The White Moon Gallery Presents:
by Jamie Cross
Original artwork by Welsh artist Jen Delyth. All rights protected
Within the Celtic Tradition, storytelling has long been a favored occupation. Long held as the embodiment of the most ancient Welsh legends is the Mabinogion. It is in the Mabinogion, we find the story of Blodeuwedd.
The Goddess Arianrhod deems that her son, Llew Llaw Gyffes will never marry a mortal woman, so Llew’s uncles, Math and Gwydion create the lovely Blodeuwedd from the flowers of the oak, broom and meadowsweet to be Llew’s bride. Shortly after their marriage, Llew leaves his wife and travels to see his uncles, leaving her alone in their castle. After a time, a hunting party travels nearby the castle and Blodeuwedd sends a messenger to inquire the name of the leader, whom she is told is Gronw Pebyr, the lord of Penllynn.
Artwork copyright Jessica Galbreth
After hunting all day, the party comes to find themselves at the gates of the castle and Blodeuwedd invites them in. Once Gronw and Blodeuwedd lay their eyes on each other, they fall deeply in love. At the time in which Gronw must depart, they begin to talk of how they can be together forever and Gronw advises Blodeuwedd to determine the means in which her husband could be put to death.
After Llew’s return, Blodeuwedd confides her fears of his untimely death to Llew. Llew consoles her by telling her that he can not be easily slain, except by a wound. And the spear wherewith he is struck must be a year in the forming. And he cannot be slain within a house or without, nor can he be slain neither on horseback nor on foot. He can only be slain by making a bath for him by the side of a river, and by putting a roof over the cauldron, and thatching it well and tightly, and bringing a buck, and putting it beside the cauldron. Then if he places one foot on the buck's back, and the other on the edge of the cauldron, whosoever strikes him will cause his death.
Soon after this discourse, Blodeuwedd sends to Gronw Pebyr telling him to begin making the spear. After a year in the making, the plan was ready to be launched. Blodeuwedd went to her husband and asked him again about the validity of the method of which he could be killed. To calm her fears, he agreed to show her. Therefore, Blodeuwedd had the scenario he described created and at the moment he had his foot on the edge of the cauldron and his other foot on the back of the buck, Gronw emerged from the shadows and strikes him with the spear. Immediately, Llew turns into an eagle and flies away.
When the news of Llew’s demise reached his cousins, they were greatly saddened and they sought out the eagle, which they changed back into a man. After his return to human form, Llew was in a sickly state and took over a year to heal and become whole again. During this time, Blodeuwedd and Gronw were living together in the castle in which Llew and she had lived.
Once healed, Llew is determined to get his possessions back and he and his cousins storm the castle. Blodeuwedd and her maids run into the forest and looking back to see their pursuers, fall into a lake. They were all drowned except Blodeuwedd herself to whom Gwydion said "I will not slay thee, but I will do unto thee worse than that. For I will turn thee into a bird; and because of the shame thou hast done unto Llew Llaw Gyffes, you shall never show thy face in the light of day. And thou shall not lose thy name, but shall be always called Blodeuwedd." And even now the owl is called Blodeuwedd.
For the complete myth, see “The Shrine of Blodeuwedd, a web site created by Ariannon, a follower of the Avalon Tradition. URL: http://www.geocities.com/ariannon/blod.html
Art - copyright Cari Buziak, 1994-current.
Many researchers and historians see Blodeuwedd as the symbol of betrayal (Amy Sophia Marashinsky in the “The Goddess Oracle”) or a representative of the May Queen, who was wedded ritually to the king who would be sacrificed to her (Robert Graves in “The White Goddess”), but I believe that her story can be interpreted in a different way.
Blodeuwedd was the Flower Maiden, made by men, for a man, in “the image of their own desires, feelings and ideas about what a Lover should be.1” Blodeuwedd married Llew and became the perfect wife and mate. When she meets Gronw, something deep within Blodeuwedd came alive. She embraces and declares her feelings of love and makes a choice to be with Gronw. Blodeuwedd takes her power back and in this act, becomes the Mother aspect of the Goddess– a woman who is strong in who she is and who embraces her power; the power to nurture, to heal, and to love with abandon.
After Llew is killed, she is pursued and as a punishment, turned into an owl. Owls are associated with wisdom. Blodeuwedd has become the Crone. She has learned what happens when she accepts herself and turns against what others want her to be. Blodeuwedd was “transformed into the diametrical opposite of her previous self. From a meek, gentle, smiling, benign, beautiful and perfect mate, she became a solitary night predator, maw gaping in silent flight, screech cutting through the forest. In a positive sense, we may say that she became assertive, independent, self-realized – and wise.2” For me, the lesson of Blodeuwedd is that we must leave behind our youth and innocence and claim the Feminine Divine in order to transform and become wise.
“Bloduewedd" by Amy Brown.
Correspondences and Symbols
Aspect: Triple Goddess
Tarot Card: 10 of Swords (3)
Symbol: 9 flowers of which some say she was created: Bean, broom, burdock, meadowsweet, primrose, nettle, hawthorn, oak, and chestnut.
Translated by Robert Graves
Not of father nor of mother
Was my blood, was my body.
I was spellbound by Gwydion,
Prime enchanter of the Britons,
When he formed me from nine blossoms,
Nine buds of various kind;
From primrose of the mountain,
Broom, meadow-sweet and cockle,
From the bean in its shade bearing
A white spectral army
Of earth, of earthly kind,
From blossoms of the nettle,
Oak, thorn and bashful chestnut -
Nine powers of nine flowers,
Nine powers in me combined,
Nine buds of plant and tree.
Long and white are my fingers
As the ninth wave of the sea.
At dawn, go to a quiet place and light some incense that contains one of the 9 flowers of Blodeuwedd.
Cast a circle either physically or by envisioning it around you. Close your eyes and call to the Goddess Blodeuwedd and
ask her to join you. Chant Her name 9 times: Blodeuwedd, Blodeuwedd, etc.
When She appears to you, ask Her to show you in what areas of your life are you doing what others want and not following your own heart?
How you can embrace your Feminine Divine and where it is that you need wisdom?
Pay attention to what you hear, see, or feel, for Blodeuwedd is wise and wants to share Her clarity and wisdom with you.
Once you have the answer, thank her for her Gift to you and open your eyes. Release the circle.
Write down Her answers in your journal and try to find ways to incorporate Her guidance into your life.
by Jamie Cross
Since Blodeuwedd was created by mortals, I decided to create an image of her using a blank mask. I layered pictures of flowers on the mask and glued plastic flowers on it. As beautiful as the mask turned out, it does not contain a spark of life. Her eyes lack feeling and her expression is blank. She needs that which she herself must create – a life of her own choosing.
1 – Marguerite Elsbeth and Kenneth Johnson, “The Silver Wheel” pg. 65
2 - Marguerite Elsbeth and Kenneth Johnson, “The Silver Wheel” pg. 67
3 - Anna Franklin, “The Sacred Circle Tarot”, pg. 175
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