Words have power. With a word the cosmos was called into being, people were raised from the dead, and with our words events are called forth, promises are made, and the future unfolds.
There is a delightful and an ancient Gaelic/Welsh word, ‘nwyfre’ (pronounced ‘noo-iv ruh’), which is deep and profound, and full of power, and beneficial to know as it may change our perception. It is a word that allows us to ‘peep behind the curtain’ – that veil that masks what really is, from that which only appears to be so. It’s a ‘thin’ word.
There is a thick forest not far from where I live in north Wales, old and dense; ancient. I love it. As a child most of us, not me, would avoid part of the forest where it was thickest because of a feeling of intense fear. Perhaps part of our childish imagination at the time, or maybe more? That area, even more dense than the surrounding forest, contained, what we called ‘Y goeden mellt’, the Lightning Tree, and most of my friends hated it, but not me.
‘The things that frighten us just want to be held.’ Mark Nepo.
I’ve visited there sometimes since – and my respect for Y goeden mellt’, the Lightning Tree has grown more and more over the years. For more about my earliest encounters with Y goeden mellt’, see here.
‘..stands a lightning tree.It’s limbs all torn from the day it was born for the tree was born in a thunderstorm.’
(The Settlers song, ‘The Lightning Tree’.)
As an adult, I learned that Y goeden mellt has power, or is it power that we give it? Nevertheless, it was a place to visit when one was awakened in the depths of the night and one couldn’t sleep, or when it ‘called’ by it. Deep thoughts, meditation or was it a dream occurred some time ago, there, a ‘dream’ about the ancestors. It is a ‘thin place. See here.
‘Oh Trees, Trees, Trees…wake. Don’t you remember it? Don’t you remember me? Dryads and hamadryads, come out, come [out] to me.’ C S Lewis.
And, then last evening I went to Y goeden mellt, with a friend, at dusk. We entered the forest, walked for some time into the thickest part of the forest, and then moved into the usually unvisited clearing. And, there in the centre was Y goeden mellt, the Lightening Tree.
Under my breath – I thought it might ‘spook’ my friend if I did what I usually did out loud – I greeted the Lightning Tree with something like, ‘Hello, my dear and ancient friend’. And, I lowered my head, temporarily, as a sign of respect. I think my friend saw that nod, but he remained quiet.
My friend found the fallen tree trunk which makes for a comfortable seat – not too close, not to far away from the Tree, and sat on it. I sat beside him. We were both quiet for some time, as the light fell, in awe of the majesty of the setting.
‘What do you see?’, I asked.
‘Trees!’, was his reply.
‘And, what else?’ I asked.
‘Trees, trees and more trees.’, he said, smiling.
I thought for a while, and then said to him, ‘And what about nwyfre?
On hearing that word, he immediately looked up, gazed at the sky and the tops of the trees, and said, ‘A little nwyfre, sure….and it’s nice’.
Nwyfre, traditionally and literally is to do with wind and the sky. If you can imagine fast flowing, light clouds in a blue sky, say, or the wind ‘howling’ of the tops of trees, then that’s evidence of nwyfre. But, it’s more – to those with deep awareness, insight, enlightenment, to those who are poets and those who might have a ‘romantic’ inclination, it’s more.
‘The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone….’ John 3:8a, The Book.
Nwyfre, at its deepest and most profound, and I would say its most real level, is: Spirit, and the connectedness of everything because of Spirit, and the flow of energy (love etc) between everything.
As my friend looked around, he saw a gnarled tree in a clearing and localised atmospheric pressure skipping cross the tops of trees. He declared it was ‘nice’.
No disrespect to my friend, but there is more.
As I sat, gazing at Y goeden mellt, memories, and experience(s), respect and the feeling of being in a powerful place flooded my mind. I realised (and realised this some time ago), that much of this was in my mind. Call it a series of inner experiences, a jaunt into the imaginal realm, or a particular use of ones imagination, call it what you will, I know such experiences have happened in the past, and unbeknown to my friend, were happening now.
For him, nwyfre was a natural event.
For me, nwyfre is that and more. I knew it to be real and deeper and more profound, albeit using different ‘senses’. We see, only what we expect to find. And, as I looked around, and my imagination ‘fired up’, I could see the gnarled tree that my friend was looking at, but I saw Y goeden mellt, a powerful being, imbued with the same life-forced that flowed through me (and through my friend, even though he was unware of it). It was as if a trillion fire flies flew along its branches and roots like veins in a body, and then they flew outward to surrounding trees, lighting up the clearing with almost neon, golden, lights in a myriad, swirling patterns. Light. Energy. Love. Power. Connectedness. Oneness. Love…all, in my mind’s eye.
My friend, saw a gnarled tree. I saw more, as we sat there for about an hour in the ‘silence’ of the forest
‘There, in the silence that’s never quite silent, I realized that, if there are at least seven thousand wants to speak, there are at least seven thousand ways to listen. Mark Nepo.
We were just about to leave, when my friend said, ‘That’s weird!’. Ofcourse, I just had to ask him to explain, and he did. He said that although it had got darker, he could see little blips of light in his peripheral vision. Not wanting to flood him with information about the deep meaning of nwyfre and wondering that, perhaps, he was starting to see reality at a deeper level, I said we should stay a few more minutes to see what happened. He didn’t agree. ‘It’s nothing’, he said, ‘just an illusion, just phosphene!’. And, with that he got off the felled log, and we hiked our way out of the clearing, with him in front of me. That was good, because, as is my custom Y goeden mellt got a nod from me and a barely-audible ‘good-bye’ as we left the clearing.
Back at the cottage, we talked about that experience. He was adamant that what he saw was an optical illusion. I wasn’t so sure, and said to him, ‘Perhaps it was more. Perhaps you actually caught a glimpse of nwyfre with your eyes, your mind’s eye?’
He replied, ‘Maybe, but whatever it was, it was nice’. I couldn’t leave it there, and said, ‘Only nice?’.
My friend, I believe, caught a glimpse of nwyfre in its fullness: Spirit, and the connectedness of everything because of Spirit, and the flow of energy (love etc) between everything, seen as an intricate and living web of light. He saw a glimpse, mainly dismissed it, but the ‘key has been dropped’. He had been introduced to that which ‘is beyond’, a ‘thin place of understanding’, and it’s up to him now to take it further (or not). I might just drop another key, prompt him with another encounter and learning opportunity. I might just invite him back, again, to encounter Y goeden mellt to witness nwyfre.’
‘Four hundred year old trees, who draw aliveness from the earth like smoke from the heart of God, we come, not knowing you will hush our little want to be big; we come, not knowing that all the work is so much busyness of mind; all the worry, so much busyness of heart…. ‘Mark Nepo
But, what about you?
In your mind’s eye, your imagination, in that imaginal realm that can be accessed in a number of ways (such as through meditation, centering, deliberately entering a waking-but-day-dreaming state etc), you too, whether in a rural area or urban area can witness nwyfre in a way that is personal to you, and just as profound, wherever you are. So, what are you waiting for? Nwyfre awaits!