In 2014 The Order of Bards Ovates and Druids (OBOD) celebrated its 50th anniversary. It’s now just over 22 years since I first joined. Where am I now?
I remember being reassured by the way in which OBOD was able to hold a point of tension between two seemingly competing narratives. The first was the sense of living relationship with the land and the inheritance of ancestral stories. The second was an open and generous universalism. Without the first, the second could be vague and vapid. Without the second, the first could become culturally inward-turning and defensive. I’ve always been grateful for this balance.
As part of the 50th anniversary year, Sharon Zak and Maria Ede-Weaving put together The Golden Seed: Celebrating 50 Years of OBOD as “an anthology of prose, poetry, images and crafts” (including a DVD) created by OBOD members and friends. It is still referenced at http://www.druidry.org though currently unavailable. In my own entry I said I was more comfortable with a language of “practising OBOD Druidry” than “being an OBOD Druid”. That’s how I still see it and I would now want to add that this practice itself sits within a (for me) larger framework that I would name as the Way of Sophia. This has been true for quite a while, and I will write about it more in the future. Here I just want to say where my Druidry continues to fit.
There are two huge lessons that I draw from Druidry. The first is about how to do solo practice. I can’t now imagine a core solo practice that doesn’t take place in a sacred circle, woven of ritual and liturgy. Allowing a slow evolution of movement and liturgy, I gain insight into my purpose and intent in a way that offers both clarity and embodiment. Within that circle, I include body and energy work and also some form of sitting meditation: the precise forms vary. There’s also an aspect of healing and blessing. Thanks to the OBOD distance learning course, this approach to practice has become second nature. Someone could have given me a list of instructions to this effect on the back of an envelope and I might have had a go with different aspects from time to time before coming across something else on the back of another envelope. But I had the chance to build an evolving practice over an extended period, in a way that was both self-directing (I have an allergy to gurus) and within a tradition that made support and guidance available (I also don’t operate brilliantly if unwitnessed and alone). This combination is quite rare in spiritual education, and it’s a great privilege to have a continuing relationship with this work on the mentoring side. The course covers a lot of other ground as well. But this was the piece that was transformational for me.
The second lesson concerns two intertwining challenges. Both are connected to the contemplative inquiry I’ve been involved in for just over four years. One is the challenge of responding to the Order’s invitation to members to take initiatives and offer varying forms of leadership, whilst still (if we so choose) being held within the collective and feeling part of it. The other is the contemplative journey itself. This has involved the further evolution of solo practice, but more importantly to the co-creation of an innovative house-style in group work and in particular of Day Retreats for small groups. I and my colleagues seem to have a good handle on this now, both within our own local group and in the wider community of Druids and fellow travellers.
These lessons are my guide as to where to put my energy within Druidry, offering contexts of connection, service and nourishment.