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Barddas Bards Cymru - Wales Eisteddfod Iolo Morganwg Welsh Triads Y Gymraeg - The Welsh Language

Iolo the Bard: Part 1

The three first points, which a Bard ought to teach and consider: to believe every thing; to disbelieve every thing; and to believe it matters not what.
Barddas: The Triads of Privilege and Usage.

There are three things that most people think they know about Edward Williams, better known by his Bardic Name: Iolo Morganwg. The first is that he was a literary forger, presenting his own work as that of poets of the past. The second is that he was a bankrupt. The third is that he was a drug-fuelled eccentric.

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Arthur Bards Brân the Blessed Britannia Culture Cymru - Wales Druidry Druids Julius Caesar Manawydan Myrddin Ovates Second Branch The Mabinogion Three Branches Welsh Triads

A severed head on a round table

In the Second Branch of the Mabinogi, Brân the Blessed, the giant and King of Britain, is mortally wounded whilst rescuing his sister Branwen from her abusive husband, the King of Ireland. He tells his companions, the seven survivors of that brutal expedition, to cut off his head.

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Annwn Coraniaid Dôn Gwragedd Annwn Gwyn ap Nudd Jinn Lludd and Llefelys Lludd Llaw Eraint Peredur ab Efrawg Plant Dôn The Mabinogion Tuatha Dé Danann Welsh Triads

Gwyn ap Nudd and the people of fire

“There are the angels, and there are men, who Allah made from mud, and then there are the people of the fire, the jinn”, said Salim.
Neil Gaiman, American Gods

I wrote in an earlier post about the significance of red and green when we consider Gwyn ap Nudd. The green element in the clothes worn by his courtiers represents one of his domains: the forest. The red represents the Tylwyth Teg: the Fair Folk. The red is referred to in the Mabinogi, when Peredur finds the same symbolism in the Burning Tree. Here, we see the fire of Annwn – the flame of Awen that lights up our creativity, the hearth-fire that brings the Cauldron of Inspiration to the boil.

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Barddas Iolo Morganwg OBOD Ovates Three Branches Welsh Triads

Excerpts from the Triads: Ovates

The second of the primitive Bards is the Ovate, and it is incumbent upon him to be acquainted with literature, that is, to read and write, and to know the kinds of arts which may be beneficial to Bards and to the world, and to exhibit them in their authenticity before a Gorsedd or Chair, or a Bard of presidency. It is incumbent upon him, also, to collect and to search for knowledge, and to impart instruction in it, after it shall have obtained the judgment and privilege of Gorsedd; he is not bound to do more, except in virtue of a degree and grant. The dress of an Ovate is to be green, being of the same colour as knowledge and learning, which grow like the green vegetation of spring; and in the attainment of knowledge the Ovate is the chief of the Bards.
Barddas: The Voice of Gorsedd

4. There are three Bards of equality, namely: the Primitive Bard; the Druid; and the Ovate; for there should not, and cannot be supremacy to one over another of those three, though each has a privilege over the other, according to the privilege and speciality of office and obligation.
ibid.

The function of an Ovate is to amplify and to improve good sciences in virtue of awen, reason, and circumstance, that is, inevitable obligation; on this account, the Gorsedd does not enquire concerning his teacher, when he is privileged a Bard, but merely concerning his sciences, his art, and his life. Those particulars are enquired after; and, it is in virtue of what he has of them, that he is privileged by the judgment and verdict of Chair or Gorsedd of vocal song. Two memorials and records appertain to him, namely, the memorial of vocal song, and the memorial of letters. And when his memorial and record are imposed upon a Primitive Bard by the verdict of Gorsedd, then those sciences will depend systematically upon the voice of Gorsedd, which cannot take place before an efficient judgment is pronounced upon what is so imposed.
Barddas: The Triads of Privilege and Usage

The second is an Ovate, according to awen, exertion, and circumstance; and his function is to poetize according to imagination, circumstance, and art, and to defer to the judgment of Gorsedd, until it becomes efficient.

The third is Ovatism; and it is incumbent upon an Ovate to endeavour after learning and knowledge, as he can, by means of hearing, seeing, and devising. That is, a poet ought to maintain all learning and knowledge which may be privileged by an efficient Gorsedd; an Ovate ought to improve and amplify learning and knowledge, and to submit them to the judgment of Gorsedd, until it becomes efficient; and a Druid ought to teach, according to the original usage and privilege of an efficient Gorsedd, and according to any new discovery, in respect of reason, nature, and cogency.

Ovatism; and it is incumbent upon an Ovate to endeavour and seek after learning, as far as he can, by means of the hearing and voice of the world, of sight and contingency, and of attempt, awen, and imagination.

98. The three sorts of the primitive Bards of the Isle of Britain: a Bard of privilege, or poet, to rule, and to record; a Druid, to teach; and an Ovate, to improve learning and knowledge.

an Ovate, on whom it is incumbent to genialize and to improve learning and sciences;

the Ovate, being a Bard according to sciences derived from imagination and circumstance.
It was in those days that the three primary Ovates, Cadog, son of Myl, the Wall of Greatness, Trysin, son of Erbal, and Rhuawn of the Silver Song, were instituted and privileged. The Ovates were appointed and enjoined to collect Bardic and good sciences, from whatever incident, and from whatever awen and imagination, to submit them to the judgment of Chair and Gorsedd, and to regulate them according to the sense, judgment, and system of art.
Barddas: The Triads of the Bards of the Isle of Britain

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Annwn Arianrhod Barddas Bards Druidry Eisteddfod Iolo Morganwg Plant Dôn Three Branches Tylwyth Teg Welsh Triads Y Gymraeg - The Welsh Language

The Voice of the Bards

The Bards speak of the the bond between the living and the dead, and of the bonds between the living.

They praise the deeds of the ancestors: deeds mighty and, perhaps, not so mighty, but all of the tales, nevertheless, that will keep alive the name of a man or a woman so that their descendants may rejoice in the telling of the tales.

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Annwn Culhwch and Olwen Gwyn ap Nudd Llefelys Lludd and Llefelys Lludd Llaw Eraint Plant Annwfn The Coraniaid The Mabinogion Tylwyth Teg Welsh Triads

Why Gwyn ap Nudd rules the Tylwyth Teg

In ancient times, according to the tale of Lludd and Llefelys, Britain suffered from three tribulations. One of these was an invasion of the island by the Coraniaid – a race of dwarves who could not be defeated, because they could hear any word that the wind could carry. The Welsh Triads add that the Coraniaid originally came from Asia (which in those days meant anything east of Greece, including what we call today “The Middle East”). Some versions of the Triads are more specific, and say that the Coraniaid came from Arabia. This is significant, but that’s for another post.