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The Bardic Book of Becoming is a warm, user-friendly, eclectic introduction to modern Druidry that invites you to take the first steps into the realms of magic and mystery.
In this book you will be introduced to the various techniques and practices of a Druid in training. Written by Ivan McBeth, the cofounder of Vermont's Green Mountain School of Druidry, with Fearn Lickfield, the book incorporates lessons, visualizations, rituals, and magical stories. Many different activities and exercises are included that provide the reader with hands-on learning. Ivan also provides personal stories that demonstrate his own journey from spiritual seeker to Druid.
About the Author
Ivan McBeth, a Druid in the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (OBOD), founded the Green Mountain Druid Order, a modern mystery school based in Worcester, Vermont with his partner Fearn Lickfield. Ivan's passion was the creation of sacred space, especially stone circles. A founding member of the Circles for Peace project in the United States, he was co-responsible for the Burlington Earth Clock and 25 other full-sized stone circles around the world, including the large Swan Circle on the site of the Glastonbury Music Festival in the UK and the Kinstones in Wisconsin. Ivan died in 2016.
Read an Excerpt
WE ARE ONE
We are One. Simply look out of any spacecraft window or inspect any photograph of our world taken from a satellite or space station. There is no denying it. We are One.
In fact, we have always been One. We are One now and always will be. In order to successfully witness our oneness, however, we need distance and perspective. Once we have created the correct conditions, it is there, right in front of our eyes. The body of our planet — the continents, the mountains, the oceans, the trees, the vegetation, the humans, the animals, the atmosphere, and everything that lives on, above, or below the surface of the world — is, simply, one integrated entity that has presence and consciousness. Everything is symbiotic, dependent, and interdependent. We even have a visible silver-blue aura that envelops us — the atmosphere. We are truly One.
From a holistic perspective, we are a collective consciousness spinning through the stars on an eternal journey of transformation and evolution. The Earth is alive, an awesome miracle, and you and I have been chosen to be part of that miracle. Chosen by whom or what? Who knows? We have been trying to figure that one out for millennia. Billions of organisms are receiving life — being born — every instant, and billions are letting go of life — dying — every instant, creating space for new life. Some insects live for a few minutes, some mountains for a billion years. Humans find themselves somewhere between the two.
Earth is a huge juggernaut, an awesome community of disparate, miraculous life forms spiraling its inexorable way through the Universe. It is also an incredibly sensitive and fragile symbiotic ecosystem in which every part is completely dependent on every other part. Everything on Earth is continually evolving and, although we as individuals will only be aware of the changes that happen in our own lifetimes, our children and descendants will take the torch we carry now into the future — if we succeed in leaving them a healthy world upon which to incarnate and live out that future. The prognosis at present, however, is poor.
In the dawn of humanity's existence on Earth, our oneness was innocent and unconscious. We were loved and supported unconditionally by our Great Mother as her cherished children. We were given everything we needed to survive and flourish in an abundant paradise; we simply had to make the minimal effort to eat well, create adequate shelters, and ensure the continuance of our species. Those were the days!
Somewhere during the process of evolution, we lost our way. In the larger context of human history, this happened fairly recently. We forgot about our connection to the Divine — to our Great Mother, to oneness — and became divided souls. We lost our original wholeness and wandered together, yet alone, on the surface of the Earth. We became disempowered, disenfranchised, living lives without full awareness or purpose, all the time yearning for something we had lost but unable to remember exactly what it was. This is where the human race finds itself at present.
Despite the problems we face, we are incredibly lucky to be alive at such a pivotal point in history. At this time, human consciousness has evolved to a point at which we have the potential to leave our unconscious, childishly destructive behavior behind us and choose to lead conscious lives that will bring us back to wholeness. This will actually manifest when we choose, finally, to wake up, as if from a bad dream, and take stock of the situation. Then, taking responsibility for every facet of our lives on Earth, we can work together as a global community to create a balanced, harmonious life that honors the spiritual and the material equally.
We mustn't allow our magic to be diminished or become distracted by the thought that individual human beings are small and powerless. The game that we often play, in which we compare ourselves to others and end up feeling unworthy, is disempowering and simply wrong. One person — a person like you or me — can change the world, especially when we perceive ourselves as indivisible from the entire planet! Humans are awesome beings whose personal power is increasing to the point at which every thought, word, and deed has a huge effect on our future. It is up to every one of us to choose, first, whether to believe in our immense power and, second, whether to put that power to use. Finally, we must choose to use that power in the most effective and empowering way.
INWARD TO HEALING AND WHOLENESS
So how do we gather ourselves and find our way back to healing and wholeness? We cannot go back to how things were, for that is the same as a baby attempting to crawl back into its mother's womb. It's simply not going to happen! What about sorting out the problems outside us and creating peace on Earth? Well, we've been trying to heal the world for quite a while, and things are just getting worse. When the fighting stopped at the end of World War I, everyone celebrated Armistice Day at the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month. It was the war to end all wars; we had learned our lesson and, from that time onward, peace would reign on Earth. Hmmm. It was a wonderful dream, but, unfortunately, it remains a dream.
Druids believe that the answer does not lie outside ourselves. To create world peace and heal the planet, we really need to focus inside ourselves. Think about it. If everyone committed to heal the Earth without also working on themselves, there would be no real change
It is fashionable at present to regard the state of the modern world as negative and disastrous, filled with incessant fighting, greed, and power struggles, scarred by genocide and the victimization of the powerless by the powerful. We are accustomed to focusing on humanity's cruelty to one another and the wanton destruction that engulfs great areas of our planet. Most of us, however, don't truly comprehend how reality really works. Popular understanding suggests that the material world is the real, manifest version of reality; it is the absolute truth. It is simply there, and we deal with it as best we can. This version of reality, however, can transform us into hopeless victims. If we live out this paradigm, we are doomed to react, endlessly, to the apparent reality of the moment. Not a very positive or empowered state of affairs.
Druids have a much more optimistic and empowering view of the world. They believe that material, or "objective," reality is the effect of the reality we first create inside ourselves. In other words, the reality we believe in and imagine to be true is the initial act of creation. This imagined reality is then projected outward, where it shapes the physical world. This is how the mind works. It is an occult truth that energy follows thought. In this way, we create what we believe or think, and, consequently, our experience of life is what we imagine it to be. This works because the material world is potential and malleable, until it is molded by intent or belief. Physical reality is the final stage of manifestation, not the first!
Once we understand this truth, we can choose to create the reality we wish to manifest. Now that's more like it! Druids are very careful about the reality they choose to create, because they know that every permutation and combination has very real, physical consequences. Creating your reality, or the world, is a skill like any other — practice makes you increasingly competent. Eventually, you can take great delight in creating the world of your dreams — provided that you abide by these two core truths:
Negative projections corrupt and cause damage.
Positive projections heal and unify.
If the world were your very own garden to cultivate as you wished, how would you design its landscape? Which flowers would you plant? What features would you create for your own pleasure and for the delight of others? When you empower yourself, you automatically become the celestial gardener of your dreams, creating the landscapes of your wildest and wisest imaginings. As gardeners-in- training, we must ask ourselves, and each other, what we have done with the garden that was entrusted to us.
I believe that the human race is in a process of transition between an original, childlike state of consciousness and a mature, evolved state in which we will take up our rightful roles as guardians and gardeners of this planet. It is high time for us to grow up, take responsibility for ourselves, and live wholesome lives based on a more enlightened understanding of the nature of reality. Druids call this the "mastery of awareness," and they devote a lot of their precious time to developing an alternative, more heart-centered and empowered way of interacting with the world. Then they design and create the gardens of their dreams!
In the beginning, God and Goddess created the original Universe. At present, at this stage of our evolution, the Divine is passing this baton on to us, and we must learn how to accept it and run with it. This is our destiny, and we are in the process of coming of age.
Before we can exercise our powers of conscious creation, however, we have new and scary challenges to face. Until now, we could relax in our innocence and trust that the Goddess, our Great Mother, would sort it all out and make everything okay. Unfortunately, we now find that our Great Mother is shooing us out of the nest to fend for ourselves. This is disastrous, because Mummy is refusing to care for us, cook for us, clean up after us. She is no longer willing to drop everything and come running whenever we call. Some of us still haven't fully realized what is happening and continue to hope that everything will soon revert to normal, that we can continue to lead our privileged lives at the center of the Universe.
It is time to wake up and grow up. Change is in the air, and we can see more and more people awakening and joining the flow into a new state of being. Although there is a less spiritual side to this change in consciousness — spawning a whole new industry that is licking its lips over the new contracts it will negotiate and all the money it will make — there is also a new feeling in the air, a new optimism. A whole new stratum of humanity is emerging that is aligned with the Sacred — one that operates on intuition and is connected by a web of magic and synchronicity. It is time!
ONENESS AND SPIRIT
I use the word "One" as a collective noun that encompasses all of existence — humans, animals, plants, trees, insects, the world on which we live, and everything that lives on, above, and under its surface. This includes the physical land, with its rocks, waters, flora and fauna, humans, houses, and automobiles. It includes our own physical lives, our corporal bodies, our minds, and our emotions. Ultimately, it embraces the entire planet Earth and our whole Universe — the solar system, planets, Sun, stars, and deep-space objects. It means, simply, everything.
In order to become truly a part of this oneness, we must heal ourselves. Let's be honest. The rest of creation is doing fine, or would be without human meddling, the consequences of overcrowding, and the copious waste products and pollution we humans produce. By "heal ourselves," I mean we must make ourselves whole, make ourselves sacred. Our once-healthy minds have been brainwashed to judge the material (mundane) world as evil and spirituality as good. This artificial division, created in ignorance and fear, has caused our entire experience of life to be torn down the middle, making us a schizophrenic and very unhappy race of beings.
The artificial split between Spirit and Earth — between a presumed good and evil — is the cause of humanity's greatest suffering and, in this day and age, it is as strong as it has ever been. In fact, it is the accepted way to experience life and is the rule by which most people on Earth have been programmed to live. The suffering caused by this dichotomy does have one positive aspect, however. We humans only seem to change when our backs are up against the wall and, at present, our experiences, planet-wide, are becoming unbearable. In this context, our suffering is probably the greatest motivator we have to heal ourselves.
True healing happens when the physical and spiritual worlds are experienced as two opposite poles of the same, integrated phenomenon — the miracle of life. We have been taught that humans are, first and foremost, physical beings with thoughts, emotions, sensations, souls, and spirits. For many people, spiritual awareness is the act of going to church once a week or occasionally sitting in meditation. Our physical existence is typically emphasized to the detriment of our invisible, spiritual side. When we finally understand that Spirit is our other half, our lost twin sister, no more or less important than our physical existence, we will truly have come of age.
With this new clarity, we can consciously invite Spirit to unite with us, returning us to balance and enabling all the lost, separated, and lonely parts of existence to come back together again. By dedicating ourselves to this convergence and learning how to make it happen, we will create a new awareness and purpose for humanity. We cannot wait for this to happen outside ourselves, for we will be waiting forever. The process must start within us, for only when our inner reality changes will the outer world follow. Druidry is a path that understands and practices this type of soul healing, for it has long promoted union with nature.
It must be understood that, no matter what we do, we cannot damage Spirit. It is infinite and perfect by itself. It is, rather, the sensitive, delicate Earth that suffers from separation and denial, because physical manifestation is the consequence of the intent that drives the process of creation. We humans have somehow snuck in between the Creator and the intended creation and have perverted that sacred perfection with our own ignorance and ubiquitous human failings.
I believe that healing the land (Earth) is the most important and wide- reaching goal for humanity in this stage of its evolution. Healing the land starts with you and me interacting with nature and enjoying the dance of life, while embraced by the collective consciousness called Gaia. It involves the study of both awareness and geomancy and integrating their principles into our day-to-day lives. When enough of us surrender our false independence, and focus our attention on the well-being of the whole, the momentum will steadily increase until all beings finally become willing members of the interconnected circle of life. At that point, we will have truly, finally, become One.
FOLLOWING THE PATH
This is a simple book. It professes only to describe the barest rudiments of the Druid path and to provide a map through the magic worlds for those who wish to develop and heal themselves in harmony with nature. To transform your life more deeply, however, you must commit yourself to serious training over the long term.
Druidry is not merely a collection of teachings and practices; it is a way of life. You have to live it. There are numerous versions of Druidry taught in mystery schools around the world today, from the traditional to the extremely bizarre, and the training provided by every Druid school is unique. The Druid path I present here relates directly to my personal history and the experiences that have shaped my view of the world. In particular, it reflects the various techniques, practices, and attitudes of the Green Mountain School of Druidry, based in Vermont.
There are three grades of Druidry: Bards, Ovates, and Druids. This book is titled The Bardic Book of Becoming, because bards, having been initiated into the first grade of Druidry, are taking their first steps into the realms of magic and mystery. This is a long and winding path, requiring much determined effort. Bards will make many changes to their lives during their training, each one nudging them along a well-trodden path of metamorphosis, until they become full-fledged Druids. While it is impossible to include every part of bardic training here, as there is simply too much to cover in one book, I hope to offer you an all-around view of this ancient yet modern nature-based spirituality that will accurately convey what is involved in the development of a bard.
I started life as a very wounded child, unable to cope with the world. Over the years, I have returned from a frightening and very disempowered place to a world of ever-increasing inner peace and freedom. Because of my own past, I relate to life as a wonderful opportunity for people to heal and transform themselves. Through my own experiences, and having traveled the path of healing, I feel qualified to help others heal themselves.
Excerpted from "The Bardic Book of Becoming"
Copyright © 2018 Ivan McBeth and Fearn Lickfield.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part I The Spirit in You
Chapter 1 We Are One 3
Chapter 2 The Druid Path 19
Chapter 3 Rebirth into Spirit 33
Chapter 4 Starting Your journey 43
Chapter 5 Becoming a Bard 55
Chapter 6 Mastering Awareness 75
Chapter 7 Ritual and Ceremony 91
Chapter 8 Spiritual Cleansing 115
Chapter 9 Sacred Creativity 137
Chapter 10 The Power of Manifestation 147
Chapter 11 The Freedom of Transformation 155
Chapter 12 Magical Adventures 169
Part II The Spirit of Gaia
Chapter 13 The Four Elements 187
Chapter 14 Earth 195
Chapter 15 Water 203
Chapter 16 Air 213
Chapter 17 Fire 223
Chapter 18 Spirit Dancer 233
Afterword and Beyond: The Continuing Life of Ivan McBeth 245