Thursday, 16 February 2012

The History of the Heart part two: Being the Bards.

So, I wrote quite passionately a couple of weeks ago about why sharing the mythology of our land and our people is so important.  This time, I'm going to attempt be a bit more practical and share how we go about bringing the stories alive; starting with the birth of Taliesin.  To me, this is an obvious starting point as it is by far the most exciting and dynamic story from a three year old point of view.  Others are going to present more of a challenge, but should be lots of fun to find creative ways of interpreting them!

Usually a book is a good starting point.  So far, we have not found a good children's version of the tale aimed at younger/preschool children.  I actually think this has turned out to be a blessing; remember that these tales were originally part of an oral tradition and as such should be committed to memory rather than just being read from a page.  We have always told the tale from memory and embellished it as we see fit at the time, in true bardic style.

I have been busy recently putting together a story sack:
The print is by the wonderful Wendy Andrews.  We have a larger version that we've been using until now as a visual prompt when we tell the story.  The laminated photo is of Gethin at Llyn Tegid.  The idea is to make it all fun by giving him a way of playing with and re-enacting it; we all know it's much easier to remember things that are fun! There are so many ways to adapt this idea, someone crafty could make fabric finger puppets depicting the transformations or carve them out of lovely tactile wood.  I've tried to do it on a bit of a budget using second hand toys and ebay bargains and I actually like the fact that it's a bit tacky; Gwion Bach as depicted by Playmobil, how fabulous is that!

Some of the other ways we have explored the story so far are:

Visiting Llyn Tegid; an absolutely amazing place and so lovely to be able to say 'this is where it all happened!'.  Obviously not everyone can manage that, but visiting a nearby lake or even looking at pictures of the lake would be good.  While we were there recently we burned some incense as an offering and said thank you to Cerridwen and Taliesin for their inspiration (anything involving burning stuff is a hit with our 3 year old..).  We also talked about the Awen, sang some Awens and made pretty pictures with our shadows:
Obviously we did lots of other very fun stuff like skimming stones, paddling and 'fishing', too!

Making 'potions': this has been one of Gethin's favourite things to do for a while.  If you don't have a spare cauldron lying around then even a bucket and a wooden spoon will do just fine with a bit of imagination.  This game can be adapted to suit the current need, Gethin will happily potter around by himself while I'm busy nearby but it's more fun if we do it together.  Also fantastic for teaching the names of different plants, we like to do a treasure hunt where I challenge him to find different ingredients.  Kids from many Pagan families will already be playing this as they love to copy what they see mum and dad doing.

Actually physically acting out the story: well yes, anything involving chasing each other around being different animals and trying to eat each other is probably going to be a hit with most young children!

Our next challenge is going to be the first branch of the Mabinogi.  So far so good, it involves a monster getting its hand chopped off so has instant appeal to most small boys...


  1. this is fabulous stuff! keep it coming, I love the story sack, and will be showing Erin, who is currently doing a project for her Textiles GCSE, which is "design and make an educational toy, for a child under the age of 5" she has chosen the Ceridwen/Taliesin story! she has drawn pictures for the book to accompany the Ceridwen Doll she will be making!

    1. Sounds fantastic, I would love to see what she comes up with! xx