Celtic Symbols of Blodeuwedd
Blodeuwedd Goddess and Her
A lot of my understanding about Celtic symbols is intuited through myth, legend and story of various Celtic deities.
Celtic lore is an infinite source of symbolism. Each god, goddess, hero, heroine bears their own mark (symbol) too. Through their personal emblems, we become privy to enchanted realms of deeper symbolism….the kind of connective symbolism that really tweaks our imagination, and strums our heartstrings.
In my mind, Celtic symbols we can connect with archetypes (heroes/heroines) in myth are the most sticky. Meaning, these symbols ‘stick’ in our consciousness.
Because the story of the heroine becomes personal. We can relate to her plight, and associate the horoine’s journey with our own life path. Therefore, her symbols become intimate in our mental constructs too. This offers of a strong bond with a symbol – something we can relate to.
With this in mind, I’m throwing out the Celtic symbols of Blodeuwedd for your soulful contemplation.
Blodeuwedd herself has several lessons to impart (as is the case with all myths, there is always a moral involved). She was magically conjured up by Gwydion and Math who wanted to provide Lleu Llaw Gyffes a bride.
It’s not that Lleu needed help finding a lady-friend. Hardly, he was a fair-haired, boldly bright beau…very warrioresque, quite the catch. However, his mother, Arianrhod cursed him, disallowing him the company of a human wife (it’s a long story).
So, Lleu’s uncles conjured Blodeuwedd for his pleasure and company. She is an exquisite beauty (although, not too faithful). In fact, her name is translated to mean “Flower-Face.” Indeed, Blodeuwedd was magically created from the essence of flowers.
The following are a few Celtic Goddess symbols of Blodeuwedd. As you contemplate her symbols, try to incorporate the depth of their meanings into your own life experience. Doing so may prove to be a ‘blooming’ experience for you. :)
Celtic Symbols of Blodeuwedd
Among other floral essences, Meadowsweet was used to create the beautiful Blodeuwedd. A good look at this flower, and it’s a no-brainer to see why. Lovely, delicate, soft and subtle – all the good stuff that Gwydion & Math wanted in a lady for Lleu. The symbolism of the Meadowsweet mainly deals with grace, refinement and elegance. Other names for Meadowsweet include: “Lady of the Meadow” and “Brideswort,” the latter because it is a frequent bouquet of choice at weddings. In fact, Meadowsweet was sought after flower for marriage ceremonies in ancient Europe. In the tale of Blodeuwedd, this is symbolic of the intent for harmonious union between she and Lleu. The primary symbolic feature I pick up from Meadowsweet is that of honor and cherish. Not just because of its history in wedding chapels, but also because this fair flower has been found in several funerary remains of ancient Celtic burial sites. This ranks the Meadowsweet high on the symbolic list of honor, commemoration and gentle acknowledgement of fine attributes of the human soul. Learn more about Flower Symbolism here. Thanks to amandabhslater on Flickr for the photo.
Blodeuwedd was also created from the essence of the Broom flower. The name is no coincidence. The branches of the Broom bush are perfect for sweeping (but not while the yellow blossoms are standing at attention, wait till the flowers drop off – otherwise sweeping with Broom branches leads to very nasty luck as the fables warn). Because of its handy household uses, flower symbolism of the Broom include a sense of orderliness, cleanliness, tidiness. Kind of like a “symbol of good house-keeping.” It’s bright yellow flowers are likened to the gold of the radiating sun, and therefore conjure symbolic attributes of light, energy, vitality and warmth. The Broom flower as a symbol also hints to humility – it’s a simple bush…its needs are few (it can live quite well without much tending). Those who are drawn to the Broom flower as a personal symbol will be humble in his/her ways….resourceful too – making the best (and being happy) with simple things in life. Broom flower symbolism also points to matters of the heart; ingestion of the plant are known to affect cardiac function. Folk medicine cites Broom teas as a heart regulator (don’t try it at home unless you know what you’re doing – do i really have to say that? Sheesh). I appreciate this heart association connected with humbleness. The Broom is a bright reminder of how simple values can go a long way to balancing the heart. Thanks to foxypar4 on Flickr for this great Broom flower photo.
Oak pollen, to be specific. When Math and Gwydion cooked up the magnificently gorgeous Blodeuwedd, they used the pollen of the Oak as an animation agent. Think pixie dust – when blown in through the nostrils, in makes the inanimate come alive. Isn’t that lovely? The Oak is a symbol of life, strength, stability to name a few qualities. Druidic lore held the Oak as a mammoth symbol of power, influence and considered it a chieftain among the sacred clan of trees. In the moral of Blodeuwedd, the Oak is a symbol of integrity (just as the Oak grown fine, strong and tall). Ideally, the Oak pollen breathed through her nostrils would instill faith, long life and fidelity to Lleu. We learn later in the myth that Blodeuwedd eyes wander (she takes off with Gronw), but nevertheless, the intention and symbolic power of the Oak is resolute. I guess there is symbolic moral in this too. We are what we make ourselves. We may be fashioned from certain elements, and that which creates us may have the finest intentions – but in the end – we are the choosers of our path. Learn more about the Celtic symbolism of the Oak Tree here. This great image of Oak leaves was provided by Aiden Grey on Flickr
Last (but not least) in our exploration of the Celtic symbols of Blodeuwedd is the elusive Owl. I’ve included it as one of her symbols because the Owl marks the conclusion of Blodeuwedd’s story (and moral). Gwydion and Math were mightily peeved to discover Blodeuwedd pursued the love of Gronw (and not their nephew, Lleu). So they killed Gronw, and tried to do the same to Blodeuwedd, but she escaped. As her creators, Gwydion and Math reasoned they could also be Blodeuwedd’s undoing and although they could not find her, they cast a spell turning her into an Owl. In the parable of Blodeuwedd, the Owl is symbolic of transformation, but also of darkness. The Owl is nocturnal, and therefore a symbol of the night and all things that come alive under the cloak of darkness. As she was made from blossoming flowers, and accustomed to shining brightly in the light – the conversion from bud to nocturnal bird wasn’t a pleasant one for Blodeuwedd. And so, Blodeuwedd was left in eternal sorrow for having to live her days unseen, unappreciated. There’s a symbolic lesson here. I like to think the Owl expanded her vision, allowing her to see the landscape of her life with new eyes. Sometimes darkness can reveal more than the light. Furthermore, I appreciate the tone of transformation in the myth of Blodeuwedd. We all have seasons of bright blooms, but we each must sail the night skies for perspective too. The Owl is symbolic of that transition from one perspective to another. Interestingly, the Welsh word for “owl” is blodeuwedd. More on Owl Symbolism here.
Furthermore, I hope this page has inspired you to dig up your own symbolic dirt in Celtic myth. Once you start reading and learning these amazing legends, I’m sure you will adopt more Celtic symbols that offer profound impact and meaning for you.
Other Articles Of Interest On This Site
Celtic Meaning of Archetypes
This landing page for Celtic Meaning of Symbolic Archetypes is a way to classify and organize various Celtic archetypal symbolism I’ve written about over the years. What does that mean in the context of symbolic Celtic meaning? It means we can learn so much from the ancient wisdom available to us, and apply this wisdom to our modern lives. Click here to read more about Celtic meanings and archetypes.
Celtic Goddess Meanings and Goddess Symbols
Celtic goddesses serve as powerful symbols within the Celtic culture. They are representative of a stronger, higher power; they are immortal, yet possess human traits. We can relate to these goddesses because we ourselves hold the same deific potential. Click here to learn more about Celtic goddess meanings.