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.