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The Mabinogion and Alan Garner'sThe Owl Service
'I read that,' said Alison.
'The whole story?' said Gwyn.
'I think so.'
'Here, look at these. Is it all the same story?'
Alison read the other pieces.
'Yes: that's it.'
'What's it about? What happened?' said Gwyn.
'Wait a minute,' said Alison. 'There was a wizard, or something. I forget his name, and he made a woman out of flowers, and she married this Clue Claw Somebody.'
'Llew Llaw Gyffes,' said Gwyn.
'Yes: well then she fell in love with a man called Gronw: Gronw Pebyr. And he decided to kill Clue.'
'Never mind,' said Gwyn. 'Go on.'
'This is a complicated bit: all magic,' said Alison. 'But Gronw threw a spear from a hill when Clue was standing by a river and killed him. But Clue wasn't really dead. He turned into an eagle, and the wizard found him and turned him back again. The wizard was his father, or uncle: I'm not sure. Then Clue and Gronw changed places, Clue threw the spear this time, and Gronw was killed. That's the end of the story.'
'There's a stone by the river here called the Stone of Gronw,' said Gwyn. 'There's a hole in it.'
'Which means we're right where all this Ku Klux Klan is supposed to have happened, as Professor Halfbacon claims,' said Roger. 'Very interesting.'
'Them plates,' said Gwyn. 'What happened to the wife?'
'Oh yes,' said Alison. 'The wizard said he wouldn't kill her; he'd do worse than that. So he turned her into an owl.'
'She wants to be flowers, but you make her owls. You must not complain, then, if she goes hunting.'
From 'The Owl Service' by Alan Garner - winner of both the Guardian Award and the Carnegie Medal - first published: 1967 by William Collins Sons & Ltd.
...And Math said, 'Let us use our magic and enchantments to conjure up a woman out of flowers.' ... Math and Gwydyon took the flowers of oak and broom and meadowsweet and from these conjured up the loveliest and most beautiful girl anyone had seen; they baptised her with the form of baptism that was used then, and named her Blodeuedd. [Blodeu: flowers.]
Gwydyon overtook her and said, 'I will not kill you, but I will do what is worse: I will let you go in the form of a bird. Because of the shame you have brought on Lleu Skilful Hand, you are never to show your face to the light of day, rather you shall fear other birds; they will be hostile to you, and it will be their nature to maul and molest you wherever they may find you.
Goronwy the Staunch set out for Penllyn, from where he sent messengers to ask Lleu Skilful Hand if he would accept land or territory or gold or silver for the injury. 'I swear by my confession to God, I will not,' said Lleu. 'He must come to where I was when he cast the spear at me, while I am standing where he was, and must let me throw a spear at him. That is the least I will accept.' ...
... The two men went to the bank of Avon Gynvael; Goronwy stood where Lleu had been when the spear was thrown, and Lleu where Goronwy had been. But Goronwy went to Lleu and said, 'Lord, since it was through a woman's bad influence that I struck you, I beg this of you in God's name. I see a stone by the river bank - let me put that between myself and the blow.' 'God knows I will not refuse you that,' said Lleu. 'God reward you,' said Goronwy, and he took up the stone and put it between himself and the blow. Then Lleu threw the spear and pierced both the stone and Goronwy; Goronwy's back was broken and he was killed. The stone still stands on the banks of Avon Gynvael in Ardudwy, with the spear through it, and so it is called Llech Oronwy.
From 'The Mabinogion' - translated and with an introduction by Jeffrey Gantz - first published: 1976 by Penguin Books.
She was made from flowers for a man; while watching a stag hunt she fell in love with another. With her new lover she tried to kill her husband. They failed; her punishment was to be turned into an owl. The owl was seen as a creature of the night, shunned by other birds and a foreteller of death.
She may want sometimes to be flowers not owls, but she is both. She and others need to come to terms with her being both. The night is not bad, just dark.
"And the room was full of petals from skylight and rafters, and all about them a fragrance, and petals, flowers falling, broom, meadowsweet, falling, flowers of the oak."
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