Ynis Afallach Tuath


Avaloniana Path


The Wheel


Ynis Afallach Tuath




(© Arianrhod SilverWheel)

According to the “Trioedd Ynis Prydein”, Afallach – son of Anu or Dôn, a primeval goddess similar to the Irish Danu, ancestress of the Tuatha de’ Dannan – used to live on the Isle of Avalon (Ynis Afallach), ruling on it with his nine daughters. The most important of them was Modron.

The nine sisters were keepers of a treasure of the kingdom of Annwn (the Otherworld): the Cauldron. In his “Vita Merlini” Geoffrey of Monmouth affirms, instead, that the island was ruled by the nine sisters, and that the most powerful among them was Morgan or Morgaine.

Let’s analyze now the name AFALLACH (or Avallach, or Avlach). Afallach and Avalon are related to the APPLE: aval in Welsh and Breton, avallo in Gaulish, ubull in ancient Irish, apple in English, from the Proto-Indoeuropean root *ab(e)l (= apple).

Jean Markale writes that “in the Irish legend of the Island of Women… it was knwn as Emain Ablach, of which the poets praised its apple-trees and the beauty of their fruits. According to
Pliny the Elder (Historia Naturalis, XXXVIII, 35) the Teutons… traded in amber with the inhabitants of the island of Abalum (today Oesel), East of the Baltic. There was a village called Aboul on that island and its name, together with that of Abalum and of the Italian island of Abella Melifera, had the same roots Avalon”.

Mabon or Maponos (= Son), a god of youth, is Modron’s son. Modron and Mabon are comparable to the figure of the Mother Goddess and her Divine Son like Isis/Horus, the Virgin Mary/Christ, Demeter/Persephone, Rhiannon/Pwyll etc. Her name recalls that of Matrona, a Roman-Briton goddess, and of Saint Madrun, a princess niece of Vortigern whose sister’s and maid’s names were (accidentally?) Anne and Saint Annun. Moreover, being both related to the island of Avalon, we can also assume a link (or a superimposition) between the figure of Modron and that of Morgan Le Fay (Morgaine). The last one being a mutation of the name Modron, for the first mention of Morgaine dates at the times of the medieval Arthurian novels.

We know that the Primeval Mother, or the Great Goddess, in many cultures is linked to water (of which the island, the boat, the cup, the cauldron, the well etc. are symbols) and, through it, to gestation, birth and creation (just think about the waters of birth: the deluge that sets apart the newborn from the divine to throw him/her into the human world). According to Markale the novelty of Morgaine’s character comes “from the name, that does not appear in any Welsh tale, except that in the masculine form Morgantut, Arthur’s doctor and wizard, mentioned in Kulwch and Olwen. In Breton folklore we have Mary-Morgan, a kind of mermaid linked to water… her name means born of the sea (mori genos, Irish muir gen). She’s a Mother Goddess… not of one or more goddesses of  fertility… but of the myth of primordial divinity...”.

The hypothesis Modron = Morgaine could be proved by the fact that Sir Thomas Malory (“Le Morte d’Arthur”) describes the last one as the wife of Urien Rheged, a king from the Northern lands. In Welsh tradition his wife’s name was Modron ferch Afallach. In addition, Britannia.com affirms that “we can suppose that the story of the incest with Arthur (after which Mordred was born) is the result of an overlapping of the figure of Morgaine on her sister (Anna-)Morgause.

In Chrétien de Troyes’ “Perceval” (Anna-)Morgause is called Morcades. This could be an epithet: Orcades was the Latin name of the Orkney Islands, residence of king Lot and his wife Anna. From here, we can suppose, the name Anna Morcades/Morgause: Anna of the Orcades.

Resuming what we have analyzed so far, we can assert that the above characters are linked to the water element, and from it to creation. In Proto-Indoeuropean the term for river was *danu, a root found in the names of the great European rivers such as Don, Dniepr, Danube etc. The Celtic tribes that invaded Europe were part of the Indoeuropean family. In Hindu mythology (Rig Veda) we can see a goddess Danu, her name meaning heavenly waters (or spring), and in Sanskrit anna means nourishment.

Concluding, I’m adding a list of divine names from different pantheons and languages that, in my opinion, could be related to the term *danu.

Nun: in Egyptian tradition the name of the Primordial Ocean.

Nûn: the 14th letter of the Arabic alphabet. It represents the Whale. The Arabic word nûn means fish.

Aná-hita: water and fertility goddess of Iranian mythology.

Don: ancient Schyte word meaning water.

Imana: almighty. Fertility goddess of Banyarwanda (Rwanda) mythology.

Hannahanna: Hittite mother goddess.

Oannes: fish-god of Chaldean mythology.

Manannan: Irish sea-god.

Andreus: Greek son of the river.


Traduzione a cura di Arianrhod Silverwheel


© Ynis Afallach Tuath, 2008/2009
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