In Service to Creiddylad

So, to You, 
finally I turn, still 
not knowing truly
who You are,

how, twenty years ago,
my philosophy tutor criticised me
for prioritising the sublime over the beautiful. 

Yes- the sublime is Him – the power within and beyond
the land, in Annwn, in the cold mountains, the ice of the Ice Age,
all that threatens to tear the body, the mind, the soul apart,
yet, like Rilke’s angels, disdains entirely to destroy us.

And yes – the beautiful is You – the power who arrives
after the winter, after the Ice Age, You who brought the flowering plants
after your mother brought the mosses many aeons ago.

After being torn apart You are the one who heals after the awe,
after the awful, after near-death, the out-breath of the Awen – Life.

I have always avoided the beautiful, drawn instead to the darkness
where beauty cannot be seen because it is too painful.

That’s why You come veiled to Your suitors in Your white dress,
why only He can undress You, fully understands you…

To them You are always riding away on Your white winged horse.

In their longing they do not see the gifts of the flowers
You leave in your steps, Your beauty unveiled in every hoof print.

They long only to tame You, yoke You, at the mounting block.

I shall not be like them, seeking to master You, possess You,
instead I shall come with reverence for Your veil,  Your veiled ones, 
with a patience for every flower, not forcing them to reveal their secrets.

I, who have served Death, will learn to put Life beside Him as a Goddess.

It was a long, long time ago when I was criticised for prioritising the sublime over the beautiful. It has always stuck with me. I avoided our modern conception of beauty because it is so confused, so tainted, by the glossy photographs we see in magazines.

In the Welsh myths Creiddylad is described as ‘the most magnanimous maiden in the Islands of Britain’. She is generous, forgiving, She is the sister of Gwyn ap Nudd, King of Annwn, and His beloved. He is Otherness, She is Hereness, She is Presence, She is what we might call mindfulness today amongst the flowers.

I spent seven years with Him and now I am called to walk with Her in my new role as an ecologist.

My rearrangement of my altar reflects these changes as I give Gwyn and Creiddylad equal space. The plant is, oddly, a Bromeliad, from the tropical Americas, which I sensed She liked when I did our weekly food shopping at Morrisons. It represents the fact that neither plants nor gods know any boundaries.

7 thoughts on “In Service to Creiddylad

  1. Aurora J Stone says:

    You have been on an amazing journey to get to this point, Lorna. You now are able to celebrate the whole yea instead of mourning His loss for half of it. It is interesting that this comes as you are digging deeper into the life forces of the land and its many gifts and graces. I am very happy for this new path you are discovering, being called to follow – for it is truly just an extension of the path you have been on – it makes a lovely spiralling of the year.

  2. Greg Hill says:

    Sublimity and beauty are, course, interacting sensations that feed off each other, but only if we take ‘beauty’ in its non-trivial sense of that which takes us out of ourself and into a transcendent experience.

    Interesting that you evoke Creiddylad with horse imagery. Your reference to a lifted veil reminds me of Rhiannon coming veiled but then lifting it to speak to Pwyll and so revealing her beauty and indeed her ‘glamour’ (again in the non-trivial sense of magical aura).

    Your definition of her as ‘Presence’ is one I would endorse, even in her absence in Winter which implies presence by identifying a space which waits to be filled.

  3. Tiege McCian says:

    I really enjoyed reading and detecting all the allusions to myths embedded in this poem!
    This was my favorite bundle of lines in terms of imagery:
    ‘You are the one/ who heals after the awe,/ after the awful, after near-death, the out-/ breath of the Awen – Life.’

    But this one was very impactful on a personal, emotional level:

    ‘they do not see the gifts of/ the flowers/
You leave in your steps, Your beauty/ unveiled in every hoof print.’

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