Awen: Inspiration (Muse)
In Druidry, we learn often hear the word, awen, but what exactly does it mean? Translated from Welsh, it means flowing inspiration. It is an opening of one’s self, of one’s spirit, in order to truly and deeply see. When we are open, we can receive that divine gift, inspiration that flows, whether it is from deity, nature, or whatever it is that you choose to focus on.
For awen to exist there must be relationship. We cannot be inspired unless we are open, and we cannot be open unless we have established a relationship, whether it is with the blackbird, thunder or God. It is cyclical in nature; we open and give of ourselves and in doing so we receive, and vice versa. Letting go, releasing into that flow of awen allows it to flow ever more freely, and we find ourselves inspired not only in fits and bursts of enlightenment or inspiration, but carrying an essence of connection and wonder with us at all times.
Awen is an awareness, not just on a physical and mental level but on a soul level – an awareness of the entirety of existence, of life itself. It is seeing the threads that connect us all. It is the deep well of inspiration that we drink from, to nurture our souls and our world and to give back in joy, in reverence, in wild abandon and in solemn ceremony.
There is the Welsh tale of Cerridwen and her cauldron, the three drops of awen falling onto Gwion’s finger and bringing his wisdom in the form of poetic inspiration and prophecy. Many Druid rituals begin or end with singing or chanting. When doing so, the word is stretched to three syllables, sounding like ah-oo-wen. Sung together, or in rounds, it simply flows, as its namesake determines.
I am sure that the awen is different for each and every Druid. The connection, and the resulting expression of that connection, the Druid’s own creativity, can be so vast and diverse. It is what is so delicious about it – we inhale the awen and exhale our own creativity in song, in dance, in books, in protest marches – the possibilities are endless, as is the awen itself.