The Urban Ovate

Apr 4th, 2019 | By | Category: Book Reviews, Books for Druids, Uncategorized

Over the last couple of years I have much enjoyed the Pagan Portals series from Moon Books. They are very brief introductions to a wide range of topics. Usually around eighty pages, they can theoretically be read in one sitting. I would not recommend that though. The books I have read in the series have been thought-provoking and profound. I have had to take time to savour it in order to engage with the material. Such was also the case with the recent title, The Urban Ovate, by Brendan Howlin.

Howlin is a Senior International Tutor for the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD), and the volume is written from an OBOD perspective. The title refers to the Ovate grade, which is the second level of training in the order. I should emphasise that this book is valuable in itself, regardless of one’s spiritual path.

As Howlin states, the Ovate grade “is basically finding out what makes you do the things you do”. He then moves to focus on several domains to examine: culture, genetic inheritance, local environment, the pressures of expectations, and where you are in history. Each section ends with helpful reflection questions. I appreciated the highly personal nature of his writing, and that it is laced throughout with the author’s sense of humour. I found his cheerfulness infectious, at times laughing out loud.

As Moon Books publicist Nimue Brown has mentioned to me, the greatest strength of the books in this series is also their greatest weakness. Thus, secondary to their brevity, difficult decisions have to be made concerning what to leave out. As a psychoanalyst, I would liked to have seen temperament, personality style and psychological history included on the list of areas for self-reflection. Nonetheless, this is a mirthful read that can help anyone gain insights into their emotional, cognition and behaviour patterns. If it has not already, I wish Howlin all the awen needed for a book on the OBOD Druid grade, which I would look forward to reading.

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