Finding The Flow of Awen

What is the awen? To cut a very complex story recklessly short, it is sometimes translated as ‘the flowing spirit’. Awen is a Celtic or Druidic term for that mystical quality of inspiration, be it poetic, magickal or artistic. The Druidic awen symbol features three rays, which are sometimes considered to be rays of light, but are also said to represent the Goddess Bridget’s fiery arrows of inspiration, aimed at the soul of the lucky recipient of Her creative muse energy.

Art and I never got along in my youth. I was the child who sat staring at a blank page in art class, or a ball of clay in pottery class, never having the courage or inclination to begin. These were the classes that were the first to fall victim to my truancy habit, and I left school firmly convinced I had not a single creative spark in me. And things in no way improved over time. I would leave arty friend’s parties early as an adult when the mere threat of creative games reared its head, making my excuses and fleeing into the night.

And then, when I started to study Druidry, something really weird happened…

Working deeply with the four elements as part of my Bardic year, I reached the element of earth and thought I’d try a little sculpting. Firmly convinced I’d be terrible, I nonetheless had a romantic notion that working with clay would connect me more to the earth, and also to my ancient female ancestors, who had undoubtedly worked with clay in times ages past, making pots and probably ovens and houses and things. And because it was now the process which mattered to me, and not the end result, I found that it suddenly didn’t take courage to try.

Armed with a generic plastic all-purpose sculpting tool, a ball of clay and a youtube video, I decided to make an elephant. Yes I know, but why start small? And to my absolute amazement, I was utterly absorbed. Hours went by with me giggling in glee, adding ears and sculpting a tiny trunk, completely enchanted with the fact that it actually looked like an elephant (well, my hopes had not been high).

I was hooked! I started making little Goddess figures..

And then more complicated ones…

Then I started making moon-gazey hares and couldn’t stop…

Hell, I even made a fairy house.

I was struck by the realisation that the process was the important part, that wonderful flow state where you’re totally absorbed in what you’re doing, no outside worries intrude, and time loses all meaning because of your focus, that was what they meant when talking about the awen. And if the awen you seek is in the process, then the result doesn’t have to be perfect for the experience to be worthwhile.

I lost my fear of creating in this realisation. I weaved the bridal hoop for my handfasting out of willow rods, and then another hoop to be decorated for the seasons; I sat with my Bridget sisters making Bridie dolls for Imbolc; I made a Priestess girdle, adding ribbons and beads with abandon; I made a poker and then a snake spiral at the forge with lovely blacksmith teachers; I sewed the cat tail for my burlesque costume and made a Druid staff from a branch I found in the woods…

I tell you all this, not to impress you that I’m anything but the rankest amateur when it comes to making things, but to share with you the joy that it’s brought me to overcome my fear of not being good enough to try, and to realise that actually, simply letting the awen flow is its own reward.

You say ‘amateur’ as if it were a dirty word. ‘Amateur’ comes from the Latin word ‘amare’, which means ‘to love’. To do things for the love of it.

Mozart in the jungle

2 thoughts on “Finding The Flow of Awen

  1. Mary Tidbury

    I didn’t know that the awen could represent Bridget’s arrows, Amelie! And I love your definition of the awen, very liquid, very Bridget.
    Thank you for this lovely article and blessings of the beautiful season to you

    Mary 💚

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