Happy and blessed Beltaine everyone! I hope your plans for the day and throughout the week include a great deal of fun.
Adaptation of the Rhiannon & Pwyll Myth
by the Corvidaes
A long time ago in a kingdom called Dyfed, King Pwyll was attending a May Day Eve dinner at his castle Narberth. He and his knights passed away the evening with music and dancing and laughter, until nearly midnight. It was then one of Pwyll’s knights dared him to sit on the faery mound outside the castle walls.
Pwyll, being a brave and handsome young king, took the dare, immediately setting out to find the mysterious mound and settle down upon it. Boredom soon set in, as well as the shivers when a cool breeze began to blow. Just as he was about to give in and return to the warm fire in the dining hall, he spotted a light coming towards him from the forest.
Soon, the light had grown and he could see a beautiful woman riding a gleaming white horse. Pwyll rose to greet the lady, but she showed no notice of him, simply riding silently by. He grabbed his horse, mounted and galloped after her, again to no avail. The faster he went, the farther away the lady appeared.
Giving up, he returned to the castle and told his knights of the experience. One of the younger men exclaimed that his lord had seen the Lady Rhiannon riding her White Mare. When Pwyll questioned the young man, he was told the woman was the daughter of a faery king, and rode the mortal world in order to get away from her terrible betrothed. Pwyll decided then and there that he would visit that mound every night until he caught her attention.
And that is exactly what he did.
Every night, he tried to get her attention, calling out to her. He tried to catch up to her, but she always got away. Every night, for a full year. And then, on the following May Day Eve, when calling out and riding at a gallop once again failed to flag her down, he called out: “My Lady, I beg you, please stop and speak to me!”
To Pwyll’s surprise, she stopped and turned to look across at the handsome mortal king. “And who are you, to call out to me?” she asked, a tiny smile dimpling her cheek.
“My Lady, I am King Pwyll of Dyfed. I have watched you every night for a year, and I am madly in love with you.”
Lady Rhiannon laughed. “How could one such as you love one such as me, without even knowing me?”
“I know you, Lady. You are the Lady Rhiannon, daughter of King Hefydd of the Faery Lands. You are betrothed to Gwawl the Terrible, and you ride each night here in my kingdom to avoid him.” Pwyll smiled as he watched surprise on her face. “And I have loved you from the moment I first saw you.”
“Well, King Pwyll of Dyfed. One year from now you may attend me at my father’s court. If you can beat Gwawl at the games, you may win my hand. However, you must not speak of this to anyone, or Gwawl will surely find out. If you do, you will lose me forever.” Bowing her head, she turned and rode into the mist at the edge of the forest.
Pwyll could not believe his luck, but resolved to never speak of it again. And as one year passed, his anxiety grew. How could he beat one such as Gwawl the Terrible at games he did not even know? Surely he could speak to just one person… and so he sought out the young man who had told him Lady Rhiannon’s name. He did not tell the young man why he wanted the information, only that he had been invited and was curious. He knew the lad was well versed in faery lore, and would know just what to do.
“My lord, you will be asked to play a game of tricks in order to best Gwawl. You should not arrive at court dressed as a king, but as a fool. Take only a handful of your men with you, and perform the mummer’s play for the court.” He handed Pwyll a dusty old grain bag. “When the time is right, pull out this bag and tell Gwawl that there is gold at the bottom of it. He is a greedy soul, and will jump right in there. Tie it up, and you shall have him at your mercy.”
And that is exactly what Pwyll and his men did.
King Hefydd was furious that his daughter and a mere mortal had thwarted his betrothal plans, but out of love for the beautiful Rhiannon, he allowed the two to be wed. In the blink of an eye, they were returned to Pwyll’s castle at Narberth, where a great celebration went on for a full day and night, enjoyed by faery and mortal alike.
At Ostara I shared a recipe over twitter. This time, I besides the story above, I’d like to share some of my favorite music for Beltaine, by none other than Loreena McKennitt (born & raised in my hometown)!