Angelika Rudiger’s thesis on Y Tylwyth Teg

In a recent internet search I found out that the PhD thesis of Angelika Rudiger ‘Y Tylwyth Teg. An Analysis of a Literary Motif’ was published by Bangor University in 2021 (downloadable HERE).

I first came across Rudiger’s research through her studies on Gwyn ap Nudd in Temple Publications – ‘Gwyn ap Nudd: A First and Frame Deity’ (2011) and ‘Gwyn ap Nudd: Lord of Light and Master of Time’ (2011) and in Gramarye –‘Gwyn ap Nudd: Transfigurations of a character on the way from medieval literature to neo-pagan beliefs’ (2012). 

This thesis provides a full length (364 page) study of Y Tylwyth Teg, which is commonly translated as ‘the Fair Family’ or ‘the fairies’ and which Rudiger translates as ‘the Beautiful Tribe / ‘the Beautiful Family’. This relates to her earlier research on Gwyn ap Nudd for He is the king of Y Tylwyth Teg. 

The study covers the representation of Y Tylwyth Teg in medieval Welsh and wider folkloric sources from the Middle Ages until the present day. The first part explores synonyms and motfis. Rudiger considers the questions of whether ‘the otherworld is identical to hell or a realm of the dead’ and discusses how its imagery relates to ‘poetic creativity’ and ‘transformational processes’. Part two ‘focuses on the historical development of traditions connected with Y Tylwyth Teg’ and looks at issues such as the ‘othering’ of the socially disadvantaged, nationalism, and appropriation.

I found this thesis to be thorough and excellently researched. Much of the content, such as citations from medieval Welsh texts such as Culhwch ac Olwen, The Mabinogion, Buchedd Collen, the poetry of Dafydd ap Gwilym, and folkloric sources including John Rhŷs, T. Gwynn Jones and W. Y. Evans Wentz are widely available and were familiar to myself and would be to many others.

However, Rudiger has gone beyond the better known sources to enrich this study with lesser known lore. For example, at the beginning, Rudiger notes that the first mention of ‘Y Tylwyth Teg’ comes from a 15th century poem titled ‘Y Niwl Hudolus’ by an unknown author, who often imitated the poetry of Dafydd Gwilym, whose poem ‘Y Niwl’ is better known. Both poems speak of seeking a girl and getting lost in the mist (which is associated with Y Tywlyth Teg and their leader, Gwyn ap Nudd, ‘White son of Mist’).

In ‘Y Niwl Hudolus’, as cited by Rudiger, the mist is described thus: 

Gweilgi yn llenwi pob lle,
Fal hudol byd yn hedeg
O barthlwyth y Tylwyth Teg,
Ac un dduliw, hagrliw hyll, Obry’n dew wybren dywyll
Lle’r ydoedd ym mhob gobant Ellyllon mimgeimion gant. 

an ocean filling every place,
like a world’s magician flying
from the homestead of the Fairy Folk,
with a single black colour, a nasty ugly colour, down below like a thick dark cloud
where in every hollow there were
a hundred mocking sprites. 

Another fascinating couple of pieces of lore that I was unaware of are found in the section on Annwn which Rudiger argues ‘is the oldest name’ for the abode of Y Tylwyth Teg. Here she traces its eymology and speaks of some of the abodes of Gwyn ap Nudd, as a king of Annwn, that are located in the landscape. 

In her translation of the eighth verse of ‘The Conversation of Gwyn ap Nudd and Gwyddno Garanhir’ (which differs from Greg Hill’s) Gwyn speaks of his horse hastening him away to ‘my ridge of Tawe and Nedd’. Rudiger places this at ‘Mynydd y Drum near Neath Port Talbot’ and cites a story recorded by John Rhŷs in which a man called John Gethin is told by a wizard it is the location of a treasure that can be won by a man who spends a night there. A monstrous bull appears, Gethin holds its ground, and it vanishes. 

Rudiger then relates another story recorded by Goodwin Wharton about a cunning woman called Mary Parish who lived in Somerset. When alone in her chamber she was approached by a man who invited her to Glastonbury Tor (where Gwyn as King of Annwn holds a feast in Buchenn Collen). He said: ‘we have a great treasure, thou shalt have some of it, but there will appear a great fierce bull, who will come furiously at thee as if he would have thee to pieces but be not thou afraid of him, for he cannot hurt thee nor hinder thee. And then disappeared.’

Both these stories seem linked to Gwyn’s depiction as a ‘bull of battle’ in ‘The Conversation of Gwyn ap Nudd and Gwyddno Garanhir’ and His potential connections with Tarvos Trigaranus ‘The Bull with Three Cranes’. Unfortunately Rudiger does not pick up these threads or take them any further. 

One of the most interesting parts of the thesis for me was the exploration of whether the otherworld is the realm of the dead in the later sections of section 2 in Part One. Here Rudiger looks at texts such as ‘Prieddu Annwn’, ‘Sir Orfeo’ and folkloric sources. She shows that the otherworld can be seen as a place of limbo where the prematurely dead can be found. In some texts death takes place there yet in others does not occur as time is suspended in an eternal present. She concludes ‘Annwn is a liminal world, though not an abode set aside exclusively for the departed.’ 

The limitations of this thesis to sources from the Middle Ages onwards foregoes the potential of looking at early archaeological sources such as burials with grave goods which are suggestive of Brythonic beliefs about the passage of the dead to the otherworld as a land of the dead. Possible connections between prehistoric beliefs and the spirits of Annwn and the dead are explored by Will Parker in his study The Four Branches of the Mabinogi.

Another part of the thesis that fascinated me was Rudiger’s explorations of the connections between poetic creativity and transformation. She speaks of the imprisonment of Myrddin within a glass house as being symbolic of the liminal and transformational experience a poet undergoes in the otherworld (akin to being in the grave – a death) before emerging with inspiration. The muteness of the warriors on the walls of Caer Wydyr, the Glass Castle, and the tower of glass in the Historia Brittonum is read as symbolising a ‘failed transitional process’. This is later related to the warriors who emerge from the cauldron in the Second Branch able in body but unable to speak.

These were the highlights of the thesis for me and I am sure that other readers will find much more to fills in gaps in their knowledge and to pose further questions. I would recommend it as essential reading for those who have a scholarly interest in Y Tylwth Teg and for practicing polytheists with devotional relationships with Gwyn and His people who want to find out more.

In the Deep excerpt – The Boy in the Serpents Skins I

The following is an excerpt from my novel in progress In the Deep. It takes place in Annwn ‘the Deep’ in the aftermath of the Battle of the Dragons after the boy (Vindos/Gwyn) has crawled from the Abyss and learnt he is destined to be king.

However am I going to build a kingdom from such desolation? 

The boy looked out from the small cave he had made his home across the twilight landscape where the corpses of dragons and serpents were slowly rotting down. Everything stank. Many of the ghosts remained at their bodies for fear of the winged serpents snatching organs, bones, worse, their jewels.

Watching a pack of red winged serpents tousling with a pack of greys, tearing apart half the innards in their act of theft, then retreating to their caves, he determined that all nine colours had been out. It was safe to leave, for after glutting on their winnings they always sank into a satiated sleep.

Reciting his mother’s instructions, he fastened his tunic, cut from the discarded skin of a white serpent, with a bone pin. Touching his right forefinger to his jewel, he reached into the deep well of mist within it and within him and called the mists to surround and obscure him as he left the safety of his cave.

Again, he set out, wading through the gore, his bare feet sticky with it, clambering over corpses with hideous wounds from multiple spear strikes and fiery swords that burnt and charred. Many had been mutilated by the winged serpents – jewels cut from their foreheads, bellies opened, the glistening treasures harvested. One with wings torn off, others missing limbs or parts of them, claws stolen.

Steadily he was putting an end to that.In his small corner of the battlefield every corpse now bore the spiral symbol of Annwn. This mark, resembling the Abyss, he had etched into their flesh, with his right forenail, to lay claim to their remains. One day I will build my kingdom from their bones.

He knew it wouldn’t be long until the winged serpents caught on to him. Already he had seen their frustration when they flocked down and were unable to pick on the flesh – screaming, circling,  cursing, flying thwarted back to their caves.

News of the boy in the serpent skins who stepped from the mist with his bloody forenail to claim the corpses went ahead of him to their ghosts who still held their guard. Their injuries were written, like for like, on their ether, would only disappear when they were erased by the winds of the Abyss. Then they would be borne down into the Cauldron of Old Mother Universe to be reborn in new forms.

The ghost of a red dragon with a gaping slit where her right eye had been put out by a fiery sword hovered over her corpse. The boy guessed she was going to be a difficult one.

“Greetings sister,” he spoke, “I am the son of the Dragon Mother and she has made me King of Annwn by the heart-rite.”

“King?” she snarled, “only gods have kings not dragons.”

“Change is upon Annwn,” he replied with deep regret, “the Reign of Dragons ended with the slaughter of your kind.”

“So what will you rule – a land of bones and death?”

“That is my destiny.”

“Woe,” the ghost of the red dragon beat her wings, “that this catastrophe was wrecked upon us. There is only woe left.”

“You should return to the Abyss. I will take your jewel for safekeeping and commit your remains to the Deep.”

“Ah!” cried the ghost, “so that’s what you’re after – my jewel?”

“If I don’t take it the winged serpents will steal it for their sorcery.”

“How do I know you won’t abuse it?” The gaze of her remaining eye bored into him and the draft of her ghost wings blasted against him, near undoing his skins, dishevelling his hair, threatening to send him staggering back. Yet he stood firm. 

“I am dragon-born, unlike the serpents, abide by your rules, will seek your permission if I wish to use it.”

“Then take it. I am Fiera and I yearn to be free of this place.”

With his right forenail the boy cut the red jewel from the forehead of her corpse, put it in his serpent-skin pouch, etched the spiral of Annwn into her left shoulder. “Your remains belong to the Deep and will soon be part of this land.”

The cord binding the red dragon’s ghost to her body broke. She departed the battlefield with a trumpeting call of grief and relief.

Introducing the Boy in the Serpent Skins

Who would go
with the boy in the serpent skins
draped over one shoulder fastened with a bone pin

to the world of dead dragons at the bottom of the Otherworld?

Who would go with him clambering over the corpses where his hands
and feet are always bloody because the aftermath of the battle is endless?

Who would follow him down the trails of the scales of dead serpents
to where they have sloughed off their skins, one, then another?

Who would face what lies beneath, the glistening organs,
the hearts, the lungs, the livers hung up in caves,
the bowels woven into a pattern on a loom,
the heart strings strung on a harp?

Who would walk amongst those who took the pickings?

Who would run ragged through the caves of a hundred claws?

Who would refuse to admit defeat to the jaws that hang on the walls?

Who would take off all their masks and skins and expose not only raw flesh
and organs but what lies underneath
and hope it is a soul?


Vindos/Gwyn ap Nudd first appeared to me as the Boy in the Serpent Skins during some journeywork I was doing to find out more about his boyhood as part of the process of writing my novel-in-progress In the Deep.

The book begins in Annwn, ‘the Deep’, prior to the creation of the world. After his Dragon Mother is slain by the Children of the Stars and he is flung into and escapes the Abyss, the boy finds himself alone except for the corpses and ghosts of dead dragons and the devouring serpents who lie beneath. 

Over the past six months I have been journeying with him to find out more about this phase in his life and how it has been shaped by the challenges of the serpents and his descent and initiation into their savage and visceral culture. This has provided the raw material for a good part of the story of In the Deep.

In the image beneath he is pictured as he appears to me with grey skin, white hair and a white jewel in his forehead*, wearing white serpent skins fastened with a bone pin. He has seven fingers and toes with claws.** He carries a handful of white dragon jewels in his right hand and in the left a serpent’s tooth. Above him are the four winged ghost serpents with whom he forms a bond and come to serve him as his messengers – Tero, Goro, Fero and Kilya.

*I had thought this was an appearance unique to me until by coincidence I was re-reading Pagan Celtic Britain by Anne Ross and came across an image of a bronze head with a jewel in its forehead from Furness, Lancashire, not far from me!

**This is not unknown in Celtic mythology. In The Tain Cu Chullain is described thus – ‘Each foot had seven toes and each hand seven fingers, the nails with the grip of a hawk’s claw or a gryphon’s clench.’ Cu Chullain’s former name was Setanta and he might have been known in northern Britain as Setantios, a possible deity of the Setantii tribe here in Lancashire. 

You can support my work in return for exclusive excerpts from In the Deep HERE.

In the Deep excerpt – the Heart of Annwn

This is an excerpt from my novel in progress ‘In the Deep’. Previously the boy (Vindos/Gwyn) was torn from the womb of his Dragon Mother and flung into the Abyss. Here he has crawled out to meet with his mother’s ghost. By participating in the rite of eating her heart he becomes King of Annwn.

“Now,” the ghost of Anrhuna turned to her corpse, “as you are the only one of my children left here you must eat my heart.”

The boy swallowed as with a bite she tore it out, offered it to him, big and bloody, large and slippery, uncannily still beating. 

“My heart is the Heart of Annwn,” she told him, “if you manage to eat it all, its power will be yours and you will be king.”

“But it is so big,” said the boy, “a dragon’s heart is so much bigger than I and I have no appetite.”

“Little bite by little bite and you will be king.”

The boy bared his teeth and bit in, took one bite, then another. As he ate, he grew. He became a mighty wolf, a raging bull, a bull-horned man, a horned serpent, finally, a black dragon. As he tore and devoured the last pieces of the heart he spread his wings to fill the darkest reaches of the Deep.

He roared, “I am King of Annwn! I will rule the dead! I will build my kingdom from the bones of dead dragons and the light of dead stars! I will bring joy to every serpent who has known sorrow and I will take vengeance on my enemies!”

Weary and full he slept and when he awoke he was just a boy with a large heart that felt too big for his body.

*You can support my writing of ‘In the Deep’ in return for exclusive excerpts on Patreon HERE.

Prayer Beads of Annwn

As a gift for my dedication as a nun of Annwn my friend Aurora J Stone made me some prayer beads. Crafted in the colours of Annwn from howlite (white), carnelian (red) and onyx (black) and the smaller ones from bone they include animals and symbols I associate with my patron God, Gwyn ap Nudd – a horse, a hound, an owl, a raven, a star, a spiral and the Awen. They are the most beautiful and meaningful gift I have ever been given.

When I received the beads earlier in January I was unsure what to do with them. I learnt that in the Christian tradition the person praying starts with the charm (the Awen) and the nearby symbols then moves onto the central bead, which is the invitation to prayer. There are then set prayers to be recited with the beads moving around in a clockwise direction from start to finish.

As we don’t have a set way of praying with beads or a body of prayers for Gwyn and the deities of Annwn in the Brythonic tradition I created my own by listening to the beads and for what came through from Gwyn and from the Awen. They are written below. The words in bold represent a bead or a symbol and can work as a pause for deeper meditation.

Prayer Beads of Annwn

Dedicated to Gwyn ap Nudd and the Mysteries of Annwn

The Awen: Annuvian Awen prayer*

Your Star: the first to shine and the last to die**

Your Spiral: I walk with You from beginning to end



Gwyn ap Nudd, White Son of Mist
by this white bead of howlite,
I respond to Your call 
to prayer –
let it be a doorway
to Your deep mysteries,
a gateway to the depths of Annwn.


Your Hound: the opening howl


Black is for dark,
for the darkness of Annwn,
for the Cauldron of Pen Annwn,
for the womb of Old Mother Universe.
For the primordial material and the black dragon,
for the chaos and terror before the birth of stars and worlds.


Your Owl: wisdom in madness


White is for spirit,
for the spirits of Annwn,
for the horses and hounds of Your Hunt,
for the fury held in Your kingdom and in You,
for all souls gathered at the end of time,
for the divine breath uniting all.


Your Raven: croaks over gore


Red is for blood,
for the heartbeat of Annwn,
for the heart of Your Kingdom and the berries of the yew,
for the river of blood uniting us with our ancestors,
for our sacrifices and our eternal battles.


Your Horse: carries me home

*I wrote this in English and fellow awenydd Greg Hill translated it into Welsh HERE.
**This echoes a poem for Gwyn called ‘For the First Star’ by another fellow awenydd and Gwyn devotee Thornsilver Hollysong HERE.

Ten Year Anniversary of Dedication to Gwyn ap Nudd – from Glastonbury Tor to Beyond the Expected

Glastonbury Tor

On star circled tor You stand lawless vigil.
Tower swallows cloud in Your endless waiting.
Years I have run the edges of Your world
Yet quietly my destruction You disdain.
Call to the stars shining out the full moon,
One blast of Your horn draws my soul back home.
In Your sublunar shrine springs from Annwn
Pour a cauldron of infinite wisdom.
Daughters of Avalon dance at its ridge.
Their shadows twist to the roaring song.
I see You, White Keeper of Time and Mist,
Watching patiently beyond mortal bonds.
The moment rings clear as Your guidance sure:
Let the words be spoke and the path be walked.

Hail Gwyn ap Nudd, King of Spirits! (January 26th 2013)

I wrote this sonnet ten years ago following my initial dedication to my patron God, Gwyn ap Nudd, at the White Spring beneath Glastonbury Tor. It was a magical and transformative moment and has changed and shaped my life.

My service to him as his awenydd ‘person inspired’ has gifted me with meaning and purpose beyond the rules and norms of this world. I’ve written three books for Him and the other Gods and Goddesses of ancient Britain and the spirits of the land along with countless poems, stories, and articles.

My relationship with Him continues to lead ever deeper into Annwn and into His mysteries. To getting to know myself better and more wonderfully to know Him. Most recently it has led to me becoming a nun of Annwn.

To mark the occasion my friend Aurora J Stone* made me some prayer beads. They are the colours of Annwn – howlite (white), carnelian (red) and onyx (black) and feature animals and symbols I associate with Gwyn. A hound, a horse, an owl, a raven, a spiral and a star. Aurora lives near Wells and very kindly laid them out on Glastonbury Tor to pick up some of its energy and sent some leaves and twigs from the tor when she posted the package. Receiving them around this time felt symbolic of the completion of a ten year journey.

Last night I journeyed with Gwyn to see what lies ahead. I can’t disclose what He showed me yet but His main message was that I must go ‘beyond the expected’.

This spoke to my fears about my series of books focusing on Gwyn’s story from origins to end being less accessible to my existing audience because they go beyond known Brythonic lore into personal gnosis and the realms of fiction. His words reassured me that this is exactly what I need to do. It also seemed meaningful that I recalled it was on my initial dedication day He appeared to me as a black dragon and that deciphering how Gwyn ‘White’ takes this form is one of the mysteries behind me writing these books.

I cannot guess what the next ten years might hold but ‘beyond the expected’ sounds like an exciting prospect.

*You can find Aurora’s writing online at ‘Grey Bear in the Middle’ HERE.

What Ails Me?

Hail is cold grain
and showers of sleet
and sickness of serpents
– Hagalaz (rune)

I come to You
my mind a wasteland,
the poles, the solstices of my world
out of kilter and something awakening beneath the ice

to ask the somewhat selfish question – “What ails me, my Lord?”

It echoes down through the centuries reminding You of Your father’s wound
and the wound You suffer every year battling against Your rival,

the wound to my navel after my dedication to You,
the pit of snakes in my belly button,

the heroes flung into it,
sucked dry. 

“What ails me, my Lord?”

I’m back at high school again
with serpents twining around my chair legs,

staring down into the depths of the ink well I never used.

I’m chewing my pen, ink is dripping from the side of my mouth,
from my finger tips and I’m raising my hand
to ask for more paper, bleeding words,

rising to the challenge of the exam,

exulting in the quiet of the other pupils,
this scratching of pens the one thing I can succeed in.

“What ails me, my Lord?”

I think of the serpents who twist around my arms
and sit deep in my belly and I wish I could tie around my ankles
to hang like You over the Abyss to gain the wisdom that explains this…

the way by lack of courage or confidence I am always climbing
the first three rungs on my ladder and then falling
back down into my pit of snakes.

“What ails me, my Lord?”

I’m back at the surgery again
and the nurse is wondering if I’m dead,
tapping my veins, trying to awaken them to life.

I’m explaining the junctions and showing which ones work.

Where blue flows to red and is tested then
incinerated by the fiery serpents.

“What ails me, my Lord?”

My beast looks too much like an ink spodge test,

then I see my father splattered on the settee like a murder victim
from a third rate horror movie doing nothing as always.

I cannot find his wound or his serpents.

Instead I sink into mine and awaken them again,
the wounds made by all the surgeons, all the psychiatrists

by all the snakes fighting back, by all the horror movies and I hear

Your laughter, Your divine laughter, in my veins like poetry,
not the canned laughter of the television
he sits in front of.

“By asking the question you have opened the door.

Although all our blood and poetic truths
cannot save the world or heal
our ailments

by this opening
your serpents might return
to health and an answer might come through.”

*This poem is addressed to my patron God, Gwyn ap Nudd.

I wrote this poem last year. It is based on drawing the Hagalaz rune at one of the Way of the Buzzard journey circles over four years ago. I had a powerful experience that led me to investigating ‘the sickness of serpents’ not only in the Norse but the Brythonic traditions. It lies behind my series of books in which I explore the relationship between Vindos/Gwyn and the serpents of Annwn. The poem references gnosis received whilst writing these stories.

There is also an allusion to a series of blood tests I had last year relating to slightly raised liver function levels. Two ended up as four as on one occasion they did the wrong test and on another my blood coagulated in transit. It made me start wondering ‘does something want my blood?’ 

At the time I was writing about the conflicts in Annwn between the red and white serpents. As an answer, when I was sitting in the waiting room, on the white board a young girl had drawn a tower block with a huge winged serpent towering over it, which she was colouring it in red. I found out, after testing, blood gets incinerated and received the answer ‘the fiery serpents’. 

One of the results of the blood tests was that I have low iron levels. I have felt a lot better since eating more red meat particulary liver (sympathetic magic?) and believe this was behind me feeling tired and low most afternoons.

The final check relating to my raised liver functions is an ultrasound this Thursday so I will finally find out ‘what ails me’ (physically at least). If I do have minor liver damage it likely relates to having used alcohol to self-medicate the anxiety that comes from my autism since my late teens. I only started addressing this after making my lifelong dedication to Gwyn in 2019.

In the Deep progress update and planning The Forgotten Gods

Since my last update around the Winter Solstice I have been making good progress with the second draft of In the Deep. Having got nearly half way through and added another 20,000 words to the existing 127,000 by expanding and deepening the plot and character development without yet adding more detailed descriptions of the places and characters I have realised it is going to be too long. However, this works out great, as it means I will be able to make two books from this one!

The place I have reached a halt forms a natural ending to a book titled In the Deep and it now forms a self-contained whole for which I have written the following blurb as an exercise. 

‘Vindos and Kraideti are ripped from the womb of their Dragon Mother at birth. She is taken to the stars. He is flung into the Abyss. 

Vindos crawls out and must fulfil his destiny to become King of Annwn by building his kingdom from the bones of dead dragons and find his lost sister. Not easy. For warring serpents lie beneath, furious ghosts, and ancient monsters.

Kraideti is held captive by the Children of Don and partakes in the creation of the perfect world and the bringing of life and will forever be far away.

This is a story of descent and forbidden love.’

The next book will be called The King and Queen of Annwn. It will cover the battle between Vindos and Victor/Lugus (Lleu) for Kraideti and the turning of the seasons and the Battle of the Trees in which the Children of Don and the forces of Annwn clash and the rule of the culture gods is asserted over Britain. 

I am now envisioning a series of six books reimagining the origin story of Vindos and Kraideti and the other Gods and Goddesses of ancient Britain, telling how they were forgotten, of their return, and of future things.

In the Deep – the creation of the world and building of the Kingdom of Annwn.
The King and Queen of Annwn – the seasons, humans, conflict with the culture Gods.
The Spirits of Annwn – the Roman invasions.
The Gates of Annwn – Christianity and Arthur’s despoiling of Annwn.
The Silver Wheel – the Industrial Revolution.
The Black Dragon – nuclear war, the return of the Gods, the apocalyptic finale.

*In my books Victor son of Scorcher (Gwythyr ap Greidol) and Lugus (Lleu) are different names/titles for the same God.

You can support my writing of In the Deep in return for exclusive excerpts through Patreon HERE.

Winter hellebores evoke the presence of Gwyn and Creiddylad as Winter King and Queen for me.

In the Deep Excerpt – Nodens and the Deep

In this excerpt from my book in progress, In the Deep, the boy (Vindos/Gwyn) continues to dream as he falls into the Abyss and witnesses his conception by his Dragon Mother, Anrhuna, and Nodens, a god who is one of the Children of Don.

The boy dreamt of a blue god falling from the stars like a comet with an icy tail and plummeting head first into the waters of the Deep.

He surfaced, the strokes of his powerful arms making wide ripples, muscular legs kicking, silver hair flaying out behind him. He pulled himself onto the shore, gasping for breath, crouched, paused.

As he surveyed his surroundings the boy noticed, although he was only in early maturity, his face was etched with lines of stress and strain and his grey eyes were cloudy with regret and a depth of pain.

His breathing at ease, he climbed the cliffs, set out across the hills, a tiny figure, alone and naked, before the curious eyes of the dragons, who watched from their cave mouths and from their summits.

Why do they not eat him? The boy wondered. Curiosity? Respect?

To the Dragon Mother, towering over all like a mountain, he went.

Slowly, she raised her nine heads, regal and grey, as if sculpted from stone. They spoke in unison: “God from the stars what is your name?”

“My name is Nodens and I am the son of Bel, the greatest of the fire giants, and Don, the goddess of the primordial waters. I was once King of the Gods, of the Kingdom of the Stars, but am no longer.”

“Why is that?”

“I was cast down as I dreamed of forbidden depths, of dragons, of you… Tell me what is your name?”

“I am Anrhuna.”

“And where do you come from?”

“I come from the Deep and I am its Mother.”

“You speak in paradoxes.”

“That is the nature of the wisdom which comes from the Abyss.”

“Can you teach me?”

“The Abyss does not give up its secrets easily – what will you give?”

“I would give my sword arm.”

“And so you will, but not yet, for it may be needed.”

The Dragon Mother took Nodens in her coils and in them he hung upside down over the whirling darkness of the Abyss.

Many times the boy slept and woke before his next dream vision.

“Everything my father, Bel, told me is wrong!” Nodens exclaimed. “The Heavens were not created before the Deep, may be above, but are not superior. There is no up, no down, no before or after. Everything meets here, in you, the Dragon Mother.”

“Yours is the wisdom of the Abyss,” said Anrhuna. 

Easing him from her coils she took him in her arms as a goddess  with a crown of nine jewels, dark hair, full breasts, grey skin and serpent tails.

Nodens is my father, thought the boy, that’s why I’m not a dragon.

In the waters he saw both parents in his face – grey skin, sharp cheekbones, a pointed chin, the whitest hair, the white jewel in his forehead. He glanced down at hands and feet with seven claw-like nails.

*You can support my writing of In the Deep in return for exclusive excerpts through Patreon HERE.

XII. Your Death

Day Twelve of Twelve Days of Devotion to Gwyn ap Nudd

I come this twelfth day
to consider Your death.

How I have seen You die
so many times yet that

You should die forever
is unthinkable, unbearable…

For when You have gathered
the last stars at time’s end

there will be no tears left,
no-one left to cry them,

and who would gather the
soul of the Gatherer of Souls?