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Gwydion Pendderwen

Gwydion Pendderwen (May 21, 1946 – Nov. 9, 1982)

Role(s): CAW Bard (deceased)

Born Thomas deLong in Berkeley, California, he met Victor Anderson at the age of 13, and was initiated into his magickal practices, becoming like an adopted son to Victor and his wife Cora. As their student he became a major contributor to the Feri Tradition, co-writing with Victor most of their rituals. Tom changed his name to Gwydion Pendderwen, as he was known for the rest of his life.

Gwydion attended California State University in Los Angeles, where he majored in theatre and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. He was a superb actor and dramatic reader, but he much preferred ritual drama, sacred poetry, and music. He also studied Gaelic Welsh, which he learned to speak and write by corresponding with a practicing Pagan Deri Ap Arthur in Wales. Gwydion was active in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), serving as Court Bard in their Kingdom of the West, and also joined a local grove of the New Reformed Druids of North America (NRDNA).

In 1972 Gwydion and one of his Feri initiates Alison Harlow founded Nemeton (Welsh for “sacred grove”), a NeoPagan networking group, which later became the publishing arm of the Church of All Worlds. In 1975 he produced the Pagan community’s first music album: Songs of the Old Religion. About the same time, he purchased 55 acres of undeveloped forest he called Annwfn (the Welsh Underworld) on the 5,600-acre Hippie homesteading community of Greenfield Ranch in Mendocino County, NorCalifia.

During his first year at Annwfn, Gwydion lived in a tiny A-frame shelter. Then he built an unusual home and temple called The Shaggy Mushroom. While he continued to teach and initiate people into the Feri Tradition, he also developed a practice called Faery Shamanism based on Irish and Welsh lore, which is now known as the Watchmaker line of the Feri Tradition.

In 1976 Gwydion traveled to the British Isles, where he met his correspondence friend Deri Ap Arthur and other well-known figures in the Wicca movement, among them Alex Sanders and Stewart Farrar, and was honored at the Eistedffodd (bardic assembly) in Wales for his music and poetry.

In 1977 Oberon and Morning Glory Zell moved onto adjoining land owned by Alison Harlow, co-founding the Holy Order of Mother Earth (HOME). Here they all came together to celebrate the Sabbats and other Pagan events. Also in 1977 with Alison, Gwydion co-founded Forever Forests and started annual New Year’s tree plantings to reforest the logged-over land. Later he deeded all his land and buildings at Annwfn to the Church of All Worlds, with the stipulation that it be maintained as a sanctuary and never owned by an individual.

Pendderwen is best remembered for his music and poetry. Songs for the Old Religion was followed by Wheel of the Year in 1979, and The Rites of Summer in 1980. His second album, The Faerie Shaman, was produced in 1982, just before his tragic death at Samhain in a car accident.

[ George Knowles. OZ. Anna Korn. ]

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