Saturday, October 28, 2017

Dinas Emrys and the Goddess Euron

In my book THE MYSTERIES OF AVALON and in blog posts here, I've discussed Ambrosius Aurelianus, whose name may well have been interpreted as the 'divine/immortal golden one.' A.A. (as I like to call him) seems to  have been identified in Welsh tradition with the gods Lleu and Mabon.  I also went into some detail as to why the Dinas Emrys hillfort in Snowdonia, the ancient Eryri, might have attracted a sort of fused version of St. Ambrose and his praetorian prefect father.  I've even gone so far as to very tentatively suggest that Medraut/Moderatus may have belonged at Dinas Emrys, chiefly because his name matched in meaning that of the "modest man" Ambrosius (see Gildas).

Yet I remained dissatisfied with these various explanations.  Discounting the supposed previous name Dinas Ffaraon Dandde, the 'Fort of the Fiery Pharaoh', a designation for Vortigern (again derived from Gildas), we had several male figures associated with the place - all of whom bore names containing the word for gold or who were described as having golden hair.  Aside from Ambrosius himself, there was the late story of the usurper Flavius Eugenius (Owain Finddu) fighting the giant Eurnach in the vicinity of the fort.  Flavius, of course, meant 'yellow haired', and Eurnach seems to has as its first element Welsh Eur-/Aur-, for 'gold, golden.'  Granted, Eurnach may (as some scholars think) be mere corruption of the giant Gwrnach.  Then there is the late tradition of the golden-haired boy at Dinas Emrys.

We are reminded of the Welsh mythological hero Gwri Gwallt Eurin, he of the "Golden Hair", who shares qualities with the god Mabon.  The story of Ambrosius/Emrys playing ball as a fatherless child at Campus Elleti in the Ely Valley is paralleled in that of the Irish Mac Og or 'Young Son.'  Mac Og is himself the Irish equivalent of Mabon.  If we then see Emrys in this context as Mabon, and ask ourselves why the latter was transferred to Dinas Emrys, we might arrive at an unexpected answer.

Mabon's mother was Modron, known in the Romano-British period as Matrona, the 'Divine Mother.'  Like the Matres or Matronae across Europe, she was probably once depicted either in triple form, or on occasion as two goddesses.  A relic of this early worship may be present in the Welsh poem KAT GODEU, where we find the lines

"by  Eurwys, by Euron,
by Euron, by Modron;"

The arrangement of the lines, themselves being preceded by two separate joint phrases relating to Math and Gwydion, not only makes these three personages part of the larger grouping of five great enchanters, but strongly suggests that we have here a triple goddess.  All three, in other words, are Modron.  The most recent translator of the poem, Marged Haycock, stresses that the names Eurwys and Euron not only begin with the word for gold/golden, but are almost certainly female.

As I've made clear in the past, the battle of KAT GODEU happens at Nefyn on the Lleyn Peninsula, specifically at the Garn Boduan hillfort.  Only a short distance from this hillfort is another, called Carn Madryn, the Cairn of Modron.  Neither are very far from Dinas Emrys.

The most important of these goddess names for our purpose is Euron.  Welsh –on can come from masculine –onos (e.g. Maponos > Mabon) or feminine –ona (e.g. Matrona > Modron).  But the suffix itself denotes divinity.  Thus in the name Euron we have 'the Divine Golden One.' As it happens, this pretty much exactly matches the meaning of Ambrosius ('divine/immortal') Aurelianus ('golden one').

If Mabon in the guise of Emrys/Ambrosius belongs at Dinas Emrys, could it be that at least part of the reason why the latter was placed at this hillfort was because originally it bore the name of Dinas Euron?

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