Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race
Page: 157In this system two primary existences are contemplated, God and Cythrawl, who stand respectively for the principle of energy tending towards life, and the principle of destruction tending towards nothingness. Cythrawl is realised in Annwn, which may be rendered, the Abyss, or Chaos. In the beginning there was nothing but God and Annwn. Organised life began by the Word—God pronounced His ineffable Name and the “Manred” was formed. The Manred was the primal substance of the universe. It was conceived as a multitude of minute indivisible particles—atoms, in fact—each being a microcosm, for God is complete in each of them, while at the same time each is a part of God, the Whole. The totality of being as it now exists is represented by three concentric circles. The innermost of them, where life sprang from Annwn, is called “Abred,” and is the stage of struggle and evolution—the contest of life with Cythrawl. The next is [pg 334] the circle of “Gwynfyd,” or Purity, in which life is manifested as a pure, rejoicing force, having attained its triumph over evil. The last and outermost circle is called “Ceugant,” or Infinity. Here all predicates fail us, and this circle, represented graphically not by a bounding line, but by divergent rays, is inhabited by God alone. The following extract from “Barddas,” in which the alleged bardic teaching is conveyed in catechism form, will serve to show the order of ideas in which the writer's mind moved:
“Q. Whence didst thou proceed?
“A. I came from the Great World, having my beginning in Annwn.
“Q. Where art thou now? and how camest thou to what thou art?
“A. I am in the Little World, whither I came having traversed the circle of Abred, and now I am a Man, at its termination and extreme limits.
“Q. What wert thou before thou didst become a man, in the circle of Abred?
“A. I was in Annwn the least possible that was capable of life and the nearest possible to absolute death; and I came in every form and through every [pg 335] form capable of a body and life to the state of man along the circle of Abred, where my condition was severe and grievous during the age of ages, ever since I was parted in Annwn from the dead, by the gift of God, and His great generosity, and His unlimited and endless love.
“Q. Through how many different forms didst thou come, and what happened unto thee?”
“A. Through every form capable of life, in water, in earth, in air. And there happened unto me every severity, every hardship, every evil, and every suffering, and but little was the goodness or Gwynfyd before I became a man.... Gwynfyd cannot be obtained without seeing and knowing everything, but it is not possible to see or to know everything without suffering everything.... And there can be no full and perfect love that does not produce those things which are necessary to lead to the knowledge that causes Gwynfyd.”