I know it’s been well overdue for another blog post and I hope to post more often now that things here have settled down quite a bit.
I had last left off with the start of having joined OBOD, the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. I was very hesitant at first. Could I really learn with a correspondence course? The headquarters is all the way over there, across the Atlantic ocean, in the United Kingdom. How could I possibly feel a connection? Would it be like the old Druid order I was part of where I had to memorize things but not really learn or do things.
I could not have been more wrong.
At the start, I did a self-initiation when I felt the time was right. I had ordered both the paper and the cd version of the course as I felt I would learn better with both mediums and then to write as well would really sink it home. I set aside a proper time and place, every Sunday, early morning, to begin each lesson or gwers. It was a lovely time in the week, all was quiet in the house, the bright rays of the sun first starting to appear and streak through my windows. The cats would come up and lay on my bed and I would gather my journal, pen and booklet and push play on the cd.
I felt constrained at first there in my bedroom. Granted, my room was large but I knew I was in the middle of the bible belt and I had no idea how much I could do safely.
At the start, with the self-initiation, I was surprised with how much I had felt. How much I could feel the strands of connectivity weaving across the land and reaching out to those there in the UK, to OBOD. I could sense the Druid there to greet me, the guide, the friends I had not yet met but was meeting now through this. It was very moving and a great experience. With each gwers I did, I felt the connection deepen. A few times I would set aside the lesson as something would come up and I wouldn’t be able to have my time on that particular Sunday to work on my Bard course.
Now I was already a Bard from the prior order, but as each one is different, it is always good to start again. I enjoy starting over from the start and I was so glad I didn’t have a choice really anyway because there was no way I was ready for the Ovate grade at that time.
There is something very powerful with the gift of the word. Words can make you smile, laugh out loud, feel angry, upset or cry. They carry meaning and power and depth if you open yourself up to the author of them.
You can actually finish the Bard course in one year’s time. I took 18 months. Much of the work was very familiar to me and yet I began to drag it out during certain parts that I was enjoying a great deal. I didn’t want the course to end. I knew I would want to move on to Ovate and from there, to Druid eventually. But I was so enoying myself, I did not wish to move on too fast. So I took my time. I also wanted to be able to order the Ovate course in both cd and booklet form as I had the Bard course and the Ovate was not yet available on cd. Thankfully, it did not take long before it was and I ordered it after I had completed the Bard course.
While in the midst of the Bard course however, I spoke about the East Coast Gathering for members and friends of OBOD. I had seen the flyer for it amongst the materials I received for my Bard course including Touchstone magazine, a literary magazine/booklet that is from OBOD that you can subscribe to.
Going there to the ECG (East Coast Gathering– http://eastcoastgathering.druidry.org/ was very moving. I was able to give a class there on grounding and shielding and participated in the initiations and main rituals for the season as well as opening and closing ritual if I had made it there in time for those. I learned a great deal and got to meet and make some really wonderful people there, many of which are my friends to this day.
About 4 years ago, the Gulf Coast Gathering (GCG)–http://gulfcoastgathering.druidry.org/ was created in Mandeville, Louisiana. This is located right across the lake from New Orleans and I was able to go to their very first gathering. That was really wonderful as there were only 40 some people there and the ECG had grown to 100 and the whole energy had changed. I prefer the smaller gatherings. They are more intimate and personable and you have time to socialize and to really connect with others. With a cap being made on the camps, the issue I see is that eventually, you will always have the same people going. It will be rare to get too many new people there unless the older ones move on to either go to other camps or form their own.
As with all things, there is a season, a reason and a lifetime as to how long something comes into your life for. Whether it is a path, a vision of learning or people or events. So as I felt it was time to move on from the ECG, I went to the very first MAGUS gathering–http://www.oakandeagle.org/midatlanticgathering/. MAGUS, (Mid Atlantic Gathering US), located in Artemas, PA at the Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary for Beltane! How exciting! Knowing the people who were running it, I was excited to go to this wondrous place and for Beltane of all times! I was asked to be the Grove Mother for the Bard initiations and to put that initiation together. I was deeply honored to do so. I worked with the two people who were in charge of putting together the Ovate and Druid initiations and we worked together as a team, bouncing ideas off each other for the gifts and choosing people. I’ll get into that on another post.
This year, I am to return to GCG as well as to MAGUS. I am looking forward to going and participating in both gatherings and to see and spend some time with some great friends at both events. This is what participating in your spiritual communities can do for you, making friends and connections and learning and experiencing so much with others. It is a truly wonderful and grand experience.
If you are not sure if you should go, be aware that those I have attended are welcoming, warm and inviting. There are friends there just waiting for you to make. If you do feel overwhelmed by all the energies there, I would recommend starting off by going to smaller gatherings, get to know a few people first and then move to the larger ones. Or if you are going to a large one and feel anxious at all, take time for yourself. Most places have areas you can go to on your own and be alone with nature or with just a friend or two. The gatherings can and will enrich your life however, and your own presence will enrich another’s as well.
OBODies, as we are sometimes called, have that sense of presence that envelopes you in a warm cloak of friendship when you find there are others who share your interests. It has truly helped going to these camps to feel that OBOD isn’t just all the way over there, across the pond, but here in the U.S. as well and here, in our own hearts wherever we go.