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RichardA

Ganieda, Merlin's Twin Sister

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It began with a question: The Infamous Feast: Who's The Villain?  Though a number of possibilities are given in the Uther Expansion to the GPC, I wanted something different. After doing some Arthurian research, I was fascinated by the fragmentary information about Ganieda, Merlin's twin sister. So, using some of the info I found, and creating some of my own background, I created Ganieda to be a grand villain for my Pendragon campaign, responsible for the poisoning at the Infamous Feast, as well as the earlier poisoning of Ambrosius.

Here is an origin tale for Ganieda: 

   Born to a British Christian father and a Pagan mother, Blaise was raised to become a priest, though his mother taught him secret pagan ways, which intrigued him immensely. After retiring, he then spent a number of years traveling, learning all he could, including about the ways of magic. He acquired some minor powers yet never surrendered his Christian beliefs, basically fusing his different beliefs. He was well respected for his knowledge and piousness. As well as he wasn’t judgmental. 

   Aldan was a devout nun, spending much of her time praying at the convent. When she wasn’t praying, she worked in the convent garden, tending to the vegetables. One evening, while she was sleeping in her tiny room, she was visited by an incubus, a seductive devil, who Aldan tried to resist, but failed, to her shame. She did not tell anyone about the visitation but eventually the others noticed her pregnancy. She was ousted from the convent, chastised for being unchaste. 

   She knew of Blaise and they shared distant relatives so she sought him out, hoping he might be able to help her. None of her close family was still alive. She had no other refuge. She told Blaise what happened to her, including the visitation by the incubus, and he took her in, tending to her for the rest of her pregnancy.

    The incubus, and other devils, kept an eye on Aldan, as she was integral to their nefarious plans. They wanted to bring forth a being of great evil, someone who could balance all of the good brought by Jesus. An anti-Christ. Think Rosemary’s Baby in Arthurian times. Blaise suspected they had a diabolical purpose and he intended to thwart their plans.  

   When Aldan finally gave birth, Merlin arrived, who never cried when he was born, rather looking almost contemplative. Upon his birth, Blaise immediately took the infant Merlin outside the house and to the chapel nearby, a hallowed area, and rushed to baptize Merlin, to protect him from the devils who sought to claim Merlin. The devils brought a terrible storm, with loud thunder, lots of lightning, and torrential rains. They surrounded the chapel but couldn’t get inside. Blaise figured Merlin was now safe, but waited within the chapel for the storm to die off and the devils to leave. He felt Aldan would be safe as the devils wanted Merlin, not her.

   However, Blaise didn’t know that Aldan had twins, and she gave birth alone, a girl she quickly named Ganieda. Some of the devils kept Blaise distracted within the chapel while other devils came and claimed Ganieda. Aldan could not stop them from taking her daughter, and the devil’s didn’t harm her, knowing she would live in despair. Aldan’s screams could not be heard by Blaise because of the loud storm, and the cacophony of devils surrounding the chapel. Once the devils had Ganieda, the storm died off soon after. Blaise waited a short time longer and then returned to his home, and was devastated by what he found.

   Blaise partially blamed himself for what happened, though he realized he hadn’t known she had twins. Aldan was devastated, and never psychologically recovered from the experience. She remained in bed for most of the time, and would die a few years later. Blaise realized that Merlin possessed mystical powers and Blaise helped him to develop those powers, and teach him all that he knew. 

 

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18 minutes ago, RichardA said:

Thanks Morien, I have read it before. I have the four copies of that magazine. 

OK, I wasn't sure if you had ran into it. :) And this way, anyone who is interested in Ganieda will get a reminder/heads up that the article exists. And everyone else who isn't aware of the free magazine (#1 - #4) can go and download it for free. Some good stuff in there. And it is free. Did I mention that already? :P 

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Interesting, though as a Welsh person I should point out that Gwendydd is the 'sane' sister, implicitly good, who tries to rescue Merlin/Myrddin from his madness and is the interlocutor with Myrddin in several poems attributed to him.

Of course, the whole incubus story isn't Welsh: it appears first in the Didot Perceval as I recall. Though the Indo-European twin legends traditionally ascribed divine or supernatural origins to only one of the twins, i.e., the Dioscuri and the Hasdingi.

But it's certainly creative, and I'm curious to see how things go in your story.

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9 hours ago, jeffjerwin said:

Interesting, though as a Welsh person I should point out that Gwendydd is the 'sane' sister, implicitly good, who tries to rescue Merlin/Myrddin from his madness and is the interlocutor with Myrddin in several poems attributed to him.

Most of what I've read about her had her as good.

9 hours ago, jeffjerwin said:

Of course, the whole incubus story isn't Welsh: it appears first in the Didot Perceval as I recall. Though the Indo-European twin legends traditionally ascribed divine or supernatural origins to only one of the twins, i.e., the Dioscuri and the Hasdingi.

But it's certainly creative, and I'm curious to see how things go in your story.

Yes, the incubus story was an attempt to justify him in Christianity, and also to help with his taking Ambrosius place in the story of Vortigern tower. Prior to the HRB, it was Ambroius who was the fatherless boy brought to Vortigern. But Geoffrey mixed Ambrosius with Myrddyn Wilt, creating the figure of Merlin Emrys. Of course you with your knowledge of the Welsh sources are well aware of this.

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I certainly took liberties with the source materials, and in my prior campaign, the idea worked out well, with Ganieda being a long-term villain. We completed the entire GPC, with the Uther expansion, 80+ campaign years. I'm starting to look now to running a new campaign, so will work on creating a new villain for the Infamous Feast. 

For more information on the Ganieda legends, check out this journal article: https://www.jstor.org/stable/2917618?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents

 

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38 minutes ago, RichardA said:

I certainly took liberties with the source materials, and in my prior campaign, the idea worked out well, with Ganieda being a long-term villain. We completed the entire GPC, with the Uther expansion, 80+ campaign years. I'm starting to look now to running a new campaign, so will work on creating a new villain for the Infamous Feast. 

Yes, and that is certainly fine. GMs get to decide things like that, especially with magicians. The jury is still out on Morgan and Merlin.I just  wanted to clarify that she isn't necessarily a villain in the sources, so that people don't automatically assume so. I don't believe she was his twin sister either.

If you want to bring in Merlin's sister as an evil echantress, go for it!

 

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Interestingly, in the Welsh material there are few out and out villains (even Medraut is praised) except for Gwenhwyfach, Guinevere's evil sister (and she likely had her positive side too, but we know her only in allusions in the Triads and poetry). Even Osla Big-knife, a Saxon leader, is an ally of Arthur's in the Dream of Rhonabwy, though that poem may deliberately overturn tradition as a satire. In which case Osla is presumably a Saxon enemy at Badon. Vortigern probably had a heroic tradition, given the number of lineages claiming descent from him, like Maelgwn, who is a mix of good and bad.

It's only in the French sources that Morgan (who is a good person, more or less, in Welsh sources), Melwas/Meliagance, Mordred, and probably Agravain (Ogyrfran) are described as villains.

My own campaign uses Klingsor as a sympathetic villain (though pretty evil), Meliagraunce, the Queen of the Out Isles (Brian's mistress), Brian, and Mordred as villains, but a lot of good people including Arthur make terrible decisions.

My Cornish campaign, which is now finished, had Merlin as a villain.

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8 minutes ago, jeffjerwin said:

Interestingly, in the Welsh material there are few out and out villains

Yup. Probably 

8 minutes ago, jeffjerwin said:

(even Medraut is praised)

Yes, and even his turning against Arthur wasn't there or at least wasn't clear originally.

8 minutes ago, jeffjerwin said:

except for Gwenhwyfach, Guinevere's evil sister (and she likely had her positive side too, but we know her only in allusions in the Triads and poetry).

In some sources she is actually the cause of Camlaan. Apparently the conflict was between Arthur who wanted to keep Gwenhwyfach, and Gwynhafar's (Guinevere) supporters who wanted her reinstated as Queen. Someone got slapped and things escalated. 

I suspect that Gwenhwyfach got dropped because she provides an easy solution to the Lancelot-Guinevere affair. Arthur could put aside Guinevere for failing to produce and heir, marry Gwenhwyfach., Lancelot marries Guinevere and all four would have been happy. Gwenhwyfach pretty much ruins the whole love triangle. 

8 minutes ago, jeffjerwin said:

It's only in the French sources that Morgan (who is a good person, more or less, in Welsh sources), Melwas/Meliagance, Mordred, and probably Agravain (Ogyrfran) are described as villains.

I think Morgan gets it worse from more Modern soruces. Most people tend to forget the other sisters (Morgause and Elaine in Mallory) and just dump everything bad onto Morgan who ends up being Arthur's one wicket sisister, the mother of Mordred, and sometimes takes Vivanine role as Merlin's apprentice turned jailer.

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2 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Yup. Probably 

Yes, and even his turning against Arthur wasn't there or at least wasn't clear originally.

In some sources she is actually the cause of Camlaan. Apparently the conflict was between Arthur who wanted to keep Gwenhwyfach, and Gwynhafar's (Guinevere) supporters who wanted her reinstated as Queen. Someone got slapped and things escalated. 

I suspect that Gwenhwyfach got dropped because she provides an easy solution to the Lancelot-Guinevere affair. Arthur could put aside Guinevere for failing to produce and heir, marry Gwenhwyfach., Lancelot marries Guinevere and all four would have been happy. Gwenhwyfach pretty much ruins the whole love triangle. 

I think Morgan gets it worse from more Modern soruces. Most people tend to forget the other sisters (Morgause and Elaine in Mallory) and just dump everything bad onto Morgan who ends up being Arthur's one wicket sisister, the mother of Mordred, and sometimes takes Vivanine role as Merlin's apprentice turned jailer.

Well, Gwenhwyfach is dropped from KAP, but she's clearly the inspiration for the False Guinevere in the Vulgate (along with the story about Philippe Augustus' two wives, which is clearly being referenced).

There's the intriguing mention of Guinevere as Arthur's 'second wife' on the inscription found in 'Arthur's tomb' in Glastonbury, which probably wouldn't have been put on the fake by the monks if there wasn't a story about it, though the first wife could have been Lyzianor.

Vivianne/Nimue's imprisonment of Merlin might have been 'good' by some lights, as he is the son of the Devil and was sexually molesting her. I've never heard any version that has Elaine doing anything bad, though she's probably the original of the 'wife of the King of Scotland' who runs off with Meliadus, Tristan's father, though that's a variant of the Melwas/Meliagraunce story with the "abductor" as a hero - given that Melwas was originally from the southwest (and from Cornwall in one poem) the similarities are striking, right down to Meliadus' green livery, mentioned in Welsh poetry about Melwas.

Overall Welsh material - like with Grainne and Diarmuid in Ireland - is far more tolerant and open about women straying or taking young lovers - than conventional romance stories. Morgan's tendency to do so also probably has something to do with her evolution into a villain. I think the key lies in that Celtic (and French verse) storytelling is a profession of wandering/court poets (who often seek female patronage) and the prose romances were adapted by monks.

So we may be skeptical about the "False Guinevere's" villainy in that light. She may simply have been Guinevere's rival, more loyal to Arthur but also more vengeful, and Guinevere's love affairs are pretty much a normal aspect of young and beautiful queens... though the Art Oenfer story in Ireland does depict an unfaithful queen whose sexual transgressions lead to a Wasteland, though there there is a whiff of incest, like with Mordred and Guinevere.

 

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9 hours ago, jeffjerwin said:

Well, Gwenhwyfach is dropped from KAP, but she's clearly the inspiration for the False Guinevere in the Vulgate (along with the story about Philippe Augustus' two wives, which is clearly being referenced).

There's the intriguing mention of Guinevere as Arthur's 'second wife' on the inscription found in 'Arthur's tomb' in Glastonbury, which probably wouldn't have been put on the fake by the monks if there wasn't a story about it, though the first wife could have been Lyzianor.

There is a triad that claims that Arthur had three wives named Guinevere, and that's not counting Gwenhwyfach

9 hours ago, jeffjerwin said:

Vivianne/Nimue's imprisonment of Merlin might have been 'good' by some lights, as he is the son of the Devil and was sexually molesting her.

Yeah but  that get complicated because depending on the version Vivanne and Nimue are two different characters and sometimes Vivianne is vamping Merlin to learn his magics, and sometimes Merlin is a sexual predator. 

9 hours ago, jeffjerwin said:

I've never heard any version that has Elaine doing anything bad, though she's probably the original of the 'wife of the King of Scotland' who runs off with Meliadus, Tristan's father, though that's a variant of the Melwas/Meliagraunce story with the "abductor" as a hero - given that Melwas was originally from the southwest (and from Cornwall in one poem) the similarities are striking, right down to Meliadus' green livery, mentioned in Welsh poetry about Melwas.

I never have either, although she apparently was orginally named Blasine and married Netres of Garlot, which I thinjk means she got Morgan's husband (Uriens) not Maugause's (Lot).

9 hours ago, jeffjerwin said:

Overall Welsh material - like with Grainne and Diarmuid in Ireland - is far more tolerant and open about women straying or taking young lovers - than conventional romance stories. Morgan's tendency to do so also probably has something to do with her evolution into a villain. I think the key lies in that Celtic (and French verse) storytelling is a profession of wandering/court poets (who often seek female patronage) and the prose romances were adapted by monks.

I think it has more to do with her role as a Celtic Dearie or Deity. I think her mercuial nature her sometimes good/sometime evil actions have something to do with the fae bit too. Oh and probably because she was a pagan magician and a woman, who took lovers outside of marriage - not winning her any points with the Medieval Clergy.

BTW, this touches o n why I'm not so sure Pendragon should run things quite as medieval as the KAP5 supplements have made it. The Medieval Church isn't as tolerant or as weak as the church in the fifth and sixth centuries. I doubt all those Pagan knights would be tolerated, let alone those lustful pagan women.

9 hours ago, jeffjerwin said:

So we may be skeptical about the "False Guinevere's" villainy in that light.

She doesn't seem to be definitively evil until the Vulgate. The WelshTriads mostly note that there was an enmity between the two sisters. Something that seemed to have been transferred to Morgan when Gwenhwyfach was dropped. All we really know is that she slapped Gwynhafar and that somehow started the battle of Camlann.

9 hours ago, jeffjerwin said:

She may simply have been Guinevere's rival, more loyal to Arthur but also more vengeful, and Guinevere's love affairs are pretty much a normal aspect of young and beautiful queens... though the Art Oenfer story in Ireland does depict an unfaithful queen whose sexual transgressions lead to a Wasteland, though there there is a

Yes, although I'm not so sure about the more vengeful part. Guinevere does seem all that forgiving. 

9 hours ago, jeffjerwin said:

whiff of incest, like with Mordred and Guinevere.

Whiff is right. Morded wasn't always Arthur's son.In some of the triads he was Lot's son, so Guinvere wouldn't be as closely related.The wife of his mother's half brother. Then there is the story of him beating her.

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On 11/15/2019 at 10:44 AM, Atgxtg said:

Yes, the incubus story was an attempt to justify him in Christianity, and also to help with his taking Ambrosius place in the story of Vortigern tower. Prior to the HRB, it was Ambroius who was the fatherless boy brought to Vortigern. But Geoffrey mixed Ambrosius with Myrddyn Wilt, creating the figure of Merlin Emrys. Of course you with your knowledge of the Welsh sources are well aware of this.

I'm not so aware of the Arthurian sources - but Richard Firth Green proposes that the term "incubus" was used for much of the Middle Ages for what we would call a fairy, and thus many of the earlier stories about Merlin's miraculous conception were not intended to have a demonic cast. 

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49 minutes ago, SaxBasilisk said:

I'm not so aware of the Arthurian sources - but Richard Firth Green proposes that the term "incubus" was used for much of the Middle Ages for what we would call a fairy, and thus many of the earlier stories about Merlin's miraculous conception were not intended to have a demonic cast. 

That's possible, though there's no sign of a fairy origin in Welsh legend - instead, as in GoM's Historia Merlini, he goes mad after seeing the slaughter at Arfderydd, near Carlisle... It is possible, however, that there has been contamination/cross-influence from Mongan, also a mad prophet/wizard who was reputed to be a son of the fairy Manannan mac Lir.

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2 hours ago, SaxBasilisk said:

I'm not so aware of the Arthurian sources - but Richard Firth Green proposes that the term "incubus" was used for much of the Middle Ages for what we would call a fairy, and thus many of the earlier stories about Merlin's miraculous conception were not intended to have a demonic cast. 

Yes, maybe. Christianity also tended to lump the fae in with demons as they didn't fit within "celestial hierarchy". They weren't angles, or men & women, so they had to be demons, especially as they other were malevolent, or malicious.

Merlin miraculous conception wasn't all that miraculous at  first. That kinda came later, when they merged him  with Ambrosius and had his mother become a nun ASAP.  There are so many variations on  most of these stories that it's pretty easy to justify just about any interpretation of any character, with  some old source. Especially if not being to picky about context.

1 hour ago, jeffjerwin said:

That's possible, though there's no sign of a fairy origin in Welsh legend - instead, as in GoM's Historia Merlini, he goes mad after seeing the slaughter at Arfderydd, near Carlisle... It is possible, however, that there has been contamination/cross-influence from Mongan, also a mad prophet/wizard who was reputed to be a son of the fairy Manannan mac Lir.

Yes, the story of Myrddyn Wylit, among others. It seems like the "Mad Prophet/Magician" idea goes back even earlier than the written record too. 

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