The Mount Haemus Award

Thanks to the generosity of the Order's patroness, Dwina Murphy-Gibb, the Order grants a scholarship each year for original research in Druidism and related subjects. We have called this scholarship the Mount Haemus Award, after the apocryphal Druid grove of Mt Haemus that was said to have been established near Oxford in 1245.

Each research paper is published online here, and is also delivered as a lecture at a Mount Haemus Award day held every four years. In addition, every eight years, the papers are gathered together and published in a book.

Below you can read brief details of the papers and their authors. The complete papers can be found in the links in this section's menu. The first eight lectures have now been published in one illustrated volume, entitled The Mt Haemus Lectures Volume I - 2000-2007, available only from the Order's bookstore.

The second volume of the following eight lectures is also available (from Amazon).

The first four lectures were presented at the first Mt Haemus Conference in Appleton, near Oxford in 2004. See the video at the foot of the page of the opening of that event.

The second four were presented at the Medieval Hall, Salisbury, in August 2008. The third Mt Haemus Conference was held at the Medieval Hall in Salisbury on 29 September 2012, with a further group of four speakers. The fourth Conference was held on 3rd September 2016 at the Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre in Berkshire. The fifth Conference will be held in Glastonbury on 7th June 2020.

Here is a brief film of the 2012 Mt Haemus Day:


The Mount Haemus Lectures

2000 - The Origins of Modern Druidry
Ronald Hutton, Professor of History at Bristol University is leading a five-year research project on the history of Druidism, funded by the government's Arts and Humanities Research Board. This project involves major research endeavours, an academic conference and the publication of two books.

2001 - Druidry: Exported Possibilities and Manifestations
Gordon Cooper, co-founder of the Inis Glas Hedge School, is researching, amongst a variety of topics, the relationship between modern Druidry and the Woodcraft movement.

2002 - Phallic Religion in the Druid Revival
John Michael Greer, an established author who specialises in Western Magical traditions, is researching, again amongst a variety of topics, the connections between contemporary Druidry and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

2003 - Question, Answer and the Transmission of Wisdom in Celtic and Druidic Tradition

Caitlin & John Matthews have dedicated their lives to researching and presenting material on Celtic spirituality and Druidism. They are the authors of numerous books and are past presiders of the Order and frequent speakers at Order events.

2004 - Universal Majesty, Verity and Love Infinite
Dr. Adam Stout, gaining his doctorate in Archaeology at Lampeter University, has specialised in a study of George Watson Mac-Gregor Reid, the flamboyant and eccentric Chief of the Ancient Druid Order.

2005 - Working With Animals
Professor Roland Rotheram was the senior lecturer in Myths and Legends and Comparative Religious Studies for 12 years at the University of Staffordshire. In this study he develops a new theory on the relationship between humans and animals in a shamanic and spiritual context, exploring the symbolism of animal figures in early faiths and examining the links between various priesthoods and the animals they invoke in their rituals. Surviving traces of early nature beliefs in modern world religions are examined as well as those in use by those following the shamanic and druid paths.

2006 - 'I would know my Shadow and my Light' - An exploration of Michael Tippet’s The Midsummer Marriage and its relevance to a study of Druidism
Philip Carr-Gomm is the author of a number of books on Druidry and here he explores Tippett's work in depth, comparing the lives of Tippett and Ross Nichols, and the relevance of his opera to modern Druidry and the Bardic training of the Order.

2007 - Entering Faerie: Elves, Sidhe-folk and the Ancestors
Dr James Maertens (Alferian) explores the world of Faerie and its value for us today. Elves and Faerie folk are alive and well in modern culture, especially among the culture of magical folk and those pursuing a nature spirituality, but also most obviously in children's literature. Fictional representations of the Hidden People are drawing more and more on the study of folklore and actual present-day accounts of "meeting the Other Crowd." Rejecting the term "supernatural" and the dichotomy between subjectivity and objectivity, I consider the reality of the Sidhe as something that is part of Nature and part of the human psyche at the same time. Modern Druids must walk a fine line between the study of old folklore and the creation of new folklore. How do we live in a culture of scientific materialism and yet challenge the dominant knowledge paradigm?

2008 - Druid Ethics
Dr Brendan Myers explores the way in which In Druidry, both ancient and modern, ethical ideas are presented not in the form of rules and laws, nor in the form of a utilitarian calculus of benefits and harms, but rather in the form of character-values. This way of thinking about ethics is known in contemporary philosophy as 'Areteology', or 'Virtue'. Furthermore, many of the most important Druidic virtues, such as honour, integrity, inspiration, strength, courage, and so on, are not only categories of ethics. They are also categories of aesthetics. We value them not just because they are right and good; we also value them because they are beautiful. I shall therefore also explore this overlap between the aesthetic and the ethical, and show how Celtic spirituality is particularly well positoined to embody a meeting place between the ethical and the aesthetic, the beautiful and the good.

2009 - What is a Bard?
Dr Andy Letcher looks at the way in which Druidry is currently undergoing a process of reflection and self-examination. Given that it professes to be a timely and necessary worldview, to offer practical solutions to some of the world’s problems, why isn’t it more widely recognised and appreciated? One possibility is that it has yet to adjust fully to life in a post-Hutton world. Much of what we assumed to be true about Druidry has been revealed as the wishful thinking of Romantic laudanum addicts, Edwardian anthropologists and other fantasists. If we are drawn to call ourselves Druids or Bards, how do we answer the challenge thrown to us by the new historicity? Upon what principles can we base our practice?

2010 - Druidry and Transpersonal History
Dr. Thomas C. Daffern is a philosopher, historian, and religious studies specialist. He was awarded his PhD from the University of London for a thesis which explores the history of the search for peace, and which proposes a new field of historiography, Transpersonal History. More recently he has developed the Periodic Table of the World’s Religious and Philosophical Traditions as a teaching aid for use in schools and universities. As a member of OBOD and as Peace Officer to the Council of British Druid Orders, he has had a long love-affair with Druidry and an eco-centred spirituality affirming the wisdom of primal peoples of all cultures, epochs and geographical regions. He founded and runs the Druid Peace Order dedicated to peacemaking and mediation, and directs the International Institute of Peace Studies and Global Philosophy.

2011 - From Solstice to Equinox and Back Again: the influence of the midpoint on human health and the use of plants to modify such effects
Herbalist Julian Barker examines the relationship between human health and the seasons, with particular reference to the neuroendocrine system and the significance of the solstices and equinoxes.

2012 - Magical Transformation in the Spoils of Annwn and the Book of Taliesin - Exploring the Backbone of Druidry
Kristoffer Hughes, author of Natural Druidry, is a writer, teacher, workshop leader and Head of the Anglesey Druid Order. He is an Ovate of the Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids. He is a native Welsh speaker, born to a Welsh family in the mountains of Snowdonia in 1971. He is a keen student of Celtic literature and teacher of the Celtic mystery tradition, and a reader at the National Library of Wales. He lives on the Island of Anglesey. In his Mount Haemus research Kristoffer explores and interprets material from the legendary Welsh manuscript 'The Book of Taliesin' and presents an analysis of the magical transformations and mysteries it conveys.

2013 - Music and the Otherworld: Sacred Places, Sacred Sounds
Dr Karen Ralls explains how Old Irish and Scottish Gaelic literature can offer us clues to the ways in which music and sound can enrich our spiritual practice. From the beautiful, enchanting music of the faery harp to the sacred singing of the choirs of angels, Celtic literature has many references to music and the Otherworld, and to the elements and the landscape. Karen will relate these references to scientific research to enrich our understanding of the relationship between music, consciousness, and place. Karen, a medieval historian, musicologist, and world religions scholar, obtained her PhD from the University of Edinburgh, followed by six years as Postdoctoral Fellow and Sr Lecturer (Univ. of Edinburgh) and Deputy Curator of the Rosslyn Chapel Museum art exhibition. Based in Oxford (UK), she is a musician (flute, wire-strung Celtic harp, tin whistle) whose published work includes the seminal Celtic academic study, Music and the Celtic Otherworld, The Templars and the Grail and The Quest for the Celtic Key.

2014 – ‘Almost unmentionable in polite society’? Druidry and Archaeologists in the Twentieth Century
Dr Julia Farley discusses the changing attitudes of twentieth century archaeologists studying the nature of ancient Druidry. As archaeology emerged as a professional discipline, its nature and character were shaped in part by its relationship to other ways of understanding the past. These included traditional antiquarian approaches as well as spiritual and religious ideas. The struggle to determine a new archaeological orthodoxy was played out in the context of a sometimes strained but always lively relationship with modern Druid movements, often centring on the understanding of particular sites, including Stonehenge. Julia obtained her PhD from the University of Leicester, and is now the Curator of the European Iron Age collections at the British Museum.

2015 - Gathering Mistletoe - an approach to and an interpretation of E Graham Howe's Non-dual Psycho-spiritual Psychotherapy
Ian Rees analyses and seeks to interpret the work of psychologist and Druid Graham Howe, showing the centrality of the archetype of the Druid within it, and comparing it to more recent therapeutic work drawing from Preiddeu Annwn and the Mabinogion. Particular attention will be given to explaining and interpreting the concepts and models behind his healing approach, which unites both non-dual spirituality with the direct experience of the body, and placing them within the wider tradition of Druidic philosophy and healing approaches. The intention of the paper will be be to represent his work in such a way that therapists and Druids of whatever occupation can make use of it today.
Ian Rees is a psycho-spiritual psychotherapist practising in Glastonbury Somerset UK. He has been a therapist for 20 years and spent 10 before that working in Probation Work and Social Work at all levels from Field Worker, Manager to Education Advisor for Mental Health at national level. He is an experienced trainer and taught at the Karuna Institute  in Devon from 1999 to 2009; he designed and ran their MA programmes as well as being central to the teaching team. Since 2009 he has concentrated on developing the Annwn Foundation workshops and the Awen training and presents this material in the UK and Israel.

2016 - Tree Lore is Wisdom
The ogam alphabet is important in Celtic history. It is important in Druidic tradition. But the ogam alphabet that is important in Celtic history is not at all the same thing as the ogam alphabet in Druidry. This dichotomy represents an excellent example of just how different history and tradition can be. History attempts to record facts, events and decisions relating to specific times. Tradition represents the way in which people want to remember those facts, events and decisions afterwards – not simply repeating them, but finding ways to add meaning to them, to commemorate them in action or in thought, and to make them influential in their own lives. Tradition can therefore be cultural and/or religious, national and/or group-oriented, gregariously inclusive or intensely personal. Above all, however, tradition that endures over time, and expands as it does so, eventually has its own history.
In this paper, author Mike Darton - lexicographer, encyclopaedist, classicist, religious historian, and musicologist - traces the history of ogam in the Druid tradition, starting with the alphabet itself and its apparent origins.

2017 - The Elementary Forms of Druidic Life: Towards a Moral Ecology of Land, Sea, and Sky
Jonathan Woolley, a PhD student at the University of Cambridge, is part of a research project studying the relationships between people and the environment, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. His work with contemporary Druids explores the spiritual landscape they inhabit, and follows the political and social agency of such surroundings. By comparing the three worlds of Druidry with other cosmologies - both within the West, and elsewhere - we can develop a clear appreciation of what truly defines Druidry as a spiritual community; the elementary forms of Druidic life.

2018 - Channeling the Awen Within: An Exploration of Learning the Bardic Arts in the Modern Druid Tradition
Dr. Dana Driscoll, Associate Professor of English, Indiana University of Pennsylvania (US) has long explored how people learn to write and develop as writers over time. In this study, she applies learning theory to explore bardic (creative) practices in the modern druid revival movement. Through a survey of 266 druids and in-depth interviews with 14 bardic practitioners, the research explores how people taking up the path of the bard develop expertise, seek community, reap spiritual benefits, and embrace the flow of Awen (inspiration). A key finding is the role of the Eisteddfod (bardic circle) in the development of the bardic arts. Also considered are the challenges new bards face including overcoming the myth of talent and addressing cultural conditioning. Through the lens of learning theory, the study concludes by considering how the druid community can help individuals overcome barriers to taking up the path of the bard and continue to promote and cultivate the bardic arts for individuals, groves, and gatherings. 

Dr Susan Jones, MBA, has a professional background in science, higher education, business and government, alongside 30 years' psycho-spiritual involvement including 17 years as OBOD's Mentor Co-ordinator. Most that is written about Druidry by academics, commentators and leaders focuses on what Druids believe and do – what they practice and their rituals, what ideas they share. It is based on evidence that can be seen. But Druidry develops in the hearts and minds of individuals and may be unexposed to the outside world. This paper offers a different perspective: what Druidry does. As OBOD's Mentor Co-ordinator, Susan had a unique position from which to view the spiritual dynamics of Druidry, through the lens of the OBOD course.  What does Druidry do? How does it do it? Is it of value? Does it have limits? Her new research will also seek to answer a puzzle - whatever happened to those who enrolled as OBOD members but didn’t follow the course through? Do they still find a benefit in Druidry? How could what we know so far influence what Druidry will do next? This paper will be a celebration of over 7,000 students who have shared something of their spiritual journeys, with some truly remarkable insights that add to the general discourse about Druidry and the life spiritual.
2020 - The Feminist Druid: Making Way for New Stories/New Work
Dr. Michelle LaFrance, Assistant Professor of English, George Mason University (US), a feminist critical ethnographer, will urge Druids to consider the opportunities feminist thought presents to our spiritual practices. At the center of today's Druidry lies an interesting conundrum. On the one hand, to be part of any neo-pagan movement means to be familiar with feminist principles—from goddess worship, to the empowerment of women, to the challenging of traditional religious structures that limit women’s roles and experiences, to the equation of environmental and social activism with human/women’s rights. On the other hand, even as some women hold key positions in this international movement (contributing books, blogs, and other resources), (mis)representations of Druidry as a path dominated by men are yet a mainstay. And no wonder, most of the historical knowledge we hold about Druids, including the traditional mythologies/poetics of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales that orient much of today’s Druidry, reinforces “the archetypal Druid” as a learned man in service to elite individuals, social structures, and culture. Exploring feminist thought and principles as they apply to 21st century Druidry is a rich opportunity for our living and evolving spiritual tradition. The author of this talk will draw upon several principles of current feminist thought to open out new visions, new stories, and new work for today’s revivalist Druid. Topics will include considering how feminist folktales may shape/reshape the inner landscapes of Druids, embracing the lessons of consent culture, and an exploration of animist principles which resist the gendering of nature, spirit, and practice. (To be published Beltane 2020).
2021 - World Druidry: A Globalizing Path of Nature Spirituality
Dr Larisa A. White is an educator and independent scholar with over 25 years' experience using mixed research methods to shed light on the ways in which people learn, grow, and change, under the influence of changing educational contexts. She is also a global nomad, fascinated with the ways in which intercultural mobility affects people, habits, and beliefs. She now turns the focus of her academic research on discerning the ways in which Druidry, as a globalizing path of nature spirituality, has evolved as it spread beyond the traditionally Celtic lands of its origin and took root in other countries and cultures. As practicing Druids around the world grow beyond the initial mastery of received ritual forms and practices, and begin to follow the Rule of Awen, what do they continue to hold in common? In what ways do their practices and beliefs diversify? What, if anything, forms the spiritual "common-core" of contemporary World Druidry that is able to transcend local culture? This paper will present the findings of an extensive survey-research project designed to answer those questions. (To be published Beltane 2021).




Featured Articles