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