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November 29, 2018 2 min read

King Math fab Mathonwy (son of Mathonwy) ruled the North West area of Wales known as Gwynedd, whilst Pryderi ruled Dyfed. Math was cursed and had to rest his feet in the lap of a virgin, except when at war, or he would die.

His nephew Gilfaethwy desired Goewin, who was Math's footholder and schemed with his brother Gwydion, a powerful magician, to make Goewin available. Gwydion told Math about the otherworldly pigs gifted to Pryderi by Arawn. Gwydion and Gilfaethwy took a band of men and disguised themselves as Bards. As a skilled cyfarwydd (storyteller), Gwydion charmed Pryderi and offered to trade the pigs for horses and dogs, conjured through magic. Pryderi agreed and Gwydion took the pigs to Gwynedd. When his trickery was revealed Pryderi declared war with Gwynedd. When Math went to battle, Gilfaethwy raped Goewin.

Eventually, Gwydion killed Pryderi in single combat. Math returned home, but could not rest his feet in Goewin's lap, as she was no longer a virgin. To save her honour, he took her as his wife. He banished his two nephews and turned them into a breeding pair of deer for a year, wild boars for the next and then wolves. The pair had three children over the three years: Hyddwn, Hychddwn, and Bleiddwn.

After three years, Math forgave his nephews and asked Gwydion who could be his next virgin footholder. Gwydion suggested his sister, Arianrhod. However, when asked to step over Math's rod to prove her virginity she gave birth to a son. Arianrhod fled in shame, but on leaving a lump of flesh dropped from her. Gwydion took this and concealed it in a chest. When he later opened the chest he discovered a second child.

Math named the firstborn Dylan. As soon as Dylan came in contact with water, he became a sea creature and could swim perfectly. Gwydion kept the unnamed second child hidden away, but they grew very attached to one another. After four years he took the boy to see his mother, who refused to recognise him out of shame. In anger Arianrhod placed a tynged (powerful spell) so that the boy would not be named, unless she named him. Gwydion later disguised himself and the boy as shoemakers. Whilst making shoes for Arianrhod, the boy threw a stone at a bird and killed it. Arianrhod declared “Lleu Llaw Gyffes” (The fair one struck with a deft hand) and that became his name.

After many years, Gwydion and Math worked together creating a woman using flowers of the oak, broom and meadowsweet and gave her the name Blodeuwedd (Flower-Faced).

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