Welsh Celtic God of the Underworld
The Celtic Church of Dynion Mwyn
by Rhuddlwm Gawr
The Dynion Mwyn Tradition tradition derives from Welsh and Pictish religious sources and from Druidic and Witchcraft magickal practices which were in existence around the time Christianity took root in Europe. Based on a Welsh family tradition, this religion has shamanic, religious and magickal foundations. According to Elders, Its priesthood evolved from Welsh Druidism, Pictish Witchcraft, and Etruscan sources, including in its ancestry Druids, Bards, Ovates, Faerie Doctors, Cunning Men, Men in Black, and Wise Women.
Based on the ancient Welsh religion connected to the gods of Donn, the teachings evolved into an oral Faerie Tradition. Our legends say the Children of Donn chose to stay in Wales after the invasion of the Celts, and took refuge under the hills. The Faerie Folk of Wales or Y Tylwyth Teg are man-sized Faeries, and the spirits of Welsh and Pictish heroes. They live underground, in Dolmens or underwater in caves. From these we derive the Heroic Faerie and the Medieval Faerie. Wales has two races: a visible race called the Cymry (People) and the invisible Faerie People or the Tylwyth Teg. Our tradition of Dynion Mwyn (The Gentle People) is dedicated to these Welsh Faerie people of the OtherWorld.
History of the Cymry Gwyddoniad (Welsh Witchcraft)
The history of early Wales is bedeviled by the lack of contemporary written sources. As a result, there are long periods of time where modern historians know little or nothing about large areas of Wales. This problem is compounded by the tendency of some of these same historians to retrospectively apply evidence from later Medieval Wales, which first occurs in thirteenth century copies of twelfth century manuscripts. There was also a tendency among some earlier historians to apply the contemporary evidence from other Celtic nations to the Welsh, wrongly believing that there was a "common" Celtic society sharing the same attitudes and institutions. In reality, the Celtic peoples considered themselves to be individual tribes, and not part of some greater "Celtic" nation. The Welsh thought of themselves as Cymry or Britons. The Irish thought of themselves as Gael, etc. It is from that Celtic racial pool that the Cymry developed their unique culture and familial beliefs.
Certain family legends state that the forests near Betws-y-coed Wales have been the home of a tribe/family of Welsh Celts (the Dynion Mwyn) for countless generations. The legends say this tribe migrated to the valley from the west and south and settled the region because of the presence of a very ancient and sacred grove of oak trees. The tribe built a village near the grove and made a living from the land (hunting, fishing etc.) . It is rumored that the sacred grove still exists, though only the remaining family knows its precise location.
We pick up the story with Taliesin Einion Vawr. Taliesin was born in the forests of North Wales in 1927. During the next thirteen years, because of his father's government position, the family traveled throughout Europe. They returned to England in 1938, and the children were sent to live with relatives in Wales. In September, 1940, their father and mother were killed in the bombing of London during the Battle of Britain. He and his sister were taken in and raised by an uncle and auntie in a small village in North Wales. It was here they learned of their family's heritage of Druidism and Witchcraft as they met Y Tylwyth Teg (Welsh Faeries) at Fairy Ring near Betws-y-Coed, and swam with the water sprites in the local river. He says in his journal this was the happiest time of his life. Taliesin became a spokesperson for Dynion Mwyn in the early 60s and taught the knowledge of Gwyddon until his death in 2001.
In 1965 Rhuddlwm Gawr met Sarah Wentworth while on holiday in Majorca. She invited him to London and then they drove to Wales where he was introduced to Taliesin. Rhuddlwm stayed in Wales and studied The Old Ways with Sarah and Taliesin. In 1966 Rhuddlwm returned to the US and established the Coven and Church of Y Tylwyth Teg in Landover Maryland. For a historical perspective of this tradition:
The Gathering of the Tribes
Every year, members of the Dynion Mwyn tradition gather from all over the world to worship and experience a tribal family conclave. These Gatherings have been held every year since 1967. The first festival was held in the forests of Maryland. Currently they are being organized in Georgia and Alabama...
Click here for more about the Gathering of Tribes
Core Beliefs and Practices
We believe that every Welsh Witch should welcome sincere cooperation with other traditions of the Craft and other religions. But, in seeking to be inclusive, we do not wish to open ourselves to the destruction of our group culture by those on self-serving power trips, or to philosophies and practices contradictory to our principles. We welcome all who are sincerely interested in our knowledge and beliefs, regardless of race, color, sex, age, national or cultural origins, or sexual preference. We therefore ask that those who seek to identify with us to accept certain basic principles.
The Gwyddon are concerned with the inner truth, the nature of the Mysteries, and the mystical experience of its members. Like most mystery religions, it has an inner circle and an outer circle. The spiritual experience of this inner circle is much greater than that found in the outer world. It is a discipline that creates an enriched inward vision and embraces the total human experience from birth to death, and beyond.
Understanding the Mysteries of Dynion Mwyn creates a light which illuminates the human spirit and brightens the darkness of superstition and ignorance. After being lit, it can never be extinguished. After understanding the Mysteries, they can never be fully forgotten, and never be fully remembered. The Gwyddon becomes the life of the member. Without it he or she is nothing. With it, he or she becomes part of all creation.
Gwyddoniad or Welsh Shamanism
"Shamanic ecstasy is the real 'Old Time Religion, ' of which modern churches are but pallid evocations. Shamanic, visionary ecstasy, the mysterium tremendum, the unio mystica, the eternally delightful experience of the universe as energy, is a sine qua non of religion; it is what religion is for! There is no need for faith, it is the ecstatic experience itself that gives one faith in the intrinsic unity and integrity of the universe, in ourselves as integral parts of the whole; that reveals to us the sublime majesty of our universe, and the fluctuant, scintillant, alchemical miracle that is quotidian consciousness. Any religion that requires faith and gives none, that defends against religious experiences, that promulgates the bizarre superstition that humankind is in some way separate, divorced from the rest of creation, that heals not the gaping wound between Body and Soul, but would tear them asunder... is no religion at all!" Jonathan Ott The Welsh Faerie Witch evolved from the Indo-European culture which had shamanism as its link between the tribes and the Gods. Shamanism and Faerie Gwyddon Witchcraft are very much alike in concept and theology. The Magick which was performed by the Ancient Witches and Gwyddon are very similar in nature. The Celts had very specific words for their religious clergy and Shaman was not one of them. The term Gwyddon was most commonly related to those of religious function who were among the common class of people.
Druidism, which is also a component of Dynion Mwyn, was a firm part of the noble social order and ruling class, rather than being at the fringes of society. Druids were a part of the political and judicial structure and Gwyddons were mainly healers and visionaries. Druids conducted formal training for many years in a well structured scholastic system. Gwyddonism was most commonly taught under a single master with very few students.
This synthesis of the Gwyddon and Druid elements occurred in the late 13th century. By combining the elements of Shamanism, Pagan religion, natural healing, psychic development and magickal manifestation, the Welsh Gwyddon became travelers in the "OtherWorld."
Many Celtic "OtherWorld" journeys are told about people who have gone there unwillingly and without any control over the experience. Faerie Witches and Gwyddons are masters of controlling their trips into the "OtherWorld, " deciding when and where they will go. They experience what we call a "State of Ecstasy."
"The Shaman looks, the Shaman sees, the Shaman reaches inside of me. He pulls the evil from my chest, and throws away the nasty mess. I feel much better, my spirit clean, I am now nice, where I was mean. Thank you sir, you rang my bell. You cured my ills and made me well. The Shaman woke and looked at me. You cured yourself he said with glee. Where you were sick and now are well, you believed my words that I did tell. You opened up your heart you see. You felt your love reach out to me..." Rhuddlwm Gawr Gwyddon Ecstasy
Ecstasy, (from the Greek 'ekstasis') , literally means to be placed outside. This is a state of exaltation in which a person stands outside of his or herself. Ecstasy may range from the seizure of the body by a spirit or the seizure of a person by the divine, to the magical transformation or flight of consciousness. There are three types of Ecstasy: Gwyddon Ecstasy; Prophetic Ecstasy; and Mystical Gwyddonic ecstasy. The latter is the rising of the soul of the Gwyddon into the heavens or its sinking into the underworld. These states of ecstatic exaltation usually occur after strenuous training and initiation, and often under dangerous and distressing circumstances.
The resulting contact by the Gwyddon with the higher or lower regions and their inhabitants and nature spirits, enables him or her to accomplish such tasks as accompanying the soul of a deceased into its proper place in the next world, affecting the well-being of the sick and conveying the story of their inner travels upon their return to mundane awareness. The statements of the Gwyddon are in contrast with those who claim prophetic and mystical ecstasy.
A fundamental requirement of a High Priest or Priestess of the Gwyddon is to journey to the OtherWorld and experience a trance ecstatic state.
Role of Clergy
Dynion Mwyn is a religion, a church and an initiatory organization which is the guardian of magickal and spiritual Mysteries. Through many different disciplines, both of the physical, mental and spiritual realms, we strive to teach love, knowledge and power through wisdom leading to enlightenment.
Our High Priests and High Priestesses also act as counselors and mediators to congregations of seekers, initiates and members. These duties are similar to those of ministers of mainstream churches. But they also have an obligation to carry out the duties of teaching and revealing the Sacred Mysteries to those men and women seeking the Grail. Since Dynion Mwyn is a Mystery Religion the priesthood works to reveal the wisdom inherent in all of us.
Dynion Mwyn has grown to be an international religious movement. In the United States, There are two branches of Dynion Mwyn in the United States. The Celtic Church of Dynion Mwyn, Inc. and the Church of Y Tylwyth Teg, Inc. The Association of Cymry Wiccae, Inc., a association of Dynion Mwyn covens, groves and churches, originally received an IRS Group 501 (c) 3 nonprofit exemption designation in 1976, and the Church of Y Tylwyth Teg was incorporated as a church on February 2, 1977. YTT and Dynion Mwyn has numerous sister covens throughout the United States, Africa, Australia and Western Europe including Great Britain.
The Tradition is organized around an Inner and Outer Circle, with the Outer Circle representing those members who are studying for initiation and the Inner Circle which is composed of Initiated Witches. Dynion Mwyn covens and churches have resident classes available in Wales and correspondence study courses available in the U.S.
The Structure of Dynion Mwyn
The hierarchy of Dynion Mwyn consists of those who are new (seekers/neophytes) , those who have begun training (students) , and those who have been initiated to the various levels of attainment (Initiates) . There are three Symbolic Circles which contain nine Levels or stages of membership (three levels in each Circle) . Each Level has its own initiation which is performed with others in a Circle or Grove. Initiated levels can not be obtained online and require your physical presence.
Study within the Tradition
As a mystery tradition, Dynion Mwyn has a training program. This distinguishes the Welsh tradition from other traditions which only center around worship, and whose leadership is usually democratic. The training of students of Dynion Mwyn is a very complex and difficult process. As such, it tends to take a year and a day just to reach level one. There are nine levels of attainment. Consequently, most students who begin training with us never complete it.
Training begins with an introductory class or correspondence course. In addition, the student reads a variety of books on a multitude of subjects. Such topics include Druidism, magick, ritual, nature spirits, herbalism, psychic development, mythology, psychology, and religious philosophy. Some of the books on the reading list are required reading as a prerequisite to other training, and some are read to give the student a rounded education.
The student will ultimately attend classes with other students, with the majority of religious and magickal training taking place in these classes. Here the student will study the Bardic Gwyddon system, as well as a variety of other topics such as shamanism, psychology, and mysticism.
Dynion Mwyn worship is centered around four great festivals which record in chronological order the birth, growth, and decline of the fruits of the earth. These festivals and four lesser festivals correspond to the cycles of Nature (animal mating, seasons, planting and harvest) and the cycles of the Sun (Solstices and Equinoxes) . These are:
Nos Galon-Mai (Beltaine or May Eve)
Gwyl Canol Haf (Midsummer Day)
Nos Gwyl Awst (Lammas)
Nos Galon Gaeof (Samhain or Halloween)
The four lesser Sabbats are
Gwyl Canol Gaeaf (Winter Solstice or Yule)
Nos Gwyl Fair (Candlemas)
Gwyl Canol Gwenwynol (Spring Equinox)
Gwyl Canol Hydref (Fall Equinox)These comprise a total of eight major festivals. There are also 13 Full Moon Lunar Rituals and several miscellaneous festivals which Dynion Mwyn recognizes.
If one follows the path of the Gwyddon and offers the sacrifices of love and spiritual dedication to the Divine Earth Goddess and the Celestial God during these Sabbats and festivals, we believe that he or she will make evident an inner awareness of their true spiritual nature. Like our earlier Pictish and other Celtic fore bearers, Welsh Witches have an affinity for patterns in Ritual, Song, Words, and Art, and are an intensely proud and passionate people. The rich Sabbat festivals, customs, artwork and music are indicative of a continuing Celtic heritage, which is best represented by the Triscele, a Celtic version of the Yin Yang symbol. A Triscele is three spiral lines appearing to move in the same direction from a central point, enclosed by a circle. This symbol of three is an important element in the Welsh religious philosophy. Three is the number of the stages of life. The goddess shows three faces: Maid, Mother and Crone.
Defod Cymry or Welsh Ritual is both worship and a prescribed action whose purpose is to reach the subconscious mind, raising energy, which is then directed to the purpose of the ritual. Ritual is also a way of getting in touch with yourself. It is being in attunement, being aware. Ritual is a human being's approach to the unapproachable. To be effective in the performance of the Ritual, you have to change the way you use your brain. Ritual requires the integration of the right hemisphere way of thinking with the left hemisphere way of thinking.
Welsh Witches worship in a sacred space or temple which we call The Circle. The Circle is a gateway, a door, a psychic opening, a place where one opens up oneself for what is inside the psyche. It is the sacred grove of Ceridwen and Cernunnos, located between the worlds of the visible and the invisible. It is the meeting place for the Gods and the Children of the Gods. Respect for the Gods must ever be observed! Creating a Circle is creating a sacred space. We define this sacred space and sacred time whenever we cast a Circle in the Craft to begin a ritual.
The Primary Welsh Gwyddon Gods
The Sky Goddess
Her name is Arianrhod. She is called the Blue Virgin of the Outer Darkness. She is the whole Universe, created and un-created, before and after. She is the great infinite one who divided herself and brought forth light. Her grain is Oats. She is the daughter of Dôn and the sister of Gwydion and Gilfaethwy; the Welsh Triads give her father as Beli Mawr
The Corn Maiden
Ceridwen , the Spring Queen. She is the spirit of new growth, of both plants and animals. She is the daughter of the Earth Mother, the spirit of all her children. The Corn Maiden appears as a young girl, her body shining white, holding a silver bow. Her emblem is a six-day-old crescent Moon, which She wears upon her brow. Her grain is Barley.
The Great Mother
The great mother goddess is Donn (Danu) ; she is an embodiment of the forces of the sacred land. This can range from the family to the solar system or a pattern of stars. She is also called Mari (Mary) and is the spirit of Earth, Sea, and Sky. The world is her body, and through it she manifests. Her grain is all grains.
Cerridwen or Kerridwen, Ceridwen, Caridwen, (sometimes spelled with two r's) , the Mother Goddess of corn, inspiration and keeper of the Cauldron of Knowledge; she is the symbol of the Witch and her name translates as "the Cauldron of Wisdom." She has the power of Magick and prophecy and she helps the seeker to find their own powers through initiation. Her grain is Wheat.
The God of the Blue Stones
Danaglas is also called the Serpent in the Well and the Flower King. He is the spirit of Spring, youth, and potency. His seed is the life-giving moisture of rain and rising springs. He also represents the human Divine Spirit, from his quality of pure innocence.
The Harvest Lord
Twr (Welsh for tower) is the Corn King. He is the spirit of Summer, a spirit of Light and Heat in its aspect of nourishing and energizing life. He is the son and lover of the Earth Mother. The Harvest Lord appears as a stag-headed man. His body is completely golden: skin, hair, eyes, and horns. His neck is wreathed with a garland of summer flowers and green leaves about the neck. His emblem is a golden sun.
The Winter King
Arddu (Old Welsh, "royal darkness") is the Dark Lord and King of the Dead. He is the spirit of winter and death. In Witchcraft, Death is called the Great Teacher, and so the Winter King, as the bringer of death, is the giver of wisdom and knowledge, the Guardian of the Mysteries.
The Horned King
Kernunnos, the horned one, the Celtic "Father of Animals" with his companion Stag and Boar is associated with Cernunnos, connected with fertility and wealth. Cernunnos is depicted as the "horned god, " with the antlers of a stag, most notably on the famous Gundestrup cauldron discovered in Denmark.
Standards of Conduct
We only have one rule of behavior: "Behave Yourself." We are not perfect. We are students and true seekers of the Old Religion - the Old Ways. The Welsh Faerie Folk subscribe to a life-affirming belief system. As biological or adopted descendants, we also subscribe to certain tenets.
Readings and Other References
Some of the below listed books can be obtained at http://www.amazon.com
The Quest by Rhuddlwm Gawr - Camelot Press - available from: http://www.iuniverse.com/bookstore/book_detail.asp?isbn=0595201245
The Mabinogion by Lady Charlotte Guest - Dover 0-486-29541-9
The White Goddess Robert Graves (Various)
A History of Witchcraft by Jeffrey Russell - Thames 0-500-01225-3
Elements of Herbalism by David Hoffman - Barnes 0-7607-0308-6
The Book of Crystal Healing by Liz Simpson - Sterling 0-8069-0417-8
Celtic Crystal Magick Vol 1 by Rhuddlwm Gawr - Camelot Press
The Way by Rhuddlwm Gawr - Camelot Press - available from: http://www.iuniverse.com/bookstore/book_detail.asp?isbn=059523125X
The Rebirth of Witchcraft by Doreen Valiente - Phoenix 0-919345-39 5
By Standing Stone and Elder Tree by William G. Gray - Llewellyn 0-87542-299-3
The Alex Sanders Lectures - Magickal 0-939708-05-1
Shamanism and the Mystery Lines by Paul Devereux - Llewellyn 0-87542-189-X
Tarot for Beginners by P.Scott Hollander - Llewellyn 1-56718-363-8
Crystal Magick Vol. II by Rhuddlwm Gawr
The Word by Rhuddlwm Gawr and others - Camelot - available from: http://www.iuniverse.com/bookstore/book_detail.asp?isbn=0595258085
The Book of Druidry by Ross Nicholls - Thorsons 1-85538-167-2
The Call of the Horned Piper by Nigel A. Jackson - Capall Bann 1-898307-09-1
Angels and Goddesses by Michael Howard - Capall Bann 1-898307-03-2
The Pickingill Papers by Michael Howard - Capall Bann 1-898307-10-5
The Sacred Ring by Michael Howard - Capall Bann 1-898307-28-8
The Innerspace Workbook by C Summers & J Vayne - Capall Bann 1-898307-13-X
Pathworking by Pete Jennings - Capall Bann 1-898307-00-8
In Search of Herne the Hunter by Eric Fitch - Capall Bann 1-898307-23-7
The Witches of OZ - by Matthew & Julia Phillips - Capall Bann 1-898307-18-0
Sacred Geometry by Nigel Pennick - Capall Bann 1-898307-15-6
Lines on the Landscape by Nigel Pennick - Hale
Practical Magic in the Northern Tradition by Nigel Pennick - Aquarian
The Way of the Shaman by Michael Harner - Bantam
Earth Magic - a Seasonal Guide by Margaret McArthur - Capall Bann 1-898307-01-6
Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries by WY Evans-Wentz - Colin Smythe
Pattern of the Past by Guy Underwood - Abacus