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A forest BABYLON. See: THOLOMER.
The page of Tristan in the Welsh romance TRYSTAN. His name means 'little small one'. # 156
(bôv baib) # 454: Crow - an aspect of the Morrighan. She confronted CuChulain on his way to the last battle as a Washer of the Ford. She likewise appeared as a harbinger of death to King Cormac. # 166: A supernatural woman or demon who frequented places of battle; regarded by some as a 'battle goddess'. # 100: The Celtic goddess of war, who, according to Evans Wentz in THE FAIRY-FAITH IN CELTIC COUNTRIES, incorporated the three goddesses NEMAN, MACHA and MORRIGU in a single form, that of a Royston or hoodie crow. The mythology has declined into folklore, and a crow perching on a house is often the form taken by the BANSHEE or 'fairy woman'. The narrative of the battle of Moytura (q.v.) in THE BOOK OF LEINSTER gives one of the most vivid descriptions of the activities of Badb and her attendant spirits. # 100 - 166 - 367 - 454 - 548 - 711
# 454: Famed for its tenacity and courage, the badger has entered folklore as the most unyelding animal; significantly, badgerhead sporrans keep a Highlander's loose change safe. The story of Gwawl and Rhiannon shows how an ancient game 'Badger in the Bag' was supposed to have originated, but traces of this custom, called 'Beat the Badger' in Fife, show how it may have been a form of ancient ordeal, a running the gauntlet, where the player ran between a double line of boys wielding sticks. # 225 - 439 - 454
# 156: A battle in which Arthur was said to have totally defeated the Saxons. Gildas is the first to refer to it, but he does not mention Arthur by name. The date of the encounter is uncertain, but it is generally placed between AD 490 and 516 sometimes more specifically about AD 500. In DE EXCIDIO, Gildas is ambiguous: his statement could be variously interpreted as meaning that the battle occurred in the year he was born, forty-four years before he wrote, forty-four years after the coming of the Saxons or forty-four years after the resurgence of the Britons under Ambrosius. As regards the first of these possibilities, it is worth noting that T. D. O'Sullivan in a recent study opines that Gildas wrote DE EXCIDIO as a young man. Although Gildas does not name the British commander, both Nennius and the ANNALES CAMBRIAE identify him as Arthur. So does Geoffrey, who regards Badon as identical with Bath. A recent linguistic argument, against this identification, by N. L. Goodrich betrays insufficient knowledge of the Welsh language. Other locational suggestions have been variously Liddington Castle near Swindon and Badbury Rings (Dorset). The Battle is described as a siege, though it is not clear who was beleageured by whom. See: GREENAN CASTLE. # 26 - 156 - 243 - 255 - 494
# 156: King of Gore, a Knight of the Round Table and a cousin of Arthur. He seems to have been a benign character, but he took umbrage when Tor was made a Knight of the Round Table before him. His son was Meleagaunce and, when this character carried off Guinevere, Bagdemagus prevented him from raping her. At the time of the Grail Quest he took a special shield with a red cross on it, intented for Galahad, and for his pains he was wounded by a white knight. Killed by Gawain. # 156 - 418 - 604
It is a very ancient instrument-as old as ancient Persia- which was introduced into the British Isles by the Romans. While it is considered to be the national instrument of Scotland, historically it is hardly more Scottish than Irish. Each bagpipe consists of five pipes: the intake pipe, through which the player's breath enters the bag; the pipe on which the performer plays the melody; and three drone pipes, to provide a bass background. # 118 p 17
BAILE ATHA CLIATH
(bal'ye á'ha clé'ah) 'Place of the Ford of the Hurdles'. Now Dublin. # 166
# 156: The younger brother of Balin. After killing a certain knight, he had to assume a guardian's rôle, fighting all comers in place of the knight he had slain. In this capacity he fought with Balin, neither recognizing the other. Each received a fatal wound. # 156 - 418
# 156: Brother of Colgrin, the Saxon leader. He was on his way to help his brother during the siege of York when his force was attacked by Cador and defeated. After this, he sneaked into York disguised as a minstrel. He was eventually slain at Badon. # 156 - 243
# 156: A famous knight, who was born in Northumberland. He had incurred Arthur's displeasure by killing a Lady of the Lake. However, he and his brother Balan captured Rience and became supporters of Arthur. When Pellam tried to kill him for slaying his brother Garlon, Balin struck Pellam with the Lance of Longinus. This was the Dolorous Stroke. Balin was also known as the Knight of the Two Swords. He and his brother unwittingly killed each other. Balin's name may be a variant of Brulen/Varlan who, elsewhere and long before Arthur's time, was thought to have struck the Dolorous Stroke. See: COLOMBE. # 156 - 418
Earliest home of mountain Celts was ranges of Balkans. # 562
# 562: (bá'lor) Son of Net. Ancestor of Lugh; Bres sent to seek aid of Balor; informed that Danaans refuse tribute; Fomorian champion, engages Nuada of the Silver Hand, and slain by Lugh; one of the names of the god of Death; included in Finn's ancestry. # 156: A one-eyed giant in Irish mythology who seems to be related to Yspadadden in CULHWCH. # 454: King of the Fomorians. It was prophesied that his grandson would kill him and so he kept his daughter secluded on an island. But Cian mac Cainte was able to visit the island where he slept with Ethniu, Balor's daughter. Of their union Lugh was born. Balor was one-eyed because he had spied on some druids who were preparing a draught of wisdom. Some splashed out and hit him in the eye thus making the glance of this eye baleful to any he looked upon. He kept that eye-lid closed and had four attendants to raise it when he wanted to kill his enemies. At the second Battle of Mag Tuired, Lugh put out this eye with a sling-stone and killed him. Traces of Balor occur in many extant folk-stories of the British Isles. Parallels between him and Yspaddaden are so striking that it is clear they are analogous with each other. # 156 - 157 - 166 - 326 - 454 - 562
# 156: King of Gomeret or Benwick. He supported Arthur in the battle with the rebel leaders at the outset of Arthur's reign. His realm was on the Continent and, in return for his assistance, Arthur was to aid him against his foe, King Claudas. When Claudas destroyed Ban's castle at Trebes, he died of a broken heart. Ban's wife is usually called Elaine but, in the French medieval romance 'Roman des fils du roi Constant,' she is named Sabe. In that romance, he has a daughter called Liban. His son Lancelot became Arthur's chief knight. Ban also had an illegitimate son, called Ector de Maris, whose mother was the wife of Agravadan. Ban's sword was called Courechouse. He was the brother of King Bors of Gaul. It has been suggested that he was, in origin, the god Bran and that the name Ban de Benoic (Ban of Benwick) was a corruption of Bran le Benoit (Bran the Blessed; see the MABINOGION, where Bran is called Bendigeidfran, Bran the Blessed). Ban's name has also been connected with Irish BáN (white). # 156 - 418 - 496
# 562: Wife of Danaan king, MacCuill. # 454: According to a lost early manuscript, she was the first settler in Ireland which was called 'the island of Banba of the women' - which perhaps is associated with TIR NA MBAN. She was one of the three goddesses of Sovereignty to whom Amergin promised the honour of naming the island after her. Thus Banba is a poetic name for Ireland. # 166 - 454 - 469 - 562
Ancient Celtic word for prophetess. A Banfáith was exalted among her kind. Like bards they could sing and play the harp, and like bards they were able counsellors. But they also possessed an older, more mysterious power: the ability to search the woven pathways of the future to see what will be and to speak to the people in the voice of the DAGDA. # 383 p 200
A female Filidh, or harper. # 383 p 202
BANN, THE RIVER
Visited by Mac Cecht in his frantic search for water. But the Fairy Folk, who are here manifestly elemental powers controlling the forces of nature, have sealed all the sources against him. He tries the Well of Kesair in Wicklow in vain; he goes to the great rivers, Shannon and Slayney, Bann and Barrow - but they all hide away at his approach. # 562
# 701: From Gaelic BEAN-SIDHE, 'woman of the fairy-mounds,' the Banshee was another form of the Goddess-voice, for she was heard, but rarely seen. Irish folklore said the voice of the Banshee was sometimes a terrifying shriek or ghastly wail that would cause any hearer to drop dead at once; or, at other times, it was a soft, comforting voice adressed to those whom the Goddess loved 'a welcome rather than a warning' of the coming passage into the realm of death. # 100: Her name may be more correctly written BEAN SI, who wails only for members of the old families. When several keen together, it foretells the death of someone very great or holy. The Banshee has long streaming hair and a grey cloak over a green dress. Her eyes are fiery red with continual weeping. In the Scottish Highlands the Banshee is called BEAN-NIGHE or 'Little-Washer-by-the-Ford', and she washes the grave-clothes of those about to die. The Highland Banshee, like the other fairies, has some physical defects. She has only one nostril, a large protruding front tooth and long hanging breasts. A mortal who is bold enough to creep up to her as she is washing and lamenting and suck her long breast can claim to be her foster-child and gain a wish from her. Since the word 'banshee' means 'fairy woman', the beliefs about her are various, and occasionally the Glaistig is spoken of as a banshee, though she has nothing to do with the Bean-Nighe. # 100 - 701 p 235
(baavan shee) This Highland word is the same as BANSHEE, and means 'fairy woman', but is generally employed to mean a kind of succubus, very dangerous and evil. See: BANSHEE. # 100
The name of the King of Russia in Arthurian romance. # 156
Tradition has that Finn lies in some enchanted cove spellbound, like Barbarossa. # 562
A poet, storyteller, singer. Bards were initiates in different degrees. From Penderwydd - that is the Head Druid, or Chief Bard - on to the Brehon, and further down to the Mabinog, which is a pupil or apprentice. There are many more kinds of specialized bards, like the Gwyddon who is an expert on anything to do with land or cattle, and many times have skills as a physician.
The Bards of ancient Britain always maintained that their language emanated from an otherworldly source, and from where also the modern Gaelic have its roots. The tutor syllable in modern language has to be swift for tongue-knotting syllable, and vowel for elusive vowel. - Under an intensive and imaginative instruction, the speech of ancient Britain was a valued currency, and no words rendered meaningless through overuse or cheapened through bureaucratic doublespeak. It was a language alive with meaning: poetic, imaginative, bursting with rhytm and sound, they spoke to the soul.
On the lips of a bard, a story became an astonishing revelation, a song became a marvel of almost paralyzing beauty. - As mentioned above the degrees of bardship were elaborate and formal, their roles well defined through eons, apparently, of unaltered tradition. The candidate progressed from Mabinog - which had two distinct subdivisions, Cawganog and Cupanog and proceeded up through the various degrees: Filidh, Brehon, Gwyddon, Derwydd, and finally Penderwydd, sometimes called the Chief of Song. There was also a Penderwydd over the whole, the Chief of Chiefs, so to speak. He was called the Phantarch, and was chosen by acclamation of his peers to rule over the bardship of old Albion. The lore said, that in some obscure way, the Island of the Mighty was protected by the Phantarch as if he was standing underneath the realm, supporting it on his shoulders. # 62 - # 383 pp 170-8
# 628: One of the most curious and difficult documents is a chapter from BARDDAS by Edward Williams, better known as Iolo Morgannwg. The work of this brilliant eighteenth-century antiquarian has probably given rise to more argument and discussion on the question of the authenticity of the bardic tradition than any other writer of any age. Iolo's brilliance is beyond question. The problem is that we no longer know how much he translated and how much he made up on the spur of the moment, having reached a point where he could no longer fill out the gaps in his knowledge by any other means. Most of the material reprinted in 'A Celtic Reader' is clearly a forgery; yet for all that it is fascinating as an example of the way a tradition can be extended in such a way that it complements rather than contradicts the original material. Thus it is with the BARDIC TRIADS much in the spirit of the originals.
# 562: Compilation enshrining Druidic thought, although Christian persons and episodes figure in the BARDDAS. At any rate, BARDDAS is a work of considerable philosophic interest, and even if it represents nothing but a certain current of Cymric thought in the sixteenth century it is not unworthy of attention by the student of things Celtic. Purely Druidic it does not even profess to be, for Christian personages and episodes from Christian history figure largely in it. But we come occasionally upon a strain of thought which, whatever else it may be, is certainly not Christian, and speaks of an independent philosophic system. # 562 - 628 Iolo Morgannwg (ed.) Barddas pp 177, 241 ff
The popular conception of the Danaan deities was probably at all times something different from the bardic and druidic, or in other words the scholarly, conception. The latter represents them as presiding deities of science and poetry, which is the product of the Celtic, the Aryan imagination, inspired by a strictly intellectual conception. # 562
Called the 'Navigator' he guided Merlin and Taliesin on their voyage to the otherworld island with the wounded Arthur. He epitomizes the ferryman of the dead and may be drawn from the mythos of Manannan. He is also, in the form of St Barrind, responsible for starting Saint Brendan on his voyage to the paradise of the Blest. See:FORTUNATE ISLANDS. # 399 - 416 - 454 - 507
BARROW, THE RIVER
Visited by Mac Cecht. See: BANN, THE RIVER. # 562
# 562: A lord of the Red Branch; meets Naisi and Deirdre on landing in Ireland; persuades Fergus to feast at his house; # 454: The Red Branch warrior who met Deirdre and Naosi on their return from Scotland. He persuaded Fergus to leave his guarding of the runaway couple in order to feast with himself. Fergus, one of whose geise included the inability not to respond to any hospitality offered to him, complied, thus leaving the doomed couple to their fate. # 156: The Caliph of Baghdad, with whom Gahmuret took service in Wolfram's PARZIFAL. In actual fact, the potentate denoted was the Caliph of Baghdad, head of Islam in the Middle Ages, an anachronism since the Arthurian period predated Mohammed. The title Baruc seems to come from the Hebrew personal name Baruch. In the LIVRE D'ARTUS, Baruc is the name of a knight. # 156 - 454 - 562 - 748
BASSUS, THE RIVER.
The site of one of Arthur's battles was the River Bassus (# 494). It has not been identified. # 156 - 494
BATTLE OF CNUCHA, THE CAUSE OF THE
The parentage of Finn and the beginning of the hereditary feud between him and Goll mac Morna are related in this story. The battle is supposed to have taken place toward the end of the second century of the Christian era. The date of composition is at least as early as the eleventh century, and may be considerably earlier, for the short, dry succession of factual statements is a trait which is distintcly reminiscent of the earlier style. # 166
BATTLE OF MOYTURA, THE
The full title of THE BATTLE OF MOYTURA in the original Irish is CATH MAIGE TUREDH AN SCEL-SA SIS & GENEMAIN BRES MEIC ELATHAN & A RIGHE which translates as THIS TALE BELOW IS THE BATTLE OF MAIGE TUIRED AND THE BIRTH OF BRES SON OF ELATHA AND HIS REIGN. Note the triple aspect of this full title: a battle, a birth, and a king's reign. There are only two complete original manuscript copies extant today. The older is from the first half of the sixteenth century and was committed to writing by the scribe Gilla Riabhach O'Cleirigh, Son of Tuathal, Son of Tadhg Cam O'Cleirigh, and is in the Old Irish language. The second manuscript was written between 1651 and 1652 by David Duigenan, and is in Middle Irish. Both, however, are believed to have come from a text which was known in the ninth century, and which in turn was based on oral traditions of immeasurable antiquity. Its very longevity speaks volumes. Because these old Celtic Pagan legends were written down many centuries after their original oral telling, and because the people who wrote them down were Christian monks, it is often taken as fact that the versions we have inherited today must be corrupted or altered, perhaps even deliberately, and therefore probably bear little resemblance to their original form. On the surface this argument appears plausible and quite likely but, on closer thought and examination, it soon becomes apparent that it is an error to assume this automatically.
It has often been argued that the original oral tellings must have gradually changed and been altered and embellished by each individual story-teller over the many long years these tales were told, the result being that it is no longer possible today to say that any one version is the true and original one. This, however, assumes that the original story-tellers were incapable of remembering the full story verbatim as they had heard it, or that they wilfully changed the content of the tale for the reasons of their own. It is highly unlikely that either of these suppositions are correct. The main fault with this argument is that it is based on our modern inability to remember long spoken passages, and, secondly, upon our equally modern desire to express ourselves in our own, individual way. These assumptions do not take into account the way the ancient Celts - who after all were the ones telling the story in the first place - regarded the importance of memory; nor do they take into account the need that existed to pass on spoken words accurately and precisely.
With the invention of writing neither a retentive memory nor the ability to recall long oral pieces verbatim was so important, and gradually over the centuries we have lost the memory capacity which our forebears most definitely had. Indeed, the Celts were wise enough to see both the dangers and advantages of this new form of communication known as writing, and in order to preserve the memory abilities of their holy men, the Druids, they forbade them writing down any of their secular works. There was no such prohibition on the layman, however, as it was recognized that writing did have distinct advantages in the commercial world. It is feasible then that the legends which eventually came to be written down in the seventh-to-ninth centuries were accurate copies of the extant oral tradition. This is also borne out by the fact that for several centuries the two traditions existed side by side. The ordinary Celt did not have the luxury of books nor the ability to read and therefore still depended entirely upon the spoken word. The monks on the other hand, who wrote these spoken words down, would also have been familiar with the oral tradition, and it would have been pointless for them to set down in writing (for writing was a very laborious and expensive business), works which they knew to be inaccurate or simply wrong. It is also often argued that the written legends are not faithful reproductions of the oral legends because the Christian scribes edited or changed the very Pagan nature of the legends and deliberately altered them in an attempt to convert the common people to the new Christian religion. This again is highly unlikely for several reasons. It must be remembered that the Christian monks had originally been Pagan Celts, and these tales, as demonstrated in Steve Blamires' book THE IRISH CELTIC MAGICAL TRADITION, were not just stories or fanciful fairy-tales but the very basis on which the whole of their society was constructed (on three levels, as mentioned above), and it would have been unthinkable, even on the part of converts to the new Christian religion, deliberately to alter or otherwise tamper with such important information. This fact can be seen by the way the Irish Catholic church incorporated a very great deal of the existing Pagan religious beliefs and practices into its own teachings, much to the annoyance and eventual fury of Rome. In the case of this particular legend there is no evidence whatsoever of the text having been altered by over-zealous scribes, and although there are a couple of places where the Christians scribe did insert a few comments of his own, these do not in any way alter the sense of the story nor attempt to discredit the events being described.
It will also be seen that the text contains some very explicit sexual descriptions as well as references to some very basic bodily functions, normally not talked about even today. It seems very unlikely then that if the monks' aim was to edit and change the old Pagan legends into acceptable Christian versions they would have left in such unChristian passages. The important point about any of these ancient Celtic legends is that the information they contain goes beyond such things, and 'speaks' directly to the innermost part of the reader, who instinctively knows it is correct. They are truly timeless and they adopt and adapt themselves to the times in which they are being read. Therefore their spiritual instruction and guidance is as valid now as it was a thousand years ago and will be a thousand years hence. Blamires say in his Introduction that he have tried as much as possible to split the narrative into sections which are complete in themselves and which make sense if read in isolation apart from the rest of the main story. There are however some passages which are so archaic and obscure that it is impossible even to attempt a guess as to what they originally symbolized. This, however, does not matter. Most of the narrative can still be read and understood perfectly; the uninterpretable passages do not affect the overall outcome of our dissection of the symbolism contained within the rest of the legend. These totally obscure passages in an ironic way do serve an important function, in that they demonstrate very clearly that the physical, mental and spiritual needs of humanity have altered as our understanding of the world around us have changed.
When the legend was originally told these now obscure passages would have had an immediate relevance to the Celtic listener, and he or she would have been able to see and understand the symbolism and information which they contained. As our needs and understanding of life have altered through the centuries so the information contained within parts of the legend has lost its relevance and is of no use to us today. This is a perfectly natural function and simply reflects what happens in the Green World, the World of Nature - when something has lost its relevance or its ability to adopt to changing circumstances it is done away with or modified to suit the times. We call this evolution in the plant and animal world, and this same principle of evolution can be applied to the texts of the Celtic legends. Perhaps some of the major world religions would do well to pay heed to this important point, and to accept that parts of their teachings are outdated and need to be allowed to evolve. Evolution brings life, stagnation brings death. The author's examination of THE BATTLE OF MOYTURA begins with the first nine sections of the legend, which are probably the most important and contain within them the essence of the Celtic philosophical, religious and magical beliefs. The first chapter focus on the first six sections; Chapter 2 examines Sections 7 to 9 more fully. 1. The Tuatha De Danann were in the northern islands of the world, studying occult lore and sorcery, druidic arts, witchcraft and magical skills, until they surpassed the sages of the pagan arts. 2. They studied occult lore, secret knowledge and diabolic arts in four cities; Falias, Gorias, Murias and Findias. 3. From Falias was brought the Stone of Fal, which was located in Tara. It used to cry out beneath every king that would take Ireland. 4. From Gorias was brought the spear which Lug had. No battle was ever sustained against it, or against the man who held it in his hand. 5. From Findias was brought the sword of Nuadu. No one ever escaped from it once it was drawn from its deadly sheath, and no one could resist it. 6. From Murias was brought the Dagda's cauldron. No company ever went away from it unsatisfied. 7. There were four wizards in those four cities. Morfesa was in Falias; Esras was in Gorias; Uiscias was in Findias; and Semias was in Murias. They were the four poets from whom the Tuatha De learned occult lore and secret knowledge. 8. The Tuatha De then made an alliance with the Fomoire, and Balor the grandson of Net gave his daughter Ethne to Cian the son of Dian Cecht. And she bore the glorious child, Lug. 9. The Tuatha De came with a great fleet to Ireland to take it by force from the Fir Bolg. Upon reaching the territory of Corcu Belgatan (which is Conmaicne Mara today), they at once burned their boats so that they would not think of fleeing to them. The smoke and the mist which came from the ships filled the land and the air which was near them. For that reason it has been thought they arrived in clouds of mist.
To begin the examination of the symbolism contained within these first nine sections one should be reminded of what was said earlier regarding a change of attitude concerning linear time, and adopting the concept of the three levels (See also: IRISH CELTIC MAGICAL TRADITION, THE). This opening to the legend is the closest we can get to a Celtic creation myth. All of the world's main religions and mythologies contain some sort of creation myth, the Christian concept of the seven days of creation probably being the most familiar to Western readers, but there is no such clear-cut explanation of creation within the Celtic system. These first nine sections of THE BATTLE OF MOYTURA are the closest we shall get to such an idea, as will be explained. It will be noted that there are three separate races of beings mentioned - the Tuatha De Danann, the Fomoire, and the Fir Bolg. These three races can be equated with the three levels in the following manner:
There are also three separate locations mentioned: the northern islands of the world, the four cities, and Ireland. These can also be equated with the three levels, thus:
- Tuatha De Danann = Spiritual Level
- Fomoire = Mental Level
- Fir Bolg = Physical Level
- Northern Islands = Spiritual Level
- Four Cities = Mental Level
- Ireland = Physical Level
It is important to note at this point that these people and places are still all separate and have not yet united into the three-levels-in-one which we have today, and therefore the concepts we are dealing with here exist on a macrocosmic level, and therefore do not immediately apply to our own mundane level. All that has been described so far has occurred on the spiritual level. It is the beginning of creation which, eventually, will become the physical creation in which we exist today. # 75
BATTLE, EAST SUSSEX
It is said that at the Battle of Hastings, now preserved in the place name Battle, the flag raised by King Harold was painted with a golden dragon. This is almost certainly true, for this dragon appears twice on the famous Bayeux Tapestry, which was embroidered to commemorate this historic fight that so influenced the future history of Britain. This dragon is sometimes called 'The Golden Dragon of Wessex', because it was said to have been carried by Cuthred of Wessex at the battle of Burford in AD 752, yet it appears to have been originally used by Saxon tribes on the Continent. It seems that when the West Saxons invaded Britain in AD 495, they carried a golden dragon as their standard. The dragon appeared on the standards of at least four of William's successors, and in his account of the crusade undertaken by Richard I, the chronicler Ricard of Devizes mentions 'The terrible standard of the dragon...borne in front unfurled'. According to the records, the dragon on the standard of Henry III was made of red silk, 'sparkling all over with gold', its tongue like burning fires, and its eyes made of 'sapphires or some other suitable stones'. It was a dragon of this descent which was unfurled to witness the English victory at Agincourt, though it is not the same dragon which is nowadays mis-called a 'griffin' on the shield of the city of London. There are many myths and legends attached to the Battle of Hastings, almost all of them elaborations. The most famous tells how Richard le Fort, seeing William in danger, threw his own shield in front of him, thereby saving him from being killed. For this reason, it is claimed, Fort was permitted to add to his name 'escue' ('shield'), hence the modern name for the family, as Fortesque. The story is almost certainly apochryphal, though the family's motto is a pun on their name, reading in Latin 'Forte scutum salvus ducum' (A strong shield is the leader's safety). # 702
(buckawn) or Bogan. A hobgoblin spirit, often tricky, sometimes dangerous, and sometimes helpful. # 100
A knight whom Arthur made constable of his realm at the time of his accession. He was one of the govenors of Britain while Arthur went to war with Rome. He later became a hermit and physician. # 156 - 418
BAUDWIN OF BRITTANY
One of the best of the later Knights of the Round Table, he survived the last battle of Camlan and lived thereafter as a hermit. He was also known for his skill as a surgeon. # 454
(bayv) Calatin's daughter; puts a spell of straying on Niam. # 562
(banshee) Bean Si is the Gaelic for 'fairy woman', and is commonly written BANSHEE, as it is pronounced, because it is one of the bestknown of the Celtic fairies. In the Highlands of Scotland she is also called BEAN-NIGHE, or the 'Little-Washer-by-the-Ford' because she is seen by the side of a burn or river washing the blood-stained clothes of those about to die.# 100
(ben-neeyeh) or 'the Washing Woman'. She occurs both in Highland and Irish tradition as one of the variants of the BANSHEE. The name and characteristics vary in different localities. She is to be seen by desolate streams washing the blood-stained clothing of those about to die. She is small and generally dressed in green, and has red webbed feet. She portends evil, but if anyone who sees her before she sees him gets between her and the water she will grant him three wishes. She will answer three questions, but she asks three questions again, which must be answered truly. Anyone bold enough to seize one of her hanging breasts and suck it may claim that he is her foster-child and she will be favourable to him. But the Caointeach of Islay, which is the same as the Bean-Nighe, is fiercer and more formidable. If anyone interrupts her she strikes at his legs with her wet linen and often he loses the use of his limbs. Is is said that the bean-nighe are the ghosts of women who have died in childbirth and must perform their task until the natural destined time of their death comes. The bean-nighe, sometimes called the Little Washer By The Ford, chiefly haunt the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, but Peter Buchan collected a washer story in Banffshire. # 100
# 161: In Celtic myth the bear is a lunar power, emblem of the goddess Berne; it also represents Andarta -'Powerful Bear', while the 'Son of the Bear' occurs frequently in Irish and Welsh names. The dual symbolism is also apparent in the Celtic association between the Bear and the Boar, with the Boar as spiritual authority and the Bear as Temporal Power. # 454: Although no longer native to these islands, the bear has remained one of Britain's totem beasts at a deep level. An old Gaelic proverb, 'Art an neart', describes a hero as a bear in vigour. Arthur's own name derives from the British 'arth' or bear. The constellation of the Plough or the Great Bear is also called Arthur's Wain. # 161 - 454
A princess of Spain who married Eoghan Mor. It was prophesied that her destined husband would appear to her if she went one night to the River Eibhear where she found a salmon arrayed in brilliant robes. The Beare peninsula on the south-west tip of Ireland is named in her honour. See: CAILLEACH BHEARE. # 454
The scene of a siege in Wolfram's PARZIFAL. Its lord, Duke Lyppaut, defended it against his sovereign, King Meljanz of Liz, who had gone to war because he had been piqued when he was rejected by the duke's daughter, Obie. Gawain fought on the side of the defenders, Perceval on that of the attackers. Peace was made in due course, Obie's little sister Obilot playing an important role. # 156 - 748
The wife of Carduino, rescued by him from an enchantment. # 156 - 238
Guinevere's maid who fell in love with Gliglois, Gawain's squire. # 156
(bay'al-koo) A Connacht champion. Beälcu rescues Conall. Slain by sons owing to a strategem of Conall's. Conall slays son of Beälcu. # 562
Wife of Iubdan, King of Wee Folk. # 562
BECFOLA, THE WOOING OF
'The Wooing of Becfola' is connected with Diarmuid, son of the wellknown high-king Aed Slane, who flourished during the first half of the seventh century after Christ. In its form retailed in Cross' and Slover's ANCIENT IRISH TALES, the story appears to consist of confused reminiscences of humanly possible events colored by Irish fairy lore. The allusion to 'bearded heroes' is to be explained by the fact that Dam Inis ('Ox Island'), in Loch Erne, associated with the famous Saint Molassa, was regarded as a sanctuary for women. # 166
An otherworldly woman, exiled from Tir Tairngire for an unspecified transgression. She lusted after Art, but married his father, Conn Cetchathach because he was king. The union was illfated because she did not rightfully represent Sovereignty, and the land was without milk or corn. - She made Conn banish Art, but when he returned to reign in his father's stead she challenged him to a game of fidchell (chess). Art won the first game and demanded she obtain the wand of Cu Roi. She won the second game and made Art seek for Delbchaem. When Art successfully returned with his new bride, he banished Becuma from Tara. # 454 - 548
A forest, the site of a major battle between Arthur and rebel forces at the beginning of his reign. Malory identifies it as Sherwood or a part thereof. There was within it a castle of Bedegraine, loyal to Arthur, to which the rebels had laid siege before the battle. # 156
# 156: (In Welsh: Bedwyr). A prominent companion of Arthur. He is one of Arthur's followers in the earliest Welsh traditions. He helped Arthur to fight the Giant of St. Michael's Mount. In Geoffrey, he was made Duke of Neustria and perished in the Roman campaign. In Malory, he was present at Arthur's last battle. He and Arthur alone survived and he was charged with flinging Excalibur into the lake. He had only one hand. His son was called Amren, his daughter Eneuavc and his father Pedrawd. His grandfather was also called Bedivere and founded the city of Bayeux. # 562: Bed'wyr (bed-weer). Equivalent, Sir Bedivere. One of Arthur's servitors who accompanies Kilhwch (Culhwch) on his quest for Olwen. # 156 - 243 - 346 - 418 - 562
A bishop who appears in a number of Arthurian sources. In THE TRIADS he is described as the chief bishop of Kelliwig. He is identical with Bishop Baldwin, a companion of Gawain in SIR GAWAIN AND THE CARL OF CARLISLE. He is also mentioned by this name in SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT. See: ALISANDER THE ORPHAN. # 156
In Celtic lore bees have a secret wisdom derived from the Otherworld. # 161
Midir's name for Etain when she was his wife in the Sidhe. # 454
The game in which a mysterious challenger - usually a giant, or Green Knight - enters the hall during wintertime and offers his axe to any hero who will cut off his head in return for a similar beheading blow. A hero accepts and find the challenger rises and immediately picks up the axe and demands the right to return the blow. - In the case of Gawain, he was allowed a year's grace to receive the return blow. In the case of CuChulain, he knelt immediately and was judged the bravest knight of Ulster. The game is clearly part of the midwinter festivities in which the old year enters as the giant or Green Knight, the old spirit of the forest, and is challenged by the one representing the new year in its strenght and hardiness. # 166 - 454 - 507 - 672
According to the historian G. M. Cowling (# 753), it was said that, in 1283, Anthony Bek, bishop-elect of Durham met Merlin while hunting in the forest. # 156 - 753
According to one tradition, a giant who guarded Arthur's castle which was nothing more than a grotto. # 156 - 753
Celtic war-god reverenced in Northern Britain, whom the Romans associated with Mars. His name means 'Fair Shining One', and he is the horned god of the north. # 265 - 454 - 563 - 709
One of three peoples inhabiting Gaul when Cæsar's conquest began. # 562
# 156: A legendary early Briton, thought originally to have been a god. His daughter or sister was Penardun who, by Llyr, was the mother of Bran who was thought to have been Arthur's ancestor in both the male and female lines. According to Henry of Huntingdon, Beli was the brother of the historical British king Cunobelinus or Cymbeline (first century). See: BELINANT. # 562: Cymric god of Death, husband of Don; corresponds with the Irish Bilé; Lludd and Llevelys, sons of Beli. # 156 - 272 - 562
Daughter of King Pharamond of France, she became enamoured of Tristan but, as he did not requite her love, she died of lovesickness. # 156
The father of Dodinel. He may be, in origin, the Celtic god Beli. # 156
Brother of Brennius, King of Britain. He quarrelled with his brother but they were eventually reconciled and together they sacked Rome. He built many roads and established his capital at Caer Usk. He built Billingsgate in Trinovantum (London) and was buried there in a golden urn. # 243 - 454
In ARTHOUR AND MERLIN (a thirteenth-century English poem), a sister of Arthur who married Lot. See: BLASINE, and HERMESENT. # 156
The Earl of Laundes, he was the son of Alisander the Orphan and the killer of King Mark of Cornwall. # 156 - 418
A knight wounded by Lancelot in unfortunate circumstances. Chancing on Belleus's pavilion, Lancelot went to bed there. Then Belleus came to the bed and climbed in, mistaking the slumbering Lancelot for his lover. He embraced him and the shocked Lancelot arose and wounded him but, to atone for the harm he had done, he made him a Knight of the Round Table. # 156 - 418
In Italian romance, daughter of King Pharamond of Gaul; she fell in love with Tristan and, when her passion was unrequited, killed herself. # 156 - 238
No account of the Fairy Rade is complete witout a mention of the jingling bells ringing from the horses' harness. We hear of it, for instance, in YOUNG TAMLANE and in the Galloway account of the Fairy Rade. It is never explained why the fairy bells rang, unless it be from their great love of music, but it is genarally supposed that these fairies, in spite of their general habit of kidnapping human beings and purloining human food, belonged to the Seelie Court, and it might be conjectured that these bells rang to scare away the evil creatures who made up the Unseelie Court. On the other hand, the fairies were also repelled by the sound of church bells. Jabez Allies' anecdote of the fairy who was heard lamenting: 'Neither sleep, neither lie, For Inkbro's ting-tang hangs so high' is the first of quite a number that record the fairies' dislike of church bells. # 100
# 438: (baalt'an - or - BAIL tin)) May Eve, time of enchantments, the beginning of summer. See also: MAY EVE. # 454: The Celtic feast of May-Eve, celebrated on the evening of April 30. It marked the beginning of Summer, when livestock was let out of winter pasture to crop the new greenness of Spring. The word means literally 'the fire of Bel', a deity related to Belinus. At this feast, all household fires were doused and rekindled from the new fire which the druids built on this night. See: LUGHNASADH, OIMELC and: SAMHAIN and: LUNANTISHEE. # 438 - 454
One of the names of the god of Death; first of May sacred to Bel'tené.
See: BELTAINE. # 562
Dermot of the Love Spot slain by the wild boar of Ben Bulben. # 562
(bedn varra) The Manx name for the Mermaid, of which many tales are told round the coasts of Man. She bears the same general character as mermaids do everywhere, enchanting and alluring men to their death, but occasionally showing softer traits. # 100
(ben dig ide vran)
BENDITH Y MAMAU
(bendith er mamigh) 'The Mothers' Blessing'. The euphemistic name for the Fairies in Wales. They steal children, elf-ride horses and visit houses. Bowls of milk were put out for them. It is significant that they are associated with the triple form of the Goddess. See: MOTHERS. # 100 - 454
An early Irish saint; a contemporary of St Patrick (fifth century). # 166
(bén ad'yer) Now the Hill of Howth near Dublin. # 166
The Kingdom of Ban. 'Lestoire de Merlin' (part of vulgate Version) states that the town of Benwick was Bourges. Malory points out that Benwick is variously identified with Bayonne and Beaune. An identification with Saumur has also been suggested. # 156 - 418
# 454: Perhaps the most famous of all heroes, his story is told in an eight-century poem written in the West Saxon dialect of Old English. It combines three major stories, which tell of Beowulf's battle with the monster, Grendel, whom he maimed after a wrestling match. The second story tells of his struggle with Grendel's mother - watertroll - beneath the waters of a lake; and the third tells of his combat with a dragon in which Beowulf received a fatal wound. These stories were probably part of a longer cycle of hero-tales current in Saxon countries.
# 169: Beowulf is a stirring and wonderfully readable poem, and the mirror of Anglo-Saxon society. It was composed by a court poet or a monk - a man equally at home with battle action, highly atmospheric evocation of place, and grand set-pieces in the feasting-hall. Sophisticated and humane, it is both a thrilling adventure story and a deeply serious commentary on human life. The very last words of the poem (and their position indicates the importance their poet attached to them) describe its hero in these terms:
cwaedon thaet he waere wyruld-cyninga,
manna mildust ond mon-thwaerust,
leodum lithost ond lof-geornost.
they said that of all kings on earth
he was the kindest, the most gentle,
the most just to his people, the most eager for fame.
# 89 - 168 - 169 - 454
BERNARD OF ASTOLAT
Father of Elaine the White and Lavaine. # 156 - 418
This character was the champion of the False Guinevere and her partner in deception. # 156 - 604
The name of the Green Knight. - See GREEN KNIGHT. # 156 - 454 - 644 - 672
Author of "La Religion des Gaulois" # 562
The son of Perceforest, he made an unfortunate marriage to Circe. # 156
An important saint in North Wales. He was said to be the grandson of Arthur's sister Anna through her daughter Perferren. Beund's popularity survived the Reformation. # 55 - 156 - 216
(beeast veealuch) The monster of Odail Pass on the Isle of Skye, and one of the Highland demon spirits. The distinction between demon spirits and demonic ghosts is hard to draw, and people might well have accounted for Biasd Bheulach as the ravening ghost of a murdered man, hungry for revenge. # 100
Son of Gawain. He managed to unsheath the sword Honoree and thereby marry Biautei, daughter of the King of the Isles. # 156 - 713
# 454: (BEE leh) The Celtic world understood an archetype roughly equivalent to the powerful lord of life and death. In British tradition he was called Bel or Belinus, but in Irish he was Bile. In some texts, he is said to come to Ireland from Spain - which is clearly intended to be the Land of the Dead. The fires of Beltaine were lit to mark his recognized feast. Very little is known of his mythos, but he, like Danu who is sometimes named as his consort, was a powerful ancestral deity to the Celtic races. # 562: (bil-ay) One of the names of the god of Death (i.e. of the Underworld), father of Miled; equivalent, Cymric god Beli, husband of Don. # 454 - 562
The birch tree stood for Beth, the first letter of the druIdic alphabet. It was the sacred beth of Cerridwen, representing beginnings and birth.
The whiteness of the tree's bark apparently suggested its connection with the White Goddess, who was both birthgiver and death-bringer in her Crone form as the carrion-eating white sow. Birch or beorc was also the runic letter B. # 701 p 461
A Druidess who assists Cian to be avenged on Balor. # 562
BIRTH MYTHS IN CELTIC HERITAGE, THE
To resolve the paradox of the Celtic Birth Myths, they must be regarded as symbols of the transcendental meaning of birth, of what birth is from the point of view of the unseen world. From an earthly standpoint a child is conceived inadvertently during the course of its parents' conjugal relations, without the intervention of any other agency. But from the point of view of the supernatural world, the child's birth is destined, the parents are chosen, the time and place are ordained, and the earthly life of the child is 'pre-figured' before he is conceived.
The hostility of earthly powers cannot prevent his advent; his mother has no choice and, in a sense, is violated. And in every conception there is a third factor. The child may derive its biological inheritance from its earthly parents, but it is also the incarnation of a supernatural essence. This doctrine, that a spirit enters the womb at conception, is widespread among both 'primitive' and highly sophisticated peoples. 'Man and the Sun generate man,' says Aristotle; 'Call no man father upon earth,' says St Paul, and according to St Thomas Aquinas, 'The power of the soul, which is in the semen through the Spirit enclosed therein, fashions the body.' The myths are concerned with this third factor, symbolized by the mysterious begetter and by the fructifying substance which is swallowed by the mother. In some of the stories, the begetter is a supernatural being - Lugh, Manannan, a bird-man, or one of the sidhfolk. In others he is the king or a stranger from another race.
Traces of rituals of this kind in the Celtic lands have survived both in the mythological literature itself and in later tradition. It is said that King Conchobar, who was regarded as a 'terrestrial god', was entitled to the first night with the bride of every Ulsterman, 'so that he became her first husband. According to oral tradition, Balor's two deputies exercised the same right. The Fenians had the option on the women of the tribe and claimed either a ransom or the right to cohabit with even a princess the night previous to her marriage. Boswell refers in ERIU, VOL. IV, to a Scottish laird who insited that the Mercheta Mulierum mentioned in old charters did really mean the privilege of a lord to have the first night with his vassals wives, and that on the marriage of each of his own tenants a sheep was still due to him. In Ireland, there are still 'widespread traditions of the days when landlords excercised the Jus Primae Noctis over their tenants' wives, and one hears of leases which contained clauses governing the right. As Mrs Chadwick has argued in her study of Pictish and Celtic Marriage in SCOTTISH GAELIC STUDIES, there is a great deal of evidence which 'suggests the right of a king or his Fili to beget children ritualistically among married couples.
A belief in the fructifying potentialities of water has driven childless women throughout the ages to bathe and to drink at sacred wells in the hope of conceiving, and a belief in the embodiment of the supernatural essence in worms and flies seems to account for the fact that in Wales it is still said of a pregnant girl that she has swallowed an insect (pry') or a spider (corryn). Individual reincarnation is implied in most of the ancient tales, as there might be a hint of the rebirth of the begetter in the birthstories of Finn, Cormac mac Art, and Fiacha Broad-Crown, whose fathers were destined to die as soon as they had begotten their sons. # 173 - 243 - 548 - 714
# 454: A blue-faced hag, akin to the Cailleachs Bheare and Bheur, who eat people. She is supposed to live in a cave in the Dane Hills in Leicestershire.
# 100: There was a great oak at the mouth of the cave in which she was said to hide to leap out, catch and devour stray children and lambs. The cave, which was called 'Black Annis' Bower Close', was supposed to have been dug out of the rock by her own nails. On Easter
Monday it was the custom from early times to hold a drag hunt from Annis' Bower to the Mayor of Leicester's house. The bait dragged was a dead cat drenched in aniseed. Black Annis
and Gentle Annie are supposed to derive from Anu, or Dana, a Celtic mother goddess. It has also been suggested that she is MILTON'S 'blew meager hag'. # 100 - 415 - 454
BLACK BOOK OF CARMARTHEN, THE
See: BOOK OF CARMARTHEN, THE BLACK
Stories of Black Dogs are to be found all over the country. They are generally dangerous, but sometimes helpful. As a rule, the black dogs are large and shaggy, about the size of a calf, with fiery eyes. If anyone speaks to
them or strikes at them they have power to blast, like the Mauthe Doog, the Black Dog of Peel Castle in the Isle of Man. # 100
S. G. Wildman has propounded a theory that the black horse was the symbol of the Arthurian Britons, just as the white horse was that of the Saxons, and that is possible to find out where Arthurian influence prevailed by discovering the whereabouts of inns called the Black Horse. # 100 - 729
# 562: Kymon was defeated by the Black Knight who rode away with his horse. Kymon went back afoot to the castle, where nothing was asked, but they gave him a new horse, 'a dark bay palfrey with nostrils as red as scarlet' on which he rode to Caerleon Fired by the tale of Kymon, Owain rode forth to seek for the same adventure. He wounded the Black Knight so sorely that he fled, Owain pursuing him hotly and so close that his horse was cut in two when they passed an outer castlebridge and its portcullis fell. He was by this imprisoned between the outer gate of the drawbridge and the inner. A maiden gave him a ring, which made him invisible, when clenched in his hand. In that night a great lamentation was heard in the castle - its lord had died of the wound which Owain had given him. Owain got sight of the castle's mistress, and he fell instant in love. He soon became her husband and lord of the Castle of the Fountain and all the dominions of the Black Knight.
# 156: 1. A knight with whose wife Perceval had innocently exhanged a ring. The Black Knight, furious, tied her to a tree but Perceval overcame him and explained the situation, so that they were reconciled. 2. Arthur's grandson, the son of Tom a'Lincoln and Anglitora. 3. A warrior who guarded a horn and a wimple on an ivory lion. Fergus killed him. 4. Sir Percard, who was killed by Gareth. 5. One of Arthur's knights who was defeated by the Knight of the Lantern. He was the son of the King of the Carlachs.
# 156 - 562
(sen'glend) CuChulain's last horse breaks from him minutes before he died. See: CUCHULAIN, THE DEATH OF. # 562
The blackbird has ever been one of Britain's most melodious songsters and this is doubtless why the Birds of Rhiannon are said to be three blackbirds: they sing on the branch of the everlasting otherworldly tree which grows in the centre of the earthly paradise. Their singing entranced the hearer, ushering him or her into the Otherworld. They sing for Bran and the Company of the Noble Head, in their feasting between the worlds. The blackbird is also responsible for the finding of Mabon. # 439 - 454
# 628: A perpetual fire, dedicated to Minerva by the mythical godking Baldudus (Bladud), was kept burning at Aquae Sulis. Bladud reigned for twenty years and built the city of Kaerbadus, now called Bath. Baldudus was a man of great ingenuity, and taught necromancy throughout Britain, continually doing many wonderful deeds, and finally making himself wings to fly through the upper air. But he fell onto the Temple of Apollo in Ternova (London), his body broken to many pieces. # 454: King of Britain who built Caer Badum (Bath). He established the temple to Minerva at Bath and, having discovered the medicinal qualities of the waters, caused the baths to be attached to the temple-precincts. He made wings and crashed to his death from the Temple of Apollo in Trinovantum (London). His mythos is similar to that of Abaris, and he seems to embody the traditions of both priest and king in one. # 243 - 454 - 627 - 628 p 96
One of the twenty-four Knights of Arthur's Court, possibly identical with Blaise, the master of Merlin. # 104 - 156
Oisin's Danaan mother. # 54 - 562
(blà'e broo'ha) An Ulster warrior famous for his hospitality; one of CuChulain's fosterers. # 454
# 156: A hermit, to whom Merlin's mother went when she was enceinte (pregnant). When Merlin was two, he dedicated to Blaise the story of the Grail. Blaise also wrote an account of Arthur's battles. He hailed originally form Vercelli (Italy). He may be identical with the Blaes of THE TRIADS in which he is called the son of the Earl of Llyclyn. # 454: The shadowy figure who stands behind Merlin. Described as his teacher, Blaise retired from Northumberland where Merlin often visited him and where his deeds and prophesies were recorded. # 104 - 156 - 185 - 238 - 418 - 454
BLAMORE DE GANIS
A Knight of the Round Table. On one occasion he accused King Anguish of Ireland of murder but he was defeated in trial by combat by Tristan. Afterwards, they became friends. When Lancelot quarrelled with Arthur, Blamore and his brother Bleoberis supported their father, Lancelot, and Blamore became Duke of Limousin. After Arthur died, he became a hermit. # 156 - 418
BLANAID BLATHNAT BLANID
The wife of Cu Roi mac Daire who came originally from the Otherworld, and who fell to him as the spoils of war. She secretly loved CuChulain and enabled him to murder Cu Roi by entangling his hair, Delilah-like, to the bedstead. She was killed by Cu Roi's poet who avenged his lord by throwing himself off a high place clasping the faithless Blanaid. Her name means 'flower' and she is analogous to Blodeuwedd. # 166 - 399 - 439 - 454
The fairy steed of Lanval, given him by his lover Tryamour. # 156 - 425
# 156: 1. The mistress of Perceval. Besieged by King Clamadeus, who desired her, she would have killed herself but Perceval defeated him in single combat (# 153). 2. In Gottfried von Strassbourg: Tristan, the sister of King Mark; she eloped with Rivalin of Parmenie. Their son was Tristan. When she heard of her husband's death, she died of grief. # 454: The name sometimes given to Perceval's sister. She gave her life to heal a leprous woman and her body accompanied the Grail Questers to Sarras. See: DINDRAINE. # 153 - 156 - 256 - 454
Wife of Curoi; sets her love on Cuchulain; Fercartna, the bard of Curoi, avenged him by taking Blanid with him in a jump from a cliffedge, and from where they perished. See: BLANAID. # 562
A sister of Arthur. She married Nentres of Garlot. Their son was Galachin, Duke of
Clarence. See: BELISENT and HERMESENT. # 156
(blàh'nid) Daughter of Mind and wife of Cu Roi mac Dairi; betrayer of her husband. # 166
A Welsh poet identical with Bledhericus, mentioned by Giraldus Cambrensis, and with Brèris, quoted by Thomas of Brittany. # 562
Tristan's mother in the Icelandic SAGA OF TRISTAN AND ISODD. Her lover, Plegrus, was killed jousting with Kalegras who thereafter became her lover and Tristan's father. # 156 - 355
A Knight of the Round Table, brother of Blamore. He was defeated by Tristan when he abducted Segwaride's wife from Mark's court. He supported Lancelot, who was his relation, when the latter quarrelled with Arthur. He became Duke of Poitiers and eventually a Crusader. # 156 - 418
(bleeroom) Sound made by Taliesin by which a spell was put on bards at Arthur's court. (In the 'Mabinogion' transl. by Charlotte Guest, however, Elphin was a prisoner of Maelgwyn and not King Arthur (# 272)). # 562
The group of otherworldly islands which lie west of Ireland, wherein the worthy dead and otherworldly folk live in the Celtic earthly paradise. ># 454
BLIGHTS ATTRIBUTED TO THE FAIRIES
The word 'Stroke' for a sudden paralytic seizure comes directly from fairy belief. It is an abbreviation of 'fairy stroke' or 'elf stroke', and was supposed to come from an elf-shot or an elf-blow, which struck down the victim, animal or human, who was then carried off invisibly, while a Stock remained to take its place. Sometimes this was a transformed fairy, sometimes a lump of wood, transformed by glamour and meant to be taken for the corpse of the victim. See: KIRK, ROBERT. # 100
(blod AI weth) Flowerface. # 454: The Flower-wife of Llew, formed out of flowers, blossom, and nine separate elements by Gwydion and Math, in order to circumvent the geise laid upon Llew by Arianrhod. She was never asked whether she loved Llew and soon fell in love with a passing hunter, Gronw Pebr, with whom she plotted her husband's death. Like Delilah, she coaxed the destined cause of death from Llew and then entrapped him by enacting the conditions exactly. She was then punished by Gwydion, by being turned into an owl - the night-hunting bird which is mobbed and shunned by all day-time fowls.
Her story follows a well-known folk motif: that of the betraying Flower-Bride, a role she shares with both Blanaid and Guinevere. # 272 - 439 - 454 - 562
Daughter of the King of Wales, turned into a serpent by the magicians Mabon and Evrain. She was freed by Guinglain who kissed her. # 156
BLUE MEN OF THE MINCH
The Blue Men used particularly to haunt the strait between Long Island and the Shiant Islands. They swam out to wreck passing ships, and could be baulked by captains who were ready at rhyming and could keep the last word. They were supposed to be fallen angels. The sudden storms that arose around the Shiant Islands were said to be caused by the Blue Men, who lived in under-water caves and were ruled by a chieftain. # 100
# 562: (bô'en) (The River Boyne) Angus Og (Angus the Young), son of the Dagda, by Boanna, was the Irish god of love. His palace was supposed to be at the New Grange, on the Boyne. See also: BOYNE, THE RIVER. # 454: Goddess of the river Boyne, wife of Elcmar, mother of Angus. Her name means 'She of the White Cows'. The Dagda desired her and sent Elcmar on an errand which lasted nine months, although it was made to seem like one day. # 96 - 454 - 496 - 562
# 701: The Boar was sacred to the Celtic Goddess Arduinna, patroness of the forests of the Ardennes. He was sacrificed as the Yule pig with an apple in his mouth, and his blood begot gods both east and west, in the primitive times when men still believed that only blood could generate offspring because that seemed to be how women did it. Warriors of northern Europe crested their helmets and their swords with the boar's image. - Britain still has a number of 'Boar's Head' inns and taverns, suggesting that in pre-Christian times the heads of sacrificed animals were preserved as oracular fetishes just like the heads of deified ancestral heroes.
# 161: The boar which killed Adonis is paralleled in the Celtic myth of Finn arranging for Diarmuid to be killed when boar-hunting. Few animals are more important for the Celts than the boar; it was a sacred, supernatural, magical creature, symbolizing the warrior, warfare, the hunt, protection, hospitality and fertility. The boar's head signifies health and preservation from danger, it contains the power of the life-force and vitality. The boar and the Bear together represent Spiritual and Temporal Power. The boar is often depicted in association with the tree, wheels and ravens; it appears on the helmets of warriors and on trumpets. It is the animal of Celtic ritual feasts and food for the gods, esteemed the fitting food for gods and heroes. Bones were found placed ritually in graves, the head, again, being of special importance. Figures of boars appeared on British and Gaulish altars. In Irish myth there are divine, magical and prophetic boars, and supernatural and otherworld pigs which bring death and disaster. In Celtic saga there are also the magical Pigs of Manannan and other legends (see Swine), according to which eating the flesh restored health and happiness. The boar was ritually hunted and slain and there are many accounts of a Great Boar hunted by a hero. Twrch Trywth was a king turned into a boar who was chased by Arthur and his warriors across Ireland, Wales and Cornwall, where it disappeared into the sea. A Gaulish god is depicted with a boar and sculptures of boars are found in Celtic forts and in France and Portugal. Druids called themselves boars, probably as solitary dwellers in the forest.
# 454: The wild boar, once commonly hunted throughout the British Isles is now only to be found in remote areas of Europe. The ferocity and cunning of the animal made him a dangerous quarry, yet the art and literature of Celtic peoples attest to his importance in their mythology. Twrch Trwyth appears in the MABINOGION as a devastating foe to Arthur and his kingdom; this boar is paralleled in Irish tradition by Orc Triath. A white boar leads Pryderi into slavery in Annwn, while a similar animal is the cause of Diarmuid's death. # 161 - 439 - 454 - 701 p 365
(budagh) The Celtic form of Bugbear, or Bug-A-Boo, literally, 'old man'. It was a Highland belief that the Bodach would creep down chimneys and steal naughty children, although in other parts it was considered to be a death-warning spirit. The Bodach Glas, or Dark Grey Man is a death token, of which Sir Walter Scott makes such effective use in WAVERLEY towards the end of Fergus MacIvor's history. # 100
(botuchan so-will) 'The Little Old Man of the Barn'. A barn Brownie who took pity on old men, and treshed for them. D. A. Mackenzie gives us a verse about him in his Scottish Folk Lore and Folk Life:
When the peat will turn grey and shadows fall deep
And weary old Callum is snoring asleep...
The Little Old Man of the Barn
Will tresh with no light in the mouth of the night,
The Little Old Man of the Barn.
# 100 - 415
(bôv dârg) # 454: A fairy king of the Sidi of Munster. Son of the Dagda. He assisted Angus in the finding of Caer Ibormeith. It was to his kingdom that Lir retired. # 166 - 267 - 416 - 454
Bodmin Moor, Cornwall is littered with the visible remains of primitive man in the form of stone circles and burial grounds, and has been the unhappy hunting ground of so many thousands of superstitious miners that one is surprised it does not have far more ghosts and mythologies than it has.
Almost all the ruined mineshaft enginehouses on the moors have their resident ghosts, while the long chambers within the mine shafts still have their 'kobolds' minegoblins, who de-light in confusing the miners with acts of mimicry and the use of echoes. We learn that the name of the metal cobalt is taken from this demon's name, because the metal was considered for a long time to be useless and (because of the arsenic and sulphur with which it was found combined) harmful to health. It was therefore said to have been made by the Kobalt demon. In some Cornish mines the tinmine demon was called a Bucca, though the same name is also used for a wind-gob-lin which could foretell shipwrecks, and which was popular with the wreckers. It may be just a question of shaft acoustics magnifying underground waterfalls, but inexplicable and often deafening noises were frequently reported in the days when the tinmine shafts were still worked. Most famous was that called 'Roaring Shaft' in the com-plex of mines on Goonzion Down: the noise was described as being akin to 'a battery of stamps falling regularly with thuds and reverberated through the ground'. Such noises were probably natural in origin, but they served only to feed the dark images of spirits and demons in the minds of those who worked in those hellish corridors to mine copper, silver and gold. # 702
From the ILIAD, II, 494-510: Of the Boeotians Peneleos and Leïtus were captains, and Arcesilaus and Prothoënor and Clonius; these were they that dwelt in Hyria and rocky Aulis and Schoenus and Scolus and Eteonus with its many ridges, Thespeia, Graea and spacious Mycalessus; and that dwelt about Harma and Eilesium and Erythrae; and that held Eleon and Hyle and Peteon, Ocalea and Medeon, the well-built citadel, Copae, Eutresis, and Thisbe, the haunt of doves; that dwelt in Coroneia and grassy Haliartus, and that held Plataea and dwelt in Glisas; that held lower Thebe, the well-built citadel, and holy Onchestus, the bright grove of Poseidon; and that held Arne, rich in vines, and Mideia and sacred Nisa and Anthedon on the seaboard. Of these there came fifty ships, and on board of each went one hundred and twenty young men of the Boeotians.
Homer begins the list of regiments of the Achaean army with the Boeotians, apparently out of politeness towards the population of the country playing host to the entire fleet assembled for the invasion of the Troad. The host country was in fact the present Denmark, where virtually all place-names of Regiment 1 can still be identified. That Denmark was once a Celtic country is well attested, both by archaeological finds and by the Danish language, which has a curious way of counting, different from that of its neighbours and reminiscent of the French system, where, for example, 'ninety-two' is 'quatre-vingtdouze', 'four (times) twenty (plus) twelve'.
In Old Danish this same number is 'tooghalvfemsindstyve', literally 'two and half of the fifth twenty' - a Celtic method of counting. In the north of mainland Denmark, Jutland, the Limfjord links the North Sea with the Baltic through a series of big lakes and forms the ideal place for the secret rendezvous of the great fleet of 1,186 vessels. Homer calls this place Aulis, a name preserved in that of a number of towns on the shores of the fjord, such as Aalborg (Aal is pronounced like English awl), Oland, Aalum and Aalestrup.
Other names mentioned by Homer are still to be found in the same region: Hyria (Hjørring, the region north of Aalborg), Scoinos (Skjern, a town southwest of Limfjord), Scolos (Skjoldborg, in the extreme northwest of Jutland), while in the northeast is the famous Cnossus, now Knøsen. This whole region of northern Jutland was already an important religious centre long before the Bronze Age, as evidenced by the presence of many megalithic monuments. Closely connected with Cnossus is the story of Icarus, who escaped from the labyrinth on wings that he made himself. His names is preserved in the present town of Ikast in the centre of Jutland (from Ikar-sted = town of Icarus). Homer mentions the Icarian Sea once (Il. II, 145). This must have been part of the North Sea, most probably the waters between Oslo and Jutland, where the 'south and east winds whip up the sea', against the coast, that is. It should be noted in passing that this description makes little sense in the Mediterranean, where the Icarian Sea is just off the southwest coast of Turkey, not between Crete and mainland Greece as one would expect. Homer rightly calls Denmark 'a land exceeding rich'. apparently because of its first-rate agricultural land. A region called by Homer 'spacious Mycalessus' was eastern Jutland, where we find Mygind and Mylund. He mentions Graea (Grærup), 'grassy' Haliartus (Halling), Hyle (Hyllebjerg). Other recognizable names are: Harma (Harnorup), Medeon (Madum), Thisbe (Thisted), Arne 'rich in vines' (near the river ArnAa).
The epithet is not so surprising, since there were vineyards in Scandinavia in the Bronze Age, in particular in the south of Jutland, where we find Pramne (now Bramming), where Circe got her wine from (Od. X, 235).
An interesting Scandinavian name found in Homer is Scandeia, a town and region in east Jutland now Skanderborg (Il. X, 268). Eutresis ('good' Tresis) was probably Dreslette, Copae (Copenhoved - a name also found further east: Copenhagen = port of Copae), Nisa (Nissum, but also the name of the river Nissan in southwest Sweden) and Anthedon 'on the seaboard' seems to be Andkaer, while Eilesium could be Elsø. # 730
'Bogies, 'Bogles', 'Bugs', or 'bug-a-boos' are names given to a whole class of mischievous, frightening and even dangerous spirits whose delight it is to torment mankind. Sometimes they go about in troops, like the Hobyahs, but as a rule they may be described as individual and solitary fairy members of the Unseelie Court. A nickname of the Devil in Somerset is 'Bogie', presumably to play him down a little, for bogies generally rank rather low in the retinue of hell. They are often adepts at shape-shifting, like the Bullbeggar, the Hedley Kow and the Picktree Brag. These are generally no more than mischievous. The well-known Boggart is the most harmless of all, generally a Brownie who has been soured by mistreatment; among the most dangerous are the fiendish Nuckelavee and the Duergar, and other examples appear under Bogy or Bogey-Beast. But even so, some bogies, like minor devils, are just simple and gullible. # 100
On the whole, these are evil Goblins, but according to William Henderson in FOLK LORE OF THE NORTHERN COUNTIES, who quotes from Hoog's WOOLGATHERER, the bogles on the Scottish Borders, though formidable, are virtuous creatures: 'Then the Bogles, they are a better kind o' spirits; they meddle wi' nane but the guilty; the murderer, an' the mansworn, an' the cheaters o' the widow an' fatherless, they do for them.' Henderson tells a corroborative story of a poor widow at the village of Hurst, near Reeth, who had had some candles stolen by a neighbour. The neighbour saw one night a dark figure in his garden and took out his gun and fired at it. The next night while he was working in an outhouse the figure appeared in the doorway and said, 'I'm neither bone nor flesh nor blood, thou canst not harm me. Give back the candles, but I must take something from thee.' With that he came up to the man and plucked out an eyelash, and vanished. But the man's eye 'twinkled' ever after. # 100 - 302 - 314
A gigantic water-bird, which inhabits the lochs of Argyllshire. It has a loud harsh voice and webbed feet and gobbles up sheep and cattle. J. F. Campbell thinks the Boobrie is one form taken by the water-horse, but gives no reason for thinking so. He gives an eyewitness account in POPULAR TALES OF THE WEST HIGHLANDS IV from a man who claimed to have seen it. He waded up to his shoulders in the waters of a loch in February to get a shot at it, but had only come within eighty-five yards when the creature dived. It looked like a gigantic Northern Diver, but was black all over. Its neck was two feet eleven inches long, its bill about seventeen inches long and hooked like an eagle's. Its legs were very short, the feet webbed and armed with tremendous claws, its footprints were found in the mud to the north of the loch, its voice was like the roar of an angry bull, and it lived on calves, sheep, lambs and others. # 100 - 130
BOOK OF ARMAGH
References to the Book of Armagh. The Danaans were, as a passage in the Book of Armagh names them, DEI TERRENI, earth gods. # 562
BOOK OF CARMARTHEN, THE BLACK
The BLACK BOOK OF CARMARTHEN, famous in the literary history of Wales, belongs to the town of Carmarthen, a product of St John's Priory.
In it there is a collection of pieces of mediaeval Welsh writing - in the sphere of legend and prophesy, with unique material connected with Merlin or Myrddin, and revealing the deeply devotional muse of the Welsh monks. Gwyn ap Nudd figures in poem included in THE BLACK BOOK OF CARMARTHEN.
As the name already indicates, The Black Book of Carmarthen has traditionally been connected with the ancient town of Carmarthen. It has been said to have been produced by one of the Welsh-speaking monks of the Augustinian Priory of St Johns in Carmarthen who was a bit of an amateur in the art of copying, but loved Welsh literature and wanted to anthologise poems with a Dyfed if not Carmarthen bias. He may have had to do this in an institution the members of which would have looked askance at his labour of love. What, Taffy, are you doing there? For the other monks were probably Normans and English. But then Welsh persons have had to further their beloved culture in alien institutional surroundings since then. Our Austin canon smiled and said, 'Ah' and went on copying. All we can say is that we are deeply grateful to him. Certain poems would never have survived if it were not for him. Nor would the graphic wonder of the Black Book be with us today. It may be amateurish, a bit of a manuscriptual mess according to the connisseur, what with differing scripts and letter sizes, but it is a feast to the eye, and certainly a literary beano.
Doubt has been thrown on the connection with Carmarthen. But why the book be given on conjecture to say Whitland when the only place it has been linked with is Carmarthen? When tradition has it and we have no proof otherwise then from Carmarthen it comes. Sir John Price of Brecon who did a lot of work collecting manuscripts at the time of the Dissolution said that it came from the Priory there. It got a black cover eventually and hence the name. Its contents too indicate strongly that the anthologist was from the area. The fact that the central portion of the manuscript is given up to long poems in the PERSONA of Myrddin corroborates the Carmarthen link. The legend of Myrddin is said to be in part a fictional explanation of the name of the town. Of course he may simply have come from Carmarthen. We know that the name of Caerfyrddin is derived from the Roman name of the fortress, Moridunum. Myrddin as poet and prophet was known in Wales as early as the tenth century, for he is referred to in the prophetic poem Armes Prydain which was composed by a staunch supporter of the dynasty of Deheubarth (South-West Wales). The connection made between Myrddin, a poet from Northern Britain and a contemporary of Taliesin, and the town of Carmarthen was made at least as early as the time of the composition of Armes Prydain. There are numerous references to places in Dyfed in the Myrddin poems in the Black Book of Carmarthen and they reveal a striking and emotional loyalty to the Southern dynasty of Deheubarth.
Dating the book is not without its problems, but it is generally accepted that it was produced around 1250. But a lot of material in it is far older than that. For our understanding of it we owe much to A. O. H. Jarman. # 519 - 562
BOOK OF HERGEST, THE RED
Forms main source of tales in the 'Mabinogion' but the story of Taliesin were not found in The Red Book of Hergest. # 562
BOOK OF INVASIONS
The narrative assembled under the title BOOK OF INVASIONS (or Occupations) are the literary embodiment of Ireland's own impressions regarding the history of her population. For the early Irish they served somewhat the same functions as the accounts of the wandering of Aeneas did for the Romans. To say, as some have done, that THE BOOK OF INVASIONS is a collection of Irish mythology is to give an entirely wrong impression of its contents. Some of the characters, it is true, may be rationalized gods, but the stories as they now stand belong rather to pseydo-history than to mythology. For example, Emer, Eber, and Eremon, though represented in the narrative as ancient kings, are in fact merely fictitious personages with names made up from the ancient name for Ireland, spelled in the earliest manuscripts as Ériu. Modern students of early Irish history are inclined to see underlying these obviously fictitious narratives a substratum of fact, and to regard the account as reflecting in a general way an historical record of early population groups.
The version of BOOK OF INVASIONS presented in Cross and Slover's ANCIENT IRISH TALES is preserved only in rather late manuscripts, but the ancient origin of at least some parts of it is convincingly supported by comparison with the early forms of the British-Latin HISTORY OF THE BRITONS (HISTORIA BRITONUM). The selections presented in that work are not continuous, but they form tolerably unified sections, describing the arrival of three different groups of immigrants. The first of the divisions there given is preceded in the complete text by the account of the arrival of Partholon and his people. # 166 - 562
BOOK OF LEINSTER
The Book of Leinster is an Irish manuscript of the twelfth century. It has 187 nine-by-thirteen leaves; it dates to about 1160 and includes in its varied contents complete versions of 'The Cattle Raid of Froech', 'The Labour Pains of the Ulaid', 'The Tale of Macc Da Tho's Pig' and 'The Exile of the Sons of Uisliu' as well as an unfinished and rather different 'Intoxication of the Ulaid' and a complete, more polished 'Cattle Raid of Cuailnge'. # 236 - 562
BOOK OF THE DUN COW
# 562: Reference to the 'Book of the Dun Cow.' Cuchulain makes his reappear-ance legend of Christian origin in this Book. 'Voyage of Maeldûn' is likewise found here. # 236: Of the manuscrpts that have survived, one of the earliest and most important belong to the twelfth century. Lebor na huidre (The Book of the Dun Cow) is so called after a famous cow belonging to St Ciaran of Clonmacnois; the chief scribe, a monk named Mael Muire, was slain by raiders in the Clonmacnois cathedral in 1106. Unfortunately, the manuscript is only a fragment: though sixty-seven leaves of eigthby-eleven vellum remain, at least as much has been lost. Lebor na huidre comprises thirty-seven stories, most of them myths/sagas, and includes substantially complete versions of 'The Destruction of Da Derga's Hostel', 'The Birth of CuChulain', 'The Wasting Sickness of CuChulain' and 'Bricriu's Feast' as well as an incomplete 'Wooing of Etain' and acephalous accounts of 'The Intoxication of the Ulaid' and 'The Cattle Raid of Cuailnge'. # 236 - 562
The illegitimate son of Arthur by Lionors. When he grew up, he became a Knight of the Round Table. He is usually identified with Loholt.# 156 - 243
1. The King of Gaul or Gannes and Arthur's ally in the battle against the rebel kings at Bedegraine. He married Evaine and they were the parents of the younger Bors (# 44). See: BAN. 2. Knight of the Round Table and son of the elder Bors, whom he succeeded as King of Gannes. He was a chaste knight, but the daughter of King Brandegoris fell in love with him. Her nurse forced Bors to make love to her with the aid of a magic ring. As a result, Bors became the father of Elyan the White, later Emperor of Constantinople. Bors was one of the three successful knights on the Grail Quest but, unlike Galahad and Perceval, he returned to Arthur's court and eventually died on crusade. It has been suggested that, in origin, Bors may have been a character who figures in Welsh legend as Gwri. See: TWENTY-FOUR KNIGHTS. # 156 - 418
Ruler of Oxford, one of Arthur's vassals, who accompanied him on his Roman campaign. # 156 - 243
# 454: (d. AD 62) Queen of the Iceni. When her husband, Prasutagus, died leaving half his kingdom to the Romans, she discovered that the Romans intended to take the whole kingdom for themselves. After scourging Boudicca and raping her two daughters, the Romans were to suffer the worst native rebellion since they conquered Britain. Sacking Colchester and London, Boudicca and her tribesmen ravaged the countryside until finally she was overcome by Suetonius Paulinus, when, to avoid being paraded in a Roman triumph as a captive queen, she is said to have taken poison. She was a devotee of Andraste, the goddess of victory, to whom she sacrificed her captives. She is fondly remembered, despite the bloodiness of rebellion, as an example of liberation to captive peoples - a concept dear to the hearts of all Britons.
# 702:Undoubtedly Boudicca had been a courageous Queen, but the fight between her tribesmen and the Romans had been made inevitable by the rapacious cruelty of the Roman occupiers, and she had no alternative but to rebel. Her initial success against the Roman settlements of Colchester, London and St Albans was probably due to the fact that these places were only poorly garrisoned, the main Roman legions being occupied in advances to the west.
However, whatever the reasons for the war, and whatever the outcome, the fact remains that Boudicca entered with vigour into British mythology as the most important symbol of feminine courage and endurance. Could this have been connected with the mystery of her name, which would suggest that she was associated with a Celtic goddess? Boudicca's name meant 'Victory', and it has been remarked that the name of the goddess openly invoked by Boudicca prior to the last battle was 'Andrasta', whose name also meant 'Victory'. This suggests that the Queen's name was not a personal one at all but perhaps a religious title, which means that from the point of view of the tribesmen who followed her, she was a goddess.
Indeed, in his fascinating study of British folk heroes, Charles Kightly points out that there was actually a Celtic goddess named 'Boudiga', as proved by the fact that a Romano-British merchant of York and Lincoln erected an altar in her name as late as AD 237. 'She has close links, therefore,' writes Kightly, 'with Brigantia ('the High One'), the ruling war-goddess of the Brigantes, whom the Romans also called 'Victoria', and with the terrifying Irish Morrigan ('Great Queen'), the triple war-goddess whose three persons were Nemain ('Frenzy'), Badb Catha ('Battle Raven') and Macha ('Crow'), whose sacred birds were fed on the stake-impaled heads of the slaughtered.' Forgotten, save by specialist historians, for many centuries, Boudicca did not enter into popular British mythology until 1780, when the poet Cowper resurrected her ancient fame and created a new image of her in the form of a Druid bard's 'prophetic words' which foretold her role in the making of the coming mighty Brtish Empire:
Then the progeny that springs
From the forests of our land,
Arm'd with thunder, clad with wings
Shall a wider world command.
Regions Caesar never knew
Thy posterity shall sway,
Where his eagles never flew,
None invincible as they.
It was Cowper who gave life to the mythological view of the rebel queen, and the myth grew to such an extent that towards the end of the reign of Queen Victoria (who bore the same ancient name and ruled 'a wider world'), the huge statue of the horse-drawn chariot and its fierce queen was erected at Westminster Bridge, on the north bank of the River Thames, which was itself named after a Roman goddess. As with so many folk-heroes, it is claimed that Boudicca did not die, but still sleeps awaiting the call for feminine valour when Britain is next hard-pressed. In contradiction of this belief, her ghost (as sure a sign of death as anything) has been reported in places as far apart as the two extremes of the vast Iceni territory in which she fought, and several places have been claimed as marking the site of her grave. Some have suggested that Boudicca's resting place is marked by the magnificent Stonehenge - though the fact is that this monument was at least 2,000 years old when the Iceni queen died. Others claim for her burial-place a mound on Parliament Hill Fields, in London. Some say that her ghost is still seen on the Essex hill fort of Ambresbury Banks. # 232: Finally, we may add that the rebellion had enormous loss of lives. Excavation at Verulamium has revealed the burnt debris of her destruction, and Tacitus quotes the official figure of 70,000 slain, citizenz and allies, at the three sacked towns. The Britons, he says, had no thought of taking prisoners but only of slaughter, the gibbet, the fire and the cross. It was also said that for the 70-80,000 British who fell, the loss for the Romans were only 400 slain. # 232 - 446 - 454 - 702
The father of Alisander the Orphan and brother of Mark of Cornwall who murdered him. # 156 - 418
BOYNE, THE RIVER
Angus Og's palace at river Boyne; Angus and Caer at river Boyne; Milesians land in estuary of the river; Ethné loses her veil of invisibility while bathing in the river; The church on the banks where Ethné died was named Kill Ethné by St Patrick (even though she would have been about 1500 years old at that time). See also: BOANNA and PLACE NAME STORIES. # 562
BôV THE RED
King of the Danaan's of Munster, brother of the Dagda; searches for maiden of Angus Og's dream; goldsmith of Bôv, named Len; Aoife travel to Bôv, with her step-children. # 562
A territory sited partially in the Netherlands and partially in Belgium. See: LOHENGRIN. # 156
According to Ariosto, the female warrior of the Carolingian era was told that the House of Este would descend from her. # 21 - 156
(d. 1577) Coinneach Odhar was a man who had the gift of sight into the future. His prophecies concerning the Battle of Culloden, the Highland Clearances and the coming of the railways were all borne out, as was his series of prophecies concerning the Seaforth family. He informed the Countess of Seaforth that her husband was unfaithful to her and she had him hideously burned to death in a tar-barrel, but not before he foretold the dying out of the Seaforth line, which would end with a man both deaf and dumb. This was indeed fulfilled. # 282 - 454 - 717
BRAN AND SCEOLAN
(bran and shkeolawn) Bran and Sceolan were the two favourite hounds of Finn Mac Cumhal. They were so wise and knowing that they seemed human in knowledge, and so indeed they were. According to the Irish story, this was how they were born. One time Finn's mother Muirne came to stay with him in Almhuin (Allen) which was the headquarters where he lived with the Fianna, and she brought her sister Tuiren with her. And Iollan Eachtach, an Ulster man and one of the chiefs of the Fianna there, was with him at the time, and he asked Tuiren's hand in marriage from Finn, and Finn granted it, but he said that if Tuiren had any reason to be displeased with her bargain, Iollan should allow her to return freely, and he made Iollan grant sureties for it and Iollan gave sureties to Caoilte and Goll and Lugaidh Lamba before he took Tuiren away.
Now, whether Finn had any inkling of it or not it is certain that Iollan had already a sweetheart among the Sidhe and she was Uchtdealb of the Fair Breast, and when she heard that Iollan was married she was bitterly jealous. She took on the appearance of Finn's woman messenger and, going to Ulster to Tuiren's house, she said: 'Finn sends all good wishes and long life to you, queen, and bids you prepare a great feast, and if you will come aside with me I will tell you how it must be.' Tuiren went aside with her, and when they got out of sight Uchtdealb took out a rod and smote her with it, and at once she turned into a most beautiful little bitch, and she led her away to the house of Fergus Fionnliath, the king of the harbour of Gallimh. She chose Fergus because he hated dogs more than anything in the world, and, still in the shape of Finn's messenger, she led the little bitch in to Fergus and said to him: 'Finn wishes you to foster and take charge of this little bitch and she is with young, and do not let her join the chase when her time is near'; and she left the hound with him. Fergus thought it a strange thing that this charge should have been put on him, for everyone knew what a hatred he had of dogs, but he had a great regard for Finn, so he did his best, and the little hound was so swift and so clever that soon he changed his notions altogether and began to like hounds as much as he had hated them. In the meantime it became known that Tuiren had disappeared, and Finn called Iollan to account for it, and Iollan had to say that she was gone and that he could not find her. At that his sureties pressed him so hard that he begged for time to search for her. When he could not find her he went to Uchtdealb and told her in what danger he stood, and she consented to free Tuiren if he would be her sweetheart for ever. She went to Fergus' house and freed Tuiren from her shape, and afterwards Finn married her to Lugaidh Lamha. But the two whelps were already born, and Finn kept them and they were always with him. The Highland version is different. In this Bran and Sceolan are monstrous dogs, won by Finn from a kind of Celtic version of the monster Grendel in BEOWULF, who had been stealing babies from a young champion's house. There is something monstrous about them - a strange mixture of colours and great savagery in other versions. # 100
BRAN MAC FEBAL
(bran mock feval)An otherworld woman invited Bran to set sail for the Blessed Islands where he would find the Land of Women TIR NA MBAN.The hero of this legend is somewhat similar to that of Oisin and even closer to the story of King Herla. Bran was summoned by Manannan Son of Lir to visit one of his islands far over the sea, Emhain, the Isle of Women. And this was the way in which he was summoned.
He was walking one day near his own dun when he heard a sound of music so sweet that it lulled him to sleep, and when he woke he had a silver branch in his hand covered with silver-white apple blossom. He carried the branch with him into his dun. And when all his people were gathered round him, suddenly there was a woman in strange clothing standing in front of him, and she began to sing him a song about Emhain, the Isle of Women, where there was no winter or want or grieving, where the golden horses of Manannan pranced on the strand and the games and sports went on untiringly. She summoned Bran to seek out that island, and when her song was over she turned away, and the apple branch jumped from Bran's hand into hers, and he could not retain it. On the next morning he set out with a fleet of curraghs. They rowed far across the sea until they met a warrior driving a chariot as if it might be over the land, and he greeted them and told them that he was Manannan son of Lir, and he sang about the island of Emhain, inviting Bran to visit it. On the way they passed the Island of Delight and tried to hail the inhabitants, but got nothing but shouts of laughter and pointing hands. So Bran put one of his men on shore to talk to them, but he at once burst out laughing and behaved just as the inhabitants had done. So in the end Bran went on, and they soon got to the Isle of Women, where the Chief Woman was waiting for them and drew them ashore. They enjoyed every delight on the many-coloured island, but after what seemed a year Bran's companions began to pine for Ireland, and Nechtan son of Collbrain was urgent to return. The woman who was Bran's lover warned them that sorrow would come of it, but Bran said he would just visit the land and return to it. At that she warned him, as Niam had warned Oisin, that he could look at Ireland and talk to his friends, but that no one of his party could touch it.
So they sailed away and approached the shores of Ireland at a place called Srub Bruin. People on the shore hailed them, and when Bran told them his name they said that no such man was now alive, though in their oldest stories there were mentions of how Bran son of Febal had sailed away to look for the Island of Women. When Nechtan heard this he leapt out of his curragh and waded through the surf; but as he touched the strand of Ireland his mortal years came on him and he crumbled into a handful of dust. Bran stayed awhile to tell his countrymen of all that had befallen him; then he turned his fleet of curraghs away from the shore, and he and his companions were never seen in Ireland again. This story is told in Lady Gregory's GODS AND FIGHTING MEN, and a comparative study of the legend is to be found in Alfred Nutt's THE VOYAGE OF BRAN, with beautiful translations of the Irish by Kuno Meyer. # 100 - 267 - 416 - 454
BRAN SON OF FEBAL, THE VOYAGE OF
In romances as THE WOOING OF ETAIN, THE SICK-BED OF CUCHULAIN, and others, we have seen the visit to the Happy Otherworld appearing incidentally. In this tale it constitutes the main purpose of the story. Of the chief traditional characters in Irish literature, the only ones referred to in THE VOYAGE OF BRAN are Manannan mac Lir and Mongan. Its literary importance lies in the fact that it is representative of a class of Irish stories called Imrama 'voyages,' that seem to have been rather widely known in other parts of Europe. The voyage literature is also noteworthy in that it frequently appears in ecclesiastical guise; in fact, some authorities are inclined to place the ecclesiastical form earlier than the secular. THE VOYAGE OF BRAN belongs to the early period of Irish literature, being ascribed usually to the eighth century. Though reminding us of the 'Odyssey,' the Irish narrative is probably based in large part on fantastic stories brought back by sailors who had ventured far out into the Atlantic Ocean long before the discovery of America. # 166
BRAN THE BLESSED
or BENDIGEID VRAN (brarn) # 562: King of the Isle of the Mighty (Britain). Manawyddan, his brother; Branwen, his sister; he gives Branwen as wife to Matholwch; makes atonement for Evnissyen's outrage by giving Matholwch the magic cauldron; invades Ireland to succour Branwen. The wonderful head of Bran the Blessed buried in the White Mound.
# 156: A hero of Welsh legend, originally a god, who was demoted after the advent of Christianity. Some of the information we have about him suggests that part of his legend went into the formation of the Arthurian tales. For example, he had a cauldron of plenty and was wounded in the foot by a poisoned spear, suggesting connections with the Grail and the Fisher King. Tradition states that his head was buried under the White Hill in London to protect the country, but Arthur dug it up, as he wanted to be the sole guardian of Britain. Bran had a son called Caratacus who was identified with the British leader of that name who opposed the Romans at the time of the Claudian invasion (AD 43). Bran himself - though not, perhaps, in an early tradition - was thought to have introduced Christianity to Britain. His father was Llyr and his mother Penardun. In BONEDD YR ARWYR, Bran is made both of paternal and maternal ancestor of Arthur. (See also: BAN and THIRTEEN TREASURES). # 454: In Welsh: Bendigeid Fran. The Titanic-sized Bran has become deeply incorporated into British mythology. His story appears in 'Branwen Daughter of Llyr' where he is the possessor of a life-restoring cauldron. On the marriage of his sister, Branwen to Matholwch, King of Ireland, he gives up the cauldron to the Irish, in recompense for the insults they have suffered at the hands of Bran's brother, Efnissien. He subsequently has to rescue Branwen from her servitude in the Irish kitchen after he has her imprisoned there. He wades across the Irish sea, leading the British fleet and defeats the Irish who offer to depose Matholwch and make Gwern, Branwen's son, king in his place. At the feast to celebrate the truce and Gwern's accession, Efnissien throws Gwern into the fire and hostilities are resumed.
The Irish resusticate their dead in the cauldron, but neither side is triumphant; only seven Britons escape alive but Bran is mortally wounded in the heel. He requests that his head be cut off and buried at the White Tower (of London). The seven survivors do so, first bearing the head to Harlech for seven years and then to Gwales (Grassholm, Pembrokeshire) for eighty years, where the head of Bran converses with them and where they have no sense of time passing, nor of the happenings they have experienced. They are asked not to open the door of the hall. Eventually one of the company does so and they become aware of the passing of time and of their sufferings. Bran's mythos can be traced to that of Cronos, as well as becoming incorporated into the Grail legends where Brons is the guardian of the Grail - a development of the life-restoring cauldron. The Triads relate how Arthur dug up Bran's head where it had been set to fend off enemy invasion, because he alone wished to be his country's bastion. This feature can still be seen in the legend that if the Ravens leave the Tower of London Britain will be invaded ( for which reason their wings are kept clipped). Bran's name means 'raven'.
# 100: There are three Brans mentioned in Celtic mythological and legendary matter: Bran, the famous hound of Finn; Bran Son of Febal, the Irish hero who was allured away to the Isle of Women, the Western Paradise of Manannan Son of Lir; and Bran the Blessed, the brother of Manawyddan and the son of Llyr, whose story is told in the MABINOGION. It is clear that the Irish and the Welsh mythologies are closely connected in these two groups, but Bran the Blessed represents a much earlier and mythological strain of belief, obviously a primitive god. It has been surmised by Professor Rhys that he was a Goidelic or even pre-Goidelic divinity who was grafted on to later Celtic tradition. We should remember that Bran was of monstrous size, so large that no house could contain him, but he was one of the beneficent Giants and had magical treasures which enriched Britain, and chief among them was the Cauldron of Healing which came from Ireland and was destined to return to it. # 57 - 100 - 104 -156 - 272 - 346 - 439 - 454 - 562 - 589
King of Stranggore. One of the kings who rebelled against Arthur at the outset of his reign. It has been argued that his name means 'Bran of Gore' and that he was originally identical with the god Bran. See: ELYAN. # 156 - 243
Knight of the Round Table. His father was Sir Gilbert. He is mentioned in the Second Continuation of Chrétien's PERCEVAL and the GEST OF SIR GAWAIN in which he fought with Gawain, who had defeated his father and two brothers, as well as seducing his sister. In the GEST, this fight was stopped to be resumed later, but the two never met again. In the Second Continuation, there was a second fight between the two which was haunted by Brandiles's sister. See: BRIAN DES ILLES. # 156
He was King of Leinster in the seventh century who lusted after Mongan's wife, Dubh Lacha. He tricked Mongan into giving her up, but was finally defeated by Mongan's supernatural powers. The name is also of an Irish boardgame, meaning Black Raven, played between two players. # 454
The maidservant of Iseult who, according to Gottfried, was very goodlooking. When Iseult was on her way to Mark, Iseult's mother gave Brangien and Gouvernail a love potion to administer to the couple. Unfortunately, owing to a mistake, Tristan and Iseult drank it, thus precipitating their affair. On the night of her wedding Iseult substituted Brangien for herself so Mark would not guess she had already lain with Tristan. Subsequently, Iseult tried to have Brangien murdered to ensure her silence, but the attempt was unsuccessful and Iseult repented of it. Brangien later had an affair with Kaherdin, son of King Hoel of Brittany. # 64 - 156 - 256
BRANWEN - SISTER OF BRAN
# 562: Given in marriage to Matholwch; mother of Gwern; degraded because of Evnissyen's outrage; brought to Britain; her death and burial on the banks of the Alaw. - # 454: Daughter of Llyr. She was married to Matholwch, King of Ireland, and bore him Gwern, but the Irish people had suffered at the hands of Efnissien, her brother. She was made to serve in the kitchens and was there struck by the cook. She tamed a starling to bear a message to Bran in Britain who came with a fleet to rescue her. Efnissien threw Gwern upon the fire and after the ensuing battle between the British and Irish, she died of a broken heart and was buried in a 'four-sided grave' on the river Alaw, in Anglesey. Her mythos bears a striking resemblance to that of Cordelia, also a daughter of Lear. Branwen is a type of Sovereignty, as becomes obvious if this story is investigated thoroughly. As for Ireland, all that were left alive in it were five pregnant women, And through them Ireland was repeopled,and they founded the Five Kingdoms.# 100 - 272 - 439 - 454 - 562
Chamberlain of Antichrist. The poet Huon de Mery in his work LE TORNOIEMANT DE L'ANTECHRIST tells how he went to the enchanted spring in Broceliande and Bras-de-Fer rode up. They went to a battle where the forces of Heaven fought against the forces of Hell. Arthur and his knights fought on the side of Heaven. # 142 - 156
# 156: One of Arthur's Knights who was made a warden in the north of England and who fought at Bedegraine. He had originally been in the service of the Duke of the Tintagel.
# 454: Originally a knight in the service of Gorlois of Cornwall, Brastias became an ally of Merlin in the episode where Uther is changed into the likeness of his master in order to sleep with Igraine. When Arthur became King, Brastias was one of his first and most able captains, and became warden of the North. # 156 - 418 - 454
(bray) When Oisin returned to Ireland from the Otherworld, he was told that Finn mac Cumhal died in the Battle of Brea, three hundred years ago. # 562
# 701: The plea for daily bread incorporated into the Lord's Prayer must have been a plea to the Goddess in earlier times, for she was always the giver of bread, the Grain Mother, the patron of bakers, mills and ovens. The English word Lady was derived from Hlaf-dig (hlæfdige - Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, Clark, Hall & Meritt (ed.rmk.)), the 'giver of daily bread,' while Lord descended from Hlaf-ward (hlafweard), the guardian (or steward) of her storehouses.
# 100: The prototype of food, and therefore a symbol of life, bread was one of the commonest protections against fairies. Before going out into a fairy-haunted place, it was customary to put a piece of dry bread into one's pocket. # 100 - 701 p 482
Was considered to be the King of the World in Irish tradition and although a fortress was supposed to have been built by him in Leinster, his real dwelling was in the lands to the west, called Hy Breasil, the otherworldly place whose name was used in the mapping of South America as Brazil. # 454
A knight who assisted Arthur in the story of KING ARTHUR AND THE KING OF CORNWALL. When Arthur, Tristan, Gawain and Bredbeddle, went to visit the King of Cornwall's abode, Bredbeddle, with the aid of a holy book, controlled a friend whom the king had sent to observe them. # 156
Bregia was the great plain lying eastwards of Tara between Boyne and Liffey, which was mentioned in one of the long list of Conary's geise given to him by Nemglan. 'The bird-reign shall be noble,' said he, 'and these shall be thy geise: 'Thou shalt not go right-handwise round Tara, nor lefthandwise round Bregia,...' At CuChulain's first foray his charioteer pointed out to him, while he was looking over the plains of Bregia, Tara and Teltin, and Brugh na Boyna and the great dun of the sons of Nechtan...
Saint Patrick says to Keelta, he has a boon to crave of him - he wishes to find a well of pure water with which to baptize the folk of Bregia and of Meath. Bregia is a latinized form of Breg. See: MAG BREG. # 562
# 562: Son of Miled, father of Ith. Tower of Breg'on perceived by Ith. # 454: Scythian noble, ancestor of the Milesians. He was exiled from Egypt and settled in Spain from whence his two sons, Ith and Bile set sail for Ireland. # 454 - 469 - 562
One skilled in the ancient laws and legal institutions of Ireland. # 166
(c.489-583) Born in Kerry, this saint takes his place in Irish legend for his wondrous voyages to the Promised Land of Saints - a christianized version of the Blessed Isles of the West. He was inspired to take this voyage by Saint Barrind (see Barinthus) who had just returned from there. Together with seventeen monks, Brendan set sail in a skin-covered boat and spent many years travelling from island to island, including a hazardous landing on a whale, where he said mass and his monks attempted to heat a cauldron. There are many parallels and overlaps with the voyage of Maelduin. # 454 - 507
Brother of Belinus, with whom he quarrelled and fought. Both were reconciled by their mother, Tonuuenna, and together they marched on Gaul which they conquered, and then besieged Rome which Brennius sacked. # 243 - 454
Under this form, was the god to whom the Celts attributed their victories at the Allia and at Delphi. # 562
This Somerset hill was the site of a battle between Yder and three giants who lived there. Accompanying Arthur, who sent him on ahead, Yder encountered the giants alone on the hill and, when Arthur and his followers arrived, the giants were dead, but so was Yder. # 156
BRES MAC ELATHA
# 562: (brés'moc el'ô-ha) 1. Ambassador sent to Firbolgs, by people of Dana; slain in battle of Moytura. 2. Son of Danaan woman named Eri, chosen as King of Danaan territory in Ireland; his illgovernment and deposition. 3. Bres Son of Balor (not mac Elatha); learns that the appearance of the sun is the face of Lugh of the Long Arm.
# 454: The son of Eriu, begotten of her by an otherworld youth, Elatha who was of the Fomorians. Eriu herself was of the Tuatha de Danaan. Although he was a child of mixed parentage, he was elected king on the understanding that he would relinquish sovereignty if any misdeed should give cause. But Bres treated his mother's people poorly, inflicting grave insults upon the Tuatha. He created a monopoly over the food supplies of Ireland, making the Tuatha obliged to serve him in order to be fed. He was then satirized by the Tuatha's poet. (A poet's satire could cause personal disfigurement, in the case of Bres the King, he was considered maimed and therefore unfit to reign.) Eventually the Tuatha rose against him and Bres joined the Fomorian side during the second Battle of Mag Tuired. Here he bargained with Lugh in a magical contest which he lost. He was forced to drink 300 buckets of tainted milk and died. # 166 - 454 - 562
BRES, THE BIRTH OF
Of the birth of Bres it is said in 'The Second Battle of Mag Tuired' that Ériu daughter of Delbaeth, a woman of Tuatha De Danann, was looking out to sea one morning and she saw a silver ship which brought a fair-haired youth, wearing a gold-adorned mantle, who greeted her with: 'Is this the time that our lying with thee will be easy?' They lay down together and the youth then told her he was Elatha son of Delbaeth, king of the Fomoire. He gave her a ring which she should give only to one whose finger it fitted, and he prophesied the birth of a beautiful boy who should be called Eochaid Bres. The boy was duly born and grew twice as rapidly as other boys. # 548
BREUNIS SAUNCE PYTÉ - BREUSE SANS PITIE
# 156: One of Arthur's enemies, whom Gareth slew. P. A. Karr's KING ARTHUR COMPANION comments on his ubiquitousness. He had originally been knighted by Arthur.
# 454: The knight who became a byword in the Arthurian world as the most thoroughly evil-hearted villain living at that time. He captured and killed many of Arthur's knights, and was responsible for the discomfiture of many others. He does not seem to have ever been either caught or punished for his crimes - unusual in the Arthurian world - but simply fades from the scene in the various texts which mention him. # 156 - 418 - 454
Called the Black, Breunor arrived at Arthur's court wearing a coat that fitted him badly. He was given the nickname 'La Cote Male Tailée' (The badly-cut coat) by Kay. He would not take off the coat until he had avenged his father. He rendered assistance to the damsel Maladisant who at first hurled abuse at him, but eventually married him. He became lord of Pendragon Castle. See: DANIEL, and DINADAN. # 156 - 418
(bré) A hill. # 166
(bré la'ith) Fairy palace of Midir the Proud (otherworld lover of Etain) at Bri Leith in Co. Longford; Etain carried to Bri Leith. # 166 - 562
(bree an) # 454: With his brothers Iuchar and Iucharba, the sons of Tuirenn, he slew Cian mac Cainte, the father of Lugh. Lugh discovered the body of Cian, exhumed it and then set out to avenge him. He ordered that the sons of Tuirenn should pay an impossible compensation for their crime, including the three apples of the Hesperides and many other otherworldly treasures. They obtained everything asked by Lugh but died at last in the achieving of the last task. There is an obvious overlay between this story and that of Culhwch, who performed impossible tasks for Yspaddaden. Lugh's lack of mercy in not sparing the sons of Tuirenn is like that of Llew to his wife's lover, Gronw Pebr.
# 562: One of the three sons of Turenn. Equivalent, Brenos, Son of Brigit (Dana). # 166 - 267 - 454 - 562
(926- 1014) King of Ireland. He successfully defeated the almost universal scourge of the Danes which afflicted Ireland and Britain at that time, at the Battle of Clontarf, however, he lost his own life in the process. Like Alfred the Great, he liked to do his own reconnoitring. On one such foray, he encountered an Irish woman crying because her Danish husband had bidden her kill her child for food, there being none to cook due to ravages of war. Brian gave her food and in return she was able to give the password of the stronghold, which enabled him to overcome his foe. He was said to have introduced the plover into Ireland because of its facility for warning of enemy attack. # 454 - 469
BRIAN DES ILLES
In PERLESVAUS we are told that, aided by Kay who had slain Arthur's son Loholt, he attacked Arthur's realm. He laid siege to Carduel but was eventually driven off by Lancelot. He was subsequently defeated by Arthur and then became his seneschal. He is perhaps identical with Brandiles in origin. It has been suggested that Brian is based on a historical person, Brian de Insula, illegitimate son of Alan Fergeant (eleventh century). # 112 - 156
According to Plutarch, Briareus was the hundred-handed giant set to guard Cronos in Ogygia, a mystical island in the Atlantic Ocean. # 256 - 454
BRICRIU NEMTHENGA 'BRICRIU OF THE POISON TONGUE'
(bric'ryoo nev'hyenga) # 562: Ulster Lord; causes strife between CuChulain and Red Branch heroes as to Championship of Ireland; summons aid of demon named The Terrible. For the sake of the strife which he loved, he suggested that the warriors of Ulster and Connacht should compare their principal deeds of arms, and give the carving of the boar of mac Datho to him who seemed to have done best in the border-fighting which was always going on between the provinces. It was won by neither party.
# 454: Satirist and mischief-maker at Conchobar's court. He incited rivalry between the heroes CuChulain, Conall and Loegaire by assigning the 'hero's portion' of the feast to the best warrior. The champions' three wives were driven to contend for the place of honour. The dispute was settled by Cu Roi mac Daire who offered the heroes a chance of playing the beheading game; only CuChulain would play it and so won the contest. Bricriu was surnamed Nemthenga or Poison-Tongue. # 166 - 266 - 454 - 562
# 166: BRICRIU'S FEAST is one of the longest narratives of the Ulster cycle. It exists in several versions, the oldest of which is based on an original composed probably as early as the eighth century. Though somewhat marred by repetitions and contradictions, the story, taken as a whole, is one of the best in early Irish literature. It consists of a series of episodes describing various tests of valor which the three bravest warriors of Ulster - CuChulain, Conall, and Loegaire undergo in order to determine who is most worthy to receive the choicest portion of a feast prepared by Bricriu of the Poison Tongue, the Thersites of the cycle. The antiquity of the motif around which the narrative centers is vouched for by a Greek writer who relates that at ancient Celtic feasts the choicest titbit, or 'Champion's portion,' was assigned to the bravest warrior present, whose preeminence was sometimes established by a fight on the spot. Cu Roi, who figures in several episodes, is a semi-supernatural being who probably belonged originally, not to the Ulster cycle, but to the legendary history of the south of Ireland. # 236: 'Bricriu's Feast', perhaps the most characteristic Ulster Cycle story, has just about everything: a mythic subtext, a heroic competition, visits to and from the otherworld, elements of humour and parody and a rambling, patchwork structure. The mythic subtext comprises the beheading sequence known to English literature from SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT; but there, even though the tale is of later date, the regeneration theme is clearer because the ritual slaying takes place at New Year (the English equivalent of Samuin) and because the earth-goddess figure (the Green Knight's wife) is present. Irish tradition frequently presents otherworld judges as large, ugly churls in rough, drab clothing; one might also compare Cu Rui's appearance with that of Arawn at the outset of 'Pwyll Lord of Dyved'. As for the Green Knight's colour, which had led some to identify him as a vegetation figure, grey and green are not always clearly distinguished in Irish - the word GLASS, for example, might signify either colour.
The actual text, or theme, of 'Bricriu's Feast' is much simpler: the contest among Loegure Buadach, Conall Cernach and CuChulain for the champion's portion - that is, for the biggest and best serving at feasts and for the privilege of sitting at Conchubar's right. The competition takes the folktale form wherein each of the three brothers attempts a feat (CuChulain, of course, is the youngest). Bricriu, whose sobriquet Nemthenga means 'poison tongue', is a mischief-maker, an Irish Loki; yet he seldom perpetrates any permanent or serious damage (such as the death of Baldur). 'Bricriu's Feast' is, in fact, comic as well as heroic. Although Bricriu threatens to turn the Ulaid against one another, to set father against son and mother against daughter, it is not until he threatens to set the breasts of each Ulaid women beating against each other that the chieftains agree to attend his feast. The risibility of Fedelm, Lendabair and Emer racing each other to the drinking house, their suspicions raised as high as their skirts, cannot have escaped the storyteller; neither can the spectacle of Bricriu's beautiful house left lopsided, nor that of Bricriu himself thrown down on to the garbage heap and reappearing at the door so filthy with dirt and mud that the Ulaid do not recognize him.
The structure of 'Bricriu's Feast' leaves something to be desired. Doubtless the storyteller has stretched his material (and his host's hospitality), and perhaps he has tried to reconcile conflicting traditions; still, the resultant repetitions and duplications must have sounded better in a chieftain's banquet hall than they look in print, and it is also fair to presume some degree of deterioration in both transmission and transcription. 'Bricriu's Feast' is the ultimate source for Yeats's play THE GREEN HELMET. # 166 - 236
BRIDGE OF THE LEAPS
The Bridge of Leaps was very narrow and very high, and it crossed a gorge where far below swung the tides of a boiling sea, in which ravenous monsters could be seen swimming. 'Not one of us has crossed that bridge,' said Ferdia to CuChulain, 'for there are two feats that Skatha teaches last, and one is the leap across that bridge. For if a man step upon one end of the bridge, the middle straightway rises up and flings him back, and if he leap upon it he may chance to miss his footing and fall into the gulf, where the sea-monsters are waiting for him.' But CuChulain waited till evening, when he had recovered his strenght from his long journey, and then essayed the crossing of the bridge. Three times he ran towards it from a distance, gathering all his powers together, and strove to leap upon the middle, but three times it rose against him and flung him back, while his companions jeered at him bacause he would not wait for the help of Skatha. But at the fourth leap he lit fairly on the centre of the bridge, and with one leap more he was across it, and stood before the strong fortress of Skatha; and she wondered at his courage and vigour, and admitted him to be her pupil. # 562
Titular goddess of the Brigantes, of the West Riding in Yorkshire. A dedication and bas-relief at Birrens depicts her with the victorious attributes of Minerva and wearing the mural crown of Cybele, which shows how the Romans adopted her into their own mythos. Natively, she was a goddess of water and of pastoral activities. She may be equated with the Irish Brigit. ># 454 - 523
BRIGHID (BRIGIT, BRIGID, BRIDE)
# 562: Irish Goddess identical with Dana and Brigindo, &c; She is daughter of the god Dagda "The Good"; Ecne, grandson of Brigit. (pronouncing: Brigit g as in "get" and Bride (breed))
# 454: In her triple aspect she was patroness of poets, healers and smiths. Her son by Bres, Ruadan, was slain by Goibnui. For him she made the first keening that was ever heard in Ireland. She was subsumed in the cult and person of Saint Brigit of Kildare (450-523) who founded the first female religious community after Christianity had been established in Ireland. The sanctuary of the nunnery at Kildare had a perpetual fire, tended by the sisterhood, which was not extinguished until the Reformation. Saint Brigit is the secondary patron saint of Ireland. Within Scottish tradition Brigid (the saint and the goddess) is associated with the lambing season and the coming of spring, when she ousts the winter reign of the Cailleach Bheur. The saint is further known as the 'Mary of the Gael' and is credited with being the midwife to the Virgin. A folk-story tells how she played the fool by lighting a crown of candles and wearing it on her head to distract Herod's soldiers from the Holy Infant. Traces of Brigit can be discerned in Brigantia.
# 628: LADY OF BRIGHT INSPIRATION. BRIGHID, Gaelic goddess of smithcraft and metalwork, poetic inspiration and therapy. The ancient FILID or bards were under her direct inspiration, and in folk tradition she is said to have been the midwife and foster-mother of Jesus. Her primal function is that of fire and illumination; in Romano-Celtic temples she was frequently amalgamated with the goddess Minerva. It was she who first made the whistle for calling one to another through the night. And the one side of her face was ugly, but the other side was very comely. And the meaning of her name was Breosaighit, a fiery arrow.# 136 - 166 - 267 - 415 - 454 - 562-628 p 66
Equivalents, Brigit and "Brigantia". # 562
When King Pelles wanted Lancelot to sleep with his daughter Elaine so that Galahad would be conceived, Brisen was the one who arranged this on two occasions. (Lancelot was under the misapprehension that Elaine was Guinevere.) # 156
BRITAIN AND ENGLAND
A surprising number of foreigners use these words interchangeably. This is incorrect and frequently offensive to the British themselves. England is one of three countries that share the island of Great Britain. It is the southernmost and largest of the three. Great Britain (frequently just called Britain) is the largest of the British Isles. It comprises England, Scotland and Wales. The British Isles comprise Great Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands. The United Kingdom is the kingdom of the British Isles, and comprises Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands. Officially the name is United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. (Between 1801 and 1922 it included all of Ireland.) Thus English pertains to England and its people. British, on the other hand, pertains to Great Britain, and by extension to the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth of Nations. It is easy for foreigners, especially Americans to forget that the English were relative latecomers to England. Long before the Angles, Saxons and Jutes invaded what is now England in the fifth century, the Celts and the Picts (surviving as Scots, Welsh, and Irish) had lived there under Roman rule. Their languages (Gaelic, Welsh, Manx, etc.) were totally different from those of either their Roman or Germanic conquerors. Their separate cultural identities and their pride in them are still very real. Many a Scot has no hesitation in pointing out that England's greatest deeds wer performed by Scots. # 118 p 35
See also GREAT BRITAIN. # 562: Carthaginian trade with Britain, broken down by the Greeks. Celtic element in Britain. Magic indigenous in Britain. Votive inscriptions to Æsus, Teutates, and Taranus found in Britain; dead carried from Gaul to Britain; Ingsel, son of King of Britain. Visit of Demetrius. Bran, King of Britain; Caradawc rules over in his father's name. Caswallan conquers Britain. The 'Third Fatal Disclosure' in Britain.
# 156: The realm ruled by Arthur. The island derives its name from the Priteni, the term the Picts used for themselves. The Roman province of Britain did not include Scotland (except for the Lowlands) though, in legend, Arthur, seen as the Romans' successor, ruled the entire island. - Legendary historians claimed the country was first ruled by Albion, a giant. The career of Albion delineated in Holinshed's CHRONICLES (1577). Geoffrey does not mention him, but says the giants predated men there. Subsequently, he says, the island was colonized by Brutus, a descendant of Aeneas, and remained independent until Roman times. Another tradition is found in the WHITE BOOK OF RHYDDERCH (fourteenth century). This says the country was first called Myrddin's (Merlin's) Precinct, then the Isle of Honey and finally named Prydein (Britain) after its conquest by Prydein, son of Aedd. Geoffrey does not mention this tradition, but it may predate him. Aedd may be identical with the Irish sun god, Aedh. It was also said that Prydein came from Cornwall and conquered Britain after the death of Porrex, one of the successors of Brutus in Geoffrey. Geoffrey may have known of traditions concerning Prydein, but may have felt they contradicted his story about Britain deriving its name from Brutus. Irish tradition said that Britain derived its name from Britain, son of Nemedius, who settled there.
Ordinary history tells us little about Britain before Roman times. Archaeology informs us that, before 2800 BC, the inhabitants were Neolithic farmers referred to as the Windmill Hill People. Then came the Beaker People who used copper and gold. These people may have been Celts.
At some stage Celts able to use iron became the foremost people of the island, but it is difficult to say when they were actually established. The problem is discussed by M. Dillon and N. K. Chadwick. Julius Caesar landed on the island a couple of times but the Roman conquest actually took place in the reign of Claudius. Britain was eventually abandoned by the Romans and left to fend for herself against Picts from the north, Irish from the west and Angles, Saxons and Jutes from beyond the North Sea. The period of the historical Arthur would have been after this.
# 687:It is typical of the Roman Period that it is the only one which is precisely timed as to its beginning and ending. They came in 43 and they left in 476. After that we are landed in a sort of no-man's time in which the Celtic elements in Roman Britain come to the fore again and instead of combining to hold the forts of the Saxon Shore they follow the old game of local emulation. The P. Celts (Welshspeaking) of the Forth-Clyde region descend on the Q. Celts (Irishspeaking) who are settled on the western seabord, including the Isle of Anglesey. While the slaughter is going on between tribe and tribe, which had been good neighbours under the Roman rule, the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes are making almost unopposed landings in the Humber, the Wash, the Thames, and on the Isle of Thanet. This period (because it is temporarily obscure to the archaeologist) is given the name Dark Ages, which is a little unfair to people like King Arthur and his fellowship of the Round Table, and even more to the many shining lights who were saints in the Celtic Church. The monuments of this time are principally earthworks and inscribed monoliths. Among the former perhaps the most typical are Wansdyke and Offa's Dyke. The former lies east and west and was actually built on top of a good Roman road. Some fine sections of it remain on the downs near Tan Hill, south-west of Marlborough. The ditch of Wansdyke is on the northern side of the rampart, so it was presumably built by a tribal group lying southward of it, but who they were and why they needed such a colossal earthwork, sixty miles long, is one of the mysteries of the Dark Ages. On the other hand, Offa's Dyke is a comparatively well dokumented affair. It was built by Offa king of Mercia (eighth century) along the western boundary of his kingdom, which rested on the marches of Wales. It superseded (very advantageously for the Saxons) an earlier work of exactly similar type called Watt's Dyke, of which large fragments still remain. Although Offa's Dyke was only built as the western boundary of one of the seven Saxon kingdoms it remained the official boundary between England and Wales for centuries.
One of the best views that can be had of it is at the little village of Mainstone in Montgomeryshire. Although the Vikings were destructive in the matter of churh property when they first raided Saxon England, the Celtic Isle of Man, and Ireland, on conversion to Christianity they took particularly kindly to the cult of the high cross. They introduced new interlaced patterns in the design of it, and added to the usual Gospel series picturesque scenes from the old Norse sagas and fairy tales. The best example of this type of cross is to be seen in the Isle of Man, which was wholly under Viking sway until the thirteenth century. In the west of Scotland there was a strong and very beautiful development, notably at Iona. But in the east of that kingdom, in the old land of the Picts, a type of decorated memorial stone is found which is in a class by itself.
The 'symbol stone,' as it is called, is a plain, undressed monolith like the old inscribed stones of Wales, but, unlike them, it bears no clue to its date. It is, however, a very early and highly conventionalised and expertly carved with symbols and it is odd that no more attention has been drawn to this remarkable work of art. From the Celtic Church, in which monasticism of a certain type (similar to that practised by the Coptic Church in Egypt) was such a strong feature, nothing monumental has remained to us except what has been discovered on the headland of Tintagel. Here an ancient religious settlement which may go back to the sixth or even the fifth century was unearthed back in 1935. Of monasteries of the Roman orders belonging to the Dark Ages, the best relic is that built by the Venerable Bede at Jarrow. It remains with its nearly perfect Saxon church in a secluded and peaceful precinct beside the Tyne, in spite of its neighbourhood of industrialism and industrial depression. The Norman period could have been a 'new Roman' in Britain, but there was a curious Fait Manqué about the Scandinavians. They had the opportunity of forming an empire which would have bid fair to replace the fallen one of Rome, but they never seem to have given such an idea a moment's thought. They conquered parts of Gaul, Italy, Sicily, England, and secured the whole of Iceland. It is more than likely, too, that they planted a strong colony in Greenland, from where they went as far as across the North Atlantic to the 'Vineland', the eastern coast of America. Yet each conquering band kept its own territory, and as there were no ties of confederacy with a mother land, the claims of kinship were not kept up. But the Normans had learnt one thing from the Roman Empire in their attacks on its towns, namely that stone buildings withstand fire, and that was an invaluable lesson for any conqueror to learn, especially if he intended to make and hold his conquest by the church as well as with the castle. And after the Norman period we are leaving the ancient time of Britain and with that no more within our purview. # 156 - 187 - 243 - 562 - 687
The mysteries of Britain are both large and small. In some cases, they are so large as to be almost invisible to the human eye, and may only be seen to advantage from an aeroplane - as for example in the case of the huge hill-figures cut through turf into the chalk below, which have become more accessible only since flight became possible at the beginning of our century. In other cases, the mysteries are so small as to be easily missed by those who have little time to stand and stare. The Christian fish symbol high on the walls of Glastonbury Abbey, and where the design suggest that it was incised there in the fourteenth century, may be passed by unnoticed even by one who has gone to the place to steep himself in the more famous legends of King Arthur, or the sacred well, or the story of Joseph of Arimathaea. Even if it is not possible to study them from the air, the larger mysteries must be visited, if only to savour the atmosphere around them. Stonehenge in Wiltshire is a good example of such a 'must', for something of the occult power of the place may still be felt among its stones, even though much of its sacred character has been damaged in modern times by the nearby buildings, sentry posts, and the awful underpass constructed by English Heritage. The 'Carles' circle at Castlerigg in Cumbria is another such site, and here the mysterious forces work more freely, being less impeded by insensitive officialdom.
But perhaps the most spiritually-charged of all the ancient stone circles is that at Callanish, on the island of Lewis, which, until comparatively modern times, was protected beneath many feet of boggy peat and has now been revealed as a stellar computer, on much the same line as Stonehenge to the south. The largest of the stone circle complexes is at Avebury - a site which contains the vast man-made mound of Silbury Hill, the largest of such mounds in Europe - and though a village has been built into the middle of the stones (making use, indeed, of fragments of broken menhirs for house-building), this circle still retains that distinctive feeling of magic which proclaims it as a living wonder in our age. The ancient circles, and the complex of stone outliers and mounds which serves them, are not the largest of the mysteries of Britain, however. By far the biggest (if it is indeed a genuine thing, and not just a figment of the human imagination) is the so-called Glastonbury Zodiac, which some authorities claim to trace in the landscape around the village of Butleigh, in a vast circle with a diameter of just over nine miles. Like the white horses which are found in the most outlandish and surprising places in Britain, such as Kilburn, Uffington and Westbury, the Glastonbury Zodiac may be seen to advantage only from the air - though of course many attempts have been made to map out the figures traced within its vast circumference in diagrammatic form. One wonders, indeed, how the people of ancient times saw these circles, hill-figures and earth-zodiacs which they built, for it is only occultists, and not historians, who insist that the people of old had access to a special form of flying machine. Perhaps the smallest British wonder (though it is really a Romano-British artefact) related to the stone circles and earth-zodiacs, is the Mithraic zodiac now preserved in the Museum of London. Although size is often one of the factors which play a part in revealing a thing as a wonder, or even as a mystery, size itself is not always important. There are other mysteries in Britain which are not as large as Stonehenge, Castlerigg, Callanish or Avebury, and are often small enough to be held in the palm of the hand, or preserved in display cases or in churches, as a part of the ornamentation.
The simple truth is that the glory of Britain's history is recorded in our churches. Not only does almost every monument tell a story about some detail of British history, but, more often than not, such memorials contain symbols which reveal secret and occult notions belonging to the past rather than to the present, and are therefore mysteries to the modern mind. Such are the curious pigs on a tomb in Hereford Cathedral, the lovely woman and child lying on a pillow of a lion at Scarcliffe, or the curiously carved chair at Sprotbrough, which gave respite to criminals in a past age. The charnel case of skulls and bones in the monument to the wives of Sir Gervase at Clifton is also of a similar mysterious symbolism, even if its meaning is all too obvious. The carving reminds us that such charnel pits were once part and parcel of the British heritage, as old prints of crypts reveal. Yet its survival in an English church is perhaps just as remarkable as the survival of the dozen or so sculptures of skeletal effigies and cadavers intended as models of those buried below, as, for example, in Worsbrough or Hatfield. Within the churches of Britain we find emblems of life, as well as of death. What, for example, can be more life-enhancing than the legends of the Grail, and of that armoured superman of the past, King Arthur, who has done so much to mould our image of British history and destiny? The round table of Arthur at Mayburgh - perhaps confused with the old circle at Eamont Bridge nearby - the death-place of the King at Dozmary Pool on Bodmin Moor, and the secret place of Glastonbury itself, where monkish cunning claimed the King was buried, are all well-known sites for those interested in Arthurian legends.
Yet perhaps the most impressive of the esoteric collections linked with Arthurian mythology is in the church of St James, in Kilkhampton, Devon. The dedication to James, the patron saint of pilgrims, is said to arise from the fact that the village was once on the famous pilgrimage route from St David's in the far east of Wales to Compostela in Spain. In the stained glass of this lovely church we find what is undoubtedly the most impressive image in Britain of Joseph of Arimathea. Joseph, who holds the flowering thorn and the Holy Grail, is supposed to have brought the latter from Jerusalem to England and buried it under the Tor at Glastonbury. In the same stained glass of the east windows is an image of Arthur himself, in the romantic guise of a medieval knight. Among the fascinating bench-ends still in use within the church is a carving of a cup, which some take to represent a chalice and which others maintain is an image of the Holy Grail itself - as is the one carried by Joseph in the stained glass image. Kilkhampton reminds, perhaps more than any other church, of the way in which certain places seem to attract secret symbols, almost as though such symbols need to seek out a home where thay may be preserved. Why have so many symbols of British mythology and esoteric thought found their way into one single church? It is easy to explain why so many esoteric symbols - of the ouroboros time-serpent, of the green man, of zodiacal images, and so on - should be found at Kilpeck church as they are the work of one man. But time and time again one finds certain places attract many mysteries from different ages and sources. This is indeed one of the mysteries of Britain itself. The mysteries are found in the strangest of places, in sites as remote as the Hebridean islands, as accessible as the city of London, in museums, hillsides and in churches - the very places where one might expect miracles, but not mysteries. Indeed, the very number of British mysteries is almost a wonder in itself. Why have these islands been singled out as the repository for such a welter of mysterious remains? Was there something special in the British earth that the ancients should build so many stone circles, of which almost 500 still survive? Or is it true that Britain is itself a fragmented survival of the fabled continent of Atlantis, which sank beneath the waves of the Atlantic thousands of years ago? Whatever the reasons, there are so many centres in Britain where the mind is almost numbed by the weight of mythology and mystery associated with them that one is hardpressed to visit them all in the space of one lifetime.
The vastly differing histories of the countries which make up Britain have resulted in memorials and mementoes with almost regional characters. For example, the growth of witchcraft in Scotland - especially under the reign of James VI (later James I of England) - was far more pervasive than in England. This has resulted in popular witchcraft stories being linked with many Scottish villages, towns and kirks, and even in the survival of many Scottish witchcraft stones which mark places where victims of the witch-craze met their deaths. One of the most famous is the witch-stone at Spott, set into a hillside dominated by a prehistoric defensive castle which was also associated later with witch-burnings. Another is at Forres, not far from where Macbeth is supposed to have lived, while an equally well-known memorial stone is in Dornoch, marking the last place in Scotland where a witch was burned. The author, Charles Walker, wonder if there is a single stone circle or menhir in Scotland which does not have its own witchcraft story or diabolical mythology. Where curious Scottish stones are not associated with the Devil or witchcraft, then, more often than not, they are linked with the ancient giants who (as some claim) swarmed to the mountainous land from the sinking Atlantis. Such giants are supposed to have built many of the Scottish stone circles, and, since the hero Fiann was of the gigantic race, they also built the basaltic island of Staffa. Sir Joseph Banks, who 'discovered' the island for the modern world in 1772, wrote that it is to be 'reckoned one of the greatest natural curiosities in the world.' There is little of the dark northern witchcraft in Wales, and the legends are mainly about heroes of battle, of song-making and of magic.
More often than not, the legends and mysteries point to the delicate realm of faery, to the Celtic underworld, where dragons lived alongside men and sometimes had to be slaughtered in order to rescue princesses. In Wales, even today, one walks among the archetypes, and the mythological stories are impressed into the natural landscape of such wonders as Pistyll Rhaeadr, rather than into man-made objects and buildings. Among the mysterious wonders of Wales are the chambered tombs - now so often stripped of their earth covering and revealed as so many gaunt bones of stone, petrified in some delicate balancing act, as at Pentre Ifan. If one spends time studying the British mysteries, one gradually becomes aware of the exrent to which the calendar plays an important part in the secrets hidden behind their forms and symbols. In modern times, expert archaeologists have revealed that the huge stone circles of Stonehenge, Avebury and Callanish were used as complex (if primitive) calendrical machines for determining the cycles of the years in terms of eclipses, sun-settings, sun-risings, and similar lunar points - all phenomena of great importance to the rituals practised by the ancients. Additionally, many of the strange and mysterious customs which have survived, in a more or less garbled form, into modern times are also linked with the symbolism of the calendar - with the zodiacal points, with the four directions of space, with the solstices and the equinoxes, and the sequence of the zodiac. For this reason, if we wish to reach a little more deeply into the mysteries of Britain, it will be as well for us to glance at one or two of the calendrical traditions. When looked at from the point of view of mythology, the British calendar is revealed as a complex thing; some of the events it marks are derived from our first Christian civilizers those Romans who came as soldiers and stayed as monks - and some are distinctly pagan, being even older than the first recorded history of our land. The moment one begins to relate places, architectural forms and mythologies to the calendar, one is faced with the lore of astrology, which attempts to relate man to the cosmos and to the earth. It is the traditions attached to astrology, in regard to the pictorial imagery revealing the passing of the seasons, or the movement of the sun against the zodiacal belt, and the relationship these were believed to hold to the human being, which account for many of the secret symbols in the British Isles. It would be impossible to treat of all these mysteries from this astrological point of view, yet it will be instructive if we examine just one - the zodiacal font at Hook Norton, which is one of the lesser mysteries of the British Isles. Why should one find a figure of a horse-man archer on a font? What is the relationship between a figure of the constellation, or zodiacal sign Sagittarius, and Christianity - what has it to do with baptism, for which the font is used? In the astrological tradition there is a standard figure called 'the zodiacal man' - an image which was introduced to the west with the new astrology of the eleventh century. This figure portrays man with the twelve signs of the zodiac associated with the different part of the body. The rulership was intended to portray both the inner and outer forms of the connexion between the zodiac and the human body. For example, Aries the Ram had rule over the human head, but it also had rule over what went on inside the head - namely, thinking - just as the sign Leo had rule over the heart, and also over the inner activity of the heart, which was feeling. Sagittarius had rule over the thigh, but its inner activity was not as obvious as with Aries and Leo. Tradition insisted that it was the movement of the thigh which permitted man to walk as an erect being: thus, the thigh represented the inner power of movement, and by extension all movement connected with human aspiration. Since the greatest aspirations were always ideals, and linked with the wish to learn more - in medieval terms, to move out more closely to God - Sagittarius was soon linked with education and with the church, or religious life. By this reasoning, when we find on a medieval font the image of Sagittarius, we can be sure that it is a symbolic reference to the idea that the child who is to be baptised at this font is being protected by the image, is being vouchsaved a good education, within the framework of the religious life. It is not surprising that on the same Hook Norton font we should find images of Adam and Eve next to the horse-archer, for they represent the innocence of childhood, while the horseman represents the educational guide who will protect the innocent child and teach him the way of Christ as he grows into the world, away from the Garden of Eden which is the childhood state.
The symbolism of the Hook Norton font is, indeed, a good example of how easily one may miss the hidden meaning of a symbol if one is not prepared to consider what the ancient sculptors and symbol-makers believed themselves. The font should remind us that the mysteries of Britain may not always be grasped at first glance, yet if one pays enough attention to them they will always speak, and reveal at least something of their inner content. To hear their voices, however, one must visit them and be prepared to seek, behind the familiar appearances of their symbols, the hidden meanings which men of old considered a necessary part of their art, and which contribute so wonderfully to make Britain such a place of mystery. # 702
BRITAIN, THE RIDDLE OF PREHISTORIC
As Iman Wilkens reveal extraordinary theories concerning the classical works THE ILIAD and THE ODYSSEY by Homer and their origin, so does Comyns Beaumont shake the generally assumptions of the most 'well-known' works from the antiquity in his book THE RIDDLE OF PREHISTORIC BRITAIN published in 1945. To bring the reader the optional clues from this book we record here the author's foreword in full: 'At this philosophical study envisages an entirely new outlook on the past history of the world in which the British Isles emerge as the predominant influence, I owe it to the reader to afford some explanation of how I came to venture so ambitious an effort. Over thirty years ago I must confess that I stumbled rather than deliberately walked into a recognition that the history of remote days as passed down was based on false premises in regard to the most famous ancient peoples, both in regard to geography and chronology. I was brought to the conviction that the Atlantic and not the Mediterranean was the focus of world civilization, and as I pursued my researches I found to my own astonishment that this path led me ultimately to the direction of the British Isles, and that they, with the Scandinavian Peninsula - originally itself an island - emerged from obscurity as the true motherland of the Aryan or Nordic Race, the biblical Adamites, and dominated the ancient world long before the Flood of Noah. My investigations had started with the puzzle of the drowning of the supposedly lost island of Atlantis, but as the search continued with an open mind gradually the quest narrowed to one infinitely nearer home, and eventually assumed the proportions which Plato ascribed to it as an inland-continent from whence the 'continent opposite' - namely America - was approached by the way of islands. 'Atlantis', in a word, stood revealed as the British Islands, then of considerably greater size apart from Scandinavia, with her attendant isles, enjoying a delicious temperate clime, from whence was evolved the first of mankind, signifying the white blond race, the Aryan peoples, from whom the Greeks and other Celts - who migrated in part to the Mediterranean later - first arose.
Atlantis was drawn in one way or another into the vortex of the earliest Graeco-Phoenician myths of Oceanus, of the 'earth-shaker' Poseidon, the Gorgons, the Cyclops and others, all for definite reasons pointing to the North Atlantic Ocean. This, if correct, rules out the Canaries or Azores (as some have identified with Atlantis), or the regions of Morocco where the so-called Atlas Mountains are a misnomer altogether, but advances the British Isles and the Scandinavian mass, formerly at one with Northern Britain or separated only by a wider river and strait. In short, for a variety of reasons I was impelled to identify Atlantis with the British Isles. It transpired that the prehistory of the Atlanteans and the race of Adam possessed peculiar similarities. The supermen of Plato's island were drowned in a flood like the Adamites, the Giants of the old time, men of renown, the men whose thoughts became wholly evil, destroyed in what is called the Flood or universal Deluge. The cause advanced for their destruction was in effect the same in both cases, they being accused of having mastered too many of the secrets of, as we should say, science, or, as the ancients termed it, the gods. Their attainments, identifiable at least in part from various sources, gradually revealed a remarkable civilization, one in which flourished many and great walled cities, towns and villages, these often adorned with majestic temples and palaces; with main highways supported by multitudinous navigable canals and rivers; with a highly developed agriculture producing the fruits of the earth, while other tracts were used to rear horses, cattle, and sheep; with many ports and a mercantile marine which sailed the main to the most distant lands and brought home cargoes of wealth. It was divided into ten states like the ten tribes of Israel (of whom we really know so little), although one, the direct descendants of Atlas, hence Atlanteans, dominated the rest, and whose king or chief ruler was, Primus Inter Pares, an ecclesiastical monarch, a superman, in fact a divinity, regarded by all as a living God, the sole intermediary between the celestial deities and all human flesh. In his hands was all ecclesiastical and temporal power, and this theocrat, arch-magus, or, as described, 'His Anointed', was the most absolute despot the world has ever known, for he controlled not only the bodies but the minds of all from the highest to the lowest. All knowledge lay in his hands, delegated to those priests who were initiated into the sublime mysteries, whereby scientific knowledge was completely confined to the few of the highest caste and was made a profound mystery of mysteries. The day arrived when this civilization collapsed. To a considerable extent it was prefaced by signs of internal deterioration, the growth of tyranny, ambition, greed, and a slackening of moral principles. The ruling caste learned too much of nature's secrets and developed them for the purposes of selfish aims. They had mastered appliances of science to a degree which in several respects owed little to modern science, or, to avoid exaggeration, of a few decades ago, with the main difference that today the pursuit of science is open to all, whereas in the distant day an immence gulf lay between the knowledge of the priestly initiates, which was pronounced divine, and that of their subjects and slaves.
The day arrived when the closely guarded secrets of their magic arts in the use of fire and even of the air were betrayed to kings afar off and led to savage wars of invasion, where rival creeds and ambitions fought one another with bitter hatred. Meanwhile, threatened for some time by untoward meteorological happenings, such as strange plagues of insects, earthquakes, and volcanoes going into eruption, of a sudden the most terrible catastrophe afflicted this erstwhile happy land, struggling desperately against its invaders from the east. It what was we call the Flood of Noah, to the Hellenes the Deluge of Deucalion or Ogyges, and had other names besides. This prodigious event was by no means local and inundation was only one of its tremendous legacies to future generations. It approached earth from the celestial north-east and flung itself upon an unhappy world, shattering civilization at its very core. It mainly afflicted directly the northern regions of Europe, but with prodigious speed flung outliers in scattered portions of America. Its epicentre lay in Scandinavia and the British Isles, commemorated since by many an epic and legend placed geographically altogether wrongly by historians and theologists, and it established among other effects the region of the Greek and Celtic Hades, the Place of Burning, which can be identified. It caused directly the greatest havoc over an immense area such as mankind had never experienced before and has been spared since. It obliterated many landmarks and elevated others. It permanently affected the world's climate towards greater extremes of cold and damp, lengethened the solar year by enlarging the world's orbit. It shaped world history by compelling the flight of survivors to other less inhospitable climes and led in considerable degree to the diversion of the Aryans. It inundated the British Isles for a period to a great extent except the higher lands. It was the drowning of Atlantis.
The Flood immortalizes the collision of a fallen Planet, later termed Satan, actually a cometary body, with our Earth. It is a subject of drama such as metaphysicians have rarely dreamed of in their philosophy. Historians write of the dispersion of the Aryans without the faintest idea of the cause which drove them in great hordes from their primordial homes to distant regions.
Much of the classic and scripture history as it is interpreted, based on altogether false assumptions and a totally mistaken conception of the arena of this event, is necessarily at variance with fact. Even today our astronomers, with a few exceptions, ridicule the possibility that a celestial body, and certainly a comet, would be able to effect a disaster such as I have outlined, although the evidence of such potentiality is abundant. I have myself written two books on the subject which were more or less boycotted by the professional scientists to whom any theory opposed to their own dogma is apparently anathema. I made a lengthy study of the meteorology of the ancients, namely that of the Chaldeans, Phoenicians, Egyptians, and Druids, who devoted much attention to this subject, as is not surprising, and it was full recognition of this vital aspect of celestial science which led me perforce to the study in detail of prehistory. With such a subject I have naturally employed a variety of classic and sacred records.
The history of pagan religions, based mainly on this Credo of their seers, has proved of considerable value, for the discarded deities such as Cronus-Saturn, the Tyrian Hercules, and Bacchus-Dionysus, in their various ways, offer a gold-mine of information related to the religious motives which guided their wise men in their aims. Other ancient gods of great account were, especially, Hermes, in a category all his own, Osiris and Apollo, and with these are wrapped up folk-lore, legends, customs, myths, and not least, perhaps, place-names. The reader will have recognized from these introductory words that if the earliest Aryan civilization as reflected in the Old Testament, the Greek, and other souces were centred in the north of Europe, and especially in the Scandinavian and British lands, it follows conversely that the present regions from whence our forefathers are believed to have derived their origin, that is to say in the Middle and Near East, Egypt and the Mediterranean countries, are credited with a civilization to which thay are in no sense entitled, and which they only inherited by migrations from the north.
As a matter of fact, anthropology has proved the correctness of this view again and again, showing that the white race never originally entered Europe from Asia. In such circumstances we should open our minds to the facts and realize that the ancient civilization of Ur of the Chaldeans, of the Egyptians, the Phoenicians and the Greeks in its origins must have emanated from the north, where they can and should be traced to their true habitats. This is my endeavour, and to throw a new light on the great achievements of our remote ancestors, and thus to restore Britain to the proud position she may claim as the real motherland of world civilization, the heart of a once great Celtic Empire which taught the world.' # 59
Nedimean chief who settled in Great Britain and gave name to that country. # 562
Whenever the Romans occupied a new colony they were careful to propitiate the genius of the land. Britannia was the personified genia of Britain and was first depicted on a coin of Antoninus Pius (d. AD 161). Latterly, Britannia, with the attributes and weapons of Minerva, appeared on coins during the reign of Charles II in 1665, and became the symbol of the British Empire. She is the last remaining personification of Britain's native Sovereignty. # 454
Sole relics of Celtic empire, on its downfall; Maev, Grania, Findabair, Deirdre, and Boadicea, women who figure in myths of British Isles. # 562
As an Introduction to British Mythology, R. J. Stewart writes in his book THE WATERS OF THE GAP: British Mythology is a vast and complicated subject, as indeed is all mythology. How often have we heard the phrase... 'well, it's only a myth, after all...' or something similar? Many people, often quite intelligent people, think that myths are nothing more nor less than the idle fantasies of simple minds, the amusement of our ignorant ancestors who were not enlightened by technology or television. The word 'myth' is frequently used to mean 'that which is untrue', but a myth is by no means identical with a lie, and only very carefully constructed lies can emerge in time as myths by fitting into an existing mythical framework. What, then is a myth, what is this 'mythical framework'? Firstly, it must be admitted, frankly confessed, that myths do contain a large proportion of illogical material in their content, and that they should never be considered as literal truth. A brief look at any ortodox religion will show how difficult it is to take myths and wrench them into factual reality or history by use of authority or legality.- More important is the fact that myths in general do not represent superficial ignorance, or lack of perception on the part of their originators. Myths were not, as has often been suggested, mere rationalisations of phenomena in nature, for they were symbolic of known processes that occur in the interrelationship of humankind and the environment. Ancient symbology was not an attempt at explanation, but a suggestion of pattern, of integration, whereby categorisation or analysis was less than mutual interaction between humans, the natural world, and the mysterious powers that originated all life and events. The processes shown in myths still hold good today, though the action is often transferred to slightly less obvious levels.
The reaction with hostile powers of nature, for example, may have become the struggle to exist within an economic system... but the ways to balance and realisation shown in the old stories about gods, goddesses and heroes, still apply to the human psyche. Three main branches are derived from the roots of pagan mythology and its related practices. The first is formal religion, with its various special organisations, sects and offshoots. The second is mental therapy, which is a modern re-statement of the human inner processes and patterns once symbolised by myth and magic. This second branch uses the same material as the first, but with marginally different methods and a formidable technical jargon, neatly sidestepping the existence or non-existence of 'god'. The third branch is folklore, including at its most complex levels modern occultism, and mysticism derived from pagan and Christian unorthodox or 'heretical' sources. Folklore is an amorphous mass of loosely related symbols, in the form of tales, images, plays, song, music and ritual drama. This third branch has inherited most from the pagan past, for it has been maintained by a strong oral tradition, where material is handed down through the centuries with remarkable continuity, and is refreshed by a constant regeneration of the basic mythical themes on a spontaneous or conscious level; the same level wherein such myths first developed. Folklore is by no means a lost subject, or something that disappeared with the destruction of widespread rural communities. It exists in many different forms, right in the heart of the big city, and still lives in many country districts isolated enough to have traditions traceable to the medieval period or earlier. Furthermore, folklore grows and transmutes often dull subjects into living symbols which may be recognised as myths.
Perhaps the simplest way to illustrate this continuing process, without overcomplicated arguments and references is by example, by telling a thoroughly modern folktale. We can see how this tale is actually part of 'British mythology', as it came from English people in modern London, but can betraced back to typical pagan imagery and belief from the pre-Christian era.
A few years ago, in the late 1960's and early 1970's, a very popular musician called Jimi Hendrix captured the imagination of millions of people. He set new standards of profiency and style for electric guitar that radically changed the music industry. He followed a remarkably successful career; then committed suicide. Not long after Hendrix's death, I was recording music in a London studio, and the technicians there told me a tale which was surely untrue. A black musician, who was a Hendrix look-alike, had arrived to record. During his session, he suddenly broke into a superb guitar solo, as good as the recently dead Hendrix at his best. He emerged from the sound-stage grey and shaking, asking what had happened...had he passed out? No, was the reply, he had recorded a brilliant track... but when the tapes were played back... they were blank!
Now this is a folktale, of the kind that people scoff at yet still tell with conviction about all kinds of subjects. It is also a folktale in a modern professional context, emerging in a very hard businesslike world. Like many folktales, it was only transferred to a limited group or family, and did not ever achieve more than local currency. It was limited to its own professional 'village', in exactly the same way that old rituals, superstitions or songs were regionally confined in the past. Like these localised sources of folklore, our sample story uses basic images and patterns which we know were part of actual religious belief and usage. The elements present are 1. superstitious, 2. magical, and 3. mythical. These three divisions are matters of degree, or level of awareness, and usually merge into one another in any folktale or drama. The superstitious element lies in fact that the recording machines could not record the music (assuming that the studio crew were not idiots who forgot to do their jobs properly). This is typical superstition in modern context, where the technology of this world cannot register the events of the Otherworld. The magical element, which is connected to the superstitious, begins where the musician was 'a double' for the dead Hendrix, and then played 'exactly like him'. This is quite primitive magic, where the spirit of a dead hero or ancestor takes over the body of a living relative, apprentice, or double in some way or other, usually for the purposes of prophecy. On a mythical level, the hero in the Otherworld had inspired the mere mortal to superhuman flights of creativity. Our musician was apparently taking part in a typical pagan experience, uplifted by the godlike image of the dead star. We even call our most successful and beloved entertainers 'Stars' because the ancients believed that the spirits of dead heroes or heroines became as stars in the night sky... a star is an elevated or highly placed being. As mentioned earlier, the tale is surely untrue, (although everyone who told it believed it at the time), yet its blatant untruth does not in any way affect its value as a myth..particularly in the heightened atmosphere of loss generated by the death of a modern hero. Furthermore, the story has a real value that reaches out from its shadowy content, for it says "look to the talent and skill of those who have tried before you, if they can do it, you can do it. Learn from them, be inspired by them... but don't ever think that real inspiration and magic can ever be tamed... or taped!". Our explanation of the example is by no means idle or speculative. The ancients were particularly concerned with 'the Ancestors', 'the Otherworld', and the means of communication between our outer realm and the inner ones. The system was not similar to modern spiritism (spiritualism) but was based upon more mature foundations, with deep philosophical aspects which have guided modern religion and science through their course towards the present era. The Celts were involved in a cult-of-the-dead...and British mythology is mainly derived from Celtic sources. Actual examples of Celtic myth are numerous, but available interpretations vary in aim and quality, and are often highly prejudiced by religious belief. One of the most frequent problems encountered by the reader of any series or collection of British myths is that the material appears to be confusing, diffuse, and incoherent; unlike Classical myths which can bereferred to a central pantheon of gods and goddesses.
The Celtic pantheon certainly exists, but not in the regular manner defined by classical studies. The diffusion referred to exists for several reasons. First, the actual source material is often garbled and obscure, as much of it derives from fragments set down in the middle ages, when much of the old lore was being deliberately or accidentally forgotten. Other elements are derived from oral tradition, from tales in which all but the bare bones have been eroded away by time. Secondly, a great number of the pagan practices and tales were ruthlessly and bloodily suppressed, so it is rather remarkable that so much has survived, in any form at all. Early researchers, mainly in the nineteenth century, had very little to work on that was recognisably 'Celtic', and were limited by the conditioning of their social status and a Christian and classical education. This educational restriction tended to colour translation and research, editing and presentation of British myth. It is only in the recent years that the strict new translations of early Welsh, Irish, Scottish and medieval pagan tales in general have begun to appear for intelligent commentary and careful re-assessment. Finally, there is another and major problem. British mythology is diffuse! It was not connected to a central cult, or a major god or goddess with specific worship centres and rules of behaviour or ritual. This concept may be particularly difficult for us to grasp, for we are used to the centralised Christian worship and dogma, which was derived from the Roman political state worship that is absorbed. The British gods and goddesses are numerous, and very colourful, but there was no defined hierarchy, or even 'religion' in the modern sense of the words. To understand this non-system, we have to remember that pagan worship was environmental, and that each sacred place had its own god, goddess or power. In Britain these were very local indeed, hardly moving from their regular sites and habitual homes. To merely make a list, therefore, of deities in Britain, or even in the wider Celtic realms of Europe, is only to add to the confusion. Statistical and rational analysis may not hold good throughout, for many deities occur only once, while others occur frequently, but these are not necessarily the main powers of our hypothetical Celtic pantheon.
The value of myth is that it offers keys to understanding, often to understanding of many different types or aspects of knowledge at once. To the ancients the value of such keys was invested in ritual, where magic was made in accordance with observed signs and seasons and places, and was thought to bring fertility and benefit from the Otherworld to human and animal recipients. Even the above is something of a simplification of the purpose of ritual, but it serves as a loose definition for our present context, giving some of the main 'aims' of the pagan holistic world-view. Nowadays we do not hold such beliefs, but the keys can still work to unlock areas of awareness long neclected, shadowy and shut, to let the light into them for our own benefit. Myths can still give meaning and pattern to life, and are not in conflict with a modern or religious attitude. Most science and religion is upheld by its own mythology in any case. The best way to come to grips with the slippery British myth is to grasp the root elements of it. These hold good throughout all myth and folklore, and can be used to define and correlate apparently obscure examples into a system of reference. The system is not rigid, however, for it is based upon a cycle, or spiral, a pattern which is derived originally from seasonal worship. We can expect it to go around and around, but be different every time it recommences... like the flow of the years themselves. To produce a theoretical method for understanding the connective elements in British mythology is not enough. Such a theory has to be supported by a mass of literary evidence ranging through numerous special fields of study, which make considerable demands upon the reader...not the least of which is that of time. Anyone who had read any of the famous works on folklore or myth will know just how demanding such studies are. There is another way to approach the problem, a way by which the reader can establish some firm concepts, some essential central keys which link the ancient world with the myths and tales handed down from various sources. We can use a model...and there is a very good example of a British site, combined with classical Roman and Greek elements, which shows the principle areas of native myth and worship in practice. If the evidence from this site, Aquae Sulis, is combined with lirerary and folklore material relating to its physical remains as uncovered by archaeology, a model of mythology in practice can be built up. This model may be used, with care and caution, as a comparative example for study of un-sited British myths, or of other less researched and less well documented sites.
The use of Aquae Sulis as the model is not random, for it is one of the most striking, most complete and best documented sites known in Britain, and the visible remains are from a period well suited for evidence and comparison, that of the Roman development of the West Country of England; when Celtic culture and Roman civilisation merged together and produced a flowering of symbolic and inscriptive material in the Temple and baths around the Hot Springs. Myths have a curious habit of standing values upon their heads, of sudden reversals and rapid changes of fortune for obscure reasons once thought of as the whims of the gods and goddesses by later mis-interpretors of the pagan viewpoint. Some of these reasons are revealed in the book THE WATERS OF THE GAP, which like the myths themselves, have an intertwined multiple value, for they are a study of the mythology of one specific and remarkable place in Britain, yet also offer keys to the themes of British lore in general, and to the less obvious or transparent secrets of overall mythology. There are two main characters in the tale: the goddess Sulis-Minerva, in whose Temple burnt an Eternal Flame, and her "son", or protected hero, Bladud, who was a mythical king of Britain and like the Sun itself flew through the upper air on wings. So direct and widespread are these two images, that we can trace their pattern to a parallel from an earlier culture, that of Egypt...but this is not to suggest that the Egyptian counterparts were in any way the originals, for such myths flower independantly wherever there are people. The Goddess Neitha, a Weaver, was often identified by the Greeks with their goddess Athena. Athena became, in time, the Roman Minerva, to whom the Temple of Sulis Minerva (at Bath, England) was partly dedicated. The main centre of worship for Neitha was at Säis in Lower Egypt, and during her annual festival, innumerable lamps were kept alight in her honour. The Classical writers Plutarch and Proclus both state that her temple bore the following inscription: "I AM ALL THAT HAS BEEN, THAT IS, AND THAT WILL BE: AND NO MAN HATH LIFTED MY VEIL. THE SUN WAS MY CHILD". # 627
In Spencer's FAERIE QUEENE, a warrior maiden who was the daughter of Arthur's foe, Rience. She married Artegall. Spencer took her name from that of the Cretan goddess Britomartis. The idea of a female knight may have been suggested to Spencer by Marfisa in Ariosto's ORLANDO FURIOSO. See: RADIGUND. # 156 - 614
Geoffrey of Monmouth, like Nennius, affords a fantastic origin for the Britons. # 562
# 562: Mané-er-H'oeck, remarkable tumulus in Brittany. Tumulus of Locmariaker in Brittany, markings on similar to those on tumulus at New Grange, Ireland. Symbol of the feet found in Brittany. Book brought from Brittany, by Walter, Archdeacon of Oxford, formed basis of Geoffrey of Monmouth's which is the setting for a number of Arthurian adventures. Situated in Brittany, it is now called the Forest of Paimpont. See: BRAS-de-FER, and ESCLADOS. # 156
A broch is a type of round, stone-walled farmhouse covered with turf to make a smooth hill which is to be found in the ancient Pictish areas of Scotland. The entrance to a broch is by a single door, and they have no shaft connecting them with the outer air such as are found in the howes. Inside are winding low passages leading to several chambers. They are defensive rather than offensive in design. R. W. Feachem considers that they were constructed not by the Picts but by the Proto-Picts, the heterogeneous tribes which were finally blended together to produce the Picts of history, that mysterious people who contribute their part to the theories of the fairy origins. These brochs, like other knolls and howes, were often called Fairy knowes and play their part in sustaining the theories of David Mac Ritchie. # 100 - 409
BRODGAR, RING OF
The Ring of Brodgar, Orkney, is a large stone circle, originally comprising megaliths with a diameter of 103,7 m (125 megalithic yards), and surrounded by a rock-cut ditch. Thought to be contemporary with Maeshowe and the Stones of Stenness and to date from approx 2400 BC. Close to Harray Loch.
No fewer than 10 stone circles remain on the island of Arran, Strathclyde, though it is clear that at one time there were many others which have not survived the ravages of men and time. Seven of the surviving circles are in the west, in the area around the Black and Machrie waters, and almost all of them have been linked with the legendary Fionn. Fionn, better known as Fingal, and linked with the music-making cave of Staffa, would have found the construction of circles from gigantic stones as relatively light work, for in earlier times he was credited with the building of Fingal's cave from basaltic blocks, as well as the construction of the entire island of Staffa and the Giant's Causeway on the northern coast of Ireland. Fionn of Celtic mythology was the son of a king who was apprenticed to a magician.
In the Celtic legends we learn how when this magician had caught the wily old salmon of knowledge and had cooked it on his stove, the young Fionn touched it with his thumb, burned it badly and held it to his mouth in order to suck it. In this way Fionn became possessed of all knowledge, and became conversant with the magical lore. According to the old stories of Atlantis (of which the Northern Islands are said to be remnants), the stone circles were built by means of magic, for the ancient priests were supposed to have the secret of anti-gravitational forces. Precisely why Fionn constructed the circles remains a mystery: two of the smaller Arran circles (one on Machrie Moor, the other at Aucheleffan) have their stones orientated to the cardinal points, which has suggested that these circles, like those at Stonehenge, were designed with calendrical purposes in mind. A convenient centre from which to explore the ancient circles and cairns is Brodick, from where roads lead to within easy walking distance of the main centres. Seven miles west of Brodick, on the west side of the island, is the Auchagallon stone circle of 15 standing stones around a circular cairn. Six miles south-south-west of Brodick is the chambered Cairn Ban, some 900 feet above sea level, and consisting of a mound of stones 100 feet by 60 feet, with the facade and forecourt at the east end. The chamber within is divided into three compartments each of 15 feet length, with a slab roof set on corbelling at a height of about eight feet. Three miles further SSW from Brodick is the chambered cairn of Torrylin, in which were preserved the skeletal remains of six adults and a child, along with the remains of otters, birds and fish. Nine miles SW of Brodick at East Bennan, is a chambered cairn roofed with large flat slabs over the 20foot gallery. Seven miles outside Brodick is the chambered cairn known locally as 'Giant's Grave'. A number of mysterious 'cup and ring' marks, consisting of double concentrics with gullies issuing downwards, as well as simple convex cups and triple concentrics, may be seen on the exposed rock face on the hill above the highest part of nearby Stronach Wood. # 702
Saint Patrick's scribe. # 562
One of the most feared spirits of the Highland, because it was shapeless. Tradition has it that it could only speak two phrases: 'Myself' and 'Thyself'. It took the shape of whatever it sat upon, but apart from that had only a mouth and eyes. # 100 - 454
Also called Hebron, he was the husband of Enygeus, the sister of Joseph of Arimathea. They had twelve sons. He was given the Grail by Joseph. According to DIDOT PERCEVAL, Brons became the Rich Fisher. When he was cured, he was carried off by angels. This source also says he was Perceval's grandfather. He may be, in origin the god Bran. See:FISHER KING. # 156 - 185 - 604
The Brown Bull of Cualgne (Cuailgne) captured at Slievegallion, Co. Armagh, by Medb (Maeve). White-Horned Bull of Ailill slain by Brown Bull of Cualgne. See: CUALGNE, THE CATTLERAID OF. The 'Táin Bó Cualgne' is the theme of the BROWN BULL. # 166
BROWN MAN OF THE MUIRS
A guardian spirit of wild beasts that inhabits the Border Country. Henderson quotes a story of an encounter with him sent by Mr Sutees to Sir Walter Scott. Two young men were out hunting on the moors near Elsdon in 1744, and stopped to eat and rest near a mountain burn. The youngest went down to the burn to drink, and as he was stooping down he saw the Brown Man of the Muirs on the opposite bank, a square, stout dwarf dressed in clothes the colour of withered bracken with a head of frizzled red hair and great glowing eyes like a bull. He fiercely rebuked the lad for trespassing on his land and killing the creatures that were in his care. For himself he ate only whortleberries, nuts and apples. 'Come home with me and see,' he said. The lad was just going to jump the burn when his friend called him and the Brown Man vanished. It was believed that if he had crossed the running stream he would have been torn to pieces. On the way home he defiantly shot some more game and it was thought that this had cost him his life, for soon after he was taken ill, and within a year he died. # 100 - 302
# 454: Domestic spirits in the form of small men wearing brown attire. They do housework in return for a bowl of milk, but they must never be offered any reward else they are driven away.
# 100: One of the fairy types most easily described and most recognizable. His territory extends over the Lowlands of Scotland and up into the Highlands and Islands, all over the north and east of England and into the Midlands. With a natural linguistic variation he becomes the Bwca of Wales, The Highland Bodach and the Manx Fenodoree. In the West Country, Pixies or Pisgies occasionally perform the offices of a brownie and show some of the same characteristics, though they are essentially different. In various parts of the country, friendly Lobs and Hobs behave much like brownies. The Border brownies are the most characteristic. They are generally described as small men, about three feet in height, very raggedly dressed in brown clothes, with brown faces and shaggy heads, who come out at night and do the work that has been left undone by the servants. They make themselves responsible for the farm or house un which they live; reap, mow, thresh, herd the sheep, prevent the hens from laying away, run errands and give good counsel at need. A brownie will often become personally attached to one member of the family. In return he has a right to a bowl of cream or best milk and to a specially good bannock or cake. William Henderson in FOLK LORE OF THE NORTHERN COUNTIES describes a brownie's portion: He is allowed his little treats, however, and the chief of these are knuckled cakes made of meal warm from the mill, toasted over the embers and spread with honey. The housewife will prepare these, and lay them carefully where he may find them by chance. When a titbit is given to a child, parents will still say to him, 'There's a piece wad please a Brownie.' # 100 - 302 - 454
(broo) According to J. F. Campbell, the word 'brugh' means the interior of a fairy mound or knowe and is the same word as 'borough'. It generally means a place where quite a number of fairies live together, and not just the home for a family. The outside of the brugh is the sithien. # 100 - 131
BRUGH NA BOINNE
(brooh' na bô'i ne) A famous fairy-mound; a group of pre-historic mounds and the surrounding district, on the River Boyne near Stackallen Bridge, in modern Leinster. It was pointed out to CuChulain. # 166 - 562
(broo'yen) A banqueting hall, apparently provided with compartments. # 166
BRUIDEN DA DERGA
(broo'yen dô yar'ga) A famous stronghold on the River Dodder near Dublin. # 166
A nephew of King Claudas who sat on the siege Perilous and was destroyed for his temerity. # 156
The wife of Jaufré. # 156
BRUNO LE NOIR
Also dubbed 'La Cote Male-Taile' by Sir Kay because of his illfitting clothes. He came to Camelot as a poor man and was made a scullion. After many adventures he married the damsel Maledisant and became the Overlord of Pendragon Castle. He shares many of the attributes of Gareth and is probably a later shadow of the Orkney knight. See: BREUNOR. # 454
One of the best knights of the Old Table. # 156 - 238
The hero of an Italian romance, BRUTO DI BRETTAGNA, in which he obtains a hawk, a scroll and two brachets (small hounds) at Arthur's court to give to his lover. # 156 - 238
The great-grandson of Aeneas. He accidently killed his father and fled from Italy to Greece, where he became the acknowledged leader of the enslaved Trojans. He led them away and, having been instructed by Diana while sleeping in her temple, sailed to Britain where he founded a second Troy - Troia Nova (Trinovantum) on the banks of the Thames. He defeated an army of giants and chained their leaders, Gog and Magog, to be his porters (See GOGMAGOG). Alternatively, according to Geoffrey of Monmouth, Corineus threw the giant Gogmagog into the sea. He is remembered as the ancestor of the Britons. See also: TROY. # 243 - 454
Called the Faithless, he killed Estonne, who was Lord of the Scottish Wilderness and was killed in turn by Passaleon, Estonne's son, an ancestor of Merlin (# 103). (Estonne is a minor character in the romance of Perceforest). # 156 - 198
An early legendary king, thought to be the father of a great many saints even as many as sixty-three. However many children there were, they are supposed to have had a reunion on the last day of each year. The truth behind all this is the fact of a Celtic tribal group, which had adopted the Christian faith, living in Powys and sending both monks and nuns on the journey south from Wales across the south-west and on to Brittany. His feast-day is 6 April. See: BRYNACH, and GWLADYS, SAINT and KYNVARCH. # 156 - 216 - 678
The rocks of Carningli, the rock of the angels, surmounted by the remains of an Iron Age fort, stand at the western edge of Mynydd Preseli in Pembrokeshire. To the north, the Afon Nyfer joins the sea at Newport after flowing through the village of Nevern, where the sixth-century Brynach made his settlement. A tall Celtic cross still stands in the churchyard there. Brynach was an Irishman, who left his native country to become a colleague of David and soul friend of Brychan (q.v.), who was also to become his father-in-law - for although the Celtic church made no insistence on celibacy, Brychan is one of the few whose marriage is recorded. It was indeed one of his wife's kinsmen, Clether, who gave him the land around the banks of the Nyfer on which to make his settlement. This Clether may well have been related to the fifthcentury Clutar, who is named in both Irish and Latin ogham inscriptions on the stone preserved inside the church at Nevern, on a window sill at the eastern end of the nave. Legend has it that Carningli (the rock of the angels) got its name because it was the place where Brynach chose to spend time as a solitary hermit and was granted angelic visions. Perhaps he went there because you can sometimes see the Wicklow Hills from that height, and perhaps he chose to live in a deserted hill fort in order to follow the example of the first Christian hermit, Antony of Egypt, who lived for twenty years in the deserted hill fort of Pispir. His feast-day is 7 April. # 678
BRAA, THE BRONZE CAULDRON FROM
In February 1952 the discovery was made at BrAa, near Horsens in East Jutland, of well-preserved bronze animal figures, iron rings, and a quantity of crumpled bronze sheeting. This heap of metal had originally formed an immense bronze cauldron with an iron rim, rim handles and an ornamentation of high artistic merit. It had not been so thoroughly destroyed, however, as to make it impossible to reconstruct its shape, which recalls that of other Celtic cauldrons found in Denmark, at Rynkeby on Funen and at Sophienborg in Zealand. Like these it bears bulls' heads, looking outwards from below the rim; but the style of the decoration is different, fresher and more expressive.
As a summarise of the survey of early Celtic influence in the BrAa Find, Ole Klindt-Jensen writes in THE BRONZE CAULDRON FROM BRAA (# 373): 'A definite Celtic touch can first be noted towards the end of Early La Tène, Ic, the very period to which the Braa cauldron belongs. The Plastic style is imitated on massive Danish bronze fibulae and torques, types which in all other respects trace their ancestry to the earliest Iron Age or the latest periods of the Bronze Age.
The shield bosses of the Hjortspring hoard are influenced by the earliest Celtic iron-plated bosses from La Tène Ic. Together with a torque with signet-like terminals, the Braa cauldron (and probably also the Mellerup beakers) represent the Celtic imports from that period. It is therefore exeedindly probable that the Braa cauldron was imported towards the end of La Tène I, the period when we see clear evidence of influences from Celtic culture.
The Jastorf pottery, which in Sprockhoff's opinion imitates Celtic ware from the beginnings of La Tène, has parallels in Denmark. But, even if his working hypothesis is accepted in full, it is nevertheless probable that this influence first made itself felt in Denmark towards the end of La Tène I, for example via the HunsrückEiffel group. As we have seen, the Plastic Style (La Tène Ic) is found directly on objects of Halstatt tradition, without any influence of the Early Celtic Style or of the Waldalgesheim Style being discernible. In the course of La Tène II and III the contacts between Denmark and the Celts were strengthened, and even after the Celts lost their political independence they remained a source of cultural inspiration to the peoples of the north during the first two centuries AD.
A variety of imported articles such as torques and belt sections from Celtic and Celto-Germanic Middle La Tène can beseen in Denmark, as well as the results of contemporary influences on native torques, bronze belts and fibulae. It is possible, however, that the lastnamed are later, from Late La Tène, the period which par exellence reveals Celtic influence. The rich chariot-burial, Grave A 1 at Kraghede, stands out as a distinguished example of that period's work. It is perhaps the grave of a chieftain who had especially good opportunities to obtain the coveted foreign articles. In any case the grave furniture reveals a considerable Celtic manufacture to objects showing Celtic features, such as an iron fibula of Late La Tène type and the pottery drinking vessel with a Celtic hunting scene carried out in dotted lines. It is therefore remarkable that we do not see the beginnings of Celtic art more clearly reflected in the Danish discoveries, which otherwise have provided some of the most important specimens bearing witness to Celtic culture's distinction and originality. Now to the magnificent discoveries of a later period - the Gundestrup cauldron, the Dejbjerg carts and the Rynkeby cauldron - is added the Braa cauldron, the finest example known of Celtic Plastic art, and at the same time evidence of important early connections between the Celts and Denmark. # 373
The name of two kings of Brittany, according to Geoffrey. One brought up the exiled Ambrosius and Uther. The other married Arthur's sister, Anna, and was the father of Arthur's supporter, Hoel. There may be a confused memory here of King Budic I of Corouaille (in Brittany) who traditionally reigned before AD 530. # 156
His mother, Azenor, was thrown into the English Channel while pregnant, by her step-mother who believed her to be unfaithful to her husband. The unfortunate woman was sustained by visions of Saint Brigit and was brought ashore in Waterford, Ireland, where she became a washerwoman at the monastery. Here Budoc grew up, later becoming the Bishop of Dol in Brittany. He is the patron of Budock in Cornwall. His feast-day is 8 December. # 454
Manx goblin which can change its shape, and which is vicious, delighting in undoing the work of human beings. # 454
BUGS, BUG-A-BOOS, BOGGLE-BOOS, BUGBEARS, ETC.
These are all generally treated as Nursery Bogies, set up to scare children into good behaviour. They are discussed in some detail by Gillian Edwards in HOBGOBLIN AND SWEET PUCK as an extension from the early Celtic 'bwg'. Most of these words are applied to imaginary fears along the lines of 'How easy is a bush supposed a bear'. This use of a bugbear is illustrated in a translation of an Italian play published c. 1565 called THE BUGBEAR. It is about mock conjurors. # 100
(boo'ik) Son of Banblai, slain by CuChulain. # 562
# 701: White sacrificial bulls embodied not only ancestral gods, even the Druidic oak god, killed at the moment when the sacred mistletoe was cut from the tree. A central shrine of this cult in Britain was Bury Saint Edmunds, where the 'burial' seems to have been the heads of the annually sacrificed bulls, and the taurine god himself was incongruously canonized as Saint Edmund. The monastery records show that the 'martyr' was incarnate every year in a white bull, his virile powers adored by women who 'visit the tomb of the glorious martyr St. Edmund to make oblation to the same white bull.' - The Presbytery of Dingwall recorded pagan-style bull sacrifices even as late as the seventeenth century on the holy day of Diana in August, together with adoration of wells and holed stones, and other local shrines listed as 'ruinous chapels' or 'superstitious monuments.'
# 161: Celtic and pre-Celtic cults gave great importance to the bull, which in its solar aspect, was associated with horses, stags and swans. Warriors needed to possess the qualities and characteristics of the bull, and bull-slaying and sacrifice appeared frequently in Celtic rites; the animal was also ritually killed for divination. There were the Three Bull Protectors of the Island of Britain mentioned in one of the WELSH TRIADS and there was a three-horned sacred bull. For the Druids the sacrificial white bull was the sun, with the Cow the earth.
# 454: A primal symbol of strength and potency, the bull is a frequent figure in British mythology. It is possible that the bull was a special totemic animal of kingly rule and that sacred herds of cattle played a prominent part in ancient rituals. The 'Tarbh-feis,' or bullfeast was perhaps a remnant of this understanding: among the Gaelic peoples, a white bull was slaughtered and a druid would drink of its blood and eat of its flesh in preparation for sleeping wrapped in the flayed hide. His subsequent dreams would determine the rightful king to be elected. The bull is the central cause of the 'Tain Bo Cuailgne' (Cattle Raid of Cooley). The Isle of Man is haunted by the Taroo-Ushtey or Water Bull, which, similar to the EACHUISGE is a beast to be avoided or treated with caution for it can drag mortals into the sea and drown them. The bull is also the shape into which a knight is enchanted in the folk-story, 'The Black Bull of Norroway.' # 161 - 389 - 423 - 438 - 454 - 701 p 366 ff
BURLETTE DELLA DISERTA
Abductor of Pulzella Gaia, the daughter of Morgan. Lancelot rescued her from him. # 156 - 238
Place in Shropshire where a local legend says Arthur held court. # 156
Remarks of Professor Bury, regarding the Celtic world: 'For the purpose of prosecuting that most difficult of all inquiries, the ethnical problem, the part played by race in the development of peoples and the effects of race-blendings, it must be remembered that the Celtic world commands one of the chief portals of ingress into that mysterious pre-Aryan foreworld, from which it may well be that we modern Europeans have inherited far more than we dream.' # 121 - 562
The Celts believed in fly-souls and butterfly-souls which, like birdsouls, flew about seeking a new mother. It was thought that women become pregnant by swallowing such creatures. In Irish myth, Etain took the form of a butterfly for seven years, then entered the drinking cup of Etar (Etarre), who swallowed her, and so brought her to rebirth. In her second incarnation, Etain married Eochy, the High King of Ireland. In Cornwall spirits still forms as white butterflies. # 701 p 415
(boobachod) The Welsh equivalent of the Brownies, whom they very closely resemble both in their domestic helpfulness and their capacity for obstreperous and even dangerous behaviour when they are annoyed. According to Sikes in BRITISH GOBLINS, they have one outstanding characteristic, which is their dislike of teetotallers and of dissenting ministers. Sikes tells a story of a Cardiganshire bwbach who took a special spite against a Baptist preacher, jerking away the stool from under his elbows when he was kneeling, interrupting his prayers by clattering the fire-irons or grinning in at the window. Finally he frightened the preacher away by appearing as his double, which was considered to be ominous of death. This was a bogy or bogey-beast prank beyond the range of most brownies, otherwise the Bwbach differed only linguistically. See also: BWCA. # 100 - 596
(booka) A story collected by John Rhys in CELTIC FOLK LORE shows how close the connection can be between the Brownie and Boggart, or the Bwca and Bugan. Long ago a Monmouthshire farm was haunted by a spirit of whom everyone was afraid until a young maid came, merry and strong and reputed to be of the stock of the Bendith y Mamau, and she struck up a great friendship with the creature, who turned out to be a bwca, who washed, ironed and spun for her and did all manner of household work in return for a nightly bowl of sweet milk and wheat bread or flummery. This was left at the bottom of the stairs every night and was gone in the morning; but she never saw him, for all his work was done at night. One evening for sheer wantonness she put some of the stale urine used for a mordant in his bowl instead of milk. She had reason to regret it, for when she got up next morning the bwca attacked her and kicked her all over the house, yelling: 'The idea that the thick-buttocked lass, should give barley-bread and piss, to the bogle!' After that she never saw him again, but after two years they heard of him at a farm near Hafod ys Ynys, where he soon made great friends with the servant girl, who fed him most delicately with constant snacks of bread and milk and played no unseemly pranks on him. She had one fault, however, and that was curiosity. She kept on asking to be allowed to see him and to be told his name - without succes. One night, however, she made him believe that she was going out after the men, and shut the door, but stayed inside herself. Bwca was spinning industriously at the wheel, and as he span he sang: 'How she would laugh, did she know that Gwarwyn-A-Throt is my name.''Aha!' cried the maid, at the bottom of the stairs, 'now I have your name, Gwarwyn-a-Throt!' At which he left the wheel standing, and she never saw him again.
He went to a neighbouring farm, where the farm-hand, Moses, became his great friend. All would have gone well with poor Gwarwyn-a-Throt but that his friend Moses was sent off to fight Richard Crookback and was killed at Bosworth Field. After the loss of this friend the poor bwca went completely to the bad and spent all his time in senseless pranks, drawing the ploughing oxen out of the straight and throwing everything in the house about at night-time. At length he became so destructive that the farmer called in a Dyn Cynnil (wise man) to lay him. He succeeded in getting the bwca to stick his long nose out of the hole where he was hiding, and at once transfixed it with an awl. Then he read an incantation sentencing the bwca to be transported to the Red Sea for fourteen generations. He raised a great whirlwind, and, as it began to blow, plucked out the awl so that the poor bwca had changed his shape with his nature, for brownies were generally noseless, and he was nicknamed in this farm 'Bwca'r Trwyn', 'the Bwca with the Nose'. # 100 - 554
BWLCH Y SAETHU
According to Welsh legend, Arthur was killed with arrows at this pass in Snowdonia whither he had pursued his enemies after a battle at Tregalen. When he fell, his men went to a cave called Ogof Lanciau Eryri where they had intended to wait until he came back. A shepherd was once thought to have gained entrance to the cave and seen them there. He found them armed with guns! # 156 - 554