Blodeuwedd, Mabinogion in Welsh folklore and mythology, a tale from Trawsfynydd Wales
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Category: Mabinogion
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Title: Blodeuwedd


The story of Blodeuwedd is one of the legends belonging to the Mabinogion, a famous collection of old Welsh legends. Her legend is part of the Fourth Branch of Mabinogi legends. Although full of magic, myth (and a bit bizarre in places) it is still one of the most interesting legends of the Mabinogi.| A woman named Arianrhod had two sons, one whom was named Lleu Llaw Gyffes. Although she went lightly on her eldest son, she put three curses on Lleu: that he would not receive a name unless it was given by her, he would not receive his armour unless from her, and the last curse was that he would never be allowed to marry a mortal woman.| After hearing of the last curse, two wizards, Gwydion and Math, thought they would be able to help. They created a wife for Lleu Llaw Gyffes out of flowers and gave her the name Blodeuwedd, meaning ‘Flower Face’. Blodeuwedd was beautiful and innocent; immediately Lleu fell in love with her and the two were married.| Not long after the marriage, Lleu had to go and meet his uncles, and left Blodeuwedd alone in their castle at Tomen y Mur. As she became bored and lonely, she suddenly heard sounds nearby and looking from her castle, she saw a hunting party approaching the castle. The leader of the party was Gronw Pebyr, the lord of nearby Penllyn. He told Blodeuwedd that his party was looking for somewhere to stay and Blodeuwedd did not hesitate to let them inside the castle. Almost immediately she fell in love with Gronw Pebyr and the two began an affair. They decided that because they wanted to be together, they would kill Lleu.| This wouldn’t be easy, as Lleu couldn’t be killed in any normal way. When Gronw and his hunting party left and Lleu returned, Blodeuwedd asked him what was the method used to kill him, appearing to be worried and sympathetic. Lleu told her the following, difficult, method in which someone could kill him:| He could only be killed before he was about to take a bath on the banks of a river. One foot must be on the bath and the other on the back of a goat, and he could not be either indoor or outdoors. The only thing that would kill him then would be a spear, which had been worked on for exactly a year. After hearing this from Lleu, Blodeuwedd went to Gronw Pebyr with the news, and he began working on a spear immediately.| Exactly a year later, as Lleu was able to take a bath underneath a thatched roof along the banks of a river, Gronw Pebyr threw a spear into Lleu’s side. Because Lleu had one foot on the side of a bath tub and the other on the back of a goat, Gronw’s plan was successful. But what Lleu had not told Blodeuwedd was that he could not be killed; instead, as soon as the spear hit him, Lleu burst into an eagle and flew away to a forest.| After hearing the news, Gwydion set out to find Lleu. Luckily he found him in a tree in the forest nearby, living off the meat of a wild boar at the trunk of the tree. Because of his magic powers, Gwydion was able to turn Lleu back into a man. Finally after some time, Lleu was back in the form of a human and he set out to find Gronw Pebyr and Blodeuwedd. Lleu killed Gronw Pebyr, but in fear Blodeuwedd had run to the forest. She was not lucky, though: Gwydion managed to corner her and as punishment for what she had done, he turned her into a tawny owl, telling her that every other bird would fear her and thus she would have to live the rest of her life in solitude.


Find information on "Blodeuwedd", and Mabinogion, in Trawsfynydd Wales. Celtic and Welsh mythology and folklore in the Walesdirectory.co.uk.