Names of God: Part 2

The Degrees of Consciousness


Naf

Following on from Names of God: Part 1 I have chosen another one of Iolo’s Names of God, or degrees of consciousness as I like to think of them, that I believe is a natural development from Hen Ddihenydd and to which he gave the name “NAF” pronounced Nav.

Naf: The Former, The Creator

Definitions

In footnote 221:4 of the Barddas Naf is defined as The Former, The Creator. I am quite happy to accept this definition as it makes perfect sense to me as the natural development from Hen Ddihenydd. But lets see what Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru have to say about this word:

The GPC have very little information about this word giving the definition of Lord, Boss, Master, although it appears to have been in use from circa 1300 where a manuscript seems to use it in the context of “main sovereignty Ruling” and another uses it in the context of “God of God”.

As you can see GPC does not really add much to this definition but looking at the older use of the word, in particular the term God of God, I can see where Iolo may have been getting his ideas from for the use of this word in the context a Divine Name.

Metaphysical Understanding

The following is my attempt to develop a coherent metaphysical cosmology that helps me to put creation into some meaningful context and that allows me to gain some insight and meaning as to the reason for my existence. Obviously each person has to grapple with the philosophical existential questions in their own way in order to make some sense of existence that helps them live a full and exciting life. Therefore I offer these thoughts, using the structure offered in Barddas, as food for your own philosophical ponderings.

Whereas Hen Ddihenydd is infinite, formless and unknowable Naf is the first stage where our universe becomes bounded. What causes the unbounded, formless and infinite Hen Ddihenydd to create a part of itself is unknowable but I conceptualise the process as being similar to the process of swirls that you see in a body of moving water where the outer edge of the moving water forms a boundary with the slower moving water that surrounds it. The swirl is a part of the whole but yet it is separated by a boundry caused by movement. Many creation myth talk of God moving on the face of the waters which, in my mind, is an equivalent idea. This separation of itself into a bounded universe ‘floating’ within an unbounded existence is very similar to the idea of the Multiverse of M-Theory where membranes (unique, individual universes) float within a vast infinite Bulk, the nature of which is completely unknowable.

What is the nature of this bounded universe?

The first degree of consciousness was that of Hen Ddihenydd. Trying to conceptalise, and put into words, what kind of awareness, if any, an infinite and unbounded-consciousness could have of its own existence I decided to carry out a little thought experiment. I imagined what it would be like if I was all that existed, and that I existed in an infinite unbounded state. I came to the conclusion that it would be impossible to be consciously aware of my own existence as there would be nothing outside of myself that could enable me to conceptualise a state of ‘I’ and ‘Other’.

Extending this thought experiment by now enclosing my consciousness within a bounded universe it was clear to me that once there was a boundary it created the potential for awareness to develop. Although at this point this was still just a ‘potential’.

Naf represents a state of ‘Undifferentiated Consciousness-Existence’ bounded within our Universe but at this point it remains still and soundless, completely unaware of its own self and is completely unknowable. In effect Naf is a term used to represent the state of Undifferentiated Consciousness-Existence prior to the development of duality and the triadic nature of creation.

So we now have a part of the infinite separated from itself with a boundary caused by the movement of ‘Nothing (No-Thing) that is Something (Some-Thing). Does Iolo Morganwg have anything to say about this boundary?

The Circle of Ceugant

  • “The Circle of Ceugant, where there is only God” p184 Barddas

  • “Three things that are not capable of size or measure: Ceugant; duration; and God; because there can be no extremes to one or other of them – no beginning or end or middle to them.” p184 Barddas

  • “There are three circles of existence: the Circle of Ceugant, where there is nothing but God, of living or dead, and none but God can traverse it.” p159 Barddas

Thinking about the above quotes from The Barddas I understand that our Universe is bounded, yet infinite, therefore it would be impossible for us to traverse the boundary. This fits in perfectly with the Einsteinian idea of curved space-time, travel as we will, we can never reach the edge of the Universe, in fact we would eventually return to our starting point.

One more reference in The Barddas related to The Circle of Ceugant can be found in Footnote 175  which states the following:

“Cylch y Ceugant, translated by Ed. Williams, “the circle of infinity” and by M. Pictet, “le cercle de la region vide,” means literally, the circle of the enclosing circumference, that is, the perfect rim that bounds the entire space of existence.” p426 Barddas

Which I think is an excellent definition of what The Circle of Ceugant is!

As usual I have created a diagram to illustrate my understanding of this concept.

Ceugant

My next posting will be following the development of the Universal Conciousness as it develops an awareness of itself.

Names of God: Part One

Names of God: Part 1

The Degrees of Consciousness


Hen Ddihenydd

During my research of Iolo Morganwg’s masterpiece ‘The Barddas‘ I have become fascinated by his use of various ‘Names of God’. As I have discussed in a previous post, The Awen: An Exploration of Inspiration, I make a conscious effort to read between the lines of his great work and to see beyond the Unitarian Christian terminology. The following post, the first in a series discussing Iolo’s Names of God, is a quick summary of how I make sense of one of Iolo’s ‘Names of God’ within the context of my own metaphysical world view. I hope you find it interesting and, hopefully, inspiring.

As someone who follows a Celtic path, and in honour of the genius that was Iolo Morganwg, I have adopted his names of God, as found within the Barddas, to describe the degrees of consciousness that generate the metaphysical forces and processes that lead to the manifestation of the physical Universe. The first one I want to introduce you to is Hen Ddihenydd (pronounced Hen thihenith)

Hen Ddihenydd: The Unoriginated One

The Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru (GPC) gives a number of definitions for Hen Ddihenydd but I have chosen to define it as The Unoriginated One, the reasons for my choosing this title will be explored later in this post but, before I do so, lets look at how GPC define this term.

(yr) Hen Ddihenydd: the Ancient of Days, the Almighty.

It appears that Hen Ddihenydd is simply a term to describe ‘God’, but there is more mystery to be explored in this simple term. If one breaks the term down we have Hen, which means Old, Ancient. Simple enough, but what does the word dihenydd mean, according to GPC? They define it as follows:

[dien + ydd] death, loss or extinction of life; violent death; execution, death penalty, capital punishment, death sentence; (appointed) end, fate, doom, cause death, means of execution, ruin.

They go on to suggest the following:

condemned or sentenced to death, guilty of a capital crime, punishable by death, incurring the death penalty; doomed to destruction.

b very old, of great antiquity, ancient; existing before the world; in ones last days, at the end of life.

This appears, on the surface, to be quite a contradiction. How, or why, could the term for ‘The Almighty’ be linked to the word associated with death and destruction? and how do I make sense of this ‘Name of God, given in the Barddas.

Firstly I needed to turn to the work of Iolo to see how he describes this aspect of God:

“…It is from his nature that all things are derived, and from him is the beginning of everything, and in him is no beginning, for he can not but exist, and nothing can have a beginning without a beginner.” p191 Barddas

There are obvious links here to the GPC definition “existing before the world” but he does not give us any obvious clues as to how we can reconcile the other meanings for dihenydd, or does he?

Thinking about Hen Ddihenydd as being ‘that which from all things are derived’ and that of being the ‘beginner of beginning’ I begin to understand a little of what Iolo may have been trying to describe. ‘For he can not but exist’ says Iolo, thus I see Hen Ddihenydd as the ‘Unoriginated One‘ that from which all ‘Other’ has originated, that which has always been and will always be, the ‘Beginner of the Beginning’. Unbounded, infinite and beyond definition.

So where do I see the idea of death, loss, extinction of life etc. fitting in with this idea?

If the ‘Unoriginated One’ has always been; always will be, and the beginner of the beginning it is clear that, whatever ‘IT’ is, it is beyond understanding and must be outside of this created universe. An omnipotent and unbounded consciousness that is beyond any understanding and as such is incomprehensible to our limited consciousness. Such a force of pure being must, in order to create something other than itself, allow a separation of itself to create something separate to itself. It is my contention that this must be experienced as a form of death or extinction where part of the Infinite becomes Finite and dies unto itself. To birth a Universe it is necessary to execute Wholeness.

Is it possible to conceptualise anything meaningful about The Unoriginated One? I would conjecture that it is impossible to understand what Hen Ddihenydd is and as such it is meaningless to debate anything about it. Other than understanding that It was, It is, and It will always be, there is nothing about Hen Ddihenydd that can be known. The nearest idea that I have found within modern cosmology and science is the ideas explored in the ‘Incredible Bulk Theory’ where our three-dimensional universe is ‘floating’ within a four-dimensional space called The Bulk, summarised as follows:

  • The Bulk or Hyperspace, equivalent to The Void.
  • The Void is without sound or form. The Void is No-Thing yet it is Some-Thing.
  • It lies beyond the confines of space and time for the Void simply ‘IS’
  • It is unknowable, it exists out of time and space.
  • Within the Bulk floats individual Universes called membranes.
  • It is theorised that these Universes could touch and interact in some way but there is disagreement as to how this would occur or the effects that would ensue.
  • Our universe is from the Bulk but cannot experience the Bulk.

This particular aspect of M-Theory has some interesting parallels with my ideas regarding Hen Ddihenydd and are worthy of further study.

I’m a big believer in the old saying ‘A picture paints a thousand words’ and, in my opinion, the best way to visualise Hen Ddihenydd is as a blank page, albeit an infinite unbounded space, upon which the creation of our universe is drawn.

Hen Ddihenydd

Names of God Part 2 will explore Iolo’s use of the term ‘Naf’ (pronounced Nav) for next stage in the development of our Universe.

Names of God: Part 2

The Awen: An Exploration of Inspiration

Awen-Traditional

Preamble

The above image is one of the commonest symbols to be found to represent the Awen. The usual explanation for the source of this symbol is that this symbol evolved from the writings of Iolo Morganwg and can be found in his great work ‘The Barddas of Iolo Morganwg Vol. 1 & 2’, a collection of manuscripts surrounded by controversy.

Iolo Morganwg

Born the 10th March 1747 in Pen-onn, Glamorgan, Wales he lived a most interesting, some would say infamous, life until his death at the age of 79 on 18th December 1826

But research carried out by a Welsh scholar, Angela Grant, has brought to light the possibility that this symbol significantly predated Iolo conception of the Awen symbol. Angela Grant states the following:

I came across a manuscript in my researches that may have given Iolo the idea, his mind always being unable, under the influence of laudanum, to distinguish between what he found in manuscripts and what came from his own awen. That manuscript (now in the Bodleian Library in Oxford) describes how the historian Nennius, on being challenged by an English scholar that the Welsh had no alphabet of their own, produced for his challenger an alphabet that bears a considerable resemblance to Coelbren, though more complex. It also contains an awen symbol (joined at the top) as one of its letters. This does not represent an individual letter but the Latin word ‘ego’ is ascribed to it : ‘I am that I am …’

I will leave, for another day, the debate regarding Iolo’s manuscripts and how much of the content may have been genuinely sourced from ancient manuscripts and how much was from his own imagination, suffice it to say that I consider this infamous character to have been a man ahead of his time, a true polymath and genius, whose inspired writings have had a profound influence on the development of Welsh culture, Druidry and modern neo-paganism.

Before I explore what was written about the Awen and its symbol in ‘The Barddas’ I feel it is important to remind the reader that Iolo was a man of his time, and a well-known Unitarian and, as such, his writings are couched in Christian terminology. All I ask is that, if you decide to read his works, you take the time to see the sentiments and deeper meanings behind the text. If you approach ‘The Barddas’ with a spirit of openness and willingness to see beyond the Christian terminology you will be rewarded with a glimpse of the deep insights that Iolo had regarding the creation of our Universe.

Awen

We can begin our journey to understand Awen by considering how it has been variously defined.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Awen gives the following definition:

In the Welsh tradition, awen is the inspiration of the poet bards; or, in its personification, Awen is the inspirational muse of creative artists in general: the inspired individual (often a poet or a soothsayer) is described as an awenydd.

A very well researched article has been written by the British Druid Order BDO and is well worth reading where they write the following:

The feminine noun, Awen, has been variously translated as ‘inspiration’, ‘muse’, ‘genius’, or even ‘poetic frenzy’. According to a 19th century Welsh dictionary, the word itself is formed by combining the two words, aw, meaning ‘a fluid, a flowing’, and en, meaning ‘a living principle, a being, a spirit, essential’. So Awen may be rendered literally as ‘a fluid essence’, or ‘flowing spirit’. However, more recent dictionaries do not support this interpretation.

With regard to the suggestion that Awen was formed by combining aw and en Angela Grant has this to say:

 I could say, and be right in doing so, that the ‘flowing spirit’ idea was invented by a contemporary of Iolo’s, William Owen(-Pughe), who decided it came from two ancient words ‘aw’ and ‘en’, one meaning flow and the other spirit. Neither word, of course, ever existed in actuality.

The Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru defines Awen as:

a. Poetic inspiration, muse, poetic genius or gift,
b. Disposition, inclination, desire, will, enjoyment, joy, delight, zest, liking; inspiration, genius, ?mind

It can be seen from the above definitions and descriptions that Awen has a wide variety of meanings, from ‘poetic inspiration’ to ‘flowing spirit’. But Iolo, in the Barddas, develops an aspect of Awen that, he suggests, relates to the very creation of our Universe. This supports my use of the symbol in my previous post regarding the Triadic Nature of the Universe.

Iolo Morganwg’s words on the Awen

So, what does Iolo say regarding the Awen? let us examine a few of his preliminary words.

In a section titled ‘SYMBOL’ he does not specifically use the word ‘Awen’ but he does give the symbol he uses for Awen and a description of its meaning, he states the following:

When God pronounced his name, with the word sprang the light and the life; for previously there was no life except God Himself…  And Menw the Aged, son of Menwyd, beheld the springing of the light, and its form and appearance, not otherwise than thus, /|\, in three columns; and in the rays of light the vocalization–for one were the hearing and seeing, one unitedly the form and sound; and one unitedly with the form and the sound was life, and one unitedly with these three was power, which power was God the Father.

 

Later in this paragraph he goes on to write the following:

And it was on hearing the sound of the voice which had in it the kind of utterance of three notes, that he obtained the three letters, and knew the sign that was suitable to one and other of them. thus he made in form and sign the Name of God, after the semblance of rays of light…

How do we make sense of this?

The Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru (GPC) gives some suggestions for the meaning of Menw and Menwyd and, although I’m not a Welsh Language expert or Scholar, I have gained some insight and understanding from these suggestions which I offer for your contemplation.

GPC suggests that Menw is a re-formation of Menwyd and can mean; intellect, mind. But Menw is also related to Benw and Benyw (Menyw) which indicates female, girl, woman. This reinforces the use of the word Awen, which is a feminine noun, for the description of this symbol. It also gives the following additional meanings for Menwyd; good nature, disposition; joy, delight, pleasure.

Iolo appears to be stating that somehow ‘vibration’ was part of the initiatory process that lead to the creation of the universe. Although he does not limit this to sound but adds light to the sound which lead to the springing forth of form. But it is the third principle of Life which imbues, what I suggest is consciousness, Menw (Mind) into the form of the Universe. My personal take on this particular description given by Iolo is that the ‘Feminine’ principle was that which enabled the manifestation of the Universe in a material form, and that the material universe is the carrier or container of consciousness. This clearly links the symbol of Awen with the creative processes of creation and therefore it is quite understandable that Awen is defined as creativity, muse and inspiration. These ideas will be discussed in-depth in later blogs.

This has been a short excursion into the world of Iolo Morganwg and his elusive and complex style of writing. I intend to delve deeper into his works and demonstrate how his work can be integrated into a number of other fields such as the ‘Flower of Life’, ‘The Kabbalah’ and even modern cosmology!

I hope that this little introduction has demonstrated that there are deeper mysteries to be explored within this very simple symbol /|\ and I hope I’ve wetted your appetite enough that you will enjoy following my future posts.

My next blog post will be looking into the ‘Names of God’ as given in The Barddas, which I have renamed as ‘The Degrees of Consciousness’.