This image is not mine, and I wish I knew who to give it credit to, but the design represents an important aspect of what it means to call oneself a Druid. It is called the Awen.
But a Druid is not being part of a religion. Nor is it part of some sort of fraternity of brothers or an exclusive club, neither is it some kind of way to escape a fiery eternity, or a cup of koolaid. I just don't ascribe to any of that. I don't want any of that. I don't like any of that, and I had to find something (because my heart is that sort of heart) which matched my way of thinking. Druidry is that way of thinking. Much like you'd call yourself a Transcendentalist or a Tree-hugger...yes, that about sums it all up. There are Christian Druids, there are Buddhist Druids, there are Athiest Druids. There are Democratic Druids, there are Republican Druids. And so, above, I've made my own version of the Awen. Let me explain what I know about it, and feel about it, some more.
In Gaelic, Aw is breath and En is flow. In the Druidic tradition, Awen is the flow of inspiration or spirit that comes from that Great Spirit whom we all call by different names.
There is a piece of mythology that comes from the Welsh about a goddess named Cerridwen (ker'rid-when) who was known as a triple goddess: the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone.
All three stages of a woman's life, entwined in one. This story is told in many ways, in varying lengths and to teach myriad life lessons.
As I understand the myth, Cerridwen had two children. One of them was more lovely than any other young woman could ever be, though she was not in the least capable of wisdom. The other child was not very bright as well, but sadly, he was also extremely ugly.
As any mother would, Cerridwen sought to give her unfortunate child something he could call his own. If he could not be handsome, she would ensure that he was the most wise and knowledgeable man in all the world. She consulted her books and the wise people she knew and according to their knowledge, she should concoct a brew which would be kept boiling for a year and a day, exactly, and on that last day it would finally be ready. On that last day, the first person to taste only 3 drops of the boiling substance would instantly and forever know all there was to know about love, about wisdom and about ultimate creativity. Cerridwen set a young boy and an old man to tend the fire of her cauldron for a year and a day. On that last day, as the boy had leaned down to add more wood, three drops of the scalding liquid popped out and burned his hand. Just as anyone would do, he immediately sought relief by putting his burned hand into his mouth. In an instant, the boy knew all about love, all things wise and all things inspired.
Cerridwen was so angry that the brew would not be used for her son that she chased the boy...
whereby the chase ensued for quite some time and there are some great and memorable scenes of shape-shifting, whereby the story ends with Cerridwen giving birth to another son, the great Welsh poet and bard Taliesen, and this one required no father...the story is a wonderful one, which I recommend you taking up at some point.
But more on Cerridwen for a moment. In the Welsh tradition, Cerridwen is often seen with a great white sow. She is associated with shape-shifting, poetry, inspiration, prophecy, the moon and life and death as well.
I tell you this tale because over the years it has become a part of me, like a kind of ethereal skin that walks with me and reminds me of things I only know when
I am dreaming. It is like a half-remembered dream. I feel as if I would only sit down and listen to the story told 20 times 20 times I might begin to remember something. I keep the story with me because one day I will remember what it is. One day I will say, "Ah, yes, now I know what it really is. Now I understand what it is telling me."
From one understanding, I see that it takes time and patience and long-suffering to have your eyes opened to true love, true wisdom and true inspiration. Those moments of understanding are called Awen, or Arwen. They are ours to have because we are a part of Cerridwen, and her son, Taliesen, who tasted the three drops of perfect inspiration.
Three roots of one tree, three breaths of one body, three beliefs of one soul.
I live my life by the search for Wisdom. I live my life by finding the need to be Inspired. I live my life by giving and receiving Love.
My word for the year, then, is Awen...spoken slowly...intoned.
Wisdom entails learning, and so I will be the owl, the key.
Inspiration entails flexibility, and so I will be the willow, the succulent berry.
Love entails sacrifice, and so I will be the mother, the ragged heart.
I live my life full of Awen.