As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve become somewhat allergic to the devotional current in which many pagan and polytheistic bloggers seem to swim. Turning over your free will to something without a body (god, spirit, ancestor, whatever), just because it doesn’t have a body, makes me break out in a rash. However, my limited time exploring devotional polytheism also left me with a respect for the dedication and work put into those practices. The trick is to remain vigilant against devotion as an indulgence in untreated mental illness (something not unique to pagans/polytheists, I might add).
Still, I find it grounding and enlivening to give offerings to the various gods and spirits with whom I work. I adhere to the premise that the gods are distinct and individual beings. I believe that many gods, particularly within the Celto-Germanic cultures, share titles and functions while remaining separate beings. I believe that the land on which one lives will influence the manifestations of one’s gods. And I also believe that if one is going to mix pantheons, then there has to be a sound underlying reason and/or logic for it.
Recently, I’ve been feeling inspired by the Welsh pantheon, which I had sadly drifted away from after being part of a rather toxic grove early in my druidic explorations. Part of this renewed interest is doubtless due to the work I’ve been doing with Cerridwen since November 2013. Even when I had fully immersed myself within the Vanatru paradigm, there were always a couple of Welsh gods hanging around, keeping an eye on things.
I’ve been playing around with a calendar for adoration/veneration/devotion for a while now. Most of the gods in my practice are Welsh: Arianrhod, Gwydion, Gwynn ap Nudd, Llew, Dôn, and Cerridwen. However, I have two “outliers” as it were: Brigantia and Wayland the Smith. Now, Brigantia can be considered a goddess of the Britons, so I feel that she is fine working alongside the later Welsh deities. Wayland on the other hand…
One of my own failings is that I really like consistency. I would love to have all my gods and spirits lined up in nice, neat, tidy niches in my own personal temple. We all know that rarely happens. But I began wondering if perhaps I had been confused all these years, that it wasn’t Wayland that I should be honoring, but Gofannon.
So I did what every good pagan ex-researcher does when they encounter a spiritual quandry: I started browsing through JStor for links between Wayland and Gofannon.
I found an interesting 2008 article by Václav Blazek, “Celtic ‘Smith’ and his Colleagues,” which attempts to make linguistic connections between the various Celtic names for the divine smith and his counterparts in other IE cultures. He ends his article by noting that there are strong etymological links between the Latin (Italic) and Celtic designations, as well as a promising cognate in Old Lithuanian (80). Sadly, the connection that Blazek really has trouble making is between the Germanic and the Celtic, saying that there are “too many alternative solutions” (80).
When the curious run out of academic sources, it’s time to resort to intuition.
Since I was traveling for work and hadn’t packed my tarot deck or runes, I resorted to dowsing. I used my hammer and anvil necklace as the pendulum and asked the following series of questions.
Q: Can I call Wayland by Gofannon?
A: Yes (weak).
Q: Is Wayland the same being as Gofannon?
Q: Should I be honoring Gofannon?
A: No (weak).
Q: Should I be honoring Wayland?
The takeaway? In this case, having a random Anglo-Saxon god in the mix seems to be ok, even to the point where it would be ok to call him by another being’s name if it kept up our connection. I’m still going to call him Wayland though. There’s just too much good history there for me to change it for consistency’s sake. My suspicion is that both Wayland and Brigantia are more tribal gods for me, as much of the remaining evidence for their worship comes from the areas in which my father’s family originated.
So, the snapshot of my theology today is 3/4 Welsh (11th century or later), 1/4 Briton (5th century). Spirituality becomes just that much more tangled when the dimension of time is added, doesn’t it?