Awen & Me

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  • #13993
    True Owl
    Participant

    Bard Booklet 5, Page 38 asks the following : “Please share the gifts that awen brings you with your fellow bards, via the bardic students’ Forum on the website”.

    The Awen to me offers various gifts that we are all given and can use to enhance not only our own lives, but other people’s lives as well, whether it be through artistry, painting, poetry, music, lyrics, songs, or any other creative craft-work. The Awen flows everywhere, and all can receive it to gain new ideas & to create new things.

    Sometimes, the awen offers that “a-ha !” moment, when just like the switching on of a light bulb, a great idea or thought suddenly springs to mind. It seems not so much to be the natural outcome of our own thought or effort, but rather something gifted to us by something greater than ourselves. The awen is always something welcomed by those to whom it comes, and it always comes bringing a blessing in one form or another.

    As I look back over my life, I see a progression and trail of development in my spiritual life. I started at a very young age where I also attended church regularly, which taught me not only the life of Jesus, but that of a spiritual life. As I grew into my teens, I started to think for myself and started to ask questions. These questions at the church were never answered to my satisfaction (for example, on reincarnation & the Otherworld), and so I moved from Christianity to explore other world religions and faiths. Studying these taught me a lot, but still I did not feel that these were the right path for me.

    I then came across Celtic mythology and legends, which opened a new world to me – I was hooked! I started reading the Irish myths and Welsh tales, and found I had a thirst for knowledge on anything to do with Celtic history, Celtic legends, Gods and Goddesses, the ancestors, the Tuatha De Danann and the Druids. I had found my path at last. I then started to read and explore druidry, and one of the first things I did was to go out into the local woods, and look at nature, listen to nature, embrace nature and connect with nature.

    I looked at the trees, birds, hills, streams and the sky through new seeing eyes, and I learnt so much from these experiences, now looking at life in a different way to how I had done previously. With time and practice I connected, praying and performing little rituals to the Gods/Goddesses, the spirits of place & the ancestors, thanking them for all that they have done for me – I feel that the awen had a huge hand in all this. I was invigorated and was refreshed with life and what the druid path had to offer me. I learnt of the changing of the seasons and thanked mother earth for all that nature offers & provides us. My experiences also helped me with enhancing my creativity, I found my awen flowed more – I love to play guitar, writing music, creating songs & lyrics. Using the inspiration from awen, I found that I was becoming more creative, as I journeyed further on my druid path. Awen also enhanced my understanding, and gave me a caring and thoughtful quality towards nature and Mother earth.

    I felt that I wanted to give something back, and so I regularly go to a local wood, where I commune, meditate and amongst others, hold conversation with the trees and any birds or animals that are there at the time. I have a particular tree, which I feel I have an anam cara (soul friend) relationship with, and that works both ways – we look after each other, communing & have a spiritual link between us. This I feel is enhanced by the flow of awen.

    I found wonderful insight and love for all things in nature – this is the most important thing to me, and I use my gifts of awen in service to nature, birds, trees, people, and helping in the local community. I also joined the Hawk & Owl Trust, which helps in the preservation of these beautiful birds; as it would be a great shame for these birds to be extinct.

    This is what the awen has done for me, which not only helped with gifts of writing song lyrics, and making music, but of a positive attitude for the future – the gaining of a heart to look after Mother earth and treat her with respect, to preserve and look after what we have, and to teach others about these aspects. I have also been a mentor for another Druid Order for many years, offering a service to others in helping them on their own path.

    In conclusion, I feel that knowledge can enrich the soul, and through this, each of us are given creative gifts (awen), which we can use to enhance not only our own lives, but those of others. This is how I intend to continue using the creative flow of awen on my Druidic path.

    Thanks for reading.

    Blessings,
    Jules (True Owl).

    #13999
    Mark Scales
    Participant

    I really enjoyed reading your share Jules thank you.

    #14003
    True Owl
    Participant

    Hi Mark,

    That’s great – glad you enjoyed it.

    Thanks for taking the time to read it all.

    Blessings,

    Jules.

    #14037
    Dowrgi
    Participant

    Hi True Owl,

    I would’ve replied sooner, but there have been some issues posting on the forum – tech problems, as usual. Anyway, I’m glad you shared this with us and I think that your notions of awen are very similar to mine in many ways.

    Bennathow
    /|\

    #14039
    True Owl
    Participant

    Hi Dowrgi,

    Thanks for reading my post – that’s much appreciated.

    Good to hear that our notions of awen are similar – that gives me confidence that I’m on the right track.

    Blessings,

    Jules.

    #14046
    Dowrgi
    Participant

    Metaphorically, for me, the Nine Maidens attend the cauldron of inspiration at the centre of all things and from which the awen comes forth like mist or the vapour bubbling up from the primordial elements of creation. The awen is in all things and all around us and in ourselves, like breath or the air, we connect with it all the time unawares. I think the tuning into the awen, to use a more modern turn of phrase, is becoming aware and connected again – lifting the veils, so to speak. There is no separation, we create that ourselves. This world and the otherworld co-exist like circles that move around a centre point – the cauldron. Sometimes, these circles overlap completely, sometimes they barely touch, but they are always in contact. The cauldron is in the centre, the awen is what permeates both worlds and when we connect with it, we become part of both.

    Bennathow
    /|\

    #14255
    True Owl
    Participant

    Hi Dowrgi,

    There is a good explanation of Awen & Nwyfre on the OBOD website, as follows :

    “There is a difference between the inspiration of Awen – that comes to us in flashes, waves, streams of clarity, insight and creativity – and the energy of Nwyfre. Nwyfre is the life-force that flows through our bodies, giving us health and vitality. Nwyfre is like the prana of yoga, or the Chi of the Taoists. Ideally, Nwyfre flows strongly through us at all times. Awen, however, visits us like a cool breeze, a ray of sunshine, the gift of rain, which arrives as a blessing, and then leaves us again.

    Constancy is not a characteristic of Awen – by its nature it comes and goes. But it is our job to encourage it to come more often.

    You can’t make the wind blow, but you can go outside when you see it blowing, and turn your face to it, and feel it sweeping over and through – blowing away sadness and tiredness – cleansing you – energising you.

    You can’t make the wind blow, but you can make sure you don’t stay in stuffy rooms too long. You can go to places you know are windy. It’s the same with Awen – by its nature it comes from outside you, so you can’t control it, or switch it on whenever you want some of it. But you can make sure you place yourself in circumstances where it is more likely to visit you.” _Philip Carr-Gomm.

    I would add the link, but found that I have trouble posting with that included.

    Thanks,

    Jules.

    #14263
    Dowrgi
    Participant

    Hi True Owl,

    I think nwyfre was one of the things our old friend Iolo Morganwg came up with in Barddas nwyfre, gwyar, and calas. For me however, the awen is not the inspiration, but what causes the inspiration, if you follow? Anyway, that’s just how it “works for me”, so to speak.

    Bennathow
    /|\

    #14267
    True Owl
    Participant

    Hi Dowrgi,

    Re: “I think nwyfre was one of the things our old friend Iolo Morganwg came up with in Barddas…” _Dowrgi

    That is correct & also not entirely correct – Iolo didn’t invent the word, it was already in use centuries before (meaning sky), and Iolo popularised the word, but also mistakenly changed its meaning. Iolo’s interpretation was taken up by the Ancient Druid Order, from which it was inherited by their offshoot, the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, who have popularised the ‘prana’ interpretation ever since.

    Rightly or wrongly, its just a term/label now that most people (in Druid circles, particularly OBOD) understand the meaning of : as in Life Force, or prana, chi, etc.

    Nwyfre is also mentioned in the Mabinogi tale of Culhwch and Olwen as the father of Gwyn, ‘white,’ and Fflam,‘flame.’ That father of Gwyn is usually given as Nudd, the Silver-armed god of warriors and healing. Is Nwyfre, then, an alternative name for Nudd? After all, Nwyfre means ‘sky’ and Nudd is from a root meaning ‘cloud, or mist.’ _Greywolf. (Bard Booklet 8).

    Thanks,

    Jules.

    #14272
    Dowrgi
    Participant

    Morning True Owl,

    The subject of nwyfre has come up here before, so I’m recycling a bit of an old post with this, too. In Welsh, nwyfre means sky, atmosphere or ether, and is attested in manuscripts from as early as the 14th century in the poetry of Llywarch ap Llywelyn (1173 – 1220) – (Prydydd y Moch). I really don’t know why Morganwg chose this word to express something so different from its actual meaning, when the Welsh language has nerth (power/energy), ynni (vitality) and various derivations of the word byw (life, vitality); the word nerth is indeed used by Iolo in his Gorsedh prayer, too. Maybe a first-language and/or fluent Welsh-speaker could help us out on this one, but I think byw expresses the idea of life-force, or vitality, better and it is akin to Cornish byw/bew, too. In Cornish, nerth means force or energy, Breton has nerzh and Irish (Gaelic) has neart – it’s an ancient word going right back to Indo-European and has cognates in the Germanic theonyms Njörðr, Njörun and the Nerthus, or “Earth goddess” recorded by the Roman writer Tacitus, so if we’re talking about some kind of “life force” in a more mystical sense, I tend to think nerth is a better word to use.

    I must admit, I tend to be a little allergic to all things Iolo Morganwg! It’s a bit of a love-hate relationship in terms of his work and legacy. On the one hand, I do think the man was a genius, and the druid revival and reinvigoration of the Welsh, Cornish and Breton cultural movements definitely owes a lot to him. Nevertheless, when I was much younger and more impressionable, I read the Barddas and remember thinking how great it all was, only to find out later that it was riddled with fabrications and falsehoods, more’s the pity, because it also tarnished the good quality and original work of Iolo, too. Today, I understand more the reasons that Morganwg did this and I can kind of forgive him in a sense, however, I tend to steer clear of anything “Iolo-ish” because, to be quite honest, I often think it is a blight on Celtic scholarship and spirituality, too. What’s your take on it?

    Nwyfre is also mentioned in the Mabinogi tale of Culhwch and Olwen as the father of Gwyn, ‘white,’ and Fflam,‘flame.’ That father of Gwyn is usually given as Nudd, the Silver-armed god of warriors and healing. Is Nwyfre, then, an alternative name for Nudd? After all, Nwyfre means ‘sky’ and Nudd is from a root meaning ‘cloud, or mist.’ _Greywolf. (Bard Booklet 8).

    It certainly is interesting, however, there are some difficulties with the interpretations of these names; Nudd may go back to the Gaulish/Brittonic Nodens, nevertheless, the etymological derivations are fraught with issues and difficulty. Another possibility is that Nudd>Nodens is connected to the idea of “catching or ensnaring” – tempting to see the allusion to the mist surrounding someone, however, this is just conjecture. Another school of thought is that Gwyn ap Nudd is just another epithet for Arawn; Celtic deities and mythological figures often have numerous names, so often we could actually be dealing with the same figure under a different name or guise.

    Bennathow
    /|\

    #14273
    True Owl
    Participant

    Hi Dowrgi,

    Great input, thanks – This is turning into a really interest conversation.

    Re: Iolo & Nwyfre – I totally agree with you on your stance of being wary of anything Iolo. But as you say, he did do a lot for druid revivalism, etc.

    I also don’t know why he used the word ‘Nwyfre’ either & changed its meaning, when there are other words which are closer to the mark (as you say, such as ‘nerth’ plus other Welsh words).

    The only thing I would say, is that rightly or wrongly, Nwyfre has now come to mean Life force, prana, or chi, mainly through the courses over the years from OBOD, and the term has caught on globally. As mentioned, I just see the word as a label. But, at least when someone speaks of it, we can understand where they are coming from.

    Re: “Celtic deities and mythological figures often have numerous names, so often we could actually be dealing with the same figure under a different name or guise.” _Dowrgi.

    Yes, I agree and even between the Irish & Welsh mythologies, some have been expressed as the same person. (ie. Lugh Lamfhota was the hero and formidable warrior in Irish Myth, and he is also known as Lleu in Welsh mythology).

    Blessings,
    Jules.

    #14275
    Dowrgi
    Participant

    Great input, thanks – This is turning into a really interest conversation.

    Hello again. Yes, it is turning into an interesting discussion.

    Turning back to our discussion, I suppose it comes back to the old question of a rose by any other name. However, I prefer to use the Cornish, Breton, and Welsh words in their original senses, and in the way they are still used and understood by speakers of those languages today. I think that if we are going to use words and phrases from given cultures, then we owe it to those cultural communities to be careful with the way we use their languages, all the more so given the precarious state the Celtic languages are in. I’m not trying to tell anyone else what to do, but it’s my own outlook or philosophy on this.

    I’m not against innovation and new developments, far from it, but I am against things being passed off for what they’re not and, unfortunately, when it comes to Celtic spirituality, it has far too often been some kind of a free-for-all, ergo Tolkien’s quip about the magic bag. Sadly, we have in many cases Iolo’s work, along with Graves’s The White Goddess, to thank for this.

    Bennathow
    /|\

    #14277
    True Owl
    Participant

    Hi Dowrgi,

    Re: “I prefer to use the Cornish, Breton, and Welsh words in their original senses, and in the way they are still used and understood by speakers of those languages today.” _Dowrgi.

    That is great that you can do that. Unfortunately not everybody speaks Cornish, Breton or Welsh, infact a very low percentage of people do.
    So, a lot of praise to you for doing this & keeping this as your own personal philosophy. But, unfortunately, only a small group of others will esteem to your high standards and do the same.

    The thing also with Celtic languages, are that there was so many different kinds. The Celts covered much of Europe and beyond, and many tribes had their own lingo, and many of these got added to & changed over time. You have just mentioned three different languages here in the UK alone : Cornish, Breton & Welsh – no doubt there were others as well.

    Words over time change in meaning. Look at some of the words that have changed just in the last 50 years or so : ie. gay, footprint, & in computer speak we have cloud, sandbox, tweet, viral, plus many others, that have totally different meanings to what they originally had.

    I’m not saying I agree with this, but only that it happens, and there is not a lot that can be done about it – Words change their meaning over time. Its the way of the modern world and the progression of language. Even the Welsh language has changed, there being Old Welsh (from 800AD), Middle Welsh from the 12th to 15th Century & then Modern Welsh that is used today.

    But, I do hate to think that original languages die out completely, and Welsh nearly was one of these; that is why I am learning the Welsh language myself, very slowly and with great difficulty, but I will get there. My ancestors were Welsh and I am sure they would be proud to know that I am attempting to carry on their spoken language (albeit in its modern form).

    Thanks,

    Jules.

    #14281
    Dowrgi
    Participant

    Morning True Owl,

    You are right, languages do change; however, I see that as a natural, more organic, sort of evolution. The trouble with our old friend Iolo is that he just sort of made things up on the spot. The word nwyfre still exists in Welsh, modern Welsh, and it still means sky, firmament etc, and doesn’t mean “life force”, so my issue is really with that. However, far be it from me to be prescriptive about things.

    As for the Celtic languages, although I don’t think it’s necessary, nor would it be feasible in many cases, for all modern druids and bards to be fluent speakers of these languages, I do think some study and knowledge of them is a great boon for anyone in the druid traditions, after all, these are traditions birthed and rooted in the cultures of the Celtic countries – I don’t think you can separate them. Moreover, in a small sense, one is helping to keep these languages alive, which could also be seen a service to a community.

    … that is why I am learning the Welsh language myself, very slowly and with great difficulty, but I will get there. My ancestors were Welsh and I am sure they would be proud to know that I am attempting to carry on their spoken language (albeit in its modern form).

    O bydded i’r hen iaith barhau!

    Bennathow
    /|\

    #14282
    True Owl
    Participant

    Hi Dowrgi,

    Re: “O bydded i’r hen iaith barhau!” _Dowrgi

    – Dwin cytuno !

    Llawer o fendithion ar eich llwybr,

    Jules.

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