Boiling Without Fire

The ancient Celts rarely wrote anything down. Societies that are dependent on oral tradition require a mechanism to safeguard the transmission of knowledge between generations.

In Wales, a bard’s ability to communicate with the dead might have been regarded as a way to vouchsafe the authenticity of the learning and history prior generations hoped to bequeath to their descendants.

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Like a Bird on a Cliff…

The Life of Saint David presents the reader with a dramatic cascade of miraculous events, some of which can be likened to the adventures of the wonder poet Taliesin.

The episodes of Saint Gildas’ sudden inability to speak when in the presence of St. David’s pregnant mother, and the storm that saves the life of the Saint in infancy both recall the incidents in Hanes Taliesin where the poet’s formidable mystic power silences the rival harpers, and the storm he raises to the aid of his foster father Elffin ap Gwyddno Long Shanks (lit. crane-long). Do their similarities extend to the watery associations of their nativities as well?

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Ceridwen’s role

It’s difficult to untangle the mystery of Ceridwen’s identity and her symbolic role in Welsh legend. The safest path is to examine the early references to her in the Welsh poetry of Cuhelyn and Taliesin, where she is invoked somewhat like an inspiring muse. She can be seen as the bestower, or the very source, of the creativity called Awen.

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