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Bringing the Tales and Stories of the Ancient Celts to your Fireside

Category: Welsh Mythology (Page 1 of 2)

Welsh Traditions and Folklore

Welsh Costume - Welsh Traditions

Welsh Traditional Costume

Wales is a country steeped in tradition. Even the Methodist revival in the 18th century, whose stern Puritanism banished the ancient Celtic traditions, was unable to stamp out all remains of their traditions.

Today the old tales are kept alive by the Welsh speakers. There are an estimated 600,000 of them and the numbers are increasing. Traditional Welsh culture has been kept alive by the popularity of the Royal National Eisteddfod, a ceremonial gathering of musicians, poets and craftsmen.

In the late 19th century children were not encouraged to speak Welsh in school. If they did so, they were punished by having a piece of wood called a ‘Welsh Not’ hung around their neck.

Love Spoons – historic Welsh Tradition

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Where is the largest collection of Arthurian books in the UK?

In 2015, Bangor University received a large donation of rare and valuable Arthurian books from Flintshire County Council. The University reported:

Bangor University can now boast the largest collection of Arthurian books in Wales and the north of England, following an agreement with Flintshire County Council, who have donated a rare and valuable Arthurian Collection to the University’s Library and Archives.
The newly arrived collection is well suited to its new home. Bangor University has a 50 year history of significant contribution to the study of Arthurian literature. Dr Radulescu, who currently leads the Arthurian literature courses at Bangor University, is internationally renowned for her activity in shaping the field of Arthurian studies through her editorship of the Journal of the International Arthurian Society (JIAS) and the Annual Bibliography of the International Arthurian Society (BIAS); she contributes regularly to radio and TV programmes on medieval studies and the Arthurian legend and was recently interviewed on the Australian ABC national radio on this topic.

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Cantre'r Gwaelod - the Sunken Land or Lowland Hundred

4,000 year-old Deer antlers found off Welsh coast

A dear friend of ours pointed us to a discovery made during the Spring this year of a set of 4,000 year-old Red Deer antlers on a beach in Borth, Ceredigion in Wales. Recent storms have revealed a whole new section of the Sunken Lands in Cardigan Bay. From 5,000 year-old trees whose stumps have been preserved by the peat, to parts of a wattle walkway made of branches, sticks or logs that must have enabled people to cross the wet ground easily. Now a huge set of antlers, identified as belonging to a Red Deer, have been found found under 1 metre of water.

There’s an ancient folk tale about Cantre’r Gwaelod, or the Sunken Hundred, which was once a fertile land and township before it was lost beneath waves. It is believed that the land extended nearly 20 miles west of Cardigan Bay, but Cantre’r Gwaelod was lost to floods when, apparently, Mererid, the priestess of a fairy well had neglected her duties, resulting in the well overflowing.

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The Mythology of the Green Man and the Green Knight

The Significance of Green

Green has been known for untold ages as the colour of the fairy. Green was so universally recognised, as the colour of the fairy that many in Scotland refused to wear it as to do so would be to invite the anger of the fairy folk. “Greenies” and “greencoaties” were common euphemisms used in Britain for the fairy.

Green was a colour shunned by many as being associated with evil fairies and witches. But why green? Green is also associated with nature, with ripening life, with fertility and that is the reason.

Green was a colour shunned by many as being associated with evil fairies and witches. But why green? Green is also associated with nature, with ripening life, with fertility and that is the reason.

During the formation of Christianity nature was seen to exist for the pleasure and consumption of man. That nature should exist as an entity unto herself, with powers beyond man’s, was a thought that put fear into many.

Later, nature was viewed as evil and anything associated with nature was seen in a similar way. That green represented the power and fertile life of nature slowly came to be associated with evil, and thus Pagan, forms bent on the torment of mankind.

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Green Fairy Islands of Wales


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Green faeries Islands from the Green Fairy Islands of Wales article

Faerie Island

A form of Welsh popular belief as to the whereabouts of fairy-land corresponds with the Avalon of the Arthurian legends. The green meadows of the sea, called in the triads Gwerddonau Lion, are the Green fairy islands of Wales.

Many extraordinary superstitions survive with regard to these islands. They were supposed to be the abode of the souls of certain Druids, who, not holy enough to enter the heaven of the Christians, were still not wicked enough to be condemned to the tortures of Annwn, and so were accorded a place in this romantic sort of purgatorial paradise. In the fifth century a voyage was made, by the British king Gavran, in search of these enchanted islands; with his family he sailed away into the unknown waters, and was never heard of more.

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"Dark Angel" from the Ravens in Celtic Mythology article

Ravens in Celtic Mythology


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Ravens figure heavily in Celtic mythology and legend. They were linked to darkness and death – especially the death of warriors in battle. Celtic war goddesses often took the form of a raven. In “The Dream of Rhonabwy”, the knight Owein battles King Arthur in a dream world assisted by ravens. Some tales suggest that the great King Arthur himself was turned in to a raven upon his death.

Rhonabwy is the most literary of the medieval Welsh prose tales. It may have also been the last written. A colophon at the end declares that no one is able to recite the work in full without a book, the level of detail being too much for the memory to handle. The comment suggests it was not popular with storytellers, though this was more likely due to its position as a literary tale rather than a traditional one.

The frame story tells that Madog sends Rhonabwy and two companions to find the prince’s rebellious brother Iorwerth. One night during the pursuit they seek shelter with Heilyn the Red, but find his house filthy and his beds full of fleas. Lying down on a yellow ox-skin, Rhonabwy experiences a vision of Arthur and his time.

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Cadair Bronwen from the Welsh Goddesses in the Landscape of Wales article

Welsh Goddesses in the Landscape of Wales


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We are very proud to have permission to bring you this article by Cherryl Straffon from Goddess Alive about the ladies from the Mabinogion and their place in the Welsh Landscape. She says:

Welsh myth and legend is replete with Goddess figures. As recorded in The Mabinogi and other early Welsh texts, the stories of Welsh Goddesses like Rhiannon, Branwen/ Bronwen, Arianrhod, Blodeuwedd and Cerridwen have echoed down through the ages, and their tales are just as relevant today (see for example ‘Arianrhod’ by Claire Hamilton.) Given their importance to the early Celts in Wales it would not be surprising to find traces of them in the Welsh landscape, where a number of natural features are named after them. Arianrhod can be found at Caer Arianrhod, a rock 1.2km/¾mile off the west coast of North Wales.

It is all that remains of the land where the Goddess and her women attendants dwelt in a story from the Fourth branch of The Mabinogi. Her son was called Dylan, who became a sea God, and in Claire’s words, she was “a very powerful Goddess, guardian of the Seat of Poetic Inspiration and linked with the sea, the moon and the stars”. Her land was eventually inundated and all the inhabitants were drowned, but this may be later patriarchal disapproval of a free and independent Goddess-woman who shared her land with other women and had powerful magic powers.

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SP42 2016 News Update Show – New CMP Episode


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We soar into 2016 with a Special News update Show to bring you all the latest News from the Celtic Myth Podshow team (that’s us, Gary & Ruthie!). In this show, you’ll also hear 6 amazing pieces of music and a small reading by Professor Roland Rotherham from his new book, Sacred Falls: Saint Nectan and the Legacy of the Dragon. The Professor is a renowned Arthurian scholar and has appeared on our Show before, We heard him give a lecture about the “Ladies of the Grail” in Special Episode No. 14. You can read all about it and listen to the show again by going to http://celticmythpodshow.com/ladiesofthegrail. We finish off with a Promo for The Mythology Podcast and hope to see you soon!

How to Listen to the News Update Show

The Episode is available for subscribers to the feed, in iTunes, or you can download it or listen to it from our Episodes page. You can also listen on your Mobile Device by getting hold of our App (see above). You can read more details about the current show in the Shownotes.

Subscribing?

If you come to the site and listen or listen from one of our players – have you considered subscribing? It’s easy and you automatically get the episodes on your computer when they come out. If you’re unsure about the whole RSS/Subscribing thing take a look at our Help page.

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iphoneYou can also now download a Celtic Myth Podshow App from the iTunes store. This is the most convenient and reliable way to access the Celtic Myth Podshow on your iPhone or iPod Touch. You’re always connected to the latest episode, and our App users have access to exclusive bonus content, just touch and play! To find out more visit the iTunes Store or our Description Page.

CMP App on AmazonYou can now also find an Android version of the App which works identically to the iPhone version. You can find it on Amazon or by clicking the image to the right.
Windows Phone AppYou can now also find the Windows Phone App in the Windows Phone Store.
If you come to the site and listen or listen from one of our players – have you considered subscribing? It’s easy and you automatically get the episodes on your computer when they come out. If you’re unsure about the whole RSS/Subscribing thing take a look at our Help page.
Cauldron - "From Cauldron to Grail in Celtic Mythology"

From Cauldron to Grail in Celtic Mythology


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The transformation from Cauldron to Grail is a theme that occurs throughout Celtic Mythology – from the Cauldrons of the Dagda and Cerridwen to the Holy Grail of King Arthur. In one part of the Mabinogion, which is the cycle of myths found in Welsh legend, Cerridwen brews up a potion in her magical cauldron to give to her son Afagddu (Morfran). She puts young Gwion in charge of guarding the cauldron, but three drops of the brew fall upon his finger, blessing him with the knowledge held within. Cerridwen pursues Gwion through a cycle of seasons until, in the form of a hen, she swallows Gwion, disguised as an ear of corn. Nine months later, she gives birth to Taliesin, the greatest of all the Welsh poets.

The Cauldron of Knowledge

Cerridwen’s magical cauldron held a potion that granted knowledge and inspiration — however, it had to be brewed for a year and a day to reach its potency. Because of her wisdom, Cerridwen is often granted the status of Crone, which in turn equates her with the darker aspect of the Triple Goddess (as envisaged in modern paganism). As a goddess of the Underworld, Cerridwen is often symbolized by a white sow, which represents both her fecundity and fertility and her strength as a mother. She is both the Mother and the Crone; many modern Pagans honour Cerridwen for her close association to the full moon.

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Original Artwork: Arianrhod’s Sky by Selena Fenech - "Women of the Celts: the Welsh Goddess Arianrhod – Bad Mother or Mythic Goddess?"

Women of the Celts: the Welsh Goddess Arianrhod – Bad Mother or Mythic Goddess?


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We’re very proud to bring you an article by Claire Hamilton about the famous Welsh Goddess. She says:

Arianrhod was a Welsh Goddess who lived on an island off the west coast of Wales. At the centre of her castle was a turning glass tower, which contained the mystical Seat of Poetic Inspiration. Her name Arianrhod means ‘starry wheel’.

She is obviously a very powerful Celtic Goddess even though she apparently completely disgraces herself as a mother within her story.

The Story of the Welsh Goddess Arianrhod

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