Welsh history alludes to a very ancient and enigmatic sect of Druids that may be the very first wave of magician priests in the British Isles, even predating the Celtic Druids by hundreds or even thousands of years. Both historical documents in Wales, as well as the rhythmic poems regularly recited by the Welsh Bards, mention an obscure Druid sect known as the Pheryllt, a name denoting “metallurgists” and “alchemists.” The researchers who have studied these documents and poems tout the Pheryllt as being the incipient culture bearers and teachers of Druidism throughout the British Isles, and they have suggested that they may have been the original builders of many of the towering megalithic monuments in Britain, including Stonehenge and Avebury. Certain clues discovered within the Welsh texts imply that the esoteric wisdom of the Pheryllt was once taught within certain Druid academies in the area of Oxford, Snowdon in Wales, and possibly on the Isle of Anglessey, which has been referred to in ancient texts as the “Isle of Teaching.”
In Snowdon, which eventually became their principal headquarters, the Pheryllyt founded a city of spiritual light known in Welsh terminology as the “ambrosial city of Emrys.” Emrys is also remembered as “Dinas Affaraon,” the “place of the Higher Powers,” or the place where a Druid could achieve the apex of his or her higher spiritual powers and consciousness. Emrys was also the headquarters of the “Dragons of Beli” and the dark, destructive Welsh Goddess of Death, Kerridwen, whom the Pheryllt may have brought to Britain with them from their original homeland. It was to Kerridwen that the Pheryllt directed their prayers in order to achieve success in their alchemical and initiatory rites, especially those that culminated in death and spiritual rebirth. Kerridwen personified the dark, destructive aspect of the Goddess, who has for ages been venerated in many Goddess-centric cultures worldwide as the possessor of all the three powers of creation, preservation and destruction; hence her universal name of “Triple Goddess.” As Kali, Hecate, Sekhmet, and Kerridwen, the dark aspect of the Goddess has traditionally been called forth by Hindu yogis, Greek sages, Egyptian priests and British Druids in order to assist them in their alchemical experiments and transformative practices. After arriving to bless her devotees, the destructive presence of the Dark Goddess would invariably assist her worshippers in evolving beyond the limitations of matter and their egos before catapulting them into the everlasting life of the Infinite Spirit.
Recently, more in-depth information regarding the Pheryllt was brought to the attention of the public with the publication of The 21 Lessons of Merlyn by Douglas Monroe, which claims to be a rendition and commentary of an obscure Welsh text known as The Book of the Pherllyt. According to this text, the Pheryllt arrived in Wales from the sinking Atlantis before setting themselves to the task of building the towering megalithic circles of Britain. The Pheryllt are reputed to have been residing in Glastonbury around 2000 B.C., when the region was still under water and composed of a group of islands. Perhaps it was their sojourn in Glastonbury that eventually led to the sacred site becoming one of the principal headquarters of alchemy in Britain, as well as a special British home of Kerridwen (some say she lives inside the “Spiral Castle” of Glastonbury Tor).
The 21 Lessons of Merlyn has lately come under attack by those who have no knowledge of there ever having been a Book of the Pherllyt. But even if the text is spurious, there has for many years been a general consensus among the Welsh Bards and British Druids that the Pheryllt did indeed once exist and that their wisdom was anciently compiled in the lost “Books of the Pheryllt.” These extinct books are principally mentioned in the Welsh Book of Taliesin, which is a series of alchemical poems supposedly composed by the greatest of bards, the sixth-century Taliesin. Taliesin’s allegorical poems, which according to some modern Druids present a veiled description of an authentic Druid initiation rite, recount how Kerridwen once prepared a potion within her cauldron of inspiration (or immortality) from an ancient recipe she found in the Books of the Pheryllt. The poems assert that while preparing a potion for her son, Kerridwen mixed together in her cauldron certain ingredients, including sea salt, which would be recognizable to any modern-day alchemist as a basic ingredient for the elixir of immortality.
Kerridwen subsequently made the mistake of leaving her pot to cook under the watchful guidance of a boy named Gwion, who inadvertently allowed three scalding drops of the magic potion to land on his finger before quickly licking off the burning liquid, thus receiving the blessings (or initiation) which were meant for Kerridwen’s son. Kerridwen’s anger was thus kindled and a chase ensued between her and Gwion—one that is believed to cryptically expose the lessons and transformations that a Druid would undergo after imbibing Kerridwen’s cauldron of immortality during his or her initiation ceremony. During the chase Gwion transformed himself successively into the forms of a hare, a fish, a bird, and then finally into a grain of wheat. Meanwhile, while in hot pursuit of Gwion, Kerridwen transformed herself into a greyhound, an otter, a hawk, and then a hen that finally caught Gwion and consumed him as a grain of wheat. While inside Kerridwen Gwion gestated within the womb of the dark goddess for nine months, ultimately being born from her as the immortal Bard Taliesin. The allegorical Taliesin was then to live for many years as the archetypal Druid initiate.
One of the most remarkable gifts acquired by Gwion during his transformation into Taliesin—and what made Taliesin truly great—was Awen, which is loosely translated as “inspiration.” It is because of this special gift received by initiated bards that Kerridwen’s cauldron is commonly referred to by them as the “cauldron of inspiration.” Through the power of Awen” a bard is able to access inner inspiration and intuitive wisdom emanating from the deepest levels of his or her being. As this wisdom bubbles to the surface he or she is then able to articulate it in the form of poetic verse. Perhaps a more relatable and modern translation of Awen is “gnosis,” a word that denotes the intuitive wisdom that emerges from deep within oneself as the result of spiritual practice and answers many questions about oneself and the universe. But Awen is not just gnosis; the term contained an even more inclusive meaning for the Druids. It also denoted the primal sound that creates the physical universe. Awen is thus the Druid counterpart of the Hindu AUM, which is a name for the creative force of the universe as well as the primal Goddess who is that force. This primeval Goddess force is also known among the Hindu sages as Shakti or Kundalini.
But power of Awen and Kundalini—which are names of the Triple Goddess—is also destructive. It is as Kundalini that the Hindu yogis traditionally invoke the destructive goddess during their transformative yogic practices. The yogis believe that the goddess as Kundalini becomes destructive following the creation of the human species, when she curls up at the base of the human spine and waits until a person is ready to destroy the limitations that keep him or her from knowing their true nature as spirit and accessing their inner gnostic wisdom. In this destructive aspect Kundalini is a name for Goddess as Kali, and therefore a name for the Greek Hecate and the Druid’s Kerridwen. Thus, Awen, AUM, Kundalini, Kali and Kerridwen are all interconnected, and they all denote the goddess and her power. Therefore, it can be said that Kerridwen and her cauldron of inspiration and immortality dwell at the base of everyone’s spine.
A Welsh reference to Kerridwen and her home at the base of the human spine is ostensibly woven into The Spoils of Annwn, one of the alchemical poems contained within The Book of Taliesin. According to the allegory alluded to in the poem, while traveling through Annwn, the underworld, King Arthur and his knights discover the Holy Grail (the cauldron of Kerridwen) in the four-cornered castle in the Isle of the Strong (or closed) Door. This poetic location of Kerridwen’s Cauldron appears to be a cryptic allusion to the Kundalini of the Hindu yogis that lies deep within a person (their underworld) in the four petal Muladhara Chakra (the Four Cornered Castle) at the entrance to the Sushumna energy meridian (the Closed Door).
Obviously, there are salient similarities between the Druid Pheryllt and the yogis of India. Such outstanding links have inspired researchers to seek an ancient relationship between the two cultures; and at least one appears to have been found. Welsh records maintain that the very first Druids, i.e., the Pheryllt, arrived in Wales as part of the migration of Cymry, a people who had traveled from the “Summer Land” of “Defrobani.” Defrobani is the Welsh word for Taprobana, an early name for Sri Lanka, an island off the coast of India that shares the same yogic culture. It is said that the Cymry were guided from Defrobani or Sri Lanka to the British Isles by the Welsh culture hero Hu Gadarn, and the proof of their journey can be found in the Welsh language which is full of Sanskrit root words. Once in Wales Hu Gadarn founded the first sect of Druids, who were worshippers of Kerridwen and believed to have been the Pheryllt. Spence contends that the Cymry looked upon Hu Gadarn and Kerridwen the same way the Hindus regard Lord Shiva and the Goddess Shakti of India. Thus, the Welsh divine pair may have originated as the Hindus’ primal couple before being brought to Britain.
Who Built Stonehenge & Avebury?
There are numerous reasons to believe that the Pheryllt built many of the megalithic circles in Britain, not the least of which is that they are natural alchemical crucibles for initiation and, therefore, made-to-order structures for Pheryllt ritual. Of course, the Pheryllt must be considered to be much more qualified as candidates to have built these structures than those currently suggested by the academic community—the five-foot-tall primitive “Beaker People” of Neolithic times. And the Pheryllt were more likely to have been in possession with the supernatural abilities and advanced technologies required for the task of transporting 10-20 ton stones hundreds of miles, because such abilities naturally accrue from the practice of inner alchemy. The use of magical powers in the building Stonehenge was originally suggested by the thirteenth-century Welsh historian Geoffrey of Monmouth’s The History of the Kings of Britain. After closely studying ancient Welsh records, Geoffrey maintained that the stones of Stonehenge were moved to their present location by Merlin—a Druid descendant of the Pheryllt—through magical means. Magic or the use of anti-gravity technology is the only possible explanation for how many of the worlds’ ancient megalithic structures, including those of Peru and Egypt, could have been built.
The alchemical properties of the British stone circles can be readily discerned through their polarity-uniting designs. The theory of alchemy stipulates that for a structure to generate the power of alchemy—i.e., the destructive power of the goddess—the ability to unite the male/female polarity must be incorporated into its design. In ancient times the alchemically designed pyramids and stone circles of the Pheryllt and other sacred architects worldwide were placed over vortexes that by nature already united the male/female polarity and produced the alchemical power.
Thus, the power these ancient megaliths produced added to a preexistent alchemical force and amplified it. This is certainly the case in Britain, where many of the stone circles have been proven to lie on vortex points where two polar opposite lines, the St. Michael and St. Mary lines, bisect each other. These two major ley lines run north from Cornwall, and their crossing is especially noticeable at the stone circle of Avebury and Glastonbury Tor.
Avebury’s role as an “alchemical crucible” is decidedly enhanced by its megalithic structure. Avebury consists of one large circle within which reside two smaller male/female circles. The small female circle is located in the northern part of the larger circle, and is therefore associated with female darkness and cold residing in the northern direction. By contrast, the small male circle is located in the southern region of the larger circle and therefore absorbs the fiery and light qualities that exist in that direction. The male circle also once possessed a huge defining “male” obelisk within its center. It has been suggested that during sacred times of the year the ritual leaders of Avebury knew the secrets of how to unite the energies of the two smaller polar-opposite circles and thereby produce the power of Kerridwen. The eighteenth-century antiquarian William Stukeley was adamant that a head and tail were once attached to the larger Avebury circle, thus making it a gigantic serpent and an undeniable temple of Kerridwen, whose symbols include a dragon or serpent.
Stonehenge’s design also makes it a perfect megalithic alchemical crucible. The universal polarity is obviously united at Stonehenge during sunrise at the Summer Solstice when the first male rays of the sun rise over the heel stone and inseminate the female circle or ovum. But at other times of the year a union of the polarity is generated by the union of the “female” circle of 30 sarsens that is bisected or inseminated at its center by the phallic male “horseshoe” of 10 larger sarsens. The number 30, which corresponds to the lunar month and the triple goddess, is associated with the female principle, while the number 10, the numerological equivalent of the Hebrew Yod, is associated with the male principle.
Thus it appears that the ancient Pheryllt Druids may have indeed been the original Druids in Britain and the builders of its stone circles. Future researches into the ancient past of Britain should, therefore, include the mysterious Pheryllt alchemists.
Mark Amaru Pinkham is the North American Grand Prior of the International Order of Gnostic Templars (www.Gnostic Templars.org) and the author of four books on earth’s ancient mystery traditions.