Tuesday, November 24, 2015


The following little motif from the exploits of Peredur is a favourite. It is so 'Celtic', the actual romantic story meanders down through later tales, mostly as one of derring-do, as our young knight sets forth on a series of adventures, but within the tale of this young man, certain pagan images emerge.  It was one of Lady Charlotte Guest's story in the Mabinogion.

"Peredur rode on towards a river valley whose edges were forested, with level meadows both sides of the river: on one bank there was a flock of white sheep and on the other a flock of black sheet.  When a white sheep bleated a black would cross the river and turn white, and when a black sheep bleated a white sheep would cross the river and turn black.  On the banks of the river he saw a tall tree; from root to crown one half was aflame, and the other green with leaves..."

R.J.Stewart interpretation of the above;  The Waters of the Gap

"In the Christian expositions of the Otherworld, its balanced duality has become separation, with Heaven and hell battling for supremacy and the possession of the human soul. The pagan concept as outlined,  in the extract from Peredur, was that life and death, positive and negative, were balanced aspects of one whole picture.  The exchange, of the sheep across the river dividing the two worlds illustrates this, as does the dual nature of the tree, which has the green leaves of the natural environment, and the magical flames of the Otherworld."

Stewart has concentrated the Christian version of the duality between evil and good as a battle for supremacy over the soul.  We know from medieval church history, this battle rested on scaring people by the awfulness of the punishments in hell if they did not behave.  A social trick for an obedient population to obey in both their religious and civic roles to their king and his lords and of course the priests.

The Celtic 'otherworld' though has a more peaceful tradition when it comes to death, you change one world for another, sadly it is a bit like what we are experiencing at the moment with the Jihadists, who also in their fantasy world go on to better things once they die.  The Celts, also fighters, had this sure religious knowledge of a better place on death.
What is there to say, when a false dogma lies at the heart of a religion?

 a black would cross the river and turn white, and when a black sheep bleated a Yesterday I looked at the history of Stewart, who once lived in my home town of Bath, and found out that he had written many other books in the now modern style of interpretation of the Celtic world, or the neo-paganism we see today, he was also a folk singer as well.  The ability to write and tell the tale from a different angle, or at least interpret it to fit in with one's own view is occasionally a bit worrying..

http://northstoke.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/gods-and-theories.html  - drafted in May

  News; http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-34759796



  1. You tell a pretty good story yourself Thelma - enough to get me interested in having a look at this anyway.

  2. I like stories, and especially children stories, it is the element of whimsy and truth I think, the moral painting in words....

  3. Love reading your stories Thelma.... Thank you....