Summer Solstice 2015
I’ll start this entry with my latest bit of Welsh
Hirddydd haf da
I spent the morning of this day in the place where King Arthur fought his final battle on the midsummer of 537; Camlan.
I went by bus for it was too far off route to Dinas Mawddwy /Deenas mauo vrey/ ..the fort of Maud or to give her her more known name the goddess Ceriwdn who birthed Taliesin, but more of that later.
The battlefield is so very clearly the most obvious place to fight a strategic battle, at a ford over the river and on up a couple of fields to a loop in the river. I could almost feel the warriors clash.
I returned to Machynlleth for lunch and internet to catch you up with my adventures and left it too late by 1 minute to catch my afternoon train to Tywyn. Synchronicity this, for the next left in two hours meaning I needed to find a place to spend some time that was worthwhile to my quest for Merlin, and of course I found it.
The bookshop next to where I had stayed I remembered from having been with the man who was once my greatest love some years before. It had been closed since I arrived. Now, this Saturday afternoon, it has finally opened its doors. Its a dusty old rambling maze of a place, the sort of curiosity shop where you just know you’ll find something unexpected. I enjoy browsing old maps. I ask about books about Bardsey but the owner doesn’t know, and though he does know where there are books on myths and legends there are hardly any, but it doesn’t bother me unduly; I have found the Welsh section and am thrilled with what is there; a trove of books written, published and printed in Wales but written in English, at least enough of them to keep me happy.
I marvel at so much knowledge that you simply don’t come across in England. I realise that it is here in this land that I will find the ancient, supposedly lost, knowledge of our island, and I begin to, in this shop.
I pull from the shelves a small cloth bound volume in red with gold lettering as fresh as it were printed yesterday, though the spine has faded in the sun since it was written in 1887.
The Welsh Question and Druidism
It says, written by Griffith with his coat of arms beneath ‘the red dragon leads the way’ motto.
Inside the first few chapters are concerned with answering a bigoted Englishman’s letters to the Welsh Morning Post suggesting that, having lived in Wales some years, in his opinion it really should be under English rule and its language squashed! I am pleased to report that Griffith, a Welshman living in London, very ably cuts this ignoramus down to size.
It is in the second section of the book though that I find the magic that makes me buy the book, though, being a very collectible volume because of its binding (!), the owner clearly has no sense of its content being of any value, it costs more than I have ever paid for a book.
Somewhere into the middle of the very interesting discourse on Druidism is an explanation of the three orders that could be attained by ovates or initiates;
Elphin ( or elf)
Myddyn ( or Merlin)
Suddenly everything makes perfect sense to me. More than that but the initiatory stage of Myddyn is one of 13 steps, for each level has 12 stages to pass through.
The Merlin is one who embodies the marrow, the life of man, after the full o f life but half the understanding of the elf. It is only when an initiate reaches the level of Taliesin that he can said to be he of radiant brow, ie with a halo, it means continuing consuming desire.
The book goes on to explain that the tale of the birth of Taliesin is another way of explaining the journey to becoming a Taliesin through the cauldron of Ceriwdn, whose namesake is Maud, or Mawddwy.
When the old stories then tell us that the maiden took the Merlin’s power, it becomes the obvious that what we are dealing with is a Christian corruption of the ancient wisdom, the spiritual teachings of the druids they supplanted, that taught a person how a mature knowledgeable man became in effect a saint, an enlightened one.
I am sure more of this will become clear as I walk through n, but for now I just feel relief. The tales I have believed lost, as academic after academic dismisses the old ways as impossible to reconstruct are actually quite simply hidden from view of those who take what they find at face value.
I get on the train to Tywyn and enjoy unparalled views of the Dyfi estuary and alight in Tywyn to walk the three miles or so to Bryncrug where I shall pass the night where Cadair Idris can be seen.
My host in the Bed n breakfast I have chosen is a delight who believes that as we women get older we are free finally to accept our own selves, to dress and be as we please.
In the local pub I find mainstream culture prevails, so that though the food is good the men are drunk and loud by eight thirty, the music could contend with a nightclub for volume and I shudder to think that the old Welsh culture has been subsumed by this heathen culture of noise drunkenness and irreverence.
My being longs for the old ways and I begin to know that it is time to vote for Wales to have its independence so that it might start the long journey back to what is truly good and hope they will accept incomers with only a very small diluted amount of Welsh blood to come and reside in these lands of mountain and mist where still the oak reigns supreme.
My host Maureen tells me the tale of how she and her now deceased husband bought this place when it was a tumble wreck with a dirt floor. She insisted on buying this rather than others that were made re suitable she trusted the little inner voice that told her this was the place. That was 28 years ago and to look at the lovely house and out buildings now you could not have guessed what state it had been in. It is a good lesson that the inner voice us always right no matter how unlikely it may seem. Things will come to help them to work out if you follow your intuition.
Over breakfast I hear about Black Country dialects and how I must visit the Last Inn in Bamouth for a fresh water spring runs through it, just as I have imagined in my visioning of the place of refuge I seek to offer.
I set out to Fairbourne bright and early. I want to catch the train between two request stops because the alternative is to walk past several farms and I now longer find this a pleasure for too many farmers act as though the lane is there as much as their land and have territorial dogs.
I walk swiftly and purposefully but still manage to enjoy a backward glance at Birds Rock that looks like a birds head and, I gave been told over breakfast by my fellow guests that it gets covered in roosting commorants.
Once I am on the lane to the train stop I cannot help but notice
The way is strewn
With hearts and bells
As dog rose
And fox glove
Blown by the wind
As I round the bend
A farm for sale
In a south facing
Lee of the Tal Y Gareg
In the bay
Of old Ceredigion
I am thrilled with possibilities and soon descend to the train halt where myself and two other walkers put out our hands for that train that leaves me five minutes later in Llwyngrwll where I am thrilled to see that the whole village is covered in knitted bunting and sculptures as a community fund raising endeavour.
Then I walk the next couple of miles along the main road, the railway far below by the sea, the high mountain looms high above and I small figure wend my way along the narrow freeway frightened again by another mountain pass.