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The Druidic Concept of Nwyfre

By Sencha

The Druidic concept of the ‘life force’ has been embodied in the word ‘nwyfre.’ The word nwyfre is a Middle Welsh word meaning ‘sky’ or ‘vigor.’ It was usually used to refer to a windy sky. Iolo Morganwg popularized its use as a ‘magical’ word. He probably misunderstood the etymology of the word, which originally had no mystical connotation, but ‘nwyfre’ has taken on a life of its own (no pun intended) among contemporary Druid circles. The way modern Druids use the word, it now means ‘life force’ or ‘life energy.’ Think of ‘The Force’ from the Star Wars film series, and you’ll have a rough approximation of what nwyfre means to a Druid.

To a Druid, everything is alive, including rocks, trees, plants, animals, and even the Earth herself. Everything has the potential to generate energy, and the sum total of the energy in the universe is the life force itself. This is the concept Morganwg was trying to get across when he chose the word ‘nwyfre.’

You might ask, “How can rocks be alive?” The answer is that they contain potential life force, rather than actuated life force. Rocks become dirt. Plants feed on dirt, converting its material into life energy. Then animals eat the plants, and humans eat both the plants and the animals. Think of it this way: If you take a vitamin pill with mineral supplements, those minerals came from rocks. At what point in the digestive process does that mineral cease to be inanimate, and become alive by being a part of you?

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