The feast day of Wales’ national saint, St David, seems like an appropriate time to share my bardic plans for the coming year. Having moved to the Wiltshire Downs near Avebury recently I have reconnected to the ancient landscape that first inspired me when I first started to visit the area over thirty years ago. Sacred sites such as Avebury, West Kennet long barrow, Silbury Hill, the White Horse of Uffington, and Wayland’s Smithy cast long shadows in my embryonic imaginarium – and now that I find myself living in their aegis they impress me more than ever with their mystery and longevity, showing a rooted resilience that so much of modern life lacks. Over the last few months it feels like I have been re-membering parts of my lost self – from what I called my ‘Lammas Run’ last August when I revisited the area, reconnecting with friends and the land after half a year living and working in the East Midlands, to this week’s long drive to London to collect ex libris copies of The Bardic Handbook. With cromlechs, sarsens, and barrows on my doorstep, and Avebury itself just an hour’s walk away the ancient mysteries of the ancestors have felt closer than ever – they are part of my daily reality now in a very tangible way. The ghosted downs feel real in a way that modern life often does not. The state of the world leaves me in despair. Like worldly-wise and weary Montaigne the notion of ‘retiring to my estates’ feels increasingly appealing. Of course, I am a mere tenant – just passing through. Although a wise man once said ‘Life is a bridge, cross it but do not build your home upon it.’ This could be an excuse not to commit to anything, not to fully engage, so I would counter-balance that with the words of Bran the Blessed from Y Mabinogi: ‘Let he who is chief be a bridge’. We need good leaders more than ever, not an abnegation of responsibility. The world’s myriad problems need addressing … but we also need solace, we need nurture, and we need sometimes to retreat and replenish our wells. My current home feels like a sanctuary where such things are possible, and from such a place I can offer what I know best: the Way of Awen.
And so to return to my initial statement, here is what I’ve devised for the coming year, bardically (so far)…
BARDIC DIARY 2020
Sat 8th June-Sunday 21st June: King Arthur Way – a summer solstice pilgrimage to awaken your inner sovereignty
Join Kevan Manwaring for two weeks of walking his new King Arthur’s Way, culminating at Glastonbury Tor at the Summer Solstice. He’s devised a new pilgrimage route following the legendary journey of King Arthur, from conception to burial. Ultimately it is about awakening your own inner King or Queen – to find a place at the Round Table, whatever your talents or abilities. No prior knowledge of the legendarium is needed. Find out more and how to book on Kevan’s blog.
Wednesday, 24th June – Brighid’s Flame: A Midsummer’s Dream, 7pm
An enchanting garden concert within the circle of the World Heritage Site of Avebury. All are welcome to an evening of music, storyteller, and poetry with the Wiltshire-based duo, Brighid’s Flame: Chantelle Smith and Kevan Manwaring. There will be a wet weather option in case of inclement weather. The Henge Shop, Avebury, 7pm £5 on door.
Saturday, 1st August – The Bardic Handbook book-signing & talk
Meet the author of The Bardic Handbook, Dr Kevan Manwaring, aka ‘Bardic Academic’.
The Henge Shop, Avebury, From 11am in shop; talk on ‘Being a 21st Century Bard’ at 3pm upstairs. www.hengeshop.com/
Saturday, 22nd August – Avebury Bardfest
A day celebrating the vibrant bardic tradition with performances, talks, and stalls. Come and meet the performers in the day in the bardic market, then return in the evening for the concert with a scintillating showcase of the finest storytelling, poetry, and music from bards from near and far. Profits will go to Tree Aid.
Avebury Social Centre. Stalls and talks from noon-5pm; bardic concert from 7pm (£5 on door).
Saturday, 31st October – The Long Woman book-signing & reading
Meet the author of the supernatural novel The Long Woman, Dr Kevan Manwaring, aka ‘Bardic Academic’. The novel is the first part of The Windsmith Elegy (Awen) – a ghost story set in the 1920s, it features Avebury, Glastonbury, Stonehenge, and other sacred sites.
The Henge Shop, Avebury, From 11am in shop; reading/Q&A 3pm upstairs. www.hengeshop.com
Sunder, 20th December – Silver Branch book-signing & reading
Meet the author of Silver Branch: bardic poems, Dr Kevan Manwaring, aka ‘Bardic Academic’.
The Henge Shop, Avebury, From 11am in shop; performance/Q&A 3pm upstairs. www.hengeshop.com www.awenpublications.co.uk
On top of this I have also set up fortnightly ‘Bardic Walks’ from Avebury, starting on 22nd March, and depending on how the Bardfest goes, there are tentative plans to start an Avebury Bardic Circle in the Autumn. Life of course happens while you’re busy making other plans, so it is all in the lap of the gods! All we can do is trust in the awen.
St David’s Day, 2020