Plant Dn

Welsh: "Children of Dn"

In modern comentary on Welsh mythology, the pantheon is generally agreed to be divided into two warring camps: the Children of Dn and the Children of Llyr. The Children of Dn are the decendents of the goddess Dn and god Beli, and are more or less analoguous to the Tuatha D Danann of Irish mythology. Both pantheons are said to have a mother goddess with a similar name, Danann (usually given as Danu today) or Anann (Anu in Cormac's Glossary) for the Irish, and Dn or Anna for the Welsh. Both Danu and Dn's names are thought to derive from the Proto-Indo-European danu, "river"--such as the Don in Scotland and the Danube in Europe, in the original heartland of the Celts.

However, the later identification of Dn with Ana--mother of the Tuatha De Danann--is again a case of conflation; outside of some of the later genealogies, there is very little textual reason to identify Anu with Danu and Ana with Dn. However, the following may be true: According to the Harlian MS 3958, Beli was founder of the Gwynedd line and husband to Anna, "mother [of the Gwynedd line of kings], who they say was a cousin of the Virgin Mary, mother of our lord Jesus Christ." This is interesting for several reasons: first being that in the Mabinogion, most of the activity of the sons of Dn happen in Gwynedd, where her brother Math is king. Math never appears in the genealogies for Gwynedd, but Dn may, in fact, be Anna. The reasoning is that, perhaps influenced by the Irish confusion between Danu/Danann and Anu, there was also this confusion between Don and Anna. "Anna" is also the name given to Arthur's sister in Geoffrey's history, while tradition names her Morgan Le Fay (probably related to the Irish Morrigan; and as we've seen, there may be a common confusion of origin between Danu, Anu, and Morrigan). Moreover, Danu/Anu is also confused in some rescentions of the Lebor Gabala Erren with Brigid; Brigid, when "reformed" into St. Brigit, was then made the wet-nurse of Jesus and a cousin of Mary. What we may then be seeing in the genealogies is the "reformation" of Dn/Anna in the same way Brigid was. As such, her relationship with Beli Mawr would then, according to these genalogies, make them the ancestors of the entire Gwynedd line, and as such parent gods.

In the Bonedd yr Arwyr, there are two lists, the Plant Dn and the Plant Math ap Mathonwy:

25. Plant Don o Arvon
Gwydion, Govannon, Amaethon, Hunawg, Idawl, IIenuydd, Elestron, Digant, Gyluaethwy, Kynnan, Hedd, Addien, Elawg, Arianrhod

26. Plant Math ap Mathonwy
Llew Llaw Gyffes, Dylan eil ton, a Blodeuwed ue chawer o Arianrhod verch Don eu mam.

However, the oldest mention of any of the Plant Dn can be found in Harleian MS 3859, in the genealogical section that likely dates back to sometime before 988. In the sixteenth grouping, we find "Lou hen map Guidgen map Caratauc map Cinbelin..." Though all other manuscripts give Gwydion as the son of Dn (his father is never named, but we can assume it is Beli Mawr), here it is given as Caractacus son of Cunobelinus, leader of the Catuvellauni.

If we examine the first three sons of Don mentioned in #25, we see three interesting names: Gwydion, Govannon, and Amaethon, who can be seen as the embodiment of the three functions of Celtic society: Gwydion's name means "Great Wizard" (or indicative of druid), Govannon is "Great Smith" and Amaethon is "Great Farmer". Arianrhod is then also the mother of the Divine Twins, Lleu and Dylan, falling into the third function.

Some of the other names also appear elsewhere:

There is possibly a contention between the Family of Dn and the Family of Llyr; in Branwen uerch Llyr and Manawyddan fab Llyr, we see an antagonism between the Sons of Beli and the Sons of Llyr; in Math fab Mathonwy, the antagonism is between Pryderi (who is an adopted member of the Family of Llyr) and the Family of Dn. There is plenty of battling over the control of Britain, and elsewhere of magical beasts from Annwfn. Whether the Family of Llyr represents a sort of Titans, while the Family of Dn are the Gods is speculative, but possible.

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Mary Jones 2004