I stood at the edge of Llyn Tegid, the cauldron of Cerridwen, in the absolute freezing cold, the icy winds beating the spray onto my face, and this feeling that I wanted to just stop time, because no matter how long I had, it wasn’t enough. As I stood there, I could hear echos of so many voices in my mind, so many deities. I asked one question to Cerridwen…. I know YOU are here, but who else is out there? I felt a memory of an echo, an amused laugh, and was told there were many deities there.
I had come to Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake) to connect with Cerridwen and the landscape, and to do a quick scan of the area as I had been working with my friend Cariad, to arrange a spiritual weekend for friends. This was the start of my journey as an Awenydd (shaman).
So, who are these other gods?
I already knew about Ayrwen, the goddess of the river Dee (originally Deva, meaning Goddess) which runs right into the lake and out the other side sweeping around through Chester, then between Wales and Wirral before entering the sea just in front of my house.
Cerridwen’s husband was the god Tegid Foel. Her two children Morfan and Crearwy. And, of course, she carried Tailiessin.
Cariad found a local artist who told her about the connection to Elen, as there is a fault line that runs right through the valley, and through the middle of the lake. Elen and faults, lay lines, tracks, and the stone circle which is high up in the nearby hills. She also heard there was a connection to Cernunnos there too, still looking in to that one. However reindeer have been with us since the beginning of time, and their trackways were followed by other animals, which eventually became our roads. So it makes sensing as there are deer, there is Herne who is an echo of Cernunnos.
Also, Cariad found a gem. The god Lleu married to the woman made from flowers, Blodeuwedd (Flower-face), Lleu was given a palace called Mur y Castell near Bala lake. Cariad were so excited when we found information about a house for sale which had part of an ancient castle wall in its garden.
Arianrhod (reluctant mother of Lleu) lived in a castle carved from ice near by. And after a bit of research, she is from Dinas Dinle, on a mound which was formed by the movement of ice glaciers which carved it in to its oval shape. This mound was surrounded by sea, and often had white water swirling around it, and she was said to be the goddess of the Silver Wheel, the wheel of the year, and the original SOURCE of AWEN. I think that pretty much connects her to Bala.
The thunder of hooves through the ground brought me Rhiannon. The tale of Cerridwen includes horses poisoned after the cauldron split open and and flooded their fields downstream.
Reading random things about river deities, and the river Dee. This is getting interesting. In folklore and myth the place where rivers meet is said to have special symbolism. These are ‘thin’ places where the veil is especially thin and unexplained occurrences are likely to take place. These ‘in-between’ places were often associated with a river deity who would have been honoured there . The hills and mountains of Wales are so so cold, often topped with caps of ice. Kissed by the Cailleach. Gosh, I wonder if that is what it means. When the icy breeze touches your skin, is that the kiss of the Cailleach? I’m slowly absorbing and researching. I’ve found so many connections, so many things falling into place about this goddess. One thing I find so beautiful is the end of the winter, as the ice and snow melts, the beautiful green shoots, start to appear through the thin layer of ice, and young fresh beauty is born (Bride maybe?)
By this time I had formed a group on facebook and met some really interesting people. Valérie, from France communicated by using the translate button. She said,
‘Legend has it that La Cailleach throws herself into the water because she is too sad at being cold. When she comes out of the water, she is transformed into a beautiful young girl. In Ireland and Scotland she is named after Bride (who later becomes Brighid). In Wales, it’s not Bride but Elen of the Ways, the Reindeer Woman. According to my personal work, I came to this conclusion: from Samhain to Imbolc it is the Cailleach which governs, from Imbolc to Beltane it is Elen of the Ways. From Beltane to Lughnasadh it’s Cerridwen. From Lughnasadh to Samhain it’s once again Elen. And we get the Wheel of the Year. While knowing that all these faces belong to one and only one deity, they just change their appearance and name according to the times of the year. An interesting find… the Calleach transforms herself into a deer to hide. A connection between Cerridwen/ Calleach and deer.’
Wow…this, made so much sense. Bala is not just a place where the gods (the stories) meet. It is a period of time too. Time and space weaving it’s way through the mountains.
It has been two years now, I keep discovering different gods, and importantly, the reason why they are there. The Mabinogi is a rich tapestry of threads reaching through centuries of time. stories collected form folklore new and old. But also, Bala, and the surrounding areas, are a stage setting, a place to come out and show themselves to us. It could be any place, and the magic of the Mabinogi means you look at your landscape and the stories come to you.
Damh the Bard – “Come and taste of the cauldron’s brew, and magic, she will give to you”.
Willow Moon /|\