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The Song of Heledd

Canu Heledd (‘The Song of Heledd’) is a sequence of 9th century Welsh poems commemorating the loss of territory to Saxons when they invaded the kingdom of Powys. The main character in these dramatic verses is Heledd, sister of Cynddylan, one of the noblemen who died defending against the attack. But Heledd is more thanContinue reading “The Song of Heledd”

Did a woman write the Mabinogi?

Who wrote The Four Branches of the Mabinogi? That’s a question numerous Celtic scholars have attempted to answer over the years, but none have been able to provide definitive proof to support their claims. This lack of evidence has prompted others to venture beyond the usual suspects of monks and clerics and instead consider moreContinue reading “Did a woman write the Mabinogi?”

The Battle of the Trees and The White Goddess

Robert Graves’ White Goddess is one of the most popular books ever written on modern Celtic mysticism, but as well as entrancing countless modern readers it has also enraged many Celtic scholars. Perhaps one of its greatest successes was introducing Kat Godeu (‘The Battle of the Trees’) to an English audience. Few had ever heardContinue reading “The Battle of the Trees and The White Goddess”

Ritual Masks and Channeling

What can the almost universal practice of ritual mask wearing tell us about the Welsh bardic tradition? As far as we know, the medieval Welsh bards didn’t use masks in performance, but they did take on archetypal personas such as that of the legendary Taliesin, and there are suggestions that some of these performances wereContinue reading “Ritual Masks and Channeling”

Bardic Craft and Animal Transformation

This video is in answer to two questions sent in from The Taliesin Tradition course: what is the bardic craft of classical Welsh poetry? what evidence is there for human to animal transformations in Celtic art? You can follow The Taliesin Tradition course (as well as several others) with a subscription to the website. MoreContinue reading “Bardic Craft and Animal Transformation”

The Native Tales

A series of live lectures via Zoom beginning 16th November, every Tuesday at 8pm UK Time. The Native Tales of the Mabinogion, these being The Dream of the Emperor Maxen, Lludd and Llefelys, How Culhwch won Olwen and Rhonabwy’s Dream, are a mixture of oral and written, Arthurian and pseudo-historical tales that form a significantContinue reading “The Native Tales”

The Mythic Fortress

Concluding this short series on Welsh Arthurian poems we take a look at the broader use of the ‘enchanted fortress’ motif and see how it’s used to evoke several different themes, both sociological and mythological. I’ll be taking this week off from the Facebook live videos but will be returning the week after (2.11.21) withContinue reading “The Mythic Fortress”

Who Is The Gatekeeper?

Pa Gur is perhaps the oldest Welsh Arthurian poem preserved in manuscript. In it, the Welsh Arthur seeks entry for himself and his men into the fortress of Glewlwyd Gafaelfawr. But some allusions in the poem suggest that not all is as it seems, and there may be something else going on, something that evokesContinue reading “Who Is The Gatekeeper?”

The Spoils of Annwfn

Continuing with this short series on Welsh Arthurian poems, this talk takes a look at Preideu Annwfyn (The Spoils of Annwfn), one of the better known poems from the medieval Book of Taliesin. Like many other Taliesin poems from this period, it is a strange, ambiguous and multilayered text, and although many commentators have attemptedContinue reading “The Spoils of Annwfn”