The story of Blodeuwedd is one of those that fits the Celtic theme of ‘women are strong people and key characters, but usually the cause of trouble/disaster’.
Which is at least more interesting than sitting at home, knitting socks, while the men go off on quests and adventures and so on.
The hero Lleu Llaw Gyffes was cursed by his mother Arianrhod (strong women again) never to have a human wife.
No worries. Take some meadowsweet, oak blossom and broom, and a bit of magic, and hey presto, one instant wife for Lleu.
Now, I don’t blame her for falling in love with a bloke called Gronw (Goronwy) while Lleu’s off doing hero stuff. I don’t think it’s being ungrateful to maybe resent being manufactured as a wife for someone. without regard for your feelings. And we can’t help who we do or don’t fall in love with.
Where I do draw the line is at bumping someone off, though. Because Blodeuwedd and Gronw decided to get shot of Lleu.
Lleu reveals to her that he can only be killed while standing with one foot on a bath tub and one on a goat, and by a spear forged for a year during Sunday mass.
Now he’s probably feeling pretty safe there. But agreeing to demonstrate the position to her is either a sign of great trust or naivety. Because of course, Gronw’s hiding in the background with a spear he’s prepared earlier.
Lleu turns into an eagle for a bit, before being turned back into a human and getting his revenge on Gronw, hurling a spear right through a huge stone and killing him.
Blodeuwedd, meanwhile, is turned into an owl. And maybe doesn’t mind, really, as the man she loves is dead and things would be a bit awkward with her hubby now.
The story was used by Alan Garner for the wonderful novel for children The Owl Service. Which has a line ‘she wants to be flowers and you make her (into) owls’.
Which I remember whenever someone pushes me into acting in a way I don’t like having to.
Language of flowers:
Broom – Humility, Neatness
Meadowsweet – Uselessness
Oak, White – Independence
You can order The Owl Service via various booksellers, including (UK) Waterstones
Someone has even set up a website where you can cut out an owl/flowers plate.