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Druidry Gwyn ap Nudd

The Wakeful Forest

I’m still working up to a discussion of Gwyn ap Nudd as Lord of the Forest, but there’s more I need to cover in order to prepare the ground, as it were.

In my last post, I discussed the visible forest: the complex mix of woodland and pasture, with oxen, wild cattle, wild horses, deer, wild pigs and boar, all contributing. There would have been bear, and wolves, and wild cats, and beaver; even the humblest birds play a role in shaping the forest and the land.

But that’s not all. Not by a long shot. That’s just what we can see with the naked eye.

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Annwn Arawn Druidry Druids First Branch Fourth Branch Gwydion Julius Caesar Pig Places Plant Annwfn Plant Dôn Pryderi Pwyll The Mabinogion

The Enduring Power of Myth

In 2007, I paid a visit to the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore, where I was living at the time. One of the exhibitions fascinated me. It was dedicated to the hill tribes of South-east Asia, whose cultures span Myanmar, Thailand, and Laos. One of the display boards gave an overview of the belief systems of the the tribes, and I was struck by the fact that some of the tribes’ origin myths indicate that they once lived in Siberia.

It’s hard to decide which is more astonishing – the slow migration over millennia from the frigid wastes of Siberia, through China, to their eventual home in the forested hills of Thailand, or the fact that despite the long ages of movement, and the huge variation in the environments where the tribes had lived, their myths remained unchanged, preserving the folk memory of their first home.

It’s with the same sense of awe that I read reports in the media of a new archaeological discovery earlier this year (2019).

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Druidry Gwyn ap Nudd Second Sight Tylwyth Teg Y Gymraeg - The Welsh Language

The Colours of Magic

Back in 2015 there was a brief media sensation about a dress in a photograph. Some people saw it as blue and black. Other people were convinced it was gold and white. Neither group could understand how the other group could possibly see it so differently. How could this happen?

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Annwn Arianrhod Barddas Bards Druidry Eisteddfod Iolo Morganwg Plant Dôn Three Branches Tylwyth Teg Welsh Triads Y Gymraeg - The Welsh Language

The Voice of the Bards

The Bards speak of the the bond between the living and the dead, and of the bonds between the living.

They praise the deeds of the ancestors: deeds mighty and, perhaps, not so mighty, but all of the tales, nevertheless, that will keep alive the name of a man or a woman so that their descendants may rejoice in the telling of the tales.

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Ceridwen Druid Journal Druidry Hanes Taliesin Tegid Foel

Tegid Foel

Tegid Foel was lord of Bala, and husband to Ceridwen.

‘Foel’ means ‘bald’, and this tells us a lot.

The first possible meaning is that it was a nickname. Nicknames are derived from something unusual or noteworthy about the person concerned. An old man being bald is neither unusual nor noteworthy; we can infer that Tegid was not old, and his baldness was unusual. This reinforces my belief that Ceridwen is no hag: she’s a woman in her prime, loving mother to two young children,  a witch-queen.

The second possible meaning comes from a Llewellyn Encyclopaedia article on Druid Vestments:

Druids were often described as bald (many had the nickname Mael—Old Irish for “bald”). The bald head was probably a Druidic tonsure, presumably the same kind of partially-shaven head used by later Irish clerics and condemned by the Roman church as non-conformist. This kind of tonsure is made by shaving the hair from ear to ear, along to the front hairline. This gives the appearance of a receding hairline or of a very high forehead. It is interesting to note that Indian Brahmans have a very similar tonsure!

Perhaps, then, this is subtly telling us that Tegid was a Druid!