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”
Category Archives: The Celtic Bard
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”
King Arthur and the Eagle
‘The Discourse of Arthur and the Eagle’ is a 12th century Welsh poem that was very popular in the Welsh oral and written tradition. Even though it’s a poem about Christian learning, it also draws on a far more pagan mythology.
Were the Welsh bards shamans?
A question that often arises on courses is whether or not the medieval Welsh bards — those that gave us the Taliesin myth as we understand it today — were shamans in any way? As always, the answer is more complex than a simple yes or no.
The Welsh Bardic Triads
The Welsh Bardic Triads (‘Trioedd Ynys Prydein‘) provide an index to the oral storytelling tradition of medieval Wales. They were used by bards across the centuries not only to help them remember the vast network of traditional myth and lore, but also to present a distinct vision of the ancient past.
Taken from the Gafael Tir tour 2018, a show I perform with my good friend Owen Shiers. Gafael Tir is a history of land-rights and protest in Wales, telling a thousand years of the common folks’ history through folk song, story and verse. Mwynhewch:
The bard as druid
Medieval Welsh bards had a taste for the theatrical. Like many men of high standing they had an appreciation of the power of drama. In the 12th century, Cynddelw Brydydd Mawr composed a poem blessing the Lord Rhys’ court gates, probably declaimed in a pounding voice as the old bard swished into the hall followedContinue reading “The bard as druid”
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 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”
Taliesin and bardic learning
This audio clip is from a course on The Welsh Bardic Tradition, held at Aberystwyth University; I haven’t included the course notes as some of them are scans from a published books. This excerpt summarises some of the initial features of the Taliesin persona as found in The Book of Taliesin, and takes a quickContinue reading “Taliesin and bardic learning”