Aethnen wrote: Gwenfrewi's name is indeed a bit of a mystery. I have always wondered whether the "frewi" should more likely be "ferwi" which would then mean that her name meant something more dramatic and appropriate like "sacred bubbling" or "holy boiling" ... which is VERY reminiscent of her head flying off, hitting the ground and a spring bursting forth from the spot. But of course, I've not been able to prove any such thing! Once again, only a personal hunch.
Aethnen wrote: If Gwenfrewi was a historical saint tacked on to a local goddess or genus loci, then at the very least, she would probably have been a spring goddess .... spring as in source of sacred water. There's no saying either that she ISN'T connected to Ffraid but the question boils down to a couple things ....
1) she is connected to Ffraid in so much that she IS Ffraid .... OR
2) she is connected to Ffraid in so much as that she was her own original self from pagan times and that the legend of Brighid of Ireland or Ffraid (either in pagan OR christian times) simply got tacked on to certain already present traditions .... OR
3) she really has nothing to do with Ffraid technically or academically speaking, but on a psychological, archetypal and spiritual level, they very much equate to a similar thing
Aethnen wrote: Otherwise, it's funny that you should bring all this up with Gwenfrewi, because this past St Dwynwen's Day (25th January for those who don't know), I was actually struck by the proximity of the saint day to the festival of Ffraid, and wondered if there was any connection.
Indeed, looking over to Ireland, we know that Imbolc and Lunasa are mirror festivals ... Imbolc is distinctly feminine with Brighid (with solar connections and also is the many-talented one) and the start of life (planting) ... Lunasa is distinctly masculine with Lugh (who is definitely solar connected and is ALSO well-known for his many talents as his second name sometimes given reveals) and the end of life (harvest). Lunasa could last up to a week with the festival at Tara and all the competitions, judgments, commercial stalls, feasting etc ..... whereas with Imbolc, although it was for more personal/private to the family and not as public as tribal .... there still seems to be an inference that Imbolc was not just one day, or even three days, but a longer period, like Lunasa. These inferences are of course my own, from reading a couple in-depth studies in Celtic journals (I can get the exact details if anyone requests it) where they discuss all the things done around the festival of Brighid. I must admit, it IS quite a lot and obvious that it couldn't have been fit into one or two days.
So is Dwynwen based on a real historical figure? Is it like Brighid where there was a goddess and an actual historical person? I'm not sure although I would imagine so, without getting too carried away. Once again too we are confronted with the "gwen" in the name, which has struck me over and over seems to carry older sacred sentiments than just the virginal purity attached in Christian times.
I just wondered to myself if Dwynwen was connected to Ffraid in anyway too. Dwynwen has a well too, I believe, on Ynys Mon. I was more struck with the thought that Ffraid could have been a Christian or even earlier Irish element brought in and who replaced or took up the local place of Spring and fertility goddess or saint. .... indeed, the Irish seem to have had several migrations and settlements over to Wales, and the Pen Llyn is a perfect example, as well as place names found in Mon/Anglesey and down in Dyfed. Although Ffraid seemed particularly strong around Conwy, not just Ynys Mon.
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