This page is solely for information concerning the British Druid Order (BDO), its aims, purposes, workshops, gatherings, teachings, and publications. The material given here is taken from the BDO website. For full versions of these articles, do visit the BDO web site. Where you will also find full details of all BDO books, magazines and other publications.

Contact details and a link to the BDO website
are at the end of this page.

Some general information first of all to let you know more about the BDO and its focus, and further down you will find specific information concerning every aspect of the BDO and its work. Following is a list of key words- click on these to take you to the specific information you seek, and click on the button to bring you back to these key-words.

What is the BDO?... BDO aims.....
BDO background material
Awen-inspiration.... The three-fold Druidic path
Teachings... Contact details...
Books, Magazine & newsletters.....

The British Druid Order.

The Mother Grove of the British Druid Order (BDO) was formed in 1979 as part of a personal quest to recreate a native British spirituality.

The Order is currently under the guidance of founder, Philip Shallcrass (Grey Wolf, aka Wolf Walks With Fire) and Emma Restall Orr (Bobcat) as joint Chiefs, their role being that of facilitators and guides. Philip is a musician, artist, poet and writer. Emma is a writer, teacher and soul counsellor. Both lecture and present workshops on many aspects of Druid tradition. Both have links with other Druid groups in Britain and overseas.

The Order also works with other faiths and traditions, finding common cause and common sources of inspiration with those who follow other spiritual paths. Philip and Emma have wide practical experience in numerous magical, mystical, spiritual and shamanic traditions, all of which they bring together in the BDO to create a unique brand of pagan Druidry.

The BDO works with native British tradition. The term ‘British’ is used not in a narrow political or nationalistic sense, but to evoke a time when the two islands of Ierne (Ireland) and Albion (England, Scotland and Wales) were jointly known as the Pretannic Isles, from the Pretani, ‘the Painted People,’ who were our spiritual and physical ancestors. This name for our islands was first recorded circa 500 BCE and the modern name of Britain derives from it. It thus spans at least 2500 years of our history.

We draw inspiration from the sacred land and from our ancestry; the mud and blood of Britain, whose myths and mysteries are the well-spring of our tradition. Druidry in its heyday was a pan-European tradition, so we seek to recreate an understanding of Druidry as the native spirituality not only of Britain, but of Europe. This process of restoration involves recovering a sense of the sacred in all areas of our lives so that we can begin to heal ourselves, our society and our land.

Although we work with the long spiritual and cultural heritage of Britain, we are not bound by any one aspect of it. We are not seeking to recreate a Druidry that may have existed 5000, 2000, 200 or 50 years ago. We see Druidry as a process of constant change and renewal whereby the tradition is continually recreated to address the needs of each generation. The BDO is an active agent in that process. See also the article What is the BDO?’ by Emma Restall Orr. "Tooth & Claw:" BDO, Summer, 1997)

Honouring Our Ancestors.

In our work, we honour our ancestors of blood and of spirit, those recently departed and those of old, our physical forebears and the predecessors of our tradition, the Druids, priests and priestesses of past ages and the old Gods of our people. Much of our strength and wisdom comes through them,and by working with them we establish creative and healing links with the spiritual and cultural heritage of our land and its people and with our own kinfolk who have entered the spirit world before us.

We honour Celtic deities such as Nemetona and Ceridwen, as well as the Gods of other peoples who have made these islands their home, and whose blood and bones have mingled with the mud and stones of our sacred land.


Awen: The Flowing Spirit. The essence of the Order’s teaching lies in working with the spiritual energy known as Awen. Awen literally means ‘flowing spirit.’ The Bards of medieval Britain saw it as the source of their inspiration, and as a gift bestowed by the Christian god, but also by an ancient pagan goddess, Ceridwen, ‘the Crooked Woman,’ or ‘Bent White One,’ who they referred to as the patroness of their order.

The energy and direction of the BDO are generated by contact with this flowing spirit, through which the Order maintains an open, dynamic, and fluid structure, responsive to the needs of time, place, people and spirit.

Those who work with the Order are encouraged to make their own links with this spirit of inspiration, through which they might find their own energy and creativity, and thereby discover and walk their own sacred path to joy, peace, healing, ecstasy and the gods. See the essay: The Holy Spirit of Druidry,’ by Philip Shallcrass (in Druidry: "Kinski" Native Spirituality in Britain, BDO, 1996).

The Threefold Path. The Order recognises the three traditional areas of Druidic practice, those of Bard, Ovate (Ofydd), and Druid (Derwydd).

In the Story of Taliesin, the Bard receives three gifts from the Cauldron of Inspiration brewed by the goddess Ceridwen: poetry, prophecy and shape-shifting. These gifts typify the roles of Bard, Ovate and Druid respectively. Each area of study is a process of discovery and healing, of the individual, of society and of the land. Though aspects of the work done in each overlaps with the others, the journey through the Druid tradition takes us through each of the three facets.

The BDO itself does not routinely offer initiation into any of these areas. We see initiation as an individual process which must result from a personal spiritual quest. We see our role as offering guidance, helping people to find and focus their own sources of inspiration. For many, initiation as a Bard of one of the BDO-affiliated Gorseddau (see below) has been an important part of this process.

Bard. As a Bard, the spirit of Awen is directed into personal creativity. The Bards of old were inspired poets, musicians and storytellers, as well as seers, diviners, dream-weavers and word-magicians who sang the world alive, and who, through the exercise of their skills, perpetually renewed the living spirit of the gods and heroes of their people.

The spiritual force of the old Bardic tradition was strong. The BDO seeks to renew that energy by encouraging a new generation of Bards to walk the Earth in a sacred manner; to rediscover its holy places; to recover its ancient songs and stories, and to bring them back to life for the renewal of land, life, love, liberty and laughter.

One of the ways in which we do this is to establish open, multi-faith Gorseddau (ceremonial gatherings of Bards) at sacred sites in Britain and overseas. These Gorseddau, which may choose to be affiliated to the BDO, offer Bardic initiation, rites of passage and the celebration of the cycle of seasonal festivals, encouraging the forming of spiritual and aesthetic links with the sacred land.

See: The Way of the Bard, by Philip Shallcrass (forthcoming, n.d.), The Bardic Tradition in Britain and Ireland, by Philip Shallcrass (forthcoming, n.d.), Taliesin: Shamanism and the Bardic Mysteries in Britain and Ireland, by John Matthews (Thorsons/HarperCollins, 1991) and the essay ‘So You Wanna be a Bard?’ by Andy Letcher (in Druidry: Native Spirituality in Britain, BDO, 1996).

Ovate. The Ovate, or Ofydd directs Awen into the development of gifts of prophecy and divination, the healing arts and awareness of the Faery realms - the Otherworld. The Ovate seeks understanding through study of the natural world, working with the shadowside of life and the processes of death, of letting go, of the mysteries of time, of preparing the ground and facilitating with rebirth the advent of the new.

See: Spirits of the Sacred Grove, by Emma Restall Orr (Thorsons/HarperCollins, due 1998), Principles of Druidry, by Emma Restall Orr (Thorsons/HarperCollins, due 1998), and "Kinski" Druidry: Native Spirituality in Britain (BDO, 1996).

Druid. The Druid, or Derwydd applies Awen to the roles of ritual celebrant, guide and teacher. Journeying through and between the worlds, the Druid acts as a bridge builder between cultures, traditions and peoples, between spirit and form, relating the Awen to the Earth energies, or Dragon lines, which run through the landscape, connecting sacred places and times.

See: Spirits of the Sacred Grove, by Emma Restall Orr (Thorsons/HarperCollins, due 1998), Principles of Druidry, by Emma Restall Orr (Thorsons/HarperCollins, due 1998), and "Kinski" Druidry: Native Spirituality in Britain (BDO, 1996).

Re-Kindling the Sacred Fire. The Order seeks to pass on the Druid tradition through hands-on teaching and direct personal experience. This is done through our affiliated Gorseddau, through camps, talks, workshops, sacred walks, sweat lodges, howling under the full moon nights, singing on high hilltop days, wading in the waters of life, forest gatherings, fire-dancing, spirit-weaving, soul-healing, eisteddfod and re-creation sessions. Through these events we simultaneously present and recreate the spirit of the Bardic/Druidic tradition. Events are provided at minimal cost, being primarily for people not profit.

BDO-sponsored events include a series of workshops and seminars under the generic title, ‘Druidry: Native Spirituality in Britain,’ each of which present different aspects of Druid tradition. These often feature guest presenters as well as the joint Chiefs of the BDO.

The BDO sponsors Druid-Christian and other inter-faith conferences and gatherings. We celebrate a cycle of seasonal festivals, promoting a sense of identity with the land and its cycles of growth, death and rebirth. We are happy to assist with rites of passage such as naming and blessing ceremonies for children, handfastings and Druid weddings, rites of puberty, croning and passing over.

BDO events take place at a number of venues, both in Britain and overseas. If you would like us to bring BDO events to your area, or to assist with rites of passage, or would like to book Philip and Emma to present talks, workshops or Bardic performances, please get in touch and we will do our best to accommodate you.

WHAT IS THE BDO? (Emma Restall-Orr) During the year or so after I first met Philip Shallcrass I wrote to him a number of times inquiring as to what it was that his Order actually did and, if it were appropriate, how one could join or even initiate into the Order. His replies were at first vague, full of Bardic diplomacy and questioning in themselves, until eventually he told me that, what with caring full time for two small boys and writing the Bardic books, the BDO was in a period of gentle sleepiness. We continued to correspond sporadically, while I poured my energy into my Grove and OBOD, continuing to meet at various gatherings and open rituals. It didn’t take long before it became obvious to both of us that we were moving in the same direction down converging paths, that our attitudes to Druidry were remarkably similar, and that our gods were screaming at us to work together. When Philip asked if I would join him in running the Order, my response was a warning: if I were to join him, I would be the spark that lit the waiting bale fire that I saw as the BDO’s potential. My memory tells me that his reply was a grinning, "Please do", but he may remember differently ...

On some issues, we have come to agreements almost without discussion. At times it’s been the process of giving talks and workshops together that has clarified for us what the other’s view was on a matter, where they felt the Order was heading, priorities and basic tenets. It is only in the last six months that we have got down to discussing the fundamental principles from which the Order works and grows. And, just as I had written those years ago, it is the countless requests that both of us now receive about how someone might join or initiate into the BDO that has brought us to realize that we needed to make an active and open statement about the Order’s state of being.

In keeping with so much of modern Druidry, the BDO exists as a paradox. And like modern Druidry, it is rather difficult to describe. A good place to begin might be to declare that the BDO exists largely as a concept: a means by which things get done, a well organized non-organization.

Druidry is sometimes easier to define through what it is not, and so is the BDO. It is not a source of teaching for an ancient faith or culture reconstructed. It is not aiming to proclaim a definitive Druidry, be it 3000 years old, 200 or 10.

We have a mailing list of subscribers who receive this journal and various other leaves of information, and essentially these are the members of the British Druid Order. Yet the ‘membership’ exists only in this personal way. It is horrifying the number of people, Druid chiefs to media men, who ask what is the membership of the BDO in order to judge its influence and validity. For us, the very existence of a ‘membership’ brings up connotations of an organization to which some people belong and others don’t. And once we find ourselves with an organization with this list of people attached, each one of them investing their energy and their loyalty, those who run the organization begin to find themselves taking responsibility for - and, the gods forbid, speaking on behalf of - that membership, who in turn on some level look to the organizers, and before you know it people are defining positions, and the great confusion of hierarchy and politics ensues. The whole problem of who does represent the membership quickly arises and next comes the democracy or dictatorship debate, or doubts being raised as to whether a person should or should not be seen as associated with the Order. Such political considerations are not a part of the spiritual tradition that the BDO encourages or practises.

Membership can confer to the member a sense of status and belonging, which in itself can be wonderful. The Christian Church is well reputed for holding out its arms in welcome and with the assurance of unconditional love to all who have lost their roots or their purpose. Yet there is always the risk that the strength and stability found is not through one’s own centre but externally through the supporting body. A ritual of initiation into an organization might amplify that risk. Indeed, whether the BDO members call themselves Druids or not on the basis of their subscription and/or involvement in any event or ritual the BDO puts on, is entirely up to them: we enclose no certificates or ceremonies of initiation to undergo with the first copy sent out which might offer them that right. The decision is left entirely up to them.

Philip and I are far from being some anointed and chosen ones, nor are we the dictators of some gleaming enterprise. We claim no spurious or ancient titles claiming to be chosen by the ancestors or mythical heroes reincarnated (though if recent silliness from certain quarters persists we might be tempted to ‘come out’ as Morgan le Fey and Mordred [For those lacking a sense of irony or humour of any kind, I should point out that Bobcat is not being entirely serious here. Ed.]). We claim no territorial rights of ceremonial practice over the sacred land or its ancient sites, believing such claims to be absurd. Our job, as joint chiefs, is to administrate its affairs, to arrange events, to listen and respond appropriately to what is requested. We hope to create space in which people can think, people can talk and people can listen, as we all walk our paths, learning, finding our gods and our perfect peace. To use the now rather overused word, we are facilitators, motivated by the joy we find in working together, in bringing people together and in our sacred lands.

People ask us for initiation for a number of reasons. As a spiritual ritual that would mark the point at which a person moved into a deeper involvement with Druidry, perhaps expressed by their subscribing to the BDO and attending rites and events, a first step might be the Bardic initiation offered at a Gorsedd such as those that have been held at Avebury (Wiltshire), and are now at other sites in Britain and America. These Gorseddau are seeded by the BDO, affiliated to it if they wish but otherwise independent. Such initiations are poignant, declaring a commitment to the spirit of place, to the ancestors and to the spiritual community that witnesses the rite. At times in our lives it can be important and deeply effecting to make such a dedication, marking the changes in our perspectives and priorities, allowing the process better to continue its unfolding.

Initiation can happen on many levels. For some it is the acknowledgement on a spiritual level of having crossed a barrier of fear and unknowing, of having walked through another doorway. Some rites not only acknowledge with thanks, but actually take us through the doorway, marking a beginning but on a deeper level than the simpler dedication. Some are a part of a deeper dedication or vow to a deity. At the BDO, we view such initiations as being the inevitable conclusion of a personal journey or quest, and as such Philip and I are always happy to witness, guide or act as celebrants for an initiation rite with anybody who feels they have arrived at such a point and where our involvement feels appropriate. In this way, initiation is a spiritual rite of passage, and sacred ceremony can be created around such a turning point in life.

Initiation is then not the way that someone might join the British Druid Order, nor is it possible to pick up such an initiation as part of a collection of titles or prestigious affiliations. We believe Druidry to be not a packet of beliefs or ritual practices: it is the adventure of experiencing a spiritual reality, of learning soul freedom and true creativity.

The BDO’s philosophy is pivoted on what we call the awen, the flowing spirit that is the life force in motion, that is ‘being’ in perfect presence, that is the touch of the gods, divine inspiration. Our hope is that through the work of the BDO, people will discover ways in which they can access awen and allow it to flow through them, finding ways of clear self expression, healing and creativity.

What the BDO aims to do is to listen to what it is asked to do, by the members, by the community and by the gods whom we revere. There are no defining qualities of BDO Druidry but honour and reverence for all creation, for the ancestors and the gods, and as such we celebrate individuality with all its idiosyncrasies (except perhaps the pompous and damaging). We would hope and ask that any person who wishes to contribute to the BDO’s programme lets us know how. We hope that anyone who would like us to do anything specific will let us know just what and where. We are listening.


The BDO publishes a newsletter (see below), a magazine, and a range of informative books and booklets. All are extremely well written, and well worth reading. For a full listing of BDO publications, follow the link below to the BDO web site and have a good look through what’s available.

To become a subscribing member of the BDO, send for our illustrated 48 page introductory book- ‘Druidry, Native spirituality in Britain’, featuring essays on Druid history, practise and belief by Phillip Shallcrass, Emma Restal Orr, Ronald Hutton and Andy Letcher, plus an initial four-issue subscription to the BDO newsletter- ‘Tooth & Claw’. Which features in-depth articles on many aspects of Druid tradition, plus details of forthcoming events and publications. Send a cheque or PO for £9.00 (UK), £11.00 (Europe) £15.00/$25.00 (US) made payable to- "The British Druid Order".

The British Druid Order
PO Box 29,
St. Leonards on Sea,
East Sussex,
TN37 7YP

BDO web-site:-