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Robin Williamson harping
Britain's finest bard, Robin Williamson

We're delighted that White Cougar, the Norwegian shaman whose vision inspired the creation of the World Drum, and Morten Wolf Storeide, who oversees the Drum's travels around the world and across cultures, will both be joining us for this weekend of teaching, ritual and music.

And, speaking of music, we're equally delighted to announce that we have Britain's première bard, multi-instrumentalist, and brilliant singer-songwriter, the great Robin Williamson, joining us. Robin's set will feature songs from throughout a career that spans six decades. Robin founded the Incredible String Band in the 60s. Paul McCartney declared their 5,000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion his favourite album of 1967 - the year of Sgt. Pepper and of Jimi Hendrix's Are You Experienced? and Axis: Bold as Love - Hendrix was also a String Band fan, as was Bob Dylan. Led Zeppelin said their inspiration came from 'listening to an Incredible String Band album and following the instructions'. Robin has since performed and recorded with his own Merry Band, with former String Band colleagues, brass bands, jazz musicians and other stars of Britain's folk scene. Also playing for us will be BDO chief, Greywolf, who promises a set taken from the Sign of the Rose album and some new songs not yet recorded.

During the day on Saturday, we have workshop sessions from seven guest presenters, including Greywolf, on many aspects of Druidry. All in all, this will be an amazing weekend, and all for the absolute bargain price of £55. Or you can come to all of the workshops and the evening concert on Saturday for only £21. What are you waiting for? Don't delay, BOOK ONLINE today!!! See you there. /|\

As part of our ongoing plan to merge BDO Druidry with the surrounding wonderment that is the 21st century, we now have online booking available for two wondrous weekend events occurring in April next year. The first is at Cae Mabon in North Wales, a remarkable venue with a roundhouse, long-house, hot tub, &c, all in a beautiful woodland valley setting, and will be centred around the World Drum, with a visit to nearby Anglesey, an important centre of Druidry 2,000 years ago and still home to some remarkable ancient sacred sites. The second is the launch weekend for the Druid Hedge Schools Project and will feature workshops and music from an assortment of guests, including our very own Greywolf and other contributors to our courses. This will take place at Wildways, a remarkable venue with a roundhouse, long-house, sauna, &c, all in a beautiful woodland valley setting (hmm, that sounds familiar). Book for both events via our Events Page and ensure some Springtime magic. /|\

In the meantime, if I don't get another chance to get online with an update between now and then, may I take this opportunity to wish all our visitors and our many friends around the world a happy, peaceful, warm and loving Midwinter, from all of us at the BDO /|\

As you may have noticed, we're in the process of making changes on the website that should make navigating around it easier and also enable us to add more pages. Among other things, we plan to have a gallery page, a blog and, perhaps most important, a contacts page.

Work is progressing on our new ovate course, albeit more slowly than planned due to that curious pattern of events, accidents and adventures we call 'life.' My belief in the course has grown as it has grown. Right at the beginning, I was concerned that we'd put so much into our bardic course that there wouldn't be enough left for an ovate. I couldn't have been more wrong. The ovate course is, in fact, almost twice the length of the bardic and full of amazing stuff. I can say that because a lot of it is written by other hands. We have a whole cycle of seasonal rituals composed by Elaine Wildways, who has also provided a number of rites of passage for women. Well-known Pagan author, Elen Hawke, has written a cycle of rites and meditations for the phases of the moon, and on sidereal astrology. Leon Reed writes on astrology and herbalism, and we also have contributions from Blue Fox, who provided so much of our bardic course, and others. I am, I have to admit, quietly pleased with my own contributions too.

As with the putting together of the bardic course, I have found editing the ovate course a stimulating, educational and inspirational experience. Among other things, I've learned about the links between the Celts of the classical period with neighbouring civilisations; ancient Greek philosophy; the Hindu Ayurvedic system, and the origins of the universe. One of the things I'm most pleased with is that I finally came to understand a medieval Irish text I'd known for years, and, having begun to understand it, it led me to develop a whole group of therapeutic techniques based on it that one medical professional has described as having the potential to be 'bigger than Reiki.'

A pdf sample containing extracts from the ovate course will be posted on the Ovate Course page soon. The one for the bardic course is already available on the Bardic Course page at the foot of the text.

Back soon with further news.

Many blessings,

Greywolf /|\

It was 19 years ago today, a complete Metonic cycle ago, that about forty of us stood together in the South Circle at Avebury and swore "by peace and love to stand, heart to heart and hand in hand," creating as we did so the Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Abiri. All these years later, the Gorsedd still gathers at Avebury to celebrate the turning of the Wheel of the Year.

That first ceremony (left) was paThe first gathering of the Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Abiri, Autumn Equinox, September 1993.rt of a multi-faith gathering organised by the late Tim Sebastion, founder of the Secular Order of Druids. Tim asked me to create a ceremony with a Druidic framework but suitable for people of all faiths, since the weekend was attended by Christian ministers from three different denominations, Wiccans, Druids, Heathens, Earth Mysteries folk, Reichian therapists, UFOlogists and others. The rite that I came up with provided the template for the Gorsedd, not only at Avebury but elsewhere, as far afield as the Seattle-based Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Pugetia, who are also meeting today.

Our ceremony in 1993 was attended by, among others, Philip Carr-Gomm, Emma Restall Orr, Shan Jayran, Gordon Strachan (author of 'Jesus the Master Builder'), Graham Harvey, Ronald Hutton, John Michell and many other notable folk. One of my fondest memories of the day is of asking those who wished to be initiated as bards of the Gorsedd to step forward. I had included a short initiation because two members of the BDO, Gary and Debbie, had asked to be initiated as bards shortly before and this seemed like a perfect opportunity. I was only expecting the two of them to step forward. In the event, about 30 of the 40 present did so, at which point Philip Carr-Gomm, who was standing next to me, leaned closer and said quietly, "Erm, what do we do now?" Thus was a legend born, amongst humour and goodwill. Little did we know that, only two years later, the Avebury Gorsedd would be attracting upwards of 500 people and that Ronald Hutton would be referring to it as "the central event of the new Druidry."

Many blessings to all the thousands of bards around the world who have been initiated at BDO Gorseddau and others inspired by them in the 19 years since that memorable day,

Greywolf /|\


Master of ceremonies: soldier Rory MacKenzie introduced the procession of 'Mad Max' characters. MacKenzie had his leg blown off by a roadside bomb while serving in Iraq

Click the photo to view a short (5 mins) video of the Druid speeches and other beautiful highlights of the closing ceremony.

We were sworn to secrecy beforehand, but Emma Restall Orr and I were approached by the organisers of the 2012 Paralympics closing ceremony with a surprising request. They wanted our permission to use parts of the gorsedd ritual we wrote in 1997. So, about 21 minutes into the ceremony, these words went out to 750 million people around the world, spoken by Rory Mackenzie on behalf of Help For Heroes:

I call upon the spirit of Autumn. The spirit of water, of the ebb and flow of emotion; of open seas and running streams, of cleansing rain; spirit of the evening sun, of twilight and of Autumn.
I call upon the spirit of Winter. The spirit of earth, of the womb of creation; of the night and the snows of winter, deep roots and ancient stones.
I call upon the spirit of Spring. The spirit of air, the breath of life; of sunrise, and of new life and of new growth.
I call upon the Spirit of Summer. The spirit of fire, of energy of passion; spirit of the noonday sun, the heat of summer, vitality and abundance.
My friends, let the festival commence!

And then, about 30 minutes in, Rory spoke these words:

The circle is unbroken,
The ancestors awoken.
May the songs of the Earth
and of her people ring true.
Hail to the Festival of the flame
of root and branch, tooth and claw,
fur and feather, of earth and sea and sky.

When the original gorsedd ceremony was composed in 1993, it was designed to bring together people of many faiths, cultures and backgrounds at a multi-faith conference in Avebury. Its use in the Paralympics closing ceremony seems perfectly in keeping with this original intention, and Emma and I were happy to agree to the request. Plus the Paralympics have been very effective in changing attitudes towards disability, which is no bad thing.

We like to think that the inclusion of words from a modern Pagan rite in such a high profile context, seen by so many people around the world, may herald a new appreciation of the creative and inspirational role played by paganism, both historically and in the present, and a return of Druidry to the mainstream of our culture.

Blessings to all,

Greywolf /|\

Just a short announcement to the effect that, as we upgrade all things webby and bring our druidry firmly into the 21st century, we now have a twitter account at @TheBDO (yes, I knew, but they have a limit on twitter names, and @BDO is already taken 🙂 ) So, if Twitter is your thing, come join us there!


Well, folks, we made it ... As you can see, we've completely overhauled the website. Our idea has been to make it: a) easier to update on a regular basis, b) more accessible to visitors, c) more interactive, d) to add an online shop, e) to add specific login areas for those of you taking each of our courses, f) to replace the old BDO News page with a regularly updated blog to keep you much more up-to-date with all that's happing with the BDO, and g) to provide better access to events, open rites, workshops, groves &c., with online ticketing available where appropriate. Since that's all the notes of the octave, I'll stop there...

We're quite pleased with the results and we hope you like the new look too. And so ... with thanks to Adam, Master of all things Webby ...

Welcome to the new world of the BDO!

Greywolf and all at BDO HQ /|\