A few years ago I shared a video that I did reviewing the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids Bard Course. When I had been first contemplating the course, I was frustrated that there was very little online describing the course. I wanted to know if it was right for me. I need to see with my own eyes what the course material looked like. I wanted to hear from someone who wasn’t a leader in the Order what the course was like. Apparently I wasn’t alone in this desire because many people have since started conversations on that video in their own process of deciding if the course is for them.
After completing the Bard Course, I jumped into the Ovate Course. This grade is in many ways similar to the Bard course and in other much deeper and intense. I’d like to share a bit more about my experience in hopes that, again, it might help others who are thinking about whether to continue their studies with OBOD through Ovate.
First, a note about the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. You are in no way require to complete all the courses. They make it very clear that those who continue are in no way better than those who don’t. The courses serve different purposes and thus won’t serve all members. It’s very open ended. At no time during the process did I feel coerced into taking the Ovate course. I so appreciate this space to make the decision that was right for me. I know of some members who do the Bard course and then wait YEARS before they ever decide to pursue the Ovate course. So, no pressure!
After you complete your Bardic Review your tutor will send your information off the the OBOD office. They will then send you the introductory packet to help you decide whether you’d like to pursue the course or not. The Ovate course does have a fee associated with it. Depending on whether you would like the Text version, Audio version, or both the cost will change. Pricing is very similar to the Bard course. At the time that I signed up it was about 40 Euros less than the Bard course.
Roughly once a month you receive a packet from the OBOD office. Each packet will have four green Gwersi, that month’s Touchstone magazine (thankfully, looking nicer these days), and any supplemental materials. I chose to receive the course in just the text version this year. I loved reading a Gwersi each week and exploring all the new topics. Each Gwersi starts with a letter from Philip Carr-Gomm, the Chief Druid of OBOD. Then you get the bulk of the lesson. The lesson varies in format depending on the section of the course you are in. Some lessons will have meditations or rituals. Other lessons will have projects or other prompts for personal exploration. Topics like Ogham, Herbs, Sacred Sites, Nwyfre, Time, Healing, Magic, and more are all covered. Each Gwersi still ends with an Eisteddfod. I’m sure folks could “finish” this grade in one year but it took me a solid two years.
What I loved about the Ovate grade was the breadth of topics covered. It is expected that the greater part of your work in this grade will happen outside of the Gwersi. You take the foundation of seasonal ritual, personal practice, and pagan basics into the Ovate so that you may grow and follow your own deepening path with eyes and heart wide open. You will encounter yourself in a new way and explore paths not written about in books. If you are looking for the mysteries of the path, you will find it in the Ovate. I struggle with mystery. Still I appreciated the meat and mud that the Ovate grade brought to my practice.
Will I be headed to the Druid grade? Nope, not right now. I’m going to spiral inwards through the Ovate and see what lies in store for me next. I think my next steps are going to push me in uncomfortable ways. I’m ready for the change and mystery that lays a head. We’ll see when the call for Druid grade studies are awakened.