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It's so much a part of our lives now that it's hard to believe the worldwide web has only been with us for 30 years. Those three decades have seen a rush of innovation that has been little short of miraculous. Most of us now access the web through our smart phones. This was in the realm of science fiction until less then 20 years ago. Innovation in technology has gone alongside innovation in the software that runs on it.

Back in the 90s, the BDO was one of the first Druid groups to have a website. I set it up and ran it on an Amiga computer. Anyone remember them? We've been blessed with some very smart IT people who've helped keep us up and running ever since. As a not-for-profit organisation, of course, we rely on good people who believe in what we're doing offering their time for free. This means it takes a little longer for us to update things than it otherwise might.

For the last couple of years, our talented IT folk have been quietly working away behind the scenes building us a new website. I've seen it and it's looking good. It's designed to look good on all the platforms folk are now using to access the web. There are still a few technical issues to iron out, like integrating the new webshop, making the new forum more interactive, integrating the delivery system for our courses, etc., but we should have it ready to launch soon. Yay!


Greywolf /|\

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."

A quick update on what's happening with the BDO: A lot. You want more? OK...

This year has seen big changes in the BDO. It's a time of growth for us as we near the close of twelve years' work creating our distance learning courses, described by Professor Ronald Hutton as "... the most intelligent and erudite sequential introduction to Druidry available," and by our students as "... real nuts'n'bolts Druidry." They are the core and ultimate expression of who we are and what we do, offering a Druidry markedly different from that of other groups and often referred to as 'shamanic.' We see them as representing the future of Druidry as a native European spiritual tradition comparable to those of indigenous peoples elsewhere in the world. We're proud of what we've achieved and what we are inspiring others to achieve.

Image may contain: one or more people and textA series of articles in Pagan Dawn throughout this year helped spread the word, plus we have a new team spreading word about the BDO on social media, via our new BDO blog, in regular posts to the 6,500 people following our facebook home page, open discussions on our group page, we twitter and tweet, and we're setting up a new BDO youtube channel aiming to provide a Druid TV station that doesn't rely on reruns of old quiz shows, baking or ballroom dancing but offers genuine insight into how we're living Druidry now and how it's inspiring our lives.

Just as I was beginning to feel my age and lose my hair, our age demographic at BDO central has dropped dramatically with a new influx of folk attracted by our particular form of weirdness and wonderment. Our Circle of Elders is rapidly becoming a Circle of Youngers.

See the source imageOh, we've also started a series of monthly talks and workshops exploring Druidry and Paganism at the Henge Shop in Avebury, a beautiful venue. Most are offered at £5 per person for two hours, equivalent to a a pint of ale or a couple of cups of coffee, in keeping with our intention to keep what we do available to all.

This winter, I'm putting the finishing touches to our Druid course, the last of three, the bardic course having gone online in 2011, the ovate in 2013. I've held off on publicising the courses until the completion of all three was in sight. Now that it is, expect to see and hear much more of us in the near future. We are spurred on by the very real belief that our Druidry can change the world. We know how much difference it is already making to individual lives, from inspiring Welsh bards to the creation of new invironmental initiatives in American companies, because our students have been telling us. Join us, and be the Awen!

Greywolf /|\

If I'm keeping tabs correctly, I believe it's now four years since our first ovate students completed that course. Since then, they've been waiting with admirable patience for our Druid course to appear. What's been the hold-up then?

Well, for one thing, we underestimated the length of the Druid course. Having put so much into our bardic course, and then double that amount into the ovate, we were sure the Druid course would be comparitively short. How wrong we were. It is shaping up to be at least as long as the ovate course, around 500,000 words. Then there's the fact that I found myself, as editor, main writer and researcher, contributing artist and DTP drude for all our courses putting in upwards of 60 hours a week during the last few months of putting the ovate course together and vowed to give myself an easier time with the Druid.

It is also requiring far more original research than anticipated. Much of the first half of the course deals with human relationships with animal people in general and a select group of eight species in particular. These are Bears, Wolves and other canines, Horses, Cattle, the Crow family, Eagles, Deer and Dragons.

I had thought it would be relatively easy to find a few decent books from which to draw the necessary information. Again, I was wrong. To be blunt, most books on working with animals in spirit are lightweight, recycled reductions by non-Native writers of half-understood material drawn from a few Native American, usually Lakota, sources. Leaving aside potential accusations of cultural theft, many contain text pages with big lettering but few words of little real interest facing modern illustrations of varying quality. I felt a need to go way beyond what these dubious tomes offer, delving deeply into why and how our ancestors have related spiritually to animals over many millennia in order to tease out why they remain of such vital importance in native spiritual cultures, including Druidry, to this day and how we can best work with them in our tradition. This involved tracking down books and obscure academic articles dealing with human/animal interactions over a span of 40,000 years, extracting the relevant information from them and piecing it together to render it relevant in the context of our Druid training.

Our Druid course contains two ceremonies that incorporate this material and represent recreations of seasonal festivals of a kind that our ancestors might recognise. One of these was kindly given to us by Corwen Broch and Kate Fletcher. This is their beautiful and powerful recreation of a Midwinter Bear Feast. The other is my own recreation of a late autumn Wolf Ceremony.

This then, among other things, is what's been keeping me busy for the last five years. Work on the bardic course began in 2006 and I worked out the other day that over the last 11 years I've spent something like 15,000 hours working on BDO courses. There's still more to do, but the good news is that we now anticipate having the first half of the Druid course online in the Spring of 2018, hopefully in April. This'll buy us 6 months to finish part two, which is where we explore becoming one with the universe. You can't fault us for lacking ambition!

Meanwhile, if you haven't tried our courses yet, you can check them out here.

The following is the result of discussion amongst the BDO Circle of Elders and is intended to clarify the Order's position on racism, adding our voice to the growing number that stand firm in saying that it has no place in our spirituality.

Following recent events, publicity surrounding neo-Nazi and ‘alt-right’ groups in the US, and concerns among Pagan organisations and individuals regarding the position of various groups in relation to racist, fascist and neo-Nazi ideologies, the BDO wants to add its voice in condemning all manifestations of racism and to clearly state that as an organisation it does not and will not tolerate any form of racism or racial abuse within its membership or affiliates. We stand with all groups, even where we may disagree with them on other issues, that are targeted by racist, fascist and neo-Nazi organisations, whether inside and outside of Paganism.

Because we are called the 'British' Druid Order, a few misguided souls have leapt to the mistaken conclusion that we have some sort of nationalist agenda. The gods forbid. From our origins in the 1970s, our primary aim has been to rekindle the sacred fires of Druidry as a pagan, animistic spirituality that, according to Druids of the 1st century BCE, originated in Britain. By offering access to this richly diverse, ancient native European spirituality we hope, among other things, to lessen the need felt by some folk of European origin to appropriate native spiritual traditions from other cultures, often misrepresenting them as well as angering those whose ancestors maintained them, often in the face of extreme repression by earlier generations of Europeans.

As Druids, we work with folk of many traditions and cultures and have shared ceremony with Native Americans, Aboriginal Australians, Sami, Shinto, Asatru, Heathens, Wiccans, Christians, Buddhists, Bah'ai and many others.

Those who come to us in search of narrow-minded nationalism are quickly disabused of the idea. Most leave equally quickly. If they don't, and attempt to spread hatred, we remove them. A few stick around and have their ideas radically changed by association with us. To abandon long-held predjudices and adopt new ways of looking at the world is neither easy or comfortable and we applaud their courage.

For the record, we also vehemently oppose any and all discrimination, abuse or hatred based on a person’s gender or sexual preferences, mode of dress, hairstyle or religious affiliation.

“Ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda. Our mission, therefore, is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity. Racism can, will, and must be defeated.” ― Kofi Annan.

If you've ever thought about joining a local Grove, or starting one, this video following the Chiltern Grove around the festival year might help 🙂

If this looks like something you'd be interested in, contact Geoff, our excellent Groves coordinator, at or check out our Groves page.

druidrypcIt's mid-October and autumn's beginning to make its presence felt here in North Wiltshire. With the cooler weather, it's increasingly tempting to forego working in the garden and get on with the BDO Druid course. We started work on these courses almost a decade ago, and it's been a fascinating journey for me personally. First I had to review every single conclusion I'd ever reached about the nature of life, the universe and everything to see if it still made sense. As part of this, I went back over everything I'd ever written about Druidry, from when I first came to the path in 1974 through to my book, Druidry: A Practical and Inspirational Guide, published in 2000. I was surprised and pleased to find how many beliefs developed out of the experiences of my childhood and teens still held good.
The next stage lay in expanding on existing understanding and generating new material based on new research and developing practice. This has been a real joy, sometimes consisting of major revelations, more often of small insights that build, one on another, to create greater ones. I've gone back to the founding texts of our tradition, from medieval collections of myths, legends and folklore, through to the works of Druid revivalists such as Iolo Morganwg. I've also re-examined my own work as founder of the BDO and a member of OBOD and other Druid groups.
Whenever I read a book on any spiritual tradition, I always look for signs that the authors have actually experienced the things they write about. I've drawn heavily on my own experience for my contributions to these courses, including out-of-body experiences, Otherworldly visions, meetings with pagan deities, shape-shifting into animal forms, and plenty of other weirdness. All the other contributors have a similar range of strange experiences to draw on and, as with my own, these have helped shape their image of how the universe works, what our place is within it, and what we should do about it.
Robin Williamson harpingThose fellow contributors include quite a roll call of the great and the good, including legendary singer-songwriter, Robin Williamson(right), author, Flick Merauld (a.k.a. Elen Hawke), musician and author, Andy Letcher, poet and author, Robin Skelton, Wiccan High Priest, Druid and ghost-hunter, Leon Reed, and, new to the team for our Druid course, Pagan philosopher, Brendan Myers, as well as many others.
My Druidry book forms the basis on which the courses are built. The latter, however, go way beyond what's in the book. The book consists of a little over 37,000 words while the bardic and ovate courses contain over 640,000 words between them. Add the nearly 200,000 words already included in the Druid course and the 150,000 or more still to come, and by the time we're done, our courses will comprise the equivalent of more than 27 books.
BDO Druid 13 Mogh RuithPlus, of course, we offer tutorial guidance to help folk through the courses. If current feedback is anything to go by, they're working pretty well, prompting one American ovate student to write, "I find myself feeling the presence of other beings as I walk, and feel them as fellow travelers in mutual aid. And I’ve finally arrived at a place I can make offerings to the gods and spirits, and do rituals, and really feel it and mean it versus going through the motions because I think I ought to. Finally, I feel the connections I’ve heard others speak of, but found so elusive to find on my own.”
The Druid course is coming together well. Having created a list of the booklets in it by number and title, followed by the chapter headings within them, I'm using that as a guide to shift sections around and create a sequence that makes sense to me and will, with any luck, work in the context of the course.
BDO Druid 8 HorseThe package contents will vary considerably from those listed on the Druid course page here on the website. Once I've settled on a revised running order, I'll update the course page to reflect it. Meanwhile, rest assured that all the subjects referred to on the course page will be covered, just in a different order.
One major difference from the original outline is the amount of space given to animal spirits. Once serious work on the course began, it soon became apparent that working with spirit animals was going to be a far more important aspect of it than initially thought. The reason is that I started looking back to the deepest history of our tradition, tracing its origins to Central Asia around 40,000 years ago. Our ancestors in that far-off time were nomadic hunter-gatherers, and their relationship with a small range of animals was fundamental to their spirituality and their lives. I've written a little bit about the significance of seven of these animals on my Greywolf's Lair blog. I'm fairly sure I'm going to add horses as an eighth.
BDO Druid 5 BullAround half of the course deals with the Druid role of walker-between-worlds, giving advice on when, where, how and why to access Otherworlds, plus details of what you may expect to find in them. For me, the ability to enter such spirit realms is one of the defining features of Druidry.
I'm really looking forward to completing work on all three courses sometime in 2016. I intend to celebrate by travelling to visit friends in various parts of the world, including Scotland. Despite having Scottish ancestors, I've never been North of Hadrian's Wall, which is just not right... Then I'll start revising the bardic course...
Many blessings,
Greywolf /|\

BDO Druid 10It's getting closer, folks! Even before the final booklets of our ovate course went online in October 2013, I'd started compiling pieces to go in our Druid course. I knew it was going to take a while. With the ovate, our aim had been to get it online in time for the first few people finishing our bardic course to go onto it. This entailed me working up to 16 hours a day and 7 days a week for the best part of a year. We made it, just. With the Druid course, I decided not to give myself quite such a hard time, knowing that this would delay completion. It's good to take time out though, attending occasional events, making drums with my son, making ceremonies, having a little bit of a social life. All work and no play makes Greywolf a dull Druid 😉

So, where are we with the Druid course? More than halfway through it. I've just printed out about 480 pages formatted into booklets. Of these, some are more-or-less complete while others are only 10 pages or so of notes. Some need considerable revision, others need a good deal of information added. I also have some pieces written but not yet formatted into booklets.

BDO Druid 11It's shaping up well, though changing quite a lot from the outline package contents given on our Druid course page. Booklet 1, as you'd expect, introduces some of the major themes the rest of the course tackles. Booklet 2 introduces the concept of a Palaeolithic origin for much of what we believe and do as Druids. The same origin underlies more-or-less every religion on the planet. As part of this, we've identified eight animals, or groups of animals, that humans have had extremely powerful spiritual connections with for tens of thousands of years. Each of these is examined in depth and pointers given as to how we may forge, or re-forge, our connections with them. This includes shape-shifting.

BDO Druid 16Otherworlds, journeying to them and returning, feature strongly in the course, which includes a thorough and fascinating guide to the inhabitants of these realms as recorded in the countries of the 'Celtic fringe' and elsewhere in Europe. This is backed up with practical information on how and why such journeying might be achieved.

Another major thread in the course is ethics, inspired by the classical description of Druids as 'moral philosopher.' In this, we are fortunate to have a section written by Brendan Myers, a professional academic philosopher as well as a Druid. Ethical and moral considerations feed into our lives in many ways, leading us to consider the life choices we make in terms of career, relationships, the environment, politics, pacifism, animal welfare, the food we eat, etc., etc..

BDO Druid 3For the craft-oriented, we offer instruction on drum-making and roundhouse-building. What else is there? Oh yes, there's weather-working, teaching, counselling, community engagement ... well, lots and lots 🙂

The next stage is for me to take my trusty red pencil and go through the printed drafts making corrections, amendments, additions and revisions. Then back to the computer to transfer those changes to the original files. My aim is to do what we did with the ovate course, that is to get the first half of it online first, giving us six months during which to complete work on the remaining half. Unfortunately, quite a lot of what I've printed out already belongs in that second half of the course. I would estimate that the first half will be ready to go online in about May 2016. Apologies to those of you who are waiting... I hope to get a free 'teaser' sample pdf for free download from the site before then. Watch this space...

Fortunately, our ovate course is so packed that I'm pretty sure that, unless you're blessed with an idetic memory, you could go back through it two or three times from beginning to end and find new things in it every time. And if you haven't studied our courses at all yet, what's keeping you? Feedback from our students is overwhelmingly positive, with many reporting their lives enhanced and changed by engaging with the courses, which Ronald Hutton has described as "the most intelligent and erudite sequential introduction to modern Druidry available." The bardic course is the place to begin, and you'll find a free sample pdf file here 🙂

From a sun-blessed study in rural Wiltshire,

Many blessings,

Greywolf /|\

Tewkesbury Medieval Festival is the biggest annual event of its kind in Europe, featuring hundreds of reenactors in full costume, period musicians and entertainers, plus acres of stalls selling goods from every period of history, from flint arrowheads to 70s retro clothing, and admission is free! For the last decade or so, the British Druid Order and friends have been providing a Druid blessing ceremony for the event at the request of the organisers, many of the reenactors and stall-holders being Pagan. This year, as last, we'll have a BDO stall in one of the big marquees opposite the restaurant, cafe and bar area. We'll have BDO t-shirts, publications, CDs, books, rattles, etc. for sale on the stall, which will be staffed by Greywolf and his sons. Come and say hello. You can't miss us, we have big, bright banners bearing the BDO Awen logo 🙂 It's an amazing event and a wonderful weekend for all the family, plus did I mention it's free! 😀
For how to get there and where to stay, check out the Visit the Festival page.


It's proving a difficult year for Druid and Pagan events. The Druid Network Conference was cancelled, and we've had to cancel the forthcoming Balfolket Sound Healing Retreat, the Midsummer Night's Dreaming concert and we've scaled back the Wild Ways Mini-Folk Festival so it'll now feature Jake Thomas and Greywolf. The TDN conference was cancelled due to low advance ticket sales, the other events due to Lena of Balfolket breaking a leg and three other members of the Norwegian party having family problems that prevent them from travelling. Our advance ticket sales would have enabled us to just about cover basic expenses, but only if Elaine took nothing for the hire of Wild Ways. Everyone who has paid for tickets will, of course, be refunded.
We also had to cancel the Bardic Storytelling weekend with Robin Williamson due to poor advance bookings.
The BDO can't afford to run events at a loss. Our aim is always to offer events at the lowest possible price that will allow us to pay for venues, cover the costs of teachers, speakers and performers and pay them a little bit on top. The latter is necessary because, while capitalism survives, those of us living in capitalist countries need money to buy food and pay bills.
We are told that the British economy is recovering from recession. For most of us who live here, it isn't. Money is tight. Many of us just can't afford to attend events, however low the cost. Another factor is that there are so many events on offer these days. Twenty year ago, there were perhaps half a dozen Druid-focused events each year. Now there are often that many on a single weekend, while the number of Druids wanting to attend them hasn't grown at anything like the same rate.
It takes a lot of work to put on an event and it's always disappointing to have to cancel one. To have to cancel several in a row is quite disheartening, especially when the events in question are ones we really care about and that we think are really worthwhile. Which covers every event we do, because if we didn't think them worthwhile, we wouldn't be putting them on in the first place.
Ah well, onward and upward,
Greywolf /|\