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”
Author Archives: Gwilym Morus-Baird
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 . . .”
2nd of March: St. Non’s day.
(this blog follows on from the previous post, and will make more sense if you read that one first) This being March 2nd, St Non’s day, its a good day to commemorate the mother of St. David (see previous post). Non was a daughter of Cynyr Ceinfarfog, a 5th century chieftain of Dyfed who’s lands were in the south-westContinue reading “2nd of March: St. Non’s day.”
The Bard as Prophet
Pawb at Dewi was a poem composed by the prophet-poet Dafydd Llwyd, probably in 1485. When Henry Tudor was making his way through Wales gathering support and troops for his forthcoming battle with Richard III at Bosworth, he stopped off at Mathafarn Hall just outside of Machynlleth, specifically to visit Dafydd Llwyd. Dafydd Llwyd wasContinue reading “The Bard as Prophet”
Roland Barthes’ definition of myth
If, as many scholars have pointed out, The Four Branches of the Mabinogi are derived from an earlier mythology, it’s probably best to begin with the question: what exactly is a myth? In the Concise Oxford Dictionary, the first meaning given to a myth is . . . a traditional narrative usually involving supernatural orContinue reading “Roland Barthes’ definition of myth”
Cernunnos: a Jungian symbol?
To explore Jung’s theory of the unconscious I’m going to look at a very ancient symbol, that of the horned or antlered human. This symbol has been expressed by many cultures across the world – we find it in Africa, Asia and Europe in images dating from the very earliest periods of human history. IfContinue reading “Cernunnos: a Jungian symbol?”
Jung on myth and symbol.
All myths and symbols arise initially in peoples imaginations, and if they are artists they will express them in creative terms more or less understandable to those around them. All of human imaginative life is inherently influenced by the unconscious, that aspect of the psyche that’s outside of our awareness, containing such things as instinctsContinue reading “Jung on myth and symbol.”
Taliesin’s Power at Court
The legendary poems from The Book of Taliesin give us a little window onto the less formal activities of Welsh medieval court bards. Most of these poems are dramatic pieces that were very likely performed by bards and declaimers adopting the dramatic persona of the legendary Taliesin. The differing ages of some of these poemsContinue reading “Taliesin’s Power at Court”