The Bardic Handbook
the Complete Manual for the 21st Century Bard
by Kevan Manwaring
‘It is beautifully researched, crafted, laid-out and presented. It should be compulsory reading for every bard!’
Claire Hamilton, Tales of the Celtic Bards
This complete manual for the Twenty-First-Century Bard contains all you need to know to start you on the Bardic Path. Here you will find inspiration and instruction, whether you want to dedicate yourself to the Way of Awen, or simply wish to improve your public-speaking skills and be able to express yourself with confidence. Learn how to enchant an audience with gramarye, through poetry, storytelling and songcraft, and how to use the magic of words to bless, honour, heal and celebrate your identity, community and heritage.
With an easy-to-follow 12 month self-study programme and week-by-week exercises and mini-lessons about bardic lore, this book will lead you along the Way of Awen. For ease of understanding and to invoke inspiration, the book is divided into five parts corresponding to the elements of the Western Magical Tradition: Spirit, Air, Fire, Water and Earth.
An inspiring handbook of creative wisdom, The Bardic Handbook also includes ‘The Dialogue of the Two Sages’ by Robin Williamson (master harper, storyteller, and author of The Craneskin Bag and co-author of Celtic Bards, Celtic Druids) and features a foreword by Emma Restall Orr, author of Druid Priestess, Ritual and Living Druidry:
“…This is why Kevan’sBardic Handbook is such an important publication. The tradition of the Bard is far too broad for any book to be comprehensive, yet this one is a beautiful wide basket filled with nourishment, with the apples and hazelnuts so abundant in the landscape of our heritage…“It is accessible, easy to read, doesn’t require much education or previous knowledge, and yet still contains moments of history, mythology, philosophy and mysticism, interspersed with the challenge to practical commitment.”
Review by Damh the Bard:
‘Kevan Manwaring will be known to many festival-goers as a fabulous storyteller, poet and Bardic workshop facilitator. He now adds to his ever-growing portfolio a wonderful, and inspiring book that takes the reader through a year long course, guiding them ever closer to the grail of becoming a performing Bard. ... There is magic held within these pages. Crammed full of exercises, tips and methods to enflame the Bardic ‘Fire in the Head’, and bring more ‘Awen’ into our lives. Poetry, storytelling, art, music and lyric writing are all covered – it really is an amazingly comprehensive work. There have been attempts made by other writers over the years to put together books like this, but none have managed to do it with such skill and depth, but what I really like about it is that it is firmly rooted in the ancient Bardic tradition, taking much of its course material from the old stories and poems from the ‘Celtic’ world. Here you feel like you are really following in the footsteps of those old poets, listening for the sound of the harp calling you deeper into the Sacred Grove of the Bards. ... This book is a delight for the experienced and novice alike, and I thoroughly recommend it. In a world where intellect seems so much higher valued than creativity, this book will, I hope, go some way towards restoring a balance, and also help bring the Bardic tradition back to its more hardcore Shamanistic roots.’
Amazon Review by Greywolf (Top Ten Druid Books):
'Well, if you do, this book is your one-stop shop. Well-researched, inspiring, full of sound advice and entertainingly written by a writer who is himself a very fine bard. I've seen him in performance and he is the real deal, bringing the old myths and legends of our land to vivid life. Here he deals with both the craft of the Celtic bard and the rich historical and spiritual background that lies behind it. These are the bardic arts as understood and practiced by modern Druid bards. In short, what you have here is a practical guide to being a bard by a bard, and a very good one at that. Highly recommended.'
Book Review: The Bardic Handbook: the Complete Handbook for the Twenty-First Century Bard
by: Melissa Burchfield, Ohio USA
I had the joy of receiving Kevan Manwaring’s book, The Bardic Handbook: the Complete Handbook for the Twenty-First Century Bard as a gift, and I must say that it is one of the best gifts I’ve been given in a long time. For those of us following a Bardic Path through the forest of Our Druidry, a book such as this is like a Field Guide!
This book is set up as a practicum spanning one year’s time and is full of stories, poems, exercises and scholarly references that stand up to our high standards for research in ADF. It begins with a guided reflection on the reader/student’s “Bardic Beginnings” and quite a bit of historical information regarding the Bards of Old. There are twelve chapters, one for each month, spanning five sections, one for each, element, including Spirit. Each chapter and section begins with descriptions of the goals and principles laid forth by the author, walks the student through a series of exercises and ends with a review. The objective purpose is to declare oneself a Bard with an ultimate goal to “declare your chair,” or get yourself out there, performing and experiencing the bardic arts in more than just pen-and-paper form. But, even those of us content to remain out of the spotlight may gain mountains of experience by following the course of the book.
Manwaring, hailing from Bath, Somerset, England has spent quite a bit of time steeping British Druidry. The differences between British Druidry and American Druidry are sometimes jarring if you aren’t particularly familiar with the British version of the path, but learning about the differences and similarities between the two forms is just as rewarding to the American reader as the bardic training itself. For those of you familiar with the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD), you will recognize quite a bit of material from the Bardic Grade of their training program.
Looking at the content in more detail, I would go so far as to say that this book has done for bardic training what Diana Paxson’s Taking up the Runes did for those studying Runelore—Manwaring’s work scours many paths of paganism for the exercises, writing tools, and magical workings regarding Bardic Arts relevant to a functional Bard in our modern society and put them all into one cohesive whole. Manwaring is first and foremost an Actor, and he is a man who writes about what he knows. This book is heavily based on written word, such as theatre, poetry and storytelling with little emphasis on singing—a welcome addition to the myriad volumes on nothing but the use of vocal skill alone!
Overall, this is an excellent book for the beginning Bard, and his second book, The Way of Awen, is on its way to my bookshelf soon! If nothing else, check out the glossary. That alone is worth the cost of the book.
The Bardic Handbook: the Complete Handbook for the Twenty-First Century Bard
by Kevan Manwaring
ISBN 0 906 362 67 9 320pp Full Colour £14.99
Published by Gothic Image Publications
PO Box 2568 Glastonbury Somerset BA6 8XR
Tel: 01458 831 281 http://www.gothicimage.co.uk/