Language as a vision of life

Posted on Sep 9, 2020 in Spiritual living, Uncategorized

Taliesin from the Llewellyn Tarot

I’m learning to speak Welsh, something which has been a long time coming. Since I moved to West Wales two and a half years ago I’ve been hearing the language spoken locally all the time, and it has rekindled my love for and curiosity about it.

It started as a child coming to Wales often for family holidays, being fascinated by the musical-sounding place names and feeling intrigued enough to find out what they meant. Even at that young age, I think I could sense the deep interconnection between the Celtic naming of places and the land; a sacred honouring which reflected our ancestors’ sense of belonging to the earth. An honouring which was to become central to my way of living and finding meaning in the world.

More recently, I’ve become aware of the immediate danger of this beautiful language, the closest we have to Britain’s original spoken medium, dying out completely within a couple of generations. I feel a responsibility as someone who has chosen to live and work in Wales to promote the use of Welsh to ensure its survival for future generations. It has made me think of how the precarious security of an ancient language is a microcosm of the messy macrocosm we find ourselves in now on our planet.

When I speak in Welsh, I can imagine the lineage of my Celtic ancestors stretching back behind me. It still amazes me that I am using words they uttered so long ago and I sense their presence with and within me as those same sounds vibrate in my mouth and on my tongue. It’s all the more meaningful for me because the ancient Welsh wisdom tradition was an oral one; all their teaching was preserved and transmitted through the spoken word, in story, lore, history, and poetry. In the Mabinogion and other ancient Welsh literature there are clear indications that the Celts believed words were a conduit of potent magic; that by speaking in a particular way you could call on and direct energy to effect a specific purpose – even bringing the dead back to life. It’s no wonder that when I practice Welsh my body often blooms into goosebumps as if responding to the spell of the words.

As my connection to the ancestors deepens with immersion in their language, I understand how this living thread of continuity with the past is what connects me to caring responsibly about the future. And it’s become so clear to me. In a world that has let go of this vital thread, that has actively banished it into a primitive past that should be abandoned as an indication of humanity’s impressive progress, there is then no place for concern about stewarding anything generatively; not the environment, traditions, communities, nor life itself! It has shifted our approach to one of immediate gratification with no thought for long term considerations or continuation. We’ve become so consumed by our present needs and desires that we’ve lost sight of the destructive legacy we’re bequeathing to Nature and our descendants.

So just as I consciously work to preserve and protect the environment and its myriad forms of life, the well-being of my community, and a sense of magic and mystery that gives meaning to all of it, I’m equally compelled to make my own small contribution to sustaining Welsh as a living language. The title of this post comes from the film director Frederico Fellini, who suggested that each language was a different vision of life, and I love that. I am responsible for weaving my ancestral vision thread through the web of life; for affirming life past and present, while building it into the future. As the 19th century poet Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, “To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived — that is to have succeeded.”

So I joyfully continue my language lessons, aspiring to the legendary Welsh bard/magician Taliesin’s words (pictured top right from The Llewellyn Tarot),

“I’m a repository of song, I’m a dynamic state.”
“I sing inspiration, I bring it forth from the depth.”

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Semele Xerri

© Semele Xerri is a psychic intuitive guide, healer, animal communicator, and Reiki Master Teacher. To find out more about her and her services, go to her Work with me page.

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