erm.....Gwyl Fair aproaching..erm...help.....

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erm.....Gwyl Fair aproaching..erm...help.....

Postby tannos » 31 Jan 2008, 04:16

Hi all, (mae'r fersiwn gymraeg yn dilyn)

erm...just to ask, since Brigid is an Irish name, is there a Welsh 'version'????Who did the Welsh pray to? Ive done bits of research and found Arianrhod, but otherwise Im stumped, is there an official consensus????

S'mae pawb,

erm...i gofyn, tra fod yn Brigid Wyddeles, oes 'na' fersiwn gymraeg? I bwy weddiodd y Gymry? Dw i wedi darllen ychydig ar y we, a mi ffeindias i fod Arianrhod yn agosach, ond heb sôn am hynny does dim syniad gen i....oes 'na barn swyddogol?
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[Tom] Me?
[Barbara] No, more than you.
[Tom] Who?
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Re: erm.....Gwyl Fair aproaching..erm...help.....

Postby astrocelt » 05 Feb 2008, 01:22

This link might be of interest http://www.druidicdawn.org/taxonomy_menu/1/79/94

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Re: erm.....Gwyl Fair aproaching..erm...help.....

Postby Aethnen » 07 Jan 2009, 02:41

Hello Tannos,

Gŵyl Ffraid is the term I use for Imbolc, and I believe that it is pretty akin to "Bride" or "Brigid". In Wales, it was Saint Ffraid, but in my research (which has only been a moderate undertaking) I've not found too too much information on her. I do know of a story where a village was starving and they all prayed to Ffraid and she sent them "rain" .... it rained little silver fishes! So Ffraid in Wales seems much more connected to the water element of Imbolc than the fire, at least in the remnants of oral tradition that I've heard (and read second-hand).

Here's some links, and I've included the Wicipedia yng gymraeg link, as your Welsh seems competent. The first link tells her story as if she was Brighid and runs the Irish and Welsh legends together. It works very well. And I've also included the link to a very excellent book of poetry which includes a long radio-script "Hymn to St Ffraid" which is all about Brighid and Ffraid. It is a WONDERFUL work and well worth buying the book for, not to mention the other good poetry there-in. Also, Astrocelt's link to Druidic Dawn's article was very good and I've included a direct link.

Pob lwc efo dy chwiliad di.

http://www.eat-online.net/english/schoo ... ffraid.htm
http://cy.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ffraid_(santes)
http://www.word-power.co.uk/books/symbo ... 853117527/
http://www.druidicdawn.org/node/503
http://www.feralpoetry.com --Where poetry returns to the wildness of soul
http://www.mabinogistudy.co.uk --THE only discussion group online dedicated to the Mabinogi
http://www.eadhadeora.org --inspiring transformation and rebirth

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Re: erm.....Gwyl Fair aproaching..erm...help.....

Postby ellie12022 » 21 Jan 2009, 00:18

Ffraid does seem to be the Welsh version of Bridget, but how commonly it is used by the Welsh today I am not sure of. The modern Welsh equivalent is Brid (with a 'roof' over the i, so is pronounced Breed)., from the Irish.

Also I have seen a reference to Imbolc in North Wales being celebrated in olden times as 'Ffair Ffraid', 'Bridget's fair', rather than 'festival', which to me has a nice ring to it.

A bit late to the thread I know but I have only just seen it. :)

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Re: erm.....Gwyl Fair aproaching..erm...help.....

Postby Gwenynen » 31 Jan 2009, 14:18

Aethen, I was interested to read that in the research you've done you think Ffraid was more connected with water than fire in Wales.

It's long been a pet theory of mine, though I've not found it suggested elsewhere yet (and please point me in the direction of a book or article which does!) that St Winifred, with her noted connection with wells, is herself actually a relic of the Celtic goddess Brig/Brigantia. I'm convinced that the Celts, like the Romans used epithets for their gods and goddess depending on the nature of the invocation, and many names which come down to us are these.

The similarity between the 'fred' of Winifred and 'ffraid' is pretty stricking in itself, but of course, the Welsh form of Winifred is usually given as Gwenfrewi or Gwenfrewy and its etymology is usually given as 'white reconciliation'. Personally, I think the 'reconciliation' bit smacks of classic, wishful etymology, as common in medieval times as it still is today. I would love to know what the earliest recorded form of her name was. I can't seem to find anything in my internet searches, but assuming it is something like Gwenfrewi or Gwenfrewy (give or take a 'u' s for 'w's, which is probable in medieval documents), perhaps someone with a larger welsh dictionary than mine (one that gives etymologies) could look up 'ffrewi' or 'frewi' and see what comes up? Neither's in mine at all (Y Geiriadur Mawr).

To my mind a more likely deriviation of Winifred would be from exactly the same source as Brig and Brigantia, either proto-Celtic brig- meaning 'hill' (ie high one), which in Middle Welsh became bre or the identical proto-Celtic brig meaning 'might' or 'power' which gave the Middle Welsh bri.The '-wy' is a common suffix found on many old Welsh names, such as Afarwy, Mathonwy, Rhonabwy, etc. And since '(g)wen' has the sense 'pure', 'holy' and 'blessed' in names, might what we really be seeing in the name of St Winifred a relict of the reverence of the goddess Brig as 'Blessed Brig' in just the same way as we get Bendigeidfran'? But even if the traditional epithet is correct, my theory that it represents an epithet of Brig still stands - after all, an epithet doesn't have to incorporate the god or goddess' name, does it?

What does anyone else think?

Bendithion/Blessings.

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Re: erm.....Gwyl Fair aproaching..erm...help.....

Postby Aethnen » 03 Feb 2009, 02:30

Hello Gwenynen,

Well for me the water connection has been far more of a hunch, based on the few stories we have of Ffraid in Wales. There is always some connection of her to the sea or a river... be it that it was one Candlemass when the poor people were starving on Môn that they prayed to her and she gave them the little fish, the brwyniaid, for food .... or about her little churches all over Wales ... especially that on the River Conwy and in Glyn Ceiriog (situated on a great bend in the river), all have a connection to water/rivers/springs, etc.

Gwenfrewi's name is indeed a bit of a mystery. I have always wondered whether the "frewi" should more likely be "ferwi" which would then mean that her name meant something more dramatic and appropriate like "sacred bubbling" or "holy boiling" ... which is VERY reminiscent of her head flying off, hitting the ground and a spring bursting forth from the spot. But of course, I've not been able to prove any such thing! Once again, only a personal hunch.

If Gwenfrewi was a historical saint tacked on to a local goddess or genus loci, then at the very least, she would probably have been a spring goddess .... spring as in source of sacred water. There's no saying either that she ISN'T connected to Ffraid but the question boils down to a couple things ....

1) she is connected to Ffraid in so much that she IS Ffraid .... OR

2) she is connected to Ffraid in so much as that she was her own original self from pagan times and that the legend of Brighid of Ireland or Ffraid (either in pagan OR christian times) simply got tacked on to certain already present traditions .... OR

3) she really has nothing to do with Ffraid technically or academically speaking, but on a psychological, archetypal and spiritual level, they very much equate to a similar thing
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Re: erm.....Gwyl Fair aproaching..erm...help.....

Postby Gwenynen » 03 Feb 2009, 14:25

Hi Aethnen
Gwenfrewi's name is indeed a bit of a mystery. I have always wondered whether the "frewi" should more likely be "ferwi" which would then mean that her name meant something more dramatic and appropriate like "sacred bubbling" or "holy boiling" ... which is VERY reminiscent of her head flying off, hitting the ground and a spring bursting forth from the spot. But of course, I've not been able to prove any such thing! Once again, only a personal hunch.
That's a very interesting and intriguing suggestion and the more I think about it the more I like it. Berwi certainly has an ancient derivation, from the proto-Celtic berw-, meaing 'boil' or cook'. There was also a Celtic god called Berw (also recorded as Borvo, Boruo, Bormanus, Borbanus, etc) who was equated with Apollo, so the precedent is there as an early divine name. And, fascinatingly, Berw was actually a healing god of bubbling springs, which is precisely what you have at Gwenfrewi's principal shrine at Holywell...
If Gwenfrewi was a historical saint tacked on to a local goddess or genus loci, then at the very least, she would probably have been a spring goddess .... spring as in source of sacred water. There's no saying either that she ISN'T connected to Ffraid but the question boils down to a couple things ....

1) she is connected to Ffraid in so much that she IS Ffraid .... OR

2) she is connected to Ffraid in so much as that she was her own original self from pagan times and that the legend of Brighid of Ireland or Ffraid (either in pagan OR christian times) simply got tacked on to certain already present traditions .... OR

3) she really has nothing to do with Ffraid technically or academically speaking, but on a psychological, archetypal and spiritual level, they very much equate to a similar thing
I don't think there can be any doubt that Gwenfrewi was in origin a spring (water) goddess, whether she is, as you say, truly Ffraid or an aspect of her, or connected only insofar that the two have merged or are merely akin only on the archetypal and spiritual level. Whatever the truth, I think she must have been more than just a genius loci, as her cult and her association with wells spreads from Cumbria to Dorset - there was even once a St Winifred's Well in Dublin! Of course, how far back these associations go - whether it is right back to pre-Christian times or merely representing a spread in the medieval Christian cult of St Winifred - I think would be difficult to prove either way. Personally, however, I do rather like the notion that they were all originally dedicated to 'Ffraid of the White-Bubbling [water]'!

Anyway thank you for sharing your thoughts!

Peace,

Gwenynen.
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Re: erm.....Gwyl Fair aproaching..erm...help.....

Postby Aethnen » 04 Feb 2009, 03:29

Ahh thanks for sharing all this, Gwenynen. I had no idea the 'cult' around Winifred was so spread out!!!! Yes, in that case, she definitely was more than just your average local little female spring goddess. The most I know about Winifred is from the Cadfael "A Morbid Taste for Bones" mystery .. and also the Wikipedia entries in Welsh and English which I've only browsed quickly. So very interesting!

I was thinking about this after I posted last night, and the more I think about it, the more I like the connection between Ffraid and Gwenfrewi too! But other than what we can gain from reasonable hypothesis and unverified personal gnosis, is there any other way we can actually confirm such a link? I mean, if for example Ffraid replaced some of Gwenfrewi's sacred sites, then it would seem obvious. But what tangible connections do we have?

I hate always having to boil things down to academics, because personally I know for a fact that there will always be things that one can't learn or discover through reasoning alone, and sometimes intuition and just pure 'psychic' (ugh don't like that word BUT it's the right word!) exploration can give you enough nudges in the right direction.

The connection to Berw and springs/healing AND Apollo (connected to the Sun, indeed like Brighid of the Irish was) is interesting, although generally it seems that gods and goddesses of healing springs are also connected to the sun. That seems to be one of their signatures, so to speak.

Gwenfrewi could indeed have been an alternative name ... like you said Ffraid of the White Bubbling ....... otherwise now we BOTH mutually seem to have gained lots more to think about but nowhere closer to 'proving' definitely one way or t'other!

xxxx pob lwc
http://www.feralpoetry.com --Where poetry returns to the wildness of soul
http://www.mabinogistudy.co.uk --THE only discussion group online dedicated to the Mabinogi
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Re: erm.....Gwyl Fair aproaching..erm...help.....

Postby Gwenynen » 04 Feb 2009, 12:52

Hi, Aethnen

As you say hypothesis and personal gnosis is one thing, backing it up with academic rigour another. I understand that very well. As a Classicist and Historian by training I question everything put forward as fact as a matter of course. It's very rare anything can be said with absolute certainty where history is concerned. I've always compared trying to establish historical fact to trying to get a hold on a large live, wet and thrashing salmon! What one generation of historians postulate as fact is frequently turned upside down by the next with new discoveries or sometimes even merely a re-interpretation of the evidence. Indeed, it's a bit of a personal bugbear how ideas put forth as mere theories are readily absorbed and embraced as absolute fact even when later evaluations convincingly tear them apart, and get churned out blithely and willy-nilly at every possible occasion, as most people do believe what they read in books as 'gospel' (pardon the association!).

I fear concrete evidence to support our theories would be thin. For the name, a starting point would be to establish what the earliest recorded forms of Gwenfrewi's name was. Correct me if I'm wrong but neither Ffraid nor Gwenfrewi appear in any of the early Welsh literature - not by those name, anyway. I've seen Ffraid (well Brighid) connected to Ceridwen... and I suppose there lies another tantalising possibility to the Ffraid-Gwenfrewi hypothesis. The evidence for the Irish Brighid being a triple goddess is pretty strong - does our Welsh Gwenfrewi represent not so much her maiden aspect, but her crone? Is it merely a coincidence that Gwenfrewi's feast day is the 3rd November?

Anyway, to get back to evidence! Leaving aside written sources, we're left I think largely with archaeology. I'm afraid I don't know what pre-Christian finds have been associated with wells and waterways connected to Ffraid and Gwenfrewi off the top of my head. I don't know whether any archaeological investigation have actually been carried out at any. A quick internet search revealed this: http://www.data-wales.co.uk/holy_wells.htm which I've got vague memories of stumbling across before. Whether those investigations it talks about did take place in 2004, I don't know. It would be worth pursuing, but would require access to a university archaeology library, I fear! Interesting what it says about the 'Gwen' though!

Whether there's ever been a proper archaeological examination of St Winifride's at Holywell, I also don't know. I suspect not. I've found a comprehensive list of articles at the RHS http://www.rhs.ac.uk/bibl/xSearch.asp?D ... descending but most articles relating to the well seem to be firmly in the Christian period. Knowing the site, I think it is unlikely that any thorough investigation has been carried out as it would be too destructive. Indeed, an indication of the paucity of archaeological investigation is revealed in this article: http://people.bath.ac.uk/liskmj/living- ... ns1ne1.htm . Distinctly reluctant to acknowledge the pre-Christian roots of the wells, isn't it?

But I suspect no matter how much research undertaken, it would be impossible to 'prove' anything. The surviving evidence both written and archaeological is (at present) too scant. And that is frustrating, yes, as it would be nice with certainty that Ffraid and Gwenfrewi were one and the same. But as long as we are careful to emphasise that this is a hypothesis, and present the evidence to support it, it's still a valid hypothesis. And after all, there are very few things we can 'prove' with absolute certainty about anything regarding ancient Celtic religious beliefs and practices. It's all largely hypotheses built on fragments of evidence gleamed from sources of varying degrees of reliability.

What I think we're really coming up against most when we ask the question, 'Were Ffraid and Gwenfrewi essentially the same?' is the fact that very little research appears to have been done into the pre-Christian nature of all those early Welsh saints (and the Irish and Cornish ones too for that matter). We get little nods from some quarters, such as in the last of those articles, that, 'maybe, with their head-lopping off themes they represent a remnant of pagan severed head cults', and that's largely it. Frequently there's no acknowledgement that these saints were anything more than saints (I know that at St Winifride's in Holywell, they don't acknowledge anything on the site prior to the Christian shrine). Would make a fascinating PhD for someone, I'm sure!

Blessings,

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Re: erm.....Gwyl Fair aproaching..erm...help.....

Postby Aethnen » 04 Feb 2009, 14:01

I've had a look at the links .... especially interesting. I'm not sure what archeological stuff Bangor Uni has here, but I do remember seeing books on sacred wells and things of that sort, which might have some archeological references at the very least. When I go in to study next time I have more time, I'll try and have a hunt!!!!

Otherwise, it's funny that you should bring all this up with Gwenfrewi, because this past St Dwynwen's Day (25th January for those who don't know), I was actually struck by the proximity of the saint day to the festival of Ffraid, and wondered if there was any connection.

Indeed, looking over to Ireland, we know that Imbolc and Lunasa are mirror festivals ... Imbolc is distinctly feminine with Brighid (with solar connections and also is the many-talented one) and the start of life (planting) ... Lunasa is distinctly masculine with Lugh (who is definitely solar connected and is ALSO well-known for his many talents as his second name sometimes given reveals) and the end of life (harvest). Lunasa could last up to a week with the festival at Tara and all the competitions, judgments, commercial stalls, feasting etc ..... whereas with Imbolc, although it was for more personal/private to the family and not as public as tribal .... there still seems to be an inference that Imbolc was not just one day, or even three days, but a longer period, like Lunasa. These inferences are of course my own, from reading a couple in-depth studies in Celtic journals (I can get the exact details if anyone requests it) where they discuss all the things done around the festival of Brighid. I must admit, it IS quite a lot and obvious that it couldn't have been fit into one or two days.

So is Dwynwen based on a real historical figure? Is it like Brighid where there was a goddess and an actual historical person? I'm not sure although I would imagine so, without getting too carried away. Once again too we are confronted with the "gwen" in the name, which has struck me over and over seems to carry older sacred sentiments than just the virginal purity attached in Christian times.

I just wondered to myself if Dwynwen was connected to Ffraid in anyway too. Dwynwen has a well too, I believe, on Ynys Mon. I was more struck with the thought that Ffraid could have been a Christian or even earlier Irish element brought in and who replaced or took up the local place of Spring and fertility goddess or saint. .... indeed, the Irish seem to have had several migrations and settlements over to Wales, and the Pen Llyn is a perfect example, as well as place names found in Mon/Anglesey and down in Dyfed. Although Ffraid seemed particularly strong around Conwy, not just Ynys Mon.

Otherwise ...... what interesting ideas! :)
http://www.feralpoetry.com --Where poetry returns to the wildness of soul
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Re: erm.....Gwyl Fair aproaching..erm...help.....

Postby Gwenynen » 05 Feb 2009, 13:48

Otherwise, it's funny that you should bring all this up with Gwenfrewi, because this past St Dwynwen's Day (25th January for those who don't know), I was actually struck by the proximity of the saint day to the festival of Ffraid, and wondered if there was any connection.

Indeed, looking over to Ireland, we know that Imbolc and Lunasa are mirror festivals ... Imbolc is distinctly feminine with Brighid (with solar connections and also is the many-talented one) and the start of life (planting) ... Lunasa is distinctly masculine with Lugh (who is definitely solar connected and is ALSO well-known for his many talents as his second name sometimes given reveals) and the end of life (harvest). Lunasa could last up to a week with the festival at Tara and all the competitions, judgments, commercial stalls, feasting etc ..... whereas with Imbolc, although it was for more personal/private to the family and not as public as tribal .... there still seems to be an inference that Imbolc was not just one day, or even three days, but a longer period, like Lunasa. These inferences are of course my own, from reading a couple in-depth studies in Celtic journals (I can get the exact details if anyone requests it) where they discuss all the things done around the festival of Brighid. I must admit, it IS quite a lot and obvious that it couldn't have been fit into one or two days.

So is Dwynwen based on a real historical figure? Is it like Brighid where there was a goddess and an actual historical person? I'm not sure although I would imagine so, without getting too carried away. Once again too we are confronted with the "gwen" in the name, which has struck me over and over seems to carry older sacred sentiments than just the virginal purity attached in Christian times.

I just wondered to myself if Dwynwen was connected to Ffraid in anyway too. Dwynwen has a well too, I believe, on Ynys Mon. I was more struck with the thought that Ffraid could have been a Christian or even earlier Irish element brought in and who replaced or took up the local place of Spring and fertility goddess or saint. .... indeed, the Irish seem to have had several migrations and settlements over to Wales, and the Pen Llyn is a perfect example, as well as place names found in Mon/Anglesey and down in Dyfed. Although Ffraid seemed particularly strong around Conwy, not just Ynys Mon.
An interesting and tantalising idea... I think it all comes down to what the true origin of saints like Dwynwen really is. Is it significant that none of the characters in early Medieval literature (the Mabinogion, etc) seem to share names with these saints (as far as I can ascertain)? Is that because they really were real people? Or because they were all minor genii loci (a distinct possibility for the many one-offs that survive in church dedications or even just in some of the Llan- place names)? Or were these saint names originally epithets/titles reflecting different aspects of the Celtic pantheon? Or a mixture?

Personally, I believe the vast majority, if not all, the early Welsh, Irish and Cornish saints represent divinities of some kind, either genii loci, or epithets/titles, etc of major deities. And as you say, there's considerable evidence that some migration from Ireland to Wales (and Cornwall) took place in the vacuum left by the Romans in the 5th and 6th Centuries. These Irish immigrants would almost certainly have introduced variant/new practices/beliefs & gods... Whether these were superimposed upon or merged organically with those of the resident population, or even remained entirely separate for the short period which remained before Christianisation, I think is harder to say.

As for Dwynwen... the proximity of her feast day to Ffraid's is intriguing, as is her connection to a well, and the fact that the saint is still invoked for healing (particularly sick animals - a patronage of animals, of course, being one of Brighid's well-known attributes). Also, according to legend she's one of these 'Irish' saints (being the daughter of the Irish born Brychan Brycheiniog). That might be telling if the origin of Ffraid (by that name) is ultimately Irish rather than native. I wonder if the etymology of her name is as obvious it appears on the surface? 'Dwyn' does date back to Middle Welsh, meaning 'bring' or 'steal', etc... But since her name is also recorded as Donwen(na) and Dunwen (as well as plain Dwyn), might it really in origin be the name of the great mother goddess Don/Danu herself? Which could bring us full circle, as it's fairly widely proposed and argued that Brigit and Danu are one and the same - along with the Morrigan (thus forming a classic triple goddess)...

The plot thickens!

Many Blessings,

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Re: erm.....Gwyl Fair aproaching..erm...help.....

Postby Heddwen » 10 Sep 2010, 14:19

Sorry this is late, but I've been away for a while. What an interesting thread! I have no idea whether Dwynwen was a real person, it's interesting that her day is so near to Imbolc(Birgids day) and to Saint Valentines day. I take the general view that Dwynwen is the Welsh Goddess of love and here in Wales we send cards on that day the same as we would on Feb 14th. I thought that there may be a connection with Blodeuwedd there somewhere as I understand that she is made from flowers (not sure of the source of this)

Near here (mid Wales) there is a place called Llan Sant Ffraid near to Llanon and the little church has three stained glass windows. One of Ffraid, one of Winifred and one of Non. The place used to be a port so I wonder whether the Ffraid/Brigid connection could have come from Ireland directly as there seems to be a lot of Irish buried there.

I always understood that Winifred was connected to Gwenhwyfar/Guinevere in the Arthurian legend, again I'm not sure of the sources for this.

But I'm most interested in Non. I've yet to locate the alleged chapel ruins dedicated to her in Llanon high street and I wondered why it should be there so far away from St Nons next to St Davids in Pembrokeshire. Non was Davids mother, it was the place where she gave birth to him and there's a lovely little church and well there too.

I also read somewhere that the name places that include Brigid such as Hebrides marks the path which either St Bride or the legend travelled through Ireland, Scotland and Wales to reach St Brides mound in Glastonbury.

Sorry I can't give any references but I hope this helps in some small way.

Blessings

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Re: erm.....Gwyl Fair aproaching..erm...help.....

Postby ellie12022 » 02 May 2011, 17:28

this is not specifically about goddess names but i have recently found out that the names of some places & rivers in Wales carry a reference to 'goddess' in their name, which I find fascinating.

As mentioned there is a church dedicated to St Dwynen (Llanddwynen) on Anglesey - with a well (that was covered with sand even in the 19th century). There is a lovely poem by Ceiriog who describes how a young man goes to the well to try & get over his lovesickness. (and ends up by getting married to the girl :D ).


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