- Attributes: Great virginal Goddess of sovereignty and fertility, Goddess of the earth, dawn and spring, guardian of the passage between the worlds
- Symbols: Lilly
- Place: UK
Long before she appeared in the Arthurian legends, Gwenhwyfar or Guinevere, Ginevra, or even Jennifer was summoned by the Celts to bring fertility to the earth and take souls to the “other world.”
Her name means “white shadow,” the sovereignty behind Arthur’s throne. Although in Camelot’s stories about her, alongside with Arthur and his rival, are romantic in nature, they lessen her sovereign status.
It was she who gave the famous King of Camelot the right to rule, simply because they were together. When she left him, Arthur pursued her, not for love, but because without her his kingdom would collapse due to a lack of leadership. The ancient Celtic tradition says that for a man to be king, he must be married to the Goddess, hence the desperation of the king to stay together with her.
The role of “Goddess of Sovereignty” is clearly seen in her own legends, where her duty is to mix the king’s energy with the earth energy in harmony. Her name can also be translated as “white waves”, while white is traditionally associated with the color of the virgin, and the waves represent the sea and its regenerative power.
Here, “Virginal Goddess” refers to which is complete by itself, powerful and influential and not requiring a pair.
As a queen, Gwenhwyfar is the eternal feminine principle of strength and peace in the universe, being considered also a Triple Goddess and having her role echoed in the oldest Arthurian legends, where Arthur marries three women, all called Guinevere. She is listed along with the weapons of another world that Arthur received as a gift, suggesting her divine origin and reinforcing her power and sovereignty.
There is also a legend that says she did not get along with her sister, Gwenhwyfach, wife of her beloved Mordred (Lancelot). It is believed that the sister was the cause of the battle of Camlann. The termination “ach,” in Gaulish, evokes something unpleasant, so due to her influence on these events one can assume that this entity would be just another facet or an evil side of Gwenhwyfar. This again reminds us the aspect of the Triple Goddess, suggesting that the battle may have been provoked by two forms or personalities of the same Goddess.
In the Mist
Just as Morrigan is represented, despite the controversies, by Morgana Le Fay in the Arthurian legends, Gwenhwyfar has her counterpart: Queen Guinevere, as already quoted.
Although this literary representation is much closer to the Goddess, it still diminishes her power, but not her importance. Guinevere is a character from the plot of Mists of Avalon, but is not depicted as a Celtic woman.