Ancient Wisdom of Wales Series

As Old as Time . . .

By E. A. Holmes

Change is of the essence of this universe of ours: "There is no unchanging thing save change," declared Gautama Buddha, and ancient tradition has it that the universe as a whole is "a boundless plane; periodically the playground of numberless Universes incessantly manifesting and disappearing." (H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine 1:16.) Of course we are talking in terms of aeons of time. "For a thousand ages in Thy sight are but as yesterday . . . and as a watch in the night," sings the Psalmist (90:4), and since a night is usually followed by a day and another night, one would presume there have been many such "Days and Nights of Brahma," as the Hindus call them.

So, when we speak of "Creation" it is reasonable to assume we are talking about a long or even infinite series of creations, and of creations within creations, including the coming into being of worlds, and of new races of men. This is the conception we find in the Welsh version. The universe periodically manifests and then withdraws.

There is a word adfyd which means "reworld," and we are told it originally applied to the state of retraversing Abred (Rev. Williams ab Ithel, Barddas 1:xxv). Abred is usually taken to signify this physical world, and we have the option of applying adfyd to reappearance of physical worlds, or to reappearance of men on worlds, or both. Incidentally, reincarnation for human beings in the Circle of Abred is looked upon in the Druid philosophy as a hardship, and a punishment for sins. The "perfected" man would not incarnate on earth again, unless he did so as a Teacher. His home is the Circle of Gwynfyd -- Blessedness.

Thus we have a picture of "old" worlds and "new" worlds, and "old" humanities and "new" humanities, as well as denizens of other kingdoms of nature -- all stretching back into the infinite past, and no doubt into an infinite future. This is perhaps what William Blake meant when he said: "In its purest state, Druidism flourished before Adam."

Looking further into the Welsh story of creation, we find, not surprisingly, that it has remarkable similarities with biblical and other versions. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God," says John (1:1). The Welsh version as recorded in Barddas is just a bit louder -- in the beginning were the "Three Shouts":

God, when there was in life and existence only Himself, proclaimed His Name, and co-instantaneously with the word all living and existing things burst wholly into a shout of joy; and the voice was the most melodious that ever was heard in music. Co-instantaneously with the voice was light, and in the light, form; and the voice was in three tones, three vocalizations, pronounced together at the same moment. -- Ibid., p. 47

It was the "Death of God," asserts Kenneth Morris, Welsh poet-philosopher, when He sounded His own Name, and "all being flashed from latency into existence." For He was the Essence of that very matter which substands in the Circle of Annwn (the Underworld), namely Cythraul, now a name for the devil, and likewise is He the reality behind manred (small courses), or atomic physical matter, in the Circle of Abred. Likewise is He the Essence of the blessed Circle of Gwynfyd, whilst yet remaining hidden in Ceugant, or Infinity.

"What are you, and what is your origin?" asks the Teacher, and the disciple answers: "I am a man in the Circle of Abred, having had my origin in Annwn." (Kenneth Morris, "The Welsh Story of Creation," The Theosophical Forum, October 1947, p. 607)

"No man ever heard the vocalization of His Name, and no one knows how to pronounce it; but it is represented by letters, that it may be known what is meant, and for Whom it stands." The "letters" are three signs like the rays of the sun, one signifying the sun's ray at dawn, a vertical line for the sun's ray at noon, and a third line showing the sun's ray at eventide. "But instead of, and as substitutes for these, are placed the three letters O I W [the Bardic Name of God]; . . . to prevent disrespect and dishonour to God, a Bard is forbidden to name Him, except inwardly and in thought." (Williams ab Ithel, p. 21.) However, if a Bard were to vocalize the name inwardly it would sound to him as "O-EE-OO."

Oeaohoo, says H. P. Blavatsky, is "the germ of all things":

He is "the Incorporeal man who contains in himself the divine Idea," -- the generate of Light and Life, to use an expression of Philo Judaeus. He is called the "Blazing Dragon of Wisdom," because, firstly, he is that which the Greek philosophers called the Logos, the Verbum of the Thought Divine; and secondly, because in Esoteric philosophy this first manifestation, being the synthesis or the aggregate of Universal Wisdom, Oeaohoo, "the Son of the Son," contains in himself the Seven Creative Hosts (The Sephiroth), and is thus the essence of manifested Wisdom. -- The Secret Doctrine 1:71-2.

From these three letters of the name of God came the sciences of the primary Bards, and also an alphabet which, according to Robert Graves, may have been formed before that of classical Greek (Robert Graves, The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth, p. 236).

For many of us, the story of creation is eminently that of Adam and Eve, an allegorical account of how early mankind came to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge; how, in other words, mindless men were endowed with the fire of mind and became human beings. From then on the childlike innocence of the race was lost, and with it the "golden age" of mankind. It was, in a sense, the Fall of Man, but in another sense it was an inevitable part of his "growing up."

I believe it is an established fact that if a child has no stimulus from some quarter or other, parents, relatives, teachers, its mental development will be slow and stunted. So likewise would it have been with our early ancestors had they not had "teachers." In the Greek myth it was Prometheus who stole the fire of mind from heaven, and brought it down to mankind. In pre-Celtic times there was Gwydion, first of the Bards, whom even Taliesin, "the most extravagant in his pretensions of all Celtic bards," acknowledged as one who took precedence over him. Professor John Rhys in The Hibbert Lectures of 1886 identified Gwydion with Ogmios, "according to Lucian's account of him . . . the personification of speech," and equates the Irish Ogma, inventor of writing, with both of them. He further shows Hermes and Mercury as being other names for this character, whose attributes are again found in the Norse Woden, in Odysseus, and Polyphemus of the nether world. Even the Hindu god Indra belongs to the same genus as Gwydion and Woden, we are told. In short, "Gwydion, or whatever name you choose to give him, was a complete and complex character familiar to our remote ancestors, before they could as yet be called Celts."

From these comparisons, Professor Rhys inferred that "the Aryan nations before their separation cherished a belief in a hero or god to whom they owed all their comforts in life: it was he that made the Sun shine and the Dawn keep her time; and it was to him they looked for the weather they wanted." It was he who brought them fire, taught them to domesticate animals, and showed them the sources of inspiration. But their benefactor, like Prometheus, was believed to have suffered "unspeakable hardship in his quest of the boons he conferred on them."

The term serpent, or dragon, or naga in the Sanskrit, has long been a symbol for a wise man or initiate. "I am a serpent," said the Druid, and if you visit the little town of Callander in the Scottish Lowland, which was Celtic country, you will find a high man-made mound of serpentine form, wriggling its way across a field and down to the river.

These ancient guardians of mankind, those "Druids" who existed before Adam, are known in the Welsh teachings as the Gwynfydolion, beings who had been made perfect in a previous world-cycle or age, and were denizens of Gwynfyd, the Circle of Blessedness. "When God sounded his three-lettered name and the universe awoke, they awoke first; and looked out from the peaks of Gwynfyd, and beheld far off the House of God in Ceugant (Infinity)" (Morris, op. cit., p. 608).

They were the Lucifers (literally, "Lightbringers") of heaven, called Manasaputras or "Sons of Mind" in Hindu lore who, by their love for nascent humanity, deliberately "fell" into the Circle of Abred, or physical manifestation, and united themselves with the manred-atoms of mindless men. Hence Man: half god, half animal; the nobler part of him the Gwynfydol, the lesser element the manred. And one day, in the ageless course of the rolling spheres it may become his destiny to emulate them, the Gwynfydolion, and take their place in the evolutionary scheme of the ladder of life. He shall then have become master of that "Druidism" which is as old as time itself.

  • (From Sunrise magazine, November 1976. Copyright © 1976 by Theosophical University Press)

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