During the 20th century, tales of the mythic Taliesin travelled beyond Wales. Today, all over the world, Taliesin is the first point of contact for anyone wanting to explore Celtic mythology in the modern era. Inevitably, this old Welsh myth has evolved into something new, a modern myth that reinvents Taliesin for a different culture. Yet behind this new creation lies a much older Welsh tradition that stretches back into the early history of Britain. This video course introduces the original source texts for the Taliesin tradition, one of the oldest living myths of the Celtic nations.
Each of the 6 chapters takes a look at one of the main strands in the Welsh Taliesin tradition, considering how its mythology evolved and speculating on how it was used at different periods in Welsh history. Using original texts from the most reliable editions, the course focusses on interpreting the different poems associated with Taliesin.
A new video will be emailed to you every day. Each video is accompanied by a question that you can answer and a space for you to ask a question of your own. Answers and questions will be discussed every Monday night, 7:30pm UK Time (Starts Sept. 9th) on the Celtic Source Facebook Page. Details and links will be sent during the course.
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A slightly different take on a series of posts I made a few years back on the Twrch Trwyth (now taken down as I rewrite).
The Twrch Trwyth, a nobleman transformed into a giant boar, is one of the more prominent characters in Welsh myth. In the tale of Culhwch and Olwen he is hunted by Arthur and his men, but not even these great heroes can vanquish this most terrible of enchanted beasts. So why is the Trwch Trwyth so impossible to kill?
Christianity is one of the most successful religions ever. Through out its long history it has gained enormous political and cultural power, and attracted the devotion of billions. So what was the key to its success in Celtic Britain?
The general consensus among Celtic scholars used to be that Rhiannon, the otherworldly queen of the Mabinogi, was originally a horse goddess. But in more recent decades this idea has been viewed with scepticism. So is she or isn’t she? The answer is both yes and no.
Fifteen hundred years ago, northern Britain was home to many cultures, perhaps the most important being the Gaels and the Picts, two originally distinct peoples that came together to lay the foundations of modern day Scotland. But who were they and what finally united them?
Here’s an excerpt from the discussion we had last week on the role of the awenydd and awen, at this point in the conversation from the perspective of The Book of Taliesin poem ‘Angar Kyfundawt’.
My translation of the beginning of the poem is below. As I explained in this series of blog posts a few years back, it’s a bit different to Marged Haycock’s translation in Legendary Poems from The Book of Taliesin.
If you’d like to sit this 12 week course in September 2019, there are still places left so do get in touch. You can find out more about the course on the celticsource.online website.
Angar Kyfundawt, lines 1 – 39:
The poet — here he is!
I’ve [already] sung what he may sing.
Let him sing [only] when
the sage has drawn to a close wherever he may be.
A generous one who refuses me
will never get anything to give.
Through the language of Taliesin
[will come] the profit of manna.
When Cian died
his retinue was numerous.
Until death it shall be obscure
skilfully he brought forth
speech in metre.
[and a] deep one will come;
he [Gwion] would bring the dead to life,
and [yet] he is poor.
They [Afagddu and Gwion] would make their cauldrons
that were boiling without fire;
they would work their materials
for ever and ever.
Passionately will song be brought fourth
by the deep, profound speaker.
Hostile is the confederacy [of opposing bards];
what is its custom?
[Since] such a great amount of the nation’s poetry
was on your tongues
why don’t you declaim a declamation,
a flow above the shining drink?
When everyone’s separated out
I’ll come with a song,
[I’m] a deep one who became flesh:
there has come a conqueror,
one of the three judges in readiness.
For sixty years
I endured solitude
in the water gathered in a band [around the earth],