God and Melangell be with thee.
– Welsh protective blessing
It must be because yesterday was the feast day for Saint Melangell, the patron of hares, that today the internets are awash in bunny rabbits.
So I have cleaned up one of the images from yesterday that was crooked (see Wyn bach Melangell), and added a few more, plus some coloring. Also found a video of the Deer’s Cry (St. Patricks’s Lorica) that I was looking for yesterday when my battery went down. Enjoy.
This first one is from The Welsh fairy-book. / By W. Jenkyn Thomas ; with one hundred illustrations by Willy Pogány. (1907), and believe me this one was not easy to find – a large one, that is. There are a few thumbnails. It is in the public domain, however, the corporate fat cats do not have everything locked up, not quite yet. The image is on p 273.
BROCHWEL, the Prince of Powys, upon a certain day in the year of our Lord 604, was hunting in a place called Pennant. His hounds started a hare, and pursued it into a dense thicket. Following them into the thicket, he saw a beautiful maiden on her knees praying devoutly to God. The hare was lying on the folds of her garment, facing the hounds boldly.
The prince shouted, “Catch her, catch her!” but the more he urged his hounds on, the further did they retreat, and at last they fled away, howling with terror. The prince, astonished at the strange behaviour of his hounds, turned to the maiden and asked her who she was.
“I am the daughter of a King of Ireland,” she answered, “and because my father desired to wed me to one of his chiefs, I fled from my native soil, and, God guiding me, came to this desert place, where for fifteen years I have served God without seeing the face of any man.” The Prince enquired her name, and she replied that she was called Melangell (the Latin form of the name is Monacella).
Thereupon the Prince broke forth in these words, “O most worthy Melangell, I perceive that thou art the handmaiden of the true God. Because it hath pleased Him for thy merits to give protection to this little wild hare from the attack and pursuit of the ravening hounds, I give and present to thee with willing mind these my lands for the service of God, to be a perpetual asylum and refuge. If any men or women flee hither to seek thy protection, provided they do not pollute thy sanctuary, let no prince or chieftain be so rash towards God as to attempt to drag them forth.”
Melangell passed the rest of her days in this lonely place, sleeping on bare rock. Many were the miracles which she wrought for those who sought refuge in her sanctuary with pure hearts. The little wild hares were ever under her special protection, and that is why they are called “Melangell’s lambs.” Even now, if a hare is pursued by hounds and someone shouts after it, “God and Melangell be with thee,” it will escape.
Some more Melangell images
The Melangell shrine itself is ancient. It is built inside a pre-Christian stone circle, usually a sign of a Celtic hermitage. The surrounding yew trees are older than Christ. From time immemorial it has been known as one of the “thin places” between the earth and the spiritual realm.
Cwm Pennant galant gweli; cwm uchel
I ochel caledi,
Cwm iachus; nid oes i chwi
Ond cam i Ne’o’n cwm ni.
[You see Cwm Pennant shining; a high valley
To ward off hardship,
A healing valley; for you there is not
More than one step between our valley and heaven.]
There was a healing well nearby, another sign of ancient sacred spaces, but that has been closed off by a private owner.
The “three hares” symbol is also called “rotating rabbits”, “trois lievres” or “Tinners’ Rabbits”, a symbol of the Devon tin miners’ guild (although the symbol is oddly missing in the neighboring tin regions of Cornwall). It has many layers of meanings from multiple cultures. It may represent the trinity, innocence, purity, fertility, or madness. It may also have Kabbalist implications, as the symbol has been found in synagogues above areas where the Torah and other sacred documents are stored.
The deer’s cry (St. Patrick’s Breatplate or lorica). If it doesn’t play embedded, right click then copy-paste to a new address bar. Vocals are by Rita Connolly.
I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul
Mil engyl a Melangell
Trechant lu fyddin y fall.
[Melangell with a thousand angels
Triumphs over all the powers of evil.]