Branwen (pronounced Bran-oo-wen) is the Welsh Goddess of love and beauty. She is daughter of Llyr, god of the sea and Penarddun also a Goddess of beauty. She is considered the Venus of the Northern seas.
The name Branwen means ‘white raven’ in Welsh.
Branwen is one of the five Goddesses of Avalon.
The full moon in June is Branwen’s moon.
She is also honoured during the waxing moon each month.
She is considered to be the Maiden aspect of the Goddess and also the Mother.
Her magical attributes are: invoking beginnings, new projects, ideas, inspiration, energy, vitality and freedom.
She is also the Goddess of sovereignty and can be called upon in rituals that deal with the land or earth.
Her symbols include: the cauldron, the cup, the starling, the waxing moon, the white raven.
Bran the Blessed was ruler of Britain.
The King of Ireland, Mallowch came to Wales seeking a wife, Bran offered his sister Branwen to Mallolwch. However Evnissyen (Bran’s half brother) was upset that they had not asked his permission before Brand offered his sister for marriage.
Evnissyen attacked the King’s horses. When Mallolwch found out he was outraged and decided to leave. Bran was humiliated by the act and had to offer the King his own fine horses plus a magic cauldron that could bring a man back to life to appease him.
Mallolwch accepted the offer and Branwen’s hand in marriage. Mallolwch took his new wife back with him to his kingdom in Ireland.
At first the couple were very happy, Branwen bore the King a son whom they named Gwern.
Branwen was a generous Queen and always gifted her female guests with small presents. However some of the nobles were upset to not receive more from Bran for the insult, so Mallolwch agreed to punish Branwen.
Branwen however was a resourceful lady and taught a starling how to deliver a message to her brothers in Britain, although it did take her three years to teach the bird!
When the bird arrived at the court of Caer Seint yn Arvon, Bran found his sister’s message tied to the bird’s leg. Bran was not a happy man.
Bran gathered together a large force of men and set out for Ireland. On learning this news Mallolwch was alarmed and decided to retreat further west. Mallolwch and his men crossed the river Liffey and destroyed the bridge to prevent Bran and his army from crossing. However Bran, being a giant was able to lay down across the river so that his men could use him as a bridge instead.
Mallolwch heard that Bran was travelling through a large forest, only Bran could be seen as he was taller than all the trees. Mallolwch decided to make peace with Bran by sending him a messenger. The message was that Mallolwch would step down from the throne and allows Branwen’s son Gwern to become King. Mallolwch also promised to make right his mistreatment of Branwen.
Mallolwch had arranged for a large house to be built to shelter Bran, however it was a trap to kill him. Mallolwch had 200 men hiding inside bags that hung from the pillars of the house.
Bran and Mallolwch met in the house to watch over the proceedings of Gwern becoming King. Evnissyen was unhappy about this, and when Gwern stood before his Uncle, Evnissyen took him by his feet and thrust him into the fire. Branwen tried to save him, but Bran prevented her and protected his sister with a shield because as this all happened a fight broke out between the Britons and the Irish.
The Irish warriors that were hiding in the leather bags were killed by Evnissyen but were then thrown into the cauldron of rebirth and resurrected. A fierce battle raged and began to turn in favour of Mallolwch, as his warriors kept being brought back to life.
Evnissyen realised that it was the arrogance of his family that had brought destruction upon Britain, it was his actions and words that had caused the problems. He made his way towards the cauldron and laid down amongst the dead Irish warriors. He was not noticed and thrown into the cauldron with the dead warriors, once inside he stretched himself out fully so that it broke into four pieces. Unfortunately this also broke his heart.
Once the cauldron was destroyed the Britons managed to win against the Irish, every single Irishman being killed, including Mallolwch and Gwern. Almost all the women and children on the Irish side were killed too, except for five pregnant women who had sheltered in a nearby cave.
From the Briton army only seven men survived. Bran himself was inflicted with a mortal wound in his foot from a poisoned spear. He told his brother to cut off his head, as it would be impossible to transport his huge body back to Britain for burial. He asked that his head be taken home so that it could accompany them on their journey and entertain them in the hall of Gwales. Bran also foretold that they would remain in Gwales until someone opened the doors facing Cornwall, 80 years later, after that they must bury his head in White Hill in London.
The seven survivors and Branwen returned to Britain. Branwen was so distraught at how many lives had been lost that she died in sorrow. She was buried on the bank of Alaw.
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