>From: David Stifter <[log in to unmask]>
>By coincidence we were reading a passage of the Mabinogi "Math uab
>Mathonwy" in a Middle Welsh class the other day where it was related that
>Aranrhod's nameless son skillfully hit a dryw = wren with a stone between
>the sinew of its leg and the bone (58, 22 ff. in Mühlhausens edition of the
>Mabinogion). This incident led Aranrhod to call her son Lleu Llaw Gyffes (=
>Lugus of the Skilled Hand) against her will.
Very nice detail, David. But is this actually the opposite of what happens
in the Grimms' tale? For Lleu assumes the form of an eagle when he is
"killed." If Lleu is an eagle, then it is the eagle (the king?) who injured
the wren (druid?) by outstanding skill, not the wren outwitting the eagle
for the kingship. Or perhaps it is by injuring the wren/druid that one
becomes king or eligible to become king. If so, then perhaps Dennis is right
and the wren-day procession has nothing to do with the international tale,
but instead comes from an earlier Celtic tale of someone becoming eligible
for the kingship by performing a series of tasks, including killing or
wounding a wren--a task requiring great skill.
It may be that the well-known story of the wren and the eagle was imposed
later on the wren-day processions, just as were the associations of the wren
with the martyrdom of St. Stephern and the wren's reputed role with the
defeat of Irish by Norse. And these later tales obscured and replaced
earlier tales about wrens.
So why is there a horse present in some of the processions (such as
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