Annan were united.
Arawn in the fight of the trees
There is a poem called Cad Goddu, or The Battle of the Trees, in the Book of Taliesin, which tells the story of Arn and Amethian. According to the poem, Amatheon stole a hound, a stag, and a lapwing from the realm of Annavana. The angry god summoned all kinds of demons and strengthened them with magic, and the Battle of the Trees began. Gwydion also used his magic and asked the great trees to save Arawn. The fight ended with Arn’s defeat.
The hounds of anon
According to Welsh folklore and mythology, the Hounds of Enn, or Cwn Enn, The Hounds of Ennwon, are ghostly hunting dogs. The other world belonged to Arawn. During the early spring, winter, and fall, they went on the Wild Hunt, riding across the night sky to hunt down spirits and wrongdoers. Their howling was believed to be an omen of death, gathering wandering souls who would then be taken to Annavan, their final resting place. belonged to the devil himself.
However, according to Welsh folklore, Annawn was not hell, but a place of eternal youth and bliss. Depicted as the lord of the underworld and death. In addition to ruling the realm of the dead, he is also known as the god of vengeance, war, and terror. His character is mostly shrouded in mystery. In many stories, he appears as a shadowy figure dressed in brown, riding his brown horse. War, Revenge, and Honor
As lord of the dead and war leader of his empire, Arn resides in Annavan – the underworld or afterlife. Annavana is the final resting place of the dead, where food is abundant, and youth is endless. Being responsible for his kingdom and upholding the laws of the dead made Arawn a just god but somewhat vengeful. He could not tolerate disobedience and delivered justice with an iron fist.
As we can see from the story of the Mabinogion, he punishes Pwil for his disobedience and breaking the law. However, he keeps his word sacred, and in the end, honors the promise he made to Pwyll.
Arawn as the God of Death and Terror
Arn, the ruler of the underworld, rarely reaches the world of the living. Since he cannot physically enter the mortal land, he sends his hounds there, whose howling brings death and terror. During early spring, autumn, and winter, these ghostly white hounds with red ears prey on wandering spirits. They also capture those who try to escape to the Land of the Sun and lead them back to Annavana.
Therefore, Aran represents the natural law of death and the concept that all things, including life, have to come to an end.
Arawn as God of Magic and Cunningness
Arawn is depicted as extolling justice and punishing wrongdoers. On the other hand, we can also interpret him as a master of magic and trickery. Many legends and stories emphasize this gray nature and the fickleness of the god. In this way, he does justice, but at the same time, he uses Pwyll, in the form of Aran, to fight his longtime enemy. He manages to avoid his responsibility, having someone else complete what was originally assigned to him.
According to some stories, Arawn also possessed a magical cauldron, which had the power to revive the dead, rejuvenate, and simply boil food. For the brave.
Our Sacred Animals
According to Welsh mythology, Arwan is mostly associated with hounds and boars. As we have seen, the hounds of Arnn, or the so-called The Hounds of Arnn, represent death, guidance, loyalty, and the hunt.
Arawn sends a magical boar as a gift to Pauville’s son. According to Celtic tradition, boars represent abundance, bravery, and fertility.
Arn and his hounds are mostly active during the autumn and winter seasons. , Throughout the fall, the leaves change color and fall. This process is a symbol of change. It also brings a certain sadness as we know that the change it represents means a longer and colder winter. If autumn represents our human maturity, then winter symbolizes an end, old age, and death.
Holy colors of the Arawn
The sacred colors of the urn are red, black, white, and gray. In Celtic folklore, the color red was commonly associated with death and the afterlife and was often considered an omen of bad luck.
Similarly, the colors white, black, and gray usually combined to indicate darkness, danger, and the underworld, as well as evil.
Holy day of Arawn
As Guardian of the Dead, Arawn is tasked with keeping watch over his realm and preventing souls from escaping it. , The only exception is the night of Samhain; The time when the door to the other world is open and wide open. During this time, all the spirits of the dead as well as supernatural beings are allowed to enter the world of the living. Therefore, Samhain is the Celtic equivalent of Western Halloween, celebrating those who have passed away. He was not a vicious figure, but a protector of the dead, maintaining the balance of life.