Book Review: Gwyn by Yuri Leitch

“And did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?”

I’ve had to read this book twice before I reviewed it.

The first time I read it I was distracted by the quality of the production – from the glossy, vibrant layout of the pages to the integral artwork that crystalises and complements the subject matter of the book.


I couldn’t get out of my head that the author was Yuri the gracious and generous host; Yuri the stalwart supporter of this website. Yuri, who, for me, has been the self-effacing conduit between the old guard of Psychic Questing and the “new wave” of wannabes.

How, in all honesty, could I be objective about this book?

And yet…

When I read it a second time – perhaps too long after the inital publication for this to be of any marketing value – I found that here was a book that stood on its own, a book which, though it paradoxically oozed the esence of its author from every sentence, was one which stood on its own as an important work.

“Are we forgetting something?” This is the question that haunts us today as we seek our place in the new world order. In our rush for self-advancement, for an anodyne equilibrium true passion is deemed suspect.

The people who can help us with this dilemma are the artists, the monks, those who are not caught up in the rat race who can send reports back to the rest of us as to what’s coming up ahead.

“Gwyn” is such a book. Yuri is such an artist.

Daniel Pinchbeck in his latest book (whose title changes depending in the edition bought but which revolves around the year 2012) has this to say about Glastonbury:

“Do places exist on the Earth where the veils separating matter from myth, psyche from spirit, are thin or partly lifted? Glastonbury, England, would seem to be such a spot. The air feels intangibly charged, as if ancient mysteries were imprinted in the local ether, awaiting the right touch to return to our world.”

Yuri provides that “right touch”, delving back in time to restore Gwyn from a figure of half-fun to one of importance and deserving of respect. Although the meme of Joseph of Armithea burns a trajectory across this story in wilful counterpoint to the main investigation, it is ultimately with Gwyn that Yuri identifies and whom he seeks to rehabilitate – a paeon for a lost father figure that our our current generation trivialises at its own peril.

We are a society that is neurotically afraid of the dark – each of us trying to be “Little Miss Sunshine”. The traditional Christian psychology is to blame for driving the demons out and placing them in an “other” state. We strive to be creatures of the light while they exist “out there” in the drakness and grow the more terrifying in our imaginations. Special credit must therefore go to Yuri for attempting to reach back into the darkness, to focus on the Gwyn of myth and to assimilate him in a mature, conscious way; to bring him back out of the darkness and to listen with an unprejudiced ear about what he has to say about our present circumstances.

On an intellectual level I would have liked to see a discussion of Ynys Avallach, or the Isle of Apples and its place in the wider Celtic mythology but that would perhaps have detracted from the “finger on the pulse of Glastonbury” approach that Yuri takes.

In summary then “Gwyn” is a wonderful book. One which, in terms of raw production, exceeds expectations thanks to Oddvar and his Temple Publications. But, more importantly, one which demonstrates its author’s affinity with his environment, his subject and from which we can learn some valuable lessons about how to align ourselves with the currents that wash back from the past and yet seem about to repeat in the near future. Recommended as a reference to early Glastonbury myths but even more so as a weather vane for the less sensitive to attune to what is to re-appear once more.

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