Where did they go … ?

Where did they go … ?


As part of visit to North Wales, we decided to head up and onto the Isle of Angelsey –Ynys Môn in Welsh.

This place has long been associated with the Druids and in 60-61AD the Roman General Paulinus gave orders for the Isle to be raided and the power base of the Druids to be destroyed.

Standing on the Angelsey side of the Menai Straights it was easy to let my mind slip back to the records left by Tacitus who recorded the events….

“[Paulinus] prepared to attack the island of Mona which had a powerful population and was a refuge for fugitives. He built flat-bottomed vessels to cope with the shallows, and uncertain depths of the sea. Thus the infantry crossed, while the cavalry followed by fording, or, where the water was deep, swam by the side of their horses. On the shore stood the opposing army with its dense array of armed warriors, while between the ranks dashed women, in black attire like the Furies, with hair dishevelled, waving brands. All around, the Druids, lifting up their hands to heaven, and pouring forth dreadful imprecations, scared our soldiers by the unfamiliar sight, so that, as if their limbs were paralysed, they stood motionless, and exposed to wounds. 

Perhaps I had a romanticised image in my mind based on this ‘report’. The rebellious peoples of Wales and England, coming to make a brave last stand against the colonising invaders… but history is rarely that simple.

Paulinus’ troops crossed the Menai Straights using amphibious craft with the fearless Batavi military units.The Batavi were an ancient Germanic tribe that lived around the modern Dutch Rhine delta in the area that the Romans called Batavia, from the second half of the first century BC to the third century AD. From these people several military units were employed by the Romans that were originally raised among the Batavi.then

When the Roman troops arrived in Angelsey they set about destroying the shrines and the nemetons (sacred groves) of the Druids – the political and spiritual leaders of the rebellious natives.

Soon, however, news of another pesky Briton revolt drew the attention of Paulinus just after his ‘victory’ in Angelsey. It was Boudica’s revolt which caused him to withdraw his army before consolidating his conquest of the Isle.

The island was finally brought into the Roman Empire by Gnaeus Julius Agricola, the Roman governor of Britain, in AD 78. During the Roman occupation, the area was notable for the mining of copper. The foundations of Caer Gybi as well as a fort at Holyhead are Roman, and the present road from Holyhead to Llanfairpwllgwyngyll was originally a Roman road.

Llanfairpwilgwyngyll … there’s a place name to get your lips around!

Better know as Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch 

The long name was contrived in the 1860s to bestow upon the villages station the feature of having the longest name of any railway station in Britain, an early example of a publicity stunt.

The village’s website credits the name to a cobbler from the nearby village of Menai Bridge. According to Sir John Morris-Jones the name was created by a local tailor, whose name he did not confide, letting the secret die with him.The current postmark shows the name Llanfairpwllgwyngyll.

The village was originally known as Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll (“St Mary’s in Hollow of the White Hazel Township”) and a settlement has existed on the site of the village since the Neolithic era (4000–2000 BC), with subsistence agriculture and fishing the most common occupations for much of its early history.

Pwllgwyngyll was the original medieval township where the village is today.

The Isle is littered with numerous Neolithic, Bronze, Iron Age and Roman Sites but the Groves of The Druids have long gone or been ploughed into the ground. Since the Druids belonged to a group of peoples who did not favour the writing of their histories, we are simply left with clues; tantalising ideas and romantic notions of how they would have incorporated Neolithic structures into their rituals and practices. Of them and their sacred places there is little that is concrete and everything that is otherworldly. Stands of Rowan, Oak, Blackthorn and Birch set nearby to sites like Lligwy Burial Chamber excite the imagination and offer tales for the remembrancer.

And if you cross the Menai Straight
Tarvel between those concrete gates
Stare down on Angelsey’s tide drencehd shore
And ask why we are no more.

We rest in Annwn but live in dreams
And speak in cracks between the seams
It is the Bard we will inspire
To keep alive ths sacred fire

And should a mournful Druid pass
Pray raise a drink, raise a glass
For we are not dead nor ever were
We turn from wood to stone to earth….

(See The Battle of Menai)


Published: September 26, 2017

Time Moves On

Time Has Moved On …


Since last I wrote in this space, time has moved on and in many ways nothing has changed but in all ways so much has. This, I suppose, is the mystery of times passing and of the changes it brings.

As I write I can hear a river rush by, I am near the shores of Llyn Tegid, known now as Bala Lake.

I am in Ceridwen’s territory where myth has it that Gwion Bach become re-born as Talisien.

Here, in the shadow of the mountains which grow to become Mt Snowdon, there is a real sense of a connection to the once-long-ago, as if the spirits of those who have travelled this path before speak clearly through the rush and fall of the waters.

Bala Lake 2017


Bala Lake 2017

Today we travelled to Snowdon, stood in the enveloping cloud, and marvelled at the fact that we could see nothing! Thankful that we had decided to travel to the mount by rail, and happy to traverse the mountain under the pull of diesel horses,

It was a strange journey.

Starting in sunlight from a watery autumn sun, and ascending into mist and cloud. Llanberis PassA journey between and through worlds; the scenery a changing, transforming pallet of greens, ambers, greys and whites.

I have always laughed at the fact that my given name Alan, was a mistake.

I was going to be David Jones, but my father, who went to register my name, got a little confused and wrote Alan (he liked the song Donkey Serenade by the singer Alan Jones) – so I became Alan.

But today as we drove through Snowdon National Park, I recalled a moment so long ago; a family holiday and my mother and father laughing about the mix-up about my name and my mother saying “We were going to call you Emrys!”

Emrys, a name with a significance now that was unknown then, I could not have been much older that 8 or 9.

It is perhaps the numinous mists in this area that dissolve the boundaries between time, place and space.

Bardic Reflections

A vanilla-rippled sky sinks below the rocky crags

Faces marked by the hacking of times blunt razor

Clouds fold like ghosts over the hills

Misty, spectral horses transforming. transfiguring, shapeshifting…

Gwion becomes Hare – Ceridwen becomes Hound

Gwion becomes Salmon – Ceridwen becomes Otter

Gwion becomes Wren – Ceridwen becomes Hawk

Gwion becomes Grain – Ceridwen becomes Hen

Ceridwen consumes Grain – Gwion is Second-Born – Taisien

The story is there, told, telling and being re-told in the mist, in the windy spaces of these mountains.




Published: September 24, 2017

The Bride of Spring

The Bride of Spring

Adapted from traditional sources – A story for Imbolg

The Cailleach, the Hag of Winter, held dominion over the land. As Snow Queen she had brought then ice, the winds and the darkness which locked the land into a frozen time-locked desert.

She had imprisoned a maiden named Bride in Her high mountain home not for any other reason other than she knew that Her son Angus-the-Ever-Young (a Sun God) had fallen in love with this fair girl.


The Cailleach knew that if these two ever married, Her own reign would be over: Angus would be the Summer King and Bride would be the Summer Queen.

Angus was lost, smitten and not to be deterred, He set out to find Bride.

Irish weather in February could be treacherous, though, so Angus borrowed 3 days from February’s brother August to give him time in which to search. With some fine weather Angus could ride and search in deep woods and high mountains.

Brides prison was in the summer sun and her imprisonment was a task set by the Crone to collect fresh wood and return them to her winter fires. To make light of her work she sang a song of spring, a song of hope.

Angus searched high and low, and till on the morning of the third stolen day he heard the sound of a song and a poem of hope. Following the heart song he was led to Bride.

Angus was light and bright with the countenance of the rising sun. She immediately loved the shining young man just as he loved Her. The two of them eloped – running through the words, over the mountains and through the streams.

When she was cold Angus wove her a cloak and into each web and weft of that garment he sowed the seeds of summer flowers. When Bride wore the cloak each seed was nurtured and brought forth the sprouts and the leaves of spring.

The furious Cailleach chased after them riding on her shaggy black goat, sending wave after wave of terrible storms in an attempt to slow them down. With every moment that passed her wintery grip was fading and even the storms lost some of their power. Eventually even Cailleach herself was forced to notice the changes in the land and start to feel the warmth within herself.

She was forced to recognise that the rising tide of life was just too powerful. She cast down her staff at that moment turned into a boulder on the side of the mountain.  Here she chose to stay frozen in silica until it was time for the fading light to herald the coming of winter.

Angus returned to Brother August the three days he lent to February, thus ensuring that February would still have the lightest hold on the year. In return he  promised that the light of spring and Brides cloak of seeds would bring a special kind of warmth to this the shortest month of the year.

MoonBear/Alan 31/01/17

Published: February 5, 2017

The Awen and The Drum

The Awen and The Drum



The Awen has been adopted as the symbol for modern Druidry…

It is based on an original design by the 18th-19th century Druid revivalist, Iolo Morganwg. It represents three rays of light emanating from three points of light and symbolises, among other things, the triple nature of the Druid path, incorporating the paths of Bard, Ovate and Druid.

The Awen is a not genuine symbol of ancient Druidry, but is associated with several modern groups.

The word Awen in the Gaelic language means means “inspiration,” or “essence,” and refers to to poetic inspiration (traditional) or spiritual illumination (modern). The three parts of the Awen symbol represent the harmony of opposites- the left and right rays symbolizing female and male energy; the center bar their harmonious balance (somewhat akin to the Taoist yin-yang symbol).

The RIGHT Hand Ray can be associated with the RED DRAGON or Nitre in Alchemical Terms.

It is Power, Fire and Air – Spirit Above

The LEFT Hand Ray can be associated with the WHITE DRAGON or Salt in Alchemical Terms

It is knowledge, Water and Earth – Spirit Below

The MIDDLE Ray is the Ray of Balance

The Staff of Merlin.. Spirit Within

From a meditation : 7/8/16

T|he Drum is the White Dragon – The Beater is the Red

Together they produce the rhythm of life, the pulse of creation.

The Drum and The Beater exist as ‘entities’ and potential within their own right, but the Drum only plays the vibration of life through the application of desire – the intention to create a beat.

The Drum reverberates at each encounter with The Beater and if the beat is out of step with the echoes of the initial rhythm there is chaos and discord and the intended rhythm falters.

The properties of the Drum and The Beater effect the nature of the beat and the Drummer creates the rhythm and is created by it…

The energy given to the Drum by the Beater derives from a source within the Drummer.

They co-exist and co-create in accord with intention.





Published: August 7, 2016

A Riddle?

A Riddle?




Taken from my Journal following a journey…

And the Bear said “there is but one path which can be derived from the Hawks three ideas”

And the Hawk said “the three ideas will lead to the six actions of the Stag”

The Salmon offered nine insights which would inform the one path and so the cycle begins again.

And the Bear said “What is the path?”

And the Hawn questioned the three ideas.

The Stag asked “What are the six actions?”

And the Salmon questioned the transformation held within the ideas, which led to the actions which derived the insights all of which formed the path the Bear could follow.

  • One Path
  • Three Ideas
  • Six Actions
  • Nine Insights


Published: May 12, 2016

Cu Chulainn and Emer

Cu Chulainn and Emer

Although this tale was written in the 10th or 11th century CE, it is safe to assume that this tale – like so many others – contains a much older nucleus.

What is interesting about this story, which comes from the Ulster Cycle of mythic stories, is that it refers to the four fire festivals around which the wheel of the year is constructed.

The Tale

The handsomeness of Cu Chulainn caused much consternation amid the men, the Princes and The Kings of Ulster – for their looks, no matter how impressive, could not match that of the Hero.

Though their thinking be shallow, it was felt that their women could easily be seduced by Cu Chulainn.

They determined to find a woman to marry him, and tame his roaming eye.

Messengers were sent out far and wide but none could find a woman that Cuchulainn would fall for.

In The court of Forgall the Clever they found the match.

Emer was the noble daughter of the Chieftain named Forgall who had a reputation for slyness.

Cu Chulainn was invited to visit Forgall’s court where he saw Emer conversing with her attendants.

For his eye she had the six gifts which he sought in a wife; the gift of beauty, the gift of a good voice, the gift of sweet speech, the gift of needlework, the gift of wisdom and the gift of chastity.

Forgall was not warm to the idea, so decided to set a challenge for Cu Chulainn.

Scathach-Celtic-Goddess-45763728762He would need to prove himself a worth warrior and so was required to train with the warrior women, Scathact of Scotland. He thought that Cu Chulainn might fail the training, but if not he would be away for some time so could ensure his court was protected upon the warriors return.

Actually Emer herself was not averse to Cu Chulainn’s advances, but wishing to test him set conditions of her own.

Cu Chulainn had spoken to Emer in code words and phrases; complicated riddles and puns that made no sense to the other listeners.

While others looked at him aghast (that was not how he thought one should talk to a beautiful woman), Emer smiled at him, and replied in the same vein of seeming nonsense, incomprehensible to all the others. For example They went when Cu Chulainn peeked down the top of her shirt and said “I see a fine country there with a sweet resting place.”

Emer replied, “No man shall rest there unless he can leap over three walls, kill three groups of nine men with one blow, leaving one man in each group alive, and slay one hundred men at each of the fords between here and Emain Macha.”

“Fair is the plain, the plain of the noble yoke,” said Cu Chulainn.

“No one comes to this plain,” said she, “who does not go out in safety from Samhain to Oimell, and from Oimell to Beltaine, and again from Beltaine to Bron Trogain.”

“Everything you have commanded, so it will be done by me,” said Cu Chulainn.

And the offer you have made me, it is accepted, it is taken, it is granted,” said Emer.

“‘I shall go out from Samhain to Oimell,’ he said.

“That is, that I shall fight without harm to myself from Samhain, the end of summer, to Oimell, the beginning of spring; and from the beginning of spring to Beltaine, and from that to Bron Trogain. For Oi, in the language of poetry, is a name for sheep, and Oimell is the time when the sheep come out and are milked, and Suain is a gentle sound, and it is at Samhain that gentle voices sound; and Beltaine is a favouring fire; for it is at that time the Druids used to make fires with spells and to drive the cattle between them against the plagues every year. And Bron Trogain, that is the beginning of autumn, for it is then the earth is in labour, that is, the earth under fruit, Bron Trogain, the trouble of the earth.”

ulster_cycle__3_copySo Cu Chulainn travelled to Scotland to train with the Warrior Woman.

Scathact taught Cu Chulainn the art of war – and he excelled.

Now Scathact had a rival, Aoife who some say was her twin sister.

They had long held a grievance and so it was that during Cu Chulainn’s training Aoife made her attacks on Scathact’s home on the Isle of Skye.

Cu Chulainn was not ready for battle so Scathact attempted to drug him, but he was too strong and so revived from the sleeping potion.

He asked her “What things does Aoife think most of in all the world?”

“Her two horses and her chariot and her chariot-driver,” said Scathach.

Cu Chulainn and Aoife met in battle and he was very near defeat –  his spear, his sword and strength almost broke, he decide to call out that Aoife’s horses and chariot were near to falling over the cliff.

Distracted for a moment, Cu Chulainn over powered her and offered to spare her life on two conditions.

The first that she cease all hostilities against Scathact and that she bear him a child – she agreed.

All the time Cu Chulainn was away, Forgall the Wily had made preparations.

At first he tried to marry Emer to the great king in Munster, Lugaid, son of Ros.

He had travelled northward with twelve chariot chiefs to look for a wife among the daughters of the men of Mac Rossa, but they had all been promised before. When Forgall Manach heard this he told Lugaid that the best of the maidens of Ireland, both as to form and behaviour and handiwork, was in his house unwed.

Lugaid said he was well pleased to hear that, and Forgall promised him his daughter Emer in marriage.

And to the twelve chariot chiefs that were with him, he promised twelve daughters of twelve lords of land in Bregia, and Lugaid went back with him to his dun for the wedding.

But when Emer was brought to Lugaid to sit by his side, she laid one of her hands on each side of his face, and she said on the truth of her good name and of her life, that it was Cu Chulain she loved, although her father was against him, and that no one that was an honourable man should force her to be his wife.

Then Lugaid did not dare take her, for he was in dread of Cuchulain, and so he returned home again.

Forgall had fortified his stronghold with three walls, and gathered his best warriors in the courtyard. The strongest were in three groups of nine, each one commanded by one of his own sons.

Cu Chulainn was not daunted by these preparations: he simply leaped over the wall, and struck down each of the three groups of men with one blow of his sword, leaving Emer’s brothers unharmed.

When Forgall saw this, he was sure Cu Chulainn would kill him for trying to keep his daughter away from him. He climbed over the walls to try and escape, but he slipped and fell to his death.

Cu Chulainn picked up Emer, and her weight in gold, and leaped back over the three walls as easily as he had arrived.

cuchulainn3He and Emer were pursued by Forgall the Wily’s followers, and at each ford between her house and Emain Macha, Cu Chulainn had to stop his chariot and hold them off.

At each ford, he killed a hundred men, fulfilling the last of the conditions she had set for him.

Emer grieved for her father, but she told Cu Chulainn she did not hold him responsible, as he had not actually killed her father: his death had been an accident, and his own fault.

So the two of them were married, and proved to be well-suited.

They were each other’s equal it wit and wisdom, and though Cu Chulainn was often away with battles and feats of arms, and often spent time with other women, Emer was without jealousy, because she knew he would always return to her.


Published: July 28, 2015

The Holly King and The Oak King

The Holly King and The Oak King


Getting confused ….

During a broadcast on Penwith Radio (26th December) I got myself into a right mythological tangle.

I was talking about Wren Day, the 26th December, when wrens were hunted by wren boys, sacrificed (killed) and then paraded around the town.

The Wren and the Oak are symbolically related and so in my muddled state I mixed up the Holly and the Oak king suggesting that it was the Holly King who defeated the Oak King at the Winter Solstice – a slip of the tongue, but one which resolved me to double check my thinking. A resolve further enhanced because listening to the show was Priestess of Kernow, Sue, who contacted the show and gently suggested that I had got it the wrong way round.

A quick studio reference to Wikipedia revealed…

“The Holly King is a speculative archetype of modern studies of folklore and mythology which has been popularized in some Neopagan religions. In his book The White Goddess, the author Robert Graves proposed that the mythological figure of the Holly King represents one half of the year, while the other is personified by his counterpart and adversary the Oak King: the two battle endlessly as the seasons turn. At Midsummer the Oak King is at the height of his strength, while the Holly King is at his weakest. The Holly King begins to regain his power, and at the Autumn Equinox, the tables finally turn in the Holly King’s favor; his strength peaks at Midwinter.”

In a Druidic sense the Light Half of the Year is Beltain to Samhain and the dark half is Samhain to Beltain.

If the Solstices represent the turning point of the year then one would assume that the respective kings are at their height at this time.

Summer Solstice – The Oak King

Winter Solstice – The Holly King

Moerover if this is the case the the equinoxes represent periods of ‘balance’ between the two Kings.

For my own clarity I chose to compile the following notes, I hope you find them interesting too….

The battle between the Holly King and the Oak King. for a number of Pagan traditions, represents a central theme surrounding the solstices – the concept of light and dark; of birth, death, and rebirth.

The Holly King and the Oak King are two sacrificial Gods who, in the manner of such deities, are two aspects of the same being. The Holly King represents the waning year, and battles the Oak King at Midsummer (probably once at Bealtaine) for rulership. Likewise, the Oak King is the God of the waxing year, and battles with the Holly King at Yule (probably once at Samhain) for the same honour.

Actually there are two themes which collide at the Solstices, two distinct concepts which merged together to create the modern-day Wheel of the Year : a solar concept and the natural-fertility concept.

The sun based solar theme is one we can observe on a daily basis as we watch the sun rise and set, and view the dominance of the Sun God during the solstices and equinoxes.

It is a theme in which the Sun dies and is reborn at the Winter Solstice (Yule), begins his maturity at the Spring Equinox (Ostara) when he impregnates the Earth Goddess, peaks in a blaze of glory at the Summer Solstice (Litha), and begins to wane in his power around the Fall Equinox (Mabon).

The natural-fertility concept is a little more complex, involving two God-figures: the God of the Waxing Year and the God of the Waning Year.

The Waxing God is also known as the Oak King, and the Waning God as the Holly King. Although rivals, they are also considered to be twins – each other’s “other self,” the light and dark aspects of the male deity.

(source : Deaf Pagan Crossroads)

The Solar twins compete with each other for the favour of the Earth Goddess; each serves as her child, consort and lover during his half-year reign – he mates with her, dies in her arms, and is then born of her to carry on the never-ending cycle.

The Spring Equinox (March 21st)  can be seen as celebration of Light and Dark being in harmony.

The Darkness does not conquer Light, nor does the Light conquer Darkness. They are at equilibrium.

We can see this time as one at which the “battle” between the two is at its height;  a time of high energy and of the concept of killing off the old and bringing in the new.

Beltaine (May 1st) : This is the time when the Holly King dies.

Darkness dies in order to give way to Light. The Oak king defeats Holly king!

This is a time of a celebration of procreation; a time of sex, and the life bringing energies associated with it.

Litha or the Summer Solstice (June 23rd) : The Oak king reigns supreme and we celebrate the Oak King or the Bright Lord with bonfires.

Today is the longest day of the year. People in the Northern regions celebrate the light and brightness of summer. As we celebrate the light and creation. It is also the day that the Dark Lord or the Holly King is reborn.

Lammas (Aug 1st) : This is the day, which is opposite to Imbolc a celebration of  the anticipation of the Light. Here we celebrate the first harvest, Perhaps we can see this as the  Holly King’s first victory in the killing off of the crops for the first harvest?

Autumn Equinox (September 23rd) : This is the celebration of Light and Dark being in harmony once again. The Darkness does not conquer Light but the Darkness is getting stronger.

This is a time that the Light does start giving way to the darkness and we start reaping the rewards of a dying Earth. The Oak King’s light is starting to give way. He has trouble hanging on. We give thanks to the Oak King for all he has given us.

Samhain (October 31st) : the Final Harvest or Hallowe’en. This is the Oak King’s death – he is dead until the Winter Solstice! This is a time for darkness to reign. The days get shorter and the nights grow longer. This is at time for us to withdraw and hide in solitude.

Winter Solstice (December 21st) : the rebirth of the Sun or the Oak King. On this day the light is reborn and we celebrate the renewal of the light of the year. This day is still the Holly King’s day as the god of transformation and one who brings us to birth new ways.

Imbolc (Feb 2nd) : This day is the day of the Goddess Brigit, later Christianised into St. Brigit. This a time when Darkness still rules but the light is coming into power and it is celebrated by the celebration of candles, which was Christianised into Candlemas. The darkness or the Holly King still rules but the Oak King or light is growing in power.


The Oak King

greenkingThe Oak King, the Lord of the Greenwood and golden twin of the waxing year, rules from Midwinter to Midsummer. At Midwinter, he goes to battle with his twin, the Holly King, for the favour of the Goddess. He slays the Holly King, who goes to rest in Caer Arianrhod until they do battle again at Midsummer. The Oak King and Holly King are mortal enemies at Midsummer and Midwinter, but they are two sides of a whole. Neither could exist without the other.

The Oak King

Represents: Growth, Expansion

Gods: Jupiter (Roman god of light and sky)

Janus (Roman god of planting, marriage, birth, and other types of beginnings)

Dagda (Irish-Celtic god of the earth)

Frey (Norse fertility god)

Pan (Greek god of fertility, unbridled male sexuality and carnal desire)

Colors: Red, green, yellow, purple

Plant: Oak, mistletoe

Bird: Robin

Associated myths: Robin Hood, King Arthur, Gawain (when he meets the Green Knight), Jesus, Balder, Green Man

The Holly King

440ebcde4b332f0a001e167dbddce681Represents: Withdrawal, lessons, life, rest

Gods: Saturn (Roman agricultural god)

Cronos (Greek god, also known as Father Time)

Father Ice/Grandfather Frost (Russian winter god)

Odin/Wotan (Scandinavian/Teutonic All-Father who rides the sky on an eight-legged horse)

The Tomte (a Norse Land Spirit known for giving gifts to children at this time of year)

Thor (Norse sky god who rides the sky in a chariot drawn by goats)

Color: Black, Red, Green, Gold

Plant: Holly

Bird: Wren

Associated myths: Santa Claus in all his variations, the Green Knight from Arthurian legend, Mordred (who struck down King Arthur), St. John, Corn King, Bran the Blessed.

Samhain is the night when the Old King dies, and the Crone Goddess mourns him greatly during the next six weeks.

Arawn and Hafgan

These two kings of Annwan appear in Welsh mythology as joint kings of the otherworld who are constantly battling.

We are told that their dominions sit side by side.

In the story of Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed we learn that he agrees to switch places with Arawn for a year and a day in order to battle against Hafgan.

Before they exchange places, Arawn gives specific instructions to Pwyll to kill Hafgan with one stroke and no more. In the past when Arawn had battled and had struck Hafgan nearly to his death, Hafgan had begged him to give another stroke, and when Arawn had done so, Hafgan recovered from his injuries and was in good health for battle again the next day.

In one year Pwyll, wearing the guise of Arawn, goes to battle and succeeds in injuring Hafgan nearly to death, breaking through his shield and armor and knocking him to the ground. Just as Arawn had warned, Hafgan pleaded that Pwyll finish the slaughter and kill him thoroughly.

Pwyll refuses to do so, saying, “I may yet repent this, but, whoever else may slay you now, I will not do so.”[

Hafgan then tells his lords he has met his death and will no longer lead them. When Hafgan’s men see their leader is at his end, they realize there is no other king but Arawn, and consent to be the subjects of the new and only king of Annwn.

In later tradition, the role of king of Annwn was largely attributed to the Welsh psychopomp (the spirit or deity who leads newly deceased souls to the otherworld), Gwyn ap Nudd. However, Arawn’s memory is retained in a traditional saying found in an old folktale:

Hir yw’r dydd a hir yw’r nos, a hir yw aros Arawn

“Long is the day and long is the night, and long is the waiting of Arawn

Hafgan as a male or female name means “summer song” HAF gan the story could be a seasonal myth, such as the medieval battle between the Oak King and Holly King, with Arawn as the Holly King.



Published: December 27, 2014

Eleven Commitments of Modern Druids

Eleven Commitments of Modern Druids




We are involved in a movement which is built around re-connection to and re-construction of tradition.

In my recent meditations and revisiting of what some would call Bardic teachings I wanted to focus on what it means to be a Druid. A study of the Welsh and Irish Triads gives us a starting point and of course the poems and stories within the Welsh and Irish Bardic traditions offer some pointers.

With the movie Avatar on the television at the moment many of the core themes of shamanism are bouncing around in my head.

So what does it mean to be a Druid in today’s world?

Perhaps the following discussion piece created for the course I am running at the moment may be of interest…









Published: July 13, 2014

Three Cauldrons Three Worlds

Three Cauldrons – Three Worlds


Three Cauldrons – Three Worlds

Reconstructed Druidic Lore

If we accept the any of the scholarly work on Druidry we know that very little is really known about what the Druids actually did. Perhaps the only thing we can say with any certainty is that Druidic Lore has presented today is a ‘best guess’ about what was believed based upon quite late (historically) texts, narratives, poems and tales which began to circulate in the 11th and 12th Centuries.

Such reconstruction and re-creation is at the core of Western/European pagan tradition and should not be dismissed since the intention, to create a system through which personal-spiritual development within the context of the natural world is an honest and valid one. The truth is that all spiritual systems have been revised, revisited and restated in keeping with the needs of the time.

I would personally go as far to say that any spiritual system which refuses to develop to meet the needs of the people becomes ‘fixed, ‘dogmatic’ and a fertile ground for fundamentalist thinking. We see so much evidence in the world where religious teachings have been divorced from the context in which they were first recorded and held on to as irrevocable, unquestionable law.

But I digress.

My true Cauldron of Incubation
It has been taken by the Gods from the mysteries of the elemental abyss
A fitting decision that ennobles one from one’s center
that pours forth a terrifying stream of speech from the mouth. 

I sing of the Cauldron of Wisdom

which bestows the merit of every art,

through which treasure increases,

which magnifies every common artisan,

which builds up a person through their gift.

 I sing of the Cauldron of Motion 

understanding grace,
accumulating knowledge
streaming poetic inspiration as milk from the breast,
it is the tide-water point of knowledge union of sages 


Abstract from Cauldron of Posey – Amergin


The Cauldron of Posey was a poem attributed to Amergin White Knee a bard and poet within the Irish Mythological Cycle (featuring the stories of the Tuatha de Dannan).  During the 7th Century an Irish poet re-created the poem which was later recorded in a 16th Century Manuscript (Legal codex H.3.18, Trinity College, Dublin).

It is interesting since the poem proposes the idea that there are three cauldrons which can be considered to exist within the human body from which all poetry (inspiration) flows.

Inspiration, Poetry and Wisdom are three essential gifts which we can say are the result of a spiritual quest and hence the three cauldrons represent three aspects in the attainment of these gifts.

  • The Cauldron of Incubation (warming) is upright in a person from the beginning.
  • The Cauldron of Motion (vocation)  is tipped on its side in the newly born.
  • The Cauldron of Wisdom (knowledge) is seen as being up-side down in the newly born.

One way to think about these cauldrons is in considering how each may relate to human experience so that the :

Cauldron of Wisdom ‘speaks to’ Consciousness  : Future, Creation, Knowledge, Inspiration

Cauldron of Vocation : Experience – Present, Motion, Observation, Training

Cauldron of Formation :  Existence – Past Incubation, Formation, Tradition

As Amergin notes…

The Gods do not apportion the same to everyone

tipped, inverted, right-side-up;

no knowledge, half-knowledge, full-knowledge


The Cauldron of Formation

From whence we came, our source , our origin and as such the cauldron is upright ready to receive.

We owe our origins to the ‘Sea’ – we emerged from the sea and we develop within the ‘waters of amniotic fluid’.

Water in myth is also emotion and often the sea represents the unconscious. The idea of the ‘under ground stream’ in alchemy is about the passing of wisdom from one generation to another.

The key questions we can focus on here relate to our existence; our personal inner and outer worlds (the relationship between consciousness and unconsciousness) as well as the traditions which shape us.

Perhaps the key lesson of this cauldron is that we are shaped by our past and not defined or limited by it. Maybe then, we could consider traumas cause this cauldron to spill over and possibly diminish for a while, our capacity to engage in our own lives with vitality and motivation.

The Cauldron of Motion

It is by the recognition or denial of our gifts that this cauldron is turned or not. It is the realm of the Earth, the ‘middle-world’ upon which we act and that action results an a consequence.

We, as we define our selves, incubate ideas and connect to motivations through consideration of the Cauldron of Warming, but when working from the space of the Cauldron of Motion we are connecting and interacting with the world.  … and the world is acting upon us.

The question here perhaps is related to the effects of our actions and the consequences which stem from them.

Amergin notes that the Cauldron of Motion can be turned by sorrow or joy and by that we can possibly suggest that these result from our actions or inactions – in a sense karma.

The poem speaks of …

Longing, grief, the sorrows of jealousy and the discipline of pilgrimage to holy places.

 It is internally that these are borne although the cause is from outside.

So we must live and respond and know that we are being ‘here’ and ‘now’ – about responsibility in developing our skills and our gifts.  Through our inter-action with ‘the land’ we either create or destroy.

The Cauldron of Wisdom

Whilst knowledge comes from what he have learned, wisdom comes from experience – wisdom is earned not learned.

So we start to understand and work on a more profound level with those things we have incubated and those things we have created.

This Cauldron relates to the outer world of the Sky – the realm of deities and of ‘the future’

A question here is perhaps related to our responsibilities to the future and our connection with the Universe beyond the here and now.

Amergin notes that ..

There are then two divisions of joy that turn the Cauldron of Wisdom, these are divine joy and human joy.

In human joy there are four divisions among the wise.

There are four divisions of human joy among the wise — sexual intimacy, the joy of health and prosperity after years of studying poetry, the joy of wisdom after the harmonious creation of poems, and the joy of ecstasy from eating the fair nuts of the nine hazels of the Well of Segais in the Sidhe realm.

They cast themselves in multitudes, like a ram¹s fleece upon the ridges of the Boyne, moving upstream swifter than racehorses driven on midsummer¹s day every seven years. 

The Gods touch people through divine and human joys so that they are able to speak prophetic poems and dispense wisdom and perform miracles, giving wise judgment with precedents, and blessings in answer to every wish. The source of these joys is outside the person and added to their cauldrons to cause them to turn, although the cause of the joy is internal.

 This is the cauldron of poetic inspiration and wisdom beyond the moment.

As one writer notes:-

“Once upright the Cauldron of Wisdom and Knowledge is capable of holding much more knowledge and wisdom [it] is emblematic of the connection between the Skyworld of the Gods and the spiritual and mental aspects of life.” (Murphy, 2014)

 The Three Cauldrons and Their Associations

Incubation Motion Wisdom
The Underworld The Middle World The Upper World
Past Lives ‘Reality’ “The Awen”
Ancestors The intersection of the Web Poetic Inspiration
The Cycle of Death and Rebirth The ‘sacred’ directions Realisation of Goals
Senses Gifts Visions
Unconscious/Conscious Mind Ego/Consciousness Transpersonal Consciousness
Keeper of Tradition Caretaker of the Earth Seer and Healer
Old Ways Initiation Transcendence
Primal Life Energy Motivating Force Spiritual Energy

 It would be a mistake to ignore the interdependence of these domains in the same way it would be artificial to deny anyone of them. Within the “New Age Spiritual” movement we constantly read of those who want to ‘dismiss their ego’ or ‘live only in the light’.

In the first instance letting go of egotism is not the same as abandoning that which at your core makes you – you (your ego).

In the latter case abandoning the material and not considering the effects you have on your environment is, I would argue, a kind of psychosis.“New Age Festivals”  are often subtitled Mind, Body and Spirit events for a reason – the recognition of the need to integrate the three domains and that they are interdependent.








Published: July 12, 2014



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When you hear the word community what do you think of?

Your friends, your village, your school … ??

When you think of “The Green Movement” what do you think of?

Greenpeace, Environmental Activism, Saving the Planet… ??

Perhaps community is about relationship and the ‘green movement’ is about connection?

For me Green Politics is a peculiar thing – at the core of what is being said is that we need to preserve the Earth for us…

This is bothersome in some respects since the Geologist and Earth Scientist in me is aware of three fundamental truths ..

The Earth will not end in the sense that many suggest – it may change form and spacial existence over time

Everything on the Earth is part of a vast web of interdependent connections – some organisms on the web may seem to be more dominant than others

The Earth is probably more fecund, fertile without us being around – we are temporary ‘blips’ on a larger timescale

So no matter what we do, or how careless we are in our treatment of the Earth and its resources, when we are gone the processes of life – those which maintain the Earth within the Cosmos, will continue. The Earth will recover from our misuse in the long term.

So the choice is quiet simple. If we, as a species chose to live ‘out of relationship’ with the processes of the Earth we will soon cease to exist. If we want tto enjoy, feel and sense the beauty of the planet we live upon then we need to find a way of being in harmony with it.

This, perhaps, is something the singer-songwriter Don Mclean spoke of in is wonderful 70’s song Tapestry..


The Earth is our Community – we are ‘in relationship’ with everything on the Earth and,. to everything within the Cosmos. How we choose to manage that relationship is what will determine our survival or not and, to a great extent the Universe can be just as OK with us in it as it is with us ‘out of it’.

The challenge we face is not simply one of trying to undo the technologies we use and the systems we have created, but to use them with wisdom, understanding and love.

We have numerous New Age Folk complaining that ‘science’has brought us to the edge of extinction and yet those some Folk carry crystals that have been mined, use oils which have been commercially farmed and may subscribe to ‘folk remedies’ which are part of the propaganda of the same Big Pharma they protest about.  OK, now perhaps that was a bit unfair, but not without an element of truth I add.

The issue is about what we, as humans, are willing to think about. It is far easier to find a single scapegoat for the ills of environmental decline than it is to really think about the degree to which we are all complicit. It is easier, perhaps, to stand aside and moan about the conflicts of interest within the world than it is to consider that those same conflicts and motivations can exist within each and everyone of us. Let those who have no ax to grind or prejudice to fuel speak out now!



The Gaia Hypothesis proposes that our planet functions as a single organism which maintains conditions necessary for its survival. It was  proposed by James Lovelock in the mid-1960s and published in a book in 1979. It is an idea that holds much sway within certain groups and  while Lovelock’s
hypothesis has not  been substantiated, it makes sense in terms of the interaction of physical, chemical, geological, and biological processes on Earth. Whilst some may want to propose a ‘consciousness’ within the Earths processes I prefer to refrain from limiting them with anthropomorphic limitations.

In a sense nature is the ultimate arbiter – it is ‘good’, not in some Judeo-Christian sense of morality, but ‘good’ in the sense perhaps that is ‘sound’, ‘wonderful’, ‘precious’, ‘excellent’, ‘valuable;….

Nature is neither ‘good’ or ‘bad’ within the moralistic sense since it is beyond that – it simply ‘is’ all that there ‘is’.

Now we can pretty this up and romanticise about this as much as we want, but in every and all senses Nature, and by extension the Earth, gave rise to us. Now ‘parerntal’ metaphors can abound…. personified as Earth Mother or Mother Nature it is one of the oldest archetypes in existence.

Why does this idea have cross-cultural significance?

Because at our core we recognise there exists a relationship between us and ‘her’.

So whilst science talks of ‘ecosystems’  the mystic talks of ‘the web’ and whilst people abuse their relationship with ‘the mother’ they do so because they are ‘out of relationship’ with themselves. In the pain of separation from the ‘web’ the psychology of ‘need’ becomes expressed not as  a sense of ‘belonging’ but as an attitude of ‘rebellion’.

So Community perhaps starts with yourself, then moves to your relationship and attitudes to others and thence to the social groups you aspire to. All of which are based upon the Earth – from it, within it, around it. Just as some struggle to find peace within themselves, so many find it difficult to find peace between each other. The end result of this imbalance is one of caring less about community and more about ruler-ship. The Earth and Nature can have no ruler and if we choose to fall out of relationship with it (them) they won’t care or put a stop to their processes…. It will be the children of the people who could not understand ‘community’ who will grieve for the loss.

So ends this set of reflections and meanderings …


Alan /|\





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Published: April 21, 2014

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