Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Druid and Bard as Seducers of Spirits

In Anatomy of a Spell, the Magic User is depicted as someone who has access to the names of spirits, and is able to command them in the name of a higher authority. The spirits are compelled to obey.

In The Cleric as Prophet and Saint, Clerics are imagined as rarities among priests; modeled on legends of saints, the Cleric can heal through a life of devotion and piety.

What then of Druids and Bards?

In Shatterworld, I make little distinction between Druids and Bards. Bards are not lowly tavern entertainers and pickpockets. They are the elite of their clans. The keepers of Wisdom through song and tradition.

Here's a great site I found with a piece titled Conditions for Entry into the Fiana:

No man was taken until he was a prime poet versed in the twelve books of bardic literature.

No man was taken until he could defend himself from within a large hole in the ground up to his belt, with only his shield and a length of hazel rod. While nine warriors having nine spears and being a distance of ten furrows away from him let fly at him together. If he let anything past his guard and got hurt he was not accepted.

No man was taken until he had woven his hair into many braids and he was set at a run through the woods, while the ones seeking to wound him were sent after him there having been just one forest bough between them at first. If he was overtaken and wounded he was not allowed entry, If his weapons had quivered in his hand he was not taken, If his hair was disturbed in any way out of its braiding he was not taken. If he cracked a dry stick under his foot as he ran he was not taken. He also had at full speed to jump a branch level with chest and stoop under one level with his knee without breaking stride or else he was not accepted. Also he had to extract a thorn from his foot without pausing in his stride or else he was not taken.

If he could manage to do all the above successfully then he was accepted into the Fianna.

This sounds more like Conan than Shakespeare. It certainly takes moving silently to new heights, as he has to RUN silently. Not to mention vaulting and tumbling as he ran. They had to be able to do something like this:

I imagine the best of them looking something like this, putting the "thief" to shame:

The only thing that guy DIDN'T do was pull a thorn from his foot as he ran.

And here, a great heroic piece by John Martin:

Bards are the badass of the badass.

Bards do not have to read or write. They get their knowledge through memory and song, passed down from one generation to the next. They can tweak a story, putting their personal spin on it, but only after mastering the story word for word as it was told to them. And they can only change it... even the slightest change... if it improves the tale without altering the history of it.

In the stories, bards and druids can affect men, beasts, and nature itself. My take on this is that opposed to "commanding" spirits as Magic Users do, or appealing to a greater power to command those spirits as a Cleric might, Bards and Druids speak directly to the spirits, and seduce them into cooperation.

They have to learn to speak the language of trees, streams, rivers, clouds, rocks, fire, and various animals. They don't memorize pre-rehearsed scripts, but rather have conversations with Nature, and lull Her into service.

And with moves like those, Nature is bound to listen.

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