Death Eating | Hedge Druidry

Death Eating at Llangernyw

March 1, 2014

This post is out of sync with the other posts. It should have been posted before Imbolc, but our experiences on that day took precedence. So, here it is at the start of March, over a month since it happened! Hey – that’s the way it goes. Sometimes we don’t have enough stuff to post, sometimes posts are bountiful! This post will be talking about a visit to the Llangernyw Yew tree, where I discovered something interesting about “death eating” – the process of absorbing death energies.

The Grave of the Last Sin Eater in England
The Grave of the Last Sin Eater in England

Previously at this yew tree I had been given the name “Death Eater“. I considered it like a Scout Badge – another tool in the plethora of skills and experiences which make up the modern druid. I had read Ross Heaven‘s books about the Sin Eater – an old and now lost profession which bears a striking resemblance to the Death Eater methodology that I had been shown, except that it had taken on a symbolic ritual involving the consumption of food. I don’t know whether practitioners still retained the concept of soul absorption.

As the Wikipedia article says:

“Not to be confused with the ’80s pop singer Sinitta

A Hearty Meal

It was unusual to be in the churchyard in daylight. We normally visit at twilight or in the dark. Not for any nefarious purposes, just because that’s the way it pans out. Today we had daylight, and so I felt Like a normal visitor to the yew tree! I settled into a power centre next to one fo the lower branches, a familiar place which had been once again pointed out by the dowsing rods as the best position for any work today.

Soon I was in tune with the tree, and the images and messages began to come to me as I asked whether there was anything for me to learn here today. There was, and I felt the exciting ripple of new information from outside of my own thought processes, and recognised that the yew was communicating with me. What was it saying to me today?

The yew tree began to place images merged with feelings which prompted words to form in my mind. Wow, that process is really difficult to articulate! It’s because it all comes at once – it just sort of ‘happens’ to you. It’s difficult to pick apart and sequence. What I was ‘told’  was that I was here to lean more about death eating, and that there was a place nearby where I should go to begin this process.

Of course I had the dowsing rods to lead me anywhere I asked, and so I asked to be taken to the place where the yew tree wanted me to be, where I could learn about death eating. I was taken out from under the tree;s canopy and a few footsteps later I was being turned around to face one particular gravestone. There were several names on the gravestone, but the dowsing indicated that the name I was interested in was the main top name – the headliner. (For the sake of privacy I won’t specify which name that was).

I asked the yew tree whether I should be attentive to the person himself, or the energy at this grave which was linked to him. It was the energy I was interested in. This person was the only grave in the graveyard which had this particular energy signature, and I was here to learn from it.

Absorbing death energy

I prepared myself to relive the process that I had been taught before. I began to visualise the energy field, and then to inhale the ‘vapours’ of the subtle energy. As I took my first deep in-breath I pushed the energy down into my lower energy centre. On the second breath I prepared to repeat the experience, but the inhaled vapour went upwards! It made its way into my upper energy centre, and this took me by surprise. What was happening? I stopped the process and turned to the yew tree for some answers.

The yew tree responded by showing me a picture of my body as a whole, and showing that there were two vibrations of energy that I was inhaling. One was subtly different to the other. In my mind the yew tree placed the terms “knowledge” and “emotion” to distinguish the two types. The “knowledge” part was going up to the higher energy centre in my head, whilst the “emotion” energy was going down into the lower centre.

Now I understood what was happening I continued to inhale the energies until I felt that I was only sucking fresh air. Previously, I then had to regurgitate the death energy, and so i asked the yew tree whether this was the next step. No – I had to retain the energy. I had to keep it? But why? Because something was going to happen this year which would require me to call upon the emotional reserve of this energy store. No getting rid of energy like previous learning experience when I disgorged it. This time I retained it for future use. A new twist!

Sin Eating and Death Eating in Wales

I felt somewhat like a graveyard Hoover. This strange process that I had been shown – why did it only seem to occur when I visited Llangernyw? Was there some tradition in the area of this kind of activity. Had North West Wales had a tradition of the Sin Eater at some time in the past? Was that what I was linking into here?

All I could find out about it online was the original reference from the renowned antiquarian John Aubrey, repeated in many other texts such as Frazer‘s Golden Bough. In this he refers to the idea that North Wales was a place where this custom was continued well after it had been superseded in other areas by church rituals.

I am coming to believe that this is why I was given the mantle “Death Eater” rather than “Sin Eater“. It’s a different tradition, linked only by the concept of “absorption”. I appear to be reviving something which no longer exists!

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  1. Hi Gwas

    I have had Ross Heaven’s ‘Last Confessions’ book for a few years and finally read it this week. Then I catch up on your blog and find you mentioning it! 🙂 When I was learning Welsh I had a teacher whose father or grandfather ( I forget which now ) was the last of a line of Sin Eaters. They hailed from a small village near the coast of N W Wales, so yes there is a tradition there.


    1. Thanks for your comemnt, Fi.
      Now that you’ve read his “Confessions” book, there’s a follow-up (which I didn’t find as engaging) but which is certainly worth a read too. It was quite inspirational on the subject of pilgrimage in the footsteps of the sin-eater.

      Fascinated by the fact that they lasted as long as they did up there in North Wales. Reminds me that another reader talked about his family line being “bone setters” in that area too. There’s a lot of lingering tradition in that region.

      Of course, although I talk about “Sin Eaters”, I’m taking the tradition on in a slightly different way. For me, the religious connections are of no value, and I’m not connecting the process to “sin”. Instead, my work – the work I have been guided to get involved in – is on a purely energetic level.
      It seems to me that the rump end of the sin-eating tradition, on the face of it, does not have this particular level to it, and is seemingly a symbolic act to appease a particular religious sect.
      I’m not saying it couldn’t have an effect, only that the “mindfulness” of the act in relation to an energetic interchange seemes to be a part of the rutual that is not mentioned anywhere.

      Wandered off your point a little there…..!

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