The Vine Moon bridges the Autumn Equinox and takes us into the dark time of the year, and thus has many associations with looking inward to find creativity within ourselves.
The vine is associated with the festivals of Mabon and the Autumn Equinox. Its qualities include prophecy, psychic development, tenacity, unification and ecstasy.
Unlike the other Ogham trees and shrubs, the Vine is a more cultivated species. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the Vine has been known and propagated in the British Isles for a very long time. The distinctive fruits and foliage of this hardy and long-living plant appear frequently on Bronze Age artifacts. Within the Ogham, the Vine is known as the “Weaver,” given its tendency to entwine around others, often linking two together. To the Celts, this was indicative of the need to understand the importance of respect toward the options and actions of others. A determined shrub, the Vine is often found in hard-to-reach areas, leaving a delicate and beautiful path in its wake. The fruit of the Vine has long been known to release inhibitions and loosen tongues, thus allowing those who partake of its harvest to speak more freely. It is, however, easy to fall victim to the Vine’s intoxicating nature.
The Vine deity is Branwen, also known as “Fair Bosom,” sister of Bran the Blessed and wife of the Irish King Mathowch. Branwen was the daughter of Llyr, Lord of the Sea and literary ancestor of Shakespeare’s King Lear. Otherwise called “Venus of the Northern Seas,” Branwen was one of the three matriarchs of Britain and the Welsh Goddess of Love, Sexuality and the Sea. Not surprisingly, she is often equated with the Greek Goddess Aphrodite. Branwen encompassed the doom of both the Irish and the Britons when her brother Bran invaded Ireland in order to rescue her from the degradation she experienced at the hands of a vengeful court. Branwen is said to have died of a broken heart during the war between Wales and England, which began with an insult delivered at Branwen’s wedding feast which Branwen believed had been her fault. The insult had, in fact, been the deliberate act of Evnissyn, a jealous courtier who thrived on malicious mischief.
The Vine is also sacred to Etain, wife of Midir, Irish Lord of the UnderWorld, and to the Tuatha De Danaan, Gods of Light and Goodness. The animals connected to the Vine are the Lizard, the Hound and the White Swan.
The Lizard – One of the few reptiles recognized as being helpful to the shaman, the Lizard symbolized the shadowy plane of manifestation where events were constantly changing in shape and pattern. It was believed that to see a Lizard during a journey warned travelers to be alert to all below-the-surface activities which might be taking place around them.
The Hound – Always held in high esteem as a friend and protector, this loyal animal which offers guidance, is also known as the “Fearsome Battle Hound” and features in many Celtic myths. The Ogham poem “Cad Goddeu” was said to have been recorded in part by the Whelp, a name which refers to the Dog or Hound. The UnderWorld Hounds, such as the Welsh Cwn Annwn which belonged to Arawn, were always portrayed as being white with red ears. It was the job of the UnderWorld Hounds to run down and punish the guilty. In general, Hounds were representative of tracking skills, the ability to scent a trail and companionship.
The White Swan – A symbol of grace and beauty, representing the radiant divinity of the Gods who were believed to retreat to their underground citadels during the Autumn Equinox. The White Swan is also associated with the White Ghost or the White Phantom known as Gwenhwyvar. To the Celts, the Autumn Equinox was a time when the light eventually relinquished its hold to the darkness, representative of balance between the mundane and the supernatural…the mortal and the immortal. A mystical bird who figures in several Celtic folktales, the feathers of Swans were often used in the ritual cloaks of the Bards. Connected chiefly with music and song, the Swan also aided in the interpretation of dream symbols, transitions and spiritual evolution.