“There are among them composers of verses whom they call Bards; these singing to instruments similar to a lyre, applaud some, while they vituperate others.”
Diodorus Siculus, Histories, V, 31, 1st century BCE
Diodorus Siculus refers to two traditional roles of the bard as praise-poet and as satirist. To have a praise-poem composed about you ensured that your name would live forever. To be satirised by a bard would cause blemishes to appear on your skin; an outward sign of the inner corruption that the satire unveiled. Poetic language is viewed as essentially magical, with the power to shape and transform.
The bard is both a creative artist and a custodian of lore and tradition, a scholar, poet, composer, performer, musician, storyteller, historian, and mythographer. To these traditional roles, we may add the visual artist, actor, playwright, dancer and, yes, even the humble web-designer. The central principle of the bardic path is communication, chiefly through word and sound.
The key to the way of the bard lies in contact with the inspiring spirit traditionally viewed as flowing from and gifted by the gods, in British tradition most especially by the goddess Ceridwen. In the old British language the spirit of inspiration is called awen, literally the flowing spirit.
If this resonates with you, you might like to consider signing up for our Bardic Course, the aim of which is to encourage a new generation of bards to practice traditional bardic arts in the 21st century through developing strong connections with the flowing spirit of inspiration and creativity.