Hanes Blodeuwedd -- History of Blodeuwedd

Synopsis:

An emotive retelling by Druidic Dawn member Eadha of Blodeuwedd's story in the Fourth Branch of the Mabinogi, written as a dialogue and can be read out in a group.

 

Arianrhod (distressed): I am a woman in chains. Alone in my tower I sit day after day,being hospitality to poor souls who wander through spiral waters to me, and I a mother of twins. Dylan, my first-born, he was my joy, but he loved the sea far more than me, although sometimes I saw him about my fort, a seal on the wave, now a youth in the grave, for Gofannon his uncle murdered him. Bitter my heart to lose that lad. And now Gwydion uses his cruel cunning and knowledge to get from me what I do not want to give! He uses my curse-my second son-against me, this son of my defilement, the son who came because Gwydion and Math lay with me ... ... my own brother and uncle! ... Gwydion!!! His knowledge is nothing like the wisdom that I know, a mother's heart overpowered by fate. I swear by all the gods, Gwydion, that you are a wicked man!!!! Now I have put a taboo on our son, on Lleu Llaw Gyffes, the Golden One of the Agile Hand, that he will never get a wife from any race that is on this earth now!

 

Gwydion (furious): That wicked woman Arianrhod!!! who refuses her own son name and weapons, even wife. What good is a man without name to declare or weapons to make warfare, not even a woman to share his blanket with? But I am the Great Knower, my knowledge is not a little. I have stolen the Pigs of Annwn from Pryderi in the South. I have the ability to change shape and fly up the Great Tree into Gwynfryd, the Bright Sky World. Nothing is beyond me. Nothing is hidden. Come, Math, King of Gwynedd! Come with me, mightiest magician of them all, and we will put things right for Lleu.

 

Math (agreeing, resolute): Lleu is my son as he is yours. He is to be my heir when I become impotent, to rule these old lands far and wide. What good is a king without a wife? She is his power hidden in her womb. On Midsummer we will make her, at the height of our power, our power that comes from the ancient oaks, our power that comes from the sun long in the sky. We must fashion a woman fit for the Oak King, by wands and wills to break all curses, to force even Nature herself to comply!

 

*rest and bell rings before continuing*

Blodeuedd (innocent, cautious): Not from mother or father was I made. As for creation I was made from the essence of soils. From the blooms of broom and oak and meadowsweet, gathered at the fortuitous hour, Midsummer turned to molten gold. Math enchanted me before I was mobile; Gwydion created me, great magic from the staff of enchantment. The Lord of Gwynedd and his Druid produced me when he was inflamed with the zenith of inspiration. They gave me to a handsome man to offer him the womanly friendship of my thighs each night. I was given without a mother's consent, a place I find-unfriendly. Wild earth behind this mask of a woman, I am trapped into form and face without release! My soul is panting like the little birds caught in a net, their beautiful songs a plea of frustration, fear on the lips ... fluttering .... fluttering. What is this world of men and their laws? I am told I must act like this and like that, but what are boundaries to the boundless nature of the heart?

 

Lleu (admiringly, in love): Her beauty is beyond imagining. My uncles fashioned her out of the earth's fruits. Broom blossoms for her hair, long, golden, full of the Solstice Sun. And her skin is meadowsweet! Milky white, captivating, fragrant. Green eyes a pool of oak leaves submerged in the cauldron of magic, passion smoldering in the depths. She is fertility itself, maddening to smell, encircled here in my marriage bed with my oaken staff to please herself on. I would do anything for her! She is my Flower Face, my wide-eyed beauty. She is my Blodeuedd. Surely I am made more a man with her by my side. But even now I must leave her for battle. My lance is long and keen, and Math requires his chosen heir to his court. Duty weighs more than love.

 

Blodeuedd (unhappy): He has left me!!! The protection of his arms leaves the marriage bed too large and empty, a coldness in the night that I never felt as flowers. He said duty weighs more than love. But what am I to know of these things? I am mistress to a strange house, full of maidens for companions who love me not for me, but because I am their lady. And Lleu? I am his companion too, with open legs all night to satisfy his manhood's pride. ... if he can last that long! Pah. Who am I to him but lust and beauty without fault?

 

*rest and bell rings before continuing*

Gronw (reflecting): I am the ruler of Penllyn, ‘the Stout One' they call me. A mighty hunter of swift things, stag and roe! That was how I met her, the sweetness of my heart. I was out a-hunting in the woods, hard upon my quarry, so close behind that I lost sight of where I was until I strayed as if into the gates of the Otherworld, where I met her, my Lady of the Night. I entered another man's territory. I fell in love with what was not mine. She opened her doors to me on the feign of hospitality, that famous Cymric hospitality that cannot allow a traveler by without some kind of refreshment. And oh, did I get refreshment!!! It was love at first sight and by the middle of the night we showed with touch and desire the very fire of our souls! She is not a frail beauty, Blodeuedd. Flower-Face they call her, but beneath the mask is a howling midnight, flowers scattered to the four winds and her love is wild, like no mortal woman, beyond taming or claiming. She can never belong to me. No, in truth, I belong to her.

 

Blodeuedd (scheming): Ah me. My mighty hunter knows me well. There is no veil of pretense between us, only the intensity of one wild spirit to another, and now I can think of nothing else! We made love three nights, three long and heady nights into the glowing embers of dawn. And on the third night, we knew without a word, there was no going back to the old life, far out-worn beyond repairing. No. No! I have a plan, a plan my heart quivers at the thought of---but I fear the old cage even more! Gronw's love could set me free.

 

Lleu (bemused): My poor Flower-Face. She is so good to me. So considerate-and beautiful. In her sweet perfection, she frets over me! And of all things, she fears I will die. Haha!!! I cannot die! I am immortal, enchanted by the power of Math and Gwydion. It is not easy to kill me with a cast. One would have to spend a year and a day making the spear that was thrown at me, working on it only at sacred festivals. I cannot be killed in a house, nor outside; neither on a horse nor on foot. You must make a bath for me on the river bank, and construct a roof-frame above the tub; after that, roof it so as to make it a good shelter. Then bring along a billy-goat and station him beside the tub; I put my one foot on the billy's back and the other on the edge of the tub. Whoever should pierce me in that position will surely kill me.

 

Blodeuedd (ironically): Thank the gods for that! That can be avoided easily. (aside in a loud whisper) .... I must send word immediately to Gronw, so that we may bring about Lleu's demise! The magical spear must be made! The impossible place must be arranged!

 

*rest and bell rings before continuing*

Gwydion (distressed, agitated): Who could believe the tale? Yet I tell you it is true! Blodeuedd, that woman of flowers, falsehood in the face of beauty, has somehow schemed with another man and made him lord of Lleu's lands! The betrayal to us is beyond me. WE made her who she is! How could she turn on us like this? That creature must suffer for her unfaithfulness, and for all that, Lleu has gone missing! Missing! Where can he be? I have searched far and wide, from Harlech to Aber Conwy and yet he is not there. What should I do, Math, whose ears are in the wind?

 

Math (perplexed): Lleu is not the only one gone into hiding. I have heard from the wind that there is a fierce black sow who goes missing every day. But I know where she snuffles and digs, it is at the foot of the Old Oak between two lakes in the valley of Nantlle. But where Lleu is I do not know. Perhaps the two are connected.

 

Gwydion: It is as Math said. I followed the great black mother sow all the way to Nantlle where the Oldest Oak in Cymru grows. Beneath these great boughs are maggots and rotting flesh, which she devours greedily without thought. And look! There is an eagle, the saddest eagle I ever saw. His golden feathers are black with blood, his voice unregal, and all his flesh turned putrid with disease. Could that possibly be my Lleu? My Golden One of the Agile Hand? He will not come down for any other, but I who am his true father and the one who loved him all along. Now I must do the office of a Druid. I must chant the Sun back into the Sky, Life back into Spirit. *brief pause*

Chanting:

There is an oak that grows along a slope;
Stately prince in his temple.
If I speak no lie,
Lleu will come to my lap.

 

And Lleu's Flowers will wilt before my wrath!!!

 

*rest and bell rings before continuing*

Blodeuwedd (slowly, sadly): Gronw, my lover, is dead. Not even a stone shield could protect him from the revenge of Lleu the Agile Hand. But even more cruel were my makers.My foster-kin cast me aside, like winter-peat to be burned, like flowers parched in the heat. And now, who will mourn for me? They threw me out to the wind! Gwydion and his hateful wand have turned me into an Owl. No less than I could be, a wild bird unleashed on the dark. My wings are shadow strong, my talons as fierce as ice. I am made a creature of the night so that I am exiled from the face of the Sun, the face of Lleu who became king of this land I haunt, hunting for peace. Ages beyond remembering have passed since then, and yet the people still remember.

Long have I flown the mountains,
outcast, spying, edged in night's cloak.
Long have I mourned the dawning,
forced to murder, a wandering brigand.

Flowers I once was, dancing and sweet,
Cheerful smiles under the summer heat.
But your wrath and honour wilted my youth,
Eager to judge, blot out the heart's truth.

Smitten by these people,
a brutal whip, your tripping tongues:
"What more can you expect of flowers?"
"Unfaithfulness, aye, no more."

Stripped of my beauty,
you mock this poor owl-form,
a shadow forlorn,
a penance outworn.

Can you continue to shut
your ears like a door to my cries?
Can you continue to strut
your fears like feathers, though they're lies?

Listen to my shrieks in the dark.
They will remind you of the stark
meaning of the word "unfaithful".

Long have I sought for shelter,
trembling, weary, robed in bitter's cold.
Long have I sent for succor,
bending my maiden pride to life's winter.

Return to free, my kinsmen,
know me as part of your heart,
and for that, I always remain,
haunting and hunting that part
of you that is me-our pain.


Tags:
Mabinogi, Mabinogion, Blodeuedd, Blodeuwedd, Lleu Llaw Gyffes, Gwydion, Arianrhod, Math, Gronw Pebr, mythology, Welsh mythology
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CalonDdraig's picture

I believe there's some talk

I believe there's some talk of getting together to record this... It would be good I must admit... Not sure when though...

~CalonDdraig

csmaccath's picture

I would LOVE to hear this

I would LOVE to hear this performed! How beautiful it is. Well done, you!

Ceallaigh S. MacCath-Moran | www.csmaccath.com

CalonDdraig's picture

Talking stick would indeed

Talking stick would indeed be cool, and I'd be up for playing Gronw again!Wink

~CalonDdraig

Eadha Deora's picture

glad you liked ... it's even

glad you liked ... it's even better when performed orally! I'm trying to see if we can get Nigel and Caryl and a few others to help me read/record this to put on the website.

Hawthorn's picture

wow

The depth of a soul cannot be measured by what appears on the surface

This is a stunning piece of work, many thanks EadhaDeora, you made the Mabinogi, come alive for me

Big hugs and Bright blessings,

Hawthorn xxx