Ceridwen And Gwion_ (_gwiawn_) _bach's Transformation

: Welsh Folk-lore

But a striking instance of rapid transition from one form to another is

given in the Mabinogion. The fable of Ceridwen's cauldron is as


Ceridwen was the wife of Tegid Voel. They had a son named Morvran,

and a daughter named Creirwy, and she was the most beautiful girl in

the world, and they had another son named Avagddu, the ugliest man in

the world. Ceridwen, seeing that he
hould not be received amongst

gentlemen because of his ugliness, unless he should be possessed of

some excellent knowledge or strength . . . . ordered a cauldron to

be boiled of knowledge and inspiration for her son. The cauldron was

to be boiled unceasingly for one year and a day until there should be

in it three blessed drops of the spirit's grace.

These three drops fell on the finger of Gwion Bach of Llanfair

Caereinion in Powis, whom she ordered to attend to the cauldron. The

drops were so hot that Gwion Bach put his finger to his mouth; no

sooner done, than he came to know all things. Now he transformed

himself into a hare, and ran away from the wrath of Ceridwen. She

also transformed herself into a greyhound, and went after him to

the side of a river. Gwion on this jumped into the river and

transformed himself into a fish. She also transformed herself into

an otter-bitch, and chased him under the water until he was fain to

turn himself into a bird of the air; she, as a hawk, followed him,

and gave him no rest in the sky. And just as she was about to swoop

upon him, and he was in fear of death, he espied a heap of winnowed

wheat on the floor of a barn, and he dropped among the wheat and

buried himself into one of the grains. Then she transformed herself

into a high-crested black hen, and went to the wheat and scratched it

with her feet, and found him and swallowed him.

The tale of Ceridwen, whose fame was such that she can without

exaggeration be styled the goddess of witches, resembles in part the

chase of the witch-hare by the black dog, and probably her story gave

rise to many tales of transformations.

I now come to another kind of transformation. It was believed by the

aged in Wales that witches could not only turn themselves into hares, but

that by incantation they could change other people into animals. My

friend, the Rev. T. Lloyd Williams, Wrexham, lodged whilst he was at

Ystrad Meurig School with a Mrs. Jones, Dolfawr, who was a firm believer

in Rhibo or Rheibo, or witching, and this lady told my friend the

following tales of Betty'r Bont, a celebrated witch in those parts.