/bran/, n.
1. Welsh Legend. a king of Britain and the brother of Manawydan and Branwen: his head was buried at London as a magical defense against invasion. He was sometimes regarded as a sea god or Christian saint.
2. a male given name, form of Brandon.

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In Celtic religion, a gigantic deity described in the Mabinogion as king of Britain.

He was so large that he and his court lived in a tent rather than a house. When Brân was mortally wounded, he asked his companions to cut off his head and keep it with them, telling them it would provide entertainment and allow them to forget their sorrows. His companions passed 80 joyous years, eventually following his instructions and burying the head on the White Mount in London, where it protected England from invaders until it was finally unearthed.

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▪ Celtic god
      (Celtic: “Raven”), gigantic Celtic deity who figured in the Mabinogion (a collection of medieval Welsh tales) as “crowned king over this Island” (i.e., Britain). Because of his stature, he and his court had to live in a tent, as no house had ever been built large enough to contain him. The most important aspect of Brân's myth concerned his wondrous severed head. The ancient Celts worshiped the human head and believed it to be the seat of the soul, capable of independent life after the death of the body. They thought that it possessed powers of prophecy and was symbolic of fertility. They also believed that one of its functions was to provide entertainment in the otherworld.

      According to the myth, Brân had been mortally wounded and requested his companions to cut off his head. He instructed them to take the head with them on their wanderings, telling them that it would not only provide them with marvelous entertainment and companionship but would also remain uncorrupted as long as they refrained from opening a certain forbidden door. If that door were opened, they would find themselves back in the real world and would remember all their sorrows. Eventually, they were to take the head and bury it on the White Mount in London. All happened as Brân had prophesied, and his companions passed 80 joyous and delightful years. The head was buried in London, where it kept away all invaders from Britain until it was finally unearthed. Brân is also the hero of The Voyage of Brân (see imram).

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Universalium. 2010.

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