That’s a wealth of knowledge you have on the Gaelic mythology/mythologies. And between the two of us, I am quite sure you are the more deeply immersed. I remember when I got to study the Tain Bo Cuilinge and Mabinogian at Oxford during a semester abroad. But even better was the trekking and backpacking that ensued for the last month before fall semester began where I basically visited every site I could from the Orkneys and Hebrides all the way down through Scotland, England, Wales and Cornwall.
Often trespassing, always sleeping inside the stone circles or in the avenues of standing stones or what not. Was all magical, and in my younger days (which made it even more magical).
Basically wanted to know the tradition, wanted to touch the mystery via an osmosis kind of thing.
And since you mention Taliesin and Wales, for me that was where the magic–or at least the atmosphere was richest in many ways–especially on both sides of the England/Wales border. And I hear you on all the “magical thinking”–the books at Walmart on the topic–which dilute with unfounded fantasy. For it to be “real magic” (ha, and there’s an amusing contrast with those two words), I think it requires some heavy roots. An element of real-ness which is in this case, yes, is rational. That compensatory, leveraging counterpart. (Will get to that other aspect of rational in the presence of the imaginal, however).
How fortunate for you to have grown up with a mother who was both painter and astronomer–the marriage of art and science worth its weight in, well, silver–to honor our topic.
For me, such “magical” myths and places do summon an imaginal quality, as the imaginal has become for me my chief means of accessing what is beyond my reach–or at least, a means of sending me in the direction.
And it all comes down to what’s real to the psyche. But, again, I do mean “real.” It has taken me a long time to get to the point where I now see the truth in that. So that real value of imaginal content, that heavy roots thing that “magic” requires to be sustained, I feel I am on the right track especially when I track how my body chemistry follows my imaginings—the experiences of the practice become real and tangible—things like changes in heartbeat and pulse, or tears and laughter. All from traveling to a dimension that we are conditioned to believe is not real.
I do feel it is worthy of exploration.