Awen Defined

Just as our desire to know the truth is ever elusive, so is the meaning of the word Awen. Attributed to Welsh, Cornish and Breton languages, seeking a single, concise meaning, will result in a most precarious trip down one of Alice’s infamous rabbit holes.

From phrases such as “artistic inspiration” and “inspirational muse”, to the translated description in The Book of Taliesin as “the three elements of inspiration that came, splendid, out of the cauldron”. The Neo-Druid symbol of Awen adopted here, and supposedly invented by Edward Williams, better known by his bardic name Iolo Morganwg, contains three straight lines symbolizing such a trinity.

But the definition of this trinity, like beauty, seems to be in the history of the beholder, as the three lines of the trinity are variously referred to as:

earth, sea and air
body, mind and spirit
love, wisdom and truth

It has also been said that the three foundations of Awen are:

the understanding of truth
the love of truth
the maintaining of truth

And it is from this final meaning that the Awen symbol was adopted to signify Fabricating the Truth. Recognizing the oft times ambiguous nature of truth, as well as our difficulty in crafting a universally truthful narrative, we maintain a solemn commitment to do our best with the raw material at hand.

Awen Symbol

Iolo Morganwg’s Awen Symbol

If you’re game for yet another rabbit hole, do a bit of research on the Three Circles of Existence – Abred, Gwynvid and Ceugant – something we don’t have the time, nor the inclination, to pursue, but you may enjoy delving into obscure, pagan crevices of Neo-Druid history.

Truth Defined

Has there ever been anything more desired, and yet elusive, as the truth? From the moment humans (it’s not an easy thing to define) began to think (no one is certain as to when that happened) we have been on a quest to discover the truth. You might even call it internal storytelling for survival.

You see, long before actual human-to-human communication occurred (which may have involved incoherent grunting and the furious waving of hands) our ancient ancestors had to discern the truth, within their own mind. Were those glowing eyes behind the bush a hoofed animal (their dinner) or a saber toothed tiger (they’re dinner), and in either case, what was the best course of action to take?

Storyteller Illustration by Bette Brodsky

Illustration by Bette Brodsky

It’s safe to say that evolution played a part in this game of “who are you, how do I react”, as those who guessed wrong were soon eaten by hungry carnivores, while those who guessed right had the honor of bragging about their brave kill, or their hasty retreat back to the cave. I would imagine that this scene, repeated on a daily basis, led to the previously mentioned grunting and hand waving as a way to teach survival skills.

It would be logical to assume that in the nearly 2 million years since the advent of Homo Erectus the issue of truth would be behind us – that we would do our utmost to ensure that every word spoken was true. And while much progress has been made on this front – falling off the edge of the earth is no longer something we (most of us) worry about – we seem to be losing ground in other respects, such as our current exploits with political discourse.

Medieval Storyteller by Bjørn Rune Lie

Illustration by Bjørn Rune Lie

Turns out, modern humans are still subject to the whims of our personal opinions, viewpoints, and perspectives, not to mention the ways in which we, conjecture, speculate and assume when deciding what to say. So our brains are, sad to say, constantly inventing (fabricating) our very own, misguided version of the truth.

This is an important aspect of the storytelling process. While you are intent on creating a story which imparts truth to your audience, remember that it’s only your truth, and your words will be absorbed (and filtered) based on the beliefs and experiences of each listener.