A constructed, synthetic person who was manufactured by Gwydion to serve as a wife for Lleu Llaw Gyffes in the Fourth Branch.
Her name derives from blodeu ‘flowers, blossoms’ + gwedd ‘face, aspect, appearance’: making “flower face.” She was constructed of meadow flowers and broom. After conspiring with her lover to murder her husband, Blodeuedd is shapeshifted to an owl, Blodeuwed, by her maker Gwydion.
Lleu Llaw Gyffes was rejected by his mother Arianrhod, who decreed that he should never be able to marry a human woman. Gwydion and Math, two powerful magicians, made Blodeuedd by means of magic as a substitute. She was therefore the product of strife, and not fully female.
Blodeuedd duly married Llew. Later in his absence, she quite properly welcomed a traveling lord, Gronw, giving him hospitality of her castle. They almost instantly fall in love as they gaze at each other, in the new Romance tradition of instant passion.
They plot to kill Lleu and to do so Blodeuedd uses the intimacy of the marriage bed to access the secret of Lleu’s vulnerability. She does so in an especially treacherous manner, appearing concerned to understand how to protect him. She even persuades him to stand in the elaborately complex position his tynghed (fate) demands if he is to be killed.
When Gwydion has rescued Lleu, he shapeshifts Blodeuedd to an owl, to be an eternal outsider among birds. Her name then becomes ‘Blodeuwed’ a play on words.
Pron. Blod – AY -weth.
(First published 28/07/2014: Shan Morgain)