Etain (Ay-deen), a Celtic Goddess called “Shining One”, was originally a Sun Goddess before becoming a Moon Goddess and one of the White Ladies of the Fae. Her story, which lasts over one thousand years, reveals Her place as a Goddess of Love, Transformation and Rebirth. Elements sacred to Etain are the sun, dawn, the sea, rain, water, butterflies, apple blossoms, and swans. She is associated with healing and the transmigration of souls.
Etain shows us that we can overcome even life’s most difficult circumstances. She teaches us that though beauty, wealth and position might fade away we can regain our shining light. She lights our way on the path of transformation, guiding us toward balance, wholeness and rebirth.
Etain is a daughter in the “Land of Youth,” the mystic country of the People of Dana, the Tuatha Dé Danann. She is beautiful beyond words. Midir, a Danaan prince, became enchanted by Her and asked Her to be his wife. Unfortunately his first wife, Fuamnach was jealous and turned Etain into a pool of water, then a worm and finally into a butterfly. Midir, enchanted by the butterfly, still had no appetite for Fuamnach. Thus she raised a storm that drove Etain out to sea. For seven years She was tossed about by strong winds over the rocks and sea of Erin.
Finally as a butterfly she found refugee with Aengus, God of Love at Brugh na Bóinne on the River Boyne (modern Newgrange). He built a sunny sanctuary for Her where she fed on flower nectar and rested for hundreds of years.
Until one day Fuamnach found Her and cast Her out into the wind for another seven years. Finally she fell into the drinking cup of the wife of Etar, an Ulster chieftain. Etain was swallowed in the drink and passed into the womb of Etar’s wife as she became pregnant.
And so Etain was born again, one thousand and twelve years after Her first birth, as Etain, mortal child, and daughter of Etar. She grew to be a beautiful woman. The High King of Ireland, Eochaid, wooed Her and She agreed to become his wife. Together they returned to Tara.
Now, Queen of Tara, her next journey was near. Midir, Her husband from Her first life a thousand years before, once again entered Her story. He appeared to Etain, handsome and well dressed. He begged Her to return with him to Her true home, the Land of Youth, a land of music, beauty, and wonder. She hesitated until learning of Her true past life with him. Finally She agreed to return with Midir, but on the condition that the King, Eochaid, would agree to Her departure.
Upon which Midir appeared to Eochaid with an offer to play chess on his board of silver with gold, jewel-studded pieces. They played game after game, which Midir allowed Eochaid to win. In payment for his losses and true to the conception of the Tuatha Dé Danann as earth deities, Midir performed much magic to benefit the Land of Tara, reclaiming land, clearing forests and building causeways across bogs. All of this was done because of the love Etain stirs in the hearts of humans and gods alike; it was done through the power of Etain, Goddess of Transformation.
Ultimately, having fooled Eochaid into believing that he was the better player, Midir proposed a final game, the prize to be declared upon victory. Now Midir used his true skills and Eochaid was defeated. Midir claimed his prize – an embrace and a kiss from Etain.
Eochaid was silent, knowing that he was trapped. He finally agreed saying that Midir should return in one month’s time. When the appointed date arrived Eochaid tried to keep Midir out by force. But Midir’s magic was too strong for Eochaid to resist. Suddenly, he materialized within the castle walls, standing before the court. He put his arm around Etain and the couple rose lightly in the air, turned into white swans and then flew away toward the Fairy Mountains of the Land of Youth. And thus Etain returned to Her original home in the Land of Fae where she rested for a while with Her people until the next leg of Her journey began.
Like the pull of nature in the stages of a butterfly’s life – from egg, to caterpillar, to chrysalis and finally to its transformation into the beautiful butterfly, Etain leads the way for us through the various stages of our physical and spiritual lives. She shines Her light on our journeys of death and rebirth.
In Her swan form, She reminds us to remain faithful to love, to our true selves and to the beauty that lies within.
Call on Etain, the Shining One, when your journey becomes difficult and She will guide you back to your own shining light. Call on Etain when the change you confront seems too much to bear and She will create a sunny sanctuary for you. Call on Etain when you forget your true beauty and She will surround you with Her golden light and carry you home to your true self again. Etain, with Her wisdom, beauty and power, steers us through transformation to balance and wholeness.
Judith’s project, a deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle Cards, 5 years in the making, will be out by Thanksgiving, 2017. Visit Judith Shaw Art to order yours now.