Taliesin was a Welsh poet of the A.D. 500s who inspired a well-known legend of Celtic* mythology. It happened that a witch named Caridwen had a very ugly son. To make up for his looks, she decided to prepare a magic potion that would give him all the world's knowledge. However, the pot containing the potion had to boil for a year, so she asked Taliesin—then a poor farm boy named Gwion—to watch the pot for her.

One day the pot bubbled over, and a drop of the liquid splashed on Gwion's finger. When he licked his finger, he received one-third of the world's knowledge and the ability to change his form. He also realized that Caridwen was going to kill him when the potion was ready, so he ran away He assumed the shape of many animals but could not get away from Caridwen. Finally, he turned himself into a grain of wheat, and Caridwen—in the form of a hen—ate him.

prophet one who claims to have received divine messages or insights

Nine months later, Caridwen gave birth to Gwion. She sewed him into a leather bag and tossed it into a river. A Welsh prince found the bag, and when he opened it he saw the boy's shining face. He named the child Taliesin (meaning shining brow) and raised him in the royal court, where he became one of the greatest Celtic prophets and poets.

See also Witches and Wizards .

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