In ancient Keltia, the Druid Order consisted of learned ones, those educated in Bardic Arts: cosmology and spirituality, natural-native history and geology, legendary history of heroes and mythology, healing and botanical medicine, astrononmy and astronology, and of course ‘magic’ – all of which are hidden in lines of Bardic verse and the researches of those who study them. As primary preservers of Celtic and Druid Mysteries, it is no wonder that Bardic Druids were considered the transmitter or catalyst of -awen- the essence, Divine Spark or spirit of inspiration that the Greeks termed ‘gnosis’. It is to the ‘ebb and flow’ of the -awen field- that the magical and poetic genius of the Bard is attributed.
Preservation of ancient knowledge is key among all elite orders of the ages. This Ancient Mystery School is timeless and spans all places on Earth. Past mystical cultures often relied on elite orders of scribe-priests and poet-magicians to bridge ancestral roots and traditions with the future – orders rooted in ‘languages’, ‘communication’, and above all the written word. The poetic genius of “awen” – the Divine Spark of Creation – manifests throughout all creative arts and as the spirt of “prophecy,” an ability to observe experiences with a heightened awareness and communicate it in the World of Form. Druidism is, therefore, an echo of this “poetic genius,” an amalgamation of collected knowledge preserved by the ancient elite, including a mystical and scientific understanding of the world that eluded the perceptual range of ‘common’ folk.
A unique metaphysical apprenticeship combining diverse facets of knowledge – from practical magic, to Welsh Bardic tradition, to Celtic history, or even foreign philosophies assimilated by the Druids – all appear in Douglas Monroe’s Merlyn Trilogy under a premise of being derived from the Book of Pheryllt (or Books of Fferyllt); a collective ‘body’ of Druidic wisdom also called the Body of the Dragon. As such, a wide array of sources and subjects were required to develop an allegorical facsimile (but legitimately authentic) manifestation of the Book of Pheryllt consistent with the mysterious manner in which Bards and Druids conceal and reveal the secret tradition. Considering the sheer variety of citations and scattered references in Monroe’s work, meeting justifiably high requirements and expectations for the ‘Body of the Dragon’ would require more than one volume to be complete and follow protocols – actually three volumes: a TRIAD interwoven as ONE.
Many antiquated scholarly references to the “Books of Fferyllt” or the “Pheryllt” themselves may be found (included or paraphrased in the current Book of Pheryllt trilogy series facsmile). Whatever bits trickle down from classical literature and antiquarian druidism to satisfy a modern thirst for the ‘pheryllt paradigm’ have been collected together in one place – a sacred book once thirded and now made whole – forming a complete sourcebook of undefiled lore. Whatever name, guise, or title we might attribute to the ‘Body of the Dragon’ – and we have chosen PHERYLLT – this same lore (originally accessible to few) serves as basis for the majority of Celtic and neo-Druidic revival of the past few centuries; whether or not it has been given due credit as such.
Several different cycles of important Celtic and Welsh literature and lore – Hanes Taliesin, Cad Goddeu, the Gwarchans, Cymric Triads, the books of Aneurin, Taliesin, Myrddin… – are all found in the Iolo Manuscripts including the Myvyrian Archaeology anthology and Barddas. In fact, we can essentially trace the abundant wealth of surviving Welsh MS. – including the Mabinogion – back to “Iolo Morganwg” (Edward Williams) and manuscripts ascribed to “Llywelyn Sion.” Where a thick scholarly aura accumulated from years of controversy may surround the ‘authenticity’ of some of these manuscripts, valid substitution shortages have bound the modern revival specifically to these available texts and the tradition gleaned from them.
The Book of Pheryllt trilogy of volumes edited by Joshua Free (also collected together in one volume in the forthcoming “Pheryllt -or- Body of the Dragon” anthology to be released later this year) is the realization of a legendary tome collecting wisdom passed down from an equally legendary ‘priesthood’ known in the histories of the Druids as the PHERYLLT (pronounced FAIR-ee-llt or VAIR-ult) – those who resided in the ancient Snowdonian mountains of northern Wales. There, they inhabited an ‘ambrosial city’ named for its mysterious founder, PHARAON (FAR-ah-on), meaning ‘higher powers’ and possibly alluding to the ‘celestial’ authority of a “Pharaoh.” Perhaps it is the practice of “Druid Craft” to call down ‘higher powers’ to conjure inspiration and magic in the world – perhaps that is what Ceridwen is doing where Taliesin the Bard writes: – “She took to the crafts of the Books of Fferyllt to boil a cauldron of awen.” According to our modern ‘Neo-Pheryllt’ tradition, a manuscript known as the Book of Pheryllt exists from the 16th Century collection attributed to Llywelyn Sion of Glamorgan Wales. Along with its companion volume, Barddas, also purportedly by Llywelyn Sion, the manuscripts moved from the library of Owen Morgan (“Morian”) to the private collection of the Albion Lodge of the United Ancient Order of Druids in Oxford (an ancient stronghold of the Pheryllt Order noted by Ralph Waldo Emerson).