I’m at liberty to share this because I don’t live in the age of Queen Victoria, King James, or King Arthur. I’m not Orddu, ‘the Very Black Witch’, in her cave waiting for the knife to cut her in twain. I’m not Elizabeth Southerns, Anne Whittle, Isobel Gowdie, or Isabella Rigby. Nobody blinks an eyelid when I say I worship a god of Annwn and speak with otherworldly spirits and in this I am blessed.
Still, my path is a lonely one not many choose to walk. Annwn means ‘the Deep’, ‘the Otherworld’. In this age the reign of superficiality and normalism is stronger than the influence of any monarch. There’s an inner policing – not a hanging or burning at the stake, just dismissal, lack of interest, in the mystical, the magical, the mythic, when they’re not reduced to cosplay or methods of self-development.
Paganism and Druidry have been demystified and the mystical systems that exist (in Druidry) still hinge around Taliesin and Arthur, ‘heroes’ who slaughtered and oppressed the gods and ‘monsters’ of Annwn. I keep returning to these traditions like a restless horse pacing its box, like I’m picking a scab, each time find myself more deeply disappointed; an outsider, a black sheep amongst the white-robed herds.
Perhaps our deepest myths died when Taliesin and Arthur stole the cauldron from the Head of Annwn. Something big must have perished to leave the void, filled for 1500 years by Christianity, now filled instead by the new religion of the self, the selfie, everyone wanting to be a celebrity bard in the virtual otherworlds, in the god-sized holes in their heads, which no longer have room for real gods. I have only a dim intuition what that was. If it is contained in our existing texts, it’s very well concealed. Seeking it out feels important and I can’t do so whilst wrestling with wider disillusionments.
I’ve finally reached the point my box-walking is at an end. A knowing I’ll never feel at home in mainstream Paganism or in Druidry. That my dream of being part of a physical community who get together for devotions, to work with myths, to discuss how such work can change the world, is unlikely to happen. I’ve complained of my disappointments and voiced my criticisms for the last time.
Now for some affirmations: I am an awenydd. I walk an Annuvian path. I will make the most of this opportunity my spiritual ancestors such as Orddu never had. I will reclaim our deepest myths. I will learn to live by them.