RAINBOW DRUID CAMP REFLECTIONS
It’s just under a week since the end of Druid Camp 2015. Time enough to have some perspective. As an event it’s clearly been very successful. It has an experienced leadership which knows how to balance continuity and innovation. The organisation reflects both practicality and care.
Nonetheless I went to the camp with reservations about my proposed role in it. Last year I attended out of a simple desire to try something new. This year I was conscious that the Camp was playing with an element of the ‘contemplative’ practice which I and others have been championing in recent years. For me there was a possible point of tension between the celebratory and releasing flavour of a Lammas camp and the quieter and more inward direction of contemplative practice as usually understood. I felt that I was holding that tension within my own body and energy system and as it turned out this did have a cramping effect on my experience of the Camp.
Of course that’s not the whole story. The Rainbow Druid Camp does have room for a range of micro-cultures within the larger community and, at the Camp, I experienced the management and use of spaces as very enabling. I ran an early session in the space reserved for the contemplative thread. It was very congenial. An ideal number of people showed up. The session itself was pitched as a warm-up to the theme and it was very well received. I attended some of the other sessions in the same space and heard about others – the offerings were of the kind that I would hope for there. One of the guest speakers, Philip Carr-Gomm, had meditation as his topic. This ended with an extended and lively question and answer session which showed that meditation was a live topic for people attending the Camp.
As time progressed, there were other aspects that I personally enjoyed – like the music on both Friday and Saturday evenings. An unplanned performance by Kevan Manwaring and Chantelle Smith based on two Scottish Border ballads led me to go to a workshop with Kevan the following day. I felt a revival of a lost Bardistry and performance potential, a bit damped down by my ‘contemplative’ turn. I don’t know where this is going but paradoxically my greatest personal gift from this year’s camp.
I’ll post up my session in another blog in case other people might want to use or adapt it. Elaine decided not to present Animist Hermetics, feeling that this practice actually does require a more specialist and protected environment. She will be presenting it at our Contemplative Day on 3 October – see http://contemplativedruidevents.tumblr.com/
This year I didn’t come away from the camp with the feeling of euphoria of 2014. But it’s a good result all the same and I am grateful for Rainbow Druid Camp and its role in modern Druidry.
” This year I was conscious that the Camp was playing with an element of the ‘contemplative’ practice which I and others have been championing in recent years. For me there was a possible point of tension between the celebratory and releasing flavour of a Lammas camp and the quieter and more inward direction of contemplative practice as usually understood. I felt that I was holding that tension within my own body and energy system and as it turned out this did have a cramping effect on my experience of the Camp.”
It does me good to read about a fellow druid struggling with this issue. I have felt decidedly “no fun” because I feel uncomfortable with big, extroverted rituals. I felt like there was something wrong with me because I did not like being in the centre of attention our even part of a jubilant celebration. It is more than the difference between introversion and extroversion bit that is part of it. I feel a deeper connection with smaller groups or solo rituals.
Thank you Sylvain. I find your comment affirming – I’m even clearer now about wanting to work mainly in smaller groups.
I find the big rituals tough, too, it’s not just you. I only do the opening and closing ones for this reason. There’s so much in what you say, James, that is relevant to me, but at the moment I’m sitting quiet. More bardic stuff would be excellent, I’ll let you know if/when I hear of stuff happening.
I enjoyed the big ritual in 2014, but found myself in energetic misalliance with it this time. These rituals give a lot to a lot of people though I recognise myself as moving in a different direction. I want to see more options for community building and in part, I think, my personal vision of a ‘contemplative’ brand has been about that. Different people can see these options as either complementary or alternative.
«energetic misalliance» is a great term to describe the feeling. In my limited experience of group rituals, but also in my experience of larger social occasions, I often feel the confusion caused by the realisation that I am moving in a different energetic level than the positive group energy being created. This leads to negative feelings because it seems that I am almost «opposed» to the group energy.
Your efforts to create that alternative / complementary space is so perfectly timed from my perspective (as we have recently gone through Lughnasadh) and I thank you once more.
Apart from our local group we’ve offered the world one half-day taster in London and one weekend retreat in a rural setting – with a contemplative day planned in a few weeks time in our own locality. So it’s very early days as yet. But I’m sensing a rise in interest – including from people at the camp, which is an advantage of having been there.