In the storytelling traditions of Europe and beyond, the hero going out into the wilds to hunt is a common motif. It usually means something strange or wonderful is about to take place. In Celtic mythology at least, the magical animal often leads its pursuer to a fateful meeting with the mysterious powers of the land. This hunt for special animals is also an apt metaphor for the oral storytelling traditions themselves. These old story-beasts can scare just as easily as wild game.
To begin with, unless you are in the presence of a storyteller skilled in tracking such rare animals, you’re unlikely to ever see one in the flesh. But more than that, for all their stalking skill, such storytellers can only point out the tracks where the grass is thin, or bring your attention to the fur caught on bramble and thorn. It is still up to you to see the tale for yourself, and it takes patience to pick out even the youngest leveret from amongst the heather, never mind catch a glimpse of the secretive white deer.
If we are clumsy in our approach, we are more likely to scare the tale away, leaving only its confused tracks for us to ponder. But should we have the ability to sit still and the wit to be quiet, if we wait for our eyes to adjust to the half-light of the woods, there is a chance we will witness one of these wild beasts in all its glory, dazzling us with sudden inspiration.
This series of talks, webinars, lectures, discussions, whatever we want to call them, will more importantly be metaphorical hunts for the white deer of Welsh mythology. I promise you nothing but to take you to where the deer sometimes graze, and if you are lucky you may indeed catch a brief glimpse. We will at the very least scare up a few inklings and disturb a few hints.
The sessions will be held on Saturday afternoons, starting 2pm and finishing 4pm (UK time):
November 4 – Wind and Water: Poetry from the Book of Taliesin, pt. 1
November 11 – A Tradition of Triads: A Bardic Education
November 18 – Apples and Piglets: Poetry from the Black Book of Carmarthen, pt. 1
November 25 – Transformations: Poetry from the Book of Taliesin, pt. 2
December 2 – A Land of Legends: Mythology, Archaeology and Memory
December 9 – From the Ear to the Heart: The Welsh Craft of Poetry
December 16 – Medieval Myths: Poetry from the Black Book of Carmarthen, pt. 2
December 23 – The Living and the Dead: Poetry from the Book of Taliesin, pt. 3
If you’d like to come along, please download this PDF for more information: