Druid

Newfre, Gwyar and Calas

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Newfre, Gwyar and Calas

AwenSymbolbestone

In the spirit of re-creation and basing ideas on The Barddas of Iolo Morganwg it is interesting to talk of ‘three aspects’ of creation.

If you come from a Wiccan and Western Magickal background then the idea of the (Platonic) elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water will be very familiar to you.
These same elements entered into discussions of Alchemy, which came from the Islamic Magical tradition, and was popularised in the Middle Ages when translations of Islamic texts into Latin formed part of the revival in magical traditions.
Druid Revival lore contains a system of its own, a set of three elements that first appears in Iolo Morganwg’s writings. Whether it’s an invention of Iolo’s or a surviving scrap of some older teaching is anyone’s guess, but the three elements have been part of Druid Revival teaching ever since his time.

Their names are nwyfre, gwyar, and calas.

Nwyfre (pronounced “NOOiv-ruh”) is said to be an old Welsh term meaning “sky” or “heaven.” As an element, nwyfre is the source of life and consciousness, and modern Druids often refer to it simply as the life force. Its image in nature is blue sky.

Gwyar (pronounced “GOO-yar”) literally means “blood” in old Welsh, but it’s more general meaning is “flow” or “fluidity.” As an element, gwyar is the source of change, motion, growth, and decay. Its image in nature is running water.

Calas (pronounced “CAH-lass”) comes from the same root as caled, Welsh for “hard,” and means “solidity.” As an element, calas is the source of form, differentiation, manifestation, and stability. Its image in nature is stone.
According to Druid philosophy, everything in the universe is made up of these three elements in some combination, with one element dominant.

All are forms of primal substance, which is called manred.

Manred has no characteristics of its own, except for the power to condense into calas, flow into gwyar or expand into nwyfre.

The Barddas Iolo’s book, which introduces the three elements also discusses the more common system of five elements:

  • nwyfre becomes spirit,
  • gwyar becomes water,
  • calas becomes earth, with air and fire added to the set to round it out.

Many modern Druid orders use this set of five preferentially, and in some areas (such as the healing arts) it has important advantages.

We have also looked at this five element system in the first part of our training.

You can access The Bardass on line here:

http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/bim.htm

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Published: June 24, 2015

Alban Arthan

druidMistletoe

Alban Arthan

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All Hail  Iolo Morganwg, the 19th-century radical poet and forger who gave us Alban Arthan which is said to translate to  “The Quarter or Light of the Little Bear” and inspired the alternative respelling is Alban Arthuan – ‘light of Arthur’…

Of course we’ve very little idea of what the Druids did or did not believe, but re-creationist tradition sees the four astronomical festivals (The Solstices and Equinoxes) as being ‘high times’ for celebrations. With the amazing solstice alignments at Newgrange, Stonehenge and other neolithic sites there was certainly some tradition relating to this time of (and these times) of year – but all of these pre-date the Druids (as well as the Pyramids).

druidMistletoeRomantic re-creationists  speculate that druids would gather by the oldest mistletoe-clad oak where the Chief Druid would make his way to the mistletoe to be cut whilst below, other Druids would hold open a sheet to catch it, making sure none of it touched the ground. With his golden sickle, and in one chop, the Chief Druid would remove the mistletoe to be caught below. (Thank you Robert Graves)…

Of course the winter solstice may have been immensely important because the people were economically dependent on monitoring the progress of the seasons.

Starvation was common during the first months of the winter and in temperate climates, the midwinter festival was the last feast celebration, before deep winter began.

Isolstice_stones_by_badgersoph-d5dzsgmt is suggested at this time  cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter, thus it was almost the only time of year when a plentiful supply of fresh meat was available.

The majority of wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking at this time. The concentration of the observances were not always on the day commencing at midnight or at dawn, but the beginning of the pagan day, which in many cultures fell on the previous eve.

Because the event was seen as the reversal of the Sun’s ebbing presence in the sky, concepts of the birth or rebirth of sun gods became common and, in cultures which used cyclic calendars based on the winter solstice, the “year as reborn” was celebrated with reference to life-death-rebirth deities or “new beginnings” .

 

For Celtic pagans, Yule is the time when the Sun God Lugh is reborn in human form to rejoin his  beloved wife Eriu

She is described as a hag, who transformed into a beautiful Goddess by the marriage and personifies the land of Ireland in her every feature and character. She becomes known in legend as the “Sovereignty of Ireland”.

In these legends, Lugh takes his bride in the form of the Maiden Goddess, to look out upon their land and in seeing the suffering of their people they grow worried and concerned.

The summer High Holy Day Lughnasadh is celebrated by many traditions as the moment when Lugh, as the Sacred King, sacrifices his own life to save his suffering people.

In doing so his blood is spread across the fields to ensure the fertility of the fields and a bountiful harvest of crop and herd.

As the harvests are brought in, and winters covers the land, the Great Mother (the Mother Goddess) resurrects Lugh from the ground, rising him up into the dark sky and returns him (as the Sun) to the universe.

The effort to raise Lugh into the sky causes Eriu to grow old as she shared her knowledge with the God to teach him all he needed to know to govern over his people once more.

Bestowing her Old Crone wisdom upon Lugh brings the cycle back to the  beginning of the legend.

Yule is also the celebration of the cycle of life through Eriu and all her incarnations as the Maiden, Mother and Crone Goddess.

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The Goddess Eriu at Uisneach

Today’s celebrations of the Solstice, Yule and Christmas-tide represent a patch-work of solar traditions, pagan practices, Christian symbolism and neo-Pagan folklore.

Yet beneath it all there is one simple observation…

We are at mid-winter, the shortest day.Before the Winter Solstice there was the promise of coming darkness – after the promise of the light.

The symbolic battle between the Oak and the Holly, the wren and the robin mark the turning points of the year – and by extension the turning points in our own lives and communities. It is this cycle which we celebrate, by whatever name or mythology we choose … it is the perpetual cycle of life death and re-birth of the nature which inspires us in our darkest depths.

So may I wish you all a Cool Yule, a Super Solstice and a Creative Christmas …

May You Never Thirst

moonbear

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Published: December 21, 2014

Eleven Commitments of Modern Druids

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Eleven Commitments of Modern Druids

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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…

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Published: July 13, 2014

Reflections on The Seven Pointed Star

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Reflections on the Seven Pointed Star

 

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This particular image has a long and varied history within the annuls of magick.

A Star with Seven Points – a Septagram as opposed to the familiar Pentagram.

The number seven itself has long had ‘mystical’ connotations. The seventh-son of a seventh son and of course The Seventh Day is the day following creative actions which created the cosmos.

Nachmanides (a 12th century Spanish Occultist) explores the number 7 in kabbalistic terms.

Seven is the number of the natural world. There are 7 days in the week, 7 notes on the musical scale and 7 directions (left, right, up, down, forward, back and center). “Seven” – represented by the 7 days of Sukkot, is the world of nature whilst “Eight“, represented by Shemini Atzeret, is that which is beyond nature.
There are seven aspects of physicality – Height , Width, Depth , Top and bottom (limits height) , Front and back (limits width), Left and right (limits depth)
and seven which connects the previous six.  Seven then is the final number in a series which represents the physical/material world.

SeptagramPythagoras, a ‘numbers geek’ if ever there was one, believed that numbers were ‘sacred’ and that to understand the universe all we needed to do was to understand the numbers which represented it. Many Cosmologists and Mathematicians of today seem to have a similar attitude.

In classical times there were seven planets, which, according to Pythagoras, generated the ‘music of the spheres’. It is easy to see how notions of seven planes of existence developed, We could find ourselves in Seventh Heaven, if we avoided the Seven Deadly Sins and adhered to the Seven ‘vital’ Virtues, whilst aligning our Seven Chakra centres to the energies of the Seven Heavenly bodies which influenced life on this planet.

Apologies if that sounded a little flippant, it wasn’t really meant to.

 

The Kabbalistic Text Sefer Yetzira highlights the number seven and its multiples in the creation story of Bereshit  (Genesis):

35 times God (Elohim) is found.
7 times “On the Earth (Hebrew only)” is found.
21 times “Earth, earth, or land” are found.
7 times “heaven(s), sky (excluding “heavenly sky”)” are found.
7 times “Good” is found.
7 times “Water(s) (beneath the heavens)” are found.
7 times “flying, fly, or birds” are found.
7 times “crawls, walks, land animals” are found.
14 times “day or days” are found.

Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David on his website (The Significance of the Number 7)  presents 49 ‘sacred’ reasons for the number 7 to be important and its not without significance that 49 is 7 x 7!

Make of that what you will, but it is all very interesting.

The Seven Pointed star could be seen as a representation of  synthesis as it brings together the four directions and the three worlds.  (see earlier thoughts on The Four Directions and The Triads). It is in this guise that perhaps much of the recent neo-pagan, reconstructionist magicks apply. In Kabbalistic terms Netzach is the seventh Sefiroth  – it  is “endurance,” the fortitude, and patience to follow through on your passions.

IThis star is also known as the Feary or Elven Star

Seven Pointed Stars, called “Faerie or Elven Stars” represent a gift from Faerie to humans to bridge the understanding between the Mortal human realm and that of Faerieland. – or so claim those versed in Faerie Lore (this by the way is a subject to which I am sure we will return). However, for now let’s look at what else is said ..

The 7 pointed star is known as a gateway symbol, a Gate or entrance between our world and that of Faery, the Otherworld. Each point on the star represents a gateway or path of the Higher Self to prepare one for entrance into Faery.

  1. Power, Personal Will, Determination, Prosperity, Justice, the Gate.
  2. Unconditional Love, Wisdom, Growth, Friendship, Healing.
  3. Knowledge, Intelligence, Creativity, Sexuality, Awakening.
  4. Harmony, Tranquility, Blessings, Love.
  5. Powers of Mind and Science, Balance, Dexterity.
  6. Devotion, Honesty, justice, Healing.
  7. Magick, Success, the Gaian Hypothesis.

There is little in this ‘pathway’ that I would disagree with or challenge since each of the ‘steps’ are worthy of study, practice and attainment. Indeed the Second Age of  the Reformed Druid  (RDG) have adopted this has their symbol for 2nd degree practitioners of Druidry. They list each of the points as representing the seven attributes of a Druid…

 

  1. Wisdom
  2. Compasion
  3. Liberal
  4. Abundance
  5. Non-Conformity
  6. Learning
  7. Idealist

Again attributes which are worth of our attention and aspiration.

How we explore these values and attitudes as we walk upon the Earth is the spiritual quest.

Alan /|\

 

elven

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Published: April 23, 2014

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