I have studied and practised many spiritual traditions in my life, some very venerable with long and established pedigrees. By comparison the fractured and disreputable revivalist traditions of the Mabinogion can feel insubstantial but they continue to speak to my heart summoning me to a deep place in the heart of the body and the world. It is the Mabinogion as gateway into depth and mystery that I want to speak to here.
There are many commentaries on it, the best of which, come from my friends John and Caitlin Matthews(Mabon and the Guardians of Celtic Britain and King Arthur and the Goddess of the Land from Caitlin; Taliesin the Last Celtic Shaman from John). What makes their books the best in my opinion is that they understand that they are writing to help others bring these traditions alive again within the soul.
In my view this is the same intention the medieval bards held in the creation of the Mabinogion- a creative reinterpretation of ancient traditions -the generation of a new mythology in a collection of stories that contain archetypal images, mandalas, quests and riddles. Engaging with this surreal hypertext awakens the roots of inspiration creates relationship between the tangible formed everyday world and the formless originating depth of Annwn that exists in the centre of each experience and in the middle of each sensation.
To give a flavour of this let us consider the beginning of the First Branch-the tale of Pwyll Prince of Dyfed. Pwyll whose name means sensible judge goes hunting and pursues a magical stag. The stag is pulled down by a magical pack of hounds with white coats and red ears in Glen Cuch. He drives off the white hounds and sets his own pack on the stag before being challenged by the otherworldy huntsman and King Arawn who is dressed in grey and who in turn drives off Pwyll's pack.
We are then presented with the image of Pwyll and Arawn at opposite sides of Glyn Cuch with the earthly hounds and the otherworldly creating a circle or mandala , in the centre of which is the dying stag. This is the setting for colloquy and interchange and through which Pwyll the man of sense and judgement becomes Pen Anwnn-the one who has become the source or head of the otherworld experience.Within this meeting of the man of earth and the shimmering grey one in the moment of the dying stag we find many of the key themes of the mabinogion.
In order to find these themes we have to enter into the chase, follow the stag, encounter the hounds of arawn and drive them off thus staking our claim and making our challenge. We must enter into the otherworldly colloquy, give and be given to and above all must become and be the dying stag.