Bards Divination Druids Ovates Plant Annwfn Plant Dôn Plant Llŷr The Coelbren The Council of Voices The Three Great Families Three Branches

Casting the Coelbren: The Council of Voices

This method of divination uses six letters. It’s the one that I find myself using the most.

The Council of Voices draws its inspiration from the I Ching, which I have used for many years.

Each answer in the I Ching is composed of a hexagram: six lines, one above the other. A hexagram is actually made up of two trigrams – a set of three lines; each trigram has its own identity and meaning, and it’s the combination of the two that gives the meaning. In a trigram, the three lines represent the earth force (the bottom line); the life force of humans (the middle line); and the force of heaven  (top line).

The lines of the hexagram are drawn in sequence from the bottom up:

#6: Heaven
#5: Humanity
#4: Earth
#3: Heaven
#2: Humanity
#1: Earth

Each line can be Yin, Yang, Changing Yin, or Changing Yang, which adds to the complexity.

The Coelbren in this system follow a similar concept. There are six tiles, drawn in ascending order:

#6: The Counsel of the Plant Dôn
#5: The Counsel of the Plant Annwn
#4: The Counsel of the Plant Llŷr
#3: The Druids’ Counsel
#2: The Ovates’ Counsel
#1: The Bards’ Counsel.

Together, the six make up the Council of Voices: a gathering of benign advisors. Here is how to use this method:

Write down your question, making sure you have considered it, and framed it, thoughtfully. Keep it in mind every time you shake the bag containing your Coelbren tiles.

#1 Draw your first tile. Make a note of it. This is the voice of the Bards. They are responsible for the continuity of culture; for tribal awareness; for genealogical memory; for intra- and inter-communal relationships; and for justice as conveyed through public opinion. Of course, they are also the keepers of poetry, language, and inspiration! This answer reflects the bards’ concerns: does the answer contain the spark of inspiration? Is it beautiful and proper according to the rules? Is it in harmony with public opinion? Is it in accord with the values of past generations?

Return the tile to the bag. Shake the bag, and draw another tile.

#2 This is the voice of the Ovates. The Ovate’s role is the investigation of the world around us; the discovery of facts, and the rigorous testing of hypotheses. The Ovates apply the inspiration of Awen to the understanding of Nature, and discover the true nature of things. The Ovates are responsible for knowing, upholding, and applying the word of the Law; it is they who act as prosecutors and defenders in the courts of law. They tell you if the answer to our question accords with the Laws of Nature and the Laws of the Tribe. Will it stand up to determined questioning, or is it a case made on false or untested grounds?

Return the tile to the bag. Shake the bag, and draw another tile.

#3 This is the voice of the Druids. What is the role of the Druids? It is to consider the underlying meaning of the world, and the application of abstract principles to the mundane world. The Druid must combine the inspiration of Awen with the rigour of inquiry; she must judge and adjudicate on the basis of both popular opinion and the settled law. She must decide on facts, and with moral justice, and must choose one or the other if they are in disagreement. She must explain her reasoning in pure language, uncorrupted by obfuscation or evasion. This tells you: is the answer to your question just? Does it apply principle and virtue harmoniously into action?

The answers of the Three Branches have responded to your question from the pragmatic viewpoint of maintaining harmony and order from a social perspective. The answers of the Three Great Families are both more abstract, and more personal.

Return the tile to the bag. Shake the bag, and draw another tile.

#4 This is the voice of the Plant Annwn. They are concerned with being human; with self awareness; with moral development; with choice, and its consequences. Their response tells you whether the answer to your question leads you towards enlightenment and spiritual progress towards Gwynfyd – or whether it will lead you towards degradation and movement away from your potential as a human with free will.

Return the tile to the bag. Shake the bag, and draw another tile.

#5 This is the voice of the Plant Llŷr. It is the voice of Kings, seeking to balance microcosm and macrocosm; it is the application of virtue to the rule of society. It seeks to balance the systems of order which a society needs to be stable with the chaotic stream of change which a society needs to remain vital. Does your answer tend towards stasis and decay, towards chaos and collapse, or does it maintain balance?

Return the tile to the bag. Shake the bag, and draw the final tile.

#6 This is the voice of the Plant Dôn. It is the voice of the systems and structures a society must have if it is to sustain itself against the forces of chaos. Which does your answer incline towards: structure, or chaos?

Consider these answers in turn. What insights do they give you. Always remember that the Gods of the Welsh – the Three Great Families – are not concerned with “Good” or “Bad” in human terms. They will always leave that decision to you. You can never evade the responsibility of making your own choices – and the consequences.

Finally, as always with a Coelbren reading, say aloud the sound of each letter in turn. Then say them again, drawing them out and running them into each other. Are the sounds harmonious and flowing? Or are they harsh and clashing? This should also suggest meaning to you.

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