Rhiannon by Wendy Andrew
What follows is a small ritual for the building of self-esteem for women, although with a little tweaking it could be adapted for men too.
The Goddess Rhiannon was wrongly accused, driven to doubt herself and as a white mare, forced to carry all upon her back and tell, again and again, lies about herself to all who would listen. Rhiannon knows the pain of women: she has been within women the countless centuries when their talents have remained unused; when their bodies have been violated and brutalised; when their dreams have been crushed or ignored; when their beauty has been rejected and distorted and their experiences and perceptions of life have been deemed less worthy.
Rhiannon knows that when there have been so few positive reflections of her in the world over such a long time, women can doubt themselves, doubt their intelligence, their beauty and their worth. Like Rhiannon’s story we can believe the lies that are told about us, re-tell those lies ourselves, and carry the burden of other’s projections upon us. The heaviest burden of all is the weight of our own self-criticism, our own lack of self-love and belief.
The following ritual is designed to help us recognise and name the lies that have been told about us; giving the pain of these over to transformation, reclaiming the truth that we are talented, beautiful and worthy of love and respect, both from ourselves and from others.
In preparation for the ritual, think long and hard about the key moments in your life when you were made to feel badly about yourself, about your talents or your appearance; the times when you were bullied or controlled and made to feel un worthy or unlovable. Think about how each time this happened, it re-enforced a negative image of yourself, so much so, that you started to believe that this false image was actually you. Think about how these events still affect your life by the way they have made you view yourself. Write these events down on small strips of paper using key phrases that express the negative things they make you feel about yourself e.g. I am fat; I am ugly; I am stupid; I am unlovable etc. Performs the following:
Rhiannon, I come to you with my burden of self-doubt and self-loathing; I come to you with the lies that were told about me, that made me feel unworthy and unlovable, that I carry to this day and have come to believe as truth. I give these over to you Rhiannon to be transformed in your fires of love.
Burn each slip of paper in the cauldron. Release each of these negative thoughts about yourself to Rhiannon; give them over to her loving presence.
In legend, Rhiannon was surrounded with a cloud of birds whose singing was so sweet and magical that it was said to raise the dead and send the living into a blissful sleep. Call upon the Birds of Rhiannon to sing in your ear; let each individual bird sing a new song of your worth and beauty.
I call upon the Birds of Rhiannon and ask that you come and sing your sweet and magical songs to me; sing to me of my true worth; sing to me of tender self-love and self-esteem; of a true and loving relationship with myself. The songs of Rhiannon’s birds are how she truly sees me. I now choose to see myself through Rhiannon’s eyes.
Settle yourself, close your eyes and turn inward. See Rhiannon before you surrounded by her beautiful birds. Hear their sweet music. Then, one by one, as many as is needed, see each bird fly to your ear in turn; listen to their song - each will sing a song of your true worth and beauty. Rhiannon’s birds can only sing sweet songs: everything they tell you about yourself will be loving. Hear what each says and write these new, positive things about yourself down on paper.
You may have trouble hearing positive things – these may not come to mind. Your critical voice might drown them out. This is because we have become adept at putting ourselves down. We have trained ourselves to do this. In this ritual, we are beginning to retrain ourselves in the art of self-love. If you have problems, ask Rhiannon for help; see yourself as a mother, telling her daughter how wonderful she is. If you keep this image of a loving mother talking to daughter, it becomes very hard to let in those negative judgements. Remember, it is Rhiannon who speaks to you through her birds – she is your mother and you her daughter. She wants you to feel loved, beautiful, worthy and gifted because that is exactly what you are.
When the birds have finished singing their songs, thank them and now read what you have written. Turn each of these new statements into an affirmation e.g. If a bird sung ‘you have beautiful eyes’, you write ‘I have beautiful eyes’; if a bird sung, ‘you are immensely skilled and organised’, you write, ‘I am immensely skilled and organised’. These affirmations will be the new songs that you will sing to yourself again and again to replace the horrible, negative ones that have been burned. When ready say,
I pledge to sing a new song about myself, one of love and appreciation:
Read your new, positive and loving affirmations…
…I am a daughter of the Goddess and as such I have marvellous gifts to share with the world: my talents and skills; my beauty; my experiences and knowledge; my love. Never again will I doubt my value; never again will I let another lead me to doubt my worth.
Close your eyes once more. See before you a cage of birds. These birds are all the wonderful parts of you that have been crushed and suppressed by the negative conditioning you have lived under until now. Now is your chance to set them free! See yourself move towards the cage, release the latch and open the door. Watch as all the birds take flight and find their freedom – their flight is your flight. Feel the exhilaration of this moment.
Now see Rhiannon before you. She holds out her mirror. Open your eyes. Pick up the mirror from the altar and look at yourself. See how beautiful you are; see Rhiannon’s face staring back at you.
Now light your special candle and say,
I light Rhiannon’s fire of self-love in my heart. In her honour, may it burn brightly there always. Blessed Be.