Tag Archives: Rhiannon

Finally ….. Again ……

28 Jan

prints

I know I said a few days ago that I woudn’t post any more Mari Lwyds until next year, but then I found the little lino I cut before Xmas and forgotten about. So I printed up a few today at Swansea Print Workshop, using Caligo Cranfield Safe Wash ink in black onto Hosho paper. I used the back of a wooden spoon to take the print.

 

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.

Ready To Print

3 Jan

cut

I finished cutting a Mari Lwyd skull into my vinyl block. I’ll print it this weekend, using Japanese Hosho paper and Caligo Cranfield ‘Safe Wash‘ relief printing ink, with maybe a hint of chine collé.  I was going to do two skulls but I think the one at the back would make it too crowded so I haven’t cut it.

 

The Mari Lwyd (Grey Mare) is a manifestation of the ancient Celtic horse goddess, Epona – or Rhiannon in Wales, and might even be linked to the earliest cave paintings of shamen in their animal masks. She makes her appearance in the Welsh tradition during Hen Galan, or the ‘old’ New Year based on the Julian rather than the Gregorian calendar which is usually celebrated around the 13th of January.

You can order your own Mari Lwyd, a flat pack horse skull kit designed by David Pitt here….

A Flat Pack Mari Lwyd

2 Jan

Mari Lwyd 2020

Mari Lwyd time will soon be here and I’ve been doing a little lino cut to make some cards to celebrate. She’s a manifestation of the ancient Celtic horse goddess, Epona – or Rhiannon in Wales, and might even be linked to the earliest cave paintings of shamen in their animal masks. She makes her appearance in the Welsh tradition during Hen Galan, or the ‘old’ New Year based on the Julian rather than the Gregorian calendar which is usually celebrated around the 13th of January.

 

flat pack

A flat-pack Mari Lwyd kit designed by David Pitt and sold by ‘trac’

Horse skulls are a bit hard to come by these days, but if you want your own Mari Lwyd, you can order a flat pack horse skull kit here….

Echo From The Past

10 Jan

mari-1

This is the last drawing I did of The Mari Lwyd, Y Fari Lwyd, at Gellionen Chapel last Sunday. Sitting in the pew during the visit from Mari Ystrad (the Mari Lwyd from Ystradgynlais) gave me the time and space to do more detailed drawings than I was able to do a couple of weeks ago when I followed Mari Trecopwr (Coppertown Mari) around pubs in North Gower, which was raucous and hectic but loads of fun.

The tradition of Mari Lwyd was very common until the 1960’s when it had almost died out but it’s now having a revival and it’s terrific to see and draw this echo from the past.

I drew with white, black and sanguine conté crayons into my A4 brown paper sketchbook. I’m enjoying this sketchbook, it gives me a good mid tone to work into. I really like this drawing, I might eventually develop it into a screenprint.

 

 

I am putting my series of drawings of ancient Welsh monuments on Artfinder.  If you want to buy one, you can see them by clicking on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page.

St Elvis

A Thin Veil

9 Jan

mari-2

Drawing the Mari Ystrad at Gellionen Chapel yesterday was a much more peaceful experience than drawing the Mari Trecopwr around the pubs of North Gower a couple of weeks ago and I had the chance to take my time, observe and record at leisure. I finally drew the full figure – the Mari’s skull atop a two legged creature in a decorated white shroud, baggy white trousers and white socks. The huge horse’s skull dwarfs the homo sapien below.

The white – or grey – colouring of the Mari Lwyd dates to pre-Christian times and is the colour of animals that could cross the divide between this world and the underworld. White is also associated with Rhiannon, a Welsh horse goddess and queen of the underworld. At this darkest time of the year, tradition has it that the veil between this and other worlds is at its thinnest and some beings could pass through.

Husb noticed that the spiral pattern on part of the shroud is the same as carvings on ancient stone monuments and temples across Malta. Coincidence? hhhmmmmm

 

I am putting my series of drawings of ancient Welsh monuments on Artfinder.  If you want to buy one, you can see them by clicking on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page.

St Elvis

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