Brythonic Polytheism is a religious tradition based on a devotional relationship with one or more of the gods worshipped by the Brythonic peoples inhabiting Britain and Gaul in the Ancient World. Brythonic polytheists recognise a range of goddesses and gods. Some of these gods and goddesses are attested from records or sites of worship in Roman Britain and Gaul, some survived in later stories and other writings, particularly in Welsh which were constructed from oral tales reflecting a continuity of reference from earlier times.
Polytheists recognise a number of gods and accept the presence of many more beyond their personal experience. But as polytheism is an experiential religion, individual polytheists may focus on only a small number of deities, or even a single deity, in their devotional practice. The appearance of deity is multi-faceted, but falls into two main categories:
- The perception of deity felt directly and experienced as a distinctive individual, bound up with a sense of belonging to the land and the deity's presence in the landscape. - The parallel presence of deity as an identified individual in traditional tales, myths, images and celebrated in the cultural life of a people.
So Brythonic polytheists continue to experience the presence of deities in the lands of Britain and beyond and seek relationships with them through that experience. They also continue to celebrate them by reconstructing earlier representations of them and their appearances in later folklore, poetry, tales and other cultural forms and by shaping new cultural expressions for our own time based on individual insight and a shared social sense of their continuing presence for us. Devotional practice develops from this making them an important part of our lives as lived from day to day as well as on special occasions.
The Gods, the spirits of place and ourselves all arise from the landscape. We are products of it, we are shaped by it. It shapes how we see the world around us, it shapes our very language and lives and it shapes how we interact with and develop a relationship with the gods and ungods who form part of the great spiritual ecosystem we are all a part of.
Gods. People. Landscape; a trinity bound together with myth.
The gods we come to know and the relationship with them are guided and created by the landscape we encounter them in, having lived relationships with the gods inspires our connection to the landscape and can drive us to act - whether it's by defending our engodded landscapes (and underworlds) from fracking, sharing the stories of our deities in our communities or planting trees or holding rituals. When we engage with with the gods and landscape, it enriches and enlivens all three.
Spirits of Place
The Landscape is inhabited by a myriad spirits of that place; the genus locii as referred to by the Romans, to others; andedion, ungods, the fae or wights. These entities are distinct beings in their own right and our relationships with them are as individual as we are. Many of the beings we regard as gods are derived from spirits of place, as reflected by the localisation within the overall landscape. In some cases the terms ‘god’ and ‘spirit of place’ may be used interchangeably depending on the perception of those interacting with the god/spirit of place.
Ancestors are the dead, our predecessors who have gone before us and shaped the world we live in now. These include:
Ancestors of Blood: the ancestors of our bloodline and genetic heritage. Their stories are passed from generation to generation. We work to trace our family trees and share our histories whilst acknowledging kinship in the river of blood that unites us all.
Ancestors of the Land: the ancestors who lived in the landscape before us. Those whose bones rest in burial mounds and graveyards, whose work can be see in field lines and factories, heard echoing in local songs and traditions. We also acknowledge the many whose deaths are unmarked, their lives unknown but to the land's deep memory.
Ancestors of Spirit: the ancestors of our spiritual paths and vocations. Predecessors who have venerated the Brythonic deities and walked the paths to Annwn. Those who have shaped Brythonic tradition through storytelling, poetry and scholarship. Those who have stood for the land, its people and our heritage. Those who inspire us in our current vocations.