The Magic of Meaning
April 22nd, 2021, every Thursday, 7:30pm UK time (15:30 EDT; 12:30 PDT)
This is the 7th incarnation of this course, and each successive incarnation has built upon the last. As with the earlier versions, our main aim is to stimulate interpretation, to feel out the contours of the ancient myths contained in The Four Branches of the Mabinogi, and attempt to apprehend the old truths concealed in its symbols.
The Four Branches is an old Welsh classic that was first written down about 900 years ago. It appears to be a collection of traditional tales that probably originated in the oral storytelling tradition of the early Welsh. But in truth, we don’t know much about their history, the only real certainty is that they were written down by some talented, but unknown, author.
The Four Branches are set in a past where the Welsh aristocracy still claim the Crown of London, and consider the whole of Britain to be their sovereign territory. Historically speaking, this would have been about 2000 years ago. They are set in a past where the Romans, never mind the Saxons, are yet to arrive in Britain.
The general approach on this course is to read The Four Branches as teaching tales for the young nobility of medieval Wales. We will consider how this ancient Celtic mythology was used by storytellers, and ask what the tales could mean, because, as Pwyll himself declaims in the first branch “There is some magical meaning there.”
Some testimonials . . .
“Gwilym has an extraordinary academic command of this material, yet allows space to imagine into the unknown spaces beyond the texts, resulting in learning experiences which are rigorous as well as meditative. A valuable teacher.”
Ilka Tampke, Author and Lecturer
“Equally academically solid and inspired by turns, Gwilym’s work is fascinating, highly detailed and easily accessible at the same time. . . . I am so delighted to have found this wellspring of ancient literature, lore and insight.”
Danu Forest, Author and Teacher
“. . . an ocean of inspiration that has enriched and informed various elements of my poetry in subsequent years. Gwilym is a friendly, supportive tutor and both courses offered invaluable, unique insight into many aspects of Welsh myth and poetry.”
Sophie Mckeand, Poet, teacher and Traveller
All of the information you need about taking part is provided below, but should you have any further questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Shape of the Course
The course lasts 12 weeks, and is made up of 12 online sessions held every Thursday at 7:30pm (UK time) beginning April 22nd, 2021.
- Before each session I’d like you to read a section from The Four Branches. The text isn’t supplied with the course materials, so you will have to buy a copy. The translation I suggest is by Sioned Davies in The Mabinogion (OUP 2007). There is also a Kindle edition. Please DON’T use the Lady Charlotte Guest translation that’s freely available online.
- Come along every Thursday, 7:30pm UK time (15:30 EDT; 12:30 PDT), beginning April 22. We’ll be using the free Zoom conferencing software for the course. I’ll send you a link just before the first session. When using Zoom for the first time, after clicking on the link you’ll be prompted to download a small piece of software. Agree to all of the permissions and you should be guided through to an online chatroom. If you want to try it out before we begin, let me know and we’ll arrange a test call. You don’t have to use the video option if you don’t want to, but you will need to use your screen as I’ll be sharing images and text for you to look at.
- Every online session is recorded, so if you miss one, you can watch back at a more convenient time. All of the course materials and recordings will be kept on the course web-page. I’ll share it with you in our first session.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: I do sometimes make the recordings available for sale to the wider public. If you don’t wan’t to feature in those publicly available recordings, please let me know as I can easily edit you out. I will remind you all of this before we begin, but unless otherwise stated, by subscribing to the course you give permission for me to use your contribution to the recording. This use will only ever be within the context of the recorded discussion, never out of that context.