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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”

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.”

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.”

What does Annwfn mean?

In the Beirdd y Tywysogion series, the editors have interpreted a line by Cynddelw in the following way: In Annwfn, in the world, in the sea – . . . This doesn’t really make much sense, which leads me to consider alternative readings. It’s probably worth considering how court bards such as Cynddelw thought aboutContinue reading “What does Annwfn mean?”