An illuminating study of the ancient Goddess of Celtic times, reflecting the change in social attitudes to women across the centuries. Claire French describes how the Goddess figure was transformed as the shift from egalitarian to patriarchal societies took place. She draws on the Welsh Mabinogion myths to trace the decline of the Great Queen of early British origins into the demonised witch/fairy of the Christian era. For millennia the tribes of Britain had worshipped the Triple Goddess: Virgin, Mother and Crone. She was the Earth and the Earth was sacred. The Year of the Lady was a continuous ritual in her honour, from her Sacred Marriage to the sacrificial death of her chosen hero, the Year King. From about the fifth century bc, the goddess was displaced by Druidism and their Celtic sky gods who vied for her possession as spouse. Land and queens became the property of kings, while priestesses were declared witches and exterminated. Finally, under Christianity, goddess worship was further condemned and degenerated into fairy belief and witchcraft.
Claire French studied in Innsbruck, Austria. After emigrating to Australia she obtained an MA in German and a PhD in Medieval Studies. Now a writer and lecturer, she is researching the legends of the Raeto-Roman population of the Alps. In the award-winning The Queen of the Silver Castle, also published by Floris Books, she retells the story of Rhiannon and Pwyll for younger readers.