I find myself blogging on here and awful lot, far more than I was originally thinking I would. I also find myself working on two subjects at once and neglecting other studies. Ok, I think I should tie up some loose ends now and then get on with other things.
First of all I want to get my thoughts on the horse skull as a cult object out in the open. As I have mentioned, I am very much a physical person and tend to use physical object as a focus and ‘starting point’. My current inclination is towards the plant Rhiannon and as such wanted to use a horse skull as a focal point, in fact the altar which will serve as a cult focus. The skull itself is a by-product of the food industry (the body went to France – not on holiday) and to my mind what I have done in using it is not immoral or dishonourable. Rhiannon is a sovereignty goddess and like many other sovereignty deities in Europe is associated with horses. You could say that she is a horse herself, in fact it is rather likely that she was even more hippomorphic in the original mythos. I don’t think that the argument that we don’t eat horses in the UK because they were taboo hold much water, they were far more useful alive than as food and I’m sure at some point they were eaten in times of need. It is the same with cats and dogs – these animals were workers, not food.
To my mind, by having a horse skull forms a link to the horse goddess. It is not as if I went out and killed it purely for this purpose, I simply made use of a spare part. This is my reasoning, I am comfortable with it and in time when I start to use the skull, I am sure that Rhiannon herself will let me know if this displeases her.
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Now, to the Mari Lwyd. The current tradition is that the ML was thrown out of the stable of the nativity and is wandering to find a place to stay. An alternative is that it is a retelling of Mary and Joseph’s wandering to Egypt with her divine child. Take a step back in time to Greece. Demeter wandered the earth looking for her kidnapped daughter Persephone, at one point taking the form of a horse and subsequently mated with the sea god also in horse form. A quick digression here – Teyrnon Twrfliant is clearly a sea god (the epithet Raging Sea gives that away) and his original lady friend was Rhiannon the horse goddess, their child can be seen as the divine child who was kidnapped by otherworld forces. This looks awfully familiar to the Demeter episode. The only missing part is Rhiannon’s wandering to find her lost son. The ML’s wandering from home to home as the grey mare at winter shares a parallel with the Demeter myth, especially in the sense that Demeter’s wandering caused winter to come for the first time as nobody was around to tend to the land in her absence. The wasteland/winter theme still arises in the third branch when Pryderi and Rhiannon are kidnapped for a second time.
So, to tie up my rambling, perhaps what we have here is a continuation of a Rhiannon myth in which she is wandering the landscape searching for her son. These themes have continued into the Christian tradition associated with the ML. to me it looks like a very interesting connection, though whether I can convince others is another matter.