The Tale of Lleu, Chapter VI: Lughnasadh

One day, Lleu Llaw Gyffes set out to Caer Dathyl to visit Math the Ancient, and his kin. While he was gone, Blodeuwedd was walking about the gardens of Muir-Y-Castell with her ladies, when they heard in the distance the sound of a hunt.

Soon the huntsmen rode by.

“Send a page,” she said “To enquire whose hunt this is.”

The page returned to say, “This is the hunt of Gronw Pebr, the Lord of Penllyn.”

“Indeed,” said Blodeuwedd “This chieftain will speak ill of us if he departs and we have not invited him in.”

Messengers were sent to invite him and he accepted courteously.

When they had exchanged courtesies they all sat down to feast. Blodeuwedd looked on Gronw and in that moment loved him. He looked upon her and the same thought filled him so that they could not hide it.

220px-Blodeuwedd_and_GronwBlodeuwedd was a heart a wild creature, made from the flesh and spirit of the Earth itself, and she lamented at being a kept woman, a treasured possession, placed on a shelf and locked away in Lleu’s castle while the Lion was free to wander where he may. For so long, she had been lonely, unappreciated, and taken for granted by her husband. The spirit of wildness in Gronw called to her heart, and in turn Blodeuwedd’s wild spirit called to Gronw.

That first night he spoke to her of love and she to him. As Gronw rose to depart the next morning, she begged him to stay one more night.

That second night they spoke again of their love and he said “There is nothing else we can do but you must find out in what manner your husband can be killed.”

On the third night she again begged him again to stay. “At your insistence I will not go.” he said.

The next day she did not hinder his departing. As he left he admonished her “Think of what I have told you. Speak to him under the disguise of love and concern and find out how he can be brought to death.”

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That night Lleu returned and there was feasting and merriment. Later, as he and his wife prepared for bed, Lleu spoke. “What ails thee, Blodeuwedd? All night you have hardly spoken and you seem despondent.”

“I have been thinking of late of the thing that is not spoken of. How my life would be ever sorrowful if you were taken before me.”

“May the Gods reward you for your concern for me,” he replied “But I am not so easily slain.”

“For the sake of my peace,” she said, “Tell me then how you might be slain.” 

Lleu, who himself had been sheltered by Gwydion from the harshness of the world, suspected no ill intent from Blodeuwedd, the woman of flowers, who had been made only for him. Innocently, he revealed his secret to her, and it would be his undoing.

 “Gladly,” said Lleu “My stepfather and the King put wards around me to protect me, and this is the only way I can be slain. It must be by a spear. The spear must be a year in the forming, and naught but at night and during the dark of the moon.”

“Is this certain?” asked Blodeuwedd.

“It is certain,” he said “And I can neither be slain within a house, nor without, nor can I be slain either on horseback or on foot.”

“How then can you be slain?” she asked.

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“This way alone,” he said, “By making a bath for me in a Cauldron, by the south side of the River Cynfael. By putting a roof over the cauldron and thatching it tightly. Then a goat must be brought to the north side of the cauldron. Only by placing one foot on the goat’s back and the other at the edge of the cauldron, and facing East. Then, in that place, and in that place alone, can I be slain.”

“Then it will be easy to avoid your death,” said Blodeuwedd.

“Indeed, it shall,” said Lleu, “I have been well seen to.”

The next morn, Blodeuwedd sent word to Gronw Pebr, and he began his labor upon the spear, working the forge only when the moon was dark. When a year had gone by and the spear had been forged, he sent a messenger to Blodeuwedd.

The doom of Lleu Llaw Gyffes, and the dying of the light would come soon, but that is another tale, for another time.

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