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WG1

This is the first of a few catch up posts from last year!

Mr Stoatie and I went down to the OBOD Winter Gathering which was held the second weekend of December. Unfortunately due to problems with getting leave we could only stay for two nights – we usually like to have a couple of days either side because it’s such a long drive down.

The Winter Gathering takes just takes place for one day and begins with a Ceremony at Chalice Well, followed by a an Order meeting in the Town Hall. This includes the now traditional Mistletoe Ceremony, which is a beautiful experience. The centre of the hall is heaped with mistletoe which is an amazing sight, particularly for us northern folk who have no native mistletoe and who only usually get to see the sad sprigs on sale for a King’s Ransom in the shops.

During the morning Philip interviewed ‘Youth’ or Martin Glover  later during the Eistedfodd he was awarded the title of Honorary Bard. This is a link to Philip’s blog where you can hear the interview and see some photos of the Town Hall in all it’s glory. There was also a bardship awarded to the artist Jamie Reid, which was collected by his agent.

In the afternoon we were treated to a workshop with Karen and John from Sli an Chroi which was really great ( I wish they lived a bit closer!) and then in the evening we had the legendary Eisteddfod. What’s nice about the Winter Gathering is that there’s an opportunity for the crafters and writers to display their wares too, so you could pop in the Green Room on and off all day to mooch.

We only managed to take photos of the Eistedfodd, and a mighty fine line up it was too. No photos of Damh, we were up dancing!

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Barry Eisteddfod

Just a few photos from the Summer Gathering Eisteddfod, some of which are a bit over exposed (sorry!) I’m pretty sure that they’re not in the right order but never mind!

First up are a few shots of Barry Patterson who was performing poems from his new collection Freed from Distance which is available from his website Red Sandstone Hill Absolutely fantastic as always and I can really recommend both Barry’s poetry books and especially his book, The Art of Conversation with the Genius Loci.

Barry Eisteddfod 2

The instrument below is a guitar zither that a friend of Barry’s found in his Mum’s attic. I think you’re supposed to pluck the strings but using a drum beater  produced an interesting effect!

Barry Eisteddfod 3

Followed by a shot of Ritchie who managed a great performance despite his nerves – it was his first Eisteddfod!

Ritchie

Blanche sang a beautiful set a cappella.

Eisteddfod

I can’t remember this guy’s name (I think it may be Steve?) but I’m pretty sure the lady was called Marietta and they sang some wonderful songs.

Eisteddfod 2

The welcome return of Paul Mitchell. Hurrah!

Paul Mitchell

James J Turner got everybody up and dancing.

Eisteddfod 3

There were also wonderful performances from ZZ Birmingham and Damh but we were too busy dancing for Mr Stoatie to take photos! Apologies to anyone we missed – there were two very good (lady) poets in the first half whose names I didn’t catch and whose photos were too poor to publish!

If anyone wants to help me out with the names, leave a comment and I’ll edit the post!

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Sun AM 3

Some of the last few pictures from the Assembly. On the Sunday morning the main hall and the smaller room at the front of the town Hall (OBOD central) were set up with tables and stalls which were manned by representatives from different parts of the Order. The idea being that you could mooch around and sit and talk with those that piqued your interest or find someone who could answer a question  or concern. There were tables for Touchstone, the Office, Druidcast, the Mentors,  the Mistletoe Foundation, Celebrants, the One Tree Gathering, OBOD overseas Offices, the White Horse Camps, the Druids Head Pub (online community) etc. there was even a ‘Meet the Chosen Chief’ table! These pictures were taken as the event was being set up.

Sun AM 2

The hall was lined with Grove and Seed Group banners. In the small room there was a table for authors selling their books – Kris Hughes, Brendan Howlin, Robin Herne among others. I believe there was a bit of light hearted jostling for the prime selling position! There was a stall stocked with anti fracking merchandise and an information point describing the threat the country is facing from the shale gas frenzy. Also in this room was the stall from one of the two local Groves The Appleseed Grove, who were very generously handing out apples!

Sun AM

Shaun who is in charge of looking after the Groves and Seed Groups had a huge map of the world in which you were invited to stick a pin to show where your group was located. Great Britain and Ireland had small pins (because there are so many Groves and Seed Groups) and the rest of the world larger ones.

G & S Europe

 

G & S N America

 

G & S Africa

There is a pin here – in Johannesburg!

G & S Australia & NZ

I thought the this event was wonderful, it gave you an excuse to sit down and talk to all sorts of interesting people. At a weekend where the talks were taking places in small venues all over the Town, and there was always somewhere to get to next, it was good to have the opportunity to meet people in a relaxed atmosphere with plenty of time to chat. It was really well attended and the table I was helping on was pretty busy all morning.

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Goddess & Greenman 2

This post is going to be a bit of a mish mash, it’s difficult to know what to mention because there was so much going on!

The Goddess and Greenman  decorated their window with a golden Awen to celebrate OBOD’s Golden Anniversary. I hope you can make it out through all the reflections! They’d also produced some Golden Sickle incense to mark the occasion  ‘to Honour the Ancient Spirit of Oak and Mistletoe’ I’ve brought a couple of packets, it’s lovely but pretty pungent!

Goddess & Greenman

Because it was the Order’s Anniversary, OBOD realised that a lot more people would like to attend the Assembly and so rather than sticking to the normal format of whole order talks in the Town Hall, which has restrictions on numbers, this year they decided to have a marquee in the Abbey Grounds on the Saturday. The Town Hall was used as a communications base, a place to eat before the Eisteddfod and held various exhibitions and meetings over the weekend.

This year there was also a ‘fringe event’ with additional talks, particularly on the Friday and Monday when there is normally nothing official arranged. To keep everyone up to date with what was happening there was a four page programme

Programme Sat-Sun

 

Programme - Friday

 

Programme Sun - Mon

 

Programme - fringe general

Needless to say I only made it to a few of the events but luckily for me and those unable to attend the weekend itself, the talks were recorded and will hopefully appear on either the website or on Druidcast sometime in the future.

 

Markee Sat AM

 

Sat AM

On the Saturday morning we all repaired to the Marquee to hear talks by Ronald Sutton, Caitlin Matthews and Philip Carr Gomm, all of which were fantastic. We were also treated to a performance from the Ogham. The banners were painted by Stephanie Carr Gomm and were used later in the day to mark the quarters on top of the Tor – the images are taken from the Druid Animal Oracle. The talks were all recorded (hurrah!) and there was also a gentleman filming most of the weekend and so you should also be able to see them soon, as well as the Tor Ceremony.

Sat PM 2

On Saturday evening we had the Eisteddfod in the Marquee. There was a smaller tent adjacent which held the refreshments, including Hawky Hawklord’s generous donation of mead. Utterly delicious but deceptively strong, it caught a lot of people out!

Sat PM

 

Sat PM 3

Shaun ‘purple’ Hayes did the compering as usual.

Sat PM 4

First up was this beautiful lady with some opera pieces.

Sat PM 5

Barry Patterson performed some of his own poetry. Fantastic!

Sat PM 6

Liv Torc finished up the first half with poems from her new book and some old favourites.

In the second half we had Arthur ZZ Birmingham and ensemble, Poplar Jake, and then Damh with Paul Newman. I was so pleased when Damh and Paul played the Worship of Trees! There are no photos as the light got too bad for our poor little point and shoot At the end of Damh’s act which was as always, fantastic but much too short, he led us round to the back of the Abbey ruins for a ‘surprise’ This turned out to be a beautiful ten minute firework display, unfortunately it was such a surprise that we didn’t have the camera set up and so the photos are nothing more than blurs. Mr Stoatie took a few video clips and I’m including one for the wonderful soundtrack of oohs and ahhs. The images are really awful but have a kind of trippy element to them! (NB if you’re using a tablet or mobile to watch you might find the sound a bit slow)

 

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Stonehenge 1

This year there were two dawn rituals at Stonehenge and at Avebury. We were lucky enough to get tickets for the Stonehenge ceremony – English Heritage only allows a hundred people at the site. It was a beautiful clear sunny morning with a light breeze and very mild.

We were bussed to the complex from the new Visitor Centre which is rather ugly to say the least, but at least it’s out of sight of the stones! We had a wonderful ceremony, I had been asked to speak for the Element of Air which meant I spent a few days meditating on and off about what I wanted to say and practising when Mr Stoatie wasn’t around. I’m pleased to say that I actually managed to remember my lines 🙂 It’s the first time I have had a speaking part at this ritual, and it was such an honour to be asked at the 50th Anniversary.

Just as we were finishing an officious English Heritage guard in high vis came and shouted that we had five minutes left which was rather jarring but at least he didn’t barge in during the rite itself. I was glad we had a bit of time to take photos before heading back to the bus stop.

It was real privilege to get so close to the stones. The morning was still and full of birdsong – melodious skylarks as a backdrop and the more raucous cries of the jackdaws who kept popping in and out of their nests in the lintels. Truly a magical experience.

 

I will speak for the element of Air

Vital. Invisible. Expansive. Without boundary

The breathe of life.

The gentle, refreshing, healing breeze.

The howling gale of chaos and destruction.

 

Air is the element of the intellect.

of ideas, intuition and dreams

And air is the means we convey our thoughts

In speech and song and music

Air gives thought form

Air voices our intent

What would you manifest?

 

The dexterity of the swift.

The clear vision of the hawk.

The rapture of the lark.

 

Let the element of Air inspire you,

and imbue your thoughts, and your words, with clarity and wisdom.

 

The Element of Air has spoken.

 

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Invite 

Mr Stoatie and I have just spent a fantastic five days in Glastonbury attending the Summer Assembly. This year the Order celebrated it’s Fiftieth Anniversary. The Assembly was stretched to four days and included a full programme of talks, walks and workshops. Of course one of the focal points was the ceremony on the Tor and always Mr Stoatie was there to capture some of the magic. I’ll post a bit more about the event over the next few days but to begin with here’s the Tor photos!

Walk to Tor

 

Gate Keepers

 

 Tor Ceremony 2

 

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The Tower

On Saturday the Assembly officially began with the whole Order meeting in the Town Hall. Philip couldn’t make it this year so Damh had to do all the introductory session himself, with the help of his iphone!  After the usual Opening, we split into our separate Groves – Bards, Ovates and Druids, in order to work on our parts in the Ceremony that afternoon. Each Grove was to work with their Inner Fire in order to imbue a staff with their particular qualities. The Bards were exploring how they use theirs to fire their creativity, the Ovates for healing and  the Druids for service to the community. We had a beautiful rowan staff from the Snowdonia mountains, which had been harvested at a full moon. The staff had never been used and arrived wrapped in a  cover which was replaced once the Grove was complete. The Bards had an entirely appropriate birch staff, which was completely unworked and still had the silvery bark attached. I’m afraid I have no idea what the Ovate staff was made from but it looked as though it may have actually been someone’s staff. I shall try and find out!

There were forty Druids in our Grove which was incredible, when I first started going to the Assembly there used to be about 15 of us huddled together at one end of  the Council Chamber.

After the Groves finished we had a little spare time before the Ceremony began. As usual Mr Stoatie and I decided to walk up to the Tor in plenty of time, so as to avoid the lung bursting climb against the clock. We dawdled up the other side of the Tor, which is a nice gradual climb until the last 100m or so, and had half an hour sitting in the sunshine. It would have been glorious if the wind hadn’t been so strong, instead it felt rather chilly and I got Goosebumps. Eventually we could see that those Druids that had decided to join in the traditional Procession up the Tor had begun their climb, and so it was time to robe up.

Most of the people taking roles in the Ceremony are volunteers. We’d said that we’d all like to do a role and the Grove was given the Bard, Ovate and Druid of the North, the Earth Bearer and the Peace Giver of the North. We were all robed up, even the Setantii who were holding the circle, and of course we were all wearing our much admired slate Awens.

As usual Mr Stoatie was out and about with the camera – apologies for some of the shots taken behind the Tower, it didn’t like the sun and a few are a bit blurry. Can I ask that if you share the photos could you please credit us and post a link back to the blog, thanks 🙂

 

Tor 1 - Waiting

Tor3 - Gate2

Tor 4

 

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Tor 7 - Gate 3

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 Tor 28 The Herald

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 Tor 30 The Peace Givers

 

Tor 31 Let there be Peace in the North

Tor 32Circle Casters – from a Jersey Grove

Tor 33

Tor 34 The Element Bearers

Tor 35

 Tor 36 Our beautiful Ruth

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 Tor 39 The Northern Gate (yay!)

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Tor 42 Staff Bearers

Tor 43 Druids gather round the staves.

Tor 44Joined by the Ovates

Tor 45 and the Bards

Each Grove chanted an Awen, then we had three Awens together facing the centre. We then turned and gave three Awens outwards to disperse the energies outwards across the Land.

Tor 47 The Druid staff is raised

Tor 48 Joined by the Ovate staff

Tor 49 The staves are joined to mingle the energies, and to conduit the Sun and Earth energies

Tor 50 The Recall is sounded.

Tor 51

Setantii on Tour (Tor)

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Tor 64 Craig walked to and from the Tor in his bare feet!

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Coming up in the next post: the Avebury Ceremony

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