My Hedge Druid name was something that I derived early on in my druid career. If you read our about page you will see that I have always intended “Gwas Myrddyn” to mean “Servant of Merlin“. I do take some liberties with the Merlin name, modifying the final “i” to be a “y”, but to me that is artistic license, and that was the spelling that emerged when I created the name, so I decided to keep it. I have never really questioned the meaning after some initial investigation and confirmation from some welsh speakers that this was in any way accurate. It was the closest I could get to this meaning not being a Welsh speaker myself.
GWAS – servant, helper or “monkey” (as in ‘The Organ Grinder and the Monkey’). As in the phrase “gan mai eich gwas ydwyf” (“as I am your servant“)
MYRRDIN – Merlin, as in “Yr ydym yn adrodd chwedlau am y Brenin Arthur a Myrddin y dewin” (“We tell tales of King Arthur and Merlin the magician“)
At my recent presentation at Anglesey I was fortunate enough to be introduced to an elderly lady named Sheila who was a native Welsh speaker. She had been living on the island for a long time and she was interested in my druid name. She asked me what I had meant it to mean, so I told her.
“Oh!” she said, surprised, “I think it would be closer to say “Boy” or ‘Son” rather than “Servant'” she said to me.
I was very taken aback for two reasons. Firstly, I wondered if I had been making a big mistake for a long time in thinking that I was meaning “Servant”, when it was actually something else all along. But the strangest resonance for me, a wave more than a ripple, was the memory of a couple of incidents during the year when I had introduced myself to various spirit energy forms and had announced myself using only my druid name. What had been echoed back to me several times was “Son of Merlin”. Each time this had happened I had been very embarrassed about this and had wondered where this response had come from.
The only relationship I can find online between the word “gwas” and a youth is the old English word “Vassal”, which one site translates as being old Welsh for “boy” . The meaning of vassal is:
“a man who entered into a personal relationship with a lord to whom he paid homage and fealty in return for protection and often a fief” (source: The Free Dictionary)
Well, that, my friends, is an EXACT description of the relationship that I have adopted with the Merlin energy form! It couldn’t be more accurate! Here I was, standing before a very confident welsh language speaker, who was telling me in no uncertain terms that my name meant “Son of Merlin”. Isn’t it strange the misapprehensions and elision of meaning that words can provide? I will henceforth re-introduce myself next year at sacred sites using my new name – same pronunciation, but now with a different meaning. Let’s see what the response is to that.
Gwas – The Vassal of Merlin.