The first half of 2022, for me, was characterised by a disappointing departure from a career in the environmental sector. This was because I couldn’t meet the demands of higher than trainee level jobs due to a lack of people and project management skills and struggles with irregular routine, travel, night work, multi tasking and working under high pressure due to my autism.
This left me burnt out and not so much depressed but facing a depressing reality. In spite of being academically intelligent I will always be restricted to menial day jobs. When I first got my autism diagnosis I was told it would mean I could ask for ‘reasonable adjustments’ in the workplace. However, this did not mean I would be able to stay in jobs where I did not meet all the criteria.
On the upside, my career failures led me back to my spiritual vocation as an awenydd dedicated to Gwyn ap Nudd and what I am really here to do. To where my true passion and abilities lie in my creativity as a writer and poet and journeyer of the deeper realities of thisworld and the otherworld of Annwn.
Whilst I was struggling in my ecology job I was led back by Gwyn to a writing project I began in the first lockdown in which I drafted a book called The Dragon’s Tongue, a Brythonic origins myth, drawing on other Indo-European parallels.
I’d given it up partly because the plot was incoherent and partly because a part of me didn’t want to retell our dragon and giant slaying myths, how the culture Gods have come to dominate the Gods of nature and of Annwn, even though my work was exposing the violence and hegemony by writing the otherside.
What good could come of picking at and opening old wounds when, instead, I could be out on the land, healing the earth by re-wetting and growing and planting?
These questions have remained in my mind as I have been recalled to my mythic project which is manifesting as a three part series of novel length called The Forgotten Gods. The first book, which I am currently focusing on, is called In the Deep. It is a dark and violent book. It begins in Annwn with the slaying of the Dragon Mother, Anrhuna, and the tearing of her children, Vindos and Kraideti*, from the womb by Lugus, one of the Children of Don. Kraideti is taken to the stars and Vindos is flung into the Abyss. The book focuses on His crawling out to win the kingship of Annwn, to find His lost sister and to defend His realm against and to take vengeance on his enemies.
There’s a lot of violence, there’s a lot of descent, but there is also transformation and healing for Vindos succeeds in building from the bones of dead dragons the beautiful kingdom of Annwn we know in our myths today and transforming the sorrows of the dead, who He rules over, into joy at His feast.
Kraideti has a role, with Anrhuna’s dragon children, in the creation of the world and bringing of life and discovers Her power as a Goddess of seasonal sovereignty.
I don’t know why I’ve been given these stories to work with only that I have to. Perhaps there is a process of mythic and/or psychic healing taking place or perhaps the Gods have got me writing them for their own undecipherable reasons.
I have learnt to accept that inspiration does not come with an explanation.
Philosophical ponderings aside, on a practical level, I completed my first full draft of In the Deep before my winter solstice deadline at 127,000 words and 317 pages. It is mainly prose, with interspersed poetry, and of novel length. The core plot works. It has found its form. I am now working on the second draft, expanding and developing sub plots, characters and depictions of the worlds.
Another way in which I have been fulfilling my spiritual vocation is ‘building the Monastery of Annwn’ as ‘a virtual space and place of the sanctuary for those who worship and serve the Gods and Goddesses of Annwn’. This task was assigned to me by Gwyn in April and, since then, I have set up a website and opened the monastery to members. We have formulated ‘the Rule of the Heart’ and ‘Our Nine Vows’. Four of us took the vows in October and are living as monastic devotees of Annwn. We have also started running a monthly meditation group focusing on reading Brythonic texts in a lectio divina style. Beginning with ‘The Conversation of Gwyn ap Nudd and Gwyddno Garanhir’ we have had an excellent introductory talk by translator, Greg Hill, and participants have experienced powerful and insightful meditations.
In terms of outdoor work my departure from an environmental career and commitment to monasticism has led me back to taking better care of our garden and of my local greenspace, Greencroft Valley, where I’m hoping to team up with a newly formed group called ‘Guardians of Nature’ based on the Alderfield allotment to further develop the wildflower meadow and run some local history and plant and tree identification and folklore walks.
In my spiritual practices and writing and work for the monastery I am fulfilled. I am doing what I am really here to do. And I am able to do it because I’m living off savings from my environmental work, live with my parents and receive board and food in exchange for housework and gardening, and receive a very small income from patreon supporters and from book sales.
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*These are ancient British names for Gwyn ap Nudd and Creiddylad. Whilst Vindos is partially attested Kraideti is partly reconstructed, partly made up.