Archive for April 1, 2014

Gwyn ap Nudd

Gwynn ap Nudd could be considered the Welsh equivalent of Fionn Mac Cumhal.  Gwyn like Fionn, means “white” with the connotation of fair, blessed or holy. Gwyn is even more otherworldly than his Irish counterpart- he is the King of the Fairies and Lord of the Otherworld/Underworld, and like Fionn is leader of the Wild Hunt. He is the son of Nudd, the god of war, who is equivalent to the Irish Nuada. He battles every Calan Mai (May 1) with Gwythyr ap Greidal for  the maiden Creiddylad daughter of Lludd, who may also be his sister (if you consider Lludd to be the same as Nudd) There is a common motif in Celtic myth and legend of a love triangle between a woman- a “flower maiden” representing the fertility and sovereignty of the land- and two men: an older man, representing winter and the waning solar year, and a youth representing summer and the waxing solar year.

Fionn in contrast, is a human with a strong connection to the Otherworld. In the tale “The Pursuit of Grainne and Diarmuid” Grainne is the daughter of King Cormac promised to an older Fionn, but she falls in love with Diarmuid, a Fenian warrior who elopes with her, and they are pursued by the Fenians. Also, unlike Gwyn, Fionn is not a king- though he is associated with King Cormac, but he is the leader of the Fenians- the rigfennid- an “outsider king” which makes him something of a contradiction. He is also the great-grandson of Nuada. Another difference is that I have not seen much association with Gwyn & poetry- though music and poetry are in general associated with the fairies.

UPG: I don’t necessarily consider Gwyn & Fionn to be exactly the same being, but I think heroes, deities, legendary and folkloric figures don’t have totally distinct identities in the way that humans do. Their identities blur together to some degree, and often “cluster” together- I’ve noticed this tendency even moreso among Celtic goddesses.

In addition to being a G entry for Pagan Blog Project, this post also partly answers questions #6 and #8 of 30 Days of Deity Devotion.

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April 1, 2014 at 3:20 am 2 comments


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