Principles of Bardic Awareness

Principles of Bardic Awareness April 5, 2018

Developing your awareness helps you get clear about your life, aligns you to the Sacred, and enables you to become ever more alive. It is not enough to learn about awareness intellectually, however. In order to make any difference at all, it is essential that you put what you learn into practice and integrate it into your life. Bards learn, first and foremost, that true reality is not “out there” and that life isn’t what it seems to be. They come to know that the truth lies within, in the heart. Druids call the physical world the “apparent world” to indicate that it reflects only what reality appears to be, not what it truly is.

We have been taught that only what we can see and touch is reality; everything else is either imaginary or nonsense. In order to become a Druid, however, you must understand the true nature of reality. To accomplish this, you must increase your levels of awareness.

“The Bard” by Thomas Jones. From WikiMedia.

There are twelve basic principles of bardic awareness. By studying them and seeing how they relate to your everyday life, you can start to experiment with them and learn how to use them. By putting them into practice and integrating them into your world, you can make huge leaps in awareness.

The first principle states that awareness is a skill that can be learned, practiced, and increased almost infinitely. Awareness is a state that must be encouraged and practiced with great determination if you want to transform your view of the world. Mastery of awareness is accomplished only when its twelve principles have been fully integrated into your everyday life.

The second principle states that we are all beings of light in a Universe consisting of pure energy in constant motion, and this energy is sentient. Your energy body is an egg-shaped aura of light, extending about an arm’s length outside your physical form, with its pointed end downward. A healthy aura is an alive, sentient, scintillating, dancing, otherworldly lightshow and is a wonder to behold. Everything in the outer Universe is contained within your energy body, and vice versa. The old saying “As above, so below” is literally correct. In this case, however, perhaps it should be: “As inside, so outside.”

The third principle is that your awareness is proportional to your personal power. In other words, the more energy you have, the more aware you are. In order to develop in awareness, you must find ways to increase your levels of life force. You must become a hunter of energy.

The fourth principle is that energy follows thought. That is, the thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes you hold create your reality, and they have immediate consequences. In order to create the reality your soul needs to thrive, you must change the quality and quantity of your thoughts (your internal dialogue) to resonate with the world, or state of consciousness, in which you wish to live. This principle has far-reaching effects.

The fifth principle follows from the fourth. It states that what you perceive outside yourself is a perfect reflection of your inner reality. As above, so below. As outside, so inside. This mirror phenomenon is the best tool you have for discovering who and what you truly are. All you have to do is observe the world around you, see how it affects you—and there you are, in all your glory! By consciously using other people as our mirrors, we learn an enormous amount about ourselves, simply because it is always much easier to see the virtues and vices in other people than it is to see them in ourselves. Also, if we know that the action of another person is merely a reflection of an aspect of ourselves, then no matter how unpleasant the action may be, when we point a finger at that person, we actually point the finger at ourselves.

“The Druid Grove” from “Liam’s Pictures from Old Books” via WikiMedia.

The sixth principle states that the path of the Druid is one of full immersion in life. Your destiny cannot be changed, yet you have the power to choose how to interact with it as it manifests. Therefore, Druids are challenged to enter life fully, with courage and determination, in order to give themselves the opportunity to grow, transform, and come alive to their greatest potential. You cannot deny this one and precious life by living as a recluse or in a monastery. You must embrace it as a lover or a dance partner and engage it with passion and wild abandon!

The seventh principle states that creating your freedom is only possible if you take full responsibility for your life. By blaming or indulging in victim consciousness, you disempower yourself. Being aware that life is an exact mirror of yourself is of no use if you experience it from the viewpoint of a victim. Life is not something that simply happens to you. By taking responsibility for the fruits of your every thought, word, and deed—past and present—you empower yourself to become an active creator of the truth of the present moment. If you take responsibility for creating your reality, you empower yourself to change it. By changing reality according to your heart’s desires, you earn your freedom.

The eighth principle of awareness states that the only goals that have any relevance are the dreams of our hearts; anything else is, ultimately, a waste of time and thus an energy drain. By observing and interacting with the mirror of life, you find out who you are and what you care about. Over time, you rearrange the content of your life, increasing those things that bring you alive and discarding the rest. Your world then grows steadily in aliveness and passion, causing your energy levels to increase. This process is called finding, or creating, your path with heart. When confronted with a decision, ask yourself: “Does this path have heart?” Then listen carefully to how your heart replies and act accordingly.

The ninth principle states that only single-minded, focused effort over a long period of time will generate enough energy to make your dreams come true. Success is not related to the result of your struggle but to the impeccability you apply to it. Remember—the whole point of life is to live it. So it is the journey that is important! With unswerving perseverance, you will eventually make your dreams come true. Druids develop their spiritual power by manifesting the dreams of their hearts, whatever the cost.

The tenth principle states that any increase in awareness comes from your own personal experience and cannot be gained through proxy. Growth and evolution only happen when you face your life fully and dance with it with all the energy you can muster.

The eleventh principle states that there are only two types of failure: giving up and not starting in the first place. Our parents, teachers, and authority figures teach us that, if we fail repeatedly at something, we may as well give up and try something else. And many people have lofty dreams but don’t even try to realize them because it all seems too long a process, or too inconvenient, or too difficult. Where will they end up? Nowhere near the place or state for which their hearts yearn. Druids get clear about where their hearts’ longing lies and, even if it seems hopeless, don’t stop trying until they manifest it!

The twelfth and final principle states that your awareness is proportional to the extent you live in the present—the “eternal now.” Much of the practical healing work students undertake is directed toward recovering energy they have left in the past, and retrieving energy they have projected into the future through fantasies, hopes, and fears. All your projected energies must be brought back into the present so you can become whole again. Few of us actually live in the present. But if you are not present, then where are you? If you are not in the here and now, you are not truly living; you are drifting about in a fantasy while life passes you by. Too soon, you realize that you are old, and it is all too late.

Failing to enjoy the present moment can make you heavy, dull, and boring—signs of low-energy and fragility. When you commit yourself to live fully in the here and now, you become a healthy and happy Magical Child. You find your soul and become a whole being once again. A person who lives completely in the here and now is said to have presence. Are you ready to take the challenge?


Adapted and reprinted with permission from Weiser Books, an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, The Bardic Book of Becoming: An Introduction to Modern Druidry by Ivan McBeth with Fearn Lickfield is available wherever books and ebooks are sold or directly from the publisher at Red Wheel/Weiser or 800-423-7087.


Ivan McBeth, a Druid in the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (OBOD), founded the Green Mountain Druid Order, a modern mystery school based in Worcester, Vermont with his partner Fearn Lickfield. Ivan’s passion was the creation of sacred space, especially stone circles. A founding member of the Circles for Peace project in the United States, he was co-responsible for the Burlington Earth Clock and 25 other full-sized stone circles around the world, including the large Swan Circle on the site of the Glastonbury Music Festival in the UK and the Kinstones in Wisconsin. Ivan died in 2016.

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