The Tale of Lleu, Chapter II: Imbolc

The Tale of Lleu, Chapter II: Imbolc

Arianrhod’s son, the boy whom Gwydion had grown in his magick trunk, was reared at court until he was four, by which time he appeared as though he were a lad of eight.

Gwydion took the boy with him to the castle of Arianrhod.

When they arrived, she said; “Welcome, my dear brother. Who is this boy that follows you?”

“He is your son, my sister.”

Arianrhod was not pleased. Her embarrassment at the court of King Math still stung her pride deeply.

“O Brother! Why do you shame me so? Do you truly seek my dishonor?”

“There is no dishonor in raising such a boy,” said Gwydion.

“What then, is this child’s name?” replied Arianrhod.

“As yet, the child has no name.”

Arianrhod said, “Then this is the destiny I lay upon him. The child shall have no name until he is given one by his mother. This I vow!”\

The look in Arianrhod’s eyes showed that she had no intention of doing so. Gwydion left the castle of Arianrhod in anger and returned to Caer Dathyl where he and the nameless lad stayed the night. But Gwydion, being very clever, still had a trick or two up his sleeve.


The next day he took the boy to walk on the seashore by Aber Menai. There he saw some sedges and seaweed. With his magick and skill, he turned them into a boat. Then out of sticks and sedges, he made a bountiful amount of leather and colored it, so that no one had ever seen leather more beautiful. Then he made a sail and took his little boat to port in the castle of Arianrhod.

He put a glamour on himself and the boy, so that none might recognize them. Then he sat in the boat and began to stitch shoes out of the leather. Upon seeing them in the boat, Arianrhod asked of her ladies-in-waiting;

“What men are those in yonder boat?”

 Her ladies-in-waiting replied, “They are cordwainers, m’lady.”

“Then desire the cordwainer that he make shoes for me,” commanded Arianrhod.

But when the ladies spoke to Gwydion-in-disguise, he answered them;

“Nay. I will not make shoes for the Lady until she allows me to measure her foot myself.”

So Arianrhod went down to the port and saw Gwydion, though she knew him not.

She said, “Good day to you. Are you now able to make shoes for me?”

“With the right measure before me, I may indeed,” replied Gwydion.


Just then, a small wren landed on the prow of the boat. Picking up a small stone the boy threw it and knocked the wren off its perch. Observing the child’s long yellow hair and good aim, Arianrhod declared;

“The little Lion has a steady hand.”

Then Gwydion rose, and the glamour about him and the boy faded, and the boat and shoe-leather returned again to naught but sticks and seaweed.

Gwydion said, “You have named your son well, sister. From this time forth the boy’s name shall be thus, ‘Lleu Llaw Gyffes’ the lion with a sure hand.”

Arianrhod was not pleased, and she said;

“Again you dishonor me, brother! Is this how you will thrive? How could you be so cruel?”

 Gwydion replied, “It was your cruelty to the boy that brought me to this deed. But there is no dishonor in naming your own son.”

And thus, with a little help from his uncle Gwydion, Lleu Llaw Gyffes had overcome his fate and passed the first Trial of Manhood, being named by his mother. However, in her shame, Arianrhod would not make matters so easy for them. But that is another tale, for another time.



Stormcrow is a First Degree Initiate of Serenity Coven. He has been involved in Blue Star Traditional Wicca for about 14 years, and has served on Active Duty in the U.S. Coast Guard since the year 2000. He is seeking qualification as a military lay-leader to provide service and outreach to other military Pagans. Passionate about sharing our Tradition's history and the lore of the Gods, he is a Bard and Storyteller. Cosmos and Chaos, Hodge and Podge, Traditionalist and Innovator, Orthodox and Heterodox, Apple and Pentagon. A smorgasbord of contradictions and paradoxes, all wrapped up and tied with a moustache.

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