The Minor Festivals
(Y Gwyliau Llai)
The minor or solar-based festival dates depend upon the following observations - the Solstices are based on the shortest and longest days, the Equinoxes when the hours of night and day are equal. The Names of the Minor Festivals given here are mutated versions of the original meanings - the correct names remain under wraps of Plant.
This is the Mid-Winter festival and the first and only minor festival to be held indoors. The aged sunlight, on sinking in the west, is considered to have died.
Following the brief overture, there follows a lamentation in memory of the aged Lady of Light in which the departments of nature (except fire) are featured. Eventually the antiphonal deliveries of lament and reassurance end and silence is kept for a time in total darkness.
"Gogyuarch pob diara pieu yr vedgor yssy yma?" (Each mourner asks: 'Whose is this sepulchre'?)
"Bedd Arglwyddes Heulwen ym Morfa Dinlleu y dan fain deveillon." (The grave of Lady Heulwen on Morfa Dinlleu 'neath the stones of Defeillon.)
A new fire representing the re-emergence of The Lady of Light is now kindled from a spark and torches from the new fire are distributed to the company until the entire area is ablaze with light. (Material for the fire includes the remains of the previous year's Yule log.)
The young princess is crowned and a blessing is given to all present. Evergreen, holly and mistletoe are in great profusion and, amid this setting, the ills of the past twelve months are turned to ashes as the old mistletoe from the previous year is burned.
New mistletoe is given to all as a tangible blessing and feasting brings the evening to a close with toasting of the Child of Light and Her Mother, the Cosmic Mother, Who is also our origin.
Note that the Deity whose nadir and re-emergence are here symbolically enacted is not the Sun God but His aura, the Lady of Emanation of our Light.
Commonly known as the Vernal Equiox, this festival and its counterpart in September were also known as 'Llidiart y Seren' (The Stargate).
Held late in the day on which the hours of light and darkness are equal, this is essentially a planting festival - concentrating more on the sowing of spiritual endeavours which each must develop by harvest time.
"The squadrons of night, The squadrons of day in like number stand array'd.
Routed again by Y Gwerin Cysgodion, Even as Gwydyon, armed in weaponry of war and might of enchantment, Triumphed at Felenrhyd."
The young Star Lord is prepared for adulthood, as was the matriarchal custom, by his mother presenting him with arms and he sets forth to seek his fortune. (This is consummated, of course, at Y Briodas Lân.)
New seeds are blessed and given out for planting and rearing within the coming six months, enabling each person to have a visual symbol and daily reminder of his/her good intention as they germinate and grow.
The religious content throughout the evening is well aspected and the festival closes with a small repast shared by all.
This is a commemoration of the sun's cycle and its parallels in human life, hailing the Star Lord as His castle beacon burns brightest on the longest day of the year.
"Resplendent Mine Ysgwyd held high to sustain thee; am I not the fire of thy life-blood?
Golden the battlements of My Royal Kaer; where can'st thou behold such glory at noonday?"
The beauties of His Lady, the Earth Goddess, with the ripening fruit in Her womb, however, are not ignored. The bipolar equilibration in nature is remembered as a necessity - even at a solar festival.
The description is brief, but the time involved in presenting the complex symbolism relating to sun/season/human maturation is comprehensive. The festival closes with a common meal for the people.
Again the hours of light and darkness are equal in September and on this night is the harvest feast with thanksgiving for what we have reaped on outer and inner levels. Have our efforts been sufficient? Here is the time for self-analysis and judgement surrounded by all the signs of Autumn.
People, homes, animals and food are surrounded by a rampart of protection against the potential downturn in fortunes and health during the ravages of winter. The main religious portion of the evening finds its place at this point in a ceremony which is heavy with an array of corn dollies, flowers and autumn decorations.
Chaff is blown from a handful of grain and the seeds distributed to each - a reminder that our accomplishments are but seeds of future endeavours which in turn require to be pruned and reappraised from time to time to ensure their validity in our lives and their continued vitality.
The legend of the Corn God which was partially enacted at Y Fedel Wenith is continued here with His regeneration - yes, a sacrifice freely given that His people may live but, despite which, He Himself continues in manifested existence while Blodeuwedd, his adulterous wife is changed into an owl.
"Y kyrchyssant ar Uath uab Mathonwy; (They made their way to Math ap Mathonwy)
Yno y ducpwyt a gahat o uedic da yg Gwyned wrthaw. (There were brought to him all the good physicians found in Gwynedd.)
Enter Kaer Dathyl's reviving hall.
They strength renew,
Fair Prince of Golden Seas,
That Thy regeration be complete."
In the final thanksgiving we are reminded of His father, the Origin of Light, as His aura, Princess Heulwen wanes towards the end of the year - a link with the next minor festival which will follow in three months.
The harvest feast concludes the festival, a celebration of the necessities for human life - earth, sun and the fruit of their union.
Copyright © Mel Young
aka Gareth Pengwerin 1991
All rights reserved.
Copyright © Gareth Pengwerin 1991
All rights reserved.