Canu Llywarch Hen, the sequence of 9th century Welsh poems about the tragedy of Llywarch the Old and his 24 sons, is one of the most important works in Welsh literature. But far from joining in with the pomp and pageantry of traditional praise poetry, instead it reveals a darker side of the hero mythContinue reading “The Dark Side of the Hero Myth pt 1”
Category Archives: Celtic Studies
The Song of Heledd pt 2
In this second video on Canu Heledd (‘The Song of Heledd’) we look at what could have led to such a tragedy. There are suggestions in the poems that Heledd considers herself to be to blame for the death of her brother and the fall of his territory. If you’re intending to follow the Ystoria Taliesin courseContinue reading “The Song of Heledd pt 2”
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”
Why interpret myths?
In answer to a question that comes up every now and again: Why focus on interpretation? Shouldn’t we just cover the historical facts and let people decide for themselves what something means? Unfortunately, sometimes the facts just aren’t enough . . .
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”