Revisiting Druidry, A practical and inspirational guide, by Philip Shallcrass

The British Druid Order Forums BDO Public Forum Revisiting Druidry, A practical and inspirational guide, by Philip Shallcrass

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  • #10557
    Anonymous

    I found my old copy of Revisiting Druidry by Philip Shallcrass, Chief Greywolf, and felt it would be worth rereading. My copy has just about fallen apart and has lot of underlining and notes written in it. In the introduction Chief Greywolf says, “Catmas are fluid beliefs, held only as long as they have value, perhaps until they are superseded by our growth in experience and understanding.” (p.3, Druidry) So, what can I learn from reading the book again, and does Chief Greywolf still stand by all of the things he said in the book. The book opens with an introduction where Chief Greywolf put forth the idea that Druidry will connect us to the otherworld, and help us to communicate with trees and animals, past lives, and ancestral teachers. Then our Chief tells us that druidry is “a philosophy rooted deep.” So does our Chief believe that Druidry is a philosophy or a form of spirituality? Next our Chief goes on to talk about how, “Druidry is the quest for inspiration.” (p. 1, Druidry). And then we see how our Chief strongly believes that druidry “ also works with and for communities, the wider world, and other worlds beyond.” (p. 2, Druidry) Does this mean that our Chief thinks that it is important for druids to take part in social and ecological protest and group together to stand up for saving the environment, becoming socially and politically active? Next our Chief talks of how druidry reconnects us with our heritage. Is he talking about our Celtic heritage or other world heritages? And finally, our chief tells us that all of creation is sacred. Wow, that is a lot in a short introduction. But so far, I agree with everything that Chief Greywolf is saying, and I think he is 100% right, except I see druidry as a spiritual path and not a philosophical path. I also like his ideas that we should not follow dogmas. But, when a group like the OBODIANS gets as large as it is, what their chief says tends to become dogma, just because their chief is in such a position of power and authority. I don’t feel that this is a problem in the BDO because the BDO is not a Mega Grove like the OBODIANS. We are a much purer grove, and I think the introduction to Druidry by Chief Greywolf really sums up our beliefs as druids. What do you think? Woof, Star-tree

    #10561
    Anonymous

    Chapter one of the book is pretty much the standard history you get of the druids in every book, but there is some magic in it. Chief Graywolf talks of healing begining when we are grateful for our parents, and forgive them for anything they did that we felt was hurtful. And then he talks of honoring our druid ancestors. Next he goes on to explain that druids have a wide range of beliefs that include spiritual, cultural, and political, but stresses that each druid is responding to his or her vision of druidry. He then suggests having an altar to remind us of the spiritual dimensions of our life. And we next have Chief explaining about Ross Nichols and how Ross wanted to take druidry back to its Celtic Roots. Alright, there is not that much more, but I want to say a few things. To me, it seems that Chief Graywolf sees druidry as a spiritual path that starts when we practice forgiveness for the past and are grateful for the past. It also seems that Chief Graywolf honors the spirituality and sacred in all of life. There is also a chant that he said on P.8 which goes “earth and stone, blood and bone, all are one, all are one.” Iwonder if he still uses this chant. Further, I find it interesting that Ross Nichols wanted to get druidry back to its Celtic roots because I thought Ross was concerned with getting people back into nature. And I feel that Druidry should be a Celtic root thing, also. However, That each druid is responding to his or her own view of what a druid is, is very interesting, especially with the neopagan druids, and helps me to understand what they are all about. Because I have a difficult time understanding the OBODIANS view of druidry that seems like they think that everyone is a druid, no matter what they believe, and in my opinion this is just a marketing ploy to get more people to take their expensive courses to get magical merit badges. I also think that the OBODIANS promise of learning some really big secret at the end of the Bard course, a secret that they are to never share with anyone outside the OBODIANS is another marketing gimmick to get people to take their, in my opinion, overpriced courses to get magical merit badges. Remember, the OBODIANS are a Mega Grove. But Chief Graywolf does shine some light on what a druid believes when he talks about each person responding to their own view of what a druid is. And from the credits and people he mentions like Bobcat and Car Gomm, Chief Graywolf has been there from the start of the modern druid movement in the 1970s. But I think of the Neodruids, again in my opinion, as more the druids dating from about 2010, who seem to be on a less spiritual path, and more concerned with history, and culture path. The middle part of the chapter one is just pretty much the standard review of the history of druidry which all books on druidry now have. But then Chief Graywolf says some interesting things around page 19. He talks about how druidry awakens parts of ourselves to see the world differently. And he says “the druid seeks to work with the process of change in order to take a more active role in the continuing process of creation.” (P. 19. Druidry) I think he is talking about magic here and how we are coworkers with the divine and creation , but I may be reaching for that. Much of the stuff that I read on what a druid is seems to me to be as slippery as a river frog, but Chief Graywolf’s comments on the subject help me to understand the early 1970s druids thinking about druidry, and helps me to understand the modern Neopagans a wee bit more. Woof Star-tree

    #10565
    Dowrgi
    Participant

    Hi there.

    Could you give an exact reference for “Revisiting Druidry”, please? I’m having a hard time finding a book by that name authored by Greywolf.

    As for OBOD, if I’m not mistaken it was founded in 1964 by Ross Nichols in a split from The Ancient Order of Druids along with some members of the British Circle of the Universal Bond (now known as The Ancient Druid Order), so OBOD actually goes back to Ross Nichols. I believe Ross Nichols was a family friend of Philip Carr-Gomm’s and Philip studied with him, becoming leader in 1988.

    Regarding the “secret”, I think it’s a bit harsh to dismiss it as a “marketing gimmick”. As I understand it, it’s not some mysterious secret to be revealed at the end of the courses, but rather that the OBOD levels are meant to be revealed as a novice progresses; these day, with mass communication and the Internet, that could easily be ruined. Moreover, although not a Wiccan myself, I know that many Wiccan groups also have their secrets and in the old days at least, the Book of Shadows had to be copied out by hand in order to be passed down! Anyway, professional confidentiality, in a sense, exists in all spheres of life these days, let’s face it, our druid ancestors were reluctant to write anything down in the first place! In Cornish tradition, the “craft” could only be passed from a man to a woman or a woman to a man, and if any of the “charms” or “spells” were written down, they were believed to have lost their power. Therefore, I think what OBOD is doing has its sound reasons and is, perhaps, keeping with tradition.

    The way I see it is that all druids are companions, they just have different routes through the forest of this life in their quest for truth.

    Bennathow.
    /|\

    #10566
    Anonymous

    Chapter 2 is a long chapter, so I’m breaking it up into two parts. The chapter starts off with Chief saying, “A central tenet of Druidry is animism, the belief that spirit exists within all things.” (p.24, Druidry) Animism, is also an idea that the witches support. However, I think animism is taking it a bit too far. I do think that spirit is all around, but I have a difficult time believing that a flashlight, or a lamp, or a chair have spirit in them. I can see how all of nature does, but not a concrete manmade slab. Then Chief talks of the arura that forms the communication link between everything in the environment. “The aura represents a kind of interface, a means of passing information between spirit and physical mater,” (p. 24, Druidry) I think of it more as spirit forming the communication link, but it could be aura, but then how is it possible to communicate over very long distances? Chief goes on about Pop psychology of Abraham Maslow and peak experiences. This pop psychology is in a lot of the belief systems of the 70s Druids. And I think there is a lot of pop psychology and new age beliefs with the OBODIANS druidry, also. Chief says, “As with most things in life, the more commitment you bring to it, the more you will gain from it.” (p. 27, Druidry) Chief goes on to talk about casting a magic circle with imagination, and the circle he is talking about casting is much different that the magic circle that Witches cast. And it is here we can start to see a real difference in the 70s view of casting a circle and the Wiccans. Wiccans view that circle is a place between worlds and they also see it as a place to contain magic power until it is released, and this is very different from these druid magic circles which seem to be cast more as a map of self-exploration than for magic. Chief says, “In Druidry, experience is more important than belief,” (p28, Druidry). And I think he is talking about how that just performing a ritual is all that is important because rituals affect the psyche. The circle he is talking about seems to be more about the Web of the Wyrd, where fate is interwoven threads. So, now he is bringing in Scandinavian beliefs into druidry. But he also leaves room for the people who want to completely believe that the threads are real, again the theme of druidry is whatever druidry means to you, within this loose paradigm. Druidry not being a simple white bread, eggs, and milk, kind of spirituality, a keep it simple way of looking at the world like in fundamentalist Christianity. Right now, this is as far as I have gotten because the book starts to get more complicated, but it is not that difficult. And I really see and think that the 70s druidism was more spiritual than the 2000 neopagan druid movement. The other thing that I remember from the book at the time that I originally read it, was I remember thinking how much it made me feel that druidry was a lot like Buddhism and yoga. Both of which were popular during the 70s. So, far I would say, that if you get a chance, you should pick up a copy of Chief Graywolf’s book, Druidry. I feel it is a very spiritual book and can be extremely helpful in understanding about being a druid.

    #10567
    Anonymous

    Hail Druid Dowrgi, First I would say I think that it is great that you question things, and that is a sign of a real druid. For a real druid will always think for himself or herself. So, let me try to respond to some of your questions. I think you can find the book for sale on the BDO cite. But Greywolf is Philip Shallcrass. So that should help. the book may be out of print, but you should be able to find a copy used, and be sure not to overpay for it. As far as the OBODIANS secret, I doubt very seriously that it is some profound secret. I think it is probably something that can be found in a million books on druidry. And I’m not buying it. There was a time when no one would write about magic and they all tried to keep things secret because they were scared the magic would be misused, but those times are long past, and now there is absolutely nothing, and I mean nothing that you can’t find out about magic and the otherworld with just a wee bit or research. The magic cat is out of the bag forever. Look, there are a lot of the new neodruid books and groups that are really only there to make money for the publishers and the group leaders. And there are now a lot of druid scammers trying to sell you the true way, and lost secrets of the druids. Still there are a lot of great groups who are honest about the magic and spiritual way of life, and who teach courses at a reasonable rate. The problem with the OBODIANS, in my opinion, is that they are just too large and there is a lot of peer pressure in their groups to follow the dogma of their courses. I have been in the pagan world long enough to have had the peer pressure directed at me, and the big bad witch of peer pressure does not scare me. Further, I am not the druid police, and really don’t care about what the OBODIANS do or do not believe. Again I am not the druid police. To me being a druid is a spiritual path, and I think it works best in small groups. And as far as spells go, let me tell you this, there are millions of cookbooks on spells out there and the companies who publish them are more than glad to take your money. I strongly advise you to learn the way to craft a spell, and then make your own spells up, for they will be from your heart and will be stronger than any spell you can ever get out of a book on spells, and I think you will find that most real witches, and yes I know a lot of them, and love them all, would agree with me. Learn how to make a spell and what goes into the craft of casting a spell and then as it harm none, cast the spell, and use the rider, as it harms none before you send the spell out into the universe. I like the BDO, and think that we are a good group of druids, and we have a good chief who has lots of wonderful ideas, and who I think is also a very spiritual person and a good guide. Best Star-tree

    #10569
    Dowrgi
    Participant

    Hello.

    The book available on this site is Druidry: Rekindling the Sacred Fire, I was looking for Revisiting Druidry, which is the title you indicated, or did you mean one of the revised editions (1996, 1999, 2002)? The book is not out of print as it is available on this site.

    Again, I think you’ve misunderstood this whole OBOD “secret” business, or whoever told you this may have misunderstood it. I don’t think there is any “great secret” at the end of the course, it’s just that they ask you to keep what you learn confidential when you sign up. At the end of the day, no one is obliged to join anyway. To draw a loose analogy with cinematography, actors, crew and extras may have to sign confidentiality contracts during film production so as not to “ruin the surprise” on release.

    There was a time when no one would write about magic and they all tried to keep things secret because they were scared the magic would be misused.

    Not sure about that, in Cornwall at least, there seems to have been a genuine belief that it just wouldn’t work if you wrote it down – the power is in the words. Of course, a cynic would also counter that it was a good way of keeping professional secrets and safeguarding business, but that has been the way of the for many a year and in many a profession, has it not?

    Learn how to make a spell and what goes into the craft of casting a spell and then as it harm none, cast the spell, and use the rider, as it harms none before you send the spell out into the universe.

    The trouble with this is who gets to decide what constitutes harm? It might seem obvious, but then again if you think about it more deeply, it starts to get blurred. As the old saying goes – the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    Bennathow.
    /|\

    #10570
    david poole
    Participant

    I think there may be a slight confusion going on here, here is what I was able to find out about Greywolf’s books. I have added publisher’s names, places, dates and ISBN numbers so you can look them up and order them for yourself if you don’t already have them. I own one book but not the other so tried to glean some information from the net, there is not much by way of description as Druidry: A Practical and Inspirational Guide does not appear to have been reviewed at length online, there are only very brief descriptions on Amazon by readers which don’t tell you much.

    Druidry: A Practical and Inspirational Guide Piatkus Books, London, 2000 ISBN 0-7499-2040-8 see https://www.amazon.co.uk/Druidry-Piatkus-Guides-Philip-Shallcross/dp/0749920408/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1347465207&sr=1-2 price around 11.90 used. This book can also be found on ebay.

    Judging by the title this appears to be the book that Startree is referring to. There is a slight mistake in the title by Startree as it is not called Revisiting Druidry, but this is clearly the book which is described. This book explores the history and development of Druidry, including divination through Ogham wands and reading signs from the natural world, and the Druidic healing traditions including the use of herbs and meditation. As well as information on the Druid tradition there are also pathworkings and details of personal journeys. There is folklore and a scholarly background. The ritual practices follow the four element ritual spread common to Wicca. The author informs the reader that he will be borrowing from several sources.

    Druidry: Rekindling the Sacred Fire (with Emma Restall Orr and others), British Druid Order, Wiltshire, 1996, with revised editions 1999, 2002 available from The British Druid Order

    This books covers the history, theory and practice of Druidry. The authors are Greywolf, Ronald Hutton, Bobcat, Brian Bates, Andy Letcher and Alan Tickhill. Greywolf describes in brief the history of Druidry and tries to define it. Ronald Hutton provides his own perspective on Druidry’s history accompanied by quite a long reading list. Bobcat provides a modern perspective which looks at Druidry from a spiritual rather than historical angle. Brian Bates looks at Wyrd Druidry, comparing two different but both British spiritual traditions Druidry and Anglos Saxon or Heathen. As you may know if you are studying the Bardic grade within the BDO Greywolf also does this albeit in a different way. Andy Letcher describes the theory and practice of Bardism. Greywolf follows Letcher with another perspective on Bardism, awen and poetry. This chapter is rich with history and has several poems within it as well. Bobcat then covers ritual in some detail. There is a good and unexpected but welcome section on Ogham, which I would recommend as I would recommend the whole of this book. Greywolf and Bobcat then go into what the BDO is or was at that time. Tooth and Claw, the journal of the BDO at that time, is mentioned. Bobcat goes into the subject of groves. Greywolf goes into gorseddau in some detail. He then describes how to make a robe. Alan Tickhill describes how to make a rattle. There is a large list of suggested reading and an index which concludes this book. It is well worth obtaining for yourself you will learn so much.

    Other books and articles by Greywolf:

    Books

    A Catalogue of Occult Books, MRG, Hastings, 1978
    A Druid Directory: A Guide to Druidry and Druid Orders, British Druid Order, Devizes, 1995, with revised editions 1997, 2001 (with Emma Restall Orr)
    The Passing of the Year: A Collection of Songs and Poems, Spells and Invocations, British Druid Order, Wiltshire, 1997, reprinted 1999, 2001
    The Story of Taliesin, British Druid Order, Wiltshire, 1997
    The Remembering Soul: A Collection of Songs and Poems, Spells and Invocations, British Druid Order, Wiltshire, 2001

    Articles

    Paganism Today, edited by Graham Harvey & Charlotte Hardman, Thorsons, 1995, reprinted as Pagan Pathways, Thorsons, 2000
    The Druid Renaissance, edited by Philip Carr-Gomm, Thorsons, 1996, reprinted as The Rebirth of Druidry, Element, 2003
    Talking Stick Magickal Journal, issue i, volume ii, Talking Stick Publications, 1996
    The Encyclopaedia of Modern Witchcraft and Neo-Paganism, edited by Shelley Rabinovitch and James Lewis, Citadel Press, New York, 2002
    The Druids’ Voice: The Magazine of Contemporary Druidry, British Druid Order, 1992-date
    Tooth & Claw: Journal of the British Druid Order, British Druid Order, 1995-date

    This list was gathered from Wikipedia but is not quite complete. It does not mention The Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Abiri Newsletter, which I have a copy of. The first newsletter is dated No. 1 Autumn 1993, so you can see how long this has been going for. The newsletter is published on white paper and contains many photographs of Avebury which have come out quite well but are somewhat black and white. The main part of the newsletter is an article detailing a rite for Alban Elfed which is dated September 17th to 19th 1993. This is long and detailed and goes through many celebrations and ritual activities. Tim Sebastian organised the 1993 Avebury Conference, and asked Greywolf to conduct the Autumn Equinox ceremony which took place on the conference weekend. Greywolf goes into how the ritual was composed and details some of Avebury’s history. Philip Carr Gomm and Ellie were handfasted here and Ronald Hutton took some photographs of this. This newsletter is well worth getting hold of as it contains much historical information and some very nice history of ritual work within Avebury. The main section of the newsletter closes with a short meditation. The newsletter ends with some closing credits featuring all who were involved in the activities of the Gorsedd. The Devizes Museum may still have a copy or copies of the newsletter as at least one was sent there. A friend has also told me that there used to be a yellow book collecting some information about the Gorsedd, although I have never seen this for myself.

    Note: Emma Restall Orr has also written a book, Principles of Druidry Thorsons 5th October 1998 978-0722536742 which should not be confused with Greywolf’s book, although her book might well be worth a look. Bobcat has written other books including Living Druidry, Druid Princess and Spirits of the Sacred Grove.

    #10571
    Dowrgi
    Participant

    Thanks for that David. I see what the confusion is. Anyway, that’s a really helpful list that you’ve provided. I think I might copy the bare essentials and put them in the Bookshelf thread in the Bardic forum. I hope you don’t mind.

    Just one note, I think Druid Princess should actually be Spirits of the Sacred Grove, which was reprinted in 2001 as Druid Priestess.

    Bennathow.
    /|\

    #10574
    david poole
    Participant

    Thanks Dowrgi. I have just ordered Druidry: A Practical and Inspirational Guide through Amazon, it is about twenty years old so any copies that you might get through Amazon will be about that many years old and almost certainly previously used. I am anticipating that this might take around two weeks to arrive as I have heard that our local post is running really slowly right now. Ebay is also another potential source if Amazon runs out of stock. Whatever you do don’t get the book through American sources as the price there is ridiculously high, I was shocked their copies can be £150.00 or more. I am absolutely fine with you copying my list over to the Bookshelf thread. I actually obtained this list from Wikipedia, who have an article about Greywolf. I also have some other publications to draw upon, mainly Druidry: Rekindling the Sacred Fire, and The Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Abiri Newsletter No. 1 Autumn 1993. I was actually present at one of these events but it is a very long story. I have met Greywolf and I may have met Bobcat but I can’t remember meeting Philip Carr-Gomm or Tim Sebastian, and I was around back then. Some of these subjects are worth discussing at greater length in separate threads, I think that once I have got Greywolf’s book that I will have much more to say and I don’t think this particular thread should branch off in too many directions or grow too long; each of these subject areas could be a long discussion within itself.

    #10580
    Dowrgi
    Participant

    Hello again.

    As you may have seen, I’ve edited it down and posted the list on our Bookshelf. I know what you mean about erratic book pricing.

    You’re right about too many digressions from the main topic, too.

    Bennathow.
    /|\

    #10582
    Anonymous

    Moving on with chapter two, Chief talks about the directions of the magic circle, “They have many potential meanings, and as in so much of Druidry, the rules are fluid rather than fixed, individual rather than collective.” (p29, Druidry) And what I really like about his descriptions of the points are that he adds the correspondences of the Celtic Gods and Goddesses to each point. Then he talks about the celebrations of the wheel of the year, again with lots of correspondences of the Celtic Gods and Goddesses, which I love, and I will just comment on Alban Elfed with is my favorite because I always think of this as a celebration of the elves and the trees. And Chief says, “the trees and hedgerows are heavy with fruit.” (p39, Druidry) Chief says that “ There are life experiences and negative self-images that can prevent us from fulfilling our potential; the sacred circle offers us the opportunity to work through these blockages.” (p41, Druidry) It seems to me that Chief sees these celebrations and magic circle work as a way to work on self- transformation, which is a theme I have seen in the book so far. And Chief also seems to be saying that using your own words in ritual is better than using something that you got from a book. I like the way he gets spiritual at the end saying, “Finally, give thanks to the spirits of place, thanking them for accepting your presence.” (p45, druidry)
    Here we see the writings of a deeply spiritual Graywolf who is working with the powers of divinity to change himself and the world, a Chief Graywolf who also is aware of the Celtic heritage in druidry, and who connects with the spirit of the Celtic gods and goddesses in his rituals.

    #10595
    Anonymous

    Chapter three is about awen, and there is also a lot about awen on the BDO website. The chapter starts off with a short bit about Taliesin, which I am sure every druid has heard the story of Taliesin and Ceridwen one Gazillion times, just like they have heard about awen.
    What is interesting is Chief Graywolf points out that “From early medieval times Irish bards have referred to inspiration as fire in the head. Others, like the Welsh Taliesin, see it in liquid form, and yet others as breath or bread, the fundamentals of life.” (p. 49 Druidry) I like this idea of awen being like a liquid. And I like people who are creative and find metaphors for things. To me a druid is a creative person and not a person who just follows whatever a druid priest says.
    And while I am at it, in my opinion, why use the word Priest when talking about a druid? I see the word priest as meaning that druidry is a religion and we have a priest and priestess. Which makes druidry smell of the church’s oppression of free thought and creativity . How about not using the word priest and just calling a druid a teacher or guide. And I think that the word priest is a loaded word. Next, Chief talks about how we can access Awen through ritual and magical means. However, in my opinion, I think that you access awen with working at your craft and not just by some magical means. Awen is there, but you find it when you are actively writing or playing or practicing your art. Then Chief goes on to talk about the way some druids make the sound of awen, and I find his instructions makes a sound more like a 50s horror movie soundtrack. I think that awen sounds closer to the word om, but every druid should express their druidry in the way they want to, and I am always glad to see druids getting creative. Chief goes on to express how the whole universe is connected at some cosmic level, which at some cosmic level I agree. But in the real magic world, I always find that idea that everything is connected a wee bit of a stretch because I see the real doors and gates of the magic world, and they are not open to all. But at a cosmic level, I can see what Chief is getting at. In contrast, in my opinion, I think everything is in relationship to each other, but not connected to each other, unless you want to get cosmic, way out there. The Chapter ends with Chief talking about The Cell of Song, and I always wonder where this idea came from. I mean, who said that druids sat around in dark caves with stones on their chests composing poetry. Again, I find that it is hard to work to compose poetry, and that all writing is rewriting, and there is a lot of editing in creating poetry, so I just don’t really buy the whole idea of The Cell of Song, and doubt it has ever worked for any poet. I think, in my opinion, that druids need to celebrate creativity. And not harass or put down other druids who are creative and imaginative. I like all of the Chief’s ideas about Awen and creativity, and understand where he is coming from. Still, I feel that it is important for each druid to think for himself or herself, so there are always going to be many different views on what a druid believes, and this is a good thing. Further, I think that if we make druidry into a religion, with priests and priestess, druidry will stagnate, and the flowing liquid power of awen will dry up, no longer inspiring the creative living spirit. I want to add one more thought, in my opinion, I can see how asking the gods and goddesses and faeries and the otherworld folk for awen could help you get some awen. I can also see how you could get awen from a power animal or talking to a tree. But still I feel that sitting your bum down in a chair and writing is the best way to come up with some creative stuff. Yes, use magic, but also put in the hard work of writing or exercising or painting to make your dreams come true. In short, in my opinion, it is best to be magical and practical.

    #10604
    Dowrgi
    Participant

    The Chapter ends with Chief talking about The Cell of Song, and I always wonder where this idea came from. I mean, who said that druids sat around in dark caves with stones on their chests composing poetry.

    Well, whether it was an ancient druidic practice is open to debate, especially seeing as it’s more connected with bardism, yet it was certainly ascribed to bards/poets in the Gaelic Highlands of Scotland as late as the 18th century if I’m not mistaken. Moreover in Ireland, as late as the 17th century, we find a poem Cuimseach sin, a Fhearghail Óig by a hereditary bard to the O’Neills, Fear Flatha Ó Gnímh, in which he seems to rebuke another bard for composing outside in the open air – a poem without darkness! A source for the poem in Irish is here: https://celt.ucc.ie/published/G402226/text001.html

    Of course, you could also look at this metaphorically: the poet has a weight on their chest, the stone, i.e. something weighing down on them and which they feel the need to express poetically, they’re in the dark until they have that flash of inspiration that allows them to come out with their verses, and, in that way, they indeed get it (the stone) off their chest.

    On awen, well, inspiration may mean many things to many people, so I doubt any two artists, musicians, poets or bards – ancient or modern, would have exactly the same ideas. Nevertheless, the etymological root of the word awenseems to be from a word meaning breath, similar to the thought behind the English word inspiration, from Latin – to breathe in – in + spirare and in the past it seems to have had a more divine sense to it than today. Greek also has similar ideas connecting poetic inspiration with breath, going right back to Homer and the idea of the divine breath of life is also found in Judaeo-Christian tradition. So, this idea of connecting air, breath and breathing with inspiration has long roots back into the misty past. Now, if we take this a step further, you could argue that since air is all around us and we have to breathe air to stay alive, it is air that animates us; by analogy, therefore poetic inspiration is all around us too – animating our artistic endeavours. To this you could also add that the arts, be they literary, plastic, musical or whatever else, have been inspired throughout history by just about anything and everything in our world.

    I have my own musing, if you pardon the pun, on awen – albeit purely my own idea: in Welsh, the word awen can also mean a rein or leash of some kind, as you would use for horses. The 2nd century CE Greek writer Lucian of Samosata records an image he claimed to have seen in Gaul of the Gaulish god Ogmios pulling men behind him who are attached by cords (reins) to their ears, the cords themselves are attached to Ogmios’s tongue. Given that Ogmios may well be cognate to the Irish Ogma, the deity of eloquence and mythological inventor of Ogham (maybe Welsh Eufydd fab Dôn too), coupled with the fact that the name Ogmios might possibly derive from an ancient root word meaning stone, there’s plenty of food for thought there in terms of bardic ideas about awen, inspiration and so forth. I hasten to add again, these are just thoughts of my own.

    To sum up, the way I see it is that awen, like the air we breathe, is all around, it’s not something you can measure or acquire an amount of at a time, it’s not a “magical power”, it’s something you have to learn how to let flow through you, like learning to swim and diving into a beautiful river or stream. Just as an aside, it’s also interesting to note that many spiritual/meditation practices from diverse cultures around the world place great importance on breathing.

    Bennathow.
    /|\

    #10624
    Anonymous

    Chapter 4 is excellent because it has the Celtic Heritage stories that Celtic druidry can find its way from. This is a druidry for Celtic people and is based on the Celtic stories. Chief Graywolf also talks about how magical and important the Celtic tales are. Druidry, was published in 2000 and I feel it clearly represents a Celtic form of Druidry and not a New age or pop psychology druidism. I can understand how druids have to search and find magic from all over the world, because it is the only way we can reconstruct magic, but I still believe that we as Druids should stay with the Celtic magic and Celtic stories. Celtic stories are the stories that talk to my soul, and Celtic music is the song that resonates in my spirit. I feel that druids should stay with the Celtic stories and Celtic culture. Do you think that druids should try to embrace all religions into their culture, or should we stay with the Celtic stories and Celtic myths for our roots? I vote for staying with the Celtic stories, and Celtic gods and goddesses. Is druidry a Celtic spiritual path or a world multi-religion path? And can it really be all things to all people? I feel that god, who is spirit, “ the profound secret” talks to different cultures in different ways. And I feel that the druid path is a Celtic path, and druidism does not make any sense once you try to take the Celtic mythology out of it. Trying to be all things to all people may help the OBODIANS market their expensive courses, but I feel that the Celtic path is the true path of a druid.

    #10626
    Anonymous

    Chapter 6 is on divination and Graywolf is most certainly leaning to the fact that there is a spiritual otherworld and druids walk in it. Yes there is some fudging for those atheist druids who do not believe in spirit, and Graywolf says that “ you may see it as a means of accessing your subconscious mind.” (p86, Druidry) But read this chapter, and tell me that Chief is not saying that there is an otherworld and Divination is asking the divine (spirit) for information on the future. I feel that Chief is a very spiritual person and he is aware of the spirit in nature and the spirit of the gods and goddesses. Again, you read the chapter, and tell me that Chief is not advocating that the otherworld is spiritual and not all subconscious psychology. Further, Chief talks about second sight. In my opinion, the otherworld does not just show itself to anyone. But there are people that they do make themselves vivid to. Look, this is what I am saying, use some discernment when dealing with the otherworld. It is not all happy and safe, and there are some real dangerous places and beings in the otherworld that are not out to do you a favor. Just take your time and be careful. But what I take away from this chapter is that Chief is a spiritual person, and I do not think he is an atheist non-spiritual person. Further, chief made a set of tree tarot cards for divination, and they are something you should check out. So far I think that this book should be required reading for every druid.

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