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The 5th Branch of the Mabinogi

Here’s a couple of talks I gave at the brilliant Aberystwyth Storytelling Festival. Such a rare opportunity to enjoy the company of professional storytellers, artists, musicians and fully-engaged audiences. I really couldn’t have managed to pull off such mad scheme anywhere else. New Cloth From Old Thread Crowd sourcing The Fifth Branch with festival participants:Continue reading “The 5th Branch of the Mabinogi”

The Four Branches of the Mabinogi

Throughout my time at university, I had never been satisfied by general interpretations of The Four Branches of the Mabinogi. Most scholars have seemed reluctant to view the tales as myths even. Most of the modern research published, no matter how useful, seems to say more about current academic values than it does about the textContinue reading “The Four Branches of the Mabinogi”

Celts: Art and Identity

This week I visited the British Museum in London to take a look at their exhibition ‘Celts: Art and Identity’. Having studied many of the artefacts that were on display, it was always going to be a real treat for me. I arrived in great anticipation: I was finally going to see the Gundestrup cauldron, TheContinue reading “Celts: Art and Identity”

Shakespeare’s Horns

Tonight is called Nos Galan Gaeaf in Wales, and is an ysbrydnos, or ‘spirit night’ when the dead walk abroad under the starry skies. Halloween is the most recent tradition associated with this night, known at one time as ‘All Hallows Eve’, but there were traditions that came before it, such as the old CelticContinue reading “Shakespeare’s Horns”

The Hunting of Twrch Trwyth

As one of the more important texts in the study of Welsh mythology, Culhwch and Olwen contains elements drawn from the ancient body of oral lore that the Welsh inherited from their Celtic ancestors. One such element is Arthur’s hunting of the supernatural boar Twrch Trwyth. As early as the ninth century, this hunt wasContinue reading “The Hunting of Twrch Trwyth”

The Triads of Bardic Craft

Gramadegau’r Penceirddiaid* (‘The Grammars of the Chief Bards’) are a family of texts found in various manuscripts from about the 14th to the 16th centuries, although its quite likely the basic material they contain is much older. They would have been used as teaching tools in the bardic schools and reference works for those wealthy enoughContinue reading “The Triads of Bardic Craft”

The Birth of Taliesin

Most versions of Taliesin’s tale (but not all) locate his birth from the sea on the coast of northern Ceredigion. Elffin finds him as an infant, washed up in a skin bag, caught in Gwyddno Garanhir’s fish weir. For example, an incomplete version of the tale recorded by Llywelyn Siôn, probably copied sometime before 1561, has this toContinue reading “The Birth of Taliesin”

Translation . . .

The vast majority of those with an interest in Celtic myth will only ever read source texts in translation and with no prior exposure to Celtic language or culture. This is important to keep in mind because on occasion the more subtle ideas contained in a text can be mangled beyond recognition by the translatingContinue reading “Translation . . .”