minstrel: Definition of Bardic

TrueRhymer at aol.com TrueRhymer at aol.com
Wed Apr 23 12:30:08 PDT 1997

As someone who is following the Bardic path, not only as (soon hopefully) a
professional entertainer, but as a religeon, I can throw in my two cents.
Speaking of the Insular Celts (Ireland) there were many flavors of "Bards"
who were all specialists of one sort or another. Some specialized in
"place-name" historical stories, some, lineages, sorrowful tales, etc.  The
Bards convened an examination at Tara, every 4 years (called Star of the
Bards) that called up all the reigning "experts", who measured the quality of
each applicant, as they went up in rank.  When an expert died, the next
qualified applicant took his place. A trad. bard of high rank, took twenty
years to train, knew 200 forms of metre and rhyme (consonantal/alliterative/
and more!) and could entertain for 3 months, never repeating themselves. A
high ranking bard in early Celtic society was a national treasure. Harping
was done by similiar professionals.  As the ages went on, the "Bardic arts"
devolved to wandering singers, storytellers, etc, especially at the advent of
Christianity, Viking, Normans, and such.  When I wander from fire to fire,
telling stories, for me, well, it's like going to church.  When I see 20 or
thirty faces illuminated by firelight, smiling, and thinking, and I have just
told a story that had it's roots back in the pre-history of man, then I have
honored all those ancient bards, storytellers, jongleurs, and seanachies. And
they have honored me.  I call myself a Bard, because it's a word that people
understand.  Will I ever match up to what they did back then? Unlikely.  But
the Magic is still happening, and I thank the SCA for creating a place where
it can still happen by firelight or feasting hall.  Call it what you will,
it's all bloody marvelous. _/;{]} (True)Thomas White Hart

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