Brú na Bóinne (Newgrange)

Brú na Bóinne is an enormous passage grave in Ireland that was built about five thousand years ago, and it was considered a dwelling place of gods for at least three and a half thousand years. So how come this ancient monument played such a prominent role in Irish history?

The Twrch Trwyth

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?

The Conversion of the British Celts

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?

Celtic Source: Is Rhiannon a goddess?

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.

Celtic Source: Gaels and Picts

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?

 

Awen and Awenydd in Angar Kyfundawt

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

Afagddu’s declamation:

skilfully he brought forth

speech in metre.

Gwion utters

[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],

[and] in the lands of the world.

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