Welsh Myths and Legends Picture

Freya reading one of her favourite books. She has a keen interest in mythology and folklore, both of which play a large part in the culture of her homeland – Wales.

The following stories are represented in this deviation:

Top left: The Red Dragon vs. The White Dragon – There are several stories featuring the fight between a red dragon (which represents Wales) and a white dragon (which represents the Saxons). One of their most famous appearances is in the story ‘Lludd and Llefelys’ from the Mabinogion. Another story from Welsh folklore tells of how the red dragon became the symbol of Wales, and also features the famous magician Myrddin Emrys – more commonly known as Merlin.

Top right: The hunting of the Twrch Trwyth from ‘How Culhwch Won Olwen’ – One of the Mabinogion’s best-known tales, this story tells of how King Arthur’s cousin, Culhwch, wins the hand in marriage of the beautiful Olwen. This is by no means easy, because Olwen is the daughter of an evil giant, Ysbaddaden Bencawr, and since he only lives for as long as Olwen remains single, he has no intention of letting Culhwch marry her. Eventually, he agrees, but only on the condition that Culhwch first completes a set of impossible tasks, which he does with the help of King Arthur and his men. One of the most difficult of these tasks is to get hold of the comb, razor and scissors which lie between the ears of a gigantic wild boar – the Twrch Trwyth. In the background (from left to right) are Menw son of Teirgwaedd (as a weasel), Mabon son of Modron (as a pine marten) and King Arthur himself (as a red squirrel). (This story is one of the very first appearances of King Arthur in European literature!)

Bottom left: ‘The Ancients of the World’ – This tale tells of the Eagle of Gwernabwy, and his mission to find out whether he can marry the Owl of Cwm Cawlyd. He questions the Stag of Rhedynfre, the Salmon of Llyn Lllifon and the Ousel (or Blackbird) of Cilgwri, before finally getting an answer from the Toad of Cors Fochno. (All these ancients, except the Toad, also make an appearance in ‘How Culhwch Won Olwen’.)

Bottom right: The Afanc – Various tales have been told of this demonic lake monster. One such variation tells of how the Afanc was caught after being lulled to sleep by the song of a young maiden (in this case, a stoat). Descriptions of the creature’s appearance also vary – some say it resembles a crocodile, while others claim it to be beaver-like. Whatever it really looks like, it’s safe to assume that it isn’t a monster you’d want to get on the wrong side of.

Freya and artwork are © me. (However, I do not own any of the stories represented in this piece. Full credit for that goes to the anonymous individuals who first wrote them.)

Continue Reading: The Myths