Meeting Animal Guides: The Owl of Cwm Cawlwyd
As with the Stag of Rhedynvre (see the Calan Gaeaf 2010 issue of The Tor Stone), we meet the Owl of Cwm Cawlwyd in the tale of Culhwch and Olwen. The knights of Arthur are seeking Mabon, son of Modron. They first meet the Blackbird of Cilgwri (Descent), which guides them to the Stag (Confrontation). The stag does not know where Mabon is, but guides the knights to an animal that is still older, the Owl of Cwm Cawlwyd. The Owl of Cwm Cawlwyd is so old that she has seen a great valley filled with a wooded glen cut down by humans, regrow fully, cut down by men again, and regrow fully a third time. The Owl, like the Blackbird and the Stag, does not know where Mabon is, but leads the knights to an animal still older, the Eagle of Gwernabwy (Ford, p. 104).
The owl has long been honored as a symbol of wisdom and knowledge in many cultures throughout the world. The Goddess Blodeuwedd turns into an owl, a creature able to see what is real even in darkness. Blodeuwedd is the Maiden aspect of the Great Mother Goddess. As such, She chooses Her own Path, Her own Wisdom, regardless of what expectations others seek to impose on her. To this end, an Imram to meet the Owl of Cwm Cawlwyd can benefit us as we seek to manifest our authentic selves, having looked clearly into the reality that is in our darkness. It is best attempted during the times of Emergence, e.g. dawn, the waxing quarter moon, and the weeks leading to Calan Mai, and after one has already explored the White Spring of Avalon through the Imram to the White Spring (see Avalon Within, references below).
Before beginning ritual to seek the owl, consider why you are seeking her. Do you have a specific reason? If so, what? Consider exactly what you hope to learn. Meditate on what questions you will specifically ask of the owl. You may wish to Doorway the owl in advance to identify symbols relevant to this archetype. Ideally, prepare your altar with one or more items to facilitate bringing in the energy of the owl, such as statues of owls, a wall-hanging or painting of owls, and/or an owl feather. You might also wear specific jewelry, such as a pendant representing an owl.
Imram to meet the Owl of Cwm Cawlwyd
Begin your journey with the Imram to Avalon [p. 34 (55) of Avalon Within, 1st (2nd) ed]. Continue to the White Spring with the Imram to the White Spring of Avalon [p. 132 (136) Avalon Within, 1st (2nd) ed], sharing with your guide that you seek to meet the Owl of Cwm Cawlwyd. Continue to the giant oak tree that is nourished by the White Spring, as described in Avalon Within. In the lower portion of the oak, a branch that stretches out across the stream of water flowing from the White Spring, an owl is landing. She is returning from her night’s hunting, a night of seeking nourishment in the darkness. Now, perching in the great oak, she will transform the nourishment found in the darkness into new strength.
The sound of the morning birds awakening fills the air. The light of dawn is slowly growing stronger. The owl blinks and looks at you. In her eyes you see the depths of ancient wisdom, ages of experience, knowledge beyond the realm of humankind.
After giving her reverence, ask your question(s). As you speak with her, you see a silver symbol, an image forming in the darkness of each of her eyes. It is almost as if you are the symbol; her eyes form twinned mirrors, reflecting what the owl sees when she looks at you. The owl blinks, and the silver symbol hangs from a chain the owl holds in her talons. She holds it out for you to take, and you do so. Put the silver symbol in a safe place and give the Owl a gift in return. Give her reverence, and return to the shore of Avalon and the company of your guide.
After this, return to the shore and the mainland as usual. Upon completing your ritual and Imram, meditate upon what you have learned and journal it.
The Mabinogi and Other Medieval Welsh Tales. (1977). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Telyndru, J. (2005). Avalon within: Inner sovereignty and personal transformation through the Avalonian mysteries.: BookSurge.
Telyndru, J. (2010). Avalon within: A sacred journey of myth, mystery, and inner wisdom. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications.