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Titania by Amy Brown


The Goddess Blodeuwedd was an extremely unique Goddess, because she had been created, through magick, for the specific purpose of being the wife of Llew Llaw Gyffes, the son of the Goddess Arianrhod. After having been tricked and then humiliated by both her brother Gwydion and Uncle Math, the Goddess Arianrhod placed a curse upon her second son: condemning him to never have a name, never bear a sword and never marry a woman of this Earth. Gwydion and Math, however, through the use of trickery and lies, were able to get Arianrhod to name her son Llew Llaw Gyffes, and to grant him the ability to bear a sword. It was much more difficult, however, for them to find a bride for Llew who was “not of this Earth.”

Eventually, the two of them, through magick, created a bride for Llew using nine different kinds of wildflowers which included meadowsweet, cockle, primrose, broom, and oak. They took those flowers and piled them higher and higher, placing blossom upon blossom, until their work was finally complete, and there before them stood an exceptionally beautiful woman who was not of this Earth. In keeping with the manner of her “birth,” Gwydion and Math named their creation Blodeuwedd, which means either "born of flowers" or "flower face."

Llew and his flower maiden bride were married, and it seemed as though they lived a happy life together for quite some time. Since Blodeuwedd was not of this Earth, and since she had been created through magick, she had entered the world as an adult, thereby lacking all the opportunities that most people have through which they can develop, learn to make their own decisions and grow. Blodeuwedd, on the other hand, was told what to think and how she should behave. She was an innocent; a child, but without the learning experiences that a child goes through as it develops into an adult.

When Llew became a man, his great-uncle Math gave him the Catrev of Dinodig to rule. Llew was a fair and wise ruler, since he had been raised and instructed in the intricacies of the world by his uncle and surrogate father Gwydion who, as the son of the Goddess Don was extremely well versed in these particular things.

Eventually, Llew began to grow lonely for the masculine company of Gwydion and Math, so he told Blodeuwedd that he would be going to Caer Dathyl to visit them. Then, one day while Llew was away, something happened that would change their lives forever. Blodeuwedd and her ladies in waiting were strolling across the grounds of her castle one sunny afternoon, when quite suddenly a group of hounds ran past them, chasing a stag. Blodeuwedd became so completely enthralled by the chase that she could hardly take her eyes off of it. She was fascinated by the hunt, in much the same manner that a child would be, since she had led such a short and sheltered life and since she was, in a sense, little more then a child herself.

Blodeuwedd continued to watch the hunt. Then, when the horn sounded, she asked one of her ladies in waiting what the name of the man was who was leading the hunt. She was told that his name was Pebyr, Lord of Penllyn.

Gronw Pebyr realized that Blodeuwedd and her ladies in waiting had been watching the hunt, so he sent his messenger over to them to convey his greeting. Blodeuwedd acknowledged his greeting in return and then retired to her castle, with the sound of the hunt slowly fading in the distance.

Evening arrived, and as the sky became overcome by darkness, Gronw Pebyr appeared, quite suddenly, at the castle gate. Since the hour had become increasingly late, Blodeuwedd felt that it was only proper for her to invite him to spend the night. It was extremely unusual for Blodeuwedd to have answered the door herself, rather then sending a servant to do so, and somewhere, deep within the recesses of her mind, her inner voice kept asking her whether she had done so because she found herself attracted to this very handsome stranger.

All things considered, it was not all that unusual for Blodeuwedd to have felt the way that she did. She had led an extremely short and sheltered life during which she was totally under the influence of her husband and his uncle. She had never made an important decision on her own, nor did she have even the slightest understanding of the concept of “free will.” When Blodeuwedd was created by Gwydion and Math, she had always been told how to act, what to think, how to dress, and whose company she should keep. She never had the need to think for herself, nor did she ever get the chance to meet many people, much less a total stranger.

Blodeuwedd graciously invited Gronw to sit with her for a while and talk, and he accepted her invitation quite readily. He was genuinely surprised by the fact that she had shown even the slightest bit of interest in him, and he found himself truly enjoying her company. Moreover, Gronw found Blodeuwedd's innocence extremely appealing; so much so, that he decided to make the initial move, and then softly, he told her just how charming he found her to be.

As their conversation continued, Blodeuwedd explained to Gronw the circumstances which made her different from other women, since she had specifically been created through the use of magick for the distinct purpose of being Llew’s wife. It was at that precise moment that Blodeuwedd suddenly realized, for the very first time, that she did not wish to continue being married to Llew, or to spend the rest of her life limited in what she could do or say. She wanted to spend her life with this handsome stranger, who looked upon her and treated her as his equal. It was a wonderful feeling, and without the need for words to be spoken, Gronw watched the emotions play upon Blodeuwedd's face, and rejoiced in the knowledge that she felt the same way as he.

Carefully, Gronw explained to Blodeuwedd that he understood, all too well, that she was married to another man; but even so, he wished that they could spend the rest of their lives together. Blodeuwedd then replied telling Gronw that she, too, wanted to spend the rest of her life with him. Words no longer seemed to matter as they fell into a passionate embrace.

Asdawn quickly was approaching and Gronw preparing to leave, Blodeuwedd reached out her hand to stop him. Then she softly asked him if he would care to stay. That was all that it took. Nothing else needed to be said, and later that evening the two of them devised a plan, which would allow them to spend the rest of their lives together.

Blodeuwedd, however, was extremely worried, because she knew what a powerful God Llew was, so she strongly cautioned Gronw, telling him of her fears. Continuing, she warned him that there was no way for them to ever be together as long as her husband continued to be alive. Even after listening to Blodeuwedd’s fears, Gronw continued to remain undaunted. He insisted that all they needed to do was find a way by which they could kill Llew, even though he was a very powerful God. Gronw continued, and told Blodeuwedd that all she had to do was question her husband until he finally told her exactly what it would take to kill him.

Blodeuwedd actually found the circumstances quite amusing, and she shared her humor with Gronw. Laughingly, she explained to him that in her extremely short existence, she had already, quite amazingly, been both a lover and a wife, and now she was going to take on a new role: that of an actress. She would be performing in her starring role, when she convinced Llew to tell her exactly what it would take to ensure his own demise. Once Llew was dead, then she would once again become a wife, but this time there would be a difference, since she would then be the wife of Gronw. Gronw lay there, feeling quite content in Blodeuwedd’s arms, and he continued to stay for the remainder of Llew’s absence.

Finally, the two of them realized that the time had come for Gronw to leave, since Llew would be arriving home shortly. Luck was definitely on their side, because as soon as Gronw had departed, Llew arrived. Llew and Blodeuwedd spent his first evening at home feasting, and he was quite content, just being there with his loving wife. Something seemed definitely wrong, though. Llew felt it, and he could see it in Blodeuwedd's eyes. However, when Llew questioned Blodeuwedd, she simply laughed it off, telling him that it was just a silly notion, and that it was certainly nothing for him to be bothered about. Llew, however, kept after her until she finally broke down and told him how worried she had been during his absence. She then continued, telling him how terrified she had been that he might have been robbed or even killed on his journey, thereby making it impossible for him to return home to her.

Llew found Blodeuwedd's worries to be quite amusing, and he assured her that it would be extremely difficult for anyone to kill him. Blodeuwedd, however, was quite insistent, and she kept on pressuring Llew to tell her, once and for all, exactly what it would take for someone to kill him. Eventually, Blodeuwedd wore Llew down to the point where he finally told her everything that she needed to know. He explained to her that it was, indeed, quite possible for someone to kill him, but that doing so would be an extremely difficult task. Blodeuwedd continued in her questioning, until Llew finally acquiesced to her wishes, and agreed to tell her exactly what it would take for someone to kill him. He told her that a wound might kill him, but only if he was wounded by a spear that had been created seven days a week for one complete year; and that he could not be slain within a house, nor without; nor could he be slain upon a horse, or if he was on foot. That riddle made absolutely no sense to Blodeuwedd, so she insisted that Llew explain to her, in detail, exactly what he had meant.

Finally, Blodeuwedd had her way, and Llew explained to her, in detail, exactly what it would take for someone to kill him. He told her that if a bath was prepared for him by the river's edge with a thatched roof built over a cauldron, while he was standing with one foot on the back of a buck goat and the other on the cauldron, then and only then could he be killed. Blodeuwedd, finally learning all that she needed to know, laughed out loud, feigning relief, and she agreed with her husband that he was very safe indeed.

The very next day, Blodeuwedd sent word to Gronw detailing exactly what needed to be done, and he immediately began to create the spear which he would use to kill Llew. The end of a year seemed to come quickly upon them, and Gronw advised Blodeuwedd that he had finished making the spear, so the time was thereby ripe for them to kill Llew.

Once again, Blodeuwedd questioned Llew regarding how someone might kill him, telling him that she was unable to imagine how a man could balance himself with one foot on a cauldron, and the other upon a buck. It was then that Llew indulged his beloved wife one more time, and by doing so, he set the scene for his own demise. Blodeuwedd and Llew brought the cauldron to the river Cynvael, and then they set a roof above it. Gronw waited patiently in Bryn Kyvergyr for word from Blodeuwedd, advising him when the time had arrived for him to make his move. Once Gronw heard from her, he just lay there waiting and watching as Llew, who was still wet from his bath, balanced himself upon the cauldron and the buck, which Blodeuwedd had led to him. It was then that all their planning reached fruition, and at the exact moment that Llew balanced himself upon the cauldron and the buck, Gronw rose up, sending the flying spear at him, and thereby striking Llew in his side. When the spear struck Llew, he was immediately transformed into an eagle and he quickly flew away, shrieking in pain. Since their plan appeared to be a great success, Blodeuwedd and Gronw returned to her castle, and it was from that time forward that Gronw Pebyr replaced Llew Llaw Gyffes, ruling Dinodig as well as Penllyn.

When the news of Blodeuwedd’s betrayal reached Math, he became overcome with grief, and he refused to just sit there and do nothing. Gwydion was furious, as well, so he immediately set out for Maenawr Penardd, in Arvon, and when he had arrived there, he spent the night at the house of a vassal. Sometime later that same evening, Gwydion happened to overhear the vassal as he was talking with his swineherd, telling him about a wandering sow. Gwydion’s intuition seemed to tell him that something did not seem right, so he asked them whether they knew where the sow disappeared to. No one seemed to know the answer to that question, so Gwydion requested that they not release the sow until he, personally, went with them to the sty.

The next day Gwydion followed the sow. He told the others that it was just simple curiosity, which made him want to know where the sow happened to go. Gwydion followed the sow as it eventually made its way to a place beside the brook, which was now known as the Nant y Llew, and he watched the sow eat the putrid flesh that kept falling to the ground.

Gwydion then looked up into the trees, trying to discover from where the putrid flesh had fallen. Finally, his eyes fell upon an eagle, sitting in the branches, and when the eagle shook itself, putrid flesh fell from its body and landed on the ground. Somehow Gwydion knew, deep in his heart, that the eagle had to be Llew, so he sang a magickal song to the bird. After a short while, the eagle looked down at Gwydion and then slowly and very carefully, it moved a little bit closer to him.

Once again, Gwydion sang the magickal song to the bird, and this time the eagle came down and rested upon one of the lowest branches of the tree. Then, for the third and final time Gwydion sang the song, and it was then that the eagle came down and finally settled upon Gwydion’s knee. Quickly, Gwydion took his magick wand and very gently touched the eagle with it, thereby returning Llew to his original form as a man, albeit one who was extremely weak and thin. Taking the injured Llew into his arms, Gwydion immediately brought him back to Caer Dathyl, calling in the finest physicians in Gwynedd to care for him.

When Llew became well enough, he went to visit Math, and quite adamantly told him that he wanted retribution for all the wrongs that had been done to him. Gwydion and Math both agreed that Llew had every right to feel the way that he did, and they told him that they supported his decision wholeheartedly.

First, Gwydion went to Mur-y-Castell. Blodeuwedd had already learned about her husband’s transformation back into his normal self, so she immediately fled to the mountains with her ladies in waiting. Unfortunately for Blodeuwedd, while they were crossing the river Cynval, her ladies in waiting all drowned, leaving her stranded there completely alone.

It was there, as well, that Gwydion finally caught up with Blodeuwedd, who he severely admonished, telling her how shameful she had been, and how she had not only betrayed her husband, but that she also had betrayed her creators. It was then, as well, that Gwydion placed a curse upon her, as punishment for what she had done. That curse stated that from that point forward, Blodeuwedd would no longer be able to show herself in the light of day, because Gwydion had transformed her into an owl:a creature of the night.

Gronw Pebyr, finally realizing the danger that he was in, withdrew to his home in Penllyn. He attempted to make amends to Llew and, as a way of attoning for his sins, he offered Llew both his land and his fortune. Llew, however, refused everything that Gronw had offered, telling him that there was only one way by which he could be appeased. He told Gronw, that he would have to stand upon the exact same spot where he had previously stood when Gronw had wounded him, and then allow Llew to strike him with a blow. It was at that point that Gronw finally realized that all was indeed lost. He also realized that there was nothing that he could even do to protect Blodeuwedd. Finally, seeing no other alternative, he agreed to Llew’s terms. And so it was that Llew Llaw Gyffes killed Gronw Pebyr upon the bank of the River Cynvael.

With Gronw Pebyr dead and Blodeuwedd banished, to live the rest of her life as a creature of the night, Llew took his proper place, ruling his own lands and then, as time passed, ruling Gwynedd as well.

There are some people who might view Blodeuwedd as the May Queen, who was symbolically wed to the king who, through ritual, was then sacrificed to her. There are others, who might see her as a young rebel, attempting to break free from the parental restraints of a patriarchal world.

The truth behind this tale lies deeper then those particular views. Unfortunately for Blodeuwedd, Gwydion and Math had created her, and since they had created her, she was nothing more to them then one of their magickal creations. She was a possession, or piece of property, rather then a living and breathing woman. Never once did they ever imagine that their creation would grow into a capable individual, owning her own feelings and having the ability to use her own mind, irrespective of their particular designs.

Unfortunately for Gwydion and Math, once left alone Blodeuwedd did a fine job, as she discovered how to learn, adapt and grow. More importantly, once she discovered the feeling of power, that came with the exercise of her own free will, she could no longer continue being the malleable “Flowerface,” that she had once been. In a strange way, it almost seems unfortunate for Llew, who truly appeared to have loved her. In all likelihood, however, that love had been directed towards Gwydion and Math’s magickal creation of Blodeuwedd, tailor made to meet Llew’s specific requirements, rather then towards the independent person she had so aptly become. In other words, Blodeuwedd had been created to be the perfect counterpoint to Llew’s point, in the continuing symphony of life; but then, without any warning, the music just faded away.

Blodeuwedd is known as the Welsh Virgin Goddess of Spring, or “Flowerface,” and there are many who believe that she was just as deadly as she was beautiful. She was known, as well, as "The Ninefold Goddess of the Western Isles of Paradise,” and her totem was the owl, a bird of wisdom and lunar mysteries.

Blodeuwedd takes on the role of the Maiden, in the traditional Welsh Triple Goddess trinity, in which Arianrhod is the Mother, and Cerridwen the Crone. She has also been considered, by some, to be the beautiful Goddess of Springtime, who is represented by the blossoming Earth, flowers and wisdom and initiations, as she brings fertility to the Earth with every turn of the Wheel of the Year.

The Festival of Flowers, also known as Beltane, is held in part to honor Blodeuwedd, the Welsh "Flowerface" Goddess, who is often associated with, among other things, sex and death. For that reason, if you look at Blodeuwedd quite carefully, it might appear to you, that she actually might be a Goddess of the Cycle.

In this particular myth, Blodeuwedd was created through no choice of her own to be the wife of Llew Llaw Gyffes. Then, though her own free will, she made the first independent choice in her extremely brief life, by falling in love with Gronw, Lord of Penllyn. This was something that Blodeuwedd chose to do, completely on her own, and was never once told by anyone what she must do or say.

While this myth tends to portray Blodeuwedd as being shallow, and driven by her own physical needs rather then by her mind, if she was indeed a Goddess of the Cycle, then she would be complete unto herself, and it would not only be her choice, it would be her Goddess-given right, to choose any lover that she might deem fit.

Blodeuwedd was completely aware of her actions at all times during this tale, and she was quite willing to take full responsibility for them. If she was, indeed, a Goddess of the Cycle, then she understood the cycle of life and death, and she was well aware that she was merely passing from one existence into the next. Her actions demonstrated that quite aptly, and those people who see her as nothing more than a lustful female had better reassess their views; because if Blodeuwedd truly was a Goddess of the Cycle, then she was only doing what she was meant to do; that which was an integral part of her very nature.

We must also consider the possibility that Blodeuwedd may have been acting out her destiny, as set down by the Fates. If her actions actually were woven into the Fates’ Tapestry of Life, then neither man nor God would have any control over them.

Since she had been created from flowers, then flowers were and are a primary symbol for Blodeuwedd. Flowers demonstrate, in their very brief existence, exactly how short our own lives can be, and how we only have but a fleeting moment within which to blossom, before we too will just whither away and die. Flowers can also remind us, that we need to live our own lives to the fullest, even though there might be others who might try to hold us back. That is, perhaps, an excellent way of looking at Blodeuwedd, the Flower Maiden Goddess, who wanted nothing more then to be herself, as she began to blossom, grow, and live her life in the manner that she believed it was meant to be lived.

Blodeuwedd was a Goddess who should be admired, rather then admonished, for attempting to break free from the restraints placed upon her, by patriarchal rule. She was trapped in a situation that was not of her own making, and she did exactly what any other woman of great courage would have done. She drew upon the strength deep within her, that of the Divine Feminine, and then she attempted to escape in the only way she knew how, thereby freeing herself through the use of her own free will. I seriously doubt that anyone could possibly object to that.

Artwork by Amy Brown
Fantasy Art
Used With Permission

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