King of the Fairies
Despite being low on numbers due to illness, we were thankfully supported by two friends who joined us at the last minute to provide some musical accompaniment. A picture or two will be posted in due course.
Though short, the story is redolent with imagery that is (like any symbolism) open to interpretation. One particular aspect is the livery sported by Gwynn's courtiers ~ one half red and the other blue. The saint alleges it is the fires of hell combined with the coldness of being cast out from the love of God. The balance between fire and ice carries rather different echoes for Northern European polytheists, though in telling the tale I was struck (doubtless influenced by my own biasses) more by the allusions to the combination of genders. A number of cultures have traditions of people who are neither fully one thing nor another, but stand in that liminal point that makes them a spiritual figure in the eyes of their community. It's a theme I'll be coming back to in the months to come.
The decision to perform this story was made well before some friends decided to "encourage" me (with all the subtlety of a steamroller) to attend a druid gathering this June being held in Glastonbury. I shall be taking an offering to leave for the leader of the Tylwyth Teg atop his traditional home, the Tor.
Nagy wrote some time back about the role of outlawed mannerbund in Early Irish communities, particularly centred around the warrior-druid Fionn (the Gaelic counterpart to Gwynn). Fionn is surrounded by his band of colourful brigands who, like an ancient version of the A-Team, rush around battling bad guys and having improbable adventures. Gwynn's companions are far less detailed in the surviving myths, but I wonder if the fairy band shared similar traits to the Fianna?