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The Music of Gwydion

4.6 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Audio CD, December 21, 2005
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Gwydion Pendderwen's music is back again! Serpentine Music, in cooperation with the estate of the late, great Gwydion Pendderwen, has re-issued both of Gwydion's albums, "Songs for the Old Religion" and "The Faerie Shaman" on a new double CD to be released November 23, 2005. The original masters to these albums have long been lost, so for this re-issue they were painstakingly re-created from vinyl records using the best digital transfer technology available. Gwydion was a gifted songwriter and performer, and at the time these albums came out--in 1975 and 1982--they were by far the best examples of Pagan song in existence. Gwydion's tunes are catchy, with great hooks and nice chord progressions, and his finely crafted lyrics are always well-matched to the music. His music is a product of its culture and times: late 70s and early 80s Paganism, heavy on the Celtic themes and folk music instrumentation. But any sense of his music being dated is eminently forgivable simply because it is well-made and heartfelt. It stands on its own as some of the finest Pagan music made to date. This music has continued to be very influential in the resurgence of Pagan culture in the US and beyond. Now may they continue to inspire future generations of bards and poets.

About the Artist

Gwydion Pendderwen: 1946-1982 by Anna Korn Born in a family of long-term California residents, Gwydion met the blind seer and poet Victor Anderson, teacher of the Færie Tradition of Witchcraft, at the age of thirteen. Until his early twenties, Gwydion studied with Victor, who combined folk practices with the Craft tradition into which he’d been initiated in the 1930s. Robert Graves’ theories of the relation of the Goddess as Muse and the Poet as Sacred King had a strong, if not fated, influence upon Gwydion. Gwydion had an excellent ear for the cadences and rhythms of words, which made listening to him an enchanting event. A genial and generous host, he was also quite the trickster, often going to extreme lengths in hatching plots for practical jokes. His tongue was witty and could be dangerously barbed, in true Bardic fashion. Victor and Gwydion developed and wrote most of the liturgical material of the Færie Tradition. Trance, poetry, and communication with Nature-spirits and the realm of the Fair Folk formed the basis of Gwydion’s magical practices. He retired early and spent much of each night in trance, asking not to be wakened or disturbed. He was deeply interested in linguistics, and spoke and wrote in Welsh. He was active in the Society for Creative Anachronism, and with Alison Harlow, a friend from the SCA who had become an initiate of the Færie Tradition, Gwydion founded Nemeton, an early magazine of Witchcraft and Paganism. By the early ‘70s, Neo-Paganism was beginning the growth spurt of its current renaissance. One of the landmarks of artistic merit in this rebirth was Gwydion’s first recording, Songs for the Old Religion. This album brought Gwydion a measure of fame and standing in the Pagan community. On vacation in 1976, he made a pilgrimage to the Eistedffodd in Wales, and was among those called to the stage on the last day of the ceremonies, when foreigners of Welsh descent are honored. He felt he had regained his path, and it was not the path of hubris and fame. In visiting Ireland, he had a terrifying vision of the Morrigan upon Tara Hill, which called again to mind his identification with the archetype of the Sacred King. Seeking peace, he quit his job upon returning to the US and began homesteading in the rugged coast range of Mendocino County, naming his 55-acre parcel “Annwfn,” after the Welsh Underworld. In 1980 Gwydion appeared in concert and ritual at Pagan Spirit Gathering in Wisconsin, an event of particular power, after many years of seclusion in the wilderness. From this point on, he became more active publicly. Gwydion felt that Pagans must seek to be known not by their occult trappings, but by quality of presence and activity. In the summer of 1982 he was arrested in an anti-nuclear action at Lawrence Livermore Labs with many members of Reclaiming. He felt the experience in jail to be personally rewarding and significant. At the hearing after the arrests, he sang “We Won’t Wait Any Longer” in lieu of a statement in his defense. In the season of Samhain 1982, Gwydion was killed in an auto accident in which he was thrown from his car as it overturned. He seemed to know the time of his death was near: he had spent the previous few days visiting family and friends all over the Bay Area.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. The Lord of the Dance
  2. Lughnasad Dance
  3. Spring Strathspey
  4. Witches' Coven Dance
  5. On Lady Day
  6. The Wintry Queen
  7. The Raven is Calling
  8. Beltane Wedding Dance
  9. Return of the King
  10. The Sungod
  11. Harvest Dance
  12. Can Cerridwen
  13. Witches Tune
  14. Song of Mari
  15. The Lady's Bransle

Disc: 2

  1. The Raven is Calling (air)
  2. I'll Be Reborn
  3. We Won't Wait Any Longer
  4. There's A Home in the Mountains
  5. A Mother's Love
  6. Sweet Mama Mine
  7. The Trees of Annwfn
  8. The Ballad of Richard III
  9. The Crone's Lullaby
  10. Farewell to Ye, Mary
  11. Gwrach a Gwraig
  12. There Will Always Be a Wales
  13. Sometimes I Wonder


Product Details

  • Audio CD (December 21, 2005)
  • Original Release Date: July 30, 1991
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Serpentine Music
  • ASIN: B000ELJ2K4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #307,508 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

After an absence of far too many years, the music of Gwydion Pendderwen (Tom DeLong) has been re-released in CD format. Songs for the Old Religion was the first of its kind, music by pagans, for pagans - and vinyl copies of this album were treasured for years, carefully recorded onto cassette (and eventually "offically" released on cassette, years later.) Recorded literally in a garage in Southern California, Gwydion and friends suffered from poor mastering and substandard equipment - glitches, "oops" and other imperfections at times mar an otherwise enjoyable album, which was initially only a songbook collection for the pagan organization "Nemeton", which dissolved some years prior to Pendderwen's death in 1982. Unfortunately, all of the master tapes of the recording sessions were lost decards ago.
The Fairies Shaman, the second half of this collection fared much better in the recording department. Released initially following Pendderwen's "return" to the pagan community at Pagan Spirit Gathering 1980, the folksy character of these tracks reflect growing changes in Pendderwen's musical and magical focii.
Serpentine Music is to be commended and thanked for making this re-release possible.
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The Music of Gwydion offers a variety of inspiring musical selections from the almost whimsical to the deeply spiritual. Mr. Pendderwen offers something for every pagan lover of music. The use of an eclectic background of instruments coupled with Pendderwen's gifted, almost poetic, vocals make this a classic. You will delight in the upbeat "I'll Be Reborn," the almost militant "We Won't Wait Any Longer," and the nostalgic "There's a Home Far in the Mountains." Ethereal and entertaining, this CD provides a sublime auditory experience. Unquestionably, Mr. Pendderwen's creative vision, as well as his love for nature and Celtic culture, has led to a stunning production. This selection will be played often in my home.
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These CDs are brilliant. I have been looking for the music of Gwydion for quite a few years, having been introduced to it by a friend. I was extremely happy to find it.

The music is definately from the 70s, but this enhances it, rather than detracts from it. It sounds 'real', no electronics.

The songs are unforgettable.

We are very lucky to have these songs available.
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I waited almost twenty years to get these cd's from this artist because these had never been made into cd's before. The songs are wonderful and beautiful. The remastering is not. I can still hear the scratches from the record player they recorded this off of. Someone didn't know how to master this recording to get the bad static and scratches off. The treble is a bit too high too. It is a real shame, considering how beautiful the music is. Beware, if you love this music and have a tape copy of it, the cd won't sound better. The only good thing is that if you want to repeat a certain song you can with the cd.
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I searched and searched for copies of Gwydion's music after my original copy fell victim to one too many moves, so I was so pleased to see this CD set had been released. This is wonderful music, with tunes that are simple enough to be for use in group ritual. My only suggestion would be the addition of a small booklet with the lyrics to the songs.
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