Join the Order & Train in Druidry

Our training course includes membership of the Order and is divided into three stages that correspond with the three traditional schools of the Bards, Ovates and Druids.

Join the Order and start the training course right away, or order an introductory package.

If you join the Order right away you receive the Introductory package for free PLUS the full training course. The course is mailed monthly over 12 months, and by the end of the year you will have received the introductory package, 51 Gwersi (lessons) as booklets, The Bardic Companion, The Book of Ritual, 8 festival ritual booklets, an Index, a Meditation and Pronunciation Guide CD, the monthly magazine Touchstone, and access to private web forums and a personal mentor. The box in this photo can be ordered as an extra from the store.

Explore all that the Order offers with the Introductory Package, which contains a CD, the first two course lessons, plus two booklets – Wild Wisdom and The Sacred Grove, a mini-poster, and an invitation to join the Order. If after studying the introductory package you feel it is not right for you, you can send it back, and we will return your payment in full. But if you find this introduction answers an inner call, then you will be welcome to start the full course and begin a journey we hope you will find exciting and rewarding.

The Aim of the Course

The course, which is published for the Order by the Oak Tree Press, includes membership of the Order and is divided into three stages or grades that correspond to the three traditional divisions of the Druids: those of the Bards, Ovates and Druids. Each grade has its own initiation which can be performed alone at home, or with others in a Grove.

The Bardic grade takes you on a journey through the cycle of the year, and introduces all the key concepts of Druidry – showing you how it is a living Way that can be practised in the modern world, bringing a greater sense of connection with all of nature, and with the ancient heritage of the Druid wisdom-tradition.

The aim of the Bardic course is to help your life flourish and blossom – to help your Soul express itself fully in the world. It does this by helping you discover the sources of your creative power, so that their gifts can flow fully in your life. In addition, it teaches the fundamental skills and techniques of Druid spirituality: the use of ritual, of sacred space, of the circle, the directions and elements. During the first year you are taught thirteen rituals in addition to the eight Druid seasonal ceremonies. These rituals help to attune you to the natural world, to the rhythms of the earth and moon, the sun and stars. And as they do this, they help you to access your Deep Self, your Soul – that part of you which feels at one with all of life.

The audio version of the course has contributions of music, storytelling and song from many contributors, including Loreena McKennitt, Robin Williamson, and Damh the Bard.

Come let us build the ship of the future in an ancient pattern that journeys far.

Robin Williamson, ‘Seasons They Change’

“As with most other streams of indigenous wisdom, the Druidic tradition has always been predominantly an oral tradition. Whether in a forest grove or sitting in front of a crackling hearth, the Druid tradition is a mouth-to-ear transmission of an ancient ‘practical mysticism’ that can guide and inspire us to live with the earth in harmony. With the OBOD teachings on audio, students of Druidry – new and seasoned alike – now have the opportunity to work with the ways of the Druid tradition in a fresh, relevant, but also traditional manner. Imagine standing in an expansive forest, or even sitting in your private garden, being guided deeply into a communion with the old Druid spirit, your spiritual senses awash with spoken-word teachings, practices, poetic meditations, and heart-stirring soundscapes. This is what awaits you.” Frank McEowen, author The Mist-Filled Path

Course Format

The course is presented in the form of Gwersi – a Welsh word meaning lessons. Each month you receive four Gwersi, together with a copy of the monthly magazine Touchstone, and supplementary material. The Gwersi can be sent to you in an audio version on CD, in a printed version as booklets, or you can choose to receive both the CDs and the printed texts.

The Gwersi combine seed-thoughts, exercises, poetry and teaching material, all designed to help you to truly walk the path of Druidry, rather than simply read about it.

To help you on this journey you are offered a mentor who you can consult whenever you wish, by mail or email. Some members consult their mentor often, others hardly at all.

Because the course is experiential rather than academic, members from a wide range of educational backgrounds find the course helpful and inspiring. If you are under eighteen years of age, you must send us a letter of permission to follow the course from your parent/s or guardian when you enrol. You cannot join if you are under sixteen.

You can start the course at any time and take as long as you like to complete it. The course is available in six language versions: English, French, German, Dutch, Italian, and Portuguese. You can cancel your membership at any time. You can find information on course fees in the FAQ below or by clicking the enrol button.

What our students say about the course

For the renewed presence in my life of this sense of spiritual, magical intimacy with the world of matter, I am deeply grateful. It takes me back to my roots in more way than one; it connects me deeply to the earth of my nourishment, to the magical realm of the living world. I have also learned so much about myself, about choice and about freedom. S.H. from London
This magnificent and highly inspiring journey through the Bardic, Ovate and Druid training is mind-blowing, poetic and life-changing all at the same time - a new and yet so old perspective on life and spirituality and a piece of art in itself. T.S. from Zurich
The greatest value of the OBOD postal course is this: it exists. It is available. Precious insights are being passed along. The mysteries are being shared. Thanks to all who have made this course possible! V.C. from Oregon
The last five months have been ones of tremendous growth and change. I have realised at least two life ambitions; my intellect along with my creativity has become sharper and clearer and more productive than ever before, and I feel more at peace with myself as my mind has become more balanced with my emotions. L.N. from Reading
How is it that every time a question is in my mind, I turn the page of the Gwers and the answer is before me? It is as if whoever compiled these teachings anticipates the logical mind and then also its inner workings. I am nearing the end of the Bardic grade, and I can honestly say that never in my life have I needed such guidance as in the last few months. I feel there is hope for us all if we continue to strive for harmony with Mother Earth. P.B. from Sussex
What the training seems to do is invite the inclusion of the whole personality onto the path, as opposed to remaking the personality to conform to a specific model destined to make you transcend the world in a burst of enlightenment. Each personality is a unique gift, and thus we arrive at a garden of diverse Druids. The diversity is strength, not confusion: not one answer, but a multitude of pathways grounded in a renewed sense of wonder and friendship with the world. G.W. from New York
I love all the different resources the Order provides like Touchstone, a beautiful and informative website, Druidcast (the monthly podcast), Tea with A Druid (weekly Facebook Live video meetings), the Discussion Forums, international gatherings, and of course the mentoring system and a perfectly well organised office sending the right gwersi at the right time! G.B. from Zurich
Many of the changes in me I believe are due to a sense of peace and of purpose given to me by working through the studies of the Bardic grade. These inner changes have in turn provoked more visible external changes. This course has most definitely answered a call which has been with me for as long as I can remember. D.L. from Manchester

FAQ

Do I have to complete the Bardic course in a year?

Not at all. Many members find a year is sufficient time for them to follow the course, but many also take longer – 18 months to two years or more. There is no pressure to complete the course, and each student is encouraged to follow the course at their own pace.

How does the course work and how much does it cost?

You can either enrol on the course right away or you can start off by sending for an introductory package, which gives the first month’s work of the course, together with details of the Order’s Sacred Grove Planting Programme and Campaign for Ecological Responsibility. This costs £18 in the UK. Higher fees apply in other countries to cover airmail postage and currency conversion costs. You also receive the first CD of the audio version of the course in this package, to help you choose whether you would like to follow the audio + text version, or whether you would like to receive just the text only. An online edition of the course is in preparation and should be available in 2021.

After sampling all this material, if you feel it isn’t right for you, you can either keep the materials, or send them back to us and we will refund your money. But if you decide you would like to enrol on the course, we will send you a package each month for the next twelve months. Each package contains four Gwersi to study (in audio or text format or both), and a copy of Touchstone – a monthly magazine which contains articles and poetry, and gives details of Groves and Seed-Groups, Members’ Notices and news of forthcoming events, workshops and other items of interest.

In addition to the monthly Gwersi, through the year we also send you the Bardic Companion, a CD of the Sacred Grove and Light-Body exercises, and of Gaelic Pronunciation, and the Book of Ritual plus the full ceremonies for each of the eight seasonal festivals. Supplementary Gwersi deal with such topics as the Art of Storytelling, and the Relationship of Druidry to Wicca, Shamanism and Magic.

In addition to the material that you receive, you may correspond about your experiences with the course with a tutor who is personally allocated to you, and we provide you with the passwords to gain access to the private members’ discussion forums.

If you’re in the UK the cost of the text course works out at £4.13 a week. Higher fees apply in other countries to cover airmail postage and currency conversion costs. But Paypal and staged payment plans are available to help you, and if you enrol on the full course online now, we include the Introductory package for free. Click on the ‘Enrol on the course’ button to view details of fees.

We do not want financial hardship to prevent people following the course, so if you really find that even with the easier payment methods, you still cannot afford the fees, please write to us explaining your circumstances. Concessions are also often available for camps, retreats and workshops in the event of financial difficulties.

Is there a lot of course work - will I be able to manage?

Although we do send you quite a lot of material, we believe you will find it easy to work with. Over the years we have received hundreds of emails and letters from members saying how they have found following the course feels like ‘coming home’ to them, and how it has changed their lives. They find the Gwersi simple and yet at the same time profound and inspiring. Even with a busy life, most people find the time to work with all the material we send them. And your mentor is always available to help you. You do not need to write essays to follow the course – it is not a conventional ‘correspondence course’.

How can I become a Druid in such a short time when the classical authors said it took nearly twenty years to become a Druid?

In ancient times it took nineteen years to become a Druid, but this course of training included many of those subjects that we learn today at school. And nineteen years is also a symbolic length of time: it represents a Metonic cycle: a calculation of the time between two almost identical eclipses, and a calculation which also succeeded in uniting the solar and lunar calendars. And so nineteen years symbolises the time it might take for someone to unite the sun and moon, the Masculine and the Feminine, within their beings.

 

Today it still takes a long time to achieve this union in the depths of our souls, and the study of Druidry is a lifetime pursuit for many. But we no longer need to train for nineteen years before we can call ourselves a Druid. In fact the term Druid has now come to denote, for many, the type of spirituality they follow. And as for training, we have found that most members taking the course reach the Druid level of training in about three years, although it is possible to achieve this in just over two years.

Where do the teachings that make up the course come from?

Many people believe that the teachings of the Druids were lost with the coming of Christianity, and that we couldn’t possibly be teaching authentic Druid wisdom. But we believe that we are. The teachings given in the course are derived from five strands:

The first, and most important, comes – surprisingly to many – from very far back in time, and almost certainly to the teachings of the Druids before the coming of Christianity. We believe these teachings were entrusted to future generations by being encoded in certain ancient stories. Within these stories we can find embedded entire programmes of Druidic training, which form the core of the teachings that we present in the training of the Order. In addition to this material, we draw on the wisdom of the Druidic triads, which were recorded by Christian clerics but which reflect much of the wisdom of their pre-Christian ancestors.

 

The second strand has its source in the much later period of the Druid Revival, which began over three hundred years ago, at the end of the seventeenth century. Our Order traces its lineage to this period, and from this source of teachings we have inherited certain ritual forms and teachings. Some of these we have discarded as inappropriate to the modern age, but others have been kept, not only for their beauty and relevance, but because they too might well derive from earlier sources, or draw their inspiration from them.

 

The third strand comes from a more recent time, about sixty years ago, when the previous Chief of the Order, Philip Ross Nichols, together with a group of fellow-druid members of the Ancient Druid Order, formed The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids, still honouring its connections through the Ancient Druid Order back to its founding in the time of the Druid Revival, but taking the decision to incorporate more study of Celtic source material, and to include a celebration of the four Celtic fire festivals. Ross Nichols was a friend of Gerald Gardner, the founder of the modern Wicca movement, and the evidence of the intellectual cross-fertilisation that occurred between them can now be seen in both Wiccan and Druid teachings. Nichols edited Gardner’s first book on Wicca, and contributed material to his second book.

 

The fourth strand comes from the contribution of the recent Chief of the Order, Philip Carr-Gomm, to the teachings. Having trained with Ross Nichols, and having trained in psychology and psychotherapy, (in particular Jungian analytical therapy and Psychosynthesis) Philip was asked to lead the Order in 1988. In June 2020 he is handing on the role to Eimear Burke from Ireland.

 

The fifth strand comes from the contributions of many contemporary scholars and specialists in Druidry and Celtic spirituality, who have offered their insights and writings to the world, and in some cases specifically to the Order, to help build a body of teachings that are truly relevant and helpful to students of Druidry in the modern world. Their contributions are referenced in detail in the bibliographies and indexes provided at each stage in the Order’s training.

Is the course suitable for me if I have had mental health issues?

Many people go through difficult times in their life, and the course can be very helpful and supportive at such times. But you should not enrol on the course if you have been diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia or a psychotic condition. The reason for this is that while much of the course material can be instructive and helpful to anyone, the course does offer meditations, visualizations and rituals which are designed to ‘open people up’ to their unconscious states and potentially other levels of perception. For those who haven’t suffered from such a condition this process can be helpful, but if you have, these exercises have the potential to be counter-productive. If the training was undertaken in a face-to-face situation the exercises could be paced and adjusted to suit the individual, but since the course is administered from a distance, such adjustment and monitoring just isn’t possible.
Although the distance learning programme is not suitable if you have had these challenges, Druidry can still be followed as a spiritual way/philosophy/religion by making use of the many resources available on the web and in books. It is important to note that this policy refers only and specifically to a diagnosis of schizophrenia or a psychotic condition. We have found that members  who have received other diagnoses can benefit from the course. If you are thinking of enrolling for the course but are not sure if it is for you, just email us at office@druidry.org.

Can a friend or partner follow the course with me?

Yes – but we do ask that they write to advise us that they are working with your material and that they send a registration fee of £50. By registering on the course they will be entitled to their own mentor, and will be able to progress through the Grades, provided they fulfil the criteria as laid out in the course.

Is there an age limit for the course?

To join the Order and take the course you must be at least 18 years of age. In exceptional circumstances we can accept enrolments from students who are 16 or 17, but their enrolment must be accompanied by a letter from a parent or guardian confirming that they are happy for them to be taking the course. We appreciate that many younger people would like to take the course, but over the years we have found that the material presented simply cannot be assimilated by those under 16.

Do I have to take the course in the sequence of Bard to Ovate to Druid?

Yes! You start with the foundations of Druid practice at the Bardic level, then progress on to studying at the Ovate level, and then finally the Druid level. Training in each of these involves 12 monthly mailings, but you can take as long as you like to complete each one.

Membership

To join the Order you need to enrol on the course. Once you enrol you become a member of a worldwide community – a Fellowship of Druids (Cairdeas Mor Shaoghal nan Druidh in Gaelic) and over the years this fellowship has grown to include groups and individuals in fifty countries on all four continents. How you choose to relate to this community is entirely up to you.