Danu's Cauldron: Wisewoman's Ways, and Wild Fey Magic

Living in a sacred landscape, walking between the worlds in the veil of Avalon Glastonbury. Where the old gods roam the hills, and the sidhe dance beneath the moon...wander into the mists with me and let us see what we may find...

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Danu Forest

Danu Forest

Danu Forest wisewoman, witch, seer, walker between the worlds, healer, druid, priestess, teacher, writer, gardener, herbwife, stargazer, faery friend, tree planter, poet, and wild woman lives in a cottage near Glastonbury Tor in the midst of the Avalon lakes, in the southwest of England. Exploring the Celtic mysteries for over 25 years, and noted for her quality research, practical experience, as well as her deep love of the land, Danu writes for numerous national and international magazines and is the author of several books including Nature Spirits, The Druid Shaman, Celtic Tree Magic, and an on going seasonal series 'the Magical Year'.

My new book Gwyn Ap Nudd is finally here! After a long long period of retreat it's such a joy to see this book, written as an offering to my patron god finally come into the world in time for Samhain/ Nos Galan Gaeaf! At this time of year he is said to ride out from the 'deep place' Annwfn, as leader of the Wild Hunt, leading all unquiet spirits to their rest and chasing wicked souls from the world.  Working with Annwfn the underworld of the Brythonic tradition, is not an easy path, entwined with faerie it is a place of transformation where we may learn more of ourselves than we are comfortable with….  Yet Gwyn ap Nudd, whose name means ‘Bright’ or ‘White’ is also a mysterious Faery King, dwelling in his Glass Castle beneath Glastonbury Tor, and under numerous dark still lakes in the wild Welsh hills. A dark lover and hunter god of the winter, he guides us to the secret places, within our magical land and within ourselves….      

In the 14th Century, Welsh soothsayers when entering the forest would say

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Jeannetta Young
    Jeannetta Young says #
    Danu, this is more of a question than a comment, though the answer might benefit others...with which of your books would you recom
  • Danu Forest
    Danu Forest says #
    thank you!
  • Thesseli
    Thesseli says #
    This was an excellent read. I've been feeling a draw to Gwyn ap Nudd lately, and this book couldn't have come out at a better tim

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Stonehenge dreaming

 

A few weeks ago, as part of my summer solstice celebrations I was fortunate enough to be part of a private midsummer ceremony at Stonehenge. We slept a few hours on the drove-way, a small track that passes within a few hundred yards of the stones, and at a sleepy 3.00am took a slow walk across the sacred landscape to join a pilgrimage procession to the stones from the visitor’s centre, as the stars were still bright overhead, and all but us and the owls were lost to dreaming. Stonehenge is not just the stones you see, there is a whole ritual landscape around it stretching for quite a distance with barrow mounds and the mysterious cursus- a rectangular earthwork enclosure 1 and ¾ of a mile long. Predating the stones by 500 years it’s aligned to the equinox sunrises. There is also the likely procession route of the avenue between Stonehenge and the river Avon, surfacing on land again to ‘woodhenge’- Durrington walls henge and settlement just a couple of miles away. Everywhere you go all around the area you step on sacred ground.

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Eriu, returning to the great cauldron.

 

Arthurian tales tell us of the Holy Grail, not the cup of Christ, but a sacred vessel, a symbol of the goddess at the heart of the land, the sacred womb which sits in the centre of Annwfn- ‘the deep place’ of Welsh myth.  In earlier tales it was a cauldron as mentioned in Preiddeu Annwn ‘The spoils of Annwn’, a poem by Taliesin as a great vessel at the heart of the land which was ’kindled’ by the breath of nine maidens, or priestesses. Here we find the sacred source, the well of Segais in Irish myth, the place where life and wisdom spring eternal and renewed. A sacred place at the centre of things.

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Spring Transformation Magic

 

We are living in a time of transformation. Here we are with winter quickly turning into spring, and while a lot of the human world right now may seem less than positive there is always the opportunity to empower ourselves and use the magic of nature, if She’s willing, to help us and help others find ways to make it through, and even make it better.

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Imbolc and Brighid's blessing

 

Imbolc blessings to you! 

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January, if we are lucky and our daily lives allow, can be a time of contemplation, of looking back over the past year, of quietly getting our lives in order, whilst also looking ahead to the summer to come. While the earth seems to sleep, with long nights and cold days, the first new shoots make it above ground and buds on the trees remind us that spring isn't far...but the time of quiet is still here for a while at least. I always find a struggle against natures rhythms is never very productive, and it's better to do what must be done in the modern world and retire to the fireside or get out under wide winter skies as much as possible. January to me is a liminal time, a threshold point and should be honoured as such- neither here nor there, neither the renewal and festivity of winter solstice nor the bright candlelight of Imbolc...it's that in between time when magic can really happen, when things can really change if we catch the moment and steer ourselves a little differently, or weave a new thread into our webs of wyrd.

I think the Celts of the past new this well, and liminal magic seems to be a forgotten skill of theirs. Janus figures, two faced gods named after the Roman god of beginnings and doorways crop up all over the Celtic world and are undoubtedly pre-Roman deities but are often unknown among those following the Celtic path today. Famous examples include  the double-faced horned Iron Age statue ( 4th - 2nd century BCE)  from Holzgerlingen in Germany, the two headed sculpture from Roquepertuse   ( 600-124 BCE) and the two double faced god statues, which are probably Iron age,  from Boa island in Ireland.

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I love this point between the winter solstice and new year, a time of no time, when all activity is disrupted and the normal routines of our lives either slow down or cease entirely in the face of a huge cultural and seasonal wave. Nature tells us this is a time of stillness and retreat, although sadly the modern world seldom allows complete hibernation its onward rush never the less falters for a time over the holidays. The weather too has no interest in our daily schedules and need to progress, and will disrupt the race at will. This is a season when everyone learns, even just a little, that none of us are bigger than nature. That her cycles are applied to all of us regardless of our own ideas.

For me this descent into winters darkness began with a huge day of Samhain celebrations back at the end of October, where my husband and I participated in our whole town of Glastonbury ( UK) honouring our local hunter god, Gwyn Ap Nudd who leads the Wild Hunt- a team of spirits and spectral hounds that chase or guide the dead to the underworld. My husband the artist Dan Goodfellow embodied the role of Gwyn that day in a public ceremony probably not seen here in any form for over a thousand years. The power of all that ancestral presence was immense, the dead crowded into our circle along with the residents of our town. It was very moving, but it was not an easy ceremony to be part of- a dreadful sense of hope in the air, at deaths doorway, that while the end is inevitable, it will, after that dark journey, guide us all to the light one again.  

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