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.
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
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
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…
Where the Druids are concerned, hundreds of years of diverse academic and philosophical debate await the Seeker on their look back. It is now even more controversial to speak of the Pheryllt in neodruid circles – supposed rings of open minds that remain closed in reality…
JOSHUA FREE explains in the preface to the newly released volume: PHERYLLT.
For two decades a modern movement of neodruids
influenced by modern Pheryllt Druidism have become bystanders amidst the unbreakable schism. Alleged authorities on Druidry raise one hand screaming how these documents supporting an ancient Welsh Bardic Druid (and Pheryllt) tradition are a hoax, but with the other hand they borrow from these same sources for their own purposes.
It is by no surprise to many that I find myself tackling the venture of compiling a readable and accessible version of the Books of Pheryllt. My metaphysical and spiritual involvement in the modern New Age consists primarily in the cultural genres of Druidism and Mesopotamia. That being said, my presentation generally is in favor of ancient writings, often collected in the style of an infamous book that is notoriously considered pseudoepigrapha in the literary and underground communities.
These tomes in question are thought not to exist, or entirely the subject of fantasy or fiction. Those who are at all familiar with my historical presentation of the Mesopotamian tradition using the Necronomicon paradigm understand this. In spite of this, the Necronomicon Anunnaki Legacy (Silver Edition),currently available via the Mardukite Research Organization, is the only “version” of a ‘Necronomicon’ on the market today that even begins to meet the vast and fantastic descriptions lent to the book’s existence in the writings of H.P. Lovecraft.
The banner of the National Welsh Eisteddfodd continues to read to this day: Y GWIR YN ERBYN BYD, meaning: Truth Against The World. It is in this light that I have worked over the past twenty years in my modern Pheryllt Druidry and other efforts – both privately in practice and publicly in my literary contributions to the Spirit of the Times. In such, I take the matter of presenting the Books of Pheryllt quite seriously. They exist as a ‘body’ of much misunderstood literary work solidified from ancient oral traditions preserved by the Bardic Druids – bridging prehistory with modern times!
Many antiquated scholarly references to Books of Pheryllt and the Pheryllt themselves may be found by a diligent seeker – some of which are included or paraphrased within this very book. It is, however, Douglas Monroe‘s modern work that brings the Pheryllt to debate among the tables and councils of neodruid Orders. He has used the unpublished Books of Pheryllt in his writings as a paradigm to present a uniquely eclectic form of modern Druidry.
Douglas Monroe undertakes a remarkable feat spanning a trilogy of intensive writings, most famously his debut and bestselling 21 Lessons of Merlyn in 1992, in relaying the 3 memories of the Bard: the history, the poetry and the lineage of the tradition as survived by the hands of Bardic Druids. The authentic premise guiding the modern Pheryllt Druid tradition is the remaining works that do exist from the Welsh MS. Society and the continuing efforts of the National Welsh Eisteddfodd in preserving the Bardic tradition…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
…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.
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)…