Question of the day (27th May).

Out of all the mythologies that ever existed, who is your favourite god, goddess, or any other deity, and why?

My answer:

This is a super difficult question because I love myths. My Mum read them to me along with fairytales, legends etc. since I was a little child so I have quite an emotional connection to some mythologies and still find them so interesting, it always blows my mind how people were so creative back then and made up all those deities and how complex they can be sometimes. I like a lot of them, I seriously can’t pick just one… I like Epona, who is the Celtic goddess of horses. I like Cana Cludhmor, or Canola, who is also a Celtic goddess who is said to have invented the harp, quite accidentally. She is also the goddess of dreams, and I like most gods and goddesses of dreams, sleep etc. that I know of. I love the main Celtic god Lugh, mostly for his versatility which is quite astonishing, he’s skillful in so many areas. I find Freja from the Norse mythology very interesting as well and quite inspiring. I like Brigid – the Celtic goddess of healing, among other things – whose feast (Imbolc) is exactly on the same day as my birthday, and it’s also the feast day of st. Bridget of Kildare.

I quite like Hestia, which I mentioned a while back. I think she stands out from all of the Greek gods. Ever since I first heard of Greek mythology, I starkly felt the contrast between their gods and the Christian God, how they have so many shortcomings, can be so vengeful and obnoxiously cocky. And when Mum read to me about Hestia, it felt very refreshing and I immediately thought that if I was to believe in these gods, she would be the one for whom I could actually have some reverence, because she’s so humble and so dignified in this humility. And she just sounds totally like my peep because she’s an introvert, a homebody, she doesn’t care about living together with the other Olympians, she’s a virgin, she sounds like she is absolutely plain and uninteresting and is always in the background yet she is worshipped in every single temple, no matter which god’s temple it is, always gets her offerings first and receives the richest portion of food, so she must have not only have an idea about good food, but also must have known how to set herself in the right position, as we would say in Polish, so make things work in her favour, and to do that she needed a bit of character for sure.

I once wrote here, when sharing the song Proserpina by Martha Wainwright, that I used to feel a sort of connection with Persephone/Proserpina from Greek/Roman mythology, as a teen. As you may know, she was the one who was abducted by Hades/Pluto to his underworld. Her mother, Demeter/Ceres, was so desperate to find her that she searched for her throughout the whole world, in the meantime neglecting the Earth that she was responsible for so that it didn’t produce. Eventually they all reached a consensus that Proserpina would spend three months in the underworld, and the rest of the year with her mother on Earth. I had to spend a lot of time during my childhood away from my family, and so the story resonated with me on some level, I also remember I once wrote a piece called “Proserpina’s Longing”.

But if I seriously have to choose just one, the award goes to the Welsh goddess Ceridwen, even though not everyone agrees that she was a goddess. She’s still some kind of a mythical, or at best legendary, creature, so I think she counts even if she indeed is not a real goddess. Those who claim she is a goddess say that she is a goddess of love and poetry, but it’s not this that I find interesting about her. She had two children, a beautiful daughter called Creirwy and a hideous son called Morfran (Great Crow). Well, I think a lot of mothers in her position would now just focus all their attention and efforts on the beautiful child, and be happy that they have at least one child with which they can show off and be proud of, but not Ceridwen. Ceridwen is extremely determined to somehow help Morfran to make his way in the world. She is actually an enchantress, and comes up with an idea of making a potion, of which just three first drops can give wisdom, poetic inspiration and knowledge of the future to the one who drinks them. Nobody normal would decide to do that, because the potion had to be stirred all the time for one whole year, and she couldn’t go to sleep in the meantime. Yet she sets about it and keeps stirring the potion in her magical cauldron all the time, with no sleep. Finally, on the last day, she felt so extremely sleepy that she decided to have a quick nap. She asked her foster son, a boy called Gwioon Fach (or Little Gwion) to stir it for her while she catches some z’s. Gwion stirs the potion very ardently, and then an accident happens. Three drops pour out of the cauldron and burn his finger. He instinctively puts it to his lips and licks them off, right when Ceridwen wakes up. Gwion doesn’t know what the potion is for and how important these three drops are, but he immediately understands that what has just happened definitely shouldn’t have and that she’s going to be mad at him, so he runs away. He discovers that, thanks to the potion, he can now shapeshift, and so he turns into a rabbit. But Ceridwen, being an enchantress, can of course do that too, so she turns into a dog. Gwion changes into a fish and jumps into a river. Ceridwen becomes an otter and follows him. Then he turns into a bird, and she keeps chasing him as a hawk. In the end, Gwion turns into a little grain, whereas Ceridwen changes into a hen and eats him.

Some time later, Ceridwen, back in her human form, of course, finds herself pregnant and realises she’s probably pregnant with Gwion. She is set on killing the baby as soon as he’s born, but when the time finally comes the child is so incredibly beautiful that she just can’t do it. Instead she casts him in the ocean in a leather bag and from then on he starts a completely new life and is known as Taliesin, the most famous bard of Wales, which is a story in its own right, but a very interesting one too.

Anyways, if you haven’t yet realised what I find so great about Ceridwen is her maternal dedication. It’s really admirable how she can be so determined that she would even lose her sleep for almost an entire year just to make her son’s life easier. Her story also shows in an interesting way how even when things go totally not the way we’d like them to, still a lot of good can come out of it, perhaps even better than what we’d imagined. Taliesin was definitely a good thing, after all.

You? Do you have any favourite mythical deity? Or maybe you have so many that you too can’t pick just one? 🙂

Martha Wainwright – “Proserpina”.

Hi guys! 🙂

This is a very special song for me. I discovered it thanks to Spotify some 2 years ago and it spoke to me very strongly immediately. It’s because I feel a strong connection to Proserpina/Persephone from Roman/Greek mythology. I feel a connection to her because her story, of her being forced to live in Hades for half a year, and half a year with her mother, reminded me in a lot of ways about my own situation when I was at the boarding school and away from my family most of the time. I heard this story during a Polish lesson and I immediately felt a bond with Persephone and her mother. Especially that I’ve always been interested in myths, legends and fairytales. This connection has lasted and a couple years later, when I was still at school, I suddenly got a spurt of creativity at night – as it often happened back then because I felt the most free to let my thoughts and feelings out through writing at night – and I wrote a short story about Proserpina on my Braille-Sense, and called it just that, “Proserpina”, I think Proserpina sounds better than Persephone. I wrote this story because I thought that it’s a shame that the myth seems to focus so much on what Ceres/Demeter felt, I mean it is very good and I feel for her very deeply, but we can actually only imagine what Proserpina must have felt while her mother was trying to find her and losing her mind from grief and despair. And it was one of the few short stories that I didn’t delete just after writing, as I usually do, but I’ve also never read it to anyone. I was maybe 14 or something at the time but looking back at it I think it was really fairly decent, compared with my other writings that I remember from that time, which make you wonder whether you should laugh or cry, so cringey they are. 😀

So, while I’d never listened to Martha Wainwright’s music before, Spotify can sometimes have that weird intuition and suggest you something that is reall spot on for you and you wonder how it happened if you don’t really listen to similar stuff a lot. Well, Martha Wainwright is definitely folksy but I have only a very vague idea about Canadian folk scene. I am not a big fan of her, I mean I don’t dislike her or anything, I guess I just feel neutral, but this song has always been very special for me since I know it, I love both the topic of it and the lyrics, as well as how it sounds. So here it is, I hope you like it too, and maybe it will speak to someone else as well, whether in a similar or a completely different way as me. I think the story of Ceres and Proserpina is also very relatable for families affected by child loss. Regarding Martha Wainwright herself, she comes from a very musical family, her mother is another folk singer Kate MCGarrigle from Kate & Anna MCGarrigle duo, and there are a lot of other musicians and artists in her family as well.