Saturday, December 24, 2011


In Welsh mythology, Blodeuwedd or Blodeuedd, (Middle Welsh composite name from blodeu 'flowers, blossoms' + gwedd 'face, aspect, appearance': "flower face"), is a woman made from the flowers of broom, meadowsweet and the oak by Math fab Mathonwy and Gwydion to be the wife of Lleu Llaw Gyffes. Her story is part of the Fourth Branch of the Mabinogi, the tale of Math son of Mathonwy.

Lleu Llaw Gyffes has been placed under three curses by his mother Arianrhod; the last of these dictates that he will never have a human wife. King Math and Lleu's uncle Gwydion create Blodeuwedd from flowers and she marries Lleu.

Blodeuwedd has an affair with Gronw Pebr and they plot to kill Lleu. Lleu can only be killed under certain conditions, and Blodeuwedd tricks him into telling her what these conditions are. He can not be killed indoors or outdoors, on horseback or on foot; and can be killed only by a spear forged when people are attending mass. Consequently he can only be killed whilst he had one foot on a bathtub and one on a goat (the bathtub being placed on a river bank but under a roof) and by someone using a weapon created as specified.

Under pretence of "Lord, will you show me how these conditions might be fulfilled..?", Blodeuwedd conveys him to precisely this situation, with Gronw lying in wait with the weapon. Lleu is (apparently) killed and Gronw and Blodeuwedd assume power. On hearing of this, Gwydion sets out to find and cure Lleu, who is now in the form of an eagle. Gwydion restores Lleu, who kills Gronw.

Gwydion curses Blodeuwedd, turning her into an owl. "You are never to show your face to the light of day, rather you shall fear other birds; they will be hostile to you, and it will be their nature to maul and molest you wherever they find you. You will not lose your name but always be called Blodeuwedd."

FROM: Wikipedia entry
Blodeuwedd was created out of flowers by Gwydion to wed Llew Llaw Gyffes. She betrayed Llew, either because she had no soul, being non-human, or because she resented being his chattel, or because the triplet of one woman and two men must play itself out in Welsh myth, and Llew Llaw Gyffes must die. At any rate, she fell in love with Goronwy and, wishing to be rid of Llew, she tricked out of him the clearly supernatural and ritual manner in which only he could be killed: neither by day nor night, indoors nor out of doors, riding nor walking, clothed nor naked, nor by any weapon lawfully made. She asked him to explain this, and he did: he could be killed only if it were twilight, wrapped in a fish net, with one foot on a cauldron and the other on a goat, and if the weapon had been forged during sacred hours when such work was forbidden. Blodeuwedd convinced him to demonstrate how impossible such a position was to achieve by chance, and when he was in it, het lover Goronwy leapt out and struck. Llew was transformed into an eagle and eventually restored to human form, after which he killed Goronwy. Blodeuwedd was transformed into an owl, to haunt the night in loneliness and sorrow, shunned by all other birds.

FROM: Blodeuwedd

Welsh: "Flower Aspect" i.e. Flower Face
1. Lleu's wife from Math ap Mathonwy in The Mabinogion. Created by Gwydion and Math ap Mathonwy out of flowers, she was intended to be the wife of Llew Llaw Gyffes; however, forced into this marriage, she took as a lover Gronwy, a local lord, and gave him the secret of how to slay Lleu. After this, however, she fled from Caer Dathyl and took her ladies in waiting with her; the women fell into a local lake, giving it the name "The Lake of the Maidens." Gwydion then turns the unfaithful wife into an owl.

The figure of Blodeuwedd was also used in Alan Gardner's The Owl Service, a modern retelling of "Math vab Mathonwy".

Older theories held that she represents a deadly lover--like Delilah--and a flower deity who causes the death of the sun god. However, the identification of Llew with the sun is currently out of favor. It's also just as likely to view her as similar to Iseult or the Irish Blathnat (whose name also refers to flowers), wife of CuRoi and lover of Cuchulain. Each of these women take a lover who is subservient to a more powerful king; this relationship naturally brings strife to the kingdom.

But is it possible that the version we have now has somehow been tweaked with regards to arranged marriages? In Blodeuwedd, we have the ultimate arranged marriage--she is created specifically for one man. Unsatisfied with her fate, she commits adultery and, with her lover, plots to kill her husband. However, it is also possible to view this as simply a stock device in medieval (and frankly modern) storytelling.

The fact that Blodeuwedd was created is not enough; there are so many transformations, shapeshifting, gender identity and space issues, running rampant in Math ap Mathonwy that there can be no definitive answer as to Blodeuwedd's nature.

FROM: Blodeuwedd
Blodeuwedd is the Welsh goddess of spring created from flowers, and the wife of Lleu, son of Arianrhod. In the late Christianized myth, She was created by the great magicians Math and Gwydion to be Lleu's mate, in response to a curse pronounced by his mother that he would never have a wife from any race then on the Earth. They fashioned Blodeuwedd from nine types of blossom--oak, meadowsweet, broom, cockle, bean, nettle, chestnut, primrose, and hawthorn--and breathed life into Her. She proved treacherous to Lleu, and She and Her lover Gronw Pebyr plotted against him, killing the invulnerable Lleu by tricking him into the only pose in which he could be harmed. Blodeuwedd was punished for this by being transformed into the night-bird, the owl, though She kept her name--in Welsh, blodeuwedd, meaning "Flower-face", is a name for the owl.

She is the white Goddess of Death and Life in Her May-aspect, and part of a triad consisting of Arianrhod (virgin), Blodeuwedd (lover), and Cerridwen (crone).

She represents temporary beauty and the bright blooming that must come full circle through death: She is the promise of autumn visible in spring.
Pronunciation: bluh DIE weth ("th" as in "weather")
Alternate spellings: Blodeuedd, Blodewedd

To read Her tale, go here.

FROM: Blodeuwedd, Welsh Spring and Owl Goddess--Celtic gods and goddesses
Other Sites:
Lisa Hunt Gallery: Blodeuwedd
MatriFocus, Blodeuwedd
The Flower Maiden
The Myth of Blodeuwedd
Blodeuwedd: a Cymric goddess (Flower Aspect)
Blodeuwedd, Goddess of Betrayal
Blodeuwedd 1 & Blodeuwedd 2
Blodeuwedd & Flower Goddess Feasts

Three threads on MW:
Dream of Blodeudd?
Has anyone here worked with Blodeuwedd?

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