- An obscure practice described only briefly by Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales) in his Description of Wales, written in the late 12th century. The Awenyddion exhibited behavior that is reminiscent of possession and other trance practices of some shamans, as well as divination through dreams: Among the Welsh there are certain individuals called Awenyddion who behave as if they are possessed. . . . When you consult them about some problem, they immediately go into a trance and lose control of their senses. . . . They do not answer the question put to them in a logical way. Words stream from their mouths, incoherently and apparently meaningless and lacking any sense at all, but all the same well expressed: and if you listen carefully to what they say you will receive the solution to your problem. When it is all over, they will recover from their trance, as if they were ordinary people waking from a heavy sleep, but you have to give them a good shake before they regain control of themselves . . . and when they do return to their senses they can remember nothing of what they have said in the interval. . . . They seem to receive this gift of divination through visions which they see in their dreams. Some of them have the impression that honey or sugary milk is being smeared on their mouths; others say that a sheet of paper with words written on it is pressed against their lips. As soon as they are roused from their trance and have come round from their prophesying, that is what they say has happened.It is difficult to speculate further on the shamanic or even sociopolitical status of the Awenyddion based on Gerald’s brief description, although the allusions to shamanic practice are intriguing. Nonetheless, Druid-shamans today use this source to reconstruct a practice of oracular seership meaningful for today’s Druid communities. In particular, Philip “Greywolf” Shallcrass has interpreted the Awenyddion as shaman-like druid-priests and has developed the practice as a druid equivalent of the Heathen seidr.
Historical dictionary of shamanism. Graham Harvey and Robert J. Wallis. 2007.
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Northern Europe — Shamanistic themes have been identified, with some speculation, in the pre Christian pagan religions across northern Europe, the “Old North.” While it is likely that prehistoric communities in the region had shamanistic practitioners,… … Historical dictionary of shamanism
Chronology — Shamanism is sometimes said to be the earliest religion, the original religion. In fact, there is no evidence that could prove or disprove such a claim. To the contrary, it is certainly the case that every shaman living today utilizes skills… … Historical dictionary of shamanism
Celts — Prehistoric Indo European Iron Age tribes that lived in preRoman northwest Europe and colonized Europe west of the Danube from around 1000 BCE; also, speakers of ancient and modern Celtic languages, especially in the modern national regions in … Historical dictionary of shamanism
Divination — The acquisition of information via supernatural means; derived from the Latin divinare, meaning “to foretell” or “to discover something.” Divination may involve consulting a specialist, such as a shaman, or may particularly in contemporary… … Historical dictionary of shamanism
Druids — A type of Pagan, both in antiquity among the Celts and in the present among contemporary Celtic Pagans. See also Awenyddion; Jones, Leslie Ellen; Matthews, John and Caitlin; Northern Europe; Shallcrass, Philip (“Greywolf”) … Historical dictionary of shamanism
Neo-Shamanism — Also neo Shamanism, neoshamanism, new shamanism, whiteshamanism, contemporary shamanism, urban shamanism, Western shamanism. A term applied by scholars to engagement with, application of, or appropriation from indigenous or prehistoric… … Historical dictionary of shamanism
Shallcrass, Philip “Greywolf” — British Druid and former joint chief of the British Druid Order. Shallcrass is discussed by Robert Wallis as a neo shaman engaging with ancient historic and archaeological sources, which may hint at ancient British shamanisms, in order to… … Historical dictionary of shamanism