If this is a return visit, please reload to see
Note circa October 2006: Three years have passed here. Does this list still apply, now that the author has had more time to study? Some do, most don't: I still hold Graves suspect and to be taken with a large grain of salt. All my research points away from reliance on his circular, suspect work; even a recent reading of "The Cad Goddeu" had yielded an angle he doesn't consider. Nor do I rely anymore on the mentioned Llewellyn authors in this matter. And finally, I am still learning, seeking, so doutbless this will change even further, in years to come.
At any rate, consider this list, then, a good outline from which to start thinking about how you might see Bran, yourself, if you wish to honor Him; tweak and discard whatever seems irrelevant to your view of Him. Enjoy.
With some updated entries circa 2006
I've been thinking of the idea of correspondences, here. Of course the first thing one would think to do would be to look in various books, but you know, I've noticed Bran seems a bit neglected. Or if He is not, all the authors seem to say the same thing. For instance, DJ Conway, in her book Celtic Magick(page 105) has the following:
"Bran the Blessed/Bendigeidfran: Wales. A giant, "raven"; "the blessed". Brother of the mighty Manawydan ap Llyr (Ireland, Manannan mac Lir) and Branwen; son of Llyr. Associated with ravens. God of prophecy, the arts, leaders, war, the Sun, Music, writing."
*Edain McCoy in her, Celtic Myth and Magick gives His correspondences to be military service (from the ideas in the Mabinogion, or from Robert Graves supposition of His part in "the Cad Goddeu"?) and protection, while Sirona Knight (Celtic Traditions) gives His attributes as musician, poet, and prophet.
Um, yea. OK, I agree with some of that, others, no. According to the Mabinogion, He was a king, and He gathered an army to defend His sister Branwen; and beheaded, He spoke prophecy, and offered counsel to His friends. Right. I get all that. But there is something else here. He loved His sister so much that He tried to make ammends of the rift between her husband and her people. That denotes love, familial love, if nothing else. He metered out justice, on her behalf, and tried negotiation, before turning to battle.
Also, if you read the story of Bran and Branwen in the Mabinogion, Bran never attacks; He confronts and offers negotiations. The only time He actually fights is when there is no other way to defend Himself and His family. That denotes, pardon the repetition, justice and compromise, peace before all else. In the Irish tale of the Voyage of Bran, He is a seeker of wisdom, an explorer, a poet, given the fact that--supposedly--only poets and bards could carry Ogham sticks, and Bran had one at hand; not to mention the fact that He is able to hold the silver branch for a time, which to me also seems a sign of learning, knowledge, or bardic training.
And let's not forget the little thing of His year(s) on the Isle of Women. ;o)
So then, artistry, poetry, justice, love? Yes, all these. He seems the perfect father, student, teacher, husband, as well; so He comes across to me.
More mundane things, colors. Again to quote DJ Conway, she has Him listed as a god of creativity (p 186) to which she attributes the color blue. Very true. I agree with this. (But colors don't really seem to apply, in my view, anymore). But if you like, blue could work. She also calls Him a Sun god (Celtic Magick, page 105) but is this based on... Graves? I personally don't see it, though, outside that reference.
What else? I have also noticed a certain amount of joviality here, in looking Him over. There are certain little things in His stories that just seem to crack me up. I have not seen anyone else mention this, but then, again, the mythological information on this figure is lacking. Because of this, however, I add happiness, to His list of attributions.
Herbs, here, are not really my forte. Graves says the Alder (and fern?) was sacred to Bran, but I hold that suspect, (note 2006: especially in light of recent readings concerning the so-called "tree alphabet": See: Peter Beresford Ellis; Druids, page 164.) but for that one, small mention of the alder in the last, oft-deleted part of the Mabinogion: "The Battle of the Trees". Which seems... odd somehow; and ferns are mentioned nowhere else in relation to Bran, that I've seen, as yet.
Offerings: Traditional devotional offerings among the Celts (to their gods) were usually something rather precious; swords, coins, jewelry, but who can afford something extravagant, these days? Wine could be libated too--in fact, **wine is a fine offering, I've noticed, and I am sure grape juice would work just as nicely, heck, why not your morning coffee or tea? If you're a poet, like Him, why not (like many I know) try writing Him a sonnet or a song, or even a story? Use your imgination.
So, to sum up: artistry, poetry, justice, love, husbands, fatherhood, study and knowledge, students and teachers, happiness, mirth, craftiness, intelligence, negotiation, defense.
Anyway, this is all merely my opinion, and this is an ongoing experiment; I am sure, in time, I will find more to add to this list. This is, after all, just a little ponderance.
created June 25, 2003; all contents copyright 2000-2012.
*I'm sorry; I do not have Ms. Knight and Ms McCoy's books right to hand and have misplaced page numbers.
**Please note, I do not here advocate drinking of any kind. The wine is only to be used as libations, poured offerings--an offering solely to the god, not to be imbibed, especially by anyone underage. Also, if you have asthma, I'd caution you against using incense. And colors, well... he's a sailor, a poet, a warrior, a king. Use your imagination. :) Of course, the best suggestion is to go with your own gut feelings on various correspondences.
Thanks, Sharon, for this lovely set!
All contents on this site ©2000-2012 to the webmistress.