Although not a tree, ivy is so resilient and strong that it is used as a binding catalyst in most magical systems. The power of the Ivy lies in its ability to cling and bind, making it a potent symbol of determination and strength to the Druids. Ivy has been known to strangle trees and was once a portent of death and spiritual growth. Being evergreen in nature, the Ivy represented the perennial aspects of the human psyche. The Celts associated Ivy with their Lunar Goddess, Arianrhod, and their ritual to this deity marked the opening of the portal to the OtherWorld…or the Dark Side of the Moon. This door symbolized an entrance to the Realm of Faery and thus, the Ivy was representative of the mysterious and the mystical. Ivy was once carried by women for good luck and used to aid in fertility. When used correctly, it was said to heal headaches, muscle cramps and assist in the art of prophecy. Ivy was symbolic of the journey of the soul and the spiral toward to the self. It encouraged assistance toward others in their search so that they, in turn, might offer assistance. Considered to be powerful indeed by the Celts because of its ability to kill even the mightiest Oak, the Ivy has a tendency to create dense, inpenetrable thickets in the forest. It was regarded to be much more powerful than the Vine and rather sinister in nature.
The Ivy deity is Arianrhod whose name means “Silver Circle.” She is also known as “Star Goddess,” “Full Moon Goddess” and “Virgin Goddess of Reincarnation,” among others. Her palace was called “Caer Arianrhod,” otherwise known as the Aurora Borealis. She was Keeper of the Silver Wheel of Stars…a symbol of time and/or karma. This wheel was also known as the “Oar Wheel,” a ship which carried dead warriors to Emania, the Moon Land. Arianrhod is sometime depicted as a weaver, linking her to lost myths of creation and magickal practices. Daughter of the great Welsh Goddess Don, Arianrhod is said to be useful in helping females find their own feminine power.
A second deity associated with the Ivy is Rhiannon, the “Great Queen” who was Goddess of Birds and Horses, as well as Enchantments, Fertility and the UnderWorld. Unjustly accused of destroying her newborn son (who had been kidnapped by a nameless Fiend), Rhiannon is compelled to assume the shape of a Horse until her son is unexpectedly returned to her. In her role as a Death Goddess, Rhiannon would sing sweetly enough to lure all those within hearing to their doom. Another legend suggests that Rhiannon was the mistress of three marvellous Birds whose song could wake the dead and lull the living to sleep. Because of her association with Horses (she first appears in myth mounted upon a White Horse), Rhiannon is often equated to Epona, the Roman-Gaulish Horse-Goddess. The animals associated with Ivy are the Boar, the Goose and the Butterfly.
The Boar – Important to the art and myths of the Celts, the Boar (once common throughout the British Isles) was known to be cunning and ferocious. The battle horn of the Celts sported the figure of a Boar’s head, their shields were decorated with engravings of the Boar in warfare, and figures of this animal were mounted upon their helmets. One legendary Boar was Orc Triath owned by the Goddess Brigit. In Arthurian tales, the Boar known as “Twrch Trwyth” was one of Arthur’s most terrible foes. The White Boar of Marvan was said to inspire its master with the ability to write music and poetry.
The Goose – As with most birds in Celtic lore, the Goose represented prophetic knowledge, bloodshed and skill. Traditionally symbolic as messengers and servants of the Gods, they could be portents of either good or evil, bringers of luck, omens of death or sacrificial animals. The interpretation of the flight patterns, habits and songs of birds were all methods by which knowledge of future events might be told or unfortunate circumstances avoided.
The Butterfly – Symbol of faery faith, the Butterfly was believed by many cultures to be the souls of the dead and the keepers of power. Traditionally, no negative energies were said to be experienced in any area of the Otherworld where Butterflies could be found. They were symbolic of the freedom from self-imposed restrictions and the ability to regard problems with greater clarity.