The Hiraeth ...
“Hiraeth” is a Welsh word (pronounced “Her-eye-eth”) that few people may come across, but which speaks to the undefined longing for a return to ancestral ways or the homecoming feeling experienced by so many pagans.
The word Hiraeth does not translate well into English. It can be said that it means “longing” but that does not do justice to the feeling described by Hiraeth. For the Welsh, even those whose family has long left Wales, Hiraeth is a deep, emotional longing to return to ancestral land. This is not a desire satisfied by just being there, but a longing to walk the ground where your great grandmother walked, to find the town in which your ancestors lived and commune with the ancestral feeling by walking these very streets; to return to the land where your ancestors lie buried and bask in the sun in which they basked. To speak with descendants of the friends of your ancestors; to be, to walk, to sit where they lived and breathed. Those who feel the Hiraeth have heard the call of the moon over Tal-Y-Llyn and the ancestral song of the wind sweeping over the fertile land of Powys. It is the undefinable dreaming of a homecoming. A longing buried deep in the spirit.
For modern pagans, you may not be able to define it but you will know when the Hiraeth moves you. It is the drive that occurs when you first discover the Old Ways. There is often an overwhelming sense of having found something you didn’t know you were missing; and once you have found it, you cannot help but to pursue it. The longing of your spirit will yearn for satisfaction.
If Hiraeth is the longing of our spirit, the desire of your dreams, may your lives ever water the tree of paganism that it may again flourish, that the Hiraeth may be realized. May your dreams be blessed.