Bardic initiation

Many Druid gatherings offer bardic initiations, although what’s meant by this can vary. My first initiation was at Stonehenge, in the dew of a midsummer morning, and I repeated back the words and wasn’t sure about them at all, but such is life. As a bard of the Lost Forest I both initiated bards, and re-dedicated myself.

It’s natural to want rites of passage to mark important points in the journey, but it’s also important to ask, and keep asking what initiation does, what it’s for, what it means.

Some people may experience a bardic initiation as opening them up to the Awen. For some, it’s an affirmation – community recognition of what they’re doing. For some, it will be a doorway opening onto a new path, and for some there is very little effect.

It’s good to make dedications, and to have them witnessed, and rituals can provide the ideal opportunity for this. I think the essence of dedicating to the bard path is dedicating to creativity, to honouring and working with the flows of inspiration and using that inspiration for the good of the land, and tribe – however you identify those. It is creativity as a spiritual journey, but to be a bard is to be public facing as well. Dedicating to this is powerful, if it’s meant and as is always the way of it, the more you invest in it, the more powerful it will be.

I feel quite strongly that true bardic initiation doesn’t happen as a thing that is done to you, or given to you in a ritual. It happens when you perform, and it happens repeatedly. The first time you step up as a bard, is a rite of passage. The first time you take any new way of performing into a public space. The first time you face a microphone, or you cock up in public – these are all rites of initiation. Either you go through them and grow, or you falter. Every time something magical happens while you’re creating or performing, there is also an aspect of being initiated into a new level.

No one can do this to you, or for you. It’s between you and the Awen, and the odds are each round will be a private process.

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About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

3 responses to “Bardic initiation

  • Linda Davis

    Reflecting on my Bardic Initiation I wrote –
    ‘I have to admit I felt a slight sense of anti-climax at the time, after heightened anticipation prior , but of course the ceremony is just the ‘intentional’ bit, and the start of an inward process.’
    I hadn’t thought about it from the ‘public facing’ aspect of it you describe. Something to think about. Thank you.

  • lornasmithers

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. I’ve never been to a group (of human people) initiation or been initiated into anything myself so this lies outside my experience. However, I have initiated/dedicated myself to a god and a path. This is powerful and transformative but I’d agree the test lies in commitment to one’s spiritual journey and not straying (too far!). I’d agree that performance has an initiatory quality to it too.

    • Nimue Brown

      I thought about making a personal dedication to the path back in the autumn, but in the end I didn’t in no small part because the doing felt like a better expression of that – but there’s no rules for any of this, its just what makes sense at the time, isn’t it?

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