Elaine and I returned from London last week feeling pleased about our half-day introduction to Contemplative Druidry there. We were lucky (and grateful) for the colleagueship of Julie Bond and to be working with a supportive group. As people with different backgrounds and experiences, who generally didn’t know each other well, we worked together in an attentive and accepting atmosphere and were readily able to deepen into stillness. I for one was moved by this alone, as well as feeling confirmed in the belief that contemplative approaches have a role to play in Druidry and Paganism more widely.
Contemplative Druidry as we champion it doesn’t have a set of traditional teachings with which leaders nourish (or poison) their nestlings. We do talk about the book ‘Contemplative Druidry’ and the bones of what we do in our home group in Gloucestershire. But this is just to share the diverse perspectives of people who’ve been developing relevant ideas and practices in recent years. We describe our history and our practices not to impose them, but to seed possibilities, offer frameworks and then co-create new experiences with new people. I think that we managed this, in a promising way, in London.
I’ve recognised (or re-recognised) my personal preference for working in small, defined and intentional groups – however fleeting their life may be. It doesn’t take much to set the note for a small motivated group – culture-setting though the provision of some background, introductory sharing and a little lean ritual to provide definition and a safe container. In this work, I like an alternation between silence and speech. The process of deepening is supported by sharing and reflection. These define the context for our silence and stillness, as we gently move between narrative expression and simple being. Such a movement allows a group to co-create a collective moment in which all individuals can have a stake without surrendering their own existing understandings. And for this I think that a small group (up to about a dozen or so) is best. Much beyond that, and the event has to be run a bit differently – tilting towards a more managerial approach or risking a relative loss of definition, or both.
We have two further ventures in the fairly near future. The first is our April retreat at Anybody’s Barn near Malvern. We have decided to reduce the numbers of available places both for the reasons above and to make the accommodation more spacious for those who attend. We already have enough bookings to go ahead, and at the time of writing have room for just 3 more people. I look forward to seeing how our way of working develops over a two day and two night period, and also to working with two other companions from our Gloucestershire home group (JJ Middleway and Karen Webb) as well as Elaine.
The second is Druid Camp 2015, which itself has a contemplative theme overall this year, including a dedicated working space co-ordinated by Nimue Brown, another member of the Gloucestershire group and also part of Contemplative Druid Events. Within this larger Druid Camp programme, Druid Contemplative Events will have a two hour session. Offering our session inside a bigger event (probably about 300 people) will be an opportunity to look at where ‘Contemplative Druidry’ may be going in the wider world (now that the meme is out there), and how our own approach fits in. Because the larger community will have already been created, we’ll be able to work with a larger than usual group in our session.
I see the Contemplative Druid Events journey as a continuous inquiry – a cycle of development, action and reflection followed by re-development, action, reflection … and so on, hoping thereby to improve Contemplative Druid Events’ ability to provide introductory sessions, workshops and retreats. These are still early days.
See http://contemplativedruidevents.tumblr.com for retreat information and http://anybodysbarn.co.uk/ for retreat accommodation. For Druid Camp information see www.druidcamp.org.uk and www.facebook.com/groups/druidcamp/