According to the IoIo Mss, the present concept and subsequent meaning of awen has probably originated from its publication in 1868, by the Welsh Manuscript society. Awen has been taken and dissected using an ethnographic basis, were comparisons were drawn with the Greek language. It arrived at a connection with the breath, and the sea. This has since been given a relationship to an "influence or inspiration." Apart from the Cymraeg definition and meaning of awen prior to mid 19th century, it appears to be very new.
Awen suggests it could become intertwined with annwn or annwfn this being its oldest form. They are both masculine nouns that translate to a fairy world. Masculine nouns come under the sovereign who in turns marries the female noun aspect or visa versa. It has become reinterpreted slowly through additional influences. These refer to an underworld, an abyss, Hades and even hell itself. Depending on the individual perspective one chooses each one has a different implications. Awen appears to have been used to substitute annwfn to indicate the same concept, this could be misleading. Awen is a feminine noun, and can refer to a rein of a bridle, genius, fancy, a taste, or simply a muse.
Therefore, annwfn could be said to be an abstract concept that describes a model of another land, complete with all its inhabitants. Whether it's viewed within the modern times as a parallel world, a dimension in quantum physics, or a place within the unconscious mind, all could have a rightful relationship. Its existence or non-existence is important enough to be recorded in both oral traditions and literature. They talk of experiences and adventures within this fairy world, where battles are fought, hearts are won, and even gifts can be gained or otherwise stolen. In all, it creates scenes of wonder. Some could even be relative or linked to specific places within our world today, which carry their name in the countryside, while others are not so clear.
When awen is the bridle rein and annwfn is a sovereign fairy place, perhaps there is a journey in store. Perhaps one reads the stories about this magical and mysterious fairy world of annwfn. Is there an answer, similar to the one that any inquirer may wish to unravel? So is annwfn a real place or an abstract reality or a part of an individual quest to understand the unknown. Is it spoken as a means in which an individual may find sense and order in the world; or it is an individual guide, which tantalises the human mind to find answers to questions?
Additionally one learns about oneself through the observance of nature and its many forms. These are experience both within its continuous cycle and in the turning of the seasons. These changes could enrich our personal lives with continual understanding, and our place within a larger cycle. Originally, humanity was awe struck by what we today considers a natural phenomenon, a solar or Lunar eclipse, and even the implicitly of a spider making a web. To explain such things within the understanding and comprehension at any period, thoughts arouse to express these phenomena.
These could originate in the resulting mythologies of many cultures where legends and stories become added. They further assist through the explanations of deity that carry its form through those attributes.
Such stories of the Sun being carried on a chariot, during daylight and then disappears into another world. Alternatively, the Moon takes up its position in the darkness, often on a horse, rushing through the stellar backdrop. In relation to animal, living or projected into the constellation backdrop of stars. The observed behaviour and response can also become inter-linked. The inquiring mind produces a form of meaning attributed towards certain characteristics. Through trail and error these are either dropped or passed from generation to generation, in its oral or written form. They also become displayed in art forms to which resonate the same attributes.
Civilisations past and presents have left various images and symbols that have been inscribed on their monuments. Some survive the passage of linear time, while others fall and crumble. Symbols are universal and can be found throughout various cultures. These are interpreted in one way or another by any culture that is trying to understand such things. These then are often presented within their current thought parameters. Perhaps the fault lies when we try to put a modern interpretation, possibly quite out of context from the one that originated its symbol or image. Links between cultures thousand miles apart, is derived through the interpretations one gives to certain evidence which suggest such a possibly.
The mythology, legend and associated stories reacted within its cultural environment. These can be seen or accessed where an inner understanding can be reached. We also dream during the dark hours when such images and symbols are perceived, while the body functions rejuvenate itself through another process. Processes the mystery schools of Europe and the East have taught to understand those have been passed down over the centuries. It allows the intuitive qualities of an individual human being to come forward. The images and the symbols then speak its meaning that becomes unique to its beholder. Yet it is also a fraction of the essence that stands within the circle.
Considering Astrology, under whatever label or philosophy it subscribes too. It will eventually move an individual towards a complete and personal understanding, from the observer's point of view. Alan Leo at the beginning of the 20th century described how difficult it is to portray such understanding. In 1913, he placed this within context: -
"Every writer who has thought to do this has realised the difficulty and
even danger in trying to express in everyday language thoughts and ideas
that in themselves transcend the material and commonplace. The life of the
subtler realms becomes disguised and misunderstood when embodied in concrete
forms. When we deal with very abstract thoughts and feelings, there always
seems to be something that refuses to the last to be expressed completely in
language at our disposal, and that can only be learned and realised through
Even the role of poetry and folklore within the Celtic tradition suggest they both try to express a similar concept. They all tend to create and convey images through sound. In turn they become unique to the person who perceives them.
It therefore leads to a concept of space or the personal universe in which one finds oneself being enclosed by. For example, if one takes three celestial constellations and view it in an alternative perspective, a new light could be drawn towards a greater understanding of possible star lore. If you look up into the night sky within the northern hemisphere and locate the Plough or Ursa Major, which is near the present North Star Polaris. One may know this and some of the surrounding stars as the Great Bear. Within the poetic realms of the Celts its 'arth' in welsh and Gaelic it is the bear. RJ Stewart has also associated 'art with King Arthur'.
If one looks south for the constellation of Orion, which stands south-west of Taurus, and it relates to many mythologies, Orion could be related to Herne the hunter and ruler of the wild hunts, along with its associations of the other world. The third star group that we need to locate is Pleiades, which is within the body of Taurus.
One has three star groups yet, what can we do with them? Consider that Arth (Bear) is in the north; Herne (Orion) is in the south forming two of the cardinal points. Now Pleiades rises in the east and eventually sets in the west in the night sky. Therefore one can form the east-west axis. We too, have four cardinal points through the movement of these star constellations. Are we now moving into a different inner psyche, mode of understanding past Astrology/astronomy practices?
When looking at this situation using star lore. The rising and setting of this star group can also relate to seasonal changes. It would therefore be of importance in setting the timings of events of earth. The rising of Pleiades within the Northern Hemisphere takes place between the end of October, and beginning of November. It too relates to the time of the festival of Samhain. It's generally considered being the time when the veil can be crossed. Pleiades through observation sets at the end of April, it too is at the time of Beltane with its theme of fertility. It therefore creates a balance between the east-west axis.
So where does the Bear and Orion come into this equation, Arthur according to legend, is said that he will return when needed. So, is it a signpost towards a link with rebirth? Orion could be thought to be a hunter of the individual and acts as a signpost for an inner psychic transition to the Great bear. Can it be entered at the time of Samhain for both kinds of souls wanting transition to a psychic nature; as the sun returns at the winter solstice to climb to its northern heights in the summer?
Consider Pleiades is another door to Arianhod with her silver thread of intuition, and then one has to pass through Herne in the form of Orion to possibly reach it. Not only do we have to be granted permission by the ancestral guardians, one also has ourselves to contend with as one approaches. One could find themselves looking in two ways, to that of the Old World (consciousness) and the New World (unconsciousness) or to the human world and the other world. C.G. Jung states: -
"all human beings carry this safety mechanism within us"
It's our choice whether we want to go through. To go through is to leave behind the human world of consciousness and once closed is to go within our unconscious state or shadow. By doing this, a seeker may get a direct link to Corona Borealis. Is this another meaning reflected between the festivals of Samhain and Beltane? They appear to be doorways that become available within a spiritual context. Beltane is the reawakening of the inner psyche, while Samhain is the transition from being caught within its agricultural luna cross quarters. It is the material cycle of death and rebirth. Alternatively, Samhain allows one to transcend onto the solar cross quarters and its final spiritual journey of continual regeneration.
The above image is based on an eight or even sixteen dimensional abstract model; it concerns the central upright axis on the cross-held within the circle. It points towards the polar star and is governed by astronomical and universal mechanics. The phenomenon creates the shadows at the sun quarter points when viewed from the earth. There are but four shadows where its centre two merges and forms one. Thus, we now have only three shadows. The centre shadow is awen it's the concept that divides the two Equinox’s which has slipped to become Samhain and Beltane the two opposing agricultural festivals of fertility and death/rebirth. It is just one abstract horizontal line of the horizontal cross, within the enclosed circle. It is the difference between fertility of the land and its regeneration in any year one may choose. It could also be interpret as balance the material world that sustains humanity survival. Yet, the vertical line has a deeper implication which is not been considered within this article, and belongs to the awen. It too is the game of gŵyddbwyll recorded within the Mabinogi, and its Gaelic counterpart, or is it just a game of cosmic chess which the Celts played.