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Monday, April 14, 2014

Lleu Llaw Gyffes #atozchallenge

Lleu Llaw Gyffes by Margaret Jones
L - The rather sad story of Lleu Llaw Gyffes of Welsh mythology (counterpart to Lugh in Celtic mythology) begins well before his birth.

When Gilfaethwy meets his uncle's virgin foot-holder, Goewin, he decides he absolutely must have her. Gwydion convinces Gilfaethwy to start a war between North and South Wales so the two of them can rape Goewin in the ensuing chaos. Gilfaethwy agreed with this awful plan, and so they stole Pryderi's magical pigs. The Demetian King did exactly as Gwydion hoped when he realized they were gone, and invaded Gwynedd.

Gilfaethwy and Gwydion raped Goewin as they'd planned, and the Gwydion killed Pryderi.

Defeated, his people marched home.

At this point, Gilfaethwy and Gwydion thought they'd gotten away with their horrid crime, but they hadn't. Their uncle learned who was responsible for attacking Goewin. Furious, he came up with the most ingenious punishment ever.

For three years, he turned Gilfaethwy and Gwydion into mated pairs of animals. First they were a stag and a deer, and then a sow and boar, and then a wolf and she-wolf. He then too their offspring for himself.

Once released from his punishment, Gwydion suggested his sister, Arianrhod, as Math's new virgin foot-holder. Problem was... Arianrhod wasn't a virgin. During the virginity test, she gave birth to Dylan. Deeply ashamed, Arianrhod attempted to flee. Before she can do so, she gave birth to Lleu Llaw Gyffes.

Math kept Lleu, and eventually gave him to Math to take to Arianrhod. Still deeply shamed, Arianrhod wanted nothing to do with her child, so she cursed him to remain nameless unless his name was bestowed by her.

Gwydion then disguised himself and Lleu as cobblers to trick Arianrhod into naming him. After Lleu hit a bird with a stone, she gave him the name Lleu Llaw Gyffes.

Arianrhod then learned who the child was, and promptly placed a second curse on him. He could not have any weapon unless she gave it to him herself. Naturally, Gwydion proceeded to trick her into arming Lleu, so she cursed Lleu a third time. This time, she forbade him from ever taking a human wife.

This didn't deter Gwydion, who went to Math for help. Together, they created the goddess Blodeuedd for Lleu. But Blodeuedd didn't exactly fall madly in love with Lleu. She fell for Gronwn Pebr, and the two plotted to murder Lleu. Since he couldn't be killed save at a very specific time in very specific circumstances (seriously... at dusk, with a spear forged over the course of a year, while he stood on one foot in a cauldron and one on top of one animal or another, wrapped in a net), all their plan managed to do was greatly injure him before he took the form of an eagle and flew off.

Gwydion then nursed him back to health. Once able, Lleu promptly returned to his home to kill his lover. Gwyndion then cursed Blodeuedd into owl form, and she's never heard from again.

At that point, Lleu decided he'd had enough madness for a lifetime, so he more or less vanishes from public life as well. Can't say I blame him after everything he had to endure!

Before you forgive Gwydion for arranging a war to rape Goewin, it should be noted that there's a pretty good chance Lleu and Dylan were his sons. Which makes him suggesting Arianrhod as Math's foot-holder seem suspicious and kind of cruel of him. If that was the case, he kind of owed it to Lleu to help him with his difficult life since he was partly responsible for the shame with which Arianrhod viewed the child.

On an unrelated note: I am way behind with comments and reading your A to Z posts. I've been furiously prepping Ravished (my non-mythology related novel) for agent rounds. But I will catch up soon!


FALLThe Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is now available at Amazon Barnes and Noble | KOBO. FADE - The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is available at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million.


  1. That was a lot of names! I also want to kind of know what the job of a footholder is... and whether I was just reading it wrong, or if the image has the job stations backwards. >.>;

    Alex Hurst, fantasy author in Japan, participating in Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

    1. Alex, good question. It was tradition in Wales at the time for someone to, literally, hold the feet of a king whenever he sat. Those who took this position did so with great honor.

      The artwork depicts Arianrhod being fitted for shoes by the disguised Gwydion while Lleu does his thing with the stone to trick his mother into giving him a name. It does appear almost as if Gwydion is her footholder though, doesn't it?


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