The Mabinogion, a collection comprised of the earliest prose stories of the literature of Britain, written in Middle Welsh, is a fascinating melange of mythology, folkore and history. In its pages, one can find themselves immersed in a world of magic, floating between the fringes of the human realm and the Otherworld. Both worlds are inhabited by characters larger than life: gods and heroes sprung from the depths of an extraordinary, distant past.
One such figure is the otherwordly woman Rhiannon, whom the scholars have identified as the goddess of sovereignty. Many supernatural incidents accompany her throughout her presence in the tales, one of the most intriguing that of her association with her three magic birds.
This post explores their role, abilities and significance in the tales in which they appear.
The Birds of Rhiannon
Welsh mythology and folklore is crammed with fantastical people and creatures and the Adar Rhiannon, or the Birds of Rhiannon, are a trio of magical birds mentioned in early Welsh literature and myth. They were associated with Rhiannon who many scholars see as goddess from the Welsh Celtic Otherworld. She was a significant figure in the First and Third Branches of the Mabinogi and her birds were mentioned in the Second Branch. Presented here is a short discussion involving some of what is known about the Adar Rhiannon looking briefly at the Mabinogi and the adventure story, Culhwch and Olwen. This will be followed by a look at the mysterious Rhiannon and the properties of the magical birds in these stories and conclude by referring back to The…
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