I’m in London, and I’m walking towards the River Thames which is less than one minute’s walk from where I live, when in London. It’s a river named by Celts of old as Tems, and by the Romans as Tamesis, and it means ‘dark’, because it was (and still is) a river that lifts up the mud and silt on the riverbed, and that colours it.
But, it flows through London, and for transport and particularly trade over the centuries it is the city’s jugular vein. The city has changed over the millennia, but the river still flows.
In Wales, and to Welsh guys like myself, the word that springs to mind and is oh-so relevant is an ancient Welsh and Druidic term, Gwyar. Pronounced as ‘goo-yar’, it means water (or wine or blood, depending on how you translate it – and isn’t it the case, certainly in ancient text how those three liquids are used in literature, liturgy, interchangeably) and generally in Druidic groups it is the flow of the liquid that the word describes.
‘Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers.’ Genesis 2.10, The Book.
The River Thames flows through London, relentlessly, and unpertubbed by the machinations of humans
Gwyar is flux.
In Celtic, Celtic Christian, Druidic and deep spiritual matters, Gwyar is the flow of Spirit in us, through us, around us. It is movement, it is change, it is power. It is connection, the interconnectedness of all things, it is communication.
And so, in liturgy, poetry, prayer, invocation, singing or chanting (and musical wind instruments) it is the Spirit moving through our voice, our very breath. When drumming or shaking rattles, Gwyar and its energy is found in the depth of the rhythmic drumbeat. And, also other musical intruments and the sound of a singing bowl, they exhibit Gwyar as their sounds penetrate our ears and connect us with those deep liminal spaces deep within.
Gwyar is the flow.
In nature’s cycles it is the turning of the seasons, the ebb and flow of the tide, the cycle of rain and mist which drains into rivers and the sea.
Richard Rohr talks a lot about Love. He says, quite rightly that if it’s not flowing out of you, it’s probably because you’re not allowing it to flow toward you.
‘It can flow toward you at every moment: through a flower, in a grain of sand, in a wisp of cloud, in any one person whom you allow to delight you. You might be experiencing this flow of love when you find yourself smiling at things for no apparent reason.’ Richard Rohr. This is Gwyar.
And so, Im now at the banks of the River Thames. The river is high, the tide is in. It does have a dark milky colour as it flows, and it is London’s faithful companion. Affectionately known as Father Thames, the title is lost is the mists of time itself. A god, perhaps? Or, just a personification?
Gwyar is ubiquitous.
The action of the River Thames, of any moving body of water, a river, a stream, a water fall etc, is a good example of gwyar, which itself, is a good metaphor of the energy of all that is Holy, the Spirit of All that moves in us, through us, around us. But, the water analogy has its limits. For, as I gaze at the River Thames, water, gwyer is all around us. Ubiquitous. For gwyer you don’t actually need to step into water, it is flowing in and through you right now. The water analogy fails to fully comprehend the deep meaning of the word, unless in your vision-eye you see streams of water moving all over the place, up and down, around corners, through that person, flowing here and flowing there in deep swirls around the corners of streets etc.
‘When the flow is flowing, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing. You don’t have to be a priest on the altar or a preacher in a pulpit, that’s for sure. You can be a homemaker in a grocery store or a construction worker at a work site; it doesn’t matter. It’s all inherently sacred and deeply satisfying.’ Richard Rohr. This is Gwyar.
In all that we do, work, at home, at school or college, in ritual, at play, at rest etc gwyar, the flow of That Which Is Bigger Than Us moves through us, and in that sense we need not worry or be concerned. We stand in the flow. But, oh what joy, and fun, and energy we can utilise when we are aware of Gwyar and co-operate with Gwyar, when we have a true discernment and understanding of it in all that we do (and are).
Then, even mundane things (if anything is really mundane) come ‘alive’, have deep meaning, and we can experience the flow of supreme joy in all circumstances. This is gwyar.