by Philip Shallcrass (Greywolf)
2nd edition, revised and greatly expanded, Pretanic Press.
Publication date: March 20th
Hardback, 6 x 9 inches (152 x 229 mm.), full-colour dust-jacket, dark blue cloth-bound, 29 illustrations, vi + 194 pages, index.
Standard edition: £25.99
Paperback edition £12.99
A Druid since 1974, the author founded the British Druid Order (BDO) to promote his vision of Druidry as a shamanistic spirituality native to the British Isles and northwestern Europe. The book is in four parts. In part one, the first chapter looks at why Druidry is undergoing such a strong revival of interest at the present time, its vision of the natural world as imbued with spirit, the sources it draws on, the nature of the paths of bard, ovate and Druid, the core concepts and ethics of modern Druidry. The second journeys through the history of Druidry, beginning with the present day, looking at some prominent modern groups, going back through revivals rooted in the 17th century, the bardic schools of medieval Wales, Ireland and Scotland, its classical heyday 2,000 years ago and its probable origins on the Central Asian Steppes 40,000 years ago. The third looks at the sacred circle and the eight festivals of the Wheel of the Year.
The second part deals with the path of the bard, beginning with a detailed look at the nature of awen, the flowing, feminine spirit that is the heart and soul of Druidry in the British tradition, brewed in the cauldron of the witchlike patroness of bards, Ceridwen. This is followed by a look at the poetry, songs, mythological and semi-historical stories created by previous generations of bards as found in the medieval manuscript literature of Britain and Ireland, including the Mabinogion, the Story of Taliesin, the tales of King Arthur and his knights, the Book of the Taking of Ireland and the Cuchulainn saga. Present day bards are recommended and exercises encourage readers to try their hand at the bardic arts themselves.
The third part looks at the path of the ovate. Its first chapter covers seership and divination by various means including second sight, the behaviour of birds and the Ogham alphabet that features in primers used in Irish bardic schools. Its second chapter covers healing in various forms. Again, practical exercises are given.
Part four covers the path of the Druid, opening with a look at the nature and purpose of ritual. A complete portmanteau ceremony follows which includes a simple rite of bardic initiation, a blessing for children, a handfasting and honouring of the dead. Extracts from this rite featured in the spectacular closing ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympics. The final chapter introduces the reader to power animals and animal powers and to shape-shifting.
Emma Restall Orr (Bobcat), author of Druid Priestess (a.k.a. Spirits of the Sacred Grove), Living Druidry, &c., says: “There are a good many books on Druidry, but few have such a valuable blend of academic and historical with authentic experiential as Greywolf offers here.”