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Uncovering the Pheryllt: First Systematizers of the Celts & Welsh Celtic Druidism with Joshua Free

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In ancient Keltia, the Druid Order consisted of learned men, those educated in Bardic Arts: cosmology, native history, legendary history of heroes and spirituality, penal laws and punishments, geography, healing, botanical medicine, astronomy, astrology and magic…
–Joshua Free explains in the preface to Pheryllt.

It is no wonder the Bardd is viewed as transmitter or catalyst of awen, the essence, divine spark or spirit of inspiration that the Greeks termed gnosis. It is to the ‘ebb and flow’ of the ‘awen field‘ that the poetic genius of Bards is attributed.

PHERYLLT_pb_cvr_frontcrop Diverse facets of knowledge, from practical magic, to the Bardic Arts, to Celtic history or even philosophies assimilated from cultures that Druids encountered throughout Europe, all appear in Douglas Monroe‘s works under the premise of being referenced from the Book of Pheryllt – or more accurately the Books of Fferyllt, a collective body of knowledge (what is literally called the Body of the Dragon in his preface to the 21 Lessons of Merlyn).

Following the lead of Monroe‘s citations, other cycles of Welsh material are also incorporated into the Book of Pheryllt, namely the Cad Goddeu (or Battle of the Trees) and the Gorchan of Maeldrew and both are contained in Volume I of the Books of Pheryllt. The three do not overlap or necessarily pertain to practical methodology in the sense the Seeker is left with when examining the “grimoire” portions of Douglas Monroe’s Lost Books of Merlyn. The “cantos” depicted on page 252 from that text are actually derived from a cycle of Norse mythology titled: Fridthjof’s Saga.

“The Druids believed in books more ancient than the flood. They styled them the ‘Books of Pheryllt’ and the writings of Hu.”
– Ignatius Donnelly, ‘Atlantis’

“Oxford is old, even in England… its foundations date from Alfred, and even from Arthur, if, as is alleged, the Pheryllt of the Druids had a seminary there.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson, English Traits

An_Arch_Druid_in_His_Judicial_Habit According to Douglas Monroe a manuscript known as the ‘Book of Pheryllt‘ from the 16th century collection is attributed to a modern antiquarian Bard: Llywelyn Sion of Glamorgan, Wales. It is purportedly moved from the library of Owen Morgan “Morian” to the private collection of the Albion Lodge of the United Ancient Order of Druids of Oxford before coming into Monroe’s possession. Barddas, also by Llywelyn Sion, strongly influenced work of Douglas Monroe, neodruidism and the National Welsh Eisteddfod. In addition to Monroe‘s work, Barddas is highly recommended as a companion to the Pheryllt.

It became rapidly clear that to give the ‘Body of the Dragon’ its true justice, given the many diverse subjects and scattered references from Douglas Monroe’s trilogy and the mysterious manner which Bards conceal knowledge, that my facsimile of the Pheryllt material required more than one volume to be complete.

— Joshua Free

PHERYLLT_pb_cvr_frontcrop ADDITIONAL EDITOR’S NOTES: The reader will quickly find that much of the herbal lore, formulas and Ogham knowledge is held back from the first volume in order to establish proper roots of doctrine and tradition. As a debut volume it was important for it to carry integrity of authentic Welsh Bardism; not simply one more ‘book of shadows‘ on the market overrun by incense blends and notes for self-guided visualizations. How long it will take to bring this venture to its completion is another matter altogether. It has already taken years to muster the spiritual courage and mental fortitude to even consider such a feat, even though I am well versed in Douglas Monroe‘s specific brand of Druidry and have written extensively on the topic in previous books

“–Ac yna yr ordeinodd hi drwy gelfyddydd llyfrau Pheryllt I ferwi pair o Awen.”

“–So she (Ceridwen) took to the crafts of the Book of Pheryllt to boil a cauldron of Awen.”

– from the ‘Hanes Taliesen’, Peniarth MS

We have been given little in classical literature or even antiquarian druidism to satisfy hunger for Pheryllt (pronounced FAIR-ee-llt or VAIR-ult) research, and even less to support an in-depth critique of their founder, a figure named Pharaon (FAR-ah-on), and translated by some scholars to mean ‘higher powers‘. Perhaps it is ‘Druid Craft’ to call down ‘higher powers’ to conjure inspiration and magic – perhaps that is what Ceridwen is doing in the famous reference above. In either case, it has spawned an entire branch of modern druid methodology and a natural universalist philosophy even if only in spirit…

BARDDAS – Druid Iolo Morganwg & The Welsh Druidic Legacy with Joshua Free

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It is interesting that many modern druid orders thrash the BARDDAS while simultaneously adopting many of its teachings, even if inadvertently. The Sign of Awen frequently used to distinguish Druidry as well as the lore of the Druid’s Cabala (and it’s terminology) mainly originate with the “Barddas.” The Coelbren of the Bards, the Alban calendar and hundreds of triad teachings are also translated from this work for contemporary use.

druidcomptinythumb Originally published as the “Barddas of Iolo Morganwg: A Collection of Original Documents, Illustrative of Theology, Wisdom and the Usages of the Bardo-Druidic System of the Isle of Britain.” It first appeared in 1862, edited by J. William ab Iithel and presented as a translation of an earlier Welsh manuscript penned by Llewellyn Sion, a Bard of Glamorgan. This claim is still under dispute.

THE BARDDAS is perhaps the most controversial facet appearing in neodruidism as are all of the revival traditions that stemmed from it. Regardless, it is a unique and impressive work.

d0ee2_brooch_designs_51coYn7iEWL One of the most commonly reprinted excerpts from the BARDDAS appears in hundreds of traditions in various versions and translations as the “Gorsedd Prayer” or “Druid’s Prayer”.

Several versions are examined here for the benefit of the seeker.

Version One: The Prayer of Gwyddonaid
[Book of Margam]

God impart thy strength;
And in strength, the power to suffer;
And to suffer for the Truth;
And in the Truth, all light;
And in all Light, all Gwynedd;
And in Gwynedd, love;
And in love, God;
And in God, all goodness.

Version Two: The Gorsedd Prayer
[Book of Trahaiarn]

Grant, God, thy protection,
And in protection, reason;
And in reason, light;
And in light, Truth;
And in Truth, justice;
And in justice, love;
And in love, the love of God;
And in that love of God, all Gwynedd,

God and all goodness.

Version Three: Gorsedd Prayer
[common Welsh version]


Dyro Dduw dy nawdd;
Ag yn nawdd, nerth;
Ag yn nerth, deall;
Ag yn neall, gwybod;
Ac yngwybod, gwybod y cyflawn;
Ag yngwybod y cyflawn, ei garu;
Ag of garu, caru pob hanfod;
Ag ymhod hanfod, caru Duw,
Duw a phob daioni.

Version Four: Gorsedd Prayer
[common version translated]

Grant, O God, thy protection;
And in protection, strength;
And in strength, understanding;
And in understanding, knowledge;
And in knowledge, the knowledge of justice;
And in the knowledge of justice, the love of it;
And in that love, the love of all existences;
And in the love of all existences, the love of
God, God and all goodness.

Another example of philosophy relayed in the BARDDAS is that humans are composed from eight elements, facets or dimensions illustrated in the following verse:

From the Earth, the flesh;
From the water, the blood;
From the air, the breath;
From the calas, the bones;
From the salt, the feeling;
From the Sun, the fire of his agitation;
From the Truth, his understanding (knowledge)
From the Awen, his spirit, soul or life.

This blog is an authorized excerpt originally appearing in the “The Great Magickal Arcanum” (2008) by Joshua Free, reprinted within “Arcanum” Second Edition (2012).

Ancient Druidism, History of Modern NeoDruids, Celtic and non-Celtic Revivals with Joshua Free

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The Druids were historically a learned group of men and women made popular during the “ancient” Celtic times. They formed their own communities in Keltia, what we more commonly know as Ireland, Britain and Gaul (now France). Their counsel and wisdom was sought out by many different groups of people and societies, particularly when some mediation was required.

druidcomptinythumb With much unhappiness I can easily say that the majority of the public texts involving the ancient Druids was documented or based on documents of the ancient Romans, who were notoriously the archenemy of the Druids. With this in mind, there is not much we can take for granted (or at the very least, unbiased) from these Roman accounts. After all, if we were responsible for preserving the memory of our enemies, how might we go about coloring this with our attitudes?

It is well known that the Druids held the Oak Tree as sacred, as well as the herb referred to as “mistletoe.” Both herbs make frequent appearances in Druidic rituals. It has become fairly well propagated knowledge, as well, that human sacrifices played some prominent role in their tradition as well. With the coming of Christianity, Druidism faced its final days with the ‘fall of the elves’ and the donation of the Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine to the establishment of the “Vatican” Catholic Church. The ‘End of Days’ for the Druids appeared to have come about in the sixth century, when it disappeared for a time…

BOEF2ndNewCvrthumb2 …but here we are now in the 20th century, going into the 21st [We are, of course, now in the 21st century at the time of printing. -Ed.] Druidism and neopaganism has begun to once again play a significant role in modern culture. It appears to have made a reappearance in the public’s eye sometime in the 1400’s and 1500’s, when Druidism was being studied by medieval historians and the first ‘books’ were written on the topic (post-Romana) explaining what was found from these studies. Lost manuscripts were being discovered in obscure places and many ancient writings were being deciphered by ‘antiquarians’.

In the 1600’s and 1700’s, colleges and universities in Europe were beginning to study this revived interest in the Druids more academically. Lost books containing ceremonies and rituals in varying European languages became the subject of interpretation among people from all walks of life. By the late 1800’s and beginning of the 1900’s, the word was spreading quickly about the revivalist traditions and systems of Druidry – and looking back we can see the period where the majority of what we academically learned about the Druids became solidified in public consciousness was during this time. What had begun as the uncovering of a myth was developing into a historical natural living religion.

Druidryfrontcrop English, Welsh and Irish nationalist founded a new order of Druids for modern times, calling themselves the “Ancient Order of Druids.” They set our to revive their own practical interpretation of the ancient Druid tradition – even reclaiming Stonehenge in the name of the Druids and observing public ceremonies there as often as possible. Soon after, because of tourism, Stonehenge began to show increasing signs of damage and the landowners decided to begin charging an entrance fee in order to offset maintenance costs. When the AOD showed up and refuse to pay, they were arrested accordingly for misconduct.

In the 1930’s the name of the revival changed to the “Ancient Order of Druid Hermeticists” – a membership that was composed of ex-AOD members by eighty percent. The AODH devised their own newsletter magazine titled Pendragon. By 1955 only one of the original five chapters of the AODH still existed – they even claimed to be the sole survivors practicing of the original Ancient Order of Druids (AOD)…

The Elven Druid Way, Faerie Genesis, Ancient Eurasia – revealed by Joshua Free

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BOEF2ndNewCvrthumb2 The bloodlines of the “Elven-Ffayrie” are prehistoric in origin and relate back to beings that the Sumerians called the Anunnaki. Some readers who will fall upon these pages are going to be undoubtedly shocked by the terminology used and the seriousness by which this is all executed, or else believe it all to be an elaborate joke. The legacy and lore of the same, however, serves not only to compliment existing historical and anthropological data but also satisfactorily seeks resolve to the unanswered questions about the origins of humanity, the development of culture and perhaps also the human role in the universe.

What makes this lore and legacy “occult” or “esoteric” is the fact that it remains hidden from the public mainstream, though hidden in plain sight – yet ever in the shadows. It is this process of bringing that which is hidden into the “light” that mystics have resulted in sometimes calling “enlightenment” (and perhaps too literally so). Humans would seem to have lost a feeling or a memory that perhaps was at one time “second nature” or “innate,” linking their blood to the Earth Ways. Or, perhaps humans have not simply forgotten but chosen, albeit subconsciously conditioned to choose by society, to ignore this inner calling, to deny it to the point where it is no longer heard and to think about it is to be “insane.”

druidcomptinythumb As has been repeatedly sought to be overcome in the presentation of this book, the “Elves” themselves do not record their history and lore in the same way that humans do. Much like the beliefs of the Druids (Drwyds) to follow them, there would appear to be an innate or perhaps cultural taboo or ban on putting to writing that which was considered sacred, meaning the “light things” or “bright things,” including history and mystical lore. The Druidic belief followed that if one was no longer responsible to commit things to memory, then the genetic memory that was held so important to these folk (also led by an “oral tradition”) might become tainted or recessive and ultimately forgotten…

Cultural and regional semantics is all that has separated the ancient stream as it evolved through time. The spread of the bloodlines, infiltration and development of diverse nations and languages has all led to the further fragmentation of the base system. Moving away from the Egypto-Babylonian “Ancient Near East” paradigm, the “Light Folk” are described elsewhere in Western Europe typically as being either of the Sidhe (High Elves) or Sylvan (Wood Elves) varieties. These beings maintain a lore that expresses themselves as the “firstborn” of Europe and also being direct descendants of the Anunnaki of E.DIN (in Mesopotamia). To many who are unfamiliar with the duplication practices of the Anunnaki, this is a somewhat misleading statement because Anunnaki lore would suggest that these “Elves” are indeed a part of the “Eden Experiment,” but they too, in all of their antiquity, are not actually the “first generation” of humans (referred to on Mesopotamian tablets as the “Adamu”), but are instead the “ninth race” (the term given to me is “race” but might refer to the “generation”) and described as seemingly hybridized earth-born “half-gods.”

lapis lazuli cloak 2 A popular example of a particularly “Anunnaki Elven-Faerie frame-work” has become almost a household concept over the last decade as a result of the motion picture masterpieces derived from the work of J.R.R. Tolkein. While some are very quick to disregard concepts and messages relayed through fiction, Tolkein actually did considerable research into Norse-Germanic mythologies in addition to ancient languages for his work. In his version, the “Elves” are also considered the “first-born” race of “Middle Earth” and he translates their name as a link to their genetic “star” ancestry to mean the “Children of Eru.” The Celtic versions depicts the same as the “Children of D’Anu.” The word “Eru” is “Elvish” with a meaning related to “Anu” in the human tongue. The language that Tolkein dubbed “Quenya” for his fictional epic possesses a resemblance to ancient Egypto-Mesopotamian languages, those that seem embedded in the mysticism of the Necronomicon paradigm. In the Elven Way, “Anu” or “Eru” is a name given to the Creative Force or Source of All Being and Creation – essentially “God” in the most supreme or pro-genitive sense. Some Mesopotamian traditions, “Eru” or “Erua” is the name given to Sarpanit, the “hybridized-Elvish” wife of Marduk.

The “Elven Histories” are heavily based on Sumerian lore of ancient, otherwise prehistoric, Anunnaki-governed Mesopotamia (perhaps from a time before the Flood). It makes allusions to a time before “humans,” something that their loremasters insist is correctly interpreted. This memory does not, however, attempt to reconstruct fantastic stories by which to explain natural forces or even the cosmic genesis of the solar-system. For this knowledge is not maintained in memory by direct experience but was instead taught to them by the “stars.”

Joshua Free reveals Pheryllt Tradition, Magick, Legacy of Dragon Kings in Draconomicon

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Draconomiconfrontthumb The ‘elements’ of the Druidic Tradition are far and beyond the simple spells and sorceries found through-out the last few thousand years – particularly since the ‘Dark Ages’ inflicted upon mankind by the Church. More than the commonly revived aspects of the past that have been reconstructed in this supposed ‘New Age’ based on what can serve our modern needs best, the wisdom of the Druids lingers on, ever-present to-day as it was thousands of years ago, to remind us of where we came from and what can best hope to carry forth to the future. The wisdom is simple – so simple that it has been lost on the ears of minds of countless generations since the public eradication of its carriers, forcing the knowledge (and those who could bare it) underground and fragmenting it forever. Now at the dawn of a ‘new era’ – a new ‘paradigm-shift’ in consciousness, it seems clearer now more than ever, that this unifying wholeness should remain the focus.

The subject of the dragon has appeared in and above the entire corpus draconium or ‘Body of the Dragon’, which is to say not only the “universe” and the material existence that we face everyday, but also the energetic currents of the “microcosmic” levels of the same reality, that human minds have ever fragmented into ‘separate’ factions; whether they be spiritual, religious, cosmological, bio-scientific or completely enshrouded in occult esoterica.

Inseparable from all of this – is the dragon.

Draconomiconfrontthumb The vision for a Draconomicon first emerged in 1995, when I was working with a group in Minneapolis known as the Mystics of the Earth (MOTE) but was not actually realized into existence until the following year when I (and the leadership of said group) moved to the Colorado Rocky Mountains, continuing the vision in the form of the Draconis Celtic Lodge of Druids (DCLOD). The new group was in part rooted in Pheryllt Dragon-Druidry (emphasized in the works of Douglas Monroe) as well as the Babylo-Sumerian paradigm put forth by “Simon’s” Necronomicon.

The Draconomicon released in 1996 (subtitled: Sanguis Draconis) was more like a fanciful “pamphlet” than an actual “book.” It summarized a very general background to “dragon lore” as well as the connections it has to both the ancient “Mesopotamian” worldview in addition to the more recent and “Druidic” paradigms that emerged seemingly from nowhere in places all over the globe, far and removed from the earlier and most ancient source tradition in Babylonia – one which went on to influence the Jews, Christians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Indians, Asiatic and American regions.

A far-sweeping influence concerning an ancient primordial and primeval dragon legacy cannot be dismissed. It is found at the core and heart of virtually every ancient pantheon, spirituality and belief system – regardless of how clearly or self-honestly it is met with by its seeker. The demonization of the dragon is something that the “Western World” has become all too familiar with as a result of polarized or dualistic doctrines of “good” versus “evil” that have become paramount to the existence of the more popular systems (Judeo-Christian, Zoroastrian, Islamic, etc.) operated in the current age.

Whether cosmological, used in the explanation of the “natural” phenomenon of the universe; or biological, illustrating the serpent-coil of genetic memory wound up in each of us; or esoteric, representative of the occult and underground mysteries that have ever been shielded from the eyes of men – the dragon and its call ring out loudly to those who would seek to understand the truth against the world and a self-honest participation with reality.

Draconomiconfrontthumb The newer, expanded and greatly improved version of the Draconomicon included within the present anthology is beyond what we might have thought to consolidate so concisely and simply for folk in the mid-1990’s, during a time when the occult age was overloaded with materials that composed Books of Shadows and Wiccan Spellbooks – the less “colorful” material from antiquity was mostly dismissed until the recent millennium when people began to look into the ancient religions and spiritual traditions of Mesopotamia and the “idea” that ancient aliens compose the originating pantheons of such “Sky God” traditions.

DRACONOMICON – as a title – can be translated in a variety of ways; drawing from the same semantic controversy the work known as the Necronomicon has. In some ways, an amateur might pass it off as simply a “Book of Dragons” (or Book of the Dragon), yet we have read and seen arguments of the semantics of “names,” meaning Book of Dragon Names (or Names of the Dragon). Further still there is the most distinctive “rites and laws” orientation – all of which will still beg the question of what we even mean when we refer to the dragon altogether!

Joshua Free launches NEW website, Merlyn’s School of Magick & Druidry

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GREETINGS & WELCOME !!!

I have spent the better part of two decades bringing The Druid Compleat to ‘completion‘. The text of this anthology is compiled from three (technically five) different volumes of material that I have personally put forth as: Druidry, the Draconomicon and Book of Elven-Faerie. Combined, they compose nothing short of A Complete Course Curriculum in Druidry!

druidcomptinythumb Never would I have imagined that the magnum opus of my work with Druidry in this life took so relatively ‘long’ to put forth – but perhaps I should not be as surprised, for the mysteries of the Druid are not simply ‘learned’, but ‘lived’ and ‘experienced’. The lessons are never truly ‘over’, and the path of the seeker goes on following a continuous flow – moving closer and closer to the oneness and unifying wholeness that is the very beauty and harmony reflected in Nature, in all of its existences, manifestations and expressions throughout the universe.

The task of relaying the wisdom and teachings of Druidry is not something I take lightly; for though my explorations into Mesopotamia, the Anunnaki and other facets of ‘magick’ and ‘occultism’ may have earned me (or my name) the most recognition, it is Druidry – or at least my ‘Druidry’ – that I consider the height of what the modern ‘New Age’ has had to offer in and among a host of varying revivals from all cultures and pantheons come and gone – and even a few constructed within the last centuries that have been given life by a host of followers and would-be cult members.

The main tenet of this Druid School is based on the notebooks kept from 1996 until 2002 in the “Merlyn Stone” archives. Even at that time, the more ‘public’ interest in my work was not ‘Druidic’ – being the Sorcerer’s Handbook of Merlyn Stone, though that work had also been the result of notebooks kept by a quasi-Druidic group in the mid-1990’s.

Draconomiconfrontthumb In 1995, my work was mainly focused on the ‘Dragon’, hence the Draconomicon notebooks being kept at that time for the ‘Mystics of the Earth’ in Minnesota and the ‘Draconic Celtic Lodge of Druids‘ in Colorado. The later Sorcerer’s Handbook and further works of “Merlyn Stone” were all tied to another Colorado based organization the ‘Elven Fellowship Circle of Magick‘ (hence the origins of the Book of Elven-Faerie as well; and so we come full circle). These ‘Druidry’ notebooks were later fragmented and then, for the most part, unreleased.

Combined, the Druidic Legacy presented in the current volume is perhaps one of the most complete synthesis available to the modern seeker who has few solid avenues to turn to for contemporary apprenticeship in the 21st century. The work I have done has been held in such high regard, however, that it has earned the recognition of some very esteemed colleagues in this genre, affording me even to offer an interlogue for the third book by legendary neo-druidic author, Douglas Monroe, Deepteachings of Merlyn (released Autumn Equinox, 2011).

BOEF2ndNewCvrthumb2 Druidry, in essence, is the ‘craft of the wise’ as observed under the semantics and language of a certain culture, geography, time in history and class of human. What it represents in the depths of all of its history, mysticism, enchantments and lore is, yes, even more of such things, but in an unending spiral into a greater and more complete understanding of Nature and the universe – as well as our place within it.

ENJOY THE LEGACY !!!

Nabu “Merlyn” Joshua Free