A Sprig of Thyme

For Gwyn on Calan Mai

When you don your armour at dawn
On this morning of mist so forlorn

When you rise from your marital bed
Leave your wife for another to wed

When you leave the dark of Annwn
With the knowledge you’ll return to your tomb

When you’re feeling down and discouraged
Let this sprig of thyme be your courage.

I have had the first and last couplets of this poem in my head for two years now but it was only this morning that I received the two couplets in the middle in order to complete it and the inspiration to make a ritual of picking thyme from the garden at dawn on Calan Mai (May Day) and offering it to my patron god, Gwyn ap Nudd.

On Calan Mai Gwyn fights a ritual battle against his eternal rival, Gwythyr ap Greidol, for his beloved, Creiddylad, a goddess of seasonal sovereignty. It is a fight he is doomed to lose. Afterwards Creiddylad departs from Gwyn, Winter’s King, in Annwn, and comes to Thisworld to enter a sacred marriage with Gwythyr, Summer’s King. In the Brythonic mythos this explains the turning of the seasons. On the one hand I will be celebrating that Creiddylad and summer are here, yet, on the other, I will be mourning Gwyn death.

She Walks Between Worlds and Lovers (Calan Mai)

It is summer in this-world when she is here
winter in this-world without her.
In Gwythyr’s arms she is Lady Life:
coming to be as the first snowdrop
purple yellow crocuses are her slippers
pink red primroses her cloak. Her smile
her lips are daffodils’ long trumpets.
May flowers weave her grassy hair
as she embraces this-world’s ruler.
In dewy glades Creiddylad is May Queen
in sacred marriage headdress a veil of hawthorn
wedding dress woven from wood anemone
wood sorrel she lies with him in woodlands
of bluebells starwort becoming buzzing fields
heliotropic gaze of ox-eye daisies poppies
face alive with vibrant butterflies and bees
exulting in the dance of pollen’s gold dust
until the seasons turn and cold winds come
she sees her time in this-world is over
and walks between worlds and lovers.

Blubells and Starwort