Ceridwen

I am a Brythonic Cymric Celt, a pre-Christian pagan; my goddess, Ceridwen.

Hence, my dream.

How did he come here? Who gave him the key? Who slipped it into his hand so secretly? And who put the colour, like lines on his face? Who brought him here to our pagan place?

Now, who shot his arrow? How high did it fly? When he tipped it with poison, did he even know why? What unseen hand brought him face to our face, with all this and more, in our pagan place?

Come into my parlour, sail in at my shore, drink my soul dry, there is always more, there is always more. 

Fly on my carpet, look into my face, see the heart of man, in a pagan place.

The Story of Ceridwen

The name Ceridwen comes from the Welsh – cerdd – meaning poetry or song and – wen, (a contraction of gwyn – meaning white, fair or holy). Ceridwen, according to Welsh legends and folklore, was a white sorceress, and is considered to be the goddess of poetry, inspiration, and of the cauldron of transfiguration.

Ceridwen was mother of and workmistress to the famous sixth century Welsh bard, Taliesin. She was married to the giant, Tegid Foel, and lived on the shores of Bala Lake, Llyn Tegid, with their two children, the very beautiful daughter Creirwy and their extremely ugly and stupid son, Morfran. No magic of Ceridwen had yet been able to cure Morfran, but she kept on trying.

Continuing in her effort to create a potion to make Morfran both handsome and wise, once again, she had something brewing in her cauldron,. The servant boy of Ceridwen and Tegid Foel,  Gwion Bach, was given the job of stirring the concoction for a year and a day. According to the legend, only the first three drops of the preparation were effective; the rest was poisonous. Gwion Bach, wearied of the task, flagged in his attention, growing a bit careless. The first three crucial drops fell onto him. He put his hand to his mouth to stop the burning and instantly he became clever, good-looking, and capable of changing his shape.

He ran away, terrified of Ceridwen’s temper, and turned himself into a rabbit. Transforming herself into a dog, Ceridwen followed the rabbit. The boy then changed himself into a fish, and jumped into the river; swiftly followed by an otter, once Ceridwen. Gwion changed from fish to bird; and Ceridwen, from otter to hawk. And the chase persisted. Finally, the bird became a grain of corn; the hawk became a hen – and swallowed him up.

When Ceridwen returned to her normal self, sorceress and goddess, she discovered that she was pregnant and she knew that the baby was Gwion. She planned to kill him as soon as he was born, but the baby was far too beautiful; so she just put him into a large leather bag, and threw him into the sea.

The bag was found in the nets of the fishers of the annual salmon catch on the River Dyfi, Afon Dyfi, which was presented to a theretofore unlucky prince, Prince Elffin. On opening the bag, Elffin discovered the baby boy – Gwion, who had been reborn as Taliesin.

This foundling was a marvel, a wonder, a prodigy, because no sooner had poor Elffin placed the baby in front of him on his saddle than Taliesin, meaning ‘how radiant is his brow’, started, first, speaking, then, reciting poetry, and, then, making predictions about how Elffin would now defeat all his enemies. How could he fail with Taliesin’s help?

Elffin’s luck changed from that moment, and Taliesin, through his poems and his prophecy, became the most famous bard in Celtic Britain, inspiring the Celtic warriors against their Saxon invaders.

Towards the end of his life, Taliesin made a prophecy about the fate of the Brythonic Cymric Celts,  which still resounds today –

Their goddess they shall praise; their language they shall keep; their land they shall lose.