In this story, Gwydion, the Arch-Mage, and his protégé and foster-child, who at the outset of the story has neither name, combat arms, nor the hope of securing a livelihood and hence a fitting mate, journey three times to the ‘strong-hold’ of Arianrhod in order to acquire from her, by fair means or foul, the child’s three-fold birth-right.
On the first journey, in order to secure the child a name, they walk together to Arianrhod’s seat of power, which is situated in Anglesey. On their second sojourn together, in order to secure combat arms, they have to wade to the fortress and on their third sally forth, in search for the lad a wife, they sail there in a boat.
It is North’s contention then that, as it was only over the slow course of millennia that Anglesey actually became an island, what we have here, preserved for all time in this story, is a folk record of the earth’s gradual evolution into that state.
This is a big idea. Yet it is not so big an idea that it cannot be held and wondered about, nurtured and cherished by anyone who cares to, or anyone who so has a mind. That so few people today do have a mind to, perhaps, is something of a pity for it is only by fostering such ideas that we maintain the link, our true birth-right, with the land into which we are born.
There is a similar notion inherent in the mythology of the Norsemen who conceptualised the ice flows of this earth’s Ice Age as ‘Frost Giants’ and gave to them the role of creator ‘Gods’ for perchance they felt it worthy of remembrance that those mighty energies formed the landscapes in which they came to live and die… and have their being.
Or again, as another unmet friend once asked, whilst sitting beneath the branches of an expansive oak tree and blowing the seeds from a dandelion into the breeze, “who speaks for earth?” And then, after a time honoured pause for dramatic effect, answered the question himself with a twinkle, and a knowing smile, “we speak for earth.”
That is why we tell stories…