TOWARDS the end of the last century Druidism was actually revived in Wales by an organization known as "The Druids of Pontypridd", which claimed a fair number of adherents in Wales, but a much greater following in America. Myfyr Morganwg, the Arch-Druid, publicly proclaimed the creed of his forefathers after thirty years' preaching of Christianity, and James Bonwick in his Irish Druids states that he was an absolute believer in the tenets he taught. He recognized his Druidic principles in the Jewish, Hindu, and Buddhist religions as well as in classical mythology. He was followed by Owen Morgan, better known as "Morien", whose version of Welsh Druidism can be studied in The Light of Britannia, published in 1894. He believed Druidism to be prior in antiquity to any of the world's religions. His work and that which followed it, The Royal /winged Son of Stonehenge and Avebury, are certainly extraordinary storehouses of Druidic lore, but the facts they contain are so inextricably mingled with classical and Eastern mysticism that it is frequently difficult to disentangle them. Moreover, the sources from which Morgan drew his Druidic material are only occasionally indicated throughout the volumes, and although the origins of some of them are obvious, we are left absolutely in the dark as to the source of others. This notwithstanding, these works are of primary importance in such a quest as ours, because of the great and varied acquaitance they reveal with the faith and mythology underlying the British Secret Tradition, and an endeavour will be made in these pages to summarize the system of which they treat.
To the Creator the Druids gave the name Celi (Concealing), and to his consort the name of Ced (Aid) or Keridwen. They believed that the firmament was one vast wheel, in which wheel, seated in a chair, the sun made his daily round. Celi and Keridwen are incomprehensible spirits, but are the originators of crude matter, which came in an embryonic condition from across the ocean, from the source of all elements. This essence is feminine and passive in its nature, and was brought every spring over the seas in a sacred boat shaped like the crescent moon and propelled by Keridwen, who applied intense heat beneath it, so that it became a cauldron. Its work done, it returned once more to its source for a fresh cargo.
The active warmth of the male principle, Celi, the Druids personified under the name Gwion Bach, the Keltic Bacchus, and the wine of which he is god is simply the liquid employed in their mysteries to symbolize the fertilized sap of fruit. This principle was introduced into the cauldron as the three drops mentioned in the allegory concerining it. The Druids believed that the sun and the earth had emanated from two separate eggs in the Boat of Keridwen, but the sun was believed to be a later product than the earth. He was known as Taliesin, but great confusion has been caused by the fact that various names were given to the sun at different stages of his annual progress, such as Hu Gadarn, Arthur, and Taliesin. Formerly the Druids probably symbolized the sun as a bull and the earth as a cow, but in his later type he seems mystically to have been known as Taliesin or the High Hesus. As Arthur, he was the cultivator of the garden-earth.
All titles of the sun, except Hu Gadarn, are comprehended in a Triad known as Plennydd, Alawn, and Gwron. The earth, for its part, was known as the three queens of Arthur, spring, summer, and winter. The negative or evil principles were thtree males Avagddu, Cythraul, and Atrais, which signified Darkness, Pulverizer, and Soddener, and three female principles, Annhras, Malen, and Mallt, or Graceless, Grinder, and Soddener.
In the system of Nature the Druids regarded the space traversed by the sun from the first day of the solar new year (December 22nd) to the equinoxial line, or the vernal equinox (March 21st) as the kingdom of God's system of lives, occupied also, the Druidic philosophers thought, by evil influences until chased away by the marching up of the sun's Divinity. Man, they believed, occupies during the present life the middle line of that system (the equinoxial line of the moral world). He is entrusted with free-will, and is a free agent; . . . the space from the equinoxial line of the moral system downwards to where the old sun disappears on December 20th (25th) is, in the moral world, occupied by the "lives" of the aninmal kingdom in their tribes or divers species, in the moral system of Nature. They cannot innovate, or change, or improve their condition, but are bound by the rules of an unerring fate or law, which is called instinct, and Greddy by the Druids. But the nearer certain species of animals are to the "line of liberty" occupied in that system by Man, the more evidence of intelligence they manifest. This animal space is called in Druidism, Cylchau yr Abred, or, in classic writings, the Circles of Transmigration.
It was thought that when the sun was "re-born" as a babe from Keridwen on December 22nd myriads of lives apart from physical existence emanated at the same time from Keridwen. They were led by the sun from a district of Annwn and evolved through the animal creation up to the human. Intellectually they were inert without Awen, inspiration, or the reasoning faculty, imparted to them direct from God through the sun. The bottom rung of the circle was in Annwn, the South, from which all development arose. An evil man was relegated to that depth in the circles of progress for which he himself had qualified during his state of free-will in life which was regarded as a condition of probation. On the northern side of the equinoctal line on which human existence is stationed was Gwynvyd, the Heaven of the Druids. It was situated apparently, at the point attained by the sun at the summer solstice, or in the Tropic of Cancer.
The Druids believed in the eternity of matter in an atomic condition, and also in the eternity of water, and further that the passive or feminine principle of the divein nature pervaded both. They thought that at some inconceivably distant period the active principle of Celi concentrated its energy in the passive principle of Ced or Keridwen, and as the result of contact the sun was produced. Under its influence the atomic elements took solid shape and became a plastic chaos known as Calen.
The Druids had a zodiac of their own, and the names of their zodiacal signs are those of the deity's various emanations which come to the earth through the sun. Thus they named the vernal equinox Eilir (second generation), the summer solstice Havhin (sunny tempterature), the autumnal equinox Elved (harvest), and the winter solstice Arthan (Arhtur's season) when Arthur was engaged in fighting the powers of darkness. He is the sun as Archer, armed with a bow and arrow, combatting the darkness of winter
The whole earth was known as Buarth Beirdd, or the Bovine Bardic Enclosure. That is earth's fertility was symbolized by a white cow and the generating sun by a white bull. The Avanc or beaver is said to have been drawn ashore by Hu Gadarn, and typified the sun disappearing every evening in the western seas. There were three cows and three bulls employed as symbols by the Druids in their sacred cattle-pen or circle. The three bulls are the aforementioned Plennydd, Alawn, and Gwron, and the three cows Morwyn, Blodwen, and Tynghedwen-Dyrraith, who are later found as the three sister spouses of Arthur, personifications of the earth at the three stages of the years.
The Druidic trinity, whose operations were illustrated by the three rays, were the emanations of the great Creator and not of the sun itself. The sun was the first begotten of Keridwen, the feminine or passive principle, and became the agent of the Almighty in the work of creation, who died allegorically on every 20th of December, falling into the sea at St. David's Head. His three fertilizing attributes were symbolized by three apples whose juice contained the divine essence. When the Druids regarded him as a beaver drawn out of the lake by the oxen of Hu Gadarn, it was implied that the Creator drew him forth by his emanations and that the change was not effected by the sun's own energy, for when the sun grew weak the Creator had to come to its aid.
The divinity of the sun was symbolized among the Druids by the wren. A mode of levying contributions at Christmas in Wales was to carry a wren through the village in a small box or paper house, the bearer singing a song about its poverty. In the Isle of Man it was customary to hunt the wren at the winter solstice, the bird being fixed to a long pole with its wings extended, and afterwards buried. The symbol really refers to the death of the old sun. Taliesin, in one of his poems, alludes to himself as a wren, and that the Bard represented the sun seems clear enough
Coming to the legend of Taliesin himself, it should seem that the seventh century bard who calls himself by this name was really named after the solar deity who bore the same title. The myth of his being placed in a coracle alludes to the vessel of the sun, which was believed by the Druids to be launched in St. George's Channel at Arklow on the Irish coast and to arrive at Borth in Cardigan Bay. On the east side of Borth is a vast morass, on the edge on which is a spot called the Grave of Taliesin, and a village close by is named Taliesin. This morass was covered by high tides before the present railway bank was constructed. this inlet, or cove, of Cardigan Bay was evidently in ancient Druidic times sacred to the mysteries of Taliesin, or the sun, exactly as Byblus in Phnicia was to the death and restoration as a babe of Adonis, who reached that place in an ark of bulrushes. In the same manner, Taliesin in his coracle reached the Weir of Gwyddno. The coracle is one of the symbols of Keridwen.
Dealing with the myth of Keridwen, "Morien" goes on to say that the personages in it represent a solar and cosmic allegory, the dramatis personæ of the ancient solar drama of the Druids. Avagddu is night, Keridwen's first-born, the Sun, Taliesin, was still uncreated and the Cauldron which was to assist his appearance boiled for a year and a day__that is, from December 22nd until the following December 20th, and forty hours over. The circular half of the globe above the rational horizon, the receptacle of the feminine Divine Essence, is the Cauldron, the two halves of which are the northern and southern hemispheres above the rational horizon, with the equinoctal line dividing the earth into two halves. The northern half, when the sun is between due east and the northern point of the heavens, is under the domination of Taliesin, the sun. The southern half, when the sun is between the east point and the shortest day, is claimed by Avagddu. It is a contest between summer and winter.
The three drops which inspired Gwion are the Triune Word or Logos of the Creator, the three golden apples and the three bulls. Gwion is the water lord, the Druidic title of the Creator in the work of making order out of chaos. The localities between Pontypridd and Tonyrefail are associated with the allegory, and no doubt rites associated with the allegory, and no doubt rites associated with it were performed on Pontypridd Common, with the Rocking Stone as the symbolical coracle of the mysteries.
"Morien" also likens Arthur to Osiris, and draws several parallels between Arthurian and Osirian myth. He then proceeds to deal with the egg as the symbol of the earth and the emblem of the coracle of Keridwen. The earth's inertness in winter and that of the sun at the same season was supposed to be due to the principle of Evil, but Keridwen by brooding over the world-egg was supposed to reintroduce its vital force
In Druidism [says Morien] it is supposed that all souls have had their generation and birth from Kerdwen and Awen in Gwenydva or Elysium and that to come from thence to this world they must cross Gwyllionwy or the Keltic Styx, traverse Annwn and ascend in the train of the sun on his return on the morning of the solar New Year. Inside the sun is the ancient of Days, Hu Gadarn, and the luminary's body is his and Keridwen's offspring. Hu Gadarn is the son of the creator Celi, who is both his father and mother. The descent is where the sun descends on the shortest day of winter, and the left and right of his descent are Annwn and Gwenydfa, with the River Gwyllionwy flowing between. In Druidism souls do not return at the dissolution of their bodies either to Annwn or Gwenyddfa, but go either to heaven, or return to the animal circles of transmigration.
Such, in effect, is the general trend of "Morien's" writings, which are, in a measure, valuable so far as his great knowledge of Druidism is conerned, but which are somewhat diffuse and far too greatly mingled with Biblical and classical parallels of doubtful value. He has also much to say regarding the divine name and the resemblance of Hebrew to Welsh mythology, as well as the symbolism of the stone circles, but only here and there do we encounter anything of value in respect of the actual theology of the Druids, although their mythology is copiously enough explained.
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