Tuesday, 10 November 2015


But there were other legendary inhabitants of Cors Fochno. One was Hen Wrach Cors Fochno (the Old Witch of Cors Fochno), who I always took to be the legendary Ceridwen.

Ceridwen, the enchantress, had two children: an ugly son, Morfran and a lovely daughter, Creirwy.
Because Morfran was ugly, Ceridwen wanted to make him wise instead. She made a potion that had to be boiled in her magic cauldron for a year and a day. She got Morda, a blind man, to tend the fire. She used a young boy, Gwion Bach, to stir it. The first three drops of liquid from this potion gave wisdom; the rest was a deadly poison. But on the last night the blind man nearly let the fire go out. Gwion shouted in alarm and Morda put too much wood on the fire, which then flared up. The potion boiled over and three hot drops spilled onto Gwion's thumb, scalding him. Instinctively he put his thumb in his mouth and straight away he knew he had got the wisdom Ceridwen meant for her son.
Gwion knew Ceridwen would be angry, so he ran as fast as he could, but Ceridwen chased him. She nearly caught him, but then, using the power of the potion he turned himself into a hare and got away. But then she became a greyhound. She nearly caught him, but then he tuned into a fish and jumped into the river. But then she became an otter. She nearly caught him, but he leapt from the river, turned into a bird and flew away. But then she became a hawk. She nearly caught him, but then he saw a barn filled with grain. Tired out he flew down and turned into a single grain of corn.  But then she became a hen and started eating the grain. She pecked until all the corn was gone and she knew she had eaten Gwion. But then Ceridwen felt a stirring in her belly and she knew she was expecting a baby. She knew the child must be Gwion so she decided to kill it when it was born. But when the baby was born, he was so beautiful she could not kill him. Instead she put him in a leather bag and threw him into the sea.
Now Gwyddno Garanhir, who once was the king of Cantre’r Gwaelod was reduced to being a poor fisherman. He had a son called Elffin who was very unlucky. On Elffin’s 21st birthday he was told he could go to his father’s fish-trap and keep what ever was in it. He went to the fish trap and there was not one fish inside. Elffin was indeed unlucky. But then he noticed a leather bag caught in the trap. He looked in the bag and there was a baby boy. He went home and Gwyddno asked how many fish he had got. Elffin said “None” and Gwyddno replied “You are indeed the unluckiest of men.” But then Elffin opened the bag. Gwyddno saw the beautiful baby and declared that he was indeed ‘fair of brow’, in Welsh: Tal Iesyn, so the child was always known as Taliesin. Then Elffin was no longer unlucky, he was loved by Taliesin and together they had many adventures.
“What happened to Morfran?” I asked.

“He was all right,” said father. “He grew up to be a great warrior.”

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