Y Awenechen



A little over two hundred years ago, small Welsh familial groups still preserving pieces of the ancient metaphysics and religious system now known as Gwyddon, left the British Isles to emigrate to the Colonies - which include, of course, America. Many of these individuals and groups had only fragments of the traditions and lore to work from and, to make matters worse, the climate of intolerance and poverty predicating their emigrations didn't end with their arrival in the "New World". But, overall, their choices have had a dramatic effect on the evolution of this spiritual path.

"Gwyddon" families who remained in Britain, as a rule, stayed closed and very insular. The pieces of information and tradition stayed fairly consistent, unchanged, although there was a tendency to loss through error, omission or the inclusion of fashionable ideas of the time. In very recent years these closed groups have begun to open, communicating with each other and accepting non-familial members.

Those that emigrated were far from insular. While there was a tremendous attrition through the chaotic social environment these new "Americans" faced, that same chaos led to increased interaction between members of differing families and schools of thought. For reasons of self-preservation, small worship groups accepted student priests and members from outside not only their familial group, but from other esoteric, philosophical, racial, national and language sources as well. Thus would be added a Germanic phrase here or a Zen Buddhist teaching there. Some developed "Druidic - Freemason" amalgams, much like the majority of Druidic groups both in America and Britain had been leaning toward. Much as our country (and though they are loath to admit it - the UK as well) as a whole, groups of Gwyddon origin sometimes became a "Heinz 57" of ritual and esoterica, sometimes also blending eclectically into Wicca as we know it today. But just as occurs in mainstream American culture, some Gywddon traditions held an essential understanding of their core and Welsh structure while evolving in new American directions. This clan is one of these latter.


In 1792, our Lineage of Cordemanons begins with the anagram MEM. Our traditions tell us that MEM was either a person (with MEM as initials) or a group of persons (which is likely closer to the truth) whose group's name had the initials MEM. The Cordemanon leader of this group charged the designated successor with the task of carrying our particular practice to the then newly-formed United States of America. A Cordemanon is a title unique to certain Gwyddons and is a person specially charged by Cordemanon Peers with keeping the purity and preservation of our teachings in an untainted manner. For any Gwyddon priest it is a grave responsibility, but one which those chosen bear with joy. Most importantly, the title of Cordemannan is one of respect, as it is earned through hard work and study. By achieving a mastery level in all three priesthood schools, or by specialization mastery of a single priestly focus to the doctorate level of recognition, one is chosen to be of the ranks of the Cordemannans.

Who was MEM? What we know, is that while MEM may have actually stood for the initials of a name of a very old and living person in London in 1792, it is also likely that the anagram has a dual meaning referring to the name of the group of persons led by the Cordemanon. It is also likely that that group was essentially a Free Mason based group as well, as few of the time were not, and parts of our ritual form and wording reflect that lineage. Traditionals often joined these recreationist societies (not unlike today) in an effort to have fellowship and preserve the traditions left to them to preserve. MEM - either the person or the group - was likely to have been a part of the lively debates among free thinkers and Druid reformationists of the time.

1792 was a very active one for the Gwyddon families, as well as for Druidic traditions throughout Britain. Another Welsh school of thought, led by Iola Morganwg, a Welshman known as Owen Morgan with the birth name Edward Williams (March 11, 1747 to December 18, 1826), re-instituted the Eisteddfod as a way of revitalizing growth in their path. Its purpose was to recreate a form of the old College system of Druidic practice in a manner palatable to British, Christian society. The method he used was to meld Druid and Christian mythos and theology as a way of demonstrating commonality in human experience, therefore verifying the Concept of Oneness; a core piece of Gwyddon dogma. Time has shown us, however, that mixing the various metaphysical languages can create the same confusion that results from indiscriminately speaking English and Japanese simultaneously - in short order no one understands a word being said. This, sadly, is just the result of Morganwg's Eisteddfod. Instead of coming to an understanding of the true nature of the ONE, there was a shift to the Judeo-Christian concept of Monotheism. Instead of seeing All Things as One, only one GOD was deemed the correct one. There was a loss of understanding of the Awen, that energy that flows throughout All Things and binds us all. A hierarchical monotheistic description simply destroys true understanding of the One, as the suppression of the Whole in deference to any single unique deity reduces them all, from the Gwyddon view. This is why we call ourselves Omnitheists.

Though eclectic or monotheistic world-views may work for others, to a Cordemanon, such an approach is unacceptable. So MEM decided to try a different method. While maintaining a closed group, to remain in London, it was also decided that the Americas (the land of Avalon to the West) might offer a place where the Order could grow in a more open and natural manner than it could in Britain. To this end, the Cordemanon Corvin was to travel to Salem, Massachusetts to continue his study and teaching work. In this he was succeeded by Lughkin, who took the Order to the large Welsh communities of Baltimore, Maryland where Anna Ravenwood became Cordemanon in 1899. Trefn Gwyddoniad came to the West Coast during the period after World War II, arriving in San Francisco, California in 1947.

triple spiral

It is in the very free and open atmosphere she found there that the Order as we now know it was born. We were to go forth, marry a new land, and not look back. We have come to fruit, though we do often look back with love and respect to our roots, but not to be ruled by them. We are a natural growth pattern, a living religion, one that will continue to live, grow and evolve as we learn and listen to the land in and on which we live.

In the course of our continued evolution on the solstice of 2002CE (Old Gwyddon year 3902), the Clan of Y Awenechen formally came to be. Trefn Gwyddoniad, the name these Gwyddons had come to call themselves, found their lost kindred in the form of Druid Heart Spirit Grove. DHSG, now known as Nemeton Awenyddion, was and is led by Rhiannon Hawk in the California Sierra Nevadas. It was a happy and dynamic event that galvanized the entire active membership to refresh and reaffirm their bonds of clan and kin with the formal adoption of Awenechen as a collective clan identity for all. Also, since we were now complete, we were able to codify and complete our teaching structure and standards as well as organizational and clan governmental process.

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Background copyright © 2002, Shamyn Whitehawk.