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Posted: 21-Jul-2002, 06:07 AM
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With our current featured artist being the Brobdingnagian Bards, thought it would be appropriate to post some background information on Bards!

"Among the Celts are honored poets called bards who to the music of harps (instruments like lyres) chant praise of some, satire of others.  Also they have philosophers called druids whom they hold in high veneration."
                              Diodorous Sisculus (circa 60 B.C.)

"Dan", the Gaelic word for song or poem, connotes both skills and that which is destined.  The Celts believed that those skilled in the art of singing or writing poetry had the ability to change the course of certain events--poets could influence destiny.

Central to Celtic belief were the philosophies established by their priest class--the druids.  The druids were the shamans and interpreters of the guiding signs that dwell in the land, stars and dreams.  Their intellectual and spiritual power informed Celtic life and art.  The bards were students of the druids and were also held in high esteem.

Bards represented only one class of the degrees or grades of druidic education.  The most famous description of the many "grades" of druidry comes from Julius Caesar.  He wrote of bards (poets, storytellers and musicians), vates (judges and seers) and druids (prophets, shamans, astrologers and astronomers).  According to Caesar's letters, the complete training from apprentice bard to fully qualified druid lasted 20 years.  Such an extensive mentoring period was necessary, in large part because the Celtic literary tradition was passed on orally.  During the apprenticeship period, each student was required to commit all tales, poems and teachings to memory.  The three traditional skills necessary to become a bard were the ability to play the harp, a vast knowledge of ancient tales and a mastery of poetic power.

The Celts had a deep reverence for nature and the power of love.  They understood that life must be experienced through the senses in order for growth to occur, as spring growth eventually gives way to the summer, in the Celtic tradition a period which culminated with the spring festival of Beltane (celebrated on May 1),  which focused on the rebirth of the land and the reawakening of emotions and senses in the first part of the year.

Article from the Celtic Times.

Wallace MacArthur
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Posted: 20-Dec-2004, 10:18 PM
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Been doing some research on the bards of old here lately and I must say they were a very interesting group of people! I found some similar references to the bards but it's very fascinating that even Caesar had some sort of record of them. Twenty years is a long apprenticeship but I'm sure it was well worth it! If I could only step back into that time...

Haldr, Traveller of the Great Forest

"After all is said and done, a lot more will be said than done."

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Posted: 08-Jan-2005, 08:42 PM
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My question is, were there really bards like the fantasy ones most people think about today, in medival times? People that would sing to uphold the spirit in people, and fight just as good as they sing!?

"Men at some time are masters of their fate"
Jul Caesar, Act i, Sc.2

"When sorrow comes, they come not single spies, but in battalions"
Hamlet, Act iv, Sc.5

"All that lives must die, passing through nature to eternity"
Hamlet, Act i, Sc.2
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Posted: 27-Feb-2005, 07:37 PM
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Here's some information on bards taken from
Bardic Schools

Out of the Celtic tradition developed a singularly important aspect of Irish life, the bardic school, that was to have a direct impact on daily life in Ireland for about 1,500 years. "The studies of the students in the bardic schools were chiefly: history, law, language, genealogy and literature. The history was that of Ireland, the law was that of Ireland, namely the Brehon Law system; the literature was that of Ireland - and through the medium of the native language were all subjects taught.

The time their foundation is unknown, for the bardic order existed in prehistoric times and their position in society is well established in the earliest tradition. [Professor Bergin, 'Bardic Poetry' Ivernian Journal, April-June, 1913, v, 19. They were thus pre-Christain. I pagan days, Druid and poet were perhaps one. Even after they were Christianized, the some vestiges of the of Druid cult survived in them, as the pagan sensibility did, until modern times. When the schools did at last become Christian, they did not become monastic; and they are not to be confused with the famous monkish schools. The Bardic Schools were lay, officered by laymen; and existed side by side with the great schools of the clerics.

The bardic schools, as a separate institution to ecclesiastical schools, lasted until the smashing of the Irish intelligentsia in the seventeenth century. From these schools, the poets, the historians, the Brehons, doctors, and other professional people graduated. The education in these 'lay' schools ran parallel to education in the monastic or ecclesiastical schools. Ireland, unlike most of her neighbors, such as England, therefore had an educational tradition outside the church.

In a largely oral tradition, the poets composed verse for laws, genealogy, calendars of saints and even for history; since students more easily memorized poetry than prose.

Sources describe the school building as being an ordinary house or hut - the central figure, the chief 'File' (poet), the head Ollamh (professor), was indeed the school: where he went, the school went. Usually the poet was attached to one of the local kings.

Síochán leat,
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