After months of eager anticipation, Cymro ap Arthan and I set out last Friday on our road trip to Glastonbury for the OBOD 50th Anniversary Summer Gathering. We were joined there by Leaf and her husband. So there we were with our Corieltauvi banner, along with 400 other Druids in mass celebration and what a celebration it was!!
Spread over 4 days instead of the customary 2, the programme included ceremonies, talks, workshops, Eisteddfod and fireworks and plenty of opportunity to socialise with other Druids. With a packed programme, choices had to be made as to which events to attend; without a time-turner, we couldn’t do it all.
After arriving Friday lunchtime and checking in with the brilliant ‘Dagdas’ welcoming Druids at the Town Hall, we moved to the George and Pilgrim for a well earned pint. Armed with our programme we planned our campaign. Cymro ap Arthan hadn’t visited Glastonbury before, so I gave him a brief orientation tour and led him to spend his pennies in some of the esoteric shops. Apparently I’m a bad influence that way 😉
To spread our Corieltauvi energy as widely as possible, Cymro ap Arthan and I then divided our efforts. I went to the Grove and Seedgroup Organisers meeting (in Cthulhudruid’s absence), which was less of a meeting, more a celebration of the diversity and number of groups present from all across the world. Cymro ap Arthan went to the first of two sacred chanting workshops, which was apparently deep and transformative. Then we were off to the pub (again) to join fellow Druids for an evening pie and pint. We spotted some well known Druid / Pagan authors gathered on one table in the pub garden – Philip Carr-Gomm; Caitlin Matthews; Ronald Hutton; Kristoffer Hughes. We acted nonchalant and sat elsewhere 😉
Overnight, in anticipation of the events to come, Taranis blessed Glastonbury and woke us all at 4:30am when he was ‘playing’ directly overhead; just to make sure we were aware of his presence! This set the scene for the powerful morning session a ‘Celebration of the Order’ with 400 Druids who’d travelled from every continent to be there, gathered in a marquee in the Abbey grounds. After Keiron sounded the horn, Philip and Damh opened the proceedings, with Damh orchestrating a round of 9 cascading Awens. The power of 400 Druids chanting cascading Awens had to be seen, heard and felt to be believed. It was spine-tingling and emotional. We also chanted other powerful chants to raise the energy. Caitlin Matthews offered heartfelt, inspirational words on what it means to be a modern druid and Ronald Hutton spoke with his usual eloquence and humour about OBOD and Philip Carr Gomm, which earned him a standing ovation. This was followed by an exploration of the Ogham trees, with OBOD members bringing each Ogham few to life on stage.
By the afternoon, Glastonbury was once again bathed in glorious sunshine. Leaf and I climbed the Tor for the customary Solstice ceremony. There were many more Druids gathered there than usual and it was a wonderful ceremony, with the quarters marked by the stunning banners painted by Stephanie Carr-Gomm.
That evening there was a buffet in the Town Hall, in which our fabulous Corieltauvi Grove banner, expertly crafted by Dumbledore, was displayed alongside those from other Groves. Then we all returned to the Abbey grounds for the Eisteddfod. With copious ‘Nuin’ mead, specially brewed for the 50th anniversary gathering on offer, the wheels of the evening were well oiled! There were performances ranging from a Dutch opera singer; Barry Patterson’s poetry, drumming and pipes; ZZ Birmingham and family to Damh the Bard accompanied by Paul Newman and Keiron Sibley, so there was something for everyone. Damh had got everyone up and dancing and suitably energised, when he asked us all to step outside the marquee. The grand finale was an amazing fireworks display, a fitting end to a glorious day.
A very early start as 100 of us travelled to Stonehenge for a morning ceremony. Another group travelled to Avebury. It’s been many years since I’ve been to a closed ceremony in Stonehenge and some in the group had never been before. It was an amazing experience for us all. Blessed by brilliant early morning sun and welcomed by the Spirits of the place (including the resident nesting jackdaws) the ceremony was deep and powerful and the circle vibrated with energy in response, welcoming us in. OBOD members who attend the summer Stonehenge ceremony regularly, said this ceremony was the most powerful in years. We left feeling very blessed to have been part of it.
Back to Glastonbury in time for a late breakfast, we then had an opportunity to drop in to the Town Hall to meet, chat and informally explore what OBOD has to offer from groups, camps, mentors, celebrancy, interfaith, meeting the authors etc. In the afternoon, there were various talks, workshops and more retail therapy. I attended an impassioned talk from three of the leading lights from the ‘Warriors Call’ about the context and dangers of fracking and how we, as Druids, can engage, resist and raise the profile. Building on last year’s Warrior’s Call the group and Sigil has now gone global and a global event is in the planning, watch this space. The talk was to be followed later that evening by a re-dedication ceremony at the White Spring. By this time though I was on my way with Cymro ap Arthan to see Philip Carr-Gomm interview Kris Hughes (one of many ‘meet the authors’ chats Philip was doing over the weekend) which was illuminating and humorous, before we went to the second Sacred Chant workshop, an hour of blissful chants accompanied by drumming.
Awen flowed on Monday morning, when 50 of us, (Cymro ap Arthan and I included) met at Chalice Well for an hour of perpetual Awens with Barry Patterson. We could chant our Awens at our own pace, tone and time or just sit in the sound bath of the perpetual Awen. My words can’t convey how magical, inspirational and transformative this experience was, it has to be experienced personally and each of our Awen journeys was unique. But the Awen energy raised as a group was tangible and powerful. After this we wandered and meditated in Chalice Well gardens before returning to town for a final lunch before the long journey home.
I returned home tired but very happy, enthused and full of Awen. I recall Luch Dorcha saying that a previous Glastonbury Gathering had ‘super-charged’ his Druid practice and this is how I feel following the Gathering. Cymro ap Arthan and I have both said that the weekend affirmed and strengthened our Druidic path in immeasurable ways.
So many highlights and memorable experiences, but to finish by paraphrasing Caitlin Matthews: If you’re asked by someone “So you think you’re a Druid?” You say in reply: “No, I don’t ‘think’ I’m a Druid : I AM a Druid!”