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Arawn: Overview, Etymology, Attributes, Family Tree, Mythological Origins, Pop Culture

Arawn is a Welsh lord of the realm of Annwn, the Otherworld of the Mabinogi. He is often depicted as a great hunter and magician skilled in shapeshifting. Arawn is best known through his connection to Pwyll, Lord of Dyfed, and their exchange of identities, which is a central theme in the First Branch of the Mabinogi.

The name Arawn is reasonably disputed, but it is believed to have originated from the Welsh word “ar” meaning “on” or “upon,” and “awn” meaning “a slope” or “a hill.” This etymology is fitting for Arawn, as he is often associated with the landscape of the Otherworld. Arawn is also sometimes referred to as the “Joyous King” or “King of the Otherworld,” which speaks to his role as a ruler and his connection to the supernatural realm.

Arawn’s attributes include his proficiency in the art of altering his form, his skill as a hunter, and his ability to direct his white hounds with distinctive red ears, commonly referred to as the Hounds of Annwn. His family tree is not well documented, but he is often associated with other Welsh deities such as Gwyn ap Nudd and Rhiannon. Arawn’s mythological origins are deeply rooted in Welsh mythology, specifically as the ruler of the kingdom of Annwn. His influence can also be seen in modern pop culture, with references to his character appearing in various forms of media.


Arawn is a prominent figure in Welsh mythology, known as the lord of the Otherworld. He is often associated with the realm of Annwn, which is believed to be a place of eternal youth, beauty, and joy. Arawn is a complex figure, revered for his magical abilities and feared for his power.

According to Welsh tradition, Arawn was a great hunter and magician, skilled in shapeshifting. He was known for his wisdom and his ability to see into the future. He was also believed to be a fair and just ruler, respected by his people.

Arawn is often associated with the legend of Pwyll, Lord of Dyfed, who mistakenly stumbles into the realm of Annwn and finds himself face to face with Arawn. Despite their initial encounter, the two leaders become allies and work together to defeat a common enemy.

Overall, Arawn is a fascinating figure in Welsh mythology, revered for his power, wisdom, and magical abilities. His story has captured the imagination of people for centuries, and his legacy continues to inspire modern interpretations in popular culture.


Arawn’s name is derived from the Welsh language, with the root word “ar” meaning “on” or “over”, and “awn” meaning “deep” or “profound”. This suggests that Arawn’s name may have originally referred to his role as a ruler of the Otherworld, which was believed to be a place of great depth and mystery.

In Welsh mythology, Arawn is often associated with the concept of “annwn”, which is the Welsh word for the Otherworld. The name “annwn” is thought to be derived from the same root as Arawn’s name, and may have originally meant “the deep place” or “the profound place”. This connection between Arawn and annwn highlights his importance as a figure in Welsh mythology, and suggests that he was believed to have a powerful and mysterious presence.

Overall, Arawn’s name and its connection to the concept of annwn provide valuable insight into his role in Welsh mythology. As a ruler of the Otherworld, he was believed to hold great power and wisdom, and his name reflects this importance.



Arawn is known for his exceptional hunting and magical abilities. He is a skilled shapeshifter, capable of transforming into various animals, including a stag, a wolf, and a bird. He is also known to have the power to control the weather and the seasons, as well as the ability to communicate with the dead. Arawn is a powerful and respected figure in Welsh mythology, and his powers reflect his status as a deity.


Arawn is often depicted wearing a crown or a helmet, symbolizing his status as a king. He is also associated with the color white, which represents purity and power. Arawn is sometimes depicted holding a spear or a sword, which symbolizes his strength and martial prowess. The stag is another important symbol associated with Arawn, representing his connection to the natural world and his role as a hunter.

In summary, Arawn is a powerful and multifaceted figure in Welsh mythology, known for his hunting and magical abilities, as well as his status as a king. His symbols and powers reflect his importance in Welsh culture and his connection to the natural world.

Family Tree


Arawn is a Welsh god who is said to have descended from the goddess Don, who was the mother of a number of other Welsh gods, including Gwydion and Arianrhod. His father is not explicitly named in Welsh mythology, but he is often associated with Beli Mawr, a god of death and the underworld.


Arawn is not known to have had any children of his own, but he is often associated with the Welsh hero Pwyll, who is said to have spent a year in Arawn’s realm of Annwn. According to Welsh mythology, Pwyll was able to defeat Arawn’s rival, Hafgan, with Arawn’s help, and as a result, Arawn and Pwyll became close friends.

In modern pop culture, Arawn has appeared in a number of different forms, including as a character in the video game “Final Fantasy IV” and as a character in the comic book series “The Sandman”. Despite his relatively minor role in Welsh mythology, Arawn remains a popular figure in modern pop culture, and his legacy continues to be felt in the world of fantasy and mythology.

Mythological Origins

Welsh Mythology

In Welsh mythology, Arawn was known as the king of the Otherworld, Annwn. His realm was believed to be a paradise and not a place of death and punishment. Arawn was also known for his hunting and shapeshifting abilities. He was often associated with the god Cernunnos due to his association with the hunt and the Otherworld.

Role in Myths

One of the most well-known myths involving Arawn is his encounter with Pwyll, the lord of Dyfed. In the story, Pwyll trades places with Arawn for a year, learning about his realm and his people. During this time, Pwyll defeats Arawn’s enemy, Hafgan, and returns Annwn to Arawn. This act of bravery earns Pwyll the friendship and respect of Arawn.

Arawn is also mentioned in the Mabinogion, a collection of Welsh tales. In one story, he is described as being married to a woman named Argante, who helps him in his battles. Arawn is also said to have a brother named Gwyn ap Nudd, who is associated with the Wild Hunt and the winter solstice.

Overall, Arawn played an important role in Welsh mythology as the king of the Otherworld and a skilled hunter and shapeshifter. His encounters with Pwyll and other figures in Welsh mythology demonstrate his significance in the stories and legends of the Welsh people.

Pop Culture


Arawn has been featured in several works of literature. In the book “The Chronicles of Prydain” by Lloyd Alexander, Arawn is portrayed as a villain who seeks to conquer the land of Prydain. In the novel “The Book of Three” Arawn is depicted as a master of dark magic and an enemy of the protagonist Taran.


Arawn has also made appearances in various forms of media. In the popular video game series “Final Fantasy,” Arawn is a summonable character who aids the player in battle. He is also featured in the anime series “Fate/Zero” as a powerful servant who serves the character Diarmuid Ua Duibhne.

In addition, Arawn has appeared in the television series “Merlin” as a villainous character who seeks to take over the kingdom of Camelot. He is portrayed as a powerful sorcerer who can control the dead and summon spirits from the Otherworld.

Overall, Arawn’s appearances in pop culture have helped to keep his legend alive and introduce him to new audiences.