Isaac Bonewits Bardism
101 Lecture Notes
14 2006-- Rutgers University Pagan Students Association
After a traffic induced delay, (finding parking in New Brunswick is a
challenge at the best of times) Isaac showed up at the RUPagans meeting
place in the Rutgers Student Center in New Brunswick. The lecture was well
presented, informative, and fun, followed by booksale and autographing,
and a trip to the Chinese Noodle restaurant on Easton Ave for more chat
My notes follow:
as performance art:
* We need to overide mainstream religious conditioning that theater is not
* The ancient Greeks used music, masks, etc in Sacred Theater performances
for large crowds.
* Isaac defined what rituals are and gave us some non-magical examples.
* Sacred Ritual ---he explained how it helps us enter altered consciousness
states where we connect with Deities, etc and then later return to normal
tips on how to do it well:
* Performance anxiety---just put it on the shelf and move along, don't stop.
* Be dramatic when doing invocations, etc. Speak from the belly, it carries
* Consider where the ritual takes place, ie, indoors or outdoors. Talk loud.
* How many spectators and participants are involved? Talk loud.
* Magickal tools should be big, highly visible, and dramatic.
* Humor is a double bladed sword---it can enhance or kill a ritual. Mentioned
an incident where one of the actors in a sacred drama was named Kenny, and
when he was ritually slain (Holly King/Oak King?) everybody yelled "You
* Tabards are a simple way to costume to be able to tell participants from
each other and from spectators at a big ritual.
* Angel wing sleeves on High Priestesses are a fire hazard if she has to
reach across an altar full of lit candles. Assistant should hand things
* When speaking, make it poetic, (rhyme, alliteration, meter, etc), which
is an effective mnemonic for remembering invocations, blessings, etc.
* Sing it! Gave examples of blessing elemental tools, calling 4 directions,
totem animals, etc.
* Isaac has a fine bardic voice! ;-)
* Songs are a good way to teach lore to newbies and future generations.
to be mindful of:
* You don't summon Deities. They find it RUDE! You call them nicely.
* If you will be singing, be able to do so adequately. Sing in your best
range, start on the right note.
* Keep it simple, so that people can easily join in.
* Gave the examples of plain chant and shaped note tunes.
* When invoking, include a description of who or what you are invoking in
a song. Gave the Morrigan Song as an example.
* When we sing "Praise your name," it is a performance, or just
* When we sing "Call your name," it is the invocation.
Lore on The Morrigan:
* The Morrigan was a psychopomp and a fertility Goddess, as well as a war
* She could also be any age she chooses, is not only a crone. (Not locked
into Maiden, Mother, Crone ala Wicca)
Aside: Dumezillian tripartite classes of Indo-European peoples and their
* White: Spirits and those who work with them.
* Red: Warriors
* Blue-green ("glas") and Black: Producer class and funerary workers,
* These color codes can be worked into rituals and songs.
* There are also Outsiders, and Outdwellers.
Aside: The Dagda's Club Teaching Song:
* He's an omnifunctional deity
* The song is hilarious!
* When is the weather so bad that the Gods n Goddesses will be ok with calling
* Also, what if you promised Them a ritual?
* He told a story abut the weather in Minnesota where he once had a grove
often being rainy and blizzardy. The Grove used to meet on sundays at 2
in the afternoon.
* They found that if they cancelled rituals due to weather, the weather
would clear from between 2-3 in the afternoon then resume raining, snowing,
* This was taken as a sign that the Deities wanted the rituals done and
would make the weather cooperate.
* And, if not, you can always bring umbrellas and boots and do the Rubber
* Re: the above: I didn't ask! :-)
Isaac is a lot of fun, very knowledgeable, and communicates very well with
his audience. I give this lecture a big thumbs up!