Tag Archives: Gower Heritage Centre

And Finally….

25 Jan

Mari Port Talbot

Here’s the last of the Mari Lwyds I sketched at the recent Gower Wassail. This one’s from Port Talbot, the Cwmafan Mari who was bedecked loads of bows. That should be the last of the Mari Lwyds until next New Year …..

The Cheeky Mari From Pembrokeshire

18 Jan

Mari benfro

This is another sketch of a Mari Lwyd I did last weekend at the Hen Galan festivities in the Gower Heritage Centre. This Mari came all the way from Pembrokeshire and her keeper knew who she was when she was alive – she was a stallion! But he’s been reincarnated as a Mari Lwyd, linking back thousands of years to the Celtic goddess Epona, or Rhiannon in Welsh mythology. Each of the Mari Lwyds is different, they have their own personalities and Mari Benfro (Pembroke Mari) is exceptionally cheeky and lively.

 

A Dead Horse In A Sketchbook

14 Jan

mari 2 2020

Husb and I went to the Gower Wassail and Mari Lwyd festival last weekend, where there was a gathering of Maris. Normally they’re jumping around the place, up to mischief, but this one had been propped up against a pole and was sat quietly, so I had a chance to draw her in more detail than normal. The sketch on the right was the first and I made her face way too long. I know that horses have long faces anyway, but this one was foreshortened and the drawing on the left is more accurate. Some people might think it a bit strange that people choose to keep company with dead horses, but it’s what we do in these parts 😀

To find out more about the Mari Lwyd tradition in Wales, please click here

Hen Galan Hapus – Happy Old New Year

13 Jan

Mari cas gwent

Today (January 13th) is Hen Galan, the Welsh Old New Year, based on the archaic Gregorian rather than the modern Julian calendar. And there’s a long tradition in Wales of welcoming in the Old New Year with fun, festivities, feasting and a dead horse. As you do. She’s called the Mari Lwyd (Grey Mare) and is a modern incarnation of the ancient Celtic horse goddess Epona, also called Rhiannon in Wales.

mari 3 2020

Grey and white animals were prized in pre-Christian times for their ability to flit between this world and Annwn, the Otherworld, which isn’t like the Christian Heaven and Hell. That’s why Christianity almost wiped out the tradition, by the mid 20th century there were only a handful of Mari Lwyds left in Wales, where there had once been hundreds. But now she’s coming back and Husb and I went Wassailing on Saturday and there were six Mari Lwyds prancing around and making mischief. The one at the top is Mari Cas-Gwent (the Chepstow Mari Lwyd) and the bottom one is Mari Benfro (the Pembrokeshire Mari Lwyd). They’re all different.

Anointing The Apple Trees.

11 Jan

mari 4 2020

 

In two days on January 13th it will be Hen Galan, the ‘old’ New Year in Wales, which is heralded by the tradition of the Mari Lwyd (Grey Mare). It’s a pre-Christian custom rooted in the worship of the ancient Celtic horse goddess Epona, known in Welsh culture as Rhiannon.

 

mari 1 2020

 

Husb and I went to the Gower Wassail festival today, which included a parade of Mari Lwyds by torchlight, with lots of music and shouting to ‘wake up’ the apple trees in the orchard, and to anoint their roots with cider. It’s an ancient ritual meant to encourage a good apple harvest next year. Here’s Husb getting dressed as a Mari – traditionally although the Mari is female, the person inside is a man, although these days there are women puppeteers as well. You can see the horse skull on the floor.

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