Bards and Poets

In Welsh society before the conquest–in all Celtic societies in fact–the bard/poet played a very important role in the life of society. “The three principal endeavors of a Bard: One is to learn and collect sciences. The second is to teach. And the third is to make peace And to put an end to all injury; For to do contrary to these things Is not usual or becoming to a Bard.” ~THE TRIADS OF BRITAIN http://www.joellessacredgrove.com/Celtic/history.html “In the Celtic cultures, the Bard/Filidh/Ollave was inviolate. He could travel anywhere, say anything, and perform when and where he pleased. The reason for this was, of course, that he was the bearer of news and the carrier of messages, and, if he was harmed, then nobody found out what was happening over the next hill. In addition, he carried the Custom of the Read more…

Danish Bones Found in Oxford

There’s a new article in The Oxford Student which describes a recent find of bones, determined to have belonged to Danes and the result of a massacre ordered by King Ethelbert in 1003 AD.  It sheds some light on an early period in British history and points to something that is easy to forget as you work your way through the Early Middle Ages:  that the “Saxons” from literature and mythology were not monolithic, but comprised of different ethnic groups and nationalities.  What this find reveals is that the Saxons, who now controlled most of England, murdered their Danish neighbors.  From a Welsh perspective, these groups might seem one and the same, but they weren’t. In the Oxford article, it states:  “Vikings’ skeletons found underneath one of St John’s quads are the remains of a violent “ethnic cleansing” over 1,000 years ago. Read more…

Women in Celtic Myth

Women in Celtic societies had more freedom and autonomy than women in feudal Europe.  It is not surprising, then, that women play an important role in Celtic myth, beyond the wives, lovers, and mothers of male gods. Within Celtic myth, warrior goddesses such as Babd, Aoifa, and Scathach have a significant role; Don (Danu in Ireland) was the mother goddess, giving birth to male and female goddesses such as Gwydion and Arianrhod.   The Irish word, Tuatha de Dannan means “Children of Danu”, the equivalent of the Welsh “Sons of Don” as popularized in Lloyd Alexander’s The Book of Three series.  Note that their children are not referred to as “Sons of Beli” or “Bile”, who was her husband and the god of death. Also among the Welsh is Cerridwen, keeper of the cauldron of knowledge.  Within Irish mythology, the Morrigan, Read more…