Symbolic Keys Discussion 1 audio
Are you interested in Celtic mythology? Have you ever wondered what these myths were for and how they were used by bards and storytellers? The Mabinogi are one of the most important branches of Celtic mythology – a medieval collection of Welsh myths that have their roots in an ancient Celtic oral tradition. This course explores them in depth, opening up the symbols embedded within these fascinating texts.
As has been said many times these last few centuries, there is much more to the Welsh myths than first meets the eye. The Mabinogi, the medieval collection of earlier Celtic British material, is clearly a dense, multilayered text always hinting at deeper layers of meaning.
Most of these deeper meanings can be unlocked if we view the myths from the perspective of the tradition that gave birth to them, that is the Welsh bardic tradition. The poetry of medieval Wales is deeply intertwined with the Mabinogi, with much of the court poetry of the time drawing heavily on native myth and lore.
It is clear that the bards were in part storytellers; likewise the storytellers were often bards of some kind or another. The bardic schools were involved in maintaining the native myths, which they preserved, renewed and retold. In doing so, successive generations of apprenticed bards refined the oral tradition they inherited from their teachers, each generation in turn reducing the ancient materials to more potent and condensed forms.
As a result, the texts themselves have developed many levels of meaning, as each generation’s collective meditation upon these ancient symbols has been slowly fossilised in the strata of the myths’ geology. When we find these fossilised symbols buried in the medieval text of the Mabinogi, we can use them to open up the deeper, stratified levels of meaning that would otherwise remain hidden.
Dr Gwilym Morus