Cornish Gorseth. Ross Nichols, founder of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids leads a procession in the 1970s
Philip Peter Ross Nichols
28 June 1902
|Died||30 April 1975 (aged 72)|
|Known for||Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids|
Philip Peter Ross Nichols (28 June 1902 – 30 April 1975) was a Cambridge academic and published poet, artist and historian, who founded the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids in 1964. He wrote prolifically on the subjects of Druidism and Celtic mythology.
He revived the interest in Celtic neopaganism and Druidry in the 20th century. Nichols was a Member and Chairman of the Ancient Druid Order which traces its lineage to a meeting at the Apple Tree Tavern in Covent Garden, London, in 1717' although Professor Ronald Hutton has demonstrated that it only dates back to 1906, the 1717 story being a modification of the founding of modern Freemasonry. His main work, The Book of Druidry, was published posthumously in 1990.
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Philip Peter Ross Nichols was born in Norwich, England, and educated at Bloxham School. While a graduate history student at Cambridge University, Nichols became influenced by the work of James George Frazer, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, T.S. Eliot, Robert Graves and Jessie Weston among others. He worked in journalism, teaching and social work through the Great Depression, and became a committed socialist and pacifist, favoring for the rest of his life the new economic theories of C.H. Douglas, whose concept of Social Credit advocated a total reform of the monetary system to make it more equitable. Ross was also a vegetarian and naturist, joining Britain’s first naturist community, Spielplatz, near St. Albans in Hertfordshire, in the 1930s.
Between 1941 and 1947, four of his poetry books were published, including an essay in The Cosmic Shape (1946) focusing on the power of myth and the value of seasonal celebration. Two were published by Fortune Press - 'Prose Chants and Proems' (1942) and 'Sassenach Stray (1942).
In 1949, Ross was hired as assistant editor of The Occult Observer, a short lived publication by Michael Houghton of the Atlantis Bookshop. It was an important step as it marked the first time Nichols wrote about Druidism and also fellow author Mir Bashir wrote a story in it entitled The ‘Book of Shadows’ inspiring Gardner to adopt the term for Wicca.
While Gardner worked to introduce Wicca to the modern world, Nichols worked to change the practice of modern Druidry. He introduced a concern for Celtic mythology and Bardcraft, and the celebration of the full eight seasonal ceremonies in addition to arranging the teachings into three grades, in accordance with classical accounts of the three divisions of the Druids.
Nichols also translated Jean Baptiste's (aka Paul Christian) book "The History and Practice of Magic" in 1969.
In 1988 one of his students, Philip Carr-Gomm, was asked to lead the Order.
- Nichols, Ross (1990). The Book of Druidry. The Aquarian Press. ISBN 9780850309003.
- http://www.druidry.org/index.php?module=PostWrap&page=http://rossnichols.druidry.org An extensive section on the site of the Order he founded, which includes his biography, details of his books, and selections of his artwork and poetry
- http://philipcarrgomm.druidry.org/InTheGroveoftheDruids.html Details of his biography and collection of essays