The Goddess Way: Ancient Stories for Modern Hearts

Judith Shaw both paints and writes about the Goddess, great symbol of life, death and the natural world. For the past few years she has focused on the Celtic Goddesses, whose stories are explored here in The Goddess Way.

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Etain, Goddess of Love, Transformation, and Rebirth

Etain (Ay-deen), known as the Shining One, was originally a Sun Goddess before becoming a Moon Goddess, and finally a White Lady of the Fae. Her story, which lasts over one thousand years, reveals her place as a Goddess of Love, Transformation, and Rebirth. Elements sacred to Etain are the sun, dawn, the sea, rain, water, butterflies, apple blossoms, and swans. She is associated with healing and the transmigration of souls.

Divinatory Meaning
Overcoming difficult circumstances, spiritual awakening, transformation, wholeness, rebirth, true love, internal beauty. Etain, the Shining One, helps when your journey becomes difficult. She guides you back to your own shining light.

Her Story

Etain is a daughter in the Land of Youth, the mystic country of the Tuatha Dé Danann. She is beautiful beyond words. Midir, a Danaan prince, became enchanted with her. He asked her to be his wife and she accepted but, unfortunately, his first wife, Fuamnach, became jealous, turning Etain into a pool of water, then a worm, and finally into a butterfly.  Midir, enchanted by the butterfly, still had no appetite for Fuamnach, so she raised a storm that drove Etain out to sea. For seven years, the number of spiritual awakening, Etain was tossed about by strong winds over rocks and sea. 

As a butterfly, she finally found refuge with Aengus, God of Love, at Brugh na Bóinne  (Newgrange) on the River Boyne. He built a sunny sanctuary for her where she fed on flower nectar and rested for hundreds of years—until one day Fuamnach found her and cast her out into the wind for another seven years. Finally, Etain fell into the drinking cup of the wife of Etar, an Ulster chieftain. Etain was swallowed in the drink and passed into the womb of Etars wife as she became pregnant. 

And so Etain was born again, one thousand and twelve years after her first birth, as Etain, mortal child and daughter of Etar.  She grew to be a beautiful woman. The High King of Ireland, Eochaid, wooed her and she agreed to become his wife. Together they returned to Tara. 

Now, as Queen of Tara, her next transformation was near. Midir, her husband from her first life a thousand years before, once again entered her story. He appeared to Etain, handsome and well dressed. He begged her to return with him to her true home, the Land of Youth, a land of music, beauty, and wonder. She hesitated until learning of her true past life with him. Finally she agreed to return with Midir, but on the condition that her husband, the King, would agree.

Midir appeared to King Eochaid and offered a game of chess on his jewel-studded board. They played game after game, which Midir allowed Eochaid to win. In payment for his losses and true to the conception of the Tuatha Dé Danann as earth deities, Midir performed much magic to benefit the Land of Tara, reclaiming land, clearing forests and building causeways across bogs. All of this was done because of the love Etain stirs in the hearts of humans and gods alike; it was done through the power of Etain, Goddess of Transformation.

Ultimately, having fooled Eochaid into believing that he was the better player, Midir proposed a final game, the prize to be declared upon victory. Now Midir used his true skills and Eochaid was defeated. Midir claimed his prize an embrace and a kiss from Etain.

Eochaid was silent, knowing that he was trapped. He finally agreed, saying that Midir should return in one months time. When the appointed date arrived Eochaid tried to keep Midir out by force. But Midirs magic was too strong for Eochaid to resist. Suddenly he materialized within the castle walls, standing before the court. He put his arm around Etain and the couple rose lightly in the air, turned into white swans, and then flew away toward the Fairy Mountains of the Land of Youth. Thus Etain returned to her original home in the Land of Fae where she rested for a while with her people until the next leg of her journey began.

Like the pull of nature in the stages of a butterflys life from egg, to caterpillar, to chrysalis and finally to its transformation into the beautiful butterfly—Etain leads the way for us through the various stages of our physical and spiritual lives, shining her light on our journeys of death and rebirth.

In her swan form, she reminds us to remain faithful to love, to our true selves and to the beauty that lies within.

Etain shows us that we can overcome even lifes most difficult circumstances, teaching us that though beauty, wealth and position might fade away, we can regain our shining light. She lights our way on the path of transformation, guiding us toward balance, wholeness and rebirth.

Judith's deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle cards with guidebook can be found on her Etsy shop.  Allow the wisdom of the Goddess to guide you on your path.


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Judith Shaw, a New Orleans native and graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, has always been interested in myth, culture and mysticism. Her work, inspired by the goddess, nature and sacred geometry, combines whimsy and the esoteric - whimsical tree paintings which often look like women dancing are intertwined with esoteric symbols such as those found in sacred geometry. After graduation, while living in Greece, the Goddess first appeared in her artwork. The Divine Feminine, in all of Her manifestations in this world, continues to inspire Judith.    Judith has also lived in Mexico and visited France, Italy, Turkey, China, Guatemala, and Jamaica. She now lives in Albuquerque where she divides her time between painting, writing, yoga, gardening, bee keeping, and hanging out with friends and family.  She is putting the final touches on a deck of Celtic Goddess cards which will be published soon.  


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