Punchbowl Falls, Eagle Creek, Bonneville, Oregon, USA
Three drops, wisdom. Fourth drop, poison.
According to Welsh lore, Ceridwen, the goddess of wisdom, rebirth, transformation, and creative inspiration, sought to instill her physically hideous son Morfran with wisdom and poetic inspiration by means of a magic potion brewed in a cauldron for one year and one day. A young servant boy named Gwion Bach was charged with stirring the concoction when three drops of the scalding brew spilled upon his thumb. Attempting to soothe it, he instinctively put his thumb to mouth and was instantly imbued with the qualities Ceridwen had intended for her repulsive son.
Correctly anticipating her anger and murderous intentions, Gwion fled, and Ceridwen gave chase. They each attempted to gain the upper hand by engaging in a series of transformations: he first a hare, then she a greyhound in response; he a fish, she an otter; he a bird, she a hawk. Exhausted, Gwion took the form of a single grain of corn, and Ceridwen, now a hen, promptly ate him.
She later became pregnant and had planned to kill the child upon birthing it, sensing Gwion’s spirit would be residing within the newborn’s body. But after delivery, he proved so physically beautiful that she could not bring herself to the task of slaughter and instead threw him into the ocean, sewn up inside a leather-skin bag.
Set adrift, Gwion was eventually discovered by a prince named Ellfin ap Gwyddno on a Welsh shore near Aberdyfi. At the sight of the infant’s handsome white brow, Ellfin exclaimed, “dyma dal iesin” (“this is a radiant brow”) Taliesin (c. 534 – c. 599), who, thus christened and gifted with lyrical talent, became the legendary bard in the courts of at least three Celtic British kings in his lifetime.