Historical, archaeological and other scientific studies of Celtic culture and spirituality are an ever-changing field, as new discoveries frequently require us to update the scientific consensus and therefore also our own views. As modern Druids, this affects us too as we base our modern Celtic spirituality for a good part on what we know of ancient Celtic culture, history and spirituality.
This means that, occasionally, we may need to check if the contents of our courses is still up-to-date. In the light of these updates, we decided it was necessary to make some changes to the Bardic Course and the Ovate Course. The Druid Course remains unaffected. While these changes are important, we have nonetheless attempted to keep the impact on these courses to a minimum as to cause a minimum of interruption to both students and mentors.
So, what changed?
1. Both the Bardic and Ovate Courses relied heavily on the publications of Frank MacEowen, a professor who was in the meantime considered "discredited" due to historical inaccuracies, cultural appropriation and abstraction, and presenting his own thoughts as genuine ancient Celtic thoughts. We have updated the courses to correct these inaccuracies, though it doesn't mean that some of MacEowen's own thoughts can't still be useful in the context of modern Celtic spirituality, as long as they are not incorrectly represented as historical fact. This can be compared with the "Celtic Tree Calendar", which was once presented by Robert Graves as a historical fact while it was in fact largely a modern invention, though it doesn't mean the concept can't be useful to modern Druids who wish to make use of it in the context of "univerified personal gnosis".
2. Both the Bardic and Ovate Courses refer to "Danu" (or "Dana") as a "primal mother goddess", but the current consensus in historical sciences now rejects this as an invention of the Renaissance Era. The concept of the "primal mother goddess" is therefore now referred to as "Earth Mother" rather than "Danu" in the courses, along with an added explanation on how we should correctly view the ancient mother-figure of Danu in Irish mythology.
3. The Bardic and Ovate Courses refer to the Celtic cosmology of the three realms as "underworld", "middleworld" and "upperworld". In Irish mythology, which forms the fundament of these two courses, these concepts are not historically correct as the Irish Celtis did not consider these as three separate "worlds" but rather as three realms interwoven with each other in one world. This is different from how ancient Celts elsewhere in the world may have viewed it, as they were more directly influenced by Greek and Roman mythology, especially in Gaul and possibly later also in Britain when the Gauls migrated there following the Roman invasions. To avoid confusion for students in the Bardic and Ovate Courses, we have decided to keep consistency there with the Irish version of Celtic cosmology, and therefore minimized the references to the terms of "underworld", "middleworld" and "upperworld", instead referring to them as the "three realms" of Land, Sea and Sky specifically.
What does this mean for you?
We strove to keep the impact of these change to a minimum for both students and mentors. If you have completed any of these courses, or are still taking any of these courses, you do not need to re-do any of the assignments. The outline of the course, and the vast majority of its contents, has not changed and so there are practically no changes to the actual assignments.
We do, however, recommend all active students in the Bardic or Ovate Course to re-download the course Handbook, so that you are sure to use the newest version of the handbook to continue your studies. The new version of the handbook was updated in the course on July 25, so if you signed up for the Bardic Course or Ovate Course after that date, you already have the latest version.
If you purchased the printed course books of the Bardic Course and Ovate Course at our online book shop on lulu.com, you are not required to buy them again of course, as you can download the PDF of the handbook for free in the Grove of Dana online Druid college on our website. If you wish, you can continue to read the course from the book(s), but keep the above changes in mind and double-check the latest PDF version of the handbook if you are in doubt about anything.
If you purchased the Bardic Course and/or Ovate Course book in printed version from our Lulu online shop after July 25, 2019, you already have the latest version of the books. This only applies to our online webshop at lulu.com, not to third-party webshops such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble as updates there take up to 6 weeks to take effect.
You can find the printed books of the Bardic, Ovate and Druid Course, as well as the youth Bardic, Ovate and Druid Courses (of which the first two also in Dutch) in our Online Bookstore at Lulu, at this link:
If you have any questions, feel free to contact your mentor.
We would like to express our thanks to Hawkmoon for his work on updating the Bardic and Ovate Courses to reflect the latest consensus.