I wrote this as a contribution to a discussion that’s ongoing in the members’ forums of the Druid Network. Those are private, so I thought I might post it here so that a broader audience can read it and contribute their thoughts.
I was recently reading a Substack article by Rod Dreher, a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church, which led me to this piece by David Bentley Hart. Hart talks about a man called Reuben, who he met many years ago in Lancaster, England. I haven’t read anything by Hart before; Dreher, though devout in his Christian faith, has a mystic aspect to his faith which often overlaps the Druidic worldview. Hart has this to say of Reuben:
The Gorsedd of the Bards of the Island of Britain, in public procession with banners:
In contemporary Druidry, we often find a number of Welsh words being used. Examples are Awen, Nwyfre, and Eisteddfod. They aren’t always used correctly, or properly understood. I’m getting ready to start writing a new series of posts about Iolo Morganwg’s achievements, Iolo the Ovate (I’ve already written a series on Iolo the Bard, and will eventually move on to Iolo the Druid). Before I can, though, I want to cover the difference between Gorsedd and Eisteddfod.
I’ve recently been contemplating Gwyn ap Nudd, and my relationship with him. Unlike others such as Lorna Smithers, I have taken no vows and entered into no formal commitment. I am still exploring my relationship with the Gods of the Welsh and different gods, at different times, communicate things to me.
And yet, Gwyn ap Nudd’s voice has been the most insistent. Based on what he has told me, and which I conveyed in a series of posts on this blog, Gwyn is mobilising to restore balance to the world. Humanity has become too damaging to the world of nature, and to the forests – which are a part of his domain. Humanity has become too dangerous, and too damaging, to the Fair Folk, the Tylwyth Teg, who reside in this world as well as in the Otherworld.
The English word ‘Druid’ is derived from the Gallo-Brythonic word which has come down to modern Welsh as ‘Derwydd’. In turn, this is a compound word, drawing on ‘derw-‘, relating to the oak, and ‘-wydd’ (root word ‘Gwydd’), relating to ‘seer’ or ‘knowledge’.
An alternative word – ‘Gwŷdd’ – however, is also the Welsh word for a loom. This connection is worth exploring further.
When seeking a model for divination using the Coelbren, it is natural to turn to the Awen: the three rays of knowledge introduced to us by Iolo Morganwg, and the symbol of Druids ever since.