I recently finished reading "The Lore of the Bard: A Guide to the Celtic & Druid Mysteries" by Arthur Rowan... just in time for St. Patrick's Day!
Though I have an Italian last name, most of my grandparents were Irish... & I've always felt a strong connection to my Celtic heritage. "Lore of the Bard" was an an excellent introduction to the lost arts of bardry. The Gaelic bard was an artist, usually a musician, who kept the cultural identity and mythology alive through song, poetry, & storytelling.
As an artist, I feel like I've walked in the bardic path through my visual art & can relate to many of the creative methods the author outlines in the book. Like the Druids, who were the educated priestly class, the ancient bards found their inspiration through solitude, silent introspection, & communion with nature. The natural world was a major source of inspiration for the bards, who were intimately connected with the cycles of the seasons & the mysteries of the outdoor environments, like the woods.
With their craft, they were doing more than just entertaining the people in the villages of Ireland. The bards were responsible for maintaining the collective memory of the people- while igniting the imagination & aspirations of the souls who they encountered.
"Lore of the Bard" has alot of great information about what we know of Celtic culture. It also provides illuminating insights into the individual process of becoming a practicing bard.
I definitely recommend it for anyone interested in Celtic culture and the artists it produced, who inspired countless people of pre-Catholic Ireland..