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The Queen of Faery. The etymology of the name is uncertain, although it has been suggested that it may be associated with Maeve or the Welsh 'mab' for baby, since she is called the 'fairies midwife', which is her name in Shakespeare's ROMEO AND JULIET, but in this play, she is a much less dignified person than his Titania in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM. # 100 - 454
MABIN OF THE MABINOGION, THE
In republishing the work with the above title, the 'Research Into Lost Knowledge Organisation,' hope to bring the attention of thoughtful readers a remarkable collection of knowledge which has been overlooked. It is known that Tyndale during his work on translation of the Bible was astonished to discover the correspondance between old Welsh and the Hebrew language. This in turn owed much to the connection of the Hebrews with Chaldea, and to this day the folklore, customs and modes of expression in Britain show remarkable similarities with the Near East, especially so in the west of Britain, Wales, Cornwall, the Scottish Highlands and Ireland, to which the original people were driven by later invaders. That several of the papers collected in the MABIN OF THE MABINOGION will scandalise some of today's scholars is more than likely, but when we recollect how many times even in the last hundred years or so statements of opinion have had to be altered or repudiated, we think the more liberal minded readers who are not easily alarmed by the unfamiliar, will welcome the book and gain a deeper understanding of the appellation "Britain the Great". These were the words by Elizabeth Leader, Founder Member of R.I.L.K.O., and here is some extracts from the Introduction by the author Morien O. Morgan: ... 'We learn that the Rock at Horeb, which yielded "Water" to the nation in the Wilderness, was the symbol of Christ-Messiah. (1. Cor. x. 2, 3, 4). The great apostle tells the Corinthians, who were familiar with the Ambrosia, for in their Vintage feast in honour of the Sun's fertilising heat, under the name of Bacchus, they partook of the portion of the wine consecrated and named Ambrosia. When St Paul states that the Rock "followed" the nation in the wilderness, he asserts, mystically, that the Divine essence - "Water" - the Divine Ambrosia - the basis of all created things, and, therefore, of the said Rock itself, had followed as a river. To this day in Wales it is said of a dried up fruit of the earth. "It is devoid of Rhinwedd" (virtue) or Ambrosia.
They therefore understood perfectly Paul's meaning. ... The Druids called Ambrosia Rhin, or Virtue, of all nourishing essences, but instead of the juice of grapes, they used the juice of apples, as well as oil, as Ambrosia. In India Ambrosia is called Amrita, and as a fertilizer, descending through the sun, it is called in the Bible the food of the angels, by the Gentiles, the food of the Gods, but by the Druids was regarded as the food of Fairies. Carnal creatures take it mixed with solids and water. The "fruit" of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is alluded to by the serpent as the food of Elohim, or Gods. (Gen. iii. 4). The reader is reminded also of Elijah's circle of twelve stones on Mount Carmel, and then, states the Septuagint, "poured a sea around its outward circular trench" (VIDE Homer's Iliad xviii), like that around Stonehenge, Avebury, and each of the ancient Mounds on Salisbury Plain.' The foregoing examples, agreeing with Druidism as a creed, induced the author to make researches with the object of discovering the common source of the two great creeds. the results are the MABIN OF THE MABINOGION, or as it was originally published, THE ROYAL WINGED SON OF STONEHENGE AND AVEBURY. # 777
(ma-bin-OG-eon) In the MABINOGION we meet the only genuine Welsh Arthurian story we possess, the story of Culhwch and Olwen. The tales of the MABINOGION are mainly drawn from the fourteenth century manuscript entitled 'The Red Book of Hergest'. The MABINOGION is the work in which the chief treasures of Cymric myth and legend were collected by Lady Charlotte Guest and published in 1849, given to the world in a translation which is one of the masterpieces of English literature. MABINOGION is the plural form of MABINOGI, which means a story belonging to the equipment of an apprentice-bard. Strictly speaking, the MABINOGI in the oldest volume are only the four tales given first, and which were entitled FOUR BRANCHES OF THE MABINOGI. Later other tales were added. One of them, the romance of Taliesin, came from another source, a manuscript of the seventeenth century. The four oldest tales in the Mabinogion are supposed by scholars to have taken their present shape in the tenth or eleventh century.
The following tales are listed in the Mabinogion: Pwyll Lord of Dyfed- Branwen Daughter of Llyr - Manawydan Son of Llyr Math Son of Mathonwy - The Dream of Maxen - Lludd and Llevelys Culhwch and Olwen - The Dream of Rhonabwy Owain or The Lady of the Fountain - Peredur Son of Efrawg Gereint and Enid - and alone of the tales in the collection called by Lady Charlotte Guest, the story of Taliesin q.v. Four Branches of the Mabinogi: Pwyll, Branwen, Manawydan and Math, form most important part of it. But as J. Gantz says: 'While we in fact posses only one version of each tale, it is quite possible that other, substantially different, versions also existed at one time.' # 100: Katharine Briggs: In Culhwch and Olwen we are half-way back to the mythological Arthur and in the land of fairy-tales where the hero is accompanied by a picked band of strong men with magical, specialized powers to aid him in the performance of his quest. These manuscripts appear to represent the material used by the Welsh bards or cyfarwydd's. This was transmitted by word of mouth, and it would be centuries before it was written down, and therefore these tales were probably very ancient indeed, as can be judged by the customs and linguistic turns which are built into them. The word Mabinogi means: 'story of youth' or 'story'. # 100 - 237 - 562 - 772 - 773
The Young Son of Light. Mabon or Maponus, the Celtic god of liberation, harmony, unity and music. He may have been one of the most universally worshipped deities in the Celtic world, and was at the centre of the Druidic magical cosmology as the original Being, pre-existent, Son of the Great Mother. He is represented in myth and legend as both a prisoner and a liberator; many other heroic and divine figures are related to Mabon. # 562: Son of Modron - released by Arthur. # 156: In the poem PA GUR two of Arthur's followers are so called: one the son of Modron, described as the servant of Uther Pendragon, and the other the son of Mellt. This may be a duplication, the same character having Modron for a mother and Mellt for a father. CULHWCH says he was abducted when he was three nights old. It was necessary for Culhwch to find him, as part of his quest. Arthur attacked his prison, while Kay and Bedivere rescued him. Similarly named characters are Mobonagrain in Chrétien's EREC ET ENIDE and Mabuz in Ulrichs LANZELET. In origin, these characters are perhaps all the same. Mabon, the son of Modron, is undoubtedly the Celtic god Maponus (perhaps the equivalent of the Irish Mac ind oc) Modron originally being the Celtic goddess, Matrona, and Mellt perhaps a hypothetical god called Meldos. C. Matthews regards the story of Mabon as a mystery cycle. G. Ashe argues that Merlin may have acted as a prophet of the god Maponos, while J. Matthews feels that the history of Gawain replays the story of the god. Mabon is also referred to as a sorcerer. See: BLONDE ESMERÉE, and MARSIQUE.
# 439: The mystery of Mabon is hard to disentangle and restore. The main textual source appears in CULHWCH AND OLWEN. Where textual evidence is meagre it is possible to assume further facts about Mabon from his many aliases who appear as heroes within the MABINOGION and related literature, although we must be circumspect when drawing from secondary sources. Yet texts alone do not give us a full picture. The cult of the Divine Youth, Maponus, was localised in both Gaul and Northern Britain. Two place names survive: Lochmaben, a village, and Clochmabenstane, a prehistoric stone, both in Dumfriesshire. The stone was a tribal assembly point (#564). - The Romans swiftly identified many native deities as aspects of their own, as well as recognising the genii loci of the land in their own right. Maponus was soon identified as a type of Apollo - a Greek aspect which the Romans retained, although they renamed his sister Artemis as Diana. In Greek tradition, the name of Apollo, or Apple-Man, recalled the hidden youth of Britain whose mysteries were celebrated within a circular temple, and whose cult was associated with music and the paradisal Otherworld(#258). Apollo the Harper, has been identified closely with Maponus (#564). - Mabon and Modron are merely titles and not names; they are honorifics. Initiates of a particular cult always spoke of their gods in such a guarded manner, while preserving the secret names and inner titles from the profane. - Within British tradition, 'Mabon is not only the Great Prisoner, he is also the Immemorial Prisoner, the Great Son who has been lost for aeons and is at last found' (# 564). - Mabon is the Wondrous Youth of Celtic tradition: like Merlin, he is the child of otherworld and earthly parents. His cult was widespread in north-west Britain, along Hadrian's Wall. Like Angus, he is the god of youth. His name merely means 'son' and so is a mystery title which is ascriable to many suitable local deities (# 454). # 26 - 156 - 258 - 269 - 439 - 450 - 454 - 455 p 70 - # 562- 564
An opponent of Erec, Mabonagrain was a prisoner of sorts in a castle with an airy wall and he was the lover of a lady who dwelt there. When Erec overcame hime, Mabonagrain told him to blow a horn and this freed him from his imprisonment. It seems likely that Mabon is the original of this character, especially as the motif of liberation from imprisonment occurs in the story. # 152 - 156
In Ulrich, the son of the Lady of the Lake. His territory was being raided by Iweret and Lancelot came to succour him. He is very likely identified with Mabon; this would, in turn, identify the Lady of the Lake with Modron/Morgan. # 156 - 686
(môc ceht') Danaan king, husband of Fohla; member of Conary's retinue at Da Derga's Hostel. Mac Cecht has rushed over Ireland in frantic search for water. But the Fairy Folk, who are here manifestly elemental powers controlling the forces of nature, have sealed all the sources against him. He tries the Well of Kesair in Wicklow in vain; he goes to the great rivers - they all hide away at his approach; the lakes deny him also; at last he finds a lake, Loch Gara, which failed to hide itself in time, and thereat he fills his cup. He returned to the Hostel finding a reaver with Conary's head. He slew the reaver, and mac Cecht, taking up his master's head, poured the water into his mouth. Thereupon the head spoke, and praised and thanked him for the deed. # 166 - 562
MAC CONGLINNE, THE VISION OF
This story stands almost alone as perhaps the only extended piece of vernacular narrative from the earlier Middle Ages that was composed expressly for humorous purposes. It is one of the wildest extravaganzas of all literature; in fact we find nothing quite so preposterous again until we come to Rabelais. The writer adopts the conventional literary form of those who wrote for religious edification, and composes an uproarious satire on hagiography, ecclesiastical mendicancy, and royal gluttony. In his higher moments he throws overboard his satirical purpose for the sake of his gastronimical cadenzas. The piece is at least as old as the twelfth century and perhaps even more ancient. The vigor of the burlesque spirit is closely akin to that in THE FEAST OF BRICRIU, one of the earlier tales of the Ulster cycle. # 166
MAC CUILL (QUILL)
Danaan king, husband of Banba. # 562
(moc' da ho') A king in Leinster; owner of a famous hound. # 166
MAC DATHO'S PIG, THE STORY OF
# 166: This is a remarkably picturesque narrative. The action is swift, the dialogue spirited, and the climatic arrangement of the episodes highly effective. The plot is based on the ancient Celtic practice of assigning the choicest portion at feasts to the guest who could most successfully establish his superiority over his fellows. It is of interest to note that the author, writing as early as the ninth or tenth century, thought of the enmity between Ulster and Connacht as extending back into remote antiquity. Incidentally, 'The Story of Mac Datho's Pig' is one of the few sagas of the Ulster cycle in which CuChulain does not appear. The scene was laid in Leinster, and the saga is brought in Cross' and Slover's ANCIENT IRISH TALES.
# 236: Although 'The Tale of Macc Da Thó's Pig' (The title in Irish, as Jeffrey Gantz put it in his 'Early Irish Myths and Sagas), with its feasting and fighting, may seem the quintessential Ulster Cycle story, its antiquity is open to doubt. Every other important figure of the Ulster Cycle - Ailill, Medb and Cet of the Connachta; Conchobar, Fergus, Loegure, Conall Cernach and all the Ulaid warriors- is present; but CuChulain is not only absent, he is not even mentioned. One could argue (as Cross and Slover does it above) that CuChulain is a late addition to the traditions of the Ulaid and that this story predates his arrival. There are, however, other puzzling elements. The pig of the title is so large that forty oxen can be laid across it; such a beast could be mythic in origin, but it could also be satiric. In 'The Cattle Raid of Cuailnge', Ulaid and Connachta go to war over a mythic beast, the finest bull in Ireland; in this tale, the two provinces fall out over a dog. Macc Da Tho promises the dog to both Ulaid and Connachta, then feigns innocence when they show up to collect on the same day. During the bragging contest for the right to carve the pig, the Ulaid warriors - the heroes of any ordinary Ulster Cycle story - not only are shamed but are made to look ridiculous: Loegure has been speared and chased from the border, Oengus's father has had his left hand cut off, Eogan has had an eye put out, and so on. And Fer Loga's demand that the nubile women of Ulaid sing 'Fer Loga Is My Darling' to him every night is so comical its inclusion cannot possibly be inadvertent. Some of the rhetorical verse is old and obscure; but it is hard to resist the conclusion that 'The Tale of Macc Da Thó's Pig' is a later story, a parody of the Ulster Cycle in general and of 'The Cattle Raid of Cuailnge' in particular. # 166 - 236
Danaan king, husband of Eriu. Mythical name of the Son of the Sun. # 562
MAC IND OC
(moc' in og') See: ANGUS.
MAC KERVAL, DERMOT
Rule of Dermot mac Kerval in Ireland, and the cursing of Tara. See: DERMOT. # 562
Pseudo-Ossian poetry by Mac Pherson. # 562
Maeve's steward named Mac Roth, and the Brown Bull of Quelgny. He said to Maeve: 'The Brown Bull of Quelgny, that belongs to Dara son of Fachtna, is the mightiest beast that is in Ireland'. And after that Maeve felt as if she had no flocks and herds that were worth anything at all unless she possessed the Brown Bull of Quelgny. The Brown Bull is the Celtic counterpart of the Hindu sky-deity, Indra, represented in Hindu myth as a mighty bull, whose roaring is the thunder and who lets loose the rains 'like cows streaming forth to pasture.' # 562
(mak-kha) An aspect of the Morrighan. Macha herself appeared in three guises:
- Macha, wife of Nemed;
- Macha the Red,
- Macha, wife of Crunnchu.
The last mentioned was the silent wife of a farmer who came from the Otherworld. She imposed one condition upon her husband - that he should not mention her to anyone. The king boasted that his horses were the swiftest but Crunnchu said that Macha was faster. She was made to run a circuit against the horses when she was about to give birth. She won the race, and after delivering her two children, cursed Ulster saying that when its greatest need was upon it, all its warriors would suffer the weakness of a woman in childbirth for five days and four nights, to the ninth generation. It was so that CuChulain defended Ulster single-handed, because he was not descended from the stock of Ulster. Emain Macha (The Twins of Macha in the centre at the foundation of the kingdom of Ulster) was named after her, and the name is redolent to the Irish student of legendary splendour and heroism. Macha the Red was the battle-aspect of the Morrigan and it was upon the Pole of Macha that the heads of slaughtered men were stuck. The legend of Macha tells that she was the daughter of Red Hugh, an Ulster prince who had two brothers, Dithorba and Kimbay. They agreed to enjoy, each in turn, the sovereignty of Ireland. Red Hugh came first, but on his death Macha refused to give up the realm and fought Dithorba for it, whom she conquered and slew. She then, in equally masterful manner, compelled Kimbay to wed her, and ruled all Ireland as Queen. Macha was no mere woman, but a supernatural being offering support for the worthy, but cursed the unworthy with magical spells. One of the triple forms taken by the ancient Irish war goddess Badb.
All are in the shape of Royston or hoodie crows. Macha is a fairy that 'riots and revels among the slain', as Evans Wentz puts it in his analysis of Badb's triple form. # 100 - 166 - 367 - 439 - 454 - 562
See: MAXEN WLEDIG.
A king in PERLESVAUS, who, after the death of Guinevere, demanded that Arthur yield him the Round Table as he was Guinevere's relation; otherwise, he required Arthur to marry his sister. He was twice defeated by Lancelot. # 112 - 156
In the poem YMDDIDDAN ARTHUR A'R ERYR, Arthur's nephew, Eliwlod, appears in the shape of an eagle. Eliwlod's father is called Madoc, implying that Madoc was Arthur's brother-in-law. A possible reference to Madoc, son of Uther, appears in the BOOK OF TALIESIN. A Madoc or Maduc appears as an opponent of Arthur in French romance. See: TALIESIN. # 156
MADOC AP OWAIN GWYNEDD
A Welsh prince who discovered America in the twelfth century. Southey wrote a long poem about this legend. George Catlin, the nineteenthcentury artist who lived among the indians of the Mid-West, found supposed traces of European ancestors among their customs. # 454
# 156: A Knight of the Round Table and Grail quester, surnamed de la Porte (of the Door). In EACHTRA MHELORA he is called the son of the King of the Hesperides.
# 454: Cousin of Sir Patrice, a knight who was murdered, his death blamed on Guinevere. In fury and anguish at his cousin's death he challenges the knights who defend the Queen, but fortunately the real culprit is discovered and slain by Lancelot, and Guinevere willingly forgives her would-be accuser. # 156 - 418 - 454
(fifth century) She was said to be the daughter of Vortimer, Vortigern's son who fled with her son Ceidio, from Caerwent to Cornwall where she died. Her story may be vaguely derived from the lost myth of Modron. Madrun is depicted fleeing from battle carrying her son. Her feast-day is 9 April. # 454
MAELDUIN, THE VOYAGE OF
The Immram upon which the CELTIC BOOK OF THE DEAD is based is Immram curaig Maelduin inso or The Voyage of Maelduin's boat. This text was transcribed in the eight or ninth century, although later transcriptions exist. Apart from the VOYAGE OF BRAN, it is the earliest immram story. Many incidents in the VOYAGE OF ST BRENDAN are reworkings of scenarios found in the Maelduin story. The son of a nun who was raped by his father, Ailill Edge of Battle. He desired to go in search of his father's murderers, and so made a skin-boat and sailed on a great voyage among the Blessed Islands q.v. where he encountered many islands q.v., including Tir na mBan, where he and his crew would have stayed, but for their homesickness for Ireland. Many of the islands are similar to those visited by Brendan. See: BRAN, and BRENDAN, and ISLANDS, and BLESSED ISLANDS. # 282 - 416 - 437 p 18 ff - # 454
The name of a stone which can no longer be identified which had a hollow in it where Arthur's horse had stepped. It was in the vicinity of Mold (Clwyd). Another stone called Maen Arthur Wood near Llanafan (Dyfed). # 156
# 562: Queen of Connacht; Angus Og seeks aid of Maeve; debility of Ultonians manifested on occasion of Cattle-raid of Quelgny; Fergus seeks aid of Maeve; her famous bull Finnbenach, and her efforts to secure the Brown Bull of Quelgny; host of Maeve spreads devastation through the territories of Bregia and Murthemney; she offers her daughter Findabair of Fair Eyebrows to Ferdia if he will meet CuChulain; Conor summons men of Ulster against Maeve; She is overtaken but spared by CuChulain; she makes seven years peace with Ulster; vengeance of Maeve against CuChulain; Maeve retires to island of Loch Ryve; she is slain by Forbay.
# 454: She was originally the woman of Conchobar whom she left for Ailill. She coveted the Brown Bull owned by the Ulsterman Daire. When he refused to give it to her she appointed the disaffected Ulster warrior, Fergus mac Roigh to attack Ulster. They succeeded in their attempt to raid the Bull because the Ulstermen were suffering from the debility brought upon them by Macha's curse. Only CuChulain was able to hold the ford against them and he was eventually killed by the help of the daughters of Calatin. Maeve was renowned for her lust for men, taking her lovers indiscriminately. In antiquity she may have represented the earthly Sovereignty in her own person.
# 769: Medb's very promiscuity marks her as a goddess, symbolic of the fertility of Ireland. She is the personification of the land itself and its prosperity. Other indications of her divinity include her ability to shape-shift between young girl and aged hag: in the story of Niall of the Nine Hostages, Medb appears to Niall as a crone guarding a well. She gives him water, and he agrees to mate with her; she is immediately transformed into a beautiful young woman, who grants him the kingship of Ireland. The goddess of sovereignty could also be a deity of death, and Medb possesses this characteristic also. She brings about the death of CuChulain and of her own husband Ailill, infuriated (though hardly fairly) by his infidelity. She incites the former Ulster hero, Conall Cernach, to murder him on the Feast of Beltaine. Medb has other supranormal traits: she has animal attributes, in the form of a bird and a squirrel who perch on her shoulder; she can run very fast; and she is able to deprive men of their strength simply by her presence.
Medb's death is described in an 11th century text: she is killed by her nephew, Furbaidhe, whose mother, Clothra, has been murdered by Medb. Her death is somewhat bizarre: she is killed by a sling-shot with a lump of hard cheese. # 100 - 166 - 266 - 367 - 454 - 562 - 769
(môy) A plain. # 166
(môy bräg) 'The Plain of Bray'. A district formerly comprising most of eastern Meath; said to have been named after Breaga, son of Breogan and uncle of Mil. # 166
The pleasant plain in which gods and immortal heroes lived and sported. Manannan speaks of it to Bran mac Febal as the 'plains' of the sea wherein otherworldly folk move as on land: its fish are its flocks, its vegetation are its forests, while its chariots are ships. The fairy Otherworld; a beautiful land of perpetual spring and sunshine, the Land of Youth (Tir na n-Og). # 166 - 434 - 454
The great plain: the heartland of the gods where men and maidens lived together without shame, where music always sounded, where possessions were unknown and where the ale was more intoxicating than the best produced in Ireland. # 454
(môy moor'hev ni) A plain extending from the River Boyne to the mountains of Cualgne; CuChulain's inheritance. # 166
MAG TURED, THE SECOND BATTLE OF
The central heroic tale of the group dealing with the Tuatha De Danann and the so-called Mythological Cycle is THE SECOND BATTLE OF MAG TURED (MOYTURA). The text, though not so early in date as most of the stories of the Ulster cycle, still preserves much of the rugged strength and directness for which the older tales are admired. It also exhibits something of the rough exaggerated humor of the earlier texts. The diversity of material, the repetitions, and the contradictions all go to show thet the story as we now have it is a compilation made up of a number of independent narratives. # 166
Daughter of Angus Og, wife of Ross the Red. Also wedded to Druid Cathbad. # 562
# 160: Celtic magic is an ancient practice firmly rooted in the Celtic pantheon, Nature and the Elements, and just the words Celtic Magic conjure up pictures of Druids and mystical oak groves, daring Irish warriors existing cheek to cheek with fairies, elves and ancient deities who took an active part in the lives of their worshippers.
# 562: Traces of magic found in Megalithic monuments. Clan Calatin learn magic in Ireland. Alba and Babylon magic to practise against CuChulain.
# 612: The tradition of the arcane and the mysterious cleaves to certain races so naturally as to make it seem an inherent and inalienable possession. The magic of Arabia, the secret doctrines of India and the runic mysteries of Scandinavia are salient expressions of racial affinity with the mystical and the marvellous. But to na race, Lewis Spence maintain, was it given to cultivate a higher or keener sense of spiritual vision or of the fantastically remote than to the Celtic. It has indeed justified the claim by the production of a literature which casts back to the seventh and eighth centuries of our era, and is unsurpassed in fantasy and weirdly delicate invention. Later Celtic popular stories and folk-tales reflect and continue this distinction in the primitive yet brilliant simplicity and remote strangeness of their subject-matter and narrative quality. And as if unexhausted by the conception in its Irish sphere of a series of sagas unmatched for magical charm among the world's mythologies, the Celtic tradition addressed itself in its later heyday in the island of Britain to the transformation of these older materials into a body of romance which, because of its noble excellence, its amazement of marvel and incident and its almost divine sentiment of chivalry, made every land in Europe its spiritual tributary. To the Celtic sense of wonder and the generous ideals which accompanied it as expressed in the Arthurian epic, the folk of the Empire of Britain, both in these islands and in the Britain oversea, are vastly more indebted than even the wisest among us suspects. The writers of antiquity were at one in realizing the native superiority of the Celtic mind in the science of Magic. Pliny remarks that the Britain of his day (the first among the new centuries) "celebrates them with such ceremonies that it might seem possible that she taught Magic to trhe Persians". Diodorus Siculus, Timagenes, Hippolytus and Clement of Alexandria were unanimous in believing that Pythagoras had received his mystical philosophy from the Celtic priests of Gaul, rather than they from him. Valerius Maximus, in the Second Book of his 'Stromata', issues a warning that if one should jeer at the notions of the Druids respecting immotality, he must also laugh at those of Pythagoras.
The ancient world was assuredly almost as deeply impressed by the doctrines and mysteries of ancient Britain as it was by those of Egypt or Chaldea. In the pages of THE MAGIC ART AMONG THE CELTS, Lewis Spence indicate that a very complete system of Magic, associated with a definite body of mystical dogma and arcane thought, was practised by the Magi of ancient Britain and Ireland is apparent from trustworthy evidence. # 160 - 562 - 612
Those learned men who, like Dr Dee, stretched the area of their learning to include magic and intercourse with spirits. Some of them restricted their studies to theurgic magic, in which they approached God by intensive prayer, and sought intercourse with angels; others called up the spirits of the dead in a kind of refinement of necromancy called 'sciomancy'. A step lower was to reanimate a corpse- true necromancy - as Edward Kelly was said to have done. Others engaged in more dangerous experiments still and tried to call up devils and confine them into a stone or magic circle. This was an exeedingly tedious, and was felt to be a highly dangerous, proceeding, for if the spirit raised succeeded in frightening the magician to the edge of his ring, so that a step backward would cause a fold of his robe or the heel of his foot to protrude, he would be liable to be seized and carried down to Hell. It was tediousness and danger of these efforts to control the Devil that induced some magicians to take the last step down the slippery slope and sign the Diabolic Contract, thus becoming Wizards. There was an alternative to raising devils, and that was 'Traffic with the Fairies', of which we have mentions in the Scottish witch trials and in the North of England. To the Puritans as a whole, all fairies were devils, but the country people generally took a more lenient view of the 'Good Neighbours.'#100
(1075-1116) Earl of Orkney. When King Magnus Barefoot of Norway invaded Orkney, Magnus fled to Scotland, returning when the king died. However, his cousin Haakon was in possession of Orkney. The rival earls decided to divide the islands between them. After a few years of uneasy peace, a conference was called on Egilsay, each earl bringing an equal shipload of retainers. It was clear that Haakon intended to murder Magnus, and Haakon's cook, Lifolf, was bidden to strike the blow. Magnus is remembered on 16 April. # 108 - 454
The most 'talkative' of birds, the magpie was often credited with oracular announcements and the communication of secrets to those who could understand the mystical bird language. Like other relatives of the crow, magpies could learn to imitate human speech when kept in captivity. For centuries the chattering of magpies was said to foreshadow the arrival of guests. Two or more magpies prophesied a happy occasion; one magpie meant sorrow. The bird was sacred to 'MAGOG.' # 701 p 404
MAID OF THE NARROW WOOD
She fell in love with Gawain but, when the latter did not reciprocate her sentiments, she tried to kill him. # 156
The country where Lancelot was raised by his foster-mother, a waterfairy. It parallels the Irish Celtic Otherworld land called Tir na mBan (Land of Women). See: JOHFRIT DE LIEZ. # 156 - 686
One of the two characters into whom the Fisher King was divided in the VULGATE VERSION. He is called Parlan, Pelleam, Pellehan or Pelles. His injury was variously ascribed to a wound by Balin or to a punishment for drawing the Sword of Strange Hangings. # 156
(ma'ni) A name borne by seven sons of Ailill and Medb (Maeve). # 166
A wizard who said he would free Guinevere from the clutches of Valerin if given Erec and Gawain as prisoners. He freed Guinevere and duly received the prisoners but they were rescued by Lancelot. # 156 - 710
Wife of Bruno le Noir (La Cote Mail-Taile) who begins by accompanying him on a dangerous adventure rebuking him mercilessly all the time for his ragged and ill-fitting clothes and apparent lack of money. In the end she falls in love with him, and perhaps as the similar tale of Gareth and Linet should have ended, marries him. Her name, which means 'ill speech' clearly reflects her acid tongue. # 454
See: KING WITH A HUNDRED KNIGHTS.
A city of Arthurian Britain. The Lord of Malehaut was called Danain the Red. His wife, Bloie, the Lady of Malehaut, was the lover of Galehot and the mother of Dodinel. Elsewhere, Noie is called Eglante, see Dodinel. The city was supposedly in the realm of the King with a Hundred Knights. # 156
MALMESBURY, WILLIAM OF
Here follow the author, William of Malmesbury's epistle¹ to Robert Earl of Gloucester, Son of King Henry the First.² To my respected lord, the renowned earl Robert, son of the king, greeting; and, if aught they may avail, his prayers, from William, monk of Malmesbury. The virtue of celebrated men holds forth as its greatest excellence, its tendency to excite the love of persons even far removed from it: hence the lower classes make the virtues of their superiors their own, by venerating those great actions to the practice of which they themselves cannot aspire. Moreover it redounds altogether to the glory of exalted characters, both that they do good, and that they gain the affection of their inferiors. To you therefore, princes, it is owing that we act well; To you, indeed, that we compose anything worthy of remembrance: your exertions incite us to make you live for ever in our writings, in return for the dangers which you undergo to secure our tranquillity. For this reason I have deemed it proper to dedicate the History of the Kings of England, which I have lately published, more especially to you, my respected and truly amiable lord. None surely can be a more suitable patron of the liberal arts than yourself, in whom combine the magnanimity of your grandfather, the munificence of your uncle,³ the circumspection of your father; more especially as you add to the qualities of these men, whom while you equal in industry, you resemble in person, this characteristic peculiarly your own, a devotion to learning. Nor is this all: you even condescend to honour with your notice, those literary characters who are kept in obscurity either by the malevolence of fame, or the slenderness of their fortune. And as our nature inclines us not to condemn in others what we approve in ourselves, therefore men of learning find in you manners which are congenial to their own; for, without the slightest indication of moroseness, you regard them with kindness, admit them with complacency, and dismiss them with regret.* Indeed, the greatness of your fortune has made no difference in you, except that your beneficence can now almost keep pace with your inclination. Accept then, most illustrious sir, a work in which you may contemplate yourself as in a glass, where your highness's sagacity will discover that you have imitated the actions of the most exalted characters, even before you could have heard their names. The preface to the first book declares the contents of the work; on deigning to peruse which, you will briefly collect the whole subject-matter. Thus much I must request from your excellency, that no blame may attach to me because my narrative often wanders wide from the limits of England, since I design this as a compendium of many histories, although, with reference to the larger portion of it, I have entitled it an 'History of the Kings of England.'
¹ In two MSS. (D.E.) this dedication occurs at the end of the third book; in two others (C.K.) it appears at the commencement of the work; but in others (A.G.H.L.) it is not found at all. ² Robert earl of Gloucester was one of the natural children of Henry I. He married Maud, or Mabell as she is sometimes called, the eldest co-heir of Robert Fitz-Hamon, and in her right had the honour of Gloucester. He died on the 31st of October, 1147. Dugd.Baron i. 534. ³ An allusion probably to Robert duke of Normandy, to whose munificence Malmesbury more than once alludes in this work. * V. R. 'with presents.' # 731
MAN, ISLE OF
In Arthurian times, this island was ruled by various Celtic kings about whom we know very little. According to Arthurian romance, Gromer, an enchanted knight, became King of Man with the help of Gawain. It was at Castle Rushden on the island that Merlin was said to have defeated giants and buried them in the caves beneath the castle. There has been a recent attempt to identify the Isle of Man with Avalon. # 156 - 255
MANANNAN MAC LIR
# 166: (mö'nan an moc ler') # 454: The sea-deity of Ireland, older than the Tuatha de Danaan, although he is reckoned as one of them. He prepared the Sidhe for their occupation after the coming of the sons of Miled. He was the foster-father of many gods including Lugh. He lost his wife, Fand to CuChulain. He became the father of Mongan, his earthly incarnation, by visiting Caintigerna in the shape of her husband, Fiachna. He is the guardian of the Blessed Islands: these have been identified with the Isle of Arran (Emain Abhlach) and the Isle of Man. In his crane-bag, he kept the earliest forms of the Hallows, including his magical coracle and the cup of truth, which Cormac journeyed to find. In the Irish version of Nennius, Manannan is mentioned as one of the Grail guardians with Pryderi. He was a great shape-shifter and nightvisitor of women, often assuming the shape of a sea-bird or heron. He is analogous to Manawyddan.
# 628: In Irish tradition the best-documented sea god is Manannan mac Lir, whose name means, simply, Manannan Son of the Sea. He may be relatively local to the Isle of Man area, and is not an overall ocean god. He is also called Barinthus. A primal god of the ocean deeps, who is also associated with stellar navigation. In the VITA MERLINI he ferries the wounded King Arthur, accompanied by the prophet Merlin and the bard Taliesin, to the Otherworld for his cure.
# 562: The magical boat with Horse of Manannan, and sword Fragarach, brought by Lugh from the Land of the Living. He is the most popular deity in Irish mythology. The Lord of Sea beyond which Land of Youth or Islands of the Dead were supposed to lie. The Cymric deity Manawyddan corresponds with Irish Manannan. # 166 - 416 - 454 - 469 - 562 - 628 p 74 ff and 120 ff.
(man-OW-eeth-an) # 156: The son of Llyr. He is mentioned in CULHWCH as a follower of Arthur, but is in origin a Celtic sea-god corresponding to the Irish Manannan mac Lir. The MABINOGION calls him the brother of Bendigeid Vran (Bran the Blessed). # 454: He was left landless on the death of Bran and became the husband of Rhiannon. He helped break the enchantments upon Dyfed, caused by Llwyd in revenge for Gwawl's rough treatment at the hands of Rhiannon's first husband, Pwyll. Manawyddan is a man of cunning and a master craftsman, able to earn his own living when the land is enchanted. As instructor and man of power, he stands in the place of father to Pryderi, and inherits the qualities of Pwyll. # 104-156-272 - 346 - 439 - 454
A continuator of Chrétien de Troyes # 562
MANÉ ER H'OECK
Remarkable tumulus in Brittany. # 562
Seven outlawed sons of Ailill and Maeve, who rallies to Maeve's foray against Ulster. # 562
The King of Moraine, he sent Caradoc a horn which would expose any infidelity on the part of his wife. # 156 - 604
MANTLE OF INVISIBILITY
Arthur's mantle became one of the Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain. # 104 - 156
See: MAN, ISLE OF
(may'un) Son of Ailill. Brutal treatment of Maon by Covac; has revenge on Ailill by slaying him and all his nobles; weds Moriath and reigns over Ireland; equivalent, 'Labra the Mariner.' # 562
# 156: An early Celtic god, son of Matrona, the original of Mabon in Arthurian lore. # 454: Dedications to him occur as far apart as Gaul and Dumfriesshire. He assimilated the attributes of Apollo and appears on a relief with Diana, who is likely to have taken on the attributes of Modron in that locality. # 156 - 264 - 439 - 454 - 563
An old English name for a demon, which survives in 'night-mare' and 'mare's nest'. Gillian Edwards, in HOBGOBLIN AND SWEET PUCK, discussing the origin of 'Mirryland', mentioned in ballads and sometimes in the witch trials, accepts D. A. Mackenzie's explanation of it as deriving from 'Mera'.
# 100 - 202
A character who appears on the Arthurian bas-relief in Modena Cathedral where he is represented on the battlements with Winlogee (possibly Guinevere). He may be identical with Mordred. # 156 - 238
King of Ireland and father of Marhaus (according to Malory). The chronology in Malory is a little odd: when Marhaus fought Tristan he was the brother-in-law of the Irish King Anguish, yet only later does his father, Marhalt, ascend the throne. One wonders if names such as Marhalt and Marhaus might preserve some genuine memory of the fifth-century King of Tara, Muircheartach I. # 156
The brother of Iseult, slain by Tristan in combat. Malory tells us that, prior to this, he had been a follower of Arthur and had killed the giant, Taulurd. Gottfried supplies us with the information that he was a duke and Eisner feels that his combat with Tristan was based on that of Theseus and the Minotaur. He had sons named Amoroldo and Golistant. See also: MARHALT. # 156 - 204 - 256 - 418
MARIE DE FRANCE
Anglo-Norman poetess. Sources relating to the Arthurian saga in writings of Marie de France. # 562
An early King of Britain, and according to Geoffrey of Monmouth, the son of Arviragus. See: SODRIC. # 156
The steward of Mark, at first friendly towards Tristan, but, when he discovered Tristan's intrigue with Iseult, he turned against him. # 156 - 256
# 156: 1. King of Cornwall, uncle of Tristan and husband of Iseult. He is generally presented as something of a tyrant, Malory calling him 'bad King Mark'. In Welsh his name (March) means a horse and Beroul informs us he had horse's ears - a characteristic he shares with other legendary personages. THE DREAM OF RHONABWY tells us that he was Arthur's cousin while, in the TRIADS we learn that Tristan was his swineherd. In the story of Tristan, Mark did not find out for some time of his nephew's affair with his wife. One version says that, on the deaths of the lovers, Mark had them interred in a single grave. However, in Malory, Mark is the slayer of Tristan.
The question arises as to whether Mark was identical with a historical Cornish ruler called Cunomerus, who reigned also on the far side of the channel in Brittany. The ancient inscription on a stone at Castle Dor (Cornwall) may read (though this is uncertain) Drustans hic iacit Cunomori filius (Here lies Tristan, son of Cunomorus). If the reading is accurate, it may mean that, in the original version, Tristan was more closely related to Mark than subsequent story tellers were prepared to allow. The writer Wrmonoc says Cunomorus was also called Mark and he may have thought him identical with March, son of Meirchiaun, King of Glamorgan. A story tells that this Cunomorus had been warned that one of his sons would kill him, so he murdered his wives when they become pregnant. One wife, Trephina, daughter of Warok, chief of the Venetii, actually gave birth before Cunomorus had her decapitated. However, he performed this task after the birth and her son (Judval or Tremeur, apparently identical) was left to die. Gildas restored Trephina to life. They went back to the castle (Trephina carrying her head) and the battlements fell on Cunomorus, killing him. At a more prosaic historical level, we are told that Cunomorus supported Chramm, son of the Frankish King Clothair, in a rebellion in which both he and Chramm fell (AD 560). However, M. Dillon and N. K. Chadwick state that Cunomorus fell while fighting people who had rebelled against him. King Mark lives on in Breton tradition. He is thought to ride a winged horse (MORMARC'H) when the sea off Penmarc'h (Mark's head, a headland in Brittany) is stormy.
2. King of Glamorgan. See: LABIANE, and MERCHIAUN. # 55 - 156 - 194 - 243 - 418 - 484
The son of Ogier and Morgan Le Fay; hence, Arthur's nephew. # 156
# 548:In medieval Ireland and Wales, the most highly esteemed form of Marriage was a contract between consenting kin-groups - marriage 'by gift of kin' (as it is termed in the Welsh laws) - and between partners of comparable status, with proper arrangements about marriage payments. Abductions were known and there were procedures whereby such faits accomplis could be legalized, but these were inferior kinds of marriage. Similarly in more recent centuries, although temporary marriages and other irregular unions existed, the approved union, even among the common people, was a 'match' negotiated by two families. There was shrewd bargaining over brideprice and dowry, and a 'good match' in the material sense seems to have counted more than mutual attraction between bride and bridegroom. How different are the marriages of mythology! Just as the hero's birth has an outward resemblance to the most disgraceful births in human society, so does his marriage have more in common with abductions and elopements than with the socially approved forms of marriage. Yet some wedding customs express attitudes towards marriage which are strangely reminiscent of the stories we have related.
As a counterpart to the sober contract, there are displays of mock-hostility. Gates are tied and rope-barriers and other obstacles impede the bridegroom's progress to church and his return with his bride, and forfeits must be paid for safe conduct. Hostile powers threatening the success of the marriage must be banished with gunshots. In parts of Ireland, on the day of bringing home the bride, the bridegroom and his friends would ride out and meet the bride and her friends at the place of treaty. 'Having come near to each other, the custom was of old to cast short darts at the company that attended the bride, but at such a distance that seldom any hurt ensued; yet it is not out of the memory of man that the Lord of Howth, on such an occasion, lost an eye.' This brings to mind the spear-throwing contest in CULHWCH AND OLWEN, while the escape with the bride in the tales is recalled by Lady Wilde's description of the bride 'placed on a swift horse before the bridegroom while all her kindred started in pursuit with shouts and cries.' # 209 - 548 - 669 - 728 - 751
# 156: One of the Knights of the Round Table whose wife changed him into a werewolf for seven years. # 454: She, it seems, discovered his secret, and he had to hide his clothes until he was ready to turn back into a human being. She stole them and Marrok was a wolf until Arthur discovered him behaving in a very unwolf-like manner and brought him home. Here the wolf was gentle with all save his wife and her lover. She was then forced to confess and Marrok was given back his clothing, whereupon he returned to his natural shape. It is made clear that he was not the kind of werewolf normally written about, but simply a man who, perhaps under enchantment, turned into a wolf at night. # 156 - 454
# 454: He was a particularly popular god in Roman Britain, with both native and occupying peoples alike, so that his name appears linked with that of native deities embodying similar characteristics, e.g. Mars Loucetius (Brilliant), or Mars Rigonemetis (King of the Sacred Grove), Mars forsakes his classical attributes, reverting instead of the original Italian attributes as a god of vegetation and agriculture. In Britain he is also associated with healing and sometimes appears as the Triple Mars - a truly Celtic idea - complete with ram-headed snakes, the attributes of Cernunnos. He is often partnered by Nemetona. # 265 - 454 - 563
MARY, THE BLESSED VIRGIN
England has been traditionally known as Mary's Dowry for centuries. The claim to this title is not difficult to discover, since Joseph of Arimathea founded the first Christian church at Glastonbury - a humble edifice of wattles which was dedicated to Our Lady Mary. He was also, according to variant legends, supposed to have brought Mary with him to England after the death and resurrection of her son. The other focus of her cult was at Walsingham where in 1061, Lady Richeldis had a vision of Mary which commanded her to build a replica of Mary's house in Nazareth. This shrine became the pilgrimage centre of England up until the Reformation when the image of the Virgin was destroyed. The shrine is now operative again and drawing almost as many pilgrims as in the Middle Ages where its reputation for answering prayer has not failed. The healing well still dispenses its waters. The Milky Way became known as the Walsingham Way. # 454
# 454: Son of Mathonwy and uncle to Gwydion, Gilfaethwy and Arianrhod, and brother of Penardun. He was omniscient, among other skills, the strange gift of hearing everything that was said if once the winds got hold of it, was a property also attributed to him. He was full of wisdom, a great king. In MATH, SON OF MATHONWY (The MABINOGION), he can only live when his feet are in the lap of a virgin footholder. Goewin. War causes him to abandon this mode of living temporarily and Goewin is raped by Gilfaethwy. Math marries her to assuage her shame, and punishes his nephews, Gilfaethwy and Gwydion, by causing them to assume various animal disguises. It is with his help that Gwydion makes Blodeuwedd out of flowers, as a bride for Llew, his great-grandson. # 104 - 272 - 439 - 454 - 562
(math-ol-ook) King of Ireland who comes to Prydein, seeking Branwen's hand in marriage. His and Branwen's wedding celebrated at Aberffraw, where Efnissien mutilates his horses. Among other gifts, Bran gives a maigic cauldron to Matholwc. He is ill-treating Branwen, which cause Bran to invade Ireland, where Matholwc is defeated and deposed in favour of his son, Gwern. See: BRAN, and EFNISSIEN, and GWERN. # 272 - 439 - 454 - 562
(math-ON-wee) Two great divine houses or families are discernible that of Don, a mother-goddess representing the Gaelic Dana), whose husband is Beli, the Irish Bilé, god of Death, and whose descendants are the Children of Light; and the house of Llyr, the Gaelic Lir, who were represents, not a Danaan deity, but something more like the Irish Fomorians. As in the case of the Irish myth, the two families are allied by intermarriage - Penardun, a daughter of Don, is wedded to Llyr. Don herself has a brother, Math, whose name signifies wealth or treasure (cf. Greek Pluton, ploutos), and they descend from a figure indistinctly characterised, called MATHONWY. # 562
MATIèRE DE FRANCE
Source of Round Table and chivalric institutions ascribed to Arthur's court. # 562
See: MOTHERS, THE.
An early goddess of the Celts, worshipped in Britain and Gaul where her name survives in the River Marne, near the source of which she had a sanctuary (#102). It is thought that she is the original of Morgan.#156-187
MATTER OF BRITAIN, THE
The Arthurian legends were first called 'The Matter of Britain' by a twelft-century French poet, Jean Bodel, who spoke of 'those idle and pleasant tales of Britain' (Chanson des Saisnes, edited by Michel, Paris, 1939 vols. ff.). He treated them frankly as legendary, but they had been thought of as genuine history as early as the year 679 by Nennius of South Wales in his HISTORIA BRITONUM. He speaks of 'the warrior Arthur', and gives a list of the twelve battles in which he was victorious, ending with Mount Badon, where Arthur slew 960 men in one onslaught; 'no one laid them low save he'. Professor Collingwood in his book ROMAN BRITAIN came to the conclusion that Arthur was an actual warrior who led a picked band, armed and deployed in the almost forgotten manner, to aid whatever king was in need of his services against invading Saxons. By Nennius' time, however, it is plain that legend had been at work, and indeed Nennius, among his 'wonders' gives us a real piece of Celtic tradition in the mark left by Arthur's foot in his legendary hunting of the boar Troynt with his dog Cabal. As early as 1090 the Celtic traditions of Arthur had spread even down into Italy, and many children were baptized by tha name of Artus.
By the year 1113, the sixth-century warrior Arthur had become a King of Fairy, one of the sleeping warriors whose return was confidently expected. At that date a riot broke out in Bodmin church. Some monks of Laon, visiting Cornwall on a collecting expedition, were shown King Arthur's chair and oven and their servants openly mocked the Cornishmen's belief that Arthur was still alive and would return to help his countrymen. The sacredness of the place in which they spoke did not prevent a furious retaliation. It is of these beliefs that William of Malmesbury, a serious and scholarly historian, wrote a few years later in his GESTA REGUM ANGLORUM (Exploits of the English Kings, 1125), 'He is the Arthur about whom the Britons rave in empty words, but who in truth is worthy to be the subject not of deceitful tales and dreams, but of true history.' The mythological treatment of the Matter of Britain is clearly shown in the tale of 'Culhwch and Olwen' from the Red Book of Hergest, a part of the MABINOGION. Here we have a god-like king surrounded by a lesser pantheon of knights with special and magical skills, very much like the atmosphere to many of the early Irish folktales. Something of this was known, as we have seen, outside the Celtic folk-tales, but it received comparatively little attention until in 1135 Geoffrey of Monmouth launched it as serious history in LIBELLUS MERLINI, afterwards incorporated into his HISTORIA REGUM BRITANNIAE. This hit the popular taste between wind and water, in spite of the horrified protests of such serious historians as William of Newbridge and Giraldus Cambrensis. R. F. Treharne in THE GLASTONBURY LEGENDS has pointed out how well suited Geoffrey's treatment was to catch the taste of the tough fighting men of his period, and how it became modified in the gentler and more civilized society of the later twelfth and thirteenth centuries, so that the idea of a gentleman was evolved in the writings of Marie de France in England and Chrétien de Troyes in France, and in the works of many anonymous poets and prose writers. Geoffrey of Monmouth brought nationalistic fervour, delight in combat and a simple pleasure in magic into his historical background, but the later authors introduced their countrymen to chivalry and the idea of gentleness; and it was in a fairy world that they both moved. # 100 - 250 - 494 - 682 - 732 - 733
MAXEN WLEDIG MACSEN WLEDIG MAXIMUS
A Roman emperor, Magnus Maximus (AD 383-88), known in Welsh tradition as Macsen Wledig (oo'le-dig). He was said by Geoffrey - who calls him Maximianus - to have made Conan Meriadoc the ruler of Brittany. In the DREAM OF MAXEN, the Emperor dreams of an unknown woman with whom he falls in love. Messengers eventually report her existence in Cymru so that he leaves Rome in order to marry her. She is Elen. The historical Maximus, underlying the legend, did indeed serve in Britain, but took many troops away from the island in his struggles against his rival Western Emperor, Gratian, thus leaving Britain unprotected. Traces of fact remain in the legend: the Welsh retained his name where it appears in many genealogies of noble families as an imperial connection. The leaving Roman soldiers, took with them foreign wives, but, it is said, cut out their tongues, lest they should corrupt the speech of the Britons. Thus early and thus powerful was the devotion to their tongue of the Cymry. # 32 - 104 - 156 - 243 - 272 - 346 - 454 - 562
See: MAY EVE and: BELTAINE.
MAY EVE MAY DAY
# 701: May Eve was known as Beltain or Beltane to the Celts. The presiding deity was the Goddess Flora also known as The Maiden. The festival celebrated her virgin or 'flower' aspect, harbinger of the fruit to come. It was a time of 'Wearing of the Green', in honor of Earth's new green garment, as well as a time of sexual licence, symbolizing nature's fertilization: a honey-moon when marriage bonds were temporarily forgotten and sexual freedom prevailed. # 562: Sacred to Beltane, the day which Sons of Miled began conquest of Ireland. In the story of Lludd and Llevelys, one of the three plagues were a fearful scream that was heard in every home in Britain on May Eve. See: LLUD AND LLEVELYS. # 562 - 701 p 186
# 701: The Maypole was a pagan symbol for the May King's phallus, traditionally set up for the festivities of Beltane (May Eve) that initiated the new season of growth and fertility, and "wearing of the green" in imitation of Mother Earth's new green cloak. The Maypole dance was the origin of the square dancer's Grand Right and Left, as men and women alternately passed in and out of each others circles, winding the ribbons around the pole.
# 162: Originally it was the sacred pine of Attis which was taken in procession, or on a chariot, to the temple of Cybele and set up for veneration; it was followed by men, women and children and dances were performed round it. Later this ceremony appeared in the May Day celebrations of the May Queen and the Green Man. The ribbons of the maypole are also suggested as the bands of wool bound round the Attis pine. The entire ceremony is symbolic of renewed life, sexual union, resurrection and Spring.# 162 - 701
According to Wolfram, Arthur's great-grandfather and also an ancestor of Perceval. He was a fairy, husband of Terdelaschoye. # 156 - 748
MAZE, SAFFRON WALDEN
See: SAFFRON WALDEN MAZE.
Fergus in his battle-fury strikes off the tops of MAELA of Meath, so that they are flat-topped (mael) to this day. See also: MIDE. # 562
(maev) See: MEDB, and MAEVE.
He was the Morrigan's son. He was killed by Ogma's son, because of a prophesy which said that he would ruin Ireland. This was due to his three hearts out of which three serpents would hatch, devastating the land.#166-454
(mayv) Daughter of Eochaid Fedlech, High King of Ireland; queen of Connacht; wife of Ailill mac Matach. See also: MAEVE. # 166
The religions of 'primitive' peoples mostly centre on, or take their rise from, rites and practices connected with the burial of the dead. The earliest people inhabiting Celtic territory in the West of Europe of whom we have any distinct knowledge are a race without name or known history, but by their sepulcral monuments, of which so many still exist, we can learn a great deal about them. They were the socalled Megalithis People (from Greek megas, great, and lithos, a stone), the builders of dolmens, cromlechs and chambered tumuli of which more than five thousand were found alone in northern and western Europe. Druidism in its essential features was imposed upon the imaginative and sensitive nature of the Celt - the Celt with his 'extraordinary aptitude' for picking up ideas - by the earlier population of Western Europe, the Megalithic People. # 562
A son of Mordred. When Mordred was dead, he and his brother seized the kingdom, but they were defeated by Lancelot. He was killed by Bors.#156-604
A natural son of King Meliodas of Liones and the Queen of Scotland. His mother set him adrift and he was raised by the Lady of the Lake. # 156 - 238 - 418
John of Glastonbury mentions a vaticinator (one who foresees the future) called Melkin, who lived before Merlin and uttered a prophecy about Glastonbury, couched in obscure Latin, which is difficult to interpret. It may refer to Glastonbury as a place of pagan burial and to a future discovery of the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. Apart from an entry in the Annals of Glastonbury Abbey, evidence is scanty for his existence, but there is a strong indication that he embodied an ancient tradition before Christian times. It has been suggested that Melkin is to be identified with Maelgwyn, a sixth-century ruler of Gwynedd. Henry VIII's royal antiquary, John Leland (c.1503-52) claimed to have seen Melkin's book at Glastonbury Abbey. # 156 - 344 - 454
In an Irish romance, a daughter of Arthur who fell in love with Orlando, son of the King of Thessaly. Mador, who was jealous, bribed Merlin to get rid of him and Merlin complied, persuading his servant, the Destructive One, to imprison the hapless prince. Only the Lance of Longinus, the carbuncle of the daughter of the King of Narsinga, and the oil of the pig of Tuis could dispose of the enchantments that surrounded him. Melora, dressed as a knight, defeated the King of Africa on behalf of the King of Babylon who gave her the Lance and sent Levander, his servant, to accompany her, They were imprisoned by the King of Asia but escaped with the aid of a guard, Uranus, and obtained the porcine oil from their captor. They lured the King of Narsinga and his daughter, Verona, on to a ship, but all became friends and the carbuncle was secured. Melora freed Orlando and they went to Thessaly, while Levander married Verona. # 156 - 406
MELWAS MELEAGAUNCE MELEAGRAUNCE
A knight, son of the otherworld King Bagdemagus, who abducted Guinevere, taking her to his territory. Only his father prevented him from raping her. Lancelot rescued her. There are different versions of what befell Meleagaunce. In the ancient LIFE OF CARADOC, the saint mediates between Arthur and Melwas (here called the King of the Summer Country) to prevent warfare between them. In later medieval tradition, Melwas becomes Sir Meleagraunce. In another version he subsequently imprisoned Lancelot but the latter escaped and slew him. In another, he and Lancelot fought a single combat over Guinevere, Lancelot winning and killing his opponent. A Welsh version of the abduction story tells how Melwas, ruler of Somerset, carried Guinevere off to Glastonbury. Arthur laid siege to it but the Abbot and Gildas prevailed upon Melwas to return his captive. # 24 - 156 - 378 - 418 - 454
MENW AP TEIRNAEDD
(menoo ap tair-noo-AYTH) An enchanter in Arthur's service. In CULHWCH, Arthur assigned him to help the hero, Culhwch, in case he and his party needed to be made invisible. # 156 - 346
King Mark of Cornwall violated his niece, Labiane, and as a result she gave birth to Meraugis. Mark then murdered Labiane and abandoned Meraugis in the woods, but he was raised by a forester and grew to be a Knight of the Round Table. After Arthur's last battle, he became a hermit with Bors and others. # 30 - 156
The father of King Mark of Glamorgan. This Mark may have been the original of, or confused with, Mark of Cornwall. # 156
# 562: Regarded as chief of the gods by Gauls; Lugh Lamfada identified with Mercury. # 454: He was particularly popular among natives of Britain and, although he retained his classical attributes, he blended in well with native gods. He is shown with caduceus, cockerel and purse, indicating his function as conductor of the dead and god of financial transactions. He is partnered by Rosmerta in many inscriptions and reliefs. # 265-454-562-563
A knight who obtained a second sword because he was the only one able to unfasten a swordbelt which Lore, Lady of Garadigan, brought to Arthur's court. He was therefore known as the Knight of the Two Swords (a title also given to Balin). He eventually married Lore. # 30 - 156
He was the son of King Caradoc of Wales. The latter was succeeded by Griffith who had secured the throne by murder. Griffith sent Meriadoc and his sister Orwen to the woods to be killed, but the executioners did not carry out their task. Meriadoc was subsequently raised by Ivor the Huntsman and his wife Morwen. Urien, here called the King of Scots, abducted Orwen and married her. Meriadoc went to Arthur's court and, with that king's help, he ousted Griffith and gained his rightful throne which he handed over to Urien. Meriadoc went abroad and rescued the daughter of the Emperor of Germany from Grundebald, king of the Land From Which No One Returns, and married her. # 156 - 753
# 156: (In Welsh: Myrddin, latinized as Merlinus because the more natural Merdinus would have connected it with Latin merdus, 'dung'). Arthur's magician and counsellor, in many ways the architect of his reign. The popular modern image of Merlin is a wise elder, but there is abundant evidence in many early sources of Merlin's true nature as a primal prophet, magician, wise man, and, paradoxically, foolish seeker of the truth. His life was in three phases: innocent prophetic youth, madman and hermit, and wise elder. In the classic form of the tale, Merlin was begotten by an incubus. Robert says the devils of Hell had determined to set on earth an evil being to counter-balance the good introduced by Jesus Christ. Happily, the child was promptly baptized so he was not evil! Vortigern, King of Britain some time after the Roman withdrawal was haplessly trying to build a tower for, whenever it was erected, it would collapse. The king's counsellors told him he would need to sacrifice a fatherless child to remedy this. Such children were hardly thick on the ground but Merlin, now a youth, was popularly supposed to be sireless so he was secured for this purpose. However, he pointed out that the real reason for the collapse was the existence of a pool beneath the foundations. Digging revealed the truth of this and a brace of dragons emerged, one red and one white; these caused Merlin to utter a series of prophecies.
# 632: It was Geoffrey of Monmouth whose HISTORIA REGNUM BRITTANIAE and VITA MERLINI are the chief sources for his life, there renamed him Merlin. In these books Merlin makes a series of prophecies concerning the fate of Britain. It is possible that he may be the same character as the sixth-century Welsh poet, Myrddin, several of whose poems are still extant. (He fought on the side of King Gwenddolau against Rhydderch Hael at Arfderydd in AD 575 and went mad as a result of losing the battle.) The madness of Merlin is contained in several traditional stories concerning suibhne gelt and Laioken. All three mad prophets are said to suffer the threefold death caused by falling, hanging and drowning, although the usual tale of Merlin's death or passing away became attached to the story of Niniane or Vivienne, an otherworld woman who tricked him into revealing his magic. She then shut him up in a glass tower, or under a stone or in a hawthorn tree. This tradition is probably a garbled understanding of Merlin's withdrawal from the world into the Otherworld. # 156: When Aurelius Ambrosius defeated Vortigern he wished to put up a monument. Merlin advised him to procure certain stones from Ireland and these were erected on Salisbury Plain as Stonehenge. After the death of Aurelius, when Uther came to the throne, Merlin arranged for him to seduce Igraine by magically making him take the shape of her husband, Gorlois. He took the child, Arthur, born of this union, and arranged the sword-in-stone contest, whereby Arthur became king.
According to Malory became Merlin infatuated by Nimue (elsewhere called Viviane), whom he taught magical secrets which she used to imprison him. Geoofrey, however, have him active after Camlann, bringing the wounded Arthur to Avalon. As mentioned above he went mad after the battle of Arthuret and became a wild man, living in the woods. According to Giraldus Cambrensis, this was because of some horrible sight he beheld during the fighting, where three of his brothers were killed. King Rhydderch Hael was married to Merlin's sister, Ganieda, who persuaded him to give up his life in the forest, but he revealed to Rhydderch that she had been unfaithful to him. He decided to return to the greenwood and urged his wife, Guendoloena, to remarry. However, his madness once again took hold of him and he turned up at the wedding, riding a stag and leading a herd of deer. In his rage, he tore the antlers from the stag and flung them at the bridgegroom, killing him. He went back to the woods and Ganieda built him an observatory from which he could study the stars. Welsh poetry antedating Geoffrey largely agrees with this account, though it has Merlin fighting against Rhydderch rather than for him. Similar tales are told about a character called Lailoken, who was in Rhydderch's service and this may have prompted Geoffrey to change the side which Merlin was on. As Lailoken is similar to a Welsh word meaning 'twin brother' and as Merlin and Ganieda were thought to be twins, it is possible it was merely a nickname applied to Merlin. Merlin is not, at any rate, a personal name but a place name - the Welsh Myrddin comes from Celtic Maridunon (Carmarthen) - which was applied to the magician because, according to Geoffrey, he came from that city. Elsewhere it is averted that the city was founded by, and named after, the wizard. Robert has him born in Brittany. Geoffrey makes him King of Powys, and the idea that he was of royal blood is also found in Strozzi's VENETIA EDIFICATA (1624).
As to the historical Merlin, if he existed, modern writers such as Ward Rutherford and N. Tolstoy think he may have been a latter-day Druid and so took part in shamanistic practices. Jung and von Franz also see shamanistic elements in the story of Merlin. This contrasts with the earlier theory of E. Davies that Merlin was a god (the evening star), and his sister Ganieda a goddess (the morning star). There is some evidence that Merlin may originally have been a god, for in the TRIADS, we are told that the earlieast name for Britain was Merlin's Precinct, as though he were a god with proprietorial rights. G. Ashe would connect him with the cult of the god Mabon. Because of his association with stags, there may be a connection with Cernunnos, the Celtic horned god. Merlin's mother was called Aldan in Welsh tradition. The Elizabethan play THE BIRTH OF MERLIN - which may have been partially authored by Shakespeare - calls her Joan Go-to-'t. That he had no father does not seem to be a feature of Welsh tradition in which he is given the following pedigree: Coel Godebog - Ceneu - Mor - Morydd - Madog Morfryn - Myrddin (Merlin). He was also said to be the son of Morgan Frych who, some claimed, had been a prince of Gwynedd. Both Welsh poetry and Geoffrey have him speaking with Taliesin, with whom he seemed to be considerably connected in the Welsh mind. Thus one Welsh tradition asserted he first appeared in Vortigern's time, then was reincarnated as Taliesin and reincarnated once more as Merlin the wild man. The idea that there were two Merlins, wizard and wild man, is found in Giraldus Cambrensis (the Norman-welsh chronicler of the twelfth century), doubtless because of the impossibly long lifespan assigned to him by Geoffrey. A modern relic of the Merlin legend was to be found in the pilgrimages made to Merlin's Spring at Barenton in Brittany, but these were stopped by the Vatican in 1853.
Merlin's ghost is said to haunt Merlin's Cave at Tintagel, and some have had a real meeting at Dinas Emrys with somebody claiming he were Merlin. # 635: R. J. Stewart in his book, THE WAY OF MERLIN: (p 63 ff)...'a man stepped out of the tree. There is no other way to describe this - it was not a faint impression or a spiritual vision, not a meditational intimation, but a man stepping out of the tree to stand before me. ... His build was very powerful... his manner was demanding and stern. He looked at me and said, without any preamble, 'I am Merlin. You will be my pupil.' This was a flat statement that seemed to declare an inevitable established fact; it was not an introduction or a suggestion.' This experience was followed by several others, probably making Stewart our times most knowing Merlin scolar and interpreter, which brought about his many books including a tarot set build up around Merlin, See also: CONRAD, and DINABUTIUS. # 156-177-238-242-243-341-353-418-562-571-606-632-635-673-780
Merlin is the tutelar of Britain which is anciently called Clas Merdin or Merlin's Enclosure. # 454
MERLIN'S HILL CAVE
A Carmarthen cave where Merlin is said to be buried. # 156
A tree, also called Merlin's Oak, (in Priory Street in Carmarthen). It was believed that, if the tree fell, Carmarthen's destruction would follow. Every care was taken over the centuries to protect it from falling, however, a few years ago the Local Authority decided to risk it and remove the tree which had become a traffic hazard and consisted mainly of concrete and iron bars anyway. # 49
MERLIN, ENTERTAINMENTS BY
To cure Vortigern's fit of melancholy, and, to cheer him up, Merlin provided various entertainments, such as invisible musicians and flying hounds chasing flying hares. # 308
MERROWS MURDHUACHA MERMAIDS
(muroo-cha) The Irish equivalent of Mermaids. Like them they are beautiful, though with fishes' tails and little webs between their fingers. They are dreaded because they appear before storms, but they are gentler than most mermaids and often fall in love with mortals. The offspring of these marriages are sometimes said to be covered with scales, just as the descendants of the Roane, or Seal People, are said to have webs between their fingers. Sometimes they come ashore in the form of little hornless cattle, but in their proper shape they wear red feather caps, by means of which they go through the water. If these are stolen they cannot return to the sea again. If the female merrows are beautiful, the male are very ugly indeed, with green faces and bodies, a red, sharp nose and eyes like a pig. They seem, however, to be generally amiable and jovial characters. A lively story by Crofton Croker gives a pleasant picture of a merrow, and can be read in FAIRY LEGENDS OF THE SOUTH OF IRELAND, VOL.II. # 100 - 165
(mess'boo'a hal a) A name given to the daughter of the second Etain and Cormac, King of Ulster. Cormac, tiring of Etain, bade her baby daughter be cast into a pit, but she was rescued and fostered by the cowherds of Eterscel, King of Tara. When she grew up she was kept closely guarded by the cowherds, but Eterscel saw her and desired her. It was prophesied that a woman of unknown race would bear him a son, but Mess Buachalla - the Cowherd's Fosterchild, as she was known- was warned by an otherworldly man in the shape of a bird; it was he who was the real father of Conaire Mor, not Eterscel. # 166 - 188 - 454
The Orcadian Mester Stoorworm is a prime example of the Scandinavian Dragon in Britain. There are two main types of dragon in these islands: the heraldic dragon, winged and usually fire-breathing, and the Worm, for which one generally supposes a Scandinavian origin, which is generally huge, often wingless and most commonly a sea monster. These worms are not fire-breathing, but have a poisonous breath.
The Mester Stoorworm fulfilled all these qualifications. Trail Dennison, whose manuscript is reproduced in SCOTTISH FAIRY AND FOLK TALES, gives several descriptions of the creature. 'Now you must know that this was the largest, the first, and the father of all the Stoorworms. Therefore was he well named the Mester Stoorworm. With his venomous breath he could kill every living creature on which it fell, and could wither up everything that grew.' A little later, as Assipattle sails out towards the Stoorworm, the description becomes even more gargantuan: 'The monster lay before him like an exceedingly big and high mountain, while the eyes of the monster - some say he had but one eye - glowed and flamed like a ward fire. It was a sight that might well have terrified the bravest heart. The monster's length stretched half across the world. His awful tongue was hundreds on hundreds of miles long. And, when in anger, with his tongue he would sweep whole towns, trees, and hills into the sea. His terrible tongue was forked. And the prongs of the fork he used as a pair of tongs, with which to seize his prey. With that fork he would crush the largest ship like an egg-shell. With that fork he would crack the walls of the biggest castle like a nut, and suck every living thing out of the castle into his maw. Later, in his dying agony, he spews out his teeth and they become the Orkneys, the Faroes and the Shetland Islands. His forked tongue entangles itself on one horn of the moon and his curled-up body hardens into Iceland.' The whole thing is an extravaganza, a fairytale, not a legend. # 100 - 192 - 473
Celtic mythology assumes the constant interchanging of souls which can pass from one body to another. Finn's two dogs were actually his nephews. # 161
A king of Glenvissig whose son, Arthrwys is identified with King Arthur. # 72 - 73 - 156
The son of Ogier and Morgan, therefore Arthur's nephew. He was the father of Oriant and an ancestor of the Swan Knight. # 156
(mee-ah) A great physician of the Tuatha De Danann. After his father Diancehct made a silver hand for Nuadu, Miach, whose skill surpassed his, made a hand of flesh instead. In his jealous rage Diancecht wounded him in three separate attacks, which Miach healed. On the fourth attack he received a wound in the brain from which he died. 365 herbs grew from his grave which his sister Airmed gathered, but Diancecht confused them so that no one knew which was which. # 166 - 454
MICHAEL'S MOUNT, ST
The mount of St Michael, Cornwall (who is the archangel of the sun), with its fairy-tale castle, may be reached only by boat before low tide, after which a causeway is revealed, making it possible to walk across to the island from the mainland. Although given to the National Trust, the castle is the 'embattled home' of the St Aubyn purchased it in 1567. # 702
MICHEL, LE MONT ST
Mont St-Michel was originally called 'Mont-Tombe', and like Tombelaine was doubtless one of the sea-tombs whither, according to Celtic mythology, the souls of the dead were ferried in an invisible barque. In 708 an apparition of St Michael the archangel to St Aubert, Bishop of Avranches, commanded the building of an oratory on the summit of this rock, which gave place to a Carolingian church in the tenth century, and a Romanesque basilica in the next centuries. In 966 Richard I of Normandy installed Benedictines here, who provided several vessels for the Conqueror's fleet a century later. In 1047 a chapel on St Michael's Mount in Cornwall was placed under their control by Edward the Confessor. By the twelfth century, under its abbot Robert de Totigni, it became a celebrated seat of monkish learning. In 1166 Henry II held court here and received the homage of the turbulent Bretons he had subdued. In 1203 the French king sent an expedition against the Mont, when some of its dependencies were burnt, for which depredation Philippe Auguste later compensated the monks royally, and with the proceeds the 'Merveille' was built, while Louis IX, who visited the abbey in 1254, contributed to the cost of its defensive works; indeed it increasingly took on the character of an ecclesiastical fortress, with a garrison maintained at the joint charge of both king and abbot. It was the only stronghold which held out when the rest of Normandy was overrun by Henry V's armies, and withstood two sieges under Louis d'Estouteville (in 1417 and 1423), and a third English assault was beaten off in 1434. In 1469 Louis XI added to the prosperity of the monastery by instituting the royal order of St Michel. Noël Beda, head of the Collège de Montaigu in Paris from 1499, was banished here by François I for his officiousness, where he died in 1536. In 1591 it successfully resisted Montgomery and his Calvinist troops. In 1622 the vitiated confraternity were replaced by the reformed (but Philistine) congragation of St Maur, who divided the refectory into the storeys of dormitory cells. From 1790 to 1863 it was a State prison, and only after 1874, when it passed into the hands of the Commission des Monuments Historiques, did its restoration commence. # 3 - 559
(mi'he) Meath. The central portion of Ireland. # 166
MIDIR MIDHIR MIDAR
(mi'yâr) King of Sidhe of Femen, and the fairy lover of Etain, the queen. He lost his wife Etain, who was a human, and went in search of her to the court of Eochaid Airem, whom she had married. He sought her through many reincarnations and strove to remind her of their happiness within the sidhe. He fought to regain her by playing fidchell (chess) with Eochaid and eventually abducted Etain by seizing her and rising through the smoke-hole of Eochaid's hall in the form of swans. # 166 - 267 - 454
The festival of the summer solstice remained a major pagan holiday, up through the ages. The solstices and equinoxes were important festivals keyed to the progress of the growing season. Midsummer was the vital, somewhat scary time when the sun reached its turning point and began its slow decline toward another winter. Therefore Midsummer was always a festival of fire, when bonfires burned all night to encourage the solar deity to return again in due course. # 701 p 187
MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, A
The diminutive fairies of which we have some mentions in the medieval chronicles were first introduced into literature in the poetry and drama of Elizabethan times. We find them first in Lyly's ENDIMION, but here they are incidental. In A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM they are among the principal characters with a sub-plot of their own, but are important agents in the main plot as well. There is no doubt that the fairies are small - the elves creep into acorn cups to hide, find a bee's honey bag a heavy burden and a bat a formidable adversary. But they still have their powers. All of them can travel immense distances as swiftly as the moon. The chief ones among them can change their shape and size. When they quarrel, all nature is affected and the seasons are out of gear. Like all fairies they have great herbal knowledge; they have power over human offspring and can bless marriage beds. Like most fairies they are amorous of mortals. They have their Fairy Rades like the Heroic Fairies. These are good fairies, the Seelie Court, benevolent to mortals except for an occasional jest, ready to help those who are in need. In other plays of Shakespeare there are mentions of fairies, the bestknown, perhaps, being Mercutio's description in ROMEO AND JULIET of Queen Mab, the midwife of dreams, an intentionally comic description. There is the invocation to the fairies in CYMBELINE, where, in pagan Britain, the fairies take the place of God. When we come to THE TEMPEST we have full treatment of a fairy again, if we may call Ariel a fairy; he is perhaps rather an elemental - a sylph; but he can summon fairies to help him in his revels and he sings their songs. # 100 - 593
MIDWIFE TO THE FAIRIES
From the earliest times there have been stories of mortal women summoned to act as midwives to fairy mothers among the themes of the dependence of fairies on mortals. One of the latest of these was of a district nurse summoned by a queer old man who boarded a bus near Greenhow Hill in Yorkshire. He conducted the nurse to a cave in the side of Greenhow Hill, and the occupants turned out to be a family of pixies. The interesting point here, since the pixies are not native to Yorkshire, is that Greenhow Hill was said to have been mined by Cornishmen. The anecdote had currency in the 1920s and after. The Fairy Ointment motif does not occur in this version. The earliest version of the midwife tale is to be found in Gervase of Tilbury's thirteenth-century OTIA IMPERIALIS. The fullest of all, however, perhaps the only complete fairy midwife story, is given by John Rhys in CELTIC FOLKLORE, VOL. I, he gives the Welsh version, written down by William Thomas Solomon. # 100 - 246 - 554
(mee-leh) Ancestor of the Milesians. Grandson of Bregon. He sailed from Spain to avenge the death of his uncle (sometimes called brother), Ith. The Tuatha de Danaan caused Ireland to be swathed in a magic mist, so that he called the place 'Muic Inis' or Pig Island. He willed the land to his sons Eber and Eremon. # 454 - 469
The sons of Miled and ancestors of the Gaels. They came to Ireland via Scythia, Egypt and Spain. They held the land after the departure of the Tuatha de Danaan. See also: THEORIES OF FAIRY ORIGINS. # 454 - 469
The 'river of stars' created by our edge-on view into the central portion of our galaxy was seen as a river of sparkling, life-giving Goddess milk by ancient civilizations, and in Celtic lands as the Track of the White Cow. In the nursery rhyme, the famous White Cow became the animal who jumped over the moon, leaving a trail of her star-milk across the sky. # 701 p 343
God of the sea, which is sometimes named 'Mimir's weel'. Its draughts gave him knowledge of all things past and future, and Odin traded one of his own eyes for a drink of it. Like the Celtic Bran, Mimir's head when cut off, became oracular and Odin preserved and consulted it long afterwards. Mimir is clearly a god of primeval power and qualities. In some versions of the Norse myths, Yggdrasil, the worldtree, is named Minameid, Mimir's tree, after him. # 168 - 454
In Celtic understanding, the Goddess took many forms, but she was especially revealed as a goddess of wisdom, governing the inspired wisdom of the initiate. Minerva's chief temple in Britain was at Bath where she was twinned with the native goddess, Sulis. The veneration of the virgin goddess of wisdom and of war was already wellestablished in Britain: the attributes of Minerva are given to Brigantia. # 265 - 454 - 627
The wife of Torec. Torec had been sent to obtain his grandmother's circlet from Miraude and she promised to wed him if he overcame the Knights of the Round Table. This he did. # 156
Celtic women were buried with their personal mirrors, which were supposed to be their soul-carriers. # 701 p 145
MISER ON THE FAIRY GUMP, THE
The Gump near St Just in Cornwall had been famous as the meetingplace of the Small People. Robert Hunt, in POPULAR ROMANCES OF THE WEST OF ENGLAND, gives a vivid description of a fairy gathering as tiny, bejewelled and courtly as any to be found in the poetry of Herrick or Drayton. The old people of St Just had long told their children and grandchildren of the great spectacle there, of the music, dancing and feasting. Modest spectators were not punished, and some had even been given tiny but most precious gifts. # 100 - 331
Druid's considered the plant's poisonous, pearly white berries to be drops of the oak god's semen, much as the red holly berries were drops of the life-giving lunar blood of the Goddess Hel (Holle). Thus the mistletoe acquired phallic significance. Druids 'castrated' the oak god by cutting the mistletoe with a golden sickle, and catching it in a white cloth before it could touch the ground. # 701 p 447
A wise woman, who was learned about the various herbs and poultices that could be made from the seemingly innocent roadside weeds, one familiar with the ways of the gentry, the fairies. # 582
(mo-chayn') Hill of Mochaen and Lugh's eric. ...and the three shouts are to be given on the hill of a fierce warrior, Mochaen, who, with his sons, are under vows to prevent any man from raising his voice on that hill. See: ERIC. # 562
(mo hay-voc) The priest who cared for the enchanted children of Lir, Fionnuala and her brothers. He fashioned chains of silver for their necks, heard their story and instructed them in the Christian faith. He refused to give them up and eventually baptized them before they died, restored to their human shapes. See also: CHILDREN OF LIR. # 267 - 454
MODDEY DHOO MAUTHE DOOG
(moor tha do) The most famous of the Black Dogs of the Isle of Man was the Moddey Dhoo or Mauthe Doog of Peel Castle, made famous by Walter Scott. In the seventeenth century when the castle was garrisoned, a great, shaggy black dog used to come silently into the guardroom and stretch himself there. No one knew whom he belonged to nor how he came, and he looked so strange that no one dared to speak to him, and the soldiers always went in pairs to carry the keys to the governor's room after the castle was locked up. At length one man, the worse for drink, taunted his companions and mocked the dog. He snatched up the keys, dared the dog to follow him, and rushed out of the room alone. The dog got up and padded after him, and presently a terrible scream was heard and the man staggered back, pale, silent, shuddering. The dog was never seen again, but after three days of silent horror the man died. That was the last thing seen of the Mauthe Doog, but the Moddey Dhoo persists to modern times. # 100 - 585
# 156: 1. This is the Welsh name for the Celtic goddess Matrona, thought to be the prototype of Morgan. See: AVALON and EVELAKE.
# 454: 2. Mother of Mabon. Her name merely means 'mother' and is a mystery title. No specific legend exists about her, although traces of her mythos are appeciable in the stories of Rhiannon, Macha, Demeter etc. She is the mother who loses her child. Her cult is closely tied with that of her lost son, Mabon. Modron appears as the title of Morgan in a late sixteenth-century folk-story, where she is also called 'daughter of Afallach'. Her mythic lineage can be traced through Morrigan and is probably associated with the once widespread cult of the Mothers. She may be associated with Saint Madrun. # 104 - 156 - 272 - 439 - 454
A hill in Clwyd where, according to legend, King Arthur's table was situated. Certainly, a hill fort on the site may have been in use in the early Middle Ages and a survey of 1737 mentions Cist Arthur, a burial chamber, possibly thought to be Arthur's last resting place. # 156
'Slave of the Wheel'. A druid or enchanter who lived on Valentia Island off south-west Munster. With his 'rowing wheel' - prototype aircraft - he is supposed to have been a disciple of Simon Magus. His daughter Tlachtga was the only survivor of Simon Magus' ill-fated attempts to fly. His location, so near to the home of the Cailleach Bheare, suggests that he may have some connections with her cult. # 454 - 548
In the PROSE MERLIN, the name given to the elder brother of Ambrosius and Uther. His real name was Ivoine, from Ivoire, his mother's name, but he was called Moine (monk) because he had been brought up in a monastery. Elsewhere he is called Constans. # 156
In Irish tradition St Moling figures as the friend of a celebrated leaper, the mad Suibne Geilt, who, resorting to the woods, grew feathers and so could jump from tree to tree and from hill-top to hill-top - an Irish counterpart of the Welsh Myrddin Wyllt.
For a parallel to a tale about St Moling we will turn to the contest between Vishnu, one of the three supreme gods of Hinduism, and the demon Bali son of Virocana. This is the version related in the Râmâyana: Bali, who had overcome Indra, Lord of Gods, enjoyed the empire of the three worlds, and he was celebrating a sacrifice when Indra and the other gods, distressed with fear, spoke to the great ascetic Vishnu who was engaged in mortification and contemplation in 'The Hermitage of the Perfect'. 'Bali, son of Virocana', they said, 'is performing a sacrifice... Do thou, O Vishnu, for the benefit of the gods resort to a phantom shape and assuming the form of a dwarf bring about our highest welfare...' Thus adressed by the gods, Vishnu, adopting a dwarfish form, approached the son of Virocana and begged three of his own paces. Having obtained three paces Vishnu took a monstrous form and with three steps the Thrice-stepper then gained possession of the worlds. With one step he occupied the whole earth, with the second the eternal atmosphere, with the third the sky....He made that demon Bali a dweller in the underworld and gave the empire of the three worlds to Indra...' The predicament of the gods at the beginning of the Hindu story, which reproduces that of the Tuatha before the Second Battle of Mag Tuired, has no counterpart in the Moling story. Otherwise, the parallelism is well-nigh complete.
- A candidate for the priesthood practising austerities.
- He is collecting alms for the Church.
- He is armed with a staff of wood used to keep demons at bay.
- His contest with the Evil demons.
- Three steps granted readily.
- The prodigious three leaps.
- He is named Moling for his leaps.
- A hermit perfecting himself in a hermitage.
- The contest is such as 'is engaged when a man offers the fore-offerings'.
- He is armed with a 'thunderash - a bolt' (a ritual term for anything used to destroy spiritual enemies).
- His contest with the king of the Spectre.
- Three paces granted.
- The prodigious paces.
- He is called the Thrice-stepper.
The full collation between the texts from Hindi and Celtic sources is to be found in Alwyn Rees and Brinley Rees CELTIC HERITAGE. See also: KENTIGERN, SAINT. # 548
The name of the fairy kingdom ruled by Oberon in the French romance HUON DE BORDEAUX. # 156
King of Ireland. He was the son of Caintigerna who was visited by Manannan after her husband Fiachna had gone to fight in Scotland. Manannan promised to help her husband win his battle if she lay with him. Mongan was the son of this union. Manannan made her promise to allow Mongan to accompany him to the Otherworld, where he would be taught magical skills. Mongan was thus skilled in magic and poetry as well as kingship and overcame his enemies by the use of these arts. He was eventually killed in battle and passed into the Otherworld. Some consider him to have been a reincarnation of Finn mac Cumhal as well as an avatar of Manannan. In the VOYAGE OF BRAN MAC FERBAL, Mongan's coming is likened to that of Christ. # 454 - 548
MONGAN, STORIES OF
With the stories of Mongan we come upon an unusually puzzling phase of Irish literature. The characters of Mongan and Manannan mac Lir may have had a very early origin, but they appear to enjoy their greatest popularity in the later texts. They seem to belong to an age when people were more interested in getting the explanations of things than they were in simple narrative for its own sake. Little is definitely known about the original date of this material, but it seems certainly to be later than the beginning of the cycle of Finn. Its preoccupation with the bizarre and complicated is not necessarily an indication of a late date, but the fact may be significant that the demonstrably earlier texts seem to have no knowledge of the characters here involved. Mongan, as well as Mannanan, is regarded by many as a sort of Adonis-like divinity who has much in common with Angus of the Brug. In neither case, however, is the evidence for an originally divine character absolutely conclusive. That Mongan was looked upon as a reincarnation of the famous Finn mac Cumhal is clear enough from the texts preserved. # 166
MONGAN, THE BIRTH OF
A king who was also believed to have had a supernatural father was Mongan. Fiachna Finn, King of Ulster, was sorely pressed in battle in Lochlann when a tall warrior, who transpired to be Manannan mac Lir, appeared on the battlefield and offered victory if Fiachna would allow him to go to Ireland to sleep with Fiachna's wife. He would go in Fiachna's shape and beget a glorious child who would be called Mongan son of Fiachna Finn. The king agreed and secured his victory. In due course a son was born to Fiachna's wife, but when he was three nights old Manannan came and took him to be reared in the Land of Promise until he was twelve years of age. According to another version, Manannan first went to Fiachna's wife and offered to save her husband's life if she consorted with him. He then went and told Fiachna what had taken place and gave him the victory. Features similar to those which recur in the different tales of the birth of the heroes are likewise found in many others. You will find them throughout this encyclopaedia under the specific name of the hero concerned. # 468 - 548
The jealous stepmother of Niall. She sent his mother, Cairenn, to serve her by drawing water from a well. Her four sons by Eochu the King of Ireland were passed over when Niall succeeded in winning all the tests to establish which of the boys had the right to the succession. # 188 - 454
Giants and Dragons generally absorb the greater part of the monsters of British fairy-lore. Heraldic monsters, properly speaking, are those that display a mixture of parts of the body belonging to other creatures, as, for example, a griffin, which has the head and wings and forefeet of an eagle, the body, hindquarters and tail of a lion and ears which appear to be its own invention. Griffins are occasionally mentioned in some of the fairy-stories. In 'Young Conall of Howth', for instance, which is included in ó'Súilleabhain's FOLKTALES IN IRELAND, a volume of the FOLKTALES OF THE WORLD series, there is a causal mention of an old man having been carried to Ireland by a griffin, but these heraldic monsters are given little importance. Less formal creatures occupy the imagination of both the Celts and the Saxons, Hagges of extraordinary hideousness, with their eyes misplaced and hair growing inside their mouths, the Direach, with one leg, one hand and one eye, the skinless Nuckelavee, the shapeless Brollachan and Boneless and watermonsters like the Afanc and the Boobrie; these are felt to be more satisfactory than the mathematical conceptions of the heralds. # 100 - 513
Ancestress of the royal houses of Munster. A sun goddess whose throne is pointed out in the western seas of Ireland. # 454 - 548
It is said that the Druid Morann prophesied over the infant, Setanta: 'His praise will be in the mouths of all men; charioteers and warriors, kings and sages will recount his deeds; he will win the love of many. This child will avenge all your wrongs; he will give combat at your fords, he will decide all your quarrels'. # 562
A Fomorian king. # 562
A blind man, set by Ceridwen to keep fire under the magic cauldron. See also: MORFRAN. # 562
The name adopted by Evelake when he was baptized. # 156
The incest motif where Mordred was the fruit of the union between Arthur and his half-sister Morgause, appeared first in Malory's MORTE DARTHUR. In the ANNALES CAMBRIAE we are told that Arthur and Medrawt (Mordred) perished at Camlann, but we are not told they were on different sides. Geoffrey informs us that Mordred was Arthur's nephew, the son of Arthur's sister Anna and her husband, Lot of Lothian. The DREAM OF RHONABWY makes him Arthur's foster-son as well as his nephew.
Geoffrey asserts that, when Arthur was away on his Roman campaign, Mordred seized Guinevere and the throne, thus paving the way for their final battle. As to Malory's version, if Mordred indeed was the incestuous union, it made him both son and nephew of Arthur - anciently a powerful position according to the kingmaking rules of Celtic times which favoured the King's nephew, rather than his son as heir-apparent. (Hence the strong relationships which Arthur has with other nephews, including more particularly, Gawain, whose family had greatest claim to the throne.) As an adult, Mordred became one of Arthur's knights and was for a time a companion of Lancelot. He took the part of the Orkney family against the family of Pellinore, slaying Pellinore's son, Lamorak.
When Arthur went to fight Lancelot, Mordred was left as regent in his absence. He proclaimed that Arthur was dead and then laid siege to Guinevere, so Arthur's return became necessary. In most versions of the Arthurian story, Mordred is depicted as a villain. His father sought to kill him when he realized that he had slept with Morgause; he ordered all children born at that time to be put into a boat and left to drown. Mordred escaped and was brought up with his half-brothers Gawain, Gaheris, Gareth and Agravaine. In Wace, Mordred is not Arthur's son, but Guinevere (whom he seized and made his queen) was his sister. In the ALLITERATIVE MORTE ARTHURE, he and Guinevere had a child. In Welsh tradition Mordred married Cywyllog, daughter of Caw, and they had two sons. In the earliest Welsh sources he seems to have been regarded as a hero rather than a villain. But in most versions, he was finally slain by his father whom he mortally wounded at the Battle of Camlann. See: MARDOC, and TWENTY-FOUR KNIGHTS. # 55 - 156 - 243 - 418 - 483 - 562 - 697
Great-Knowledge, is the meaning of his name. He was the master of wisdom who dwelt in Falias, one of the four cities from which the Tuatha de Danaan came to Ireland. He gave ste stone of Fal into their care; this was the sacred inauguration stone which shrieked out under a rightful king.#166-454
He was one of the Twenty-four Knights of Arthur's Court. The son of Ceridwen and Tegid Foel. His name means 'great cow'. He was also called 'Afagddu' or 'Utter Darkness'. He was so ugly that his mother sought to compensate this by the acquisition of great wisdom. It was for him that she prepared her cauldron of inspiration, but it was Gwion (Taliesin) who drank it. Morfran was so ugly that, according to CULHWCH AND OLWEN, he was not slain at the Battle of Camlann because his enemy thought him to be a devil. See: AFGADDU. # 104 - 156 - 272 - 439 - 454
In Welsh tradition, the twin sister of Owain. Her lover was Cynon, son of Clydno, one of Arthur's warriors. # 156
MORGAN MORGANA MORGAN LE FAY
In the VITA MERLINI by Geoffrey, Merlin tells Taliesin that, after Camlann, they took Arthur to the Isle of Apples, presided over by Morgan Le Fay (the Fairy), Arthur's half-sister, the chief of nine sisters, including Moronoe, Mazoe, Gliten, Glitonea, Cliton, Tyronoe and Thitis. Nothing here indicate that she was Arthur's sister. It does say, however, that she could fly with wings and change her shape. According to Malory, she was the daughter of Gorlois of Cornwall and Igerna, half-sister to Arthur, mother of Owain by Urien of Gore. She was 'put to school in a nunnery, where she learned great sorcery'. She became Arthur's most implacable enemy, attempting by means of magic to destroy him and the Round Table Fellowship. She was responsible for stealing the sword Excalibur and when this was recovered, succeeded in loosing forever the scabbard which protected its wearer from all wounds.
The VULGATE MERLIN and the HUTH-MERLIN both make her Arthur's niece, the daughter of Lot. She became a lady-in-waiting to Guinevere and fell in love with Arthur's nephew, Guiomar, but Guinevere parted them. She learned much of her magic from Merlin. She tried unsuccessfully to have Arthur killed by her lover, Accolon of Gaul. She fell in love with Lancelot and captured him, but he escaped. In Malory, she was one of the queens who bore Arthur off on a barge after his final battle. Behind Morgan stands the figure of the ancient Celtic battle-goddess the Morrigan. Vestiges of this earlier identity remain embedded in the character as we now have it, such as her appearance with two other shadowy queens on the ship to Avalon. She is almost certainly in origin the goddess Modron (earlier Matrona). Indeed Giraldus Cambrensis refers to Morgan as a dea phantastica (imaginary goddess). Although localized in time in Arthur's reign, romancers sometimes seemed aware that she had existed in early times, for example, in the ROMAN DE TROIE (c. 1160) she is alive at the time of the Trojan War, while the romance PERCEFOREST has her alive in early Britain. The author of SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT also seems to realize her originally divine status, calling her 'Morgan the goddess' (line 2452). Her name may have changed from Modron to Morgan in Brittany where there was a belief in a class of water-fairies called Morgans or Mari-Morgans. They also believed in one particular Morgan identified as Dahut or Ahes who caused the destruction of the city of Ys.
It is now difficult, if not impossible, to argue that Morgan was derived from the Irish goddess, the Morrigan. In more recent times her name has become synonymous with witchcraft, although there are again signs that she is becoming restored as a more ancient and powerful figure more in accordance with her origins. She may also be identified with a mirage sometimes seen in the Straits of Messina, which is called, in Italian Fata Morgana, in French, le Chateau de Morgan Le Fée. Italian romance gives Morgan a daughter, Pulzella Gaia, the lover of Gawain. The poet Torquato Tasso (1544-95) endows her with three daughters, Morganetta, Nivetta and Carvilia. Other authors took up her name in their Arthurian romances like in Rauf de Buon's PETIT BRUT, Morgan the Black was a son of Arthur. - Morgan Frych was said to be the father of Merlin. - Arthur's physician was called Morgan Tud. - She was the illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Tintagel, distinct from Morgan Le Fay, who married Nentres. See also: TERRESTRIAL PARADISE, and THIRTEEN TREASURES.
There is a mysterious story about the Morgan who was supposed to haunt the Lake Glasfryn Uchaf in the parish of Llangybi. It is one of quite a number of lakes which were said to have burst forth from a covered well when the cover had been removed and the well exposed. Rhys, in CELTIC FOLKLORE, carefully explores all the various forms in which he received the legend. The one that he finds of special interest is that of the Morgan, which is said to come from the lake and carry away naughty or over-adventurous children. He believes that the Morgan was originally a Mermaid of the same breed as the Breton Morgens and connected with Morgan Le Fay. 'Morgan' in Welsh, however, was always a man's name, and Rhys suggests that the water spirit became male in this tradition because of the Welsh usage. # 21-88-100-156-202-221-238-242-243-346-397-418-438-439-454-516-632
A minor kingdom in Wales. Caradoc was believed to have been the ancestor of the royal family. # 98 - 156
A daughter of Gorlois of Cornwall and Igraine (Igerna). She was Arthur's half-sister who married Lot of Orkney. The mother of Gawain, Gaheris, Gareth, Agravain and Mordred. She had a dark reputation, much like that of her sister, Morgan Le Fay. According to ENFACES GAUVAIN, Lot was her page with whom she had an intrique, as a result of which Gawain was born. In Malory she is Lot's queen who, as the result of an amatory encounter with Arthur who were ignorant of their relationship) gave birth to Mordred. She eventually perished at the hands of her son Gaheris, who caught her in bed with Lamorak, son of the Orkney clan's greatest enemy, King Pellinore who had slain Lot. Morgause does not seem to have been the original name of this character. In Geoffrey, the wife of Lot is called Anna, sister of Arthur. In DE ORTU WALUUANII the part taken by Morgause in the ENFACES GAUVAIN is assigned to Anna; and the name Morgause itself seems to be in origin a territorial designation rather than a personal name, for in DIU CRôNE Gawain's mother is called Orcades or Morchades, which seems to be taken from the Orkneys (in Latin: Orcades), the name of one of Lot's kingdoms, and Morchades seems to be a variant form of Morgause. # 156-418-450
The giant Irish champion who came every year to claim a tribute from King Mark of Cornwall. He was slain by Tristan, Mark's nephew, who received a poisoned wound from Morholt's sword. He was evidently of royal blood, being the uncle of Isolt. See also: MARHAUS. # 156 - 418 - 658
Father of Goll. See: GOLL MAC MORNA. # 562
A sister of Morgan Le Fay. # 242
# 562: (MOR-rig-ahn) Extraordinary goddess, embodying all that is perverse and horrible among supernatural powers. - # 454: The Great Queen. She was the archetypal form of the Goddess in Ireland, particularly associated with war (when she appeared in triple guise as Macha, Nemainn and Badb). She also combined with her bloodthirsty war-mongering, a lust for men - just like the Sumerian Inanna whom she much resembles. She fought on the side of the Tuatha de Danaan against the Firbolgs in the first Battle of Mag Tuired, after the second battle she foretold the end of the world, when moral virtues were ignored and where the land was laid waste. She offered her love to CuChulain and after he rejected her, fought him in the shape of an eel and a wolf-bitch. Her normal appearance was in the shape of a battle-crow. She mated with the Dagda while straddling a river. Her name is really a title and is sometimes used as a collective noun for her three aspects - the Morrigan. There are obvious overlays with both Modron and Morgan.
# 628: Phantom Queen of Death, Sexuality and Conflict. The Morrigan known in Irish legend and mythology as a red-haired goddess of battle and pro-creation, often appearing in triple form. She combined the treshold energies of life and death, sexuality and conflict in one terrifying goddess. Part of the doom of CuChulain was that he did not recognize her when in her presence. # 100: Morrigan (moreeghan), or Morrigu. One of the forms taken by the ancient Irish war goddess Badb. In the CuChulain epic, TAIN BO CUAILNGE, in which the great war between the Fomorians and the Tuatha De Danann is celebrated, the three war goddesses in the form of crows are Neman, Macha and Morrigu, of whom Morrigu is the greatest. As Evans Wentz analyses the legend, they are the tripartite form of 'Badb'. Neman confounds the armies of the enemy, so that allies wage mistaken war against each other, Macha revels in indiscriminate slaughter, but it was Morrigu who infused supernatural strength and courage into CuChulain, so that he won the war for the Tuatha De Danann, the forces of goodness and light, and conquered the dark Fomorians, just as the Olympic gods conquered the Titans. # 166: She was perhaps the ancestor of the Ban Sidhe. # 100-166-282-367-389-454-469-562-563-628 p 74 ff
The Morris square, also known as the Mill, is the board used for the modern game of Morris, a simple procedure for placing counters on the lines, reminiscent of tic-tac-toe. As a sacred figure in ancient Celtic paganism, it was called the Triple Enclosure, delineating the center of the world with the four quarters, four cardinal directions, four elements, four winds, four rivers of paradise, and so on emanating from the holy Mill or Cauldron at the center. # 701
MOTHERS, THE MAMAU MATRES
Directly related to the great Neolithic goddesses of Europe, the triple mothers appeared all over the Celtic world, even becoming attached to certain Roman deities such as Mercury. The Romano-British Matres show the native influence combined with an intrinsic understanding of the classical Parcae (Fates). They are usually depicted as three seated, heavily draped women of mature years, bearing the fruits of the earth - cornucopias, fruit, barley-loaves, cakes, beer etc. Some also nurse babies (Dea Nutrix). Their frequent depiction in reliefs denotes their universal function as guardians of the hearth, the land and of plenty. They are never given individual names but are adressed as the Mother of a particular locale - just as the Blessed Virgin Mary is entitled Our Lady of a particular place. While they undoubtedly flourished before Roman occupation, after it we find inscriptions adressing 'the Mothers of my Homeland' - of Gaul, Italy and Germany - showing their widespread understanding as the native goddesses or genia locus of every land. They were called the 'Mamau' in Welsh tradition. # 264 - 265 - 454 - 563
# 548: The centre of the mysterious adventures of Pwyll and Pryderi is the throne-mound (GORSEDD) which was outside the court of Arberth. Who-ever sat on it would see a wonder or suffer wounds or blows. It was from this mound that Pwyll, the Head of Annwfn, first saw Rhiannon on her magic horse. There sat Pryderi when enchantment fell upon Dyfed, and it was there that Manawydan was on the point of executing a super-natural, thieving 'mouse' when the land was disenchanted and his lost companions restored to him.
The association of a ritual mound with Annwfn appears in Ellis Wynne's GWELEDIGAETHEU Y BARDD CWSC (1703), which tells of three visions- of the World, of Death and of Hell. The poet falls asleep and sees crowd of people whom he takes to be Gypsies or witches until, noticing their beauty and recognizing among them the faces of deceased acquaintances, he realizes they are fairies (tylwyth teg). They are dancing on the 'play mound' (twmpath chwareu), but they now take hold of the poet and they carry him over land and sea until he espies below him the most beautiful castle he has every seen. Meanwhile they try to get the poet to satirize his own king, when he is rescued from their clutches by an angel who informs him that they were the Children of Annwfn. A 'play mound' used to be found near or inside graveyards in Wales. The mound was banked up, with turf seats for the spectators arranged around an open floor where the games were played. It appears to be a simple version of the Cornish plen an gwary ('the place of the play'), the examples of which have been described as 'the only surviving medieval theatres in Britain'. The Irish word oenach (assembly) is glossed by theatrum, and the Welsh word gorsedd which means 'assembly' and 'court' as well as 'throne-mound', occurs as the equivalent of théátre. That 'mound', theatre, and place of general assembly should be closely related, or indeed identified with one another, is not peculiar to Celtic tradition. In Irish tales, mounds outside courts are scenes of games and visionary encounters which do not belong to the round of mundane existence, and the holding of assemblies on hills and mounds is a commonplace of Irish history. It may be assumed that every local community had such a traditional assembly place, but it is to Munster that assemblies are attributed in 'The Settling of the Manor of Tara', and the gorsedd celebrated in Welsh story is in Dyfed. Moreover, CuRoi, herdsman and King of Munster, has been compared with the giant herdsman in Arthurian stories who sits on a mound and directs the hero to the strange palace where his mettle is proved. In the story of 'The Lady of the Fountain', this director is a big, black, ugly forester, onefooted and one-eyed, and wild animals 'numerous as the stars in the firmament' assemble and disperse at his command. In both Celtic and Norse tales, the person who sits on a mound is usually a king or a herdsman or both at once, while many a Fenian wonder-tale begins with Finn seated on his hunting-mound when his company follow the chase.
Like the throne-mound outside the court, the sun-chamber (grianán) outside the banqueting-hall has features which suggest comparison with the 'outer fifth' province. In some contexts, the grianán is the women's part of the court. Again, it is from his grianán that Bricriu, the master of ceremonies who always stands aside from the conflicts he initiates, watches the proceedings in the hall from which, though he built it, he is excluded. Bricriu and CuRoi seem to have their Norse counterparts in Loki and Utgarda-Loki, respectively. Utgarda-Loki is the colossal lord of an outer world, and his conduct towards Thorr, the champion god, is in some ways similar to that of CuRoi towards CuChulain. Loki, a ruthless deceiver and creator of conflict, is of the gods and yet not of them. They vainly try to exclude him from their feast, and later he seeks refuge from them in a mountain where he builds himself an observatory from which he can see in every direction. It is no accident that Bricriu and Goll, in the Ulster cycle, are both sons of Carbad (i.e. they have the same patronymic); that in the Fenian Cycle, Conan Mael, the reviler and trouble-maker, and Goll, the slayer of Finn, are both sons of Morna, and that Kai, the churlish senechal in the Arthurian Cycle, is concerned with the service of the king's table.
# 49: All over Britain one can come across man-made earthen mounds. It has been estimated that there are at least 40.000 of them; and it is likely that at one time there were far more. Thousands must have been destroyed by farming and road-building activities. The mounds vary considerably in size and many were constructed as places to bury the dead. But some have been excavated with no sign of such a purpose being discovered and so the original function of these prehistoric remains is still regarded as a mystery. It is neccessary to distinguish between the mounds known as tumuli and those referred to as barrows. The tumuli are impressive heaps of earthen often situated on high ridges and on the sites of Iron Age hill forts where they were probably used for defensive purposes. There are round barrows and long barrows which generally have been found to contain so-called burial chambers. In the round barrows the bodies were often buried in a crouched position and when cremation was involved the remains of the dead were placed in an urn. Some of the long barrows are between 200 and 300 feet in length and often more than 50 feet wide and about 8 feet high. They were possibly even higher when first built. Sometimes they are found to be just mounds of earth but they often contain stone-lined chambers. They usually have an east-west orientation and the chamber is situated in the east end, which is generally higher than the west end. They were mainly used for multi-burials. In the earthen variety the group of bodies all had to be interred at the same time but barrows containing stone chambers were used for separate burials carried out over a period of time. Bedd in Welsh means 'grave' and such graves are generally barrows. Such an example is Bedd Taliesin on the slopes of Moel y Garn, near Talybont in Dyfed (See: TALIESIN). This is a barrow with a stone lining reputed to have been the grave of the sixth-century bard Taliesin. In the Preseli Hills is a Neolithic long barrow with a stone gallery known as Bedd-yr-Afanc or 'Grave of the Monster'. There are many fascinating legends associated with tumuli, carns and barrows. Many were believed to have been constructed by giants or to have giants or monsters buried inside them. Some of these so-called 'Giants' Graves' have been excavated and surprisingly found to contain skeletons of men of considerable height, sometimes as much as 8 feet tall. Wales must have been famous for its burial mounds during the Arthurian period (sixth century) for Taliesin referred to the country as Cymru Garneddog (Carn Wales). These monumental heaps over the remains of the dead would sometimes vary according to the nature of the terrain. In stony districts a carn of stones was heaped, but where stones were scarce a circular mound of earth was constructed and covered with turf. In ancient times it was customary when passing a stone carn covering the remains of a warrior of a great man to throw a stone on top in respect of his memory. Perhaps even more intriguing than the mounds are the massive hill fort constructions that can be seen throughout the British Isles and Ireland. They are generally very fine situations and the climb up to their summits can be rewarded with an extensive view. They appear to have been used mainly as places where the local population could take temporary refuge in times of danger, but some, such as the wellpreserved fort of Tre'r Ceiri on the Lleyn Peninsula, were inhabited for quite long periods. It has been suggested by some modern writers that these so-called hill forts with their massive rings of ditches were not originally built for purposes of defence but had some other mysterious function. They were certainly used as fortresses during the Iron Age and Roman periods and the people of those times probably adapted them to suit their purpose. # 49 - 212 - 283 - 347 - 548
Often the Goddess as creator of the world began her activities with mountain-making. A Welsh title of the Crone or Caillech was 'Hag of the Dribble,' because she let stones dribble from her apron to form the Earth's mountain ranges. However, the 'dribble' may have been originally her milk or her uterine blood, both of which were once considered the creative fluid whose curdling or clotting made all land masses. # 701 p 346
Battle of Moyrath ended resistance of Celtic chiefs to Christianity. # 562
According to Robert, a follower of Joseph of Arimathea, who wished to sit on the Siege Perilous but was swallowed up by the earth. # 156 - 557
'The Plain of Adoration'. Idol of Crom Cruach erected there. # 562
MOYTURA, PLAIN OF
1. Scene of First Battle (Co. Sligo) between Danaan and the Firbolgs. 2. Scene of Second Battle (Co. Mayo) between Danaans and Fomorians. # 562
Stone-carving depicting the life-maze. # 384 p 101
(moog'an) Wife of Conchobar; daughter of Eochaid Fedlech. # 166
MUGMEDON, THE ADVENTURES OF THE SONS OF EOCHAID
Here, as in 'The Death of Niall,' the hero is Niall of the Nine Hostages, who, according to the annals, was high-king of Ireland from AD 379 to 405. Niall, the eponymous ancestor of the O'Neills, is reputed to have been one of the most powerful kings of ancient Ireland. The tale is not an especially good example of the Irish story-teller's art, but it is full of interest for the student of ancient Irish beliefs. It is still more noteworthy as an early example of a theme dear to the Irish people, the personification of Ireland in the form of a beautiful woman. The plot itself is of a type widely circulated in medieval Europe and perhaps best known to the general reader in the form given to it by the Wife of Bath in Chaucer's CANTERBURY TALES. The story in ANCIENT IRISH TALES is not older than the eleventh century. # 166
The watery form of the Cailleach Bheur. She could appear as a hag or as a sea-serpent. On land, she would often appear to beg shelter at a mortal's fire, whereupon she would grow in size and ferocity. She had a blue-black face with one eye and raised winds and storms at sea. # 454
(mwir aiht) The Sea of Wight; the English Channel. # 166
MUIRCERTACH MAC ERCA, THE DEATH OF
Muircertach mac Erca, according to the Irish annals, was high-king of Ireland during the first half of the sixth century. The story to be found in Cross' and Slover's ANCIENT IRISH TALES is rich in details that throw light on the early social history of Ireland. In Muircertach's prophetic dream, the fear of having one's name uttered, the accounts of the standards of Tyrconnel and Tyrone, the blood-covenant, the magic powers of the enchantress Sin, the practice of beheading foes and placing their heads on stakes, the washing of corpses in a river, and women going to battle. Like 'The Adventures of Art Son of Conn', the story tells of the machinations of a supernatural woman who fascinates a mortal and involves him in difficulties. It also illustrates the introduction of ecclesiastical elements into pagan heroic tales, and a special point is made of the conflict between pagan and Christian ideals. The writer shows considerable skill in building up the climax which leads to the death of the unfortunate king. Though relatively late, the story is certainly older than the twelfth century. # 166
Fifth-century King of Tara who may have been the prototype for the various characters called Marhalt and Marhaus in Arthurian stories. # 156
See: MAG MUIRTHEMNE.
MULLAGHMAST, THE LEGEND OF
Earl Fitzgerald (Gearoidh Iarla) is the Irish hero of the widespread legend of the Sleeping Warriors. He was the son of the fairy Aine and Gerald, Earl of Desmond. Through the breach of a gease (taboo) he had disappeared into an underground resting-place, but there are different versions of the story. This, which is the best-known, is given by Patrick Kennedy in his LEGENDARY FICTIONS OF THE IRISH CELTS. Earl Fitzgerald was a champion of the Irish against the Normans, and as well as a great warrior he was a great master of magic. His lady had often heard of his power of shape-shifting, but she had never seen any evidence of it and she kept begging him to show her what he could do. He often put her off, and at last he warned her that if she cried out or gave any sign of fear while he was under enchantment he would disappear out of this world and would have no power to return to it till many generations of men had passed away. But she said proudly that she was the wife of a great warrior and knew better than to show fear. So he turned himself in a twinkling into a beautiful goldfinch and flew up on to her hand. They played merrily together, and he flitted out of the window for a moment, but sped in again to take refuge in her breast with a great hawk behind him. His lady screamed out and beat at the hawk and it swerved and dashed against the wall and fell dead. But when the lady looked down for her goldfinch he was nowhere to be seen, and she never saw Earl Fitzgerald again. He and his warriors are sleeping in a long cave under the Rath of Mullaghmast, as Arthur sleeps under Cadbury. Once in seven years they ride round the rath on white horses shod with silver. Their shoes were once half an inch thick and when they are worn as thin as a cat's ears, Earl Fitzgerald will return again and reign as king over Ireland. Once in seven years the door of the cave is open, and one night, over a hundred years ago, a drunken horse dealer went in. He was terrified at the sight of the slumbering host, and when one of them raised his hand and said, 'Is it time yet?' he answered hastily, 'Not yet, but it will be soon, ' and fled from the cave. Arthur and Fitzgerald both had fairy blood in them; but the same may not be true of Charlemagne or Frederick Barbarossa, two other famous sleeping warriors. # 100 - 364
MUNREMAR MAC GERRCIND
(mwin'rëv ar moc gâr'cin) 'Fat-Neck son of Short Head.' An Ulster warrior. # 166
Ailill Olum, King of Munster. - Province in Ireland. Origin of the name: The ending -ster- in three of the names of the Irish provinces is of Norse origin, and is a relic of the Viking conquest in Ireland. Connacht, where the Vikings did not penetrate, alone preserves its Irish name unmodified. Ulster (in Irish Ulaidh) is supposed to derive its name from Ollav Fôla, Munster (Mumhan) from King Eocho Mumho, tenth in the succession from Eremon, and Connact was 'the land of the children of Conn' - he who was called Conn of the Hundred Battles, and who died AD 157. # 562
(muroo-cha) See: MERROWS.
MURIAS, THE CITY OF
One of the four cities from which the Tuatha de Danaan came to Ireland. Its master of wisdom was Semias, who entrusted the cauldron of knowledge to the Dagda. See: DANA, and HALLOWS. # 166 - 454 - 562
Sister-in-law of Lugh. Mother of Fionn (Finn). She bore Fionn after his father's death and was unable to protect him, so she left him in fosterage with Bodhmall and Laith Luachra: a female druid and a woman warrior. # 267 - 454
MURNA OF THE WHITE NECK
Wife of Cumhal, mother of Finn; takes refuge in forests of Slieve Bloom, and gives birth to Demna (Finn); marries King of Kerry. # 562
MURTAGH MAC ERC
King of Ireland, brother of Fergus the Great; lends famous stone of Scone to Scotland. (The Stone of Scone was abducted from Westminster Abbey in 1950, but later returned). # 562
Cian killed on the Plain of Murthemney. CuChulain of Murthemney seen in a vision by prophetess Fedelma; host of Ulster assemble on this Plain. # 562
Muryan is the Cornish word for 'ant'. The Cornish belief about the fairies was that they were the souls of ancient heathen people, too good for Hell and too bad for Heaven, who had gradually declined from their natural size, and were dwindling down until they became the size of ants, after which they vanished from this state and no one knew what became of them. For this reason, the Cornish people thought it was unlucky to kill ants. In the Fairy Dwelling on Selena Moor the reason given for the dwindling size of the Small People of Cornwall was that they had the power of changing into birds or other forms, but after every such change, when they resumed their former shape, they were rather smaller, and therefore as time went on they dwindled. # 100
He was a boy prince when his uncle killed his father. In order to block Mylor's becoming king, his uncle maimed him by cutting off his right hand and left foot, which were replaced by a silver and bronze appendage, respectively. These started to function as natural limbs and Mylor was subsequently executed in the monastery where he had taken shelter. This myth is parallel to that of Nuadu's silver hand, and shows the persistence of the Celtic abhorrence for a WOUNDED KING. Mylor's relics are kept at Amesbury Abbey and he is remembered on 1 October. # 454
A mountain at Longtown (Herefordshire) where Merlin is said to be buried. # 156
(MER-thin) See: MERLIN. A deity in Arthur's mythological cycle, corresponds with the Sun-god Nudd. Suggestion of Professor Rhys that chief deity worshipped at Stonehenge was Myrddin. Seizes the THIRTEEN TREASURES OF BRITAIN. # 562
MYTH, MEANING OF
All myths constructed by a primitive people are symbols, and if we can discover what it is that they symbolise we have a valuable clue to the spiritual character, and sometimes even to the history, of the people from whom they sprang. Now the meaning of the Danaan myth as it appears in the bardic literature, though it has undergone much distortion before it reached us, is perfectly clear. The Danaans represent the Celtic reverence for science, poetry and artistic skill, blended of course, with the earlier conception of the divinity of the powers of Light. In their combat with the Firbolgs the victory of the intellect over dulness and ignorance is plainly portrayed the comparison of the heavy, blunt weapon of the Firbolgs with the light and penetrating spears of the people of Dana is an indication which it is impossible to mistake. # 562
MYTHOLOGY, COMPARISON BETWEEN GAELIC AND CYMRIC
We can clearly discern certain mythological figures common to all Celtica. We meet, for instance, Nudd or Lludd, evidently a solar deity. A temple dating from Roman times, and dedicated to him under the name of Nodens, has been discovered at Lydney, by the Severn. On a bronze plaque found near the spot is he encircled by a halo and accompanied by flying spirits and by Tritons. We are reminded of the Danaan deities and their close connection with the sea; and when we find that in Welsh legend an epithet is attached to Nudd, meaning of 'the Silver Hand' (though no extant Welsh legend tells the meaning of the epithet), we have no difficulty in identifying this Nudd with Nuadu of the Silver Hand, who led the Danaans in the battle of Moytura. Under his name Lludd he is said to have had a temple on the site of St. Paul's in London, the entrance to which was called in the British tongue parth Lludd, which the Saxons translated Ludes Geat, our present Ludgate. # 562
Before everything else, myths are stories. The word muthos means an account: words organised to give specific information or to make a particular effect. More narrowly, myths are attempts to explain - or at least bring nearer to our comprehension - matters such as the beginning of the universe (see TALIESIN), the nature and demands of supernatural powers, the hierarchy of creation, the causes of things, and the origins of certain social customs and popular beliefs. In a pre-scientific age, myths were an intellectual binding-force, a net of ideas and attitudes which guaranteed social identity. Whether each set of myths reflected its society, or the society reflected in the myths, is a moot point, but certainly myths had a defining and enabling power which scientific rationalism has still not begun to equal.