Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Review: The Urban Ovate by Brendan Howlin

There's a big demand these days for intermediate and advanced books on pagan traditions. That's hardly surprising, as many of us following druidic or witchcraft paths have been doing so for several years and are not only beyond the basic 101 material, but are also beyond the stuff in books a little bit beyond that - Bardic level druidry or first degree initiation for a Wiccan, for example.

A new book by Brendan Howlin, The Urban Ovate, is aimed at just that market.  As Brendan says in the introduction: "The first stage of Druid training is called the Bardic level... The next step on the Druid journey is called the Ovate stage, which is basically finding out what makes you do the things you do."

The Urban Ovate has the subtitle The Handbook of Psychological Druidry, because the key to spiritual advancement in most pagan traditions is that after looking inwards and learning about ourselves - how our minds and emotions work. "Know thyself", which was inscribed above the entrance to the temple of Apollo at Delphi in Ancient Greece and also in Luxor in Ancient Egypt, is as a guiding maxim of paganism today as well as in the pagan past. And that is what The Urban Ovate is about.

Chapters encourage the reader to examine the factors that influence them including culture, environment, the pressure of expectations from others, the legacy of history and inheritance from those who have gone before us. There are also chapters on facing our fears - death perhaps being the biggest fear for many.

These are, by their nature, darker and more difficult subjects than those in Brendan's earlier book on Bardic studies, but his style of writing makes The Urban Ovate easy to read and also enjoyable.

I'm a witch rather than a druid - I'm a second degree Gardnerian Wiccan to be precise - and I found the teachings in The Urban Ovate to be very similar to be about the kind of introspection and self knowledge required in my own training. You really don't have to be on the path of druidry to learn from this book.

As publisher Moon Books says on its website: "Presenting Druidry in an easy-to-understand way, making the concepts open to everyone, Pagan Portals - The Urban Ovate continues the process started by Brendan Howlin in The Handbook of Urban Druidy by moving deeper into the life of an urban ovate."

Brendan Howlin is a Druid grade member of the order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD). He lives in Guildford, England.

You can order The Urban Ovate from Amazon or Moon Books

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