I love books. It's been a dream of mine since I was a kid to see my name on the spine of a really nicely produced hardback book. Well, it took a while, but I finally made it! The first edition of Druidry: A Practical & Inspirational Guide was a modest little paperback that came out in 2000 (above left). Despite being written as an introductory book, I was delighted to hear that even old hands in the Pagan and Druid worlds had found inspiration in it. It's also been a joy to run into those for whom it was their first introduction to Druidry and who were inspired to follow it as a path ever since.
A completely unexpected consequence of its publication came in 2011 when I was contacted by the organisers of the London 2012 Paralympics with a request to use parts of a ceremony included in the book in their closing ceremony. This put BDO Druidry on the same bill as Coldplay and Rhianna, broadcast to a worldwide audience of millions. See the Druid bits on https://youtu.be/eNE8PTgsjWk
23 years on, the new edition is more than twice the length of the first and is a rather beautiful 6 x 9 inch hardback, bound in dark blue cloth with gold lettering on the spine, enclosed in a tough wraparound jacket bearing a gorgeous photo of yours truly on the front, courtesy of ace Druid photographer, Elaine Gregory. It's illustrated, which the first edition wasn't, including photos of modern Druids, sketches and etchings of earlier ones, a Romano-Celtic bronze of an even earlier one and some of my own artwork and that of Druid friends. It's beautifully laid out, printed in a lovely clear typeface and has an index. All made possible by the decision to self-publish.
The contents follow the same pattern as the first edition, beginning with a general introduction to Druidry and how the modern tradition came to exist in its current form. Subsequent sections cover the bardic, ovate and Druid paths in more detail, covering (among other things) myths, legends and poetry, seership and divination, seasonal celebrations, ritual and shape-shifting.
While retaining much from the earlier edition, this new one benefits greatly from 23 years more experience of living Druidry and 17 years of research and writing done for the British Druid Order's distance learning courses. Among other things, it features new and more accurate translations of the names of the letters of the Ogham alphabet, insights into the origins of various pieces of Druidic liturgy and the modern Pagan Wheel of the Year, new translations from Taliesin poems by Welsh poet, Frank Olding, and my own new translations of some key Irish texts, including the Song of Amergin.
Published on Alban Eilir, March 20th, it's doing pretty well even though, for reasons unknown, Amazon seem to be either listing it as unavailable or selling it with a huge mark-up for postage. Fortunately, other online booksellers are doing better. It's also available from the British Druid Order webshop at the published price of £25.99 and at a reduced postage rate, which seems like a good idea given how ridiculously expensive postage is these days.
Publishing a book is a strange business, like nailing your soul to a wooden door in a busy market place and inviting strangers to hurl dung at it, particularly since the proliferation of social media platforms that thrive on abuse. I can't pretend it's not worrying but went ahead and published anyway largely because of the positive effect the first edition had on so many people's lives and the belief that the new edition improves on it in so many ways and might therefore also have a positive impact on at least some readers. I commend it to your tender mercies.