Dwyn
Welsh to bring, bear; to steal

Hypothetical Welsh god
Welsh Saint

I have seen several references--only on the internet--to a Welsh god named Dwyn, who is the god of love and youth; sometimes he is named a trickster god. He's even attributed an oversized phallus. However, I've yet to find a print source for the existence of this god. The closest figure to this Dwyn seems to be Mabon ap Modron, the god of youth and healing, and through is association with the Irish Oengus mac ind-Og, the god of love. However, I have found no literary references to a Dwyn who fills the same role.

What I have found, however, is the story of Saint Dwynwen (fl. 485-565 AD), sometimes simply called Dwyn, who was one of the many sainted daughters of Brychan Brycheiniog, and patroness of Llanddwyn Island[1], off the Isle of Anglesey. According to legend, she was in love with a prince Maelon Dafodrill, but for various reasons, the marriage was impossible. Because of this--either her rejection of him for a cloistered life, or perhaps he was betrothed to a different princess--it is thought that either he raped her, or she was left in a state of unrequited love. In desperation, she prayed to God to releave her of her pain. An angel appeared and gave her a potion to drink. Unfortuntately for Maelon, this potion also turned him to stone (some sources say ice).

Regretting this, Dwynwen made three wishes:

  1. That Maelon is unfrozen
  2. That she never wish to marry again
  3. That God should grant the requests of all lovers who prayed in her name.

God granted her wishes; Dwynwen and one of her sisters (IIRC) made a pilgrimage to an peninsula off Anglesey, which is now named for the holy community she started. There is a 16th century church still there, as well as the typical holy well (Ffynnon Dwynwen) and a stone cross dedicated to the saint. There is also reported a church dedicated to her in Cornwall. Her feast day is January 25.

She is attributed one saying: "Nothing wins hearts like cheerfulness."

Without other evidence of the god Dwyn's existence, what I can guess is that someone at some point (probably a modern "expert") took the story of Saint Dwynwen and transfered it to a male god, borrowing some of the aspects of Mabon/Oengus. But even saying that, while there seems to have been a Saint Dwynwen, I can't find an age for the story attached to her--for all I know, it may be one of Iolo Morgannwg's inventions.

This hypothetical god represents the problems with distinguishing between authentic figures, the forgeries of the "antiquarians", and modern new age "Celts" who do very little research and use a lot of their imagination, passing it off as authentic tradition.

Like many local cults, Saint Dwynwen is no longer recognized by the Roman Catholic Church.


NOTES:
1. Llanddwyn: "Church of Dwyn". This is not so much an island, but a peninsula which is often cut off from the rest of the island at high tide.

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Mary Jones 2004