That Old, Old, OLD Story – The Warts and Wisdom of the Ancient

My grandmother Clarine was an incredible human being. I absolutely could not be more proud to be her granddaughter. She started her first teaching position in 1927 at age 17. She met my grandfather in seminary; but despite her clear talent and call, the church apparently felt one minister was enough for the family and refused to ordain her. Undaunted, she famously wrote a one line reply to the bishop: Well, Moses got along fine without it, and Jesus got along fine without it, so I’ll be fine without it, too.

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A Celtic Pilgrimage: Becoming a Bard by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir

Trelawney at the moment of initiation. (Photo credit Greg Martin/Cornwall Live)

As I gazed up at Grand Bard Mab Stenak Veur, I could feel my eyes shining with joy, my gratitude, awe, love, and reverence for Kernow thrumming through me like the crescendo of a bright, glorious song. My whole world focused in that moment to the feel of his hands clasping mine — as though all Kernow were embracing me and holding me; the sight of his kind eyes and gentle smile— as though Kernow were lighting beacons to greet my homecoming; the sound of his voice proclaiming my new name, “Bleydh Ow Resek,”— as though Kernow herself were naming me to be her own child, come home at long last to my mother, who longs for me even as deeply and powerfully as I have always longed for her.

While I started learning Kernewek only four years ago, my journey to Bardhood started much earlier. I believe it began at birth, when my parents gave me the Christian name Trelawney, after the revered Cornish rebel leader who stood up against English oppression. Though no one in New England had heard of Kernow (Cornwall), my family’s joyful pride in our Cornish identity shaped my life. We were taught how my grandfather Jack left Kernow as a child because his parents responded to the call for more Methodist pastors to come to the United States.

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Celtic Awen, Spiritual Homecoming, and Singing with Trees by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir

Does your name have a special meaning? Mine does. In fact, in one corner of the world, you would be very hard pressed to find anyone who did not know the significance of the name Trelawney and its history. They could probably even sing you a rousing song about it:

And shall Trelawny live? Or shall Trelawny die?

There’s twenty thousand Cornish here, will know the reason why![1]

But growing up in New England, no one had ever heard the name Trelawney before, or the name “Cornwall,” the land of Trelawney. If I said “Celtic,” they would finally nod.

Then with the internet came affordable communication “across the pond” to Britain, and my earliest internet explorations connected me with Cornwall, where my grandfather came from. I taught myself Cornish folk songs, I found folktales, recipes, and a more richly detailed cultural nourishment than my Cornish grandfather had managed to pass along to us. A lifelong mystic and Methodist minister, but if you ever asked my grandfather his religion, he would reply, “Druid,” with just that hint of mysterious twinkle in his eye.

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