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Wild SweenyYay! As of today, the 10th day of the 10th month, the BDO ovate course is complete. The last booklet I've been working on is number 23 (24 was completed months ago), and one of the last things I did for it was the drawing reproduced here. It shows the famed early (circa 7th century) Irish 'crazy shaman,' Suibhne Geilt ('Wild Sweeny'). Suibhne's madness came upon him after witnessing the horrors of war and took a distinctly 'shamanic' (i.e. Druidic) form. He flew around the whole of Ireland, his feet barely touching the tops of the trees. As is told in Buile Suibhne ('The Frenzy of Suibhne'):

For a long time thereafter he was faring throughout Ireland, visiting and searching in hard, rocky clefts and in bushy branches of tall ivy-trees, in narrow cavities of stones, from estuary to estuary, from peak to peak, and from glen to glen, till he reached ever-delightful Glen Bolcain. It is there the madmen of Ireland used to go when their year in madness was complete, that glen being ever a place of great delight for madmen. For it is thus Glen Bolcain is: it has four gaps to the wind, likewise a wood very beautiful, very pleasant, and clean-banked wells and cool springs, and sandy, clear-water streams, and green-topped watercress and brooklime bent and long on their surface. Many likewise are its sorrels, its wood-sorrels, its herbs, its berries, and its wild garlic, its black sloes and its brown acorns.

Like many of us, Suibhne found solace, refuge and sanity in nature. This is something repeatedly emphasised in the ovate course.

I can honestly say that I am delighted with the Ovate Booklet 17way the course has turned out. Alongside building the roundhouse, it's one of the most extraordinary adventures I've ever been involved in. Click the link for a BDO Ovate Course Sampler, containing 18 pages out of a total of about 1,200, amounting to some 550,000 words. I truly believe it's the best contemporary Druidry has to offer. And yes, I'm afraid it is necessary to complete our bardic course before you can access the ovate course, otherwise you would be missing a whole lot of background information and important references. Click the link for a BDO Bardic Course Sampler ...

For myself, now that the second of our courses is complete, I am, like Suibhne, going to take refuge in nature for a while. It's previously been announced that our third and last course, exploring the path of the Druid, won't be online before September 2015. This may not be the case. I'll be working on it as and when the awen flows and we also have a group of other writers who will, I'm sure, do likewise. It may be that we will deliberately do what we were kind of forced to do with the ovate course, Bardic Booklet 3that is to put the first parts of it online before the last parts are finished. This way we might have the first group of booklets online by, say, December 2014. Well, we'll see.

First, having devoted an average of 30 hours a week to these courses for the last seven years, I need to refresh myself with other things. These will include several tasks in which my sons, Joe and Mike, will assist; decorating the house, doing the garden, recording the Taliesin poems and Mabinogi stories, and filming video versions of the Four Branches of the Mabinogi. I'll also be recording tracks for my new CD, making more bone flutes, making an Iron Age bardic costume and, I hope, a chrotta (Iron Age Celtic lyre). Oh, and making rattles and Ogham fews. Perhaps even making a drum from scratch, including felling the tree to make the frame and curing the hide for the skin. Well, that should keep me busy for a while and represent a welcome escape from the computer.

Blessings to all,

Greywolf /|\

Ovate 2 The Path of the SeerWell, it's been, as I suspected it would be, a long, strange trip, but our ovate course is now almost complete. It will run to over 1200 pages, of which there are only 60 left to fill. I'm just waiting on a couple of articles from colleagues and we're there. The first five packages, i.e. ten months' worth, are ready to go, indeed the first half of the course is already online.

Why did I suspect it would be a long, strange trip? Well, for one thing, I've known a lot of people who've worked through the OBOD Ovate course and many of them have experienced life-changing events of one kind or another during it, often of a disturbing nature. I also knew the sort of stuff we were going to be dealing with in our course, including things like illness, madness and death. OK, we were going to be presenting many ways of dealing with those things, nevertheless, they are life's great traumas. So, I plunged in singing the Boy Scout mantra, "Be Prepared."Ovate booklet 19 cover
I made sure to program into the course many things that have helped me deal with life's crises over the years, rediscovered some long lost ones and came up with some new ones. I figured I would need them. I hadn't realised quite how much I would need them, nor that I wouldn't be the only one.
At the end of August 2012, my son, Joe, was rushed into hospital with a seriously infected appendix. Two weeks later, Joe was back home, thank the gods, when I was rushed to the same hospital with chest pains. It turned out that I had contracted pleurisy and my left lung had stopped working.
Through the winter, I kept hearing from people I knew who were suffering financial crashes, illness and emotional turmoil.
Now, obviously, it wasn't the fact that I was editing an ovate course that caused these things to happen, they just coincided with awful precision. However, as is my way, I kept my head down and, as much as possible, kept working.
Birger MikkelsenI was rewarded with moments of great wonder, magic and elation, of awen's unfettered flow. One example was the re-discovery of an ancient Irish system of healing concealed in a cryptic passage in the middle of a medieval law text. I uncovered a huge amount of material to do with our ancestors approach to health and healing and how we can use the same methods today. This tallied beautifully with the Druid Herbal I'd been given by my old friend, Leon Reed, to incorporate into the course. I also came up with a new/old way of working with the spirits of trees, with assistance from friends in OBOD.
And then there were the Norwegians. As you'll see elsewhere in these bLena M. Paalvig Johnsenlogs, we had the most amazing time hosting the World Drum, created by Sami drum-maker, Birger Mikkelsen (that's him, left). In April, we had the huge joy of meeting the shaman whose vision inspired the making, White Cougar, along with the overseer of the Drum's global travels, Morten Wolf Storeide, and two fellow Norwegian shamans, Lena M. Paalvig Johnsen (that's her, right) and Will Rubach. Lena and Will are members of a band called Balfolket. Check out this video of them on Youtube. They turned out to be four of the most amazing, inspiring people I've ever met. And to cap it all, I got to sing a duet with my all-time musical hero, the great Robin Williamson, co-founder of The Incredible String Band. Wow! I was truly blissed ... ecstatic ... on another plane ... Check out Robin's website, or search on Youtube for his beautiful music.
So, yes, it has been the proverbial roller coaster ride, but it's almost done. Has it been worth it? Emphatically and absolutely, yes. I truly believe that this course represents the best that contemporary Paganism and Druidry have to offer. It should Rib Cageestablish once and for all that Druidry is a spiritual path capable of standing proudly alongside any other. You can check out samples from some of the booklets here... BDO Ovate Course Sampler ... bear in mind, however, that you will need to have successfully completed our bardic course before you can access the ovate course. The reason is simple. The bardic course lays a lot of foundations that are necessary to successfully follow the ovate course. Sorry, but there simply wasn't any other way to go about putting these courses together. However, I'm pretty sure you'll find it worthwhile. After six years of intense work, I certainly have. I've learned a lot. I've also had a lot of fun locating and creating a range of weird, wonderful, colourful illustrations for the booklets, of which this is one on the left. No, it's not what you think! It's actually a model of a rib cage and internal organs which was deposited 2,000 years ago into the healing spring that becomes the River Seine, sacred to the goddess Sequana, one of whose functions is to assist in healing and one of whose attributes is ... a duck!
Many blessings,
Greywolf /|\