A TAXONOMY OF THE
Certainly my approach is philological inasmuch as the research is geared to the extrusion of the Keltic roots of the names of the dramatis personae in one particular myth. But, unlike the Philological School in which comparative mythology had its birth, I am not concerned with the comparison of such names with those in various Indo-European languages in an endeavour to prove any spurious links by loose or malleable analogies, as so often is the case.
Professor Max Muller (1823 - 1900) was the leader of this school which evolved what is known as mythic science and his study of comparative philology was to lead him to apply this tool to mythology. Nevertheless, Comparative Mythology really indicates the profiling of the myths of one nation with those of another in an attempt to find a unique congruity and, therefore, the universality of mythic construction by the human mind at certain epochs of human development. (1)
I have eschewed this aspect of mythology, preferring to view my researches as being within the realms of Analytical Metaphysics as the personages at issue were a number of the Elder Deities of the Keltic race in Britain.
1. Introduction to Mythology by Lewis Spence (Harrap) 1921.
Within The Oxford English Dictionary, taxonomy is described thus: "Classification, especially in relation to its general laws or principles; that department of science, or of a particular science or subject, which consists in or relates to classification."
Biologists, for example, have found their taxonomy abundantly helpful as a means of ensuring accuracy in interchanges of information within their science and as a method of understanding the organisation and interface of the various parts of the animal and plant world. As "order is Heaven's only law" (1) we welcome any attempt to define the subjects of this thesis by a system of order.
The Kelts and their Deities
Although the Keltic Deities of Britain are known by name and as dramatis personae of the ancient myths (2) in which they appear, no attempt has been made to ascertain the meaning of these names - an exercise which would reveal much concerning their place within the cosmic framework.
Secondly, when one examines the formal structure of the Otz Chiim (The Tree of Life) in Qabalistic philosophy (3) - a well-ordered glyph which reveals, according to Rabbinical thinking, the spheres of influence of Hebraic divine concepts in cosmic terms and their hierarchal disposition, it is distressing to find that no similar classification has been attempted with the indigenous deities of other lands.
Being a Kelt and dwelling in that portion of Britain which was the original realm of the Kelts, I find the lack of any in-depth study of the ancient Keltic myths to be a grave omission. The singular lack of conservation of this aspect of indigenous culture could easily permit such a major component of the group soul of the race to become necrotic.
Who were the Kelts? They were the indigenous race of mainland Britain sometimes called the Britons or Cymru (Welsh). Their European troglodytic kindred of prehistory (especially in Kelt-Iberia [Spain]), had been portraying god forms and ritual practices in well defined cave-art in Aurignacian cave shrines from 20,000 to 12,000 b.c. - millennia before the Protodynastic Period of Ancient Egypt or the Hebrews had seen the light of day. (4)
The Kelts were the people with a well structured priesthood which Julius Caesar encountered in 55 b.c. during his Western European campaign. For these reasons the Kelts are due, at the very least, a modicum of regard and a rightful place within the study of Comparative Religion, although lacking, it must be admitted, the hoary antiquity of the Australian Aboriginal races.
Having used the term 'deities', which can impart a polytheistic outlook, the phrase 'divine strata' may prove equally cogent for the following reasons.
The beliefs of the nations of the Classical Period, e.g. Greece and Rome, and indeed the races of much earlier epochs were, without doubt, polytheistic. This remains relatively true of the Hindus to the present day where a multiplicity of gods and goddesses are venerated below the singularity of Brahman, the Soul of the Universe or First Cause, who is considered to be unknowable and, if not entirely neuter, at the very least androgynous as it manifests both as the masculine Purusha and the feminine Prakriti. (5)
With the inception of monotheism, however, this plurality of divine concepts did not disappear entirely but was retained in a masked form. In the case of Jewish erudition in later Rabbinical philosophy, the facets of the divine gem were the many descriptive names of God, the archangels, choirs of angels and even the negative Qlippoth. (6)
Likewise The Roman Catholic Church (and, to a certain extent, its Eastern Orthodox and Episcopal 'sisters in Christ') has its battery of saints as a structured mediating body - a fact demonstrated by the calendar, introits, collects, lessons, graduals and gospels. (7)
Thirdly, whether one's belief is in a singular deity or in a plurality of gods, that belief should govern the worshippers' mode of life and manifest in all areas of human existence. No attempt has been made, however, to demonstrate the unique interrelationship between various strata of divinity and areas of the human organism as envisaged by an ancient race using an indigenous pantheon.
The purpose of this thesis is to correct the above three omissions using one major Keltic pantheon in demonstration.
How may this classification or strata and an interrelationship be attempted? Is there an interrelationship between strata?
We are alive to the concept that the entire cosmos, which will be referred to from time to time as The Absolute, is one state wherein ALL within Infinity and Eternity co-exist, i.e. all things occupy the same infinitely dimensioned space/time factor and condition of Being. (8)
And the term 'infinitely dimensioned' permits us to call upon certain strata or dimensions which, although limited, can be understood by the human mind which is governed by limitations according to our present place and time in cosmic evolution or by our ancestors in their time.
Although metaphysicians and neometaphysicians have postulated the All-Is-One and One-Is-All concept of The Absolute, this is now well accepted on the scientific front. Bell's Theorem in quantum mechanics, although highly technical, simply amounts to this:- There are no systems existing in total isolation. Every particle in the cosmos is in immediate (i.e. faster than light) communication with all other particles. The entire array, including the parts separated by vast cosmic distances, functions as a whole system. (9)
Faster-than-light communication, however, seems prohibited by Special Relativity which would appear to negate the theory. Nevertheless Bell's Theorem is undeniable, as a theorem in physics is a mathematical exposition which must be true if the mathematics contain no error and if the experiments on which it is based can be replicated. (10)
Bell's Theorem certainly contains no flaw and the experiments have been repeated satisfactorily several times.
The solution to the faster-than-light problem is the fact that Bellian transmissions involve communication not energy. And since it is energy which cannot exceed light speed, Dr. Edward Harris Walker and Dr. Jack Sarfatti, when analysing the theorem, concur that it is 'consciousness' which is the cohesive element in the whole system. (11) It has been said that thought travels at lightening speed and no one knows how far. (12)
The Pantheon following is the major pantheon of the great hero-gods and goddesses of the Keltic race and we shall rediscover how the ancient Kelts perceived their Deities as functional strata of The Absolute.
Comparative Religions by Dr. Mary Whitaker (CDM, California.)
The Pantheon and its source
The children of Don are headed by the Goddess Don and Her Consort Beli. They are never seen in the myth, their influence at all levels of manifestation being felt in the rule of Don's brother Math who has his seat in Caer Dathyl - the castle in Arfon. (The locus may be found even today strangely enough in the county of Gwynedd in North Wales.)
The principal children of Don are the gods Gwyn & Gwydion and the goddesses Penarddun and Arianrhod. Gwydion and Arianrhod mate and have twin sons - Dylan and Llew while Penarddun finds her pair-bonding outwith the tribe with Llyr Llediaeth. (There are other children such as Gilfaethwy, Amaethon and Gofannon but these play minor roles in the myth and some virtually no role whatsoever.)
This pantheon is the family which appears in the tale of "Math son of Mathonwy", the fourth branch of the ancient Welsh book known as The Mabinogion which has its derivation in the much older Red Book of Hergest and Black Book of Caermarthen.
The various Kaerau (castles) in Keltic mythology which are the seats of the deities (1) will add much to the discussion of the theme and these will be explored end-on to the deities and also within the taxonomy.
Although no pronunciation guide is required, the Welsh names being read only and not vocalised in this treatise, I feel a short digression is valid at this point to elucidate the development of ancient Keltic/Welsh and, therefore, the background to the books aforementioned.
If we look to the spoken language of Britain, and here we should concern ourselves with the mainland (excluding Ireland), the language spoken at earliest known times has been called 'Parent British'.
The phonetic mutations which divided Parent British into the streams of Welsh, Cornish and Breton occurred around 450 a.d.. So in the British mainland, excluding Pictland (i.e. the Northern half of Scotland) we find the Primitive Welsh period being from the 6th to the 8th century; the Old Welsh period from the 8th to the 12th century; the Middle Welsh period from the 12th to the 14th century. (2)
After this latter period Modern Welsh began to evolve its present format.
Although the myths and poems of the ancient books had been transmitted through the generations orally, they were but written centuries later at the following times:-
The Red Book of Hergest which contains the fifty-eight poems comprising The Book of Taliesin was first penned c. the 13th century. Then Black Book of Caermarthen dates also from this time. (3) The White Book of Rhydderch appeared in the 14th century. Many of the stories, however, appear to such scholars as Gwyn Jones and Thomas Jones as being pre-eleventh century on account of vocabulary, grammar and syntax. (4)
How may we be sure that the contents of these works predate their appearance in print?
To demonstrate the veracity of these myths and of the very existence of such bards as Taliesin, we must regress chronologically to the writings of Nennius who, in his 7th century work 'The Genealogy of the Saxon Kings', mentions one Taliesin as being "renowned in British poetry."
According to Julius Caesar in his 'De Bello Gallico', when talking of the ancient British priesthood, his sources of information were Gallic Druids who told him their cosmology was founded in Britain and communicated to Gaul.
Perhaps the appearance of these myths of antiquity in their written form may well have been a subsequent rewriting. This we may never know. Gwyn and Thomas Jones in their introduction to The Mabinogion aver that modifications of tales is readily accounted for if we remember that the cyfarwydd (story tellers) dealt with a wealth of traditional material which was housed in memory, not in a series of canonical texts. The author of these written myths, i.e. he who gave them a preservable form, was simply the heir of bards and story-tellers unnumbered, the traditional material which had been subjected to much mutation going back to the earliest creative impulses of Keltdom.
What is known, however, is the fact that learned script was extant in the 5th century a.d., for in the middle years of that century St. Augustine, on his arrival in Britain, had the library at Bangor in North Wales burned to the ground together with his murder of the Archbishop of St. David's, six bishops and the Abbot of Bangor! (5)
Indeed 'The Gododdin', described as the earliest Scottish poem, was written in 600 a.d. in the land of the Gododdin tribe (i.e. around Edinburgh, Scotland) in the Primitive Welsh language - the tongue of the inhabitants of mid-Scotland at the time. It was the work of the bard Aneurin and may be found in 'The Book of Aneurin'. (6)
With this survey before us
we may proceed with the etymology of the deities in myth.
Magic Arts in Celtic Britain by Lewis Spence (Aquarian Press)
PART 1: ETYMOLOGY AND
DEFINITION OF THE DEITIES
It would appear that three reasons for the neglected study of the deities and their misinterpretation exist:-
1. Certain writers had little or no knowledge of Middle or Old Welsh.
2. Other writers are concerned only with the study of comparative mythology, attempting to find and classify common story threads in myths of various races, remaining unconcerned by the nature and regional import of the characters in each myth. Indeed Christine Hartley in her 'Western Mystery Tradition' curiously states when discussing the pantheon at issue, "With most of these (i.e. deities) it is not necessary to concern oneself too much."
3. Such writers as are skilled in Keltic language have blindly adopted the names of the personages in their contemporary form. And here Dr. Anne Ross, whose doctorate is in Keltic languages and archaeology, must bear a certain proportion of guilt - her science of myth overriding all else. Perhaps an in-depth microscopy was never considered as a Christian (even nominal) would be unconcerned with what are in essence pre-Christian god forms with little validity, or so they feel, in modern British scholarship and spirituality.
As certain names have
mutated over the centuries, therefore, it is to the older spelling and to
the elder forms of the Keltic tongue we must turn to rediscover the
meaning of each name.
DON is the obvious mother of the pantheon. This is easily deduced from various personages who are referred to as Penarddun ferch (daughter of) Don, Gwydion ap (son of) Don and Arianrhod ferch Don. The origin of this Matriarch's name is unclear but two possibilities present.
a) The Welsh 'ton' is the word for 'wave' or 'that which flows' and 'don' shows the logical Welsh mutation of the 't' to a 'd' which is the case when following the definite article. In this manner 'ton' becomes 'y don' (the wave), the 'y' eventually disappearing when the word became a proper name.
b) The Welsh 'on' is an 'ash tree'. Within the concepts of the European Mysteries the ash tree is the structure which sustains the world, all that is above and all which lies below, i.e. the entire universe or cosmos - its branches spreading throughout the universe. The Old Welsh 'di' denotes 'from' or 'by nature of'. Combined we find 'dion' which may have been contracted to 'don'.
Here we have a structure which is analogous to 'y gwe' (the web), symbolic of a stuff of creation upon which manifestation appears. (1)
Therefore the concept of 'flowing' and 'supporting structure of the cosmos' refers to what has been called in The Mysteries 'space which flows' and the 'invisible web of space' - the noumenal epigenesis of the cold dark matter in quantum physics and the later concept of 'shadow matter' (2) which was born of the string theory in quantum mechanics.This specific noumenon awaits the manifestation of creation in all its diverse aspects. In short we have a cosmic matrix and, as such, Don satisfies the requirements of a Great Mother or Cosmic Goddess.
At least Robert Graves in 'The White Goddess' refers to Don as the 'ancestor of the confederacy'. Squire and Rolleston make no attempt to describe Don's stratum while Dr. Ross simply calls her the 'nurturer of the gods'. Christine Hartley's concept of this supreme feminine stratum of divine power relegates her to the level of 'earth mother'.
MATH is the bother of Don. He is termed 'Son of Mathonwy' in the title of the myth and was the ruler over that portion of the country know as Gwynedd. Throughout the myth he is very much the ruler inasmuch as he lays down the rule or laws. He hears all. He possesses the power, and indeed on many occasions exercises that power, to reward or punish. And it is to Math that his subjects turn for judgements as he is the final arbiter. He appears, therefore, to be the Lord of Destiny or Fate. Although these attributes should be remembered at this stage, it is perhaps essential that we provide textual evidence to support this hypothesis. This I feel is a sine qua non as Math not only gives his name to but also imprints his influence on this entire branch of The Mabinogion.
"Math .................. was lord over Gwynedd."
'Lord' is synonymous with 'ruler', he who lays down rules or laws - and Fate (action and reaction) is a complex cosmic law.
"Math might not live save while his two feet were in the fold of a maiden's lap."
His power and very existence lies in the feminine principle - especially in maidenhood, the state prior to motherhood or bringing forth. He is stated, therefore, to be a branch of the Primordial Maiden.
"The peculiarity of Math son of Mathonwy: whatever whispering, however low, there be between men, once the wind has met it he will know of it."
Nothing may be hidden from Math, nothing may escape his attention. He is, therefore, universally based and, once aware of an action, implements the appropriate reaction.
"Math ................. and his host."
Here Math is in war
council and, therefore, takes up the sword of justice as war-lord
"'Aye', said Math, 'between me and God, if it please Gwydion son of Don, I shall leave it gladly. Nor will I for my part compel anyone to go to fight, instead of doing what we can'."
"'Let him be freed then'." (speaking of the Dyfed hostage.)
Here Math is seen as the arbiter and just judge whose word is law and whose commands are to be obeyed without question.
"'Aye', said he (Math), 'what I can, I will do: redress for thee (Goewin) first, and then I will seek redress'."
Math is the dispenser of retribution, not only on behalf of others, but also for the contravention of the laws of Justice or Fate.
"A ban on their meat and drink went out against them." (i.e. Gwydion & Gilfaethwy)
Here is another example of Math's decrees which will compel malefactors to submit to justice.
"'But since you have come to me (Math), I will begin punishment upon you'."
Again he is portrayed as the dispenser of retribution.
"'Long enough has been your punishment'."
Math is here displayed as the forgiver of sins, he who negates the punishment of negative fate when it is fully discharged.
"They came to Math ............. and made the most sustained complaint."
He is recognised by all as the judge to whom supplications may be made for justice - one who may be invoked.
"'Aye', said Math, 'let us seek, thou and I, by our magic and enchantment to conjure a wife for him out of flowers'."
Math as the Lord of Fate undoes the injustice of Arianrhod on Llew to load the balance in his favour and give him the gifts and rewards which are his right. (positive fate)
"'Why', said Math, 'I will give him the very best Cantref for a young man to have'."
This again demonstrates Math as the bestower of gifts or just rewards, i.e. positive fate.
"'Lord, it is time for me to have redress from him through whom I suffered ill'."
The appeal by Llew to Math as judge shows that retribution is not only expected but indeed demanded. (i.e. invocation for a specific purpose)
Math's treatment of Blodeuwedd by transforming her into an owl for her betrayal of Llew Llau Gyffes.
Again we are presented with an example of having to pay for one's misdeeds as directed by The Lord of Fate.
Having examined the text, can the name Math add further proof of his position in the pantheon?
The name Math is obviously a part of MATHonwy. He is, therefore, an extruded, exteriorised or externalised part of Mathonwy. Math is the nasal mutation of the Welsh 'bath' which means a coin, and a coin is the medium by which payment is made - another fact to be held in memory at this point. To equate Math with 'treasure', as is sometimes done, is over simplification and of spurious validity when analysed thus.
The remaining part of Mathonwy as yet unexplained is 'onwy'. Remembering that 'on' (the ash) was symbolic of The Great Mother Goddess and knowing that 'wy' is Welsh for 'egg', we now realise that Math is the extruded part of the egg or seed of the ash - brother of the Cosmic Goddess in her latent or virgin state (an embryonic ash) prior to her flowering into maturity and motherhood which brought forth manifestation.
Math is, therefore, the 'Management Extension' of the Cosmic Goddess and Principle of action and reaction which was the necessary equation to permit manifestation. In recalling his attributes as judge, lawgiver and bestower of positive and negative rewards and how payment must be made, we have his clear identity - The Lord of Fate or Destiny (Karma in Eastern philosophy). (3)
Graves and Squire equate Math with 'treasure', Squire further identifying him with "Pluton, the Greek God of Hades" as does Rolleston. Even Lewis Spence in 'The Magic Arts in Celtic Britain' calls him a British "ruler of the Underworld" and Spence surprisingly was a prolific writer on the British Mystery systems, Druidism and the Arthurian mythos with much erudite research to his credit.
BELI, according to Robert Graves is of uncertain origin. He continues with an argument that all things have their beginning in the East. With this preoccupation with foreign bench-marks, he identifies Beli with the Babylonian god Bel, an earth god. Within the same chapter of The White Goddess, however, we find him to change opinion suddenly, declaring that Beli was originally a "willow god" who later became a "Solar Zeus."
Squire, on the other hand, suggests that Beli is the British Dis Pater, god of the underworld, while Rolleston in similar fashion states that he is the "god of Death." Lewis Spence, when quoting Sir John Rhys, confirms this latter identity. (4)
Beli, or to him his full title, 'Beli Mawr' is the husband or consort of Don. As such, therefore, he must be assumed to be the All-Father God of the Cosmos. To verify this hypothesis we see that Beli is a corruption of 'beleu' (which sounds very similar indeed) - the Middle Welsh word for 'wild beast'.
Although 'beleu' could be perceived as a plural, perhaps the 'eu' ending being considered a Middle Welsh equivalent of the Modern Welsh 'au' termination, this is decidedly not the case. Nouns such as 'beleu' in Middle Welsh were subjected to affected vowels in the plural, giving us 'balawon' or 'balaon' as the plural form. (5)
Beli is frequently equated with the bull and indeed in one ancient Welsh poem we read of the "herds of the roaring Beli". Elsewhere he is alluded to as "a bull of battle."
The Welsh 'mawr' means 'great', so he is not only the wild beast/bull which was a symbol of strength and power, but the great wild beast/bull - strength and power to a superlative degree. (Needless to say he has NO relationship with the Beast of Revelation in the Greek Scriptures as these myths in their initial oral form must have predated Christianity.)
He is, therefore, simply an evolved anthropomorphism from a former theriomorphic representation of power as an abstraction. He is, in light of this, The All-Father or Cosmic God.
GWYN, according to Squire, Rolleston et al. is the ruler of Hades. Here, however, is only part of the picture and a mere assumption. Gwyn may mean 'white' but it can also mean 'blessed', a title conveying a certain special position in the scheme of the pantheon bearing in mind that this appellation often denoted the privileged place of the firstborn.
Gwyn, then, is the firstborn of Don and Beli, bearing the full name of Gwyn ap Nudd (Gwyn son of Nudd). 'Nudd' is a corruption of the Welsh 'Nyddwr' (spinner). The Spinner, she who spins Y Gwe (the web) on which manifestation rests is, of course, Don. Being the firstborn, Gwyn is the necessary power that has overview of creation and beyond in two distinct ways - the doorway to manifestation (the power behind fecundity) and the bringer of death to all outmoded creations. Textual analysis will verify both of these hypothetical functions.
He describes himself as "The lover of Kreiddylad, daughter of Lludd."
In the Red Book of Hergest there appears a lengthy description of his wooing of Kreiddylad and how he is destined to compete for the lady's hand every First of May until doomsday.
The First of May in Keltic folk customs was the day dedicated to fertility - that of people, animals and crops. The festival was known as 'Y Briodas Lan', The Sacred Marriage between sun and earth. This, then, would confirm the fertility aspect or fecundating principle.
Certainly he is Governor of Fecundity but as birth to the physical realm = death to the higher realms of spirit and vice-versa, he is also the Bringer of age, decay and death to all levels of manifestation. This is especially noticeable on the physical plane where the spirit is liberated at death for further growth - even supernovae become the future stellar nurseries. And, as all that comes into manifestation sees death on the far horizon even at the moment of birth, he is, therefore, the Power which clears away before the advancing tide of cosmic evolution on all levels. He is similar to the King of Death in Vedic philosophy. (6)
This again may be a sweeping statement which requires further investigation. Our evidence may be found in poem number thirty-three of the Black Book of Caermarthen.
The poem is a dialogue between Gwyn and the mythical prince Gwyddneu Garanhir. Within the poem Gwyn recounts his unique experiences and how he has been:-
"Where a host saw I with broken shields and shattered bodies."
"In the place where Gwendoleu was slain when the ravens screamed o'er the blood."
"Where Bendigeidfran was slain when the ravens screamed o'er his flesh."
"Where Meurig, Llacheu and Gwallawg were slain."
"Where the warriors of Prydein were slain from north to south and east to west."
Finally he gives his title: "I am the Escort of the Grave - I yet alive, they in their deaths."
The raven is the bird essentially associated with death in most cultures and the British or Keltic is no exception. As additional proof the words again fall to Gwyn as he boasts of his dog thus:- "Handsome my dog and round-bodied and truly the best of dogs. Dormarth his name."
And 'Dormarth' in translation means 'Death's Door'.
Gwyn, then, is without doubt not only the fecundating principle but also The Lord of Death or Lord of The Hunt (wherein that which is hunted includes mankind) - the Keltic Psychopompos.
PENARDDUN is not mentioned by Graves. Dr. Anne Ross in 'Pagan Celtic Britain' similarly ignores the lady. Squire admits that very little is know about her while Rolleston makes no attempt whatsoever to identify her function.
Penarddun is the daughter of Don. In Welsh 'pen' = 'head' and 'arddu' in Middle Welsh = 'dark'. She is, by this token, the head/ruler of darkness, i.e. Queen of Night or Moon Goddess. Such is the simple explanation. Nevertheless we shall return to Penarddun at a later point to reassess this statement in relation to her consort.
GWYDION appears to stem from the imperfect tense of the Middle Welsh verb 'gwybot' (to know). 'Gwydwyn' = 'I was knowing'. Indeed the older form of the name was Gwydyon which reveals the second 'y' of the 'gwydwyn' root. (7)
Similar to the verses of Taliesin the poet which begin "I have been", the 'I was knowing' denotes a certain perpetuity of existence. Not only is the immortality of a god revealed but also the never-ending knowledge, wisdom or seership. And the bestower of seership and enlightenment in ancient times was the Sun God.
Squire, however, identifies him with Odin, as does Graves, and Spence as "the druid of the gods." Christine Hartley makes him a god of poetry while Dr. Ross makes no attempt, strangely enough, at classification.
When we examine the text of the myth we find Gwydion to be a master of illusion par excellence. In his ploy to obtain the pigs of Pryderi by barter he "made by magic twelve stallions and twelve greyhounds ............. twelve collars and twelve leashes upon them, and anyone that saw them would not know but they were of gold; and twelve saddles upon the horses, and every part where there should be iron upon them was all of gold." (And all of these from toadstools.) The colour gold is that of the sun while the repeated number twelve signifies the twelve hours of daylight at Alban Eilir (Spring Equinox) when the sun takes predominance in the twenty-four hours. Twelve may also allude to the twelve month year which is the complete sun cycle in its interaction with our planet.
(As an insert here we could view the gifts made from toadstools as hallucinations caused by Gwydion spiking the drink of Pryderi and his retinue with a decoction of the Fly Agaric, the red-capped hallucinogenic mushroom.)
During his battle with Pryderi, following the invasion by the warband of Dyfed, "by dint of valour and by magic and enchantment Gwydion conquered, and Pryderi was slain."
In his quest to have his son Llew armed by Arianrhod, Gwydion conjured up an invading host which brought alarm to Arianrhod and her court, during which clamour Arianrhod armed Llew, as was the original intention. Also note that this was done at sunrise. The creation of Blodeuwedd from flowers was also Gwydion's doing, aided by the magic of Math. (The forming of woman for the use of man at this point in the myth simply heralds the coming patriarchal epoch when the Matriarchal Harmonies would be rejected.)
And what but the sun and its emanations blind us to the reality of cosmic infinitude by blotting out the vista of deep space and its contents during the daylight hours, thus becoming the supreme 'Master of Illusion'.
To reinforce the solar persona we find in The Mabinogion tale that, in place of Math, Gwydion "would go the circuit of the land in his stead." From an earth based point of view the sun appears to make a daily circuit of our earthly habitat. Thus Gwydion fulfils the role of a solar deity.
Although Llew is yet to be discussed in detail, we should remember at this point and carry forward the thought that it was the enchantment of Gwydion which initiated the events which restored Llew to fullness of health and strength. When analysing Llew's tale we shall realise that the sun god is the 'ripening factor'. As the sun god is also a deity of healing, his commencement of Llew's recuperation bears testimony to Gwydion's solar identity.
LLYR LLEDIAETH is the one deity adopted into the family of Don as husband of Penarddun. Although the Middle Welsh 'llyry' means tracks, we must remain alive to one development of nouns ending in 'y' - the deletion of the terminal letter giving us 'llyr'. (8)
'Llediaeth' means one of strange sound/speech, as an outsider may have been considered when married into another tribe or warband.
Llyr Llediaeth is, therefore, 'tracks of strange sound/speech' which aptly describes the sea of which he is the deity. And the Sea God in most myths is mate of the Moon Goddess - she who draws the sea to her in mundane tidal mechanics. This espousal is very clear in the various sources of the myth - he is consort to Penarddun.
Happily most writers concur that he is a marine deity.
ARIANRHOD is usually translated via the Modern Welsh as 'arian' meaning 'silver' and 'rhod' meaning 'a wheel'. This has led many erroneous conclusions that she is the Moon Goddess and, as we have clearly shown, Penarddun is the Keltic Moon Goddess without doubt.
Graves vaguely refers to her as a triple goddess while Squire and Ross perpetuate the 'silver wheel' translation.
Let us for a moment review the validity of this translation, keeping in mind that the adjective in Welsh follows the noun it qualifies. The name or phrase, then, would logically appear as 'wheel of silver' or 'wheel the silver'- 'of' being redundant in Welsh. Her name would be, therefore, 'Rhod arian' or 'Rhod yr arian' which is not the case. This should lay the ghost of this erroneous derivation once and for all.
One must, however, return to the Old/Middle Welsh form of her name which was 'Aranrot'. We read in Ifor Williams' 'Pedeir Keinc y Mabinogi' (Caerdydd 1930): "a dyvot y drws porth Caer Aranrot, ef a'r mab yn y llong" - "and came to the entrance of the gate of Caer Aranrot, he and the boy and the ship", which is but one example of the original form of the name in elder texts in the original language.
Now, when we see the Middle Welsh 'aran' meaning 'hill' (9) and 'rot' meaning 'circular', we arrive at the 'round hill' as the correct translation and round hills always represented the pregnant belly or breasts of the Earth Goddess (vide The Paps of [Goddess] Anu - twin hills in County Derry in Ireland, Silbury Hill in England and many more).
She is without doubt the Earth Goddess and mate of the Sun God Gwydion to whom she bears twin sons in the myth.
DYLAN, or Dylan Eil Ton in its fuller form, is often thought of as the Sea God. The 'dyl' root in Middle Welsh meant 'deserving', i.e. 'rightful' and 'ton' as we have seen means 'a wave'. Nevertheless he is not the wave (Sea God) but one whose rightful place is the wave - the Fish God, a necessary deity for coastal peoples. He is later sacrificed (as was his twin brother) that his people might live - his death coming by the spear, a logical early method of fish harvesting.
Squire, Rolleston, Spence et al. consider him to be, however, a sea deity despite the stanza in the Black Book of Caermarthen which states: "Yn y gwna tonn tolo, Bedd Dylan Llanveuno." The translation runs "Where the wave speaks is the grave of Dylan at Llanfeuno" - his place of death being within the sea, i.e. where he is speared as a fish.
LLEW, or Llew Llau Gyffes in full, has been translated frequently as the 'skillful hand of light'. The mistake comes by spelling the original form of the name (Lleu) as 'Llew' which can mean light. The modern meaning of Llew is 'lion' which provides another translation: 'The lion with the steady hand'. All writers fall into one or other trap and usually give Llew the erroneous title of Sun God except Dr. Anne Ross who maintains he is a god of the Mercury type.
At least Squire admits that the pagan tradition had become obsolete before myths were written down and suggests very logically that 'lleu' meaning 'light' had passed from use. In this case the scribe must have substituted a word which he knew - 'llew' for the 'lleu' which was unintelligible to him.
In the many repetitions of the tale and the personal embellishments by the multitude of bards prior to the penning of the myth it is obvious that the story line was mutated to rationalise the "skillful hand" concept. Squire, then, is absolutely correct in the above observation that the word 'lleu' had been lost in the mists of time. This will become abundantly clear as our research progresses.
Llew was but a boy, however, and fair of hair when named. In the older Middle Welsh, 'lleu' was the adjective 'light' and denoted fairness of hair, while 'llaw', although meaning 'hand' in Modern Welsh, meant 'small' or 'young' in Middle Welsh.
'Gyffes' is of the genre of Middle Welsh equative adjective which was achieved by prefixing a noun by 'kyf' which meant 'of the same'. In this way the Middle Welsh abounded in adjectives such as 'kyfliw' (of the same colour as), 'kyfoet' (of the same age as) and 'kyflet' (of the same width as). All are now obsolete in Modern Welsh, 'kyf' remaining only in the following words: 'cyfiaith' (of the same language), 'cyflin' (parallel), and 'cyffelybu' (to compare). When used as a proper name the 'k' would again have been softened or mutated to a 'g' to provide the 'Gyf' prefix.
The second syllable 'fes' is derived from the Old Welsh 'uet' or 'vet' meaning 'up to', i.e. qualifying height or distance. In later Middle Welsh the 'vet' became 'fet' or 'fes' (the 'f' being sounded as a 'v') and now meant 'height'.
In "The White Book Mabinogion" by J. Gwenogvyrn Evans (Pwhelli 1907) we find "fes bore" - 'height of morning'. This too is obsolete and, therefore, forgotten.
It has been forgotten also that, similar to the custom of softening consonants as a classical language developed (e.g. as 'thalatta', the sea, in Homeric Greek became 'thalassa' in Attic Greek), the terminal 't' in Old Welsh often became 's' or 'd' in Middle and Modern Welsh.
We note that in the first poem of Taliesin, line 2 which runs: "Kanyt geu gofyget." 'Kanyt' meaning 'because' becomes 'canys' in Modern Welsh with the mutated 't' and the obsolete 'k'.
Using the earlier form of his name, the correct translation of Lleu Llaw Gyffes should be "Of the same height as a fair young boy."
Now we must ask: "Who is he that is the son of The Sun God and The Earth Goddess who is the same height as a fair young boy?"
The myth itself provides ample clues to assist in resolution of the problem.
1. Llew was hidden on
What is hidden in the earth once it has been born? A seed of grain at the planting.
How may one identify the crop? When Mother earth has allowed it to rise above ground and mature to an identifiable stage and be named.
In Britain the term 'corn' is given to wheat, barley and rye alike. In the seed-head of wheat the seeds are protected by a stiff, spiked sheath. That of barley and rye are in like manner protected by long spear-like awns. Each, then, has arms or weaponry on maturation for protection against the birds of the air once Mother Earth has permitted a requisite stage of growth.
Lastly the field of corn is 'the same height as a fair young boy' and, bearing in mind the adjective 'fair', of the same colour as such a youth's hair.
Llew is clearly the Corn God and like his father the sun who provides health and strength for the living, he, when he is cut down, also provides health and strength in the form of food. He dies that we may continue to live.
As an inset, the place of Goronwy must be examined - a point of neglect by most authors.
Goronwy, I maintain, is Llew's inner self - the seed which permits separation of itself from the chaff which flies up into the wind. This is the meaning of the transmogrification of Llew into an eagle when struck by the poisoned spear.
When Llew demands that Goronwy stand in the same place as he had done to take the fateful blow of retribution, he permits his inner self, the seed to die. The stone which Goronwy places between himself and the blow is, of course, the miller's stone which grinds the seed to flour.
Why do we equate Goronwy with the inner self or seed? When we separate 'Goron' from 'wy' we find the answer. 'Goron' is 'coron' meaning 'a crown'. 'Y Goron' is 'the crown' with the 'c' mutated to a 'g' as is the case after the definite article. The 'y' is dropped to create a proper name leaving the mutated 'Goron'.
'Wy', as we have seen is 'egg' or 'seed'. Therefore 'Goron-wy' is the 'Crown of seed' which is the head of the corn.
The story of Llew is acted out at Y Fedel Wenith (The Harvesting) on the eve of August 1st when the psychodrama concerning the cutting down of The Corn God is designed to ensure a bountiful harvest in mid-September. The remainder of the tale is completed at Alban Elfed, the Autumnal Equinox, which is the Harvest thanksgiving feast. (10)
Here then is the
down-to-earth portrayal of sacrifice, death and resurrection. The
Corn God is sacrificed that his people may live by eating the bread made
from his milled body which is the grain. Sufficient seed, however,
is retained for the Spring planting that at the following harvest He is
seen to rise up strong as before revealing that His life is indeed
White Goddess by Robert Graves (Faber & Faber) 1961.
As each god or goddess in the myth had his or her Kaer or Castle in which they held court to their elect, one must examine this elect which is on a different plane from humanity. They have been termed in Old Keltic/Welsh families as 'Y Perthynasau Mawr' - The High Kindred and, as such, occupy a distinct place in the hierarchy between the gods and mankind, i.e. neither divine nor human. (vide "Portal of The Keltic Gods" by Mael Gwynedd, Excalibur, 1991.) To these we shall return in the taxonomy.
The Keltic 'system' of
Kaerau or Castles is less well known in Keltic mysticism as the brief
comments on some by Lewis Spence will aver. These Castles or realms
may be termed hierarchical domains as they had direct bearing not only on
the deities but also on the various stages of human existence. Here
follows a diagram of these domains with comments upon each.
** The Circles of Being (concepts of Keltic Druidic philosophy)
A. Ceugant = The Circle of Divinity.
(vide "The Mysteries of
Britain" by Lewis Spence [Senate] 1994.)
The foregoing diagram with The Castle names fully translated should be self explanatory but how the distribution was achieved should be demonstrated.
(The Planes of Existence on the human stratum which appear in the right hand table will be fully explained in Part 3 together with their origins and expansion.)
The best known Castle is Caer Sidin, the castle of the zodiacal wheel. As the zodiac governs the four triplicities in human kind I attributed this to that portion of the human psyche which is the abstract mind. As there are triplicities of four elements, governance has been given to the Deities of Air, Fire, Water and Earth - Air (Moon Goddess), Fire (Sun God), Water (Sea God) and Earth (Earth Goddess).
Caer Ochren is the next most familiar, the Dread Castle which is the domain of Gwyn, the Psychopompos. It must equate, therefore, with the domain of those newly shepherded by that Lord immediately on death.
Caer Wydyr, being the castle of reflection in the midst of the sea, logically belongs to The Sea God.
Caer Gwydion and Caer Arianrhod are obviously the respective domains of these Deities.
Caer Colur, the gloomy castle, we equate with the darkest part of the twenty-four hours - night, ruled by The Moon Goddess.
Caer Rigor, the royal castle, must be the domain of the Queen and Lord of the warband - Don and Beli Mawr.
Caer Fedwid or the castle of the perfect ones must house those who have reached perfection - those who no longer need to incarnate. I have equated it also with that part of oneself which is perfect (i.e. of Divine origin) - the divine spiritual nucleus within each human.
Caer Fandwy or 'castle on high' I have identified with that which is 'on high' but not exactly perfect - the spiritual path trod by each human (sometimes called the spiritual ray) to achieve a unique burnishing whilst in incarnation. All spiritual paths cannot be perfect as no one path has the entire truth and each may complement the other.
Caer Pedryfan, the revolving castle, is that caer which is stopped during the Great Assembly of the warband each year to permit the living to communicate with those long passed. It is, therefore, the domain of those between incarnations.
The importance of these castles has never been demonstrated, unfortunately, in any meaningful way by any author dealing with Keltic mythology or British Mystery traditions.
From now on, the original
forms of the Deities' names will be adopted.
Part 2: TAXONOMY OF THE DEITIES
Before any formal classification be attempted, one must ask the all important question:
WHAT ARE THE GODS?
This question was asked by the hero in Dion Fortune's book 'The Winged Bull'. The reply given must surely be the best that one may ever find, "The gods are lenses that wise men have made through which to focus natural forces."
In short, with the mind's eye, an image is made. With the less evolved mind this image may be of an animal form (as in the totemic wolf god of the Amerindian or Fenris of the early Norsemen). With a more evolved mind, however, the image is in human form - an anthropomorphism. (1)
As the late William Gray, quabalist and author, concisely stated, the image is a composite creation:
"A concretion of consciousness, inspired by spirit, animated by soul, moulded by mind and based upon body." (2)
We all make our own personal and collective images. Children create imaginary friends and believe in Father Christmas - an image created by adults to encapsulate the ideas of jollity, generosity and benevolence, all abstractions which would be difficult to comprehend by the child's mind. (Of course in developmental psychology, Piaget avers that abstract concepts are comprehended by children aet. c. 11.5 and over.)
Brand images on the commercial front (e.g. the Jolly Green Giant on the can of sweet corn) and National figures such as the American Uncle Sam and the English Britannia are the results of similar exercises.
This image once formed, which is now on an inner-plane level, is given the requisite attributes which it is felt the god should possess. So, should we create an image of a god of battle, it must be the ultimate fighting machine with cosmic proportions of battle skill, agility, endurance, courage, perseverance, invincibility, strength, stature and musculature, ferocity and weaponry. The more we can pour in mentally, the more perfect the god will become. This includes the visual and tactile aspects of armour, colour, facial expression of battle-rage and even the roaring war cry of the god as the auditory input of imagery.
When the members of an entire tribe or race have formulated the identical mental image, a warrior had but to visualise the form of the god and draw the radiating essence to himself to prepare for battle. The process was two way. The better the image made by the worshippers, the stronger the essence upon which they could draw. The more chargeduplift they received when visualising and invoking, the more power the god form received from the worshippers.
The first thing noticeable about such images is that they are categorical - a rain god, a sun god, a thunder god or a mother goddess etc.. And they were all required to objectify on levels of existence that to humanity were subjective. They are usually powers of nature - bearing in mind nature has an infinite canvas.
The gods, then, may be termed as concretions of consciousness each with a specialised function. (Similar to the Archangels of Judaism and Christianity.)
DON - The Great Mother Goddess.
Here we are dealing with the archetypal Cosmic Womb, Female Potency of the Cosmos or Illimitable Tumescent Receptor with the potential to bring forth all varying degrees of manifestation - an inert, latent, noumenal but all potential and probabilistic essence which binds free-moving force into organised structures. She is, therefore, on account of this constriction or discipline, the bringer of death to dynamic, free-moving activity or force. She may be the Builder of forms, but, as the Bestower of life in form, she is also the Giver of death as all form must return to naught when its use is outworn. For this reason the Great Mother has been called also 'the sow who eats her own farrow'.
Although mentioned in the myth many times as the mother of one or other of her children, she is never seen, reinforcing the concept of a latent invisible essence which is the agent of cosmic parturition. This essence has at times been termed the Primordial Root or Cosmic Substance. (3)
MATH - Lord of Fate.
We suggest that He is an extension of the above cosmic essence and which is concerned with action and reaction allowing this essence and the force discussed immediately below to coalesce in order that manifestation become reality. Thereafter all actions, be they of a spiritual/etherial nature or of a grossly material genre, cause an appropriate reaction to occur which in turn determines the evolution of each unique element in manifestation. Again this is a noumenal principle.
BELEU - The All Father God.
Here we have the forth-flowing and essentially dynamic cosmic force, vital power or consciousness with the potential to motivate its enveloping counterpart to bring forth form. He is the Great Stimulator of cosmos and evolution, the All-pervading Donor, Male Potency and Archetypal Cosmic Impregnator. This force has been described in The Mysteries as Cosmic Ideation or Universal Mind. (4)
Like Don, the noumenal Beleu is never seen in the myth.
GWYN - Lord of Fecundity and Death.
We have assumed that, as
firstborn of the First Parents and not a manifestation into
The above four deities are all of the realm of Pure Spirit but, once manifestation has occurred, we must bring a further subdivision of Spirit into the argument. Most mystery systems and some religions have the concept of the four elements which Pure Spirit subtends. (5) These elements of Air, Fire, Water and Earth are often called 'The Elements of The Wise' to distinguish them from the physical phenomena of their namesakes and are to be considered as inner-plane elements or protyles (i.e. pre-matter). (6)
In their own right they are standard frequencies of consciousness which, if materialised to grosser levels, would manifest in an airy, fiery, watery or earthy manner.
We shall return to the subject of these Elements later to analyse the properties of each. For the moment, however, we shall use these subdivisions of Pure Spirit as, the instant any level of manifestation is effected, Spirit must descend into grosser strata of its own being.
Granted these strata may be infinite in number but the four Elemental Kingdoms continue to suffice, as they have done for millennia, as broad groupings.
The philosophy of Hindu Tantrik Yoga also adheres to a similar concept of Spirit and four Tattvas in the following manner.
Carl Gustav Jung upholds the idea of the quaternary with equal vigour when he states: "The quaternary is an archetype of almost universal occurrence. It forms the logical basis for any whole judgement. If one wishes to pass judgement, it must have this fourfold aspect. There are always four elements, four prime colours, four castes, four ways of spiritual development and four aspects of psychological orientation. This ideal completeness is a circle or sphere, but its natural minimal division is the quaternary." (8)
I have subdivided the Realm of Spirit, therefore, in the manner below.
The remainder of The Deities, which obviously have their corresponding symbols in physical media such as sea and sun, fall within the following divisions of Pure Spirit or degree levels:-
Air of Spirit
Madame Blavatsky has spoken of such Deities or powers as the Gods of the Elements. (9) Being the first creations to manifest on strata lower than Pure Spirit, they should be considered as protyles and not noumena.
PENARDDUN - Moon Goddess.
Night is the period of minimum earthly consciousness and the nearest equivalent to the spirit's liberation by death while we are yet in life as the inner-planes may be visited briefly during sleep. Penarddun, therefore, rules the inner-planes of the mental sphere and of all mental processes including psychism and trance states.
She is mated with the Sea God and consequently rules over the waters of earth and the tides of womanhood. Nevertheless, as night is the airiest part of the entire day, she may be given the realm of Air of Spirit. Like all Moon Goddesses she is considered to have three aspects - maiden (new and waxing), mother (full) and crone (old).
GWYDYON - Sun God.
He is ruler of day and wakefulness, the nearest equivalent to cosmic consciousness in life and the giver of illumination in all meanings of the word. Gwydyon is governor of expansiveness and will which is the 'fire of the mind'. As mate of the Earth Goddess he is the power behind life, growth, health, healing and regeneration. Even as the sun warms the sea, he can be seen to encourage the instincts to manifest forth in emotions. He is primarily concerned with the ebullience of human emotions.
In myth he is also the King of Battle and as such must house the fire of aggression. His realm, therefore, must be Fire of Spirit - the sun being the root of fire in our planetary system.
LLYR LLEDIAETH - Sea God.
As such he is the balancer and the power underlying all concepts of a fluidic nature and rules the realm of Water of Spirit. He is the keeper of the great deeps of the mind, the realm of human instincts.
ARANROT - Earth Goddess.
It is she who is the bringer forth of all earthly forms and is the Protectress of gestation and birth. Therefore she is the goddess of the manifestation of love and love itself, the ruler of fertility and nourisher of all life forms. Indeed she has been given overview of such things as marriage, the forge (which melts the chains of winter) and milking in allied tales.
As Earth Mother her realm is obviously Earth of Spirit.
She too is seen in triple aspect: Maiden (Spring), Mature and pregnant Goddess (Summer) and Mother (Autumn/Harvest).
DYLAN, the Fish God and LLEU LLAW GYFFES, the Corn God.
As children of the Sun God and Earth Goddess, we concern ourselves with Divinity at a very earthly (may I say combustible and physiological) level which bears the essence of the Sun God but at an exceedingly lower octave. Being at an earthly stratum, but of Spirit, they should be consigned to the stratum of Spirit of Earth, a term which will be explained very shortly.
THE HIGH KINDRED
To return to the elite of the courts of the various gods and goddesses and the fact that they lie between divinity and man, they may be placed within the Elemental Kingdoms but at the summit of each. As we divided Spirit by elemental strata, so I propose the partitioning of each Elemental Realm in like manner to provide a continuum which intensifies specificity.This may be a somewhat novel approach but, nevertheless, it does without doubt provide an exploded taxonomy which will be found to be workable. I break this down in full as follows:-
Spirit of Earth
As The High Kindred are neither Pure Spirit nor of a mundane stratum, they may be apportioned the following realms:-
Air : High Kindred of The Winds
The loosest equivalent to The High Kindred in Christianity may be found in angelology. They could be termed the nobles of the castles of the gods - a type of administrative hierarchy which is more approachable than a deity itself or which exude the power of a deity but at a geared down rate.
It is now time to consider these Elemental Realms or Kingdoms to define their characteristics. The following considerations, however, are by no means exhaustive and merely demonstrate a fraction of the analogies perceived by humanity within each realm itself or where it impinges upon Spirit or any other Element as a subdivision.
These analogies are simply a method of providing human consciousness with a mundane understanding of these protyles behind the various degrees of manifestation from inner-plane level to the gross material plane. It must be remembered that a manifestation is that which is perceived but not necessarily seen, e.g. the wind, an emotion, an instinct, a pain or a nightmare etc..
ELEMENT OF AIR
As with gasses, where the molecules repel each other and diffuse to their uttermost limits giving freedom to each, the Element of Air may be given the following correspondences:-
freedom; freshness; lightness; enthusiasm; uplift; cheerfulness; eagerness; optimism; mind; inspiration; mentation; memories; exhilaration; voices; wind instruments; wind; independence; breathing; invigoration; life; emptiness (expectation); morning; spring; youth; expansion; lungs; incense; smell; perfume; feather; bird; arrow; spear; colour blue.
gossiping; slyness; fickleness; dishonesty; boasting; garrulity; emptiness (loss); hurricane.
ELEMENT OF FIRE
Likewise as the essential property of fire is transmutation to other planes, the following properties may be allocated:-
light; illumination; inner vision; clarity of consciousness; activity; character; integrity; self preservation; heavenly radiance; ripening; the forge; willpower; noon; summer; maturity; fire; sparks; eyes; sight; the nervous system; colour red.
jealousy; passion; irritability; anger; hatred; spitefulness; discord; volcano; lightening.
ELEMENT OF WATER
Similarly , as the molecules of liquids are free-moving, the following correspondences are relative:-
flowing; protecting; sustaining; rhythmic; psychism; modesty; tranquillity; devotion; calmness; forgiveness; tenderness; sensitivity; reproductive instinct; love; compassion; docility; cordiality; magnetic; fermentation; drinking; cup; alimentary system; taste; evening; autumn; old age; decay; sea; river; tide; ship; colour green.
indifference; apathy; instability; shyness; insipidity; negligence; tidal wave; drowning.
ELEMENT OF EARTH
Lastly, bearing in mind that the molecules of solids adhere, the following are the relative correspondences:-
weight; heaviness; solidity; objectivity; fertility; incarnation; enduring; gravity; resolution; seriousness; sobriety; touch; finiteness; contentment; herd instinct; thoroughness; punctuality; responsibility; resistance; security; stability; strength; community; respectability; agriculture; night; winter; mountain; hill; stone; shield; cave; footsteps; drum; skeletal system and musculature; colour brown.
dullness; tardiness; laziness; greed; unreliability; death; unscrupulousness; irregularity; landslide.
These analogies are beneficial in understanding the wide-ranging influence of these four broadly based protyles on whatever level - abstract/conceptual, behavioural or purely physical. The validity of many will become clear when we come to consider the interface of force with the human organism.
With the foregoing done, we may in diagrammatic form show the distribution of The Deities and The High Kindred of the pantheon in the following manner:-
Taxonomy of The Deities Alone
Spirit Mature Cosmic
Kindred of The Wind
Spirit High Kindred
of The Flame
Spirit High Kindred of The
Spirit Dylan and Lleu Llaw Gyffes +
High Kindred of Earth
As birth and death are
ongoing processes at all levels of manifestation, the influences of Don,
Math, Beleu and Gwyn permeate all strata continuously from Air of SPIRIT
1. Comparative Religions by Dr. Mary Whitaker (CDM,
PART 3: THE INTERFACE WITH THE HUMAN ORGANISM
Before attempting to relate the Keltic Deities with human kind, we must scrutinise closely the various levels of humanity and endeavour to provide the requisite areas of linkage.
Perhaps the best broad analysis of this extended anatomy is to be found in "The Esoteric Philosophy of Love and Marriage" by Dion Fortune (Society of The Inner Light, 1967). It may best be encapsulated in this way.
The uppermost plane of being is termed the Upper Spiritual Plane, Plane of Pure Spirit or Plane of Abstract Spirit. This seventh plane is the level of the Divine spark or monad which indwells each human and which is drawn from the Great Unmanifest. We shall adopt the term ABSTRACT SPIRITUAL.
The next or sixth plane is called the Lower Spiritual Plane or Plane of Concrete Spirit. This is the plane of spiritual tendency which governs the karmic needs of the individual spirit and the spiritual experiences which are required for the evolution of the monad over an aeon. Here a certain 'ray' will provide the keynote of the spirit and its predisposition, for example animism, polytheism or monotheism and the various branches of these depending upon the culture of one's birth. Again we shall retain the term CONCRETE SPIRITUAL.
The fifth plane is referred to as the Upper Mental Plane or Plane of Abstract Mind where we meet the type of mind shown in the various zodiacal triplicities with the predisposition of each for a basic form of thinking. In the positive signs of air and fire the tendency is for diffused philosophical thought processes, while in the negative signs of water and earth the tendency is to unify in scientific processes of thought. The name ABSTRACT MENTAL will be used for clarity.
The fourth plane, Lower Mental or Plane of Concrete Mind, is characterised by finiteness with concrete thoughts, memory and reasoning processes. CONCRETE MENTAL will adequately describe this plane in our work. There is no need to further partition into left cerebral hemisphere factual storage and right hemisphere gestalten.
The third plane or Upper Astral is the plane of emotions with their overt desires. For simplification we shall term this the EMOTIONAL plane.
The second plane, Lower Astral or Psychic Plane is the plane of instincts with their more covert desires. The simple term INSTINCTUAL will be used when dealing with this plane of being.
The first plane and lowest plane or Physical Plane is the material body of flesh, blood and the various physiological systems. We shall. therefore, employ the word MATERIAL when discussing the lowest plane.
Using these broad classifications, I shall apply the elemental subdivisions as proposed and described in Part Two to flesh-out or expand the above seven concepts into greater detail to create an intensification of specificity.
Perhaps it is best to commence with the physical vehicle of the human. As it is the densest part of the human organism, Earth is the appropriate qualifying element.
When subdividing the element of Earth at this physiological level, Earth of Earth must correspond to the skeletal system together with cartilaginous material and musculature.
Water of Earth will govern the obvious watery nature of the alimentary system. Granted anything of a fluidic nature such as lymphatics, renal system, cerebro-spinal fluid etc. could appear to lie within this classification, but we are attempting here to maintain broadly based analogies. This regional approach (i.e. epigastrium/abdomen/pelvis) must, therefore, suffice.
Similarly Fire of Earth is allocated to the complete nervous system from the brain with its electrical discharges to all nerve endings in the human corpus.
Air of Earth logically applies to the respiratory system.
Spirit of Earth we have profiled with the Etheric Body.
The senses are distributed likewise in the elemental subdivision:-
As we approach the inner-plane levels, we meet the basic instincts of the subliminal gnosis or the unconscious mind as we recede from the earthy level to that of water. Here we meet the three basic instincts - those of self-preservation, reproduction and the gregarious/herdinstincts. These may be classified thus:-
The upper two levels can be seen to have no corresponding instincts. Nevertheless I have always maintained that the human mind has two further instincts - instinctual activity relating to a) mentation and b) spiritual evolution. The human mind cannot do other than think. Indeed, when attempting to perform passive meditation in the early stages, one usually finds great difficulty in emptying the mind of thought - it appears contrary to its nature.
Similarly the spirit's prime task in incarnation is to grow in stature and, to achieve any growth, it must signal to the mind via the instinctual level to aid it in the great work. We may now complete the above two omissions to read:-
Water: Spiritual evolution
The plane of overt emotional impulses assigned to the element of Fire give the following correspondences:-
Fire: Spiritual fervour
When dealing with the Concrete Mind we are more concerned with functions, attributing to the mind the element of Air.
Air: Inspiration (coming from the Realms of
The Abstract Mind we have already stated is concerned with the personality type as governed by the four triplicities. Here the correspondences follow the logical attribution under the governance of Spirit.
Spirit: Air triplicity
Spirit of Spirit: Spiritual Ray (vehicle of spiritual growth) refers to the realm of Concrete Spirit and finds its place at the summit of the above arrangement.
The Spiritual Ray or, as I am wont to describe it, the vehicle of spiritual growth is the path which one must follow according to karmic dictates to permit the requisite factors for spiritual growth in any incarnation to be applied. Such a path, as we have said, may be polytheistic (e.g. Hinduism, Paganism etc.), monotheistic (Christianity, Judaism or Islam), animistic or of the Eastern mystery genre such as Taoism, Shinto or Bahai. Such a list, needless to say, can never be exhaustive.
The level of Abstract Spirit, the spiritual nucleus in each human comes directly from The Absolute - the Realm of The Great Mother and The All-Father. Its function must be the evolution or distillation of itself throughout an aeon via many, many incarnations to be reabsorbed eventually into That Which gave it existence.
This design now appears in diagrammatic form with all the functions of mind, emotions, instincts and physical systems profiled. Other areas of correspondence can be devised easily at the reader's leisure.
The Human Organism
(With the above as example, one may glimpse the appearance of a mirror diagram which shows the aberrations on the various planes. The writer has noted this on occasions when dealing with those of a decidedly unsavoury disposition.)
Here follows a second diagram to explain the place of the above right hand column in relation to basic psychological parlance for those with an interest in human psychology.
1. Individuality / Monad (Unit of Evolution)
Spirit (Guardian Genius)
That which lasts for an aeon and is reincarnated many times until sufficient incarnate experiences have been assimilated and it returns to The Absolute whence it came.
2. Personality / Soul (Unit of Incarnation)
That which lasts for one life - an interface to allow the spirit to experience incarnate life.
Spirit = Personality Traits
Vital Body = Higher Personal Unconscious + Higher Collective Unconscious
Desire Body = Lower Personal Unconscious + Lower Collective Unconscious
Both Higher & Lower Personal Unconscious + both Higher & Lower Collective Unconscious = The Unconscious Mind. This is also referred to as the Subliminal Gnosis and the Involuntary memory. (vide the works of C.G. Jung)
3. Dense Body or Physical Body
The human form and fleshly vehicle which last but one incarnation.
We now have the complete system of correspondences with one exception - the inclusion of the Keltic Deities. We shall now add These to provide the final taxonomy and interface - the object of this exposition.
From Air of Spirit downwards the continuing influence of Don and Beleu in Their creating and sustaining aspects, Math as the action/reaction Principle and Gwyn the Birth & Death Principle are implicit.
The exposition is nearing an end. Although we have established the relationship between the Keltic Deities and humankind, perhaps more has been done in reality.
It may also demonstrate how the old tribes or warbands of the British Isles maintained a necessary link with Divinity at an earlier epoch of human society. And the idea of linkage returns us full circle to the original meaning of the word 'religion' which is derived from the Latin 'religare' meaning 'to join again'.
The object of any religion, be it monotheistic or a form of polytheism, should be the rejoining of man with that which gave him existence in a meaningful, rewarding rapport during incarnate life and the rejoining of his spirit with Total Divinity at the end of the aeon.
Although we have demonstrated how an interface is possible between various dimensions of The Absolute or Pure Spirit, it falls to the personal effort of an individual not only to forge these links for him/herself but to maintain a facile channel for the flow of that force.
What has not been shown (and it must remain outwith the scope of this thesis) is the methodology of practical working utilising such forces.
The ancient Keltic myths were written in what is known as the Bardic triads. Yes, much is in three-line stanzas, but the 'triadic' concept means very much more. A myth had in reality three functions:-
a) The provision of a story which could be transmitted 'mouth to ear', i.e. orally and which, therefore, could be remembered with ease to remain a bulwark of the culture, transmitting data down the generations.
b) The means of exhibiting The Deities of a pantheon in a covert fashion, the real understanding of These being entrusted to the 'cognoscenti' or priesthood of perhaps a caste similar to, if not in actuality, the Druidesses and Druids.
c) The transmission of hidden practical working to make use of certain strata of power (mere hints in the myths). The making of the gifts for Pryderi from mushrooms is but one example of a very mundane physical/chemical practical method.
The methods of invocation, the telesmatic imagery used in meditation, the degrees of leverage to allow power to impinge upon the physical plane and even much herbal lore alluded to in The Red Book and Black Book Mabinogi may never be rediscovered in total.
Nevertheless, what we have rediscovered and revealed by research is the basis of a formal refined system used by the warbands of the Northern portion of Cymru and various Cymreig parts of Britain, details of which corroborate the writing of the Roman historian Pliny who stated, when talking of Britain, "It might seem possible that she taught magic to the Persians!" (1)
Our investigation may add a little to the subject of Comparative Religion which is concerned with the "Idea of God" throughout many eras. (2)
Some similarity may be found between the ancient pre-Christian religion of the British Kelt and Hinduism, Shinto et al., as it was a naturally evolved system unaided by the appearance of any prophet or avatar who might have bequeathed a lasting imprint of personality or ego upon all matters. There was no one to make grand (and often spurious) announcements of "Thus saith the Lord" or "Thus spake the Goddess" as found in the more modern religions. It appears that the religion was and still is largely experiential with the divers aspects of Nature as mentor and example.
It is interesting to note that the early Kelts may well have said like us today that "Everything formed or unformed is godlike." (3) But did they regard themselves as Sons and Daughters of God? Did they subscribe to any fraction of the concept that "There is but one Mind, one Law, one Principle, one Substance in The Universe and I AM one with all there is?" (4)
The latter question perhaps may be answered in the affirmative but in this wise: "There is but one Goddess (Substance), one God (Mind), one Divine Intent (Principle), one Law (Tyghet, i.e. Karma) in The Cosmos and I AM one with all there is."
We are aware, however, that the Kelts did conceptualise that which was beyond the pantheon - that which they termed "Tarddiad" (The Source). (5)
This 'Source' appears to be Divine Concubinage of Cosmic Goddess and God - a Divine Unity prior to the first differentiation. It has its counterpart in Esoteric Buddhism, in the androgynous Brahman of the Hindu and The First Parents within the Tjukurrtjana of the Australian aborigine. (6)
The philosophers of the oldest school of Buddhism in Nepal call this 'Svabhavat' - the one infinite and unknown Essence existing from all eternity and which is the rootless cause of all that was, is or ever shall be. (7) Perhaps in conclusion we should examine the anatomy of this concept.
It is usually symbolised by a) Absolute Abstract Space which represents pure subjectivity, a malleable root-substance and b) Absolute Abstract Motion which represents unconditioned consciousness - these two existing in perfect union, a quantum singularity awaiting differentiation. This differentiation into a passive and active pole is the division of Tarddiad into Cosmic Goddess and Cosmic God as the Kelt, and indeed all with a similar view of cosmogenesis, considered both to be essential.
The pre-cosmic Root Substance is that feminine part of The Absolute which is the bedrock of all objective planes of manifestation. The Unconditioned Consciousness is the male aspect which takes the character of pre-cosmic Ideation. It has been called the fons et origo of force and supplies the guiding intelligence in the vast cosmic scheme of evolution.
As pre-cosmic Root Substance is the noumenon which is the substratum of all protyles (pre matter) in the various levels or densities of its differentiation, so pre-cosmic Ideation is the noumenal root of all individual consciousness.
It was clearly felt that the contrast of these two aspects of The Absolute were essential to the existence of the manifested cosmos. Without Cosmic Substance, Cosmic Ideation could not manifest as INDIVIDUAL consciousness as it was only through a vehicle of matter that consciousness rises up as "I AM I." A physical basis was necessary to focus a ray of Universal Mind at each unique stage of complexity and, if it had NOT been considered necessary in the Great Mind, NO cosmos whatsoever would have been manifested by It. (8)
Again, without Cosmic Ideation, Cosmic Substance would have remained an empty abstraction and sterile and no emergence of consciousness would have ensued. The manifested cosmos, therefore, is pervaded by duality which is the very essence of EX-istence as manifestation. The Kelts and such as held/hold similar beliefs conceived and still conceive this bi-polarity as female/male, NOT evil/good as is the custom of the later patriarchal religions.
The early church fathers felt the pressing need for an equilibrating concept but, following their intrinsic male chauvinism (and, in certain cases, their possible predilection for homosexuality - if we may be guided by the many aberrations, offences and convictions among today's Christian priesthood), they perversely opted for evil rather than recognise the Feminine Principle by Which obviously they felt threatened.
The choice also provided a long-term bonus by which the Church could be perpetuated - the provision of an evil entity (The Devil) which could be used as a weapon to frighten, threaten and coerce its followers thus maintaining an ensured captive congregation, their captivity being the cruel iron chains of dogma and doctrine. Here was the ideal raison d'etre of The Church militant per omnia saecula saeculorum! (9)
This negative entity was really an exteriorised dissociated complex from the collective human consciousness. (10) The method whereby this arose was the denial that Christ was the whole self, leaving the Christ figure so over-identified with light that inevitably he was to cast a shadow - The Devil. (11)
Nevertheless, the interesting phenomenon is how myths once transmitted 'mouth to ear' were perpetuated in writing from an early primitive form of language, through three developments of that language, to reach us in the present day thus bridging the generations as was the original intention. And how, although a written form emerged, the concepts, doctrines and rituals remained non-scriptural - as is the case of the pigmies of central Africa which have an unwritten but highly complicated religion and ritual. (12)
Even those peoples who have lower living standards than our own can still produce great works of art and thought. (Many Indian, Chinese and African craftsmen living at a very low level produce carvings of vitality and finish that hardly can be equaled in the West. (13)
This survey, in some small measure, may contribute to a race held in high regard for its art, craftsmanship in bronze and silver, horsemanship, advanced social law and philosophy by the historians, geographers and militarist of the ancient world. (14)
Indeed in their day the
Kelts were wont to say of both themselves and The Great Mother
Goddess: "Nyth oes kystedlyd." - "Thou hast no peer."
Britannia after the Romans by A. Herbert (London) 1841.
As an addendum to demonstrate the concept of The Absolute in Keltic philosophy, I present "Tarddiad" (The Source), an example of pure bardic mysticism by the soul of one who has passed over and who addresses the Source of All. This is the Cosmic Mother Goddess whence all come and whither all return and whose counterpart is Her Consort - The Cosmic Father God.
The speaker, overawed at
the complex cosmic vista, glimpses his next incarnation with certainty and trust - another revolution of Kylch
Abred, The Circle of Abred or Rebirth.
Dark Queen, Thou call'st us forth from wildest
On, ever on float we
Thine unseen form, bedecked with jewelled
And there amid the fire-mist bright,
Yea, on we speed through Thee, The One,
And so find we Thine ever-present
Copyright � Gareth Pengwerin 1996