I’ve always loved folklore and mythology. So it comes as no surprise that I love the Welsh mythology and folklore.
Instead of give one long story, I’m going to talk about a few that I really like.
Did you know that Arthur is Welsh? Yes he is! His father, Uther Pendragon (Wthyr Pen-Draig) was an actual ancient Welsh king. Pendraig (or Pendragon) became the name of a prominent Dark Age/ Medieval Welsh royal house. Plus, Arthur’s name is Welsh–“arth” means “bear” in Welsh, and he was known as “The Bear” in many legends and tales. There are many, many ancient Welsh prophecies about Arthur. And, Nennius, a famous medieval scholar and historian, claimed that he was. (Also, my son Rhys is a descendant of Arthur!) Avalon is derived from Welsh meaning island of the apples…and in stories, Avalon did have apple orchids! Also, many believe that the Welsh town of Caerleon is where Camelot was.
If Arthur was Welsh, then Merlin definitely was Welsh. In fact, it is more agreed upon that Merlin was a Welsh “prophet”/”soothsayer” than that Arthur was real or Welsh. Merlin, which has the Latin root, “Mer” meaning “from the ocean” (which it was believed by some that he was washed upon the shores as a child), actually is derived from the Welsh name, Myrddin (pronounced: mer-then) Emrys. If any of you have ever watched the BBC series, Merlin, the druids and Mordred call him “Emrys.” It is believed that Merlin grew up in the shadow of Snowden, Yr Wyddfa. I hiked there, and I could just feel the majesty and power, imagining that Merlin grew up where I walked.
Black Cauldron and the Chronicles of Prydain
Have you ever seen of or heard of the Black Cauldron? It was actually a Disney movie that came out in 1985, and although it was PG, it was seen as too dark and scary, so they quickly vaulted it, but then it was released again for a short time in the 90s. So, I grew up watching it and loving the story of heroes with magic swords, princesses with magic, fairies, witches, and other mythical creatures fighting against magical evil warlords. It wasn’t until college, when I was studying Welsh, that I learned the Black Cauldron is actually part of the Mabinogion (the collective Welsh folklore compiled in the 12th century).
I’ve also started to read the Chronicles of Prydain…the series that goes in depth with the story of Taran and Eilonwy.
And, of course, there are always the dragons, fairies, elves, wizards, and other typical mythological creatures that go with any Celtic lore.
Make sure you check out Llinos’s post to see her favorite Welsh folklore and mythology.