My Lady of the Autumn Flowers

let me ride with you
into the sunset of calendula.
Let me weep Michaelmas daisies
in the purple of dusk.

Let me ride the mountains
to gather wolfsbane in a distant land
where it was spat from the jaws
of a monstrous hound.

Let me sit and count violas
so delicate as you count the days
down until you leave for the place
from which flowers come.

The Summer King is dead.
Your coffin is waiting in Annwn.
It shall be adorned with flowers.
The Winter King awaits.

We both hear on the crystal wind
the baying of his hounds –
call of the otherplace
growing stronger and stronger.

Let me ride with you
these last moons see your face
in the faces of flowers marking the days
until you return to Annwn.

‘Voices from the Water Country’ published on Gods & Radicals

‘The sites where the heads of ancestors were buried were no doubt seen as especially sacred. As places where the living and the dead, Thisworld and Otherworld, the people and the gods met. Each would have its stories passed down from generation to generation and rituals surrounding it. It is likely that, at liminal times, such as Nos Galan Gaeaf/Samhain, the seers of the Setantii tribe would commune with their dead and their heads would speak again.’

My article ‘Voices from the Water Country’ has been published on Gods & Radicals HERE.

Strong as an Aurochs, Patient as a Heron

A figure has been appearing in my journeys back to the time of the ancient Britons to the lake dwelling on the marshland close to the green hill that put the ‘pen’ in my home town of Penwortham.

I first saw her as I approached the dwelling on a wooden pole decorated with animals. Amongst them she sat seated cross-legged on a bull with a crane in flight emerging from her head above her.

The second time I encountered her within the dwelling itself, again in a meditative position, a cord of light down her spine shining upward through the smoke hole into the heavens and down into the earth. She was encircled by worlds, flickering in out of existence, like juggling balls or fairy orbs.

Read this and you will probably be put in mind of non-Western traditions. Yet there is evidence that, like the Native Americans, the ancient Britons carved and erected ‘totem poles’ displaying sacred animals. For example at Stonehenge there were four pits with post holes dated to between 8,500 and 7000 BC.

I like to think of the new wooden carvings on poles between the docks and the hill on the Ribble and upriver on Frenchwood Knoll as expressions of animistic relationships with local creatures and as a call from our ancient ancestors to return to their worldview in which the natural world is inspirited.

Again, the cross-legged figure will likely put you in mind of the lotus position of the Buddhist and Hindu traditions. Yet, the artwork on the Gundestrup Cauldron, dating to between 200 BC and 300 AD, features Gaulish artwork including an antlered figure sitting cross-legged surrounded by animals.

It seems likely this position was adopted for meditation by the Indo-European and Eastern cultures because it works. It was possibly used in Gaul and in Britain by spirit-workers when journeying into the spirit world to meet with animal spirits and to shift into animal forms and invoke their qualities.

The fluid relationships between human and animal, and shapeshifting, are fundamental to Celtic art. In relation to my vision Tarvos Trigaranus, ‘the Bull with Three Cranes’, appears with the divine woodsman, Esus, on the Pillar of the Boatman from Paris and on a pillar from Trier and may be related to statues of bulls with three horns found at Autun and at Maiden Castle in Dorset.

A bronze bucket mount found at Ribchester, fifteen miles up the river Ribble from Penwortham, features a bull with knobbed horns and a prey bird emerging from its head with a human head on the back.

It has been suggested that the image of the Bull with Three Cranes may have originated from the mutual relationship between cattle and cattle egrets who stand on their backs and eat their lice as well as eating the worms and insects from the soil that is overturned by their great hooves.

Maybe this is the case but I also feel such images are representative of the human impulse to participate in and become one with the wider ecosystem, to feel the strength of aurochs, the joy of crane. To be taken out of oneself, to get out of one’s head, to soar with the wetland and prey birds.

I’ve recently been having a difficult time not only because of the stress of COVID-19 as a threat to the lives of my parents and an obstacle to finding paid work in conservation, but because my mum had a fall and broke her hip and had to have a hip replacement on top of my dad’s ongoing health problems.

Through this time in my morning meditations I have been guided to take the position of this ancestral figure and to invoke the strength of the aurochs and, rather than the qualities of the crane, the patience of the heron. I believe this is because this is a time, not of joyful dancing, but of waiting.

Aurochs is an animal I have long felt a connection with due to early experiences in journeys leading me to the aurochs skulls in the Harris Museum which were found in the vicinity of the lake dwelling. I often wonder whether some were offerings to my patron, Vindos/Gwyn, a hunter god referred to as a ‘bull of battle’. Whatever the case they are primordial and powerful presences.

I have been seeing herons in increasing numbers along the Ribble and beside local lakes and ponds for many years. They are a bird I am much in awe of for their quiet waiting and sense of wisdom along with their quickness and determination. I have seen a heron tustling with a huge eel on the riverbank. Recently I came within a foot of a young heron absorbed in fishing beside the Lancaster canal.

‘Strong as an aurochs, patient as a heron,’ is my current chant and this and the image of the awenydd seated on an aurochs bulls with a heron emerging from her head help me get through the days.

I wonder whether the awenyddion of the past worked with and depicted the animal spirits in similar ways?

*With thanks to the Harris Museum for use of the photograph of the aurochs skulls.

The Edge

I’m back on Idris again at the edge
of Llyn Cau alone with the madness
of giants surrounded by the battle-fog
of Gwenddolau although Arfderydd
is distant, Myrddin, the gwyllon,
the seven-score men who lapsed
into wyllt-ness when battle-rage fled.

The ravens have left and I am alone
pondering the edge of a blade lost
in my brain-fog, my little Arfderydd,
the small traumas etched on my flesh.
Battle-scars, battle-madness, the battle-
field I thought I’d escaped long ago
when you appeared to Myrddin

as the brightness beyond endurance,
tore him out of himself and took him
to the forest of Celyddon to be healed.
When you walked out of the heroic age
and took me not like a maiden but like
one of your own taught me to fight
with Cyledyr, Cynedyr, Cynfelyn,

wilder than beasts of the mountains,
to howl with your hounds and exult in
the madness of giants bigger than dream.
Bull of Battle, Invincible Lord, teach me
again the art of turning pain into poetry,
to make this battle-fog my strength not
my enemy and this edge my blade.

Britain Begins – Debunking the Myth of Celtic Invasions

I have recently read Barry Cunliffe’s Britain Begins for the first time as part of my research into the origins of the veneration of the Brythonic gods. This excellent book has overturned one of the faulty preconceptions I have held since coming to Brythonic polytheism – the myth of Celtic invasions.

Up until now I had been working under the popular misconception put forward by earlier scholars that the Celtic people came from the east and migrated across Europe to invade Britain bringing their gods with them at some point during the Iron Age. This was based on the combination of the Biblical story of Noah’s children spreading out after the flood and classical sources recording Celtic migrations into Italy and Greece and the Balkans and Asia Minor. It was problematic for me as it ran against my gnosis that the Brythonic gods have been venerated here far longer and was a source of confusion.

Cunliffe has thankfully debunked this myth. He argues that there is no evidence for Celtic invasions. He begins his account of the beginnings of Britain with the first hunter-gatherer people moving north from Northern Iberia along the Atlantic seaways and west from the North European Plain across Doggerland. His argument is based on contemporary genetic research.

‘There is broad agreement amongst geneticists that a high percentage of the modern population can trace its ancestry back to the period of recolonization between the end of the Last Glacial Maximum and the beginning of the Neolithic period. One study offers quite startling figures for the percentages of the population whose ancestry pre-dates c.4000 BC: 88 per cent of the Irish, 81 per cent of the Welsh, 79 per cent of the Cornish, 70 per cent of the Scots, and 68 per cent of the English.’

‘Genetics… is demonstrating beyond reasonable doubt that a very high percentage of the British population, both male and female, are descended from hunter-gatherer pioneers who arrived before 4000BC, and it is showing that the Atlantic littoral zone provided one of the major corridors of movement.’

Archaeology combined with genetic studies and linguistics shows that the Celtic language, culture and religious system developed in Western Europe, in western and central Iberia, Gaul, Britain and Ireland.

Rather than our religion being imported the evidence suggests its origins may lie with the first people to repopulate Britain after the Ice Age and their networks of interactions with nearby peoples via the Atlantic and North Sea seaways and with settlers who arrived in two main movements.

Firstly people carrying the Linearbandkeramik and Impressed Ware cultures from eastern Europe and the Mediterranean brought ‘the Neolithic package’ – ‘a fully developed food-producing strategy based on the cultivation of barley and emmer wheat and the husbanding of domestic cattle, pigs, and sheep’. This spread amongst the indigenous people between 4200 – 3800. The excess time and energy created by farming led to the communal monument building traditions of long barrows, passage graves, cursus monuments, causewayed camps and later henge monuments and stone circles.

Secondly the influx of ‘Beaker people’ originating from the Tagus Valley in Iberia in 2500 BC brought metallurgy and the tradition of single burials with the famous bell beaker.

Cunliffe argues that the Celtic language developed as a Lingua Franca spoken in the Tagus Valley in Iberia between 4500 and 3000 BC and developed along the Atlantic seaways. Celtic was spoken in Britain and Ireland by 2000 BC and this was when the split appeared between the Goidelic and Brythonic languages.

It would have been at this time that the gods who were honoured in natural places such as rivers, lakes, springs, and groves, and at man-made monuments became known by Brythonic names.

Cunliffe suggests that, as the Celtic language developed in the West, so did the religious system. He says: ‘It may even be that Caesar was correct and that it had originated in Britain. At any event, the practice that became recognised as druidism in the last century of the first millennium BC had its roots deep in prehistory.’

Cunliffe’s argument fits with my gnosis that the veneration of the gods who I worship may have originated with the first people to colonise Britain and that they became known by Brythonic names as the language developed. Rather than, for example, Bel being imported by the Belgic peoples he may long have been a presence in Britain whose veneration spread to a continental tribe who made him their patron.

I have long felt that Vindos/Gwyn has been venerated here since at least the Ice Age as a hunter god who led the people back to Britain following the reindeer and wild horses with his wolves and ravens. Also that Rigantona/Rhiannon may have been a leader of these horse followers. Both have felt like very old and primal presences within the land and live on to today as Fairy King and Queen.

Cunliffe’s debunking of the myth of Celtic invasions has not only freed me from a flawed misconception but confirmed that it is legitimate to enquire into the origins of my deities in Britain’s deeper past.

Gwyn’s Feast 2020

Since 2013 I have been holding a feast day for my patron god, Gwyn ap Nudd, on the 29th of September. Drawing on his mythos as the King of Annwn presiding over an otherworldly mead-feast and leadership of the hunt for Twrch Trwyth, ‘King of Boars’, the focus is a meal of pork and apple served with mead with a plate and glass offered to Gwyn.

This is followed by readings of poetry, from the medieval Welsh poem ‘The Conversation of Gwyn ap Nudd and Gwyddno Garanhir’ translated by Greg Hill, to that of modern Gwyn devotees such as Robin Herne and Lee Davies. I have always seen this as a way of bringing folk devoted to Gwyn together in spirit and affirming his presence in the world following years of oppression and demonisation by Christianity.

Over the past few years Gwyn’s Feast has grown slowly with an increasing number of Brythonic polytheists and awenyddion honouring Gwyn on this occasion. This year there has been an exciting new development. Fellow awenydd and Gwyn dedicant Thornsilver is going to be hosting the first virtual Gwyn’s Feast in Land Sea Sky Travel’s Corvids and Cauldrons chat room. This is going to include devotions, discussions, and the sharing of poetry and personal stories and will take place from 10 AM PST / 1 PM EST / 6 PM London to 3 PM PST / 4 PM EST / 11 PM London. There is more information HERE. I’m hoping to attend and am happy and excited to see Gwyn’s Feast day drawing an increasing number of people together to honour him each year.

You can find out more about the background in terms of archaeological and literary evidence for Gwyn’s Feast and why it takes place on Michaelmas Day HERE.

This is a photograph of the bottom part of my current Gwyn altar. To the left and right are altars to Gwyn’s mother and father, Anrhuna, and Nodens/Nudd.

The Shifting Identities of the Gods

“On an island lives the King of Annwn with a mysterious woman and no-one knows whether she is his sister, his beloved, his wife, his queen, or his daughter.”

These were words gifted to me at the beginning of a drumming journey that I undertook with the guidance of my patron god, Gwyn ap Nudd, a King of Annwn/Faerie, after asking him about the links I have intuited between his sister and beloved, Creiddylad, the mare goddess, Rhiannon, and the mother goddess, Modron.

There is little written about Creiddylad, but we know, like Rhiannon, she is a Queen of Annwn. As I have got to know her Creiddylad has revealed she is also associated with roses and horses. One of her names is ‘First Rose’ and she rides and takes the form of a white winged horse. Parallels exist between Rhiannon giving birth to Pryderi and him disappearing the same night as a foal is captured by a monstrous claw and Modron giving birth to Mabon, who is stolen away when he is three nights old. Whilst Creiddylad and Rhiannon are consorts of the King of Annwn, Modron is his daugher.

My journey resulted in the series of visions recorded in my poem ‘The Baby’s Gone’. My gnosis suggests Creiddylad, Rhiannon, and Modron are the same goddess with shifting identities.

Further, in the ‘Rose Queen Triptych’ I was inspired to draw, Creiddylad, ‘The Rose Maiden’, shifts into Rhiannon, ‘The Rose Queen’, then into the Mari Llwyd, ‘The Bone Mare’.

This didn’t come as a great surprise as I had similar experiences with Gwyn. When I first came to polytheism about ten years ago I regarded myself to be a hard polytheist (someone who believes the gods are real individual persons) as opposed to a soft polytheist (someone who believes the gods are aspects of a single god or goddess or psychological archetypes). I still stand by that belief, however, it has become a lot more fluid.

One of the defining characteristics of the gods across cultures is that individual deities have many names and titles. A prime example is the Norse god, Odin. Over forty of his names are recorded in The Poetic Edda alone and he is known by many more in other texts. The Greek goddess, Demeter, possesses several epithets such as aganippe ‘night mare’ and chloe ‘the green shoot’.

Gwyn first revealed himself to me by that name as the King of Annwn/Faerie in 2012. After our initial meeting I made my main focus the myths in which he is known as Gwyn but swiftly found he lay behind a number of our Fairy King and Wild Huntsman legends in Lancashire and my past experiences with the fay and the faerie realm.

My experience of dedicating myself to Gwyn at the cauldron-like White Spring beneath Glastonbury Tor confirmed the links I had made between Gwyn feasting on Glastonbury Tor in The Life of St Collen and Pen Annwn presiding over a mead-feast with his cauldron were correct.

I was far more cautious about equating Gwyn with other Kings of Annwn. However, as I worked with the myths, intuiting the similarities between Gwyn and Arawn, both of whom are huntsmen who preside over otherworldly feasts, have beautiful brides, and fight a seasonal battle against a summer god each year, I found myself inhabiting their overlapping tales.

In one instance, in a dream, I was thrust into the role of Pwyll, who took the identity of Arawn in Annwn and had to fight Arawn’s battle, in Arawn’s form, against his rival, Hafgan. Only, in my dream I was taking the role of Gwyn and was preparing to battle against Gwythyr. This resulted in my poem ‘If I Had To Fight Your Battle’. In another, as I was walking my local landscape in winter, I felt for a moment like Arawn-as-Pwyll making a circuit of a thiswordly kingdom, only my identity became conjoined, instead, with Gwyn’s as Winter’s King. Again, I recorded my experience in a poem: ‘Winter Kingdom’. To me this proves Gwyn ‘White’ and Arawn (whose name a translation has not been agreed on) are names or titles of the same god who has shifting identities across time and place.

Similar experiences from intuiting links in the myths and being gifted with poems and visions have led me to believe the King of Annwn goes by many other names. These include Afallach, the Apple King who presides over Avalon and Melwas who shares similar associations with Glastonbury, Llwyd ‘Grey’ who puts an enchantment on the land and abducts Rhiannon and Pryderi in The Mabinogion, Brenin Llwyd, ‘The Grey King’ who haunts the misty Snowdonian mountains, Ugnach, a figure with ‘white hounds’ and ‘great horns’ whose otherworld feast Taliesin refuses to attend, and Ogyrven the Giant, who presides over the spirits of inspiration.

Additionally, the King of Annwn spoke to me directly of his shifting identities in this poem:

I speak from the infinite
joining of the circle
as the snake bites its tail

the moment of awen
in every always of the universe

the sea behind the sea
the land behind the land
the sun behind the sun.

I come from many deaths.
From many deaths
I am reborn.

Dis, Vindonnus, Vindos,
Llwyd, Brenin Llwyd, Arawn,
Ugnach, Melwas, Ogyrven.

Across the sea I am Finn.
For tonight I am Gwyn.

Thus it is unsurprising his consort, the Queen of Annwn, has many shifting identities too.

Interestingly, when I was involved with Dun Brython, it was very much Rhiannon/Rigantona who brought the group together in the beginning and I came later as a devotee of Gwyn. One of the other members also had a strong relationship with Gwyn and it was member Greg Hill’s translations of poems featuring Ogyrven and Ugnach that helped me decipher the aforementioned connections. When Greg and I set up the Awen ac Awenydd group many other Gwyn devotees were drawn to it and the King and Queen of Annwn feel very central to the Brythonic tradition in the modern day.

The Baby’s Gone

“The baby’s gone.”

I see her, the one I love,
surrounded by wilted flowers.
Her sheets, her dress, are torn, bloody.
It’s as if something with a monstrous claw…
Do not awake oh innocent one
taste the blood on your lips.

“The baby’s gone.”

She’s sitting bolt upright
clutching nothing to her breast
staring at her bloody hands sharp nails
and has she bitten her tongue?

“Murderer.” “Cannibal.”

And above the accusations
the howling of a stag-hound bitch
for her six slaughtered pups.

“The baby’s gone.”

The circles beneath her eyes
are dark as the moon that has ceased
to ride across the night skies as she crawls
on her hands and knees through the long dark tunnels.

Upon her back she carries the world as a theatre
acting out a mystery play that begins
as a nativity and grows dark.

“The baby’s gone.”

And is that his laughter
she hears on the other side
of the wall or is it some changeling
she follows fingers tracing hieroglyphs?

Has this happened before and did she draw
these very pictures to remind herself?
Seek not the truth at the heart
of the labyrinth dear one.

“The baby’s gone.”

In the play I am evil –
on my head there are bull’s horns.
They dare not admit I am her father or lover
or brother reaching out from behind the curtains
to take the son who is mine from
where she lay with another.

“The baby’s gone.”

Where did I put him this time?

She’s tracing the outline of an otter
and she is splashing through the water
on the bank of a river with him trying
to catch a silver salmon slipping

through his claws turning to stone –

a cold dead speckled fish and next
the dragonfly that landed on the end
of her nose and how we laughed…

She did not see the wolf in me.

“The baby’s gone.”

Yet I saw her wild horse.

She’s close to touching the truth.
She’s reading the symbols like braille.
On her back the bone mare is riding to the stable
where the claw lies severed fingers clutching
neither boy nor foal but emptiness.

(We cannot hold what we love.)

He is the object of her riddles.

“The baby’s gone.”

I am behind her curtains.

On the stage there is a man
beneath her skirts and the time
of revelation is drawing nigh.

“The baby’s gone.”

When she reaches the heart
of the labyrinth the truth is too terrible
to behold the centre unfolds.

She gallops back into not-knowing.

She is waiting outside the stable
for the old man leading a colt
with a boy upon his back.

Whose is this kindness?

“The baby’s gone.”

On Producing Monsters

In May I began work on a new mythic book which developed the working title The Dragon’s Tongue. In it I set out on an ambitious project to weave together a narrative about the formation and ordering of the world from a struggle between the Brythonic culture gods against the deities and monsters of Annwn.

It was woven from my personal intuitions about links between Anrhuna, a Brythonic dragon goddess* and the mother with Nodens/Nudd of Vindos/Gwyn and Kraideti/Creiddylad and Tiamat in Enuma Elish and the slaying of Tiamat and her monster-serpents by the culture hero, Marduk, and the battles between the giants and monsters of the otherworld and the Tuatha Dé Danann/Children of Don in ‘The Battle of Moytura’ and ‘The Battle of the Trees’ in the Irish and Welsh myths.

In the first section ‘Anrhuna and Nodens’ I told the story of the creation of the universe from the crochan – cauldron or womb – of Ceridwen, Old Mother Universe, and of how Anrhuna slipped into Annwn ‘the Deep’ and gave birth to dragon-children who departed to shape worlds including ours.

The Old Mother birthed Bel and Don and from their union came Nodens, Uidianos/Gwydion, Brigantia, Ambactonos/Amaethon, Gobannos/Gofannon, and Aryanrou/Arianrhod. When these deities desired to bring order to the chaos of our world, ruled by dragons, Nodens went to negotiate with them, fell in love with Anrhuna, and this resulted in the birth of Vindos and Kraideti.

When Nodens failed to return his kindred made war against him and the dragons and Lugus/Lleu, who was begotten on Aryanrou by Uidianos by magic, slew Anrhuna, and her nine heads were bound on the Towers of the Wyrms. This resulted in the weakening and binding of the dragons of the world and the imprisonment of the giants (early children of the Old Mother) in their own fortresses.

In the second section ‘Vindos and Kraideti’ the children watched the defeat of their father and slaughter of their mother from the secret place where Nodens had hidden them and Vindos vowed to take vengeance. The pair rescued their mother’s womb from where it had been taken after her death by the winged serpents at the cost of Kraideti sacrificing her own womb in exchange, leaving her infertile.

From her womb Anrhuna was reborn as Matrona and she married Nodens and they brought life to the world. The rest of this section covered how Kraideti came into her power as a fertility goddess and Vindos as a god of the dead and ruler of Annwn and his battle with Graidos/Gwythyr for Kraideti. This resulted in a strange marriage between the three of them. An added twist was that, whilst Kraideti could not give birth to children in this world, in Annwn her womb gave birth to monsters.

In the third section ‘Lugus the Giant Slayer’ I told of release of the giants from imprisonment in their fortresses after the Ice Age and their alliance with Vindos. Uidianos, Lugus, and their kindred came to battle against the giants and Vindos and the monsters of Annwn who were defeated. Yet Vindos finally gained vengeance on Lugus by seducing his wife and mortally wounding him with a poisoned spear, which led to the scene of his epiphany in eagle form on the oak in the Fourth Branch.

I completed the fourth section ‘The Knowledge of Uidianos’ and the fifth section ‘The Black Dragon’ on the first draft but found there were too many problems with the first three sections to make it worth returning to these on the second draft. Plus… I don’t want to give away all my secrets yet…

My main result, to date, is a second draft of the first three sections that is 50,000 words long. I completed this at the beginning of August and have since been reflecting on it – weighing it both against the existing myths and my personal experiences with the deities whose myths I have retold. I also sent it out to my patrons and have had five sets of feedback, which have been invaluable.

My main problem has been with misfits between the story of Lugus, reconstructed from the stories of Lleu in the Welsh myths and Lugh in the Irish myths, and my version of the slaying of Anrhuna and the giants. Having recently returned to re-read the original sources the meaning at the core of the story of Lugus is that the giant he slays is his grandfather, which is an important element missing from my myth. I believe this can be worked, possibly for the better, by having Lugus opposed to Bel. I’m not sure how this would fit with his slaying of Anrhuna or his rivalry with Vindos yet though.

Whilst I have had positive feedback about the primordial power and significance of Anrhuna as a Dragon Mother, who gives birth not only to dragons and monster-serpents the monsters of Annwn, I don’t feel I’ve got her death scene right yet. I not sure she was really slain by Lugus. Or if she was slain at all. For she is very much alive to me in the here and now (something I got round in the book by having the Spirit of Anrhuna tutor Vindos and raise him to the position of King of Annwn).

Another problem I encountered was in my depiction of Anrhuna giving birth to monsters. There is a fundamental difference between viviparity (live birth) and oviparity (egg laying). If she is a dragon, and hence reptilian, would she not be laying eggs rather than giving birth? However I hazarded this could be set aside as I’m working with myth, which contains births from heads and thighs, not biology.

I also wondered whether my story about Kraideti giving up her womb and it birthing monsters in Annwn was a subconscious reflection of my choice not to have real children but to dedicate my life to creativity. In particular to giving voice to the gods and monsters of Annwn whose stories are untold.

Whilst I was reflecting on this Goya’s painting and its title ‘The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters’ kept popping into my head and it felt like a fitting phrase summarising my decision when I set out to write the first draft of eschewing critical reflection and allowing the awen to flow wherever it willed at the outset.

I produced a lot of monsters. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It also fits with stories about monstrous births in the Welsh myths. Some are only hinted at. Goleuddydd gives birth to Culhwch ‘Slender Piglet’. Rhiannon, a Queen of Annwn, is punished for suspected cannibalism of her own son who like his mother, the Mare Goddess, may have taken the form of a foal.

Some are more explicit. The brothers Gwydion and Gilfaethwy are forced to shapeshift into male and female animals and together they give birth to a deer, a boar, and a wolf, ‘three hideous sons’. Henwen, the White Sow, births a grain of wheat, a bee, a wolf, an eaglet and the monstrous Cath Palug.

Whilst I am in no way happy with the second draft and am aware I have a lot more reading and reflection ahead I have experienced a number of gains from the process. Firstly I have proved to myself that when I am immersed in something I am capable of working on it almost every hour of the day from when I get up at 5am until I go to bed 9pm and of producing 50,000 words that fit together by their own internal logic within three months.

Secondly, whilst I set out to write a personal myth due to my fears about being unable to write on the Brythonic tradition due to insecurities caused by the debates around cultural appropriation, I’ve found working through the problems with this approach has taken me back to the original sources and deeper. I’ve experienced feelings of acceptance by the family of Bel and Don as I share their stories, this has enlivened my awenydd path, and I’ve started learning Welsh again after a six month hiatus.

Thirdly, my writing of Creiddylad/Kraideti’s story along with personal experiences with her as a goddess of flowers this year in my garden has filled in a black hole in my personal mythos. For a long time I have been aware of the absence of Rhiannon by that name as a horse goddess who I’ve paradoxically felt is very much with me as my white winged mare and the horses who haunt my dreams.

Creiddylad’s revelation of her epithet ‘First Rose’ and her appearance to me riding a white winged mare in association with the moon have suggested she may be identical with Rhiannon. This would fit with both of them being Queens of Annwn who I have perceived giving monstrous births.

This opens the possibility and perhaps the necessity of incorporating material about Gwyn/Arawn and Creiddylad/Rhiannon and their son from the other branches of The Mabinogi into my book. It is implicit that Arawn is the otherworld father of Pryderi in the First Branch and Pryderi’s slaying by Gwydion would certainly provide added meaning to the conflict between Uidianos/Gwydion and Vindos/Gwyn/Arawn.

So this is where I am right now. On the brink of reason, pondering, if not producing monsters. If you would like to hear more about my creative processes, have access to unseen work from my drafts, and play a part in my creations by giving feedback, please consider becoming a patron HERE.

*Anrhuna is not known from existing sources but she has revealed herself to me within my landscape and in the iconography surrounding Nodens/Nudd/Lludd – in a mosaic of sea serpents with intertwined necks from the temple at Lydney and Lludd’s associations with two dragons.