Taliesin, Chief of the Welsh Bards

The lute player
Taliesin was known as the greatest of Welsh bards. Cristian Baitg / Getty Images

In Welsh mythology, Taliesin is the son of Cerridwen, and god of the bards. The tale of his birth is an interesting one - Cerridwen brews up a potion in her magical cauldron to give to her son Afagddu (Morfran), and puts the young servant Gwion in charge of guarding the cauldron. Three drops of the brew fall upon his finger, blessing him with the knowledge held within. Cerridwen pursues Gwion through a cycle of seasons until, in the form of a hen, she swallows Gwion, disguised as an ear of corn. Nine months later, she gives birth to Taliesin, the greatest of all the Welsh poets. Cerridwen contemplates killing the infant but changes her mind; instead she throws him into the sea, where he is rescued by a Celtic prince, Elffin (alternately Elphin).

One of the things that makes Taliesin different from many other figures in Celtic myth is that evidence shows that he really did exist, or at least that a bard named Taliesin existed around the sixth century. His writings still survive, and he is known as Taliesin, Chief of Bards, in many Welsh writings. His mythologized story has elevated him to the status of a minor deity, and he appears in the tales of everyone from King Arthur to Bran the Blessed.

Today, many modern Pagans honor Taliesin as a patron of bards and poets, since he is known as the greatest poet of all.

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Wigington, Patti. "Taliesin, Chief of the Welsh Bards." Learn Religions, Sep. 27, 2021, learnreligions.com/taliesin-chief-of-the-welsh-bards-2561708. Wigington, Patti. (2021, September 27). Taliesin, Chief of the Welsh Bards. Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/taliesin-chief-of-the-welsh-bards-2561708 Wigington, Patti. "Taliesin, Chief of the Welsh Bards." Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/taliesin-chief-of-the-welsh-bards-2561708 (accessed March 27, 2023).