We started work on the first of our courses in the spring of 2006, anticipating that we would have all three courses up and running in three years. Thirteen years later, I'm delighted to announce that the last few booklets of our Druid course went online in April 2019, completing the series that began with the bardic course (2011), followed by the ovate (2013).
The reason it took so long is simply that, as Tolkien said of Lord of the Rings, it's a tale that grew in the telling. By the time we'd finished putting the bardic course together, it ran to over a quarter of a million words. The ovate course is double that length, the Druid 100,000 words longer than the ovate. Together, the three courses are equivalent to sixteen 200-page books. As you'll appreciate, even with contributions from Elen Hawke, Leon Reed, Andy Letcher, Elaine Gregory, Robin Williamson and a host of others, that still took a considerable amount of research, writing and editing on my part.
Over the last thirteen years, I have worked an average of 40 hours a week for the BDO, most of it on these courses. Why? Quite simply because I believe in them. That belief has been justified by feedback from students whose lives have been changed by engaging with our courses, from a Welsh bard whose work with our bardic course brought him to within a hair's breadth of winning the crown at last year's National Eisteddfod, to an American student who, inspired by our ovate course, persuaded the company she works for to introduce a whole raft of measures to reduce their ecological impact. They put her in charge of the project and gave her the staff she needed to make it work. These are just two of many examples that demonstrate the effectiveness of our courses. We make magic happen, which is, after all, what Druidry is about, at least the way we do it.
Despite which, a few folk who don't know what's in our courses still ask why we put so much time and effort into creating them when other courses already exist. The simple answer is that none of the others present Druidry in the way I envisage it. I have always seen Druids as the 'shamans' of the ancient culture of the British Isles and a fair-sized chunk of Europe and Druidry as a native spirituality akin to those of, for example, the Sami, or the indigenous peoples of Siberia, Central Asia and the Americas. When I first encountered Druidry in 1974, it seemed to me that this aspect of it had been overwhelmed by the 18th century revival image of Druids as white-robed, bearded priests of a patriarchal religion of sun-worshippers. I felt a strong calling to get past that and re-connect with the deep roots of Druidry as a spirituality that engages directly with the spirits of the land, our ancestors and the old gods. This is the Druidry presented in our courses.
I'll admit to being a little nervous about having suggested that our Druid course would end in oneness with the universe. In the end, however, awen and the gods came through. Within five minutes of waking up one morning, the outlines of three different yet related paths to enlightenment had been given to me, a fitting conclusion to what Pagan historian, Professor Ronald Hutton, has described as "... the most intelligent and erudite sequential introduction to modern Druidry available."