Hiraeth a Cynefin

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Hiraeth a Cynefin: The call of Taliesin

You are calling me. Incessantly, beating wildly in my ears, haunting me, following me, no matter where I go.

Your words echo in my heart, weaving glistening spirals, drawing endless paths through deep forests. Your tales come alive in my every dream, your voice sings in my head, charming and bewitching me, no matter where I go.


The land of my fathers, the land I once knew, is hidden in the mists of time. It lies beyond the haze of yesterdays, the ages that have come and gone. The place I once loved is no longer mine, yet I remember it still — the castle on the hill, the swift river of silver and white, running its course below the castle walls.


I remember everything, yet it is no longer mine. The man, taller than many, dressed in greens and gold, his hair auburn as the young fall, his eyes — the multitude of forest greens. His voice, soft and quiet, yet at times- harsh and thunderous. His hands, caressing the silver harp, his fingers long and strong.


The life unknown, the life gone, the life unreachable- that once was mine. I remember it all, as well as I remember the names. The name of the land my heart still aches for, and the name of the man, who is now a legend.


That is all I have left now. The names and feelings. Places and faces. Cynefin and hiraeth. Cymru. Taliesin. Aneurin.

The story now lost.


Till the hiraeth runs dry.

When the time comes

For the bard to leave

The hills open

And the Neighbors greet him

As if he were one of their own.

When the time comes

For the bard to flourish

The hills open

And the Fair ones bless him

With the gift of the flowing verse.

When the time comes

For the bard to sing

The hills open

And the Awen shines

Brighter than the sun.

Then the world stops

As there is no time

But eternity

For the one who sings.

When the moment is right

Everything falls into place.

Heed my word

For it is me who tells you this:

Nothing is impossible for the one wishing to hear,

Nothing is impossible for the one ready to sing

Hanes Taliesin: Gwydion

…and she chose a young boy by the name of Gwion Bach to tend the cauldron, and an old blind man called Mordda, to keep the flame…

That’s how the legend goes; but be aware of legends, for they can cloud the judgement and their ways are of the morning mist that creeps from nowhere only to cover the truth with seemingness.

I will tell you this story as you’ve never heard it before, for I was there, and none other but me can tell it — after all, they call me the greatest storyteller for a reason. And now- to the story itself, for we have no time to linger.

There was, once, a mighty sorceress by the name of Cerridwen, who was also called Ogyrwen, or all-knowing, who lived close to the lake of Bala. So wise was she that gods themselves asked for her advice, and Gwydion was no exception. His deeds were many, and most of them though done with best intentions, backfired on him in such a manner that he had to resolve much at the same time.

When he was young and far more careless, he met a maid, golden-haired and fair, and wooed her. And by the Calan Mai she gave birth to a boy, so fair in looks that sunlight couldn’t rival him. And, as she bore him by the brook, she called him Gwion Bach, meaning “little stream’. For a time, Gwydion was happy and content, but his nature made him leave the child and his mother — and he never saw them again for years to come.

Six years passed, and a strange dream began haunting Gwydion. Immediately he understood that his son was in danger- for a small brook in the valley became blood, boiling so vehemently that it turned to poison. He loved the boy, and so he rode to the village he left him at all those years ago.

Upon arriving, he found him to be an orphan, for his young mother fell ill and died in winter time, and there was no one to look after the boy. Bright and clever the lad was, and Gwydion marveled at his will and talents, but remembering the dream, he decided to visit Cerridwen to seek her advice. So he left the child for a day, and rode off to Caer Tegid, whence she lived with her husband Tegid Foel and two children.

The storm drove him to her door well past midnight, and the house was already silent when he knocked. Cerridwen’s acumen however prepared her for a visit. For three nights she couldn’t sleep, for in her dreams a great Cauldron boiled and broke with a cry, and blood poured out of it, poisoning the glen.

Gwydion fell on his knees and implored Cerridwen to help him.

“Save my son! “He cried. “Save him for I can see the danger coming, and I cannot see its face. I have tried everything but still it grows and all I know is that I have to hide him.”

“You have nowhere to turn’ Cerridwen told him “Wherever you go, trouble follows’.

But she agreed to shelter the boy, and Gwydion though still troubled, rode back to get him. Having arrived he saw that the storm wiped the village clean, killing many and leaving many homeless. Of all children of the village only Gwion was left alive. To his horror, Gwydion realized the storm was of magic, and judging by the outcome, it had been raging for weeks.

Cerridwen loved little Gwion from the first glance, and her children took him in unquestioningly and with open hearts. Gwydion and Cerridwen agreed that Gwion would stay for a year and a day — and Gwydion would watch over him in the guise of an old man, so if danger comes, he’d be there to ward it.

Meanwhile Cerridwen was to prepare a potion so mighty that if overdone it would turn to poison- for Gwion’s fate depended on it. It fell upon Cerridwen to make the boy a prophet and a bard unrivalled and a magician unequalled, and for hours she toiled and brewed, and on Nos Calan Gaeaf the brew was done.

Tired, she fell asleep, leaving Gwydion still disguised as an old man, and Gwion to tend the cauldron. And as she slept, the potion began to boil, and turned gold, and red, and white — and Gwion stirred and stirred, as he was taught, and nothing came of it. And three drops jumped out, and landed on his chest, and he cried.

Great lighting came out of the sky, as it darkened, and Gwydion became himself again, rising from the ground. Loud was his voice as he cried,

“It is done!”

And the boy looked at him, trembling.

“Run!” Gwydion ordered, but the boy didn’t move. He was too frightened, you see, and the potion still stung.

“Run! “Gwydion repeated, but this time his voice was angry. Still the boy stood rooted to the spot.

“Run, boy! Or she will kill you!”

Gwion looked at him in fear and ran as fast as he could. The cauldron boiled and broke, and the potion became blood. And Cerridwen awoke.

“What have you done, Gwydion son of Don? What didn’t you tell me?”

“You have to chase him. You have to chase him until the sun dies. He has to be reborn. Don’t ask me, Cerridwen… that is all I know’.

She looked at him, pale and trembling. Never before did she see great Gwydion in such state. Into a greyhound she turned, and the chase began.

Through guises and faces, through valleys and hills she chased him- and finally, devoured him on a guise of a black, red crested hen.

In nine months she bore him, a boy that outshone the sun. Nine days she sang to him, blessing him, and couldn’t let him go. Tegid Foel, her husband, had to step in. Wrapping the child in silks and furs, he put him in a coracle and sent him down the stream….

That is how the tale goes. The true tale — not the one you’ve heard so many a time. And what became of Gwydion, do you ask? He returned to his uncle’s court, and after that his legend became his own. As for Cerridwen, she kept on watching over Taliesin — for that was Gwion Bach’s new name.

How do I know that? Gwydion is my name, and this is the story

Hanes Taliesin: Cerridwen

It’s been a week since Cerridwen, the wife of King Tegid, was last seen in the Great Hall. It’s been a week since she last sang lullabies to her two children, spoke to her husband or ate, for that matter. No one in her household knew where their mistress was, or what she could be up to. Something was wrong in the house, something was on so wrong — and only Tegid Foel, wisest among kings, knew where his fair wife was. After all, they were married for many a year, and he learned to understand her — and to the best of his ability, foresee the difficulties. Now was the time to act, and he was ready to be as kind to her as he could, without being too soft-hearted, though, for he knew he had to reason her from her hysteric state.

She must be in pieces, he thought, making his way to her hut in the woods. She must be, for she has given birth, and having witnessed it twice before, he knew it wasn’t easy. She always had a hard time in labor, he recalled. When Morfran was born, she almost died, so hard it was. Little Creirwy’s birth was easier, but with Creirwy, it was always easier. At nine, she was the perfect daughter, obedient and kind, clever and obliging, and so lovely- Tegid Foel felt his heart swelling with pride and love. His daughter was everything to him, and they were close — much closer than they were with Cerridwen, but who could blame her?

Marrying Cerridwen wasn’t easy. Living with her wasn’t easy. Nothing was easy when it came to Cerridwen, yet he cared, he loved and he never left her side. She was the best wife he could have wished for, and Tegid’s life was pure bliss — up to this day.

When he reached the hut, the sun was high up in the sky, the birds sang merrily all around- yet it was quiet by Ceridwen’s abode. Not a sound came out, and though Tegid Foel was keen at hearing, he could not discern a single sound. Something was wrong here, and it was up to him to make it right.

Three times he knocked, and no answer came. Cautiously he entered, and froze rooted to the spot: no one was inside, no one except a tiny babe, wrapped in silken covers, fast asleep in a cradle. Tegid knew this cradle well — nine years ago he carved it himself for Creirwy, and it hasn’t been used since then. Made of ash, and masterfully decorated, it was his first gift to his first child, his golden girl.

Upon seeing her, he thought he’d never seen a more wondrous child. She was beautiful even then, five minutes after being born — but this child took his breath away. She told him of course, that it would be a child born of magic, with no mortal father — and Tegid was no stranger to magic himself, being who he was- but he was quite unprepared for what he saw.

This child was, at the mildest, humblest words, radiant. His eyes, wide open, were the color of the summer skies, his expression — perfectly conscious, calm and serene. Tegid thought, taken aback by this, that the child not only saw him, but knew who he was. Kneeling by the cradle, Tegid smiled at the babe, and the babe smiled back, reaching its hand towards Tegid.

“You’re brave, aren’t you, Taliesin?” He murmured.

“How did you call him?”

Tegid Foel looked up. Cerridwen stood there, her face pale as mist, eyes dark, hair falling in uncombed curls down to her waist.

“Taliesin’ he said.” I called him Taliesin. That is one radiant brow, innit?”

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