December 20, 2020 3 min read

Ceridwen and Taliesin

This scene illustrates the story of the infamous Welsh witch Ceridwen chasing down her foe.

The story begins with Ceridwen, the mother of the Welsh 6th century Bard, Taliesin. According to the Mabinogion legends, the bard begins life as Gwion Bach, a servant boy on the shores of Bala Lake, where the giant Tegid Foel and his witch wife Ceridwen live. Tegid and Ceridwen have two children, a beautiful daughter, Crearwy, and Morfran, their extremely stupid and ugly son.

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Ceridwen's Chase - Ceridwen at her witches cauldron

Ceridwen brews a potion to make her son handsome and wise, and Gwion Bach is given the job of stirring it in a cauldron over a fire for a year and a day. According to the legend, the first three drops of the liquid give wisdom; the rest are poisonous.

As Gwion stirs the concoction, three drops fall onto him. He instinctively puts his hand to his mouth to stop the burning, instantly gaining great knowledge and wisdom. Frightened of Ceridwen's reaction, Gwion flees. The potion has given him the ability to change shape, and he turns himself into a rabbit. Ceridwen in turn becomes a dog and chases Gwion.

Gwion assumes the shape of a fish and jumps into a river; Ceridwen becomes an otter. Gwion turns into a bird; she becomes a hawk and continues her chase. Finally, Gwion becomes a single grain of corn. Ceridwen, assuming the form of a hen, eats him.

When Ceridwen returned to her normal witchy self she discovered that she was pregnant, and she knew that the baby was Gwion. She planned to kill him as soon as he was born, but the baby was far too beautiful, so she put him into a large leather bag and threw him into the sea

The bag was found in the nets of the fishers of the annual salmon catch on the Dovey River, which was presented to a thus far extremely unlucky prince, Prince Elffin.

On opening the bag, Elffin discovered the baby boy – Gwion, who had been reborn as Taliesin. This foundling was something of a child prodigy, because no sooner had poor Elffin placed the baby in front of him on his saddle than Taliesin, (which means ‘how radiant his brow is’), started first speaking, then reciting, poetry and then making predictions about how Elffin would now defeat all his enemies

Elffin’s luck changed from that moment and Taliesin, through his poems and his prophecy, became the most famous bard in Britain, inspiring the Celtic warriors against their Saxon invaders.

About FelinFach

Our company, FelinFach Natural Textiles is located in the heart of the Preseli area of Pembrokeshire near to Boncath. We design Welsh blankets and the iconic Welsh Tapestry blankets which are traditionally woven at Welsh mills. We also design and make natural hand dyed yarn, cotton, silk and wool scarves and other handmade products. We also offer Sheepskin Rugs, Gift Cards and tools and books for crafters and knitters - Cocoknits, Laine, Amirisu and Making to name a few!. We are a proud supporter of the Campaign for Wool and Global Welsh.

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Last update 18th October 2020 

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