10th Mount Haemus Lecture: What is a Bard?

Dr Andy Letcher looks at the way in which Druidry is currently undergoing a process of reflection and self-examination. Given that it professes to be a timely and necessary worldview, to offer practical solutions to some of the world’s problems, why isn’t it more widely recognised and appreciated? One possibility is that it has yet to adjust fully to life in a post-Hutton world. Much of what we assumed to be true about Druidry has been revealed as the wishful thinking of Romantic laudanum addicts, Edwardian anthropologists and other fantasists. If we are drawn to call ourselves Druids or Bards, how do we answer the challenge thrown to us by the new historicity? Upon what principles can we base our practice?

by Dr. Andy Letcher


It may seem strange to be asking a roomful of Druids, ‘what is a Bard?’, for they of all people ought to know. Bardism – the quest for poetic or artistic inspiration – forms the foundation of the modern druidic path to self-knowledge and spiritual wisdom. That today’s Druids centralise bardism is evident in my original brief for this paper, an invitation by Philip Carr-Gomm to compare and contrast some bardic methods offered by Druid authors around the world. So why the question? Well, implicit in the invitation is an understanding that bardism may be done differently. If those differences are substantial then how are we to chose between them? Which method makes the better Bard? Or are the differences merely semantic, of style and not substance?

Read the Lecture

Also available in The Mount Haemus Lectures – Volume Two through our bookshop and as a downloadable pdf below.

Listen to Andy presenting his lecture at the Mt.Haemus Day in Salisbury 2012 on Druidcast the Order’s Podcast episode 67

About the Author

Andy Letcher is a writer, lecturer, musician and bard. He is Associate Lecturer in the Study of Religion and Culture at Oxford Brookes University, having completed his PhD on ‘The Role of the Bard in Contemporary Paganism’ in 2001, under the supervision of Dr Graham Harvey. He is the author of Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom, fronts weirdlore band Telling the Bees, and plays English bagpipes in Wod, a trio for Brythonic dancing.  A solitary pagan, his personal quest to unriddle the universe has led him through Witchcraft, Druidry, Tai Chi, Neo-Platonism, psychedelia, philosophy, cultural theory and English magic. The universe remains delightfully unriddled.

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