Brett and I have recently enrolled as members of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD), which is based in the UK and has a large network of members all over the world, including here in British Columbia, Canada.
We are about to embark on an exciting learning adventure, beginning with the Bardic Grade of the OBOD training in Druidry. We are both very excited, because we have already received the beautifully written and presented introductory pack and our first two months worth of course materials, including audio CDs through the post! I can’t wait to dive in!
I have felt drawn towards Druidry for the last three years or so along my convoluted spiritual journey that began in my childhood. My early years were characterised by attending an Anglican primary and middle school and participating in assemblies and church services. However, I much preferred being outside among the trees and the flowers, playing in the River Itchen, or making dens in the woods, or spending hours on my knees trying to collect and identify insects and numerous plants or devouring book after book about wildlife around the world. My flourishing love of nature led me to choose to study the sciences at high school and I became an atheist. (By the way I remain an avid believer in evolution and do not view it as something that excludes faith in a Divinity or Source, but that is a story and discussion for another day).
I became a born-again Christian during my masters studies in North Wales, where I was baptised in the Irish Sea and subsequently worshipped in a variety of church denominations, while I lived and worked in various humanitarian and disaster-related emergencies around the world. I dropped out of mainstream church in my thirties, when I became disillusioned with churches I worked with in inner city London, while trying to support them, cajole and encourage them to engage in radical, social action to assist people, who experienced deprivation and create welcoming communities for refugees and asylum seekers. I was dismayed at how far they seemed to be from the teachings of Jesus, as well as the judgement and criticism I received for “not quite fitting in” and firmly adhering to one denomination or not being submissive enough towards male church leaders.
I came under a lot of fire from fellow well-meaning Christians, when I dropped out of the mainstream, who could not understand that I had not abandoned my faith in the Divine, I had only stepped away from dogma, judgement and apathy. One Anglican vicar, wrote to me from a conference on Calvinism to tell me sternly that I would go to hell if I didn’t go back to church…which, you can imagine, turned me off even more!
Fast forward to my mid-forties, when my dear mum passed away and I walked the Camino de Santiago for the first time in 2015 (and began this blog to record my experiences and process my bereavement) and I began to feel my heart open again, caressed by nature around me, the kind whispers of care from my fellow pilgrims and sensing my mum’s spirit walking alongside me. Walking el Camino de Santiago unlocked emotions and creativity that I had firmly pressed down over the years, especially during my humanitarian career. I began to write poetry and songs again.
After I finished my pilgrimage, I soon married my soulmate Brett and almost a year after our civil marriage ceremony in Canada, we affirmed our vows to each other in the inner temple at Stonehenge on Earth Day in a handfasting ritual, inspired by early Celtic and Druidic traditions. Honouring our ancestors inside the sacred circle at the beginning of this ceremony really touched my heart, not least because both my mother and father had made their transitions to the spiritual realm by then but I sensed them giving us their blessing. Our special day spurred me on to take a closer look at Druidry. A synchronicity led me to stumble upon the Druidcast podcasts (available for free on iTunes and Spotify) to learn more about Druidry and to date I have listened to over one hundred episodes, before making the decision to enrol as a member of OBOD and embark on my Bardic Grade training.
In a nutshell, three thoughts or reflections have pulled me onwards towards exploring the nature-based spiritual path of Druidry at this present time in my life and these are:
- I am a child of nature – I recognise that I am a child of nature and am part of nature, not separate from it and I do not hold the view that humans are superior to animals, plants and every element of the earth herself. I do not feel we should hold dominion over her and all beings therein but we should endeavour to live in harmony with all of nature and work towards protecting her and the myriad of species dwelling here on our beautiful planet.
- I feel the need to honour my ancestors – As a reiki practitioner, I have already been attuned to adhering to several reiki principles that shape my daily life including “Honour your parents, teachers and elders”, which encourages us to respect those that have gone before us, raised us, nurtured us and taught us, whether they are still living or have made their transitions to the otherworld or spiritual realms. This important value and principle further came into sharp relief after my dad, mum and recently my auntie passed away and during our handfasting ceremony, as I mentioned above.
- I am inspired to engage in creative expression – the Bardic Grade of Druidry encourages creative expression in many different and complementary forms. When I was growing up I used to paint and draw and play piano and flute all the time, even at University. However, I began to suppress this aspect of who I am during my humanitarian career (after my first two missions) as I perceived I had no time nor energy for it, nor was there room for creative expression within a sector that has evolved to become more and more focussed on left-brained activities i.e. rational, logical thinking, rules, regulations and obsessive compulsive data-gathering disorders and cottage industries churning out a plethora of guidance, processes, task forces, working groups, coordination bodies and other initiatives, which may or may not make the sector more fit for purpose. My Camino experience re-acquainted me with my right-brained self and I am happy to know her!
So there you have it! A new adventure is about to begin. I will leave you with these thoughts about Druidry from the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. Perhaps, these words will speak to your heart also, or maybe not. However, I intend to share with you aspects of my journey, as and when my intuition prompts me to do so.
Thank you for reading!
Peace, love and light,
PS. In case you are wondering, it is possible to follow faith traditions and Druidry at the same time as they are compatible.