Gwydion was born in a family of a long-term California residents as Thomas deLong around May 21st or 22nd 1946. He met the blind seer and poet Victor Anderson, known in many Pagan circles as a high priest of the Feri Tradition, ancient teaching that span the globe, and found in aboriginal people everywhere teacher of the Feri tradition of Witchcraft. Gwydion had met him through his son (from the same birth date, 22 may) of the same age at school. From the early age of 13 Victor became also his primer teacher and mentor. Until his twenties he studied with him.
In college he majored in theatre. He was a consummate actor and was fascinated with the mysteries of masks and personae. The works of Shakespeare and Greek Playwrights impressed him most strongly, but he expressed impatience and even disgust with modern theatre. For him theatre was truest when it was closest to its spiritual roots as religious dromenon.
Gwydion had a great store of poetic and anthropological lore, but was clearly more under the spell of the strength of a tale than of scientific method. He had an excellent ear for cadences and rhythms of words, which made listening to him an enchanting event. Later, when he moved to the land to homestead, he was in great demand as a reader on long winter nights or to pass the time during periods of stormy weather. A gentile 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 barbic fashion : Gwydion's derision could be crushing.
He retired early and spent much of each night in trance, asking not to be awaked or disturbed. He was deeply interested in linguistics. and spoke and wrote in Welsh. He was active in the Society for Creative Anachronism in its early years. He was the Court Bard in the SCA's Kingdom of the West for many years : a glib, courtly and foppish figure.
By the early '70's, neo-Paganism was beginning to grow spurth 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 has songs for each Sabbath as well as songs of the seasonal round and love songs to the Goddess and the God, and brought Gwydion a measure of fame and standing in the Pagan community.
Gwydion actually felt himself to be a druid, and was one of the members of the New and Reformed Order of the Golden Down, a latter-day Druidic sect. More information about that can be found in the book Margot Adler : Drowning Down the Moon. Gwydion actually went to Wales one time in 1976. The trip had a profound influence on him. He not only met his Welsh correspondent, Deri ap Arthur, but also many other active figures in the Wicca movement, among them Alex Saunders and Stuart Farrar. He made a pilgrimage to the Eistedffodd in Wales, the ancient Welsh Druid Poetry contest. He was amongst those called to the stage on the last days of the ceremonies, when foreigners of Welsh
descent are honoured, an event which proved profoundly moving to him. He felt he had regained his path, and it was not that of hubris and fame. In visiting Ireland he had a terrifying vision of the Morrigan upon Tara Hill, which called to his mind his identification with the archetype of "the Sacred King". Seeking peace, he quit his job upon returning to the US and began homesteading on Greenfield Ranch in Mendocino County, naming his parcel "Annwfn", the Welsh underworld.
Gwydion's writing, never profilic suffered under the hardships of a demanding life, but was able to adopt a humorous and philosophic view ("sometimes I wonder").During this time he published the book of his music and poems Wheel of the year, with production help from Isaac Bonewits, Craig Millen and Andraste.
In 1980, after many years of seclusion in the wilderness, Gwydion appeared in concert and ritual a Circle's Pagan Spirit Gathering in Wisconsin, an event of particular power. From this point on he became more active publicly, sponsoring and organizing Pagan gatherings, such as the Solstice Celebration in the Oakland Hills, and continuing New Year's tree plantings.
Forever Forests was the tree-planting organisation. Gwydion had a special connection to trees and felt it was his life's work. He had a vision about reforesting the earth. By the way Gwydion's (assumed) name is Welsh and Druidic as well, where Gwydion was named after one of the Gods in the Mabonogian, and Pendderwen, which means Head of the Oaks, or Leader of the oaks. Nowadays this tree-planting is done by Church of all Worlds when they are invited to come do so on country properties around Northern California. They used to sit up half the night making flyers and posters for the tree planting and creating rituals and ceremonies to augment the basic outdoor work. It was held over New Year's finding it any how much more healthier and fun to do this rather than going out and getting drunk at a noisy party. The event was attended by as many as 30 or 40 people, a 2 or 3 hard work day affair, with afterwards a warm fire, a hearty meal and an entertainment they called a bardic circle where anyone who whished sang or recited poetry, mostly from their own.
In '82 Gwydion recorded his second album, The Fairy Shaman, with harps, pipes and drum of Sheila na Gig, an album which sounded more traditional as his first, with magic and faerie at its highpoint.
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 days visiting family and friends all over the Bay Area. "Filled with joy we weep for the love known and missed". Gwydion died at the age of 36. It now was clear how charismatic, gifted song-writer and poet, a tireless correspondent (letters to all over the world) and a bit of a womaniser too he had been. He did love courting beautiful woman, and did made ordinary woman feel beautiful, and could be the most charming, elegant fellow. But he did have also had a tendency of drinking too much, engage in less-than-honest practices and get himself into trouble as result, which is possibly one reason the he left us so soon.
A group of five woman who were all lovers of Gwydion's inherited his work when he died. They were Oz Anderson, lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Ayisha Sheperd, Anna Korn, Anodea Judith and Farida Fox, live in California. Farida was lover and confidante of Gwydion's, Ayisha lived the last three years with him. Anna and Anodea know him the longest, Oz was the flaming (unrequited) love of his life for the last couple years of it. They attempted to answer his voluminous mail and keep Forever Forests going. The ideal would be for those who knew him well, and certainly those who were the original steards of Annwfn (often referred to as his windows) to just gather round the fire and tell the stories from their memories. After a year the five woman found they were unable to continue this and became less involved with maintaining the mystique of the Fairie Shaman. They all had separate lives to live and one of them even didn't live in California. But they still keep on trying to have close contact with each other as much as possible.
Annwfn is now owned by The Church of All Worlds (CAW) but it was not always so and Gwydion had a kind of ambiguous attitude toward it. He and Oberon did not always see eye to eye on things, and his background was quiet different.
Some people from Forever Forests made afterwards (1986) a tape Welcome to Annwfn to benefit the organisation but also in dedication to Gwydion who's previous musical efforts still served to inspire them. The tape has stronger moments, like the high voice of Deborah Hamouris greeting, Welcome to Annwfn or the ground rhythm based Horned one with magical male voice of Buffalo and the Anthem to the sun from Rick Hamouris.
Letter I received by someone Gwydion knew :
I am very grateful that you maintain the pages about Gwydion.
He became a family friend in the years before his murder.
I owned and operated Tintagel Printing and Publishing, Inc in Berkeley.
We were engaged to re-publish Thorns of the Blood Rose for Gwydion.
I still have the cover design and the proofs.
Gwydion taught us about Squat, the god of parking places, of course so much more, and a great deal about his learning as an IRS agent. Curiously I was residing in Lake County where Gwydion died and Anodea Judith and Anna Korn and Farida Fox came to my house and asked me to investigate his death.
When I examined and photographed Gwydion's car immediately following the accident, there was a distinct and undeniable indentation on the side with a pale white or beige paint transfer from the vehicle that sideswiped him. The CHP refused to investigate further. However exactly the same situation existed in the Karen Silkwood death. An unknown vehicle forcing the victim off the road. Gwydion almost never drank alcohol, although of course he did indulge in certain herbal products. The section of Hwy 20 where he went off the road is straight and narrow. On that night it was bright and dry.
The reactions of the California Highway Patrol were derisive and desultory, the FBI scarcely responded, and the IRS, thought nothing of dismissing the death of one of their former agents who had formulated the structure of Forever Forests and who openly decried the abusive "terrorist practises" of the IRS, at the time, against the poor and the underemployed.
I do remember Gwydion describing to me the training he had received in collections, encouraged to terrify taxpayers and non taxpayers alike, emboldened to threaten poor people with audits and fines and criminal prosecution if they failed to pay taxes far in excess of what corporations like Exxon were then paying. But those were different times, and things have changed. Nonetheless, Gwydion compared his "membership" in the IRS to a "membership" in the Hells Angels. Once a member always a member, until death.
I have often wondered if Gwydion was assassinated by the government to which he meant no harm only growth. The government for which he once worked, walked away, believing that there was a better way and a better world. The slightly better world he dreamed of has arrived, but the struggle is not over. I don't know the answer. Especially if they were advocates for a model of peace, dignity and tranquillity, good environmental temperance. And caution tempered with humour and song and a drag or two of good Mendocino weed.
I'd like you to know that I possess several copies of Gwydion's first album before it went on tape and several more copies of the sheet music, Wheel of the Year. I should be pleased to reproduce the music and the sheet music for posting on the Web if it doesn't violate copyrights, or the spirit of Gwydion's quest for a better world.
Most importantly to me is the continued life of Forever Forests, Annwfn (owed by CAW or otherwise), and the continuation of the incredible dance that Gwydion began. That man was without question the Lord of the Dance.
I am proud that my family crest flew, if only briefly, a twin entwined Tudor rose on a field argent, over Gwydion's grave, for there are few I have ever truly loved and honored so much.
Blessed be and merry meet,
Mayhew & Associates: Forensic Cybernetics