“Remember who you are.”
I am an awenydd of Annwn.
I am a keeper of an ancient monastery
(yes this monastery is ancient although
its builders only built it yesterday).
Likewise I am born from the Deep.
I am forged in Annwn’s fires.
I am the creation of a myriad creatures
who continue to live within me,
I am born of the Dragon-Headed Mother.
The nine elements swirl within me.
I live by the rule of awen*.
My destiny lies before me.
This poem was born from a time of crisis and struggle as I have suffered from poor mental health as a result of working a late shift as I find it very difficult to cope with changes in routine and sleeping pattern as an autistic person.
Following the realisation I can’t make a living from my vocation as an awenydd, for the last three years I have poured most of my energy into pursuing a career that is in alignment with my spiritual values. I’ve volunteered my way into paid work in conservation, completed a year-long conservation traineeship, and gained a permanent job as an ecologist.
There is a lot to like about ecology. There is much to learn. I get to visit varied sites. There is an art to getting the best deal for people and nature. But the job is also high pressure and, in many consultancies, (thankfully not mine) there is a complete disregard for mental health with junior ecologists working several nights a week and being expected to keep up with day work
I have been lucky to gain work with a team who are not only friendly and professional but aware of and supportive around mental health problems and have allowed me to cut down nights and take time out for counselling.
Over the period I have been developing my career I have had less time for my spiritual vocation and, it’s sad to say, have only fallen back on it at a time of crisis, when my work alone has not been enough to pull me through.
Having realised that my difficulties with night work will mean I cannot become a good all round ecologist (I will not be able to get my great crested newt and bat licences and will be limited to developing my abilities with habitat and vegetation surveys and protected species I can survey by day) I’ve been questioning if this is the right career path and assessing where my talents lie.
“Remember who you are,” I have heard the voice of my God, Gwyn, on a few occasions, reminding me of my vow to Him, to serve as His awenydd.
This has led to the realisation that I’ve been living an unbalanced life. Devoting too much time to Thisworld and not enough to Annwn, the Deep.
This doesn’t mean that I’ve made a poor choice of job, but outside it, whereas I was spending all my free time reading ecology books and articles, trying to record and memorise plants, and carrying out extra surveys, I need to make room for the soul-world.
From this has been born the Monastery of Annwn as a sanctuary to retreat to; where the Gods and the Deep are revered and honoured and put first; as a place that provides the strength to return to Thisworld and pursue one’s awen/destiny**.
*The phrase ‘the rule of awen’ is not my own but is one of the principles of the Gnostic Celtic Church which resonates deeply with me.
**In Medieval Welsh poetry ‘awen’ means not only inspiration but destiny.