In Cornish, it means “imagination,” “inspiration,” and “muse,” while in Welsh it means “poetic gift,” and “muse.”
I came across this word in the Cornish Dictionary created by the Cornish Language Academy, and it struck me with its linguistic power. It is one of those words you would expect to find in Adam Jacot de Boinod’s book Tingo, for it encapsulates so much meaning.
It is not just the meaning itself, but also how that meaning applies to Welsh mythology. There is a witch by the name of Ceridwen, who is considered the goddess of inspiration. She precedes over a cauldron that contains awen, from which the bards find their inspiration. The imagery of this word as boiling liquid definitely represents the moral that inspiration and imagination is very hard to come by, and it can be very painful draught.
- Awen – “The Holy Spirit of Druidry” British Druid Order.
- “Cornish Dictionary – Gerlyver Kernowek.” Akademi Kernowek.
- De Boinod, Adam Jacot. “The Meaning of Tingo and Other Extraordinary Words from Around the World.” Penguin Press. 2006.
- “Geiriadur Ar-lein Cymraeg-Saesneg / Saesneg-Cymraeg — Welsh-English / English-Welsh On-line Dictionary.” University of Wales.