The New BDO Bardic Course

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  • #13494
    Greywolf
    Keymaster

    Greetings, fellow bards!
    This pandemic has created a mountain of problems for many people. Being a genuine Elder now, complete with free bus pass and state pension, I’ve been in the fortunate position of being able to focus almost entirely on upgrading our bardic course since before the first lockdown. Staying at home for 14 months has meant that a process expected to take two years should be complete six months ahead of schedule. A bonus has been that researching and writing almost every day of that 14 months has helped keep me relatively sane. Given that I’ve suffered from depression since childhood, this is quite an achievement, supporting a key message of the course, which is that creativity is good for us, for everyone around us, and for the world…
    I’m very pleased with the way the upgrade has come together. I’d always enjoyed research and the 15 years I’ve spent working on our courses has greatly improved my research techniques. My friendship with a number of Pagan academics has helped there too. When I first decided I was a Druid in the 1970s, research was limited to whatever books I could find in second-hand book shops or through working for an ‘occult’ mail order company. There was, of course, no internet. Now, thanks to the web, I can access academic papers online, locate books with ease and order them for home delivery. I can also pick up recommendations of books and papers from a wide network of friends, online and ‘actual.’
    One of the problems with putting together the original bardic course was that we wanted to include the medieval literature that we see as foundational to British Druidry, notably the Mabinogi(on), the Book of Taliesin and the Story of Taliesin. Unfortunately, as a not-for-profit organisation, were limited to Victorian or Edwardian translations that we knew were not great. This was remarked on by several students and we hoped to put it right this time. We have, and in ways that far outstripped our wildest hopes. For the Mabinogi, we were blessed to be granted permission to reproduce a new translation widely acknowledged to be the best available, that by Sioned Davies. For the Book of Taliesin we were equally blessed to discover that one of our bardic students, Derwydd Newydd (now a tutor), had been a student of Sioned Davies and was willing to undertake new translations of all of the poems relevant to the bardic, ovate and Druid paths. To our great delight, Derwydd also offered to make a completely new translation of the Story of Taliesin.
    Students had also asked for more supporting information about these texts, explaining why we see them as so significant. Given these wonderful new translations, I went back through all of them, providing pronunciation guides, new introductions where appropriate and hundreds of footnotes explaining who the characters named in them are, where the named locations can be found and what other references in the texts signify. Given my increased access to research materials, I was sometimes able to come up with interpretations of stories and poems that I’d previously missed. I’m particularly proud of my re-interpretation of one of the most famous Taliesin poems, Kat Godeu, ‘the Battle of the Trees.’ This is, I’m told, a completely original interpretation that no one has come up with before. I believe it finally makes sense of a poem that has baffled scholars for 900 years!
    I’m currently working on the penultimate booklet. The basic text here is the Mabinogi of Math, Son of Mathonwy. It’s primary significance within the BDO is that it has been the basis of our seasonal festival celebrations since the 1970s, before the BDO even had a name! The specific piece I’m working on is an enquiry into who one of its central characters, Lleu Llaw Gyffes, is. I’m using him as the focus of broader reflections on a debate that’s currently going on in academic circles about whether any of the characters in these old tales and poems can be regarded as pagan gods. Perhaps not surprisingly, I believe they can. It’s been an enlightening process looking at the arguments for and against. The piece starts with a visionary encounter that W. B. Yeats had with Lugh Lamfhada, the Irish counterpart of Lleu Llaw Gyffes. I’m currently waiting to hear from an American University if they can send me a copy of an unpublished dissertation that includes all of Yeats’ notes towards his proposed Order of Celtic Mysteries.
    I hope to finish the entire course update by June 1st. Then I’ll take a break for a couple of weeks to visit Avebury and our Shropshire roundhouse, meet up with a few BDO Elders, make ceremony, drum and journey.
    When I return home, I’ll begin updating the ovate course. This is necessary because it contains page references to things in the bardic course which have now all changed! Of course, I’ll take the opportunity to make a few revisions and additions. Not as many as the bardic course, which has doubled in length. I expect the ovate revision to take about a year, not working as intensively. Ditto the Druid course. It would be great to have all three finished by my 70th birthday in 2023. Not that I’ll be retiring then, but I might be taking a bit more time for woodland walks and playing my lyre in the garden πŸ˜‰
    Many blessings,
    Greywolf /|\

    #13581
    Kathleen Morgan
    Participant

    Thank you Greywolf for all your dedicated work! πŸ™‚

    #13587
    Shane
    Participant

    I second that! πŸ™‚

    #13596
    david poole
    Participant

    Thank you Greywolf I am looking forward to the new versions of the Bardic course, it sounds even better than it is already. I am sure that the new additions and notes will prove to be extremely helpful.

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