A Beltane Tale of Unrequited Love

Gwydion and Math worked together creating a woman using flowers of the oak, broom and meadowsweet and gave her the name Blodeuwedd (Flower-Faced). She was destined to be Lleu’s wife.

However, love cannot be forced and Blodeuwedd loved another and whilst her husband Lleu is away, she falls in love with Gronw Pebr, Lord of Penllyn. Blodeuwedd and Gronw plan Lleu’s murder so that they are free to marry.

Bloduewedd tricks Lleu into revealing how he may be killed. He tells her that the only way he can be killed is at dusk, only if he is wrapped in a net with one foot on a cauldron and one on a goat. And only with a spear forged for a year.

Gronw only acts upon part of the information provided by Blodeuwedd. He strikes a spear at Lleu, who transforms into an eagle and flies away. Gronw and Blodeuwedd seize Lleu’s land.

Gwydion, however, tracks Lleu down, discovering him high in an oak tree. Gwydion sings an englyn (a short Welsh and Cornish poem) to lure him down. He uses his magical powers to transform Lleu back into human form. Lleu is in poor health, but with nursing care from Gwydion and Math he soon recovers. He musters a loyal Gwynedd army and reclaims his land.

As Blodeuwedd flees, Gwydion transforms her into an owl, and curses her to be harassed and despised by all other birds. And from that day Blodeuwedd became the name of the owl.

Gronw, however, escapes to Penllyn. He sent emissaries to beg Lleu’s forgiveness. Lleu refuses and demands to face Gronw by the bank of Cynfael River and deliver a blow from his spear. Gronw asks his army if anyone will take his place, but all refuse. Gronw agrees to Lleu’s terms as long as he could place a large stone between himself and Lleu. Lleu agreed, but so powerful is Lleu’s throw that it pierces the stone and kills Gronw.

The stone remains to this day in Ardudwy. Lleu eventually becomes the next king of Gwynedd.

The ending to this tale is a sad one, but it is a tale both of true love and loyalty. Beltane blessings and thank you for reading.

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