My Dear Ones,
It is no secret that I love bards. The whole damn concept from our shared Paleo past to Thomas Rhymer and Tanhausser, down to Tom Bombadil. As someone who needed remedial tablature when he played bass in a grunge/goth band in the 90’s, I realize that poetics can match lyric and a rhythmic strum.Willis Barstone was quoted as saying that “Spiritual writings are meant to be sung”, and that if one couldnt translate them into a way that fits into poetry or song, then frankly your translation is less than useful. By now I am assuming that everyone has heard Alan Moore talk about Bards. If not I include it here below:
“Now, as I understand it, the bards were feared. They were respected, but more than that they were feared. If you were just some magician, if you’d pissed off some witch, then what’s she gonna do, she’s gonna put a curse on you, and what’s gonna happen? Your hens are gonna lay funny, your milk’s gonna go sour, maybe one of your kids is gonna get a hare-lip or something like that — no big deal.
You piss off a bard, and forget about putting a curse on you, he might put a satire on you. And if he was a skilful bard, he puts a satire on you, it destroys you in the eyes of your community, it shows you up as ridiculous, lame, pathetic, worthless, in the eyes of your community, in the eyes of your family, in the eyes of your children, in the eyes of yourself, and if it’s a particularly good bard, and he’s written a particularly good satire, then three hundred years after you’re dead, people are still gonna be laughing, at what a twat you were.”
To me, the power isn’t that a Bard can make your dumb ass a laughing stock for generations, or worse casting maledictions through the ages with every retelling, re-singing of your satire. (Though that would suck.) Bards have the power of revelation. They can reveal new things that have no ever been thought before, or at least thought in a very ,long time.
A Bard is more than a force of PR, but a true artist who creates as she speaks. Abracadabara indeed. The intiatory force of Bardic spellwork moves on a cultural level, not just an individual one. It keeps records, gives prophecy, and changes how a body thinks. It changes how a body relates to the world.
The positive lies in every time someone approaches an artist and says, “Your work helped save my life.” The negative lays in state with every poor teenager who is bullied into suicide. One doesn’t need to be a Bard to use the tools.
A siren song, a bansidhe wail, an angelic chorus.. weaving words with rhythm and breathe is powerful. The use of profound mnemonics to know family lines and the histories of nations and clans. Oral histories that give us far more often a far more accurate telling of things above the official narritive.
As the story teller, the Bard has an intimate control of the narrative, and can reweave it at her will. This is important, because this is going on constantly.
“I assure you from God’s Olympian perch that government is a shared myth. When the myth dies, the government dies.” – Leto II to Moneo, “God Emperor of Dune”
We are made of stories. Our whole world is. It’s how we make sense of everything, how we orient ourselves in time and space. Control of the narrative. Bards were the libraries of preliterate culture.
Bardic powers tended to come to those who visited the otherworld or who were just foundlings to begin with. As much as I like Alan Moore’s “Art IS Magick” thing.. I am unsure if that is too little or too much.
Once upon a time a young man named Muhammed was very sick. Everyone thought he was going to die. In fact at one point, everyone thought he was dead. To his Mind he saw armies of menacing figures. Legions of the diabolic ready to set snare to him, and lead him away to perdition. “But then appeared a marvelously beautiful being, exhaling a sweet perfume, who with invincible force repelled the intruders.”
“Why are you?
“I am Sura Yasin.”
As it turns out Muhammed’s father was reciting the 36th Surah of the Koran (usually recited for the dead) at his son’s bedside, believing him to have passed away. The boy was Abu Abd Allah Muhammed ibn Ali ibn Muhammed ibn Al Arabi Al Hatimi At Ta i. He was later known as the Shayk of Shayks. That was one of his first experiences in the Alam Al Mythal.
It is the other world that grants wisdom and prophecy. And there in lays the true power for all story tellers. It is a telling of the Deep Mythic, those things that may have never happened, but are always true. More than a library for this work, the Bard is a gate through the other than Gnosis flows through.
Maybe it would be useful to tell our stories again, share our histories, and more importantly start making and living them. Everyone is getting in on the game after all. Why not you? The official narrative was never very rich anyway.