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).
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.
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.