With all the news about refugees at the moment, I have been thinking: why would anyone want to donate to our film crowdfunding campaign when there are so many other more urgent humanitarian causes? One answer might be that hanging behind the Dancing Floor film is the tradition of the Children of Don, the race who, the Irish sources tell us, brought magic to these islands. They brought the ‘Four Hallows’ to Britain, that’s the Stone (of Fal), the Cauldron (of the Dagda), the Sword (of Nuadu) and the Spear (of Lugh).

The Sword in the Stone
The Sword in the Stone

These arise in all sorts of moments and combinations in our national life and mythology, for instance in the Stone of Sovereignty which the monarch sits on to get crowned, the sword which is pulled out of the stone by the rightful monarch, Arthur, and the spear which with which Lleu (Welsh form of Lugh) slays his rival, which then flies on to pierce a stone right through. The cauldron turned up on Welsh TV on Saturday night as part of the ten year celebration of the Millennium Centre – in a magnicently over-the-top enactment of the story of the birth of Taliesin a gigantic golden cauldron was propelled round the centre by beaked giants while Ceridwen (Sian Cothi) shrieked from a lightning-struck tree! This cauldron was that of inspiration, but in other forms its known as the ‘cauldron of regeneration’ which I prefer.

The giant cauldron where Taliesin gets his inspiration
The giant cauldron at the Millennium Centre on Saturday. where Taliesin gets his inspiration

Which all shows that the Welsh are particularly at home with myth – though the stunning opening ceremony for the Olympic games shows that its actually British national talent too.

You could say the Four Hallows create a magical foundation for the British psyche, from which is built the integrity of our state and our democratic system. Certainly Corbyn and Cameron can fight but inside the cauldron of parliament they are held safe and we can believe that Britain will not soon be riven and decimated by civil war, unlike Syria.

It is this foundation, this solidity which makes Syrians, Somalians and other war-torn people want to come and live here. And makes us value our freedoms. And maybe sometimes this foundation needs reinforcing, not by politicians but by creative workers like artists, writers, film-makers, to make sure the legacy of the ‘Children of Don’ continues and their stories and symbols stay embedded in our consciousness.  This is what magic really does, good magic.

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3 thoughts on “The Children of Don and the Four Hallows of Britain

  1. This is one of the reasons that I like having a monarchy – I think that Prince Charles in particular has a good sense of the inner obligations of a monarch, and I think he probably has some hallows to hand! Of course it’s a fine line between having a strong sense of rootedness in the land and going all nationalistic, but I think we do need to continually renew our traditions and links to the place we live in and to those who have lived here before us.

  2. A nice reminder of the sense of sacredness (in the broadest sense) and respect for our inter-connectedness with the land. I was listening to a programme on Radio 4 last night about how hastily-built tall towers are dwarfing our London landmarks, as developers push up ever higher residential blocks, with scant regard for the spirit of London. London is not Hong Kong or Dubai, but symbolised by its great buildings – St Paul’s, The Houses of Parliament etc. This is not to say we should always be looking back, but that if we are going to do something really big and bold, a monument which will be seen for miles around by future generations, it should be actually saying something, rather than just a random blot on the landscape. After all, when we’re gone, it will remain.

    A little later on Radio 4, I heard someone bemoaning the fact that British film-making is obsessed with either ‘heritage” or ‘gritty poverty on council estates’. I’m looking forward to The Dancing Floor, which I’m sure will be neither, and will remind us about the floor on which we stand right now.

  3. Why support your film rather than some other worthwhile cause? I’ve no doubt that what you’re doing by making this film is as worthwhile, if not more.

    We are going to be pouring millions of British pounds into the refugee rescue pot.

    What are the hallows hallowed for?

    I believe what you’re doing with your film project and with the British Mysteries is worth supporting and getting involved in, is a pot to pour into, because you’re dealing with awareness itself. What your film is about for me is another possibility for human beings. This is something I’m personally passionate about because I SEE it as the only hope for humanity, mine and every one else’s. Cutting to the chase now I’d say that the other possibility is the mystery of awareness.

    We in the so called West have got stuck in a one sided vision. Our intense focus on this one side has caused the world to shrink. It is a metaphor but it is also a reality. The refugee crisis is one effect of the contraction of our known world.

    We desperately need the means to open up to our other side. There are solutions and answers to problems that we can’t face on the other side.

    Your film could make all the difference in the effort to tipping awareness over onto the other side, waking someone/many up to a whole realm of other possibilities.

    Hurrah for the Dancing Floor, Hurrah for the British Mysteries and Hurrah for you Lyn and the fabulous lineage you represent!

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