Y Mabinogi – Taliesin and Merlin

imageSo the Journey has truly begun.

The Four Branches of the Mabinogion are each a part of the Matter of Britain. They live within the very rocks, mud, and water of this ancient island, but they were born in the mid-western peninsula currently known as Wales. If these tales have the antiquity many of us believe they were being told well before Wales existed as a separate political country. To get into the spirit of a tale a pilgrimage to the place of its birth is a powerful and important journey. So this week me and Cerri are doing just that.

We are currently staying in a cottage just outside Bala, deep in the heart of Fourth Branch country, but also in a space steeped in the legends of Ceridwen, Taliesin, and Merlin. On Sunday we travelled to a magical hill known as Dinas Emrys, the location of the Prophecy of Merlin and the Battle of the Red and White Dragons. Nine of us and two dogs met there and walked past waterfalls, through woods filled with the eyes of ancient spirits, to reach the summit and the ruins of Vortigern’s Tower.

Why start here when my journey is of the Four Branches and not of Merlin?

Why too did we yesterday make the pilgrimage to the shores of Llyn Tegid, instead of finding a site directly connected with Y Mabinogi?

My path until this point has been that of a songwriter and musician. My albums are of songs that, within themselves, tell stories but, other than the occasional brief dive into storytelling, I haven’t stayed long enough to swim in those waters. Dinas Emrys and Llyn Tegid are both places directly linked with the birth of two of the most powerful and magical Bards who ever lived on the Island of the Mighty, Merlin and Taliesin. Both singers, I am sure, but also both storytellers and poets who were also travellers in that Otherworld known as Annwn, or Annwfn. As I began to write the words for the First Branch it very quickly became obvious that I too would be stepping into that Otherworld – to go there and return with words to tell an ancient tale anew.

What better guides to have in those uncharted waters than Merlin and Taliesin.

So whilst standing on the summit of Dinas Emrys, and upon the shores of Llyn Tegid, I asked for their blessings and guidance, to help guide me to tell these tales with honour, but also with passion and vigour. I have dreamt of doing this since I first picked up my mandolin and wrote Noon of the Solstice back in 1996. That’s a very long time for energy to build up. So now, after opening to the land and its Guardians, I feel ready to let it explode into the creativity that has been building for over 20 years, and what a ride it’s been already.

Today and tomorrow we are both spending time at the cottage writing. Thursday we will head out into the landscape and visit some sites from the stories themselves.

9 Comments

  1. Susan paramor May 10, 2016 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    The Tales could not be in better hands. I wish you well with your exciting journey enjoy all the twists and turns.

    • Pete Quinan May 11, 2016 at 10:21 am - Reply

      My partner and I have just got back from Bala. We to visited Dinas Emrys. The walk was magical and the old hill fort magnificent. The views were breath taking as was the view of Lake Dinas where the Welsh Red Dragon is sleeping.
      Enjoy the rest of your time there and I look forward to reading of the other places you visit /|\.

  2. Sheila May 10, 2016 at 1:52 pm - Reply

    What an awesome incredible experience! To walk those paths, to touch those grounds. I can’t even imagine the inspiration that springs from the surroundings! And I can imagine the spirits are so excited, you must see one in every turn! I am certain you are blessed and will find much help along the way in which to tell the stories of old.
    I am so looking forward to seeing you in the states at the end of May in GA. Safe journey my friend.
    Blessed be.

  3. Laura Capshaw May 10, 2016 at 3:28 pm - Reply

    I am thrilled for you to be here. I think this trip will be a turning point for you both as Hard and as a human being. Ah, to hear those ancient voices! I believe I, too,– will hear those voices through you and your music. Just make sure you include Oscar’s voice as well πŸ™‚
    Blessed be, my friends.

  4. Elizabeth Harries May 10, 2016 at 4:26 pm - Reply

    I wish I were hail enough to follow your path on foot but that is not to be! So I shall look forward to the gushing wealth of your output. Wales is an ancient home for me and I wish you well.

    Blessed be.

  5. Mary Burns May 10, 2016 at 6:23 pm - Reply

    Two years ago I walked up the Tor in Glastonbury alone, early in the morning, and felt the spirits watching and walking beside me. How fortunate you are to live in that blessed land of England! I just came back from a trip to York, and in the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey, also felt the old forces rumble under the sod. Blessed be you all. mfb in San Francisco, CA

  6. Janet May 10, 2016 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    Its possible these tales were first told in a different landscape altogether and were then altered to be placed in a landscape more familiar to the audience. There are shadows of Devon and Somerset in some of the poetry in the Welsh texts.

    Enjoy your exploration, and write well!

    Many blessings

  7. Sheryl. May 10, 2016 at 9:32 pm - Reply

    You are such and amazing writer and story teller, I am looking forward to the story in your own words.

  8. James J Turner May 12, 2016 at 1:21 pm - Reply

    This is a wonderful and magical place. We had a house for 4 years in the nearby village of Beddgelert, it was so wonderful to be in that landscape a lot. The walk through the woods to the top of Dinas Emrys truly takes you somewhere else. Did you have a sense that you’d been there before? I certainly did. There was a scary moment a few years ago when the farmer who owned the land there wanted to retire and it was in very real danger of being bought by developers. Could you imagine what that would have been like? Holiday homes on Llyn Dinas, jetskis etc.; so I became involved in the campaign to raise money for the National Trust to buy it with a promise to keep it as it is. Of course it’s not just humans who love being there, it’s also the wildlife and the various plants that are indigenous to this area that needed protection. I hope you enjoy your stay there and that inspiration flows for your work. Once that place gets in your soul it never leaves.

Leave A Comment