Merry we meet - Merry we meet - Merry we meet
Written and compiled by George Knowles
not stand at my grave and weep
am not there, I do not sleep
am a thousand winds that blow
am the diamond glints on snow
am the sunlight on ripened grain
am the gentle autumn rain
you awaken in the morning's hush
am the swift uplifting rush
quiet birds in circled flight
am the soft stars that shine at night.
not stand at my grave and cry
I am not there. I did not die
An elegy attributed to Mary Elizabeth Frye (1932)
Gwydion Pendderwen was an American modern day Celtic bard who wrote moving songs and poetry. In his first recording ‘Songs for the Old Religion’ he created songs for each of the Sabbats, songs for the seasons and love songs for the Goddess and God, all of which endeared him to the Pagan community. He is commonly regarded as a co-founder of the ‘Feri Tradition of Witchcraft’ with his teacher and mentor Victor Henry Anderson, and a co-founder of two other organizations with Alison Harlow: ‘Nemeton’ a pagan networking group, and ‘Forever Forests’ a group dedicated to reforestation and ecological issues.
Pendderwen was born Thomas deLong on the 21st May 1946 in Berkeley, California. In 1959 at the age of 13 he had an altercation with a boy from school, Victor Elon Anderson, who turned out to be the son of a blind seer and poet Victor Henry Anderson, known in Pagan circles as the Grandmaster and High Priest of the Feri Tradition of Witchcraft. After their disagreement the two boys became good friends and Pendderwen became a frequent visitor at their home, where he was treated like an adopted son.
and Cora Anderson
Victor Senior quickly recognised the poetic nature of the young man, and over time began to teach him about the Craft with stories about Celtic folklore, ancient Huna and Hawaiian beliefs and Voodoo from Haiti. He also inspired his interest in the Goddess by introducing him to a book by the poet Robert Graves called ‘The White Goddess’. While Victor Senior was his primary teacher and mentor, Pendderwen soon become a major contributor to the Andersons developing practice. Together they co-wrote most of the Feri Tradition rituals and he also helped to edit and publish Victor’s book ‘Thorns of the Blood Rose’.
After finishing school in the mid 1960’s, Pendderwen attended the California State University near Hayward, Los Angeles, where he majored in theatre and gained a Bachelor of Arts degree. He later enrolled in a Master of Fine Arts program, but for some reason didn’t complete the course. Pendderwen was a consummate actor but disliked modern theatre, preferring drama in its truest form as a religious mystical ritual. The works of Shakespeare and other Greek playwrights impressed him most, and he became fascinated with the mysteries of masks and personae.
While at University Pendderwen developed an interest in linguistics, particularly Gaelic Welsh, which he learned to speak and write. He also started corresponding with a Deri Ap Arthur, a practicing pagan in Wales, England, who interested him in Celtic nationalism. He also joined other historically oriented groups; such like the ‘Society for Creative Anachronism’ (SCA), and served as the ‘Court Bard’ at their Kingdom of the West (see below for more). Pendderwen preferred to think of himself more as a druid, and so joined a local grove of the New and Reformed Druids of North America (NRDNA), led by Isaac Bonewits.
In 1972, with a fellow member of the SCA and one of his early initiates into the Feri Tradition, Alison Harlow, he co-founded Nemeton (Welsh for “sacred grove”). Nemeton quickly spread opening regional offices all across the United States, forming a huge networking organization that played an important key role in the early growth of Pagan and Wiccan networking in America. Later in 1978 Nemeton merged with the Church of All Worlds (CAW) founded by Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and became its publishing arm.
After leaving University, Pendderwen took employment with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, but hated the restrictions imposed on people by federal bureaucracy. In 1974 Nemeton published three issues of the ‘Nemeton’ a new-age pagan magazine, but lack of interest forced the magazine to fold. More successful was his first recording album “Songs for the Old Religion” in 1975, which gained him a respectful place in the Pagan community.
In 1976 Pendderwen finally got a chance to visit England and Wales, UK, on a trip that had a profound influence on him. He not only met his Welsh correspondence friend Deri Ap Arthur, he also met many other active figures in the growing Wicca movement, among them Alex Saunders and Stuart Farrar. While there he made a pilgrimage to the Eisteddfod in Wales, the ancient annual gathering of bards for artistic competition in Welsh music, poetry and drama. He was particularly moved when on the last day of the ceremonies, he was honoured on stage as a foreigner of Welsh descent. Later on a visit to Ireland and Tara Hill in County Meath, he had a terrifying vision of the Morrigan, one of the forms of the ancient Irish war Goddess, Badb, which made him identify more closely with the archetypal “Sacred King”.
Alex Saunders and Stuart Farrar
On his return from the UK, Pendderwen quit his job with the IRS and bought a parcel of land on the 5600-acre Greenfield Ranch near Ukiah, CA. Greenfield Ranch had been subdivided into a large number of parcels in the 1950’s, and was quickly turning into a central hub for a large Hippie homesteading community. Pendderwen named his own 55-acre of land “Annwfn” (Welsh for “Underworld”). Situated adjacent to him was “Coeden Brith” (Welsh for “speckled forest”), another 220-acre parcel of land owned by his friend Alison Harlow.
When Pendderwen arrived at Annwfn, the land was barren, wasted and chopped up due to extensive logging a few years earlier. During his first year on the site and while he built himself a permanent home, he lived a rather simple life in touch with nature, identifying with a new archetype image of the Green Man. For shelter during this time he used a tiny A-frame dwelling (still standing today). Being partway up a mountain it often proved difficult getting building materials and equipment up the muddy washed out roads, but none the less he persisted and built an unusual home and temple called “the Shaggy Mushroom”.
A-frame dwelling next to the Shaggy Mushroom
(*Update: Sadly overtime nature has taken it's toll and the small A-fame dwelling finally succumbed to the elements. It collapsed beyond repair during the winter months of 2008.)
While settling in at “Annwfn”, Pendderwen continued to teach and initiate people into the Feri tradition, he also practiced a form of shamanism that included voodoo rituals, developing what he called “Faery Shamanism” based on his preference for Irish and Welsh “Faery lore”. As he initiated more and more people, his group or lineage became known as the “Watchmaker”. His group members however remain reclusive and not much is known about them outside their own circles.
Later in 1977 Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Morning Glory moved onto Coeden Brith with Alison Harlow, and co-founded the “Holy Order of Mother Earth” (HOME) as a monastic sanctuary dedicated to nature. Other pagans soon began to arrive and join them, amongst them: Anodea Judith, Eldri Littlewolf and Anna Korn. Altogether they formed a pagan based magical working group representing many differing traditions, including: Feri, Dianic, British Traditional, the New and Reformed Druids of North America (NRDNA), Celtic/Shamanic Wicca, Church of All Worlds (CAW), Strega and elements of Ceremonial Magick. Not surprisingly they would all come together to celebrate the seasonal Sabbats, the full moon Esbats, and many other rituals and daily observances.
Oberon Zell and Morning Glory - Anodea Judith
Pendderwen had a great store of poetic and anthropological lore and on many an evening under the stars, he would show of his talents as a bardic storyteller. He had an excellent ear for cadences, and the rhythm of words as he told a tale made listening to him an enchanting event. Sometimes though he preferred to remain solitary, he would retire early to spend much of the night alone in trance, asking not to be awakened or disturbed.
One of his most enduring passions was his love of trees, and during the winter of 1977 with Alison Harlow, he co-founded “Forever Forests”, an ecological mission aimed at healing the planet by planting trees. Together with a little help from their friends, they started an annual tree planting festival on his land at Annwfn. Since then tens of thousands of trees such as Cedar, Pine, Douglas Fir and Redwood have been planted all over Northern California.
His commitment to healing the Earth led him to found “The Elliptical Congregation” in 1978 as a subsidiary organisation of The Church of All Worlds led by Oberon Zell. Later Pendderwen donated all his land and its buildings at Annwfn to be held under title by of The Church of All Worlds, with the stipulation that it be maintained as a sanctuary and never owned by an individual. To fulfill this premise, Forever Forests still holds an annual tree planting festival, normally held in early to mid-January, it includes: ritual healing ceremonies dedicated to the Mother Earth, organic cooking, hot tubs, music and entertainment, and forums to discuss and disseminate information about trees and forestry.
In 1979 Pendderwen had published a songbook of his music and poems ‘Wheel of the Year’, with production help from Isaac Bonewits, Craig Millen and Andraste. He followed this in 1980 with ‘The Rites of Summer’, two musical fantasies he had performed the year before at the 1979 Summer Solstice gathering at Coeden Brith. Also in 1980 after four years of seclusion at Annwfn and Coeden Brith, he returned to the public arena appearing in concert at a Pagan Spirit Gathering in Wisconsin, an event sponsored by Circle Sanctuary. From this point on he became more active in public, sponsoring and organizing Pagan gatherings and continuing his New Year’s tree planting festivals.
Pendderwen recorded his second and final album ‘The Fairy Shaman’ in 1981, featuring harps, pipes and drums in songs about trees and the county side. While he was clearly a charismatic and gifted songwriter and poet, he was also a tireless letter-writer responding to people all over the world. A natural womaniser he loved to court beautiful woman, and had the ability to make the most ordinary of woman feel beautiful. Part of his charm was his humour; he loved to play tricks on people and would go to great lengths to pull off a practical joke, but there was also a darker side of his character, for he sometimes drank too much and was prone to outbursts of temper making his relationships difficult.
Early in 1982, Pendderwen together with Starhawk, one of his earlier initiates into the Feri Tradition, and other members of her newly emerging and politically active group ‘Reclaiming’, took part in an antinuclear demonstration at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California. During the protest Pendderwen and a number of others were arrested for civil disobedience and spent three days in jail. He described the incident later in a letter to Margot Adler:
“I spent three days in jail as a result of the blockade of the Lawrence Livermore Lab. It was a very empowering experience, in which I learned that my personal power and greatest potential in healing and reaching people is in music. The brothers, on the way to arraignment, began singing “We won’t wait any longer”, which I had sung in jail. They prevailed upon me to lead a chorus and sing it as my statement in court. It’s in the record, with a men’s chorus of 25”.
Starhawk - Margot Adler
Later that year on the 09th November 1982, Pendderwen was killed in an auto accident in which he was thrown from his car as it overturned. He seemed to know the time of his death was near, for he had spent the previous few days during Samhain visiting with family and friends all over the Bay Area.
After his death a group of woman, all ex-lovers (often referred to as his widows), were named as stewards of Annwfn and inherited his work, they included: Oz Anderson, Ayisha Sheperd, Anna Korn, Anodea Judith and Farida Fox. Together they attempted to answer his mountain of mail correspondences and to maintain the traditions of Forever Forests. Sadly after a year they were unable to continue, each had separate lives to live and each needed to move on. They parted and went their own ways, promising to remain contact with each other.
The stewardship and maintenance of Annwfn then passed onto the Church of All Worlds, who owned the land deeds of The Elliptical Congregation from when Pendderwen donated the land and building to them in 1978. Under their guidance and leadership, Pendderwen’s dream of a land filled with trees continues. In 1986 friends from Forever Forests made a tribute tape called ‘Welcome to Annwfn’, in dedication to Pendderwen whose other legacy, that of music, song and poetry still serves to inspire them.
He was born Thomas deLong and assumed the name Gwydion Pendderwen, which is part Welsh and part Druidic. Gwydion is the Welsh name equivalent of the Irish god Lugh, a Chieftain-god of the Tuatha Dé Danann who like many Celtic gods was omnicompetent rather than possessing any one attribute. Pendderwen is a Druidic name meaning ‘Head of the Oaks’ or ‘Leader of the Oaks’.
The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA)
The SCA is an international organization dedicated to researching and recreating the Middle Ages in the present by learning the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe. Their world is made up of 19 kingdoms, with over 30,000 members located in countries all around the world. Their members dress in clothing of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and attend events that feature tournaments, arts exhibits, classes, workshops, dancing, feasts and other activities. Their “Royalty” hold courts at which they recognize and honour members for their contributions to the group.
The SCA was started in 1966 in Berkeley, California by a group of science fiction and fantasy fans who wanted to dress up for a themed party. Following the party, a group got together to discuss the idea of a medieval re-creation and re-enactment group, similar to the Civil War, Revolutionary War and other re-enactment groups that were beginning to form in the US. In Britain, medieval and British Civil War recreation societies had existed for any number of years. The Californians incorporated as a non-profit educational society, started forming groups, and as a result the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) was formed.
The SCA is a feudal society. The SCA’s “Knowne World” is divided into eighteen Kingdoms, each with it’s own King and Queen who rule by right of arms. There is a Prince and Princess who act as heirs to the throne, and a council or Curia of Great Officers who handle the day to day business of running the kingdom.
A feudal society takes its form from the idea of service and duty. A noble owes duty of service to his lord, who might be a Baron or Knight. In return, his lord owes him protection from danger, food and money, etc., when times are bad. For his own part, the lord owes fealty to his own overlord, and so on up the ladder to the King. In return for their service as good stewards of the land and readily available warriors, the King owes Knights, Barons and other high nobles protection, honour and a return of money and food, etc., in times of hardship. It is something like the idea of a Pyramid club, but the benefits are greater and the idea of personal honour and mutual responsibility, not profit, tie the structure together (or at least it did in Europe for nearly a thousand years).
In the SCA this structure underlies the Society, although not nearly as rigidly as in the medieval days. Our King, the head of our Kingdom and our liege lord, has to fight in a Crown Tournament for the right to make his Lady Queen, and the right to wear his crown. In the case of female fighters, she has to fight for the right to make her Lord King. Royalty are bound by the laws and customs of the kingdom and the Society as a whole, but still wield significant power over their subjects. Of course, four to six months later there is a new King, with different ideas, so life in the society can get interesting.
The Encyclopedia of Witches &Witchcraft - by Rosemary Ellen Guiley
The Witch Book - The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism - By Raymond Buckland
The Encyclopedia of Modern Witchcraft and Neo-paganism - By Shelley Rabinovitch
Drawing down the Moon – Margot Adler
Written and compiled on the 18th May 2007 © George Knowles
Best wishes and Blessed Be
Site Contents - Links to all Pages
A Universal Message:
Let there be peace in the world - Where have all the flowers gone?
Wicca & Witchcraft
The Wiccan Rede / Charge of the Goddess / Charge of the God / The Three-Fold Law (includes The Law of Power and The Four Powers of the Magus) / The Witches Chant / The Witches Creed / Descent of the Goddess / Drawing Down the Moon / The Great Rite Invocation / Invocation of the Horned God / The 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief / The Witches Rede of Chivalry / A Pledge to Pagan Spirituality
Traditions Part 1 - Alexandrian Wicca / Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) / Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) / Blue Star Wicca / British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) / Celtic Wicca / Ceremonial Magic / Chaos Magic / Church and School of Wicca / Circle Sanctuary / Covenant of the Goddess (COG) / Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) / Cyber Wicca / Dianic Wicca / Eclectic Wicca / Feri Wicca /
Traditions Part 2 - Gardnerian Wicca / Georgian Tradition / Henge of Keltria / Hereditary Witchcraft / Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) / Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) / Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition / Nordic Paganism / Pagan Federation / Pectic-Wita / Seax-Wica / Shamanism / Solitary / Strega / Sylvan Tradition / Vodoun or Voodoo / Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /
Other things of interest:
Gods and Goddesses (Greek Mythology) / Esbats & Full Moons / Links to Personal Friends & Resources / Wicca/Witchcraft Resources / What's a spell? / Circle Casting and Sacred Space / Pentagram - Pentacle / Marks of a Witch / The Witches Power / The Witches Hat / An esoteric guide to visiting London / Satanism / Pow-wow / The Unitarian Universalist Association / Numerology: Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / A history of the Malleus Maleficarum: includes: Pope Innocent VIII / The papal Bull / The Malleus Maleficarum / An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum / The letter of approbation / Johann Nider’s Formicarius / Jacob Sprenger / Heinrich Kramer / Stefano Infessura / Montague Summers / The Waldenses / The Albigenses / The Hussites / The Native American Sun Dance / Shielding (Occult and Psychic Protection) /
Sabbats and Festivals:
The Sabbats in History and Mythology / Samhain (October 31st) / Yule (December 21st) / Imbolc (February 2nd) / Ostara (March 21st) / Beltane (April 30th) / Litha (June 21st) / Lammas/Lughnasadh (August 1st) / Mabon (September 21st)
Rituals contributed by Crone:
Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar) / Antelope / Bats / Crow / Fox / Frog and Toads / Goat / Honeybee / Kangaroo / Lion / Owl / Phoenix / Rabbits and Hares / Raven / Robin Redbreast / Sheep / Spider / Squirrel / Swans / Wild Boar / Wolf / Serpent / Pig / Stag / Horse / Mouse / Cat
In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar. For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following: Birch / Rowan / Ash / Alder / Willow / Hawthorn / Oak / Holly / Hazel / Vine / Ivy / Reed / Elder
Rocks and Stones:
Stones - History, Myths and Lore
Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin:
Apophyllite / Amber / Amethyst / Aquamarine / Aragonite / Aventurine / Black Tourmaline / Bloodstone / Calcite / Carnelian / Celestite / Citrine / Chrysanthemum Stone / Diamond / Emerald / Fluorite / Garnet / Hematite / Herkimer Diamond / Labradorite / Lapis Lazuli / Malachite / Moonstone / Obsidian / Opal / Pyrite / Quartz (Rock Crystal) / Rose Quartz / Ruby / Selenite / Seraphinite / Silver and Gold / Smoky Quartz / Sodalite / Sunstone / Thunderegg / Tree Agate / Zebra Marble
Wisdom and Inspiration:
Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:
Murdered by Witchcraft / The Fairy Witch of Clonmel / A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch / The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) / Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife / The Story of Jack-O-Lantern / The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost / Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) / The Two Brothers - Light and Dark
Old Masters of Academia:
(Ancient, Past and Present)
(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)
Abramelin the Mage / Agrippa / Aidan A Kelly / Albertus Magnus - “Albert the Great” / Aleister Crowley - “The Great Beast” / Alex Sanders - “King of the Witches” / Alison Harlow / Amber K / Anna Franklin / Anodea Judith / Anton Szandor LaVey / Arnold Crowther / Arthur Edward Waite / Austin Osman Spare / Biddy Early / Bridget Cleary - The Fairy Witch of Clonmel / Carl " Llewellyn" Weschcke / Cecil Hugh Williamson / Charles Godfrey Leland / Charles Henry Allan Bennett - the Ven. Ananda Metteyya / Charles Walton / Christina Oakley Harrington / Damh the Bard - "Dave Smith" / Dion Fortune / Dolores Aschroft-Nowicki / Doreen Valiente / Dorothy Morrison / Dr. John Dee & Edward Kelly / Dr. Leo Louis Martello / Edward Fitch / Eleanor Ray Bone - “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” / Eliphas Levi / Ernest Thompson Seton / Ernest Westlake / Fiona Horne / Frederick McLaren Adams - Feraferia / Friedrich von Spee / Francis Barrett / Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca / Gerald B. Gardner - The father of contemporary Witchcraft / Gwydion Pendderwen / Hans Holzer / Helen Duncan / Herman Slater - Horrible Herman / Isaac Bonewits / Israel Regardie / Jack Whiteside Parsons - Rocket Science and Magick / James "Cunning" Murrell - The Master of Witches / Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone / Jessie Wicker Bell - “Lady Sheba” / Johannes Junius - "The Burgomaster of Bamberg" / John Belham-Payne / John George Hohman - "Pow-wow" / John Gerard / John Gordon Hargrave and the Kibbo Kith Kindred / John Michael Greer / John Score / Joseph John Campbell / Karl von Eckartshausen / Lady Gwen Thompson - and "The Rede of the Wiccae" / Laurie Cabot - "the Official Witch of Salem" / Lewis Spence / Margaret Alice Murray / Margot Adler / Marie Laveau - " the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" / Marion Weinstein / Matthew Hopkins - “The Witch-Finder General” / Max Ehrmann and the "Desiderata" / Michael A. Aquino - and The Temple of Set / Monique Wilson / Montague Summers / Nicholas Culpeper / Nicholas Remy / M. R. Sellars / Mrs. Maud Grieve - "A Modern Herbal" / Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Morning Glory / Old Dorothy Clutterbuck / Old George Pickingill / Olivia Durdin-Robertson - co-founder of the Fellowship of Isis / Paddy Slade / Pamela Colman-Smith / Paracelsus / Patricia Crowther / Patricia Monaghan / Patricia “Trish” Telesco / Philip Heselton / Raymond Buckland / Reginald Scot / Robert Cochrane / Robert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and the "The White Goddess" / Rosaleen Norton - “The Witch of Kings Cross” / Ross Nichols and the " Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids" (OBOD) / Rudolf Steiner / Sabrina Underwood - "The Ink Witch" / Scott Cunningham / Selena Fox - founder of "Circle Sanctuary" / Silver Ravenwolf / Sir Francis Dashwood / Sir James George Frazer and the " The Golden Bough" / S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” / Starhawk / Stewart Farrar / Sybil Leek / Ted Andrews / The Mather Family - (includes: Richard Mather, Increase Mather and Cotton Mather ) / Thomas Ady / T. Thorn Coyle / Vera Chapman / Victor & Cora Anderson and the " Feri Tradition" / Vivianne Crowley / Walter Brown Gibson / Walter Ernest Butler / William Butler Yeats / Zsuzsanna Budapest /
Many of the above biographies are briefs and far from complete. If you know about any of these individuals and can help with additional information, please contact me privately at my email address below. Many thanks for reading :-)
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