WHEN the cycle of the Full Moon coincides with the Summer Solstice ... as it does tonight ... it is the most magical night of the year ... and a child conceived in this night will grow up to be the greatest, wisest and most invincible leader of the age.
Sound like something out of Game of Thrones? Well, it should, because George R.R. Martin borrowed heavily from British (Celtic, Gaelic, Welsh) legends and mythology.
The spooky Red Witch of Game of Thrones is Ceridwen ... who in Welsh mythology is a very, very good witch ... but very, very mysterious ... and very, very dangerous.
21st of June is the festival of Ceridwen and her magical cauldron in which she brews a potion during the Solstice Full Moon.
Only the first three drops of the potion she brewed are able to give wisdom, magical knowledge and the understanding of the speech of birds and animals ... the rest of the potion is poison.
She leaves it to boil and simmer as moonbeams work their Solstice magic on the potion ... and turns away to fetch a vial for the three drops ... leaving impish kitchen knave Gwion to make sure it doesn't boil over.
As Gwion peers into the frothing cauldron with his fingers reaching for the ladle ... three drops burst forth and scald his outstretched forefinger ....
... which he instinctively pops into his mouth with a yelp of pain.
Instantly, he is able to hear everything in the world and to understand the secrets of both the past and the future.
His enchanted foresight shows him how angry Ceridwen will be when she finds a mere mortal has acquired the inspiration she has brewed so painstakingly ... on a night whose celestial configuration will not occur again in her lifetime.
So away he runs. The all-knowing Ceridwen realizes what has happened and pursues him.
They both shape-shift into a variety of creatures, Gwion trying to escape, Ceridwen trying to catch him ... until finally he becomes a grain of wheat, and Ceridwen becomes a hen, swallows him and gives birth nine months later to the radiant child Taliesin.
She can not find it in her heart to kill Taliesin (pronounced: "Tally-essen" by the way), so he grows up to be the greatest poet in the Welsh language.
He has the gift of perfect poetry that can blow the seas into a rage, heal all wounds and foretell the events of the future.
Thus the Welsh express their understanding that death and rebirth are necessary for true inspiration to be brought into this world, showing the Muse, the goddess of inspiration, in a somewhat more terrible form than she appears in other cultures.
Ceridwen's ritual pursuit of Gwion symbolizes the changing seasons. Her cauldron contains "awen" ... the divine spirit ... poetic or prophetic inspiration.