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Awen

Pagan Blog Project 2013 — Week 1

A is for Awen

I first saw the word awen in high school, when I read Stephen R. Lawhead‘s fiction series, The Song of Albion. He defined it as “the breath of poetry; prophecy; inspiration” as a dying Druid gave his last breath, his awen, to the protagonist in a kind of sacred kiss. It was a beautiful, inspiring scene.

Emma Restall Orr‘s book, Ritual: A Guide to Life, Love, and Inspiration defines Awen this way:
Awen is a Welsh word poetically translated as ‘sacred inspiration’. Literally, it means ‘flowing spirit’ and it is the essence of life, the creative energy streaming through the currents and tides of living. It is the bubbling birthing water of the spring, the passion of love, the wild laughter of the wind. It has been interpreted as ‘poetic frenzy’; it is the energy that passes between artist and muse.
In Druidic perception, where the world is vital and vibrant with the energy and wisdom of the sacred, and textured, coloured, formed with the creativity of spirit, awen is understood to flow as the essence of spirit to spirit relationship… It is the electric charge of soul to soul recognition.”

For as long as I can remember, I have felt that electric charge of soul-recognition when I come in contact with nature and with people, even with archetypes. Even inanimate objects… leading me toward animism on my path. There is an aspect of love to this recognition, to these relationships. I am in love with life and the universe! The deep familiarity I feel when something in me reaches out to the spirits in everything is amazing and comforting. I feel belonging when every tree, mountain, animal, person, etc. feels like kin. And love is inspiring… exciting. My love for and interest in everything certainly ignites my artistic and poetic creativity.

I especially want to point out the “breath” and “flow” aspect of awen. It moves. It’s tidal. Back and forth. Symbiotic relationship. It inspires, we create. Give and accept, transform and return. Fan the flame, blow gently to ignite the fire.  Illumination that begets ecstasy! Ecstasy that lights up the world! We breathe with the plants, giving each other the right kind of air to nourish each other. Death and decay that feeds the soil that feeds new life. Dying stars that give us the heavy elements to form planets and our bodies. We are in intimate relationship with the cosmos. 🙂

The triune symbol of awen used by modern Druids suggests to me that this isn’t a dualistic process, but a communal one. What you give may not directly benefit you or your immediate neighbor, but it benefits someone, who will also be putting out benefit into the community, and some of that will touch you and/or your neighbor. When everyone gives goodness and love, we live in goodness and love. That is the kind of ecosystem I wish to help create… that is what being a good ancestor means to me… to be the change I wish to see in the world.

I chose Awen as my magical name over a decade ago. (I was drawn to Celtic culture and especially Welsh, even then.) When I chose another name to use online (Vady), I discovered later that it sounds very close to the Latin word that means the same thing — poet-prophet — vates (root of the Druidic ovates — See also: óðr.) Synchronicities abound in this ecstatic, charmed life full of love and connection. Oracular insights are a gift wrought of this relationship. Mythos is the poetic language you learn from it. Combine Mythos with Logos learned from logic and reason, balance them, and you generate wisdom. And then you have something very valuable to give back to the beloved world. But even just passing it along by inspiring others to love and kinship and connection with the world is a blessing.

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