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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).