"Bran's Miraculous Head" by Amanda Reid



‘Goddess’ is an expression of divine feminine energy, not gender.

‘God’ is an expression of divine masculine energy. 

‘Nature’ and ‘The Land’ is ‘Goddess’ because their energy is essentially feminine.

In the oldest stories, ‘Shaman’ and ‘human’ are frequently depicted as ‘male’ because their energy and role is in line with masculine energy.

Human beings, both men and women, each contain a mixture of masculine and feminine energy of varying amounts.  It is not necessarily the case that females have more feminine than masculine energy or vice versa.

Feminine energy is expansive and yet containing, grounding, nurturing, creative, wise, knowing, being, receiving, holding, intuitive, meditative, mindful, reflective, love, stillness, peace, surrender, potential and potent. 

Masculine energy is action, doing, directing, willpower, force, strength, movement, pursuit, occupation, energy, plan, execution, excitation, labour, decisive, process.


As you can probably tell, these two energies are meant to work together, in synergy with each other.  Feminine energy holds, supports and empowers masculine energy.  It isn’t that it is superior, it is simply the underlying necessary principle, the powerhouse of the process.  Feminine energy is like a magical pool of supreme power waiting to be used.

Masculine energy is the energy that converts this pool of power into something by means of action. 

In order for this synergistic exchange to work to perfection, masculine energy must recognise, honour and respect the power and sovereignty of feminine energy and feminine energy must elevate, trust and utilise masculine energy to enable its action.

(Er, yes, folks, in terms of men and women, this does kinda mean a scenario where the men choose to listen to and obey what a woman tells them and women are literally the power behind the men. 

BUT, only within a context where they both completely honour and respect each other and never put themselves or each other down or belittle, but that everything they each say and do elevates the other and empowers them both in every way.) 

In this scenario, as a man, I know that women are constantly worthy of my respect and I honour them. 

If they ask something of me, I trust them, even if I don't understand their reasoning.  I know that by doing so, it is for the benefit of myself as well as others.

As a woman I do everything I can to elevate men and women and know that it is to my benefit as well as theirs to enable others to be their magnificent best at all times. 


In this scenario, every man is a Champion and every woman is a Goddess.

In order to do that, women and men need to be completely at one with their own personal power in the first instance, wholly confident in ourselves, to be emotionally resilient and have little or no ego and we mostly all have a long way to go to get there.  If the majority of us reach this advanced state, then, any minority who behave badly and take advantage of others are going to look really bad and won't get away with it anymore.  Luckily, we create our own energy, so if we each work on our own confidence and inner strength, we are less likely to get taken advantage of by others. 


However, we are not necessarily talking about men and women here. 

Feminine energy exists in all things, whether in a human being of either gender, a tree, a rock, a cloud, a fish and so on.  Masculine energy is the same.  However, most things or people tend to have more of one type of energy than the other. 

As a female Shamanic practitioner, my goal is to integrate my feminine and masculine energy to work together in perfect balance, and this goal will help each and every one of us to be the best that we can be.

I am seeking to recognise, respect and honour the feminine energy in others and myself to nurture their/my potential whilst trusting, elevating and enabling the masculine energy in me and others.  This applies especially in my closest relationships and in my role within the working environment, however, this is the work of at least one lifetime.

There is a story that demonstrates the process of masculine and feminine energy interacting together, that is, Chaucer’s ‘The Wife of Bath’s Tale’ from ‘The Canterbury Tales’.  This story is a moral tale teaching us how we can work together with these energies.  (See ‘Goddess: Embodying The Divine Feminine’; ‘A Pantheon of The British Goddess’; ‘Goddess As Wise Woman’ to read more.)      


The Second Branch in The Mabinogion tells the story of ‘Branwen, Daughter of Llyr’.  She is the sister of Bran The Blessed.  In the story, Bran is ruler in Britain and arranges the marriage of his sister to an Irish Chieftain.  (See ‘Four Branches: Myth & Magic’; ‘The Second Branch’; ‘Understanding The Second Branch’.)

Bran is no ordinary male character.  He is a magical being.  We are told he is a giant who can stride across the sea from Britain to Ireland.

In the story, symbolism is everything and the seed, the kernel of wisdom, is passed on subconsciously through the story’s energy.  Understanding this, consider that Bran is energy and as energy he is deeply interconnected with his sister, Branwen, even to the extent that they are, uniquely, perceivable as two parts of One Being – the Goddess. 

Branwen’s role is one of sacrifice and Bran, as the Goddess, is depicted as a male because of the nature of the energy in this role projected through his persona.  Let's take a closer look.

Bran’s name is ‘Raven’ or ‘Crow’, a name associated with the Goddess as Challenger, Warrior, Crone, Bringer of Life and Death; Badb, Morrighan, Cailleach, are all Crow-related Goddess figures with similar energies and associations. 

In the story, Bran plays this aggressive Challenger role with the feminine-energy of the enabler, bringing about the power of rebirth through sacrifice. 


Bran is not the usual male human ‘Shaman’ character like Pwyll and Pryderi.  In this story, there isn't one.  Even Efnissien, who is acting as trickster and a sort of 'master of ceremonies', conducting events towards their inevitable conclusion by spoiling the horses, inspecting the large house built for Bran whilst killing the Irish and sacrificing Branwen's son on the fire, is acting in the role of 'Goddess'.  He is enabling the events to be driven forward, creating challenges that enables the building of the house and the making of Bran's Head.  He also destroys the cauldron of rebirth.  In the story, Efnissien, Bran and Branwen are the sons and daughter of Llyr, in fact, they are one, they are the Goddess split into individual parts. 

Bran does not die, even after death, he becomes the Magical Head, he is clearly a Divine Being.        


Bran and Efnissien are not the only Male Goddess.  
‘Culhwch and Olwen’ is an ancient tale in The Mabinogion, thought to be older than the Four Branches.  This is the story of a young man who is seeking the beautiful Maiden, Olwen, to be his Bride, whilst her father, the great giant Ysbaddaden, does all he can to stop their union from taking place. 



Both Ysbaddaden and Bran are magical beings, both are giants and both are akin to the Goddess as Crone, whose role is one of challenger and aggressor, enabling the transition from life to death, through rebirth to life again.  Both stand in the West and turn the Wheel of the Year. 

Ysbaddaden is not hindering Culhwch’s quest, even though it looks that way, but driving it forward and his role in this story shows how other common folk tales, such as the giant encountered by Jack of the beanstalk, is, likewise, none other than the Goddess as male.


So, what differentiates an aggressive male character from a challenging female/Goddess character? 

The Shaman/male character’s drive is to act.  He is utilising the powerhouse of feminine energy by acting and doing. 


The Goddess character’s stance is as ‘enabler’.  She is holding, representing or ‘being’ the powerhouse of feminine energy for the male/Shaman/others to utilise.  She creates the conditions for the male/Shaman to act, she may do this passively, assertively or aggressively. 

It all comes back to the difference between feminine and masculine energy. 


Ysbaddaden’s name means ‘Hawthorn’ and there could hardly be a more ‘Goddess’ oriented tree than the hawthorn.  Also known as the May tree, with the white blossom of the Maiden, the red berries of the Bride, the green leaves of the Mother and the thorns of the Crone, it is as all-encompassing a Goddess tree as can be imagined.  

Ysbaddaden is integrally ‘connected’ to his daughter, Olwen, in the same way that Bran relates to his sister Branwen, they are parts of each other and they both sit on the Wheel of the Year as Goddess aspects.

Bran sits in the West as Crone/Teacher/assertive and Ysbaddaden as Crone/Challenger/aggressive.

Branwen sits in the East, opposite her brother (they are twins, the other set of twins in the Fourth Branch, Lleu Llaw Gyffes and his brother, Dylan, also sit opposite each other on the Wheel of the Year) as Bride/Bearer/passive.

Olwen sits next to her father in the North as Maiden/Teacher/assertive, ready to take over the Goddess energy from the West.  Ysbaddaden must ‘die’ once she is won by Culhwch because the energy moves from the West to the North, but this is really Ysbaddaden's goal.


Ysbaddaden is not the only ‘male’ Goddess in the story of ‘Culhwch and Olwen’, for Twrch Trwyth, the giant Boar, not a Sow, is also the Goddess in disguise.  Twrch Trwyth is a magical beast, a giant animal, seen in a nurturing role to it’s own young and is carrying magical implements.  In the story, Twrch Trwyth is associated with the river Severn, another Goddess connection, a river which, amusingly, has a ‘boar’ wave!    


In truth, whether the Goddess appears as a male or female character is not important as they are simply expressions of energetic principles that can be symbolised as either male or female.

In ‘The Wife of Bath’s Tale’ the knight was set a challenge to find the answer to the question “What do Women want?” and thus he was led to learn true understanding of the nature of masculine and feminine energy.  In the story, this makes up for his abusive behaviour to the maiden at the beginning of the tale and he ultimately learns to treat women with respect and honour.  


In The Fourth Branch, when Gwydion and Gilfaethwy abuse Goewin similarly, they are also given a lesson in understanding the nature of masculine and feminine energy.  Math turns one of the brothers into a hind and the other into a stag and causes them to mate for a year.  Then he turns them into a boar and a sow, swapping over their genders for another year.  Then in the third year he turns them into a she- and he-wolf in the same manner.  By this time, he supposes they have learnt their lesson and have a better understanding of feminine and masculine energy, so he releases them from their trial.  We may easily suppose, for the signs are there, that this event represents a form of trance/Shamanic energetic learning practice that they undergo as Math's apprentices.


Every thing and every one of us is a combination of male and female energy, and the Goddess is no exception.  We all have opportunities to learn about these energies, to ‘be’ them and ‘use’ them for the greater good of all.