- May 24, 2021 at 7:38 pm #13538
Just a few thoughts …
Meditating on the story of Taliesin, it came to me that perhaps a message could be that even the mighty Ceridwen could not change destiny, she sought the three drops for her own son, but as “fate would have it”, the three drops spattered out on to Gwion’s thumb. Gwion, fearing what he thinks will happen flees, and we have the numerous incarnations of the chase – each time he flees and each time he’s pursued until finally he’s swallowed up as a grain and then (re)born nine months later, whereupon Ceridwen (slightly) relents and spares him, casting him to destiny on the ocean’s waves.
Without going into too much detail about all the potential symbolism of each incarnation, his “trials” by fire, air, earth and water eventually lead to his becoming Taliesin – the shining brow – the enlightened one, and, on his grand entrance, he has knowledge of all things and all time. The fact that he’s twice born and that elsewhere we find figures, both human and divine, being reborn in the cycle of birth and death until there is some kind of epiphany or moment of enlightenment, has been tempting me to see parallels with dharmic religions and belief systems. I’m not saying they’re the same nor necessarily (directly) connected, but perhaps there are some very deep universal truths here.
What I’m taking from this is that, at least in Celtic belief systems, fate will decide and there’s no use fleeing from your destiny – each time Gwion would have been devoured and, presumably, each time Ceridwen would have eventually given birth to him. Did Gwion finally relent and choose to become a grain deliberately so as to be eaten? Or was this fate again playing its hand?
/|\May 25, 2021 at 7:32 am #13539david pooleParticipant
From the story Gwion was trying to escape from Taliesin constantly and tried every means available to him until finally he became a grain of wheat and was consumed; it was not the first thing that he did. Gwion did everything that he could to avoid his destiny until it finally caught up with him. Notice that the four elements are involved at various stages here, it is like a consecration.May 26, 2021 at 8:06 pm #13546
Did you mean that Gwion was trying to escape from Ceridwen? However, in a sense he was also trying to escape from Taliesin, so there’s an interesting angle on this. It’s very interesting how a (good) story can keep revealing more and more each time you read it.
/|\May 27, 2021 at 1:17 pm #13547david pooleParticipant
So really you might say that this story is about self denial and avoidance and the search for the true self, that is a neat way of putting it. I had not thought of that before, this then is how Cerridwen acts as an initiator by provoking Gwion Bach into self awareness and realisation of his true potential, which is the model which we should be following as bards ourselves.May 27, 2021 at 8:03 pm #13549
Yes, David – you’ve hit the nail on the head. I’m not saying it’s “the” interpretation, but I certainly think it’s “an” interpretation.
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