Nature appealed to our hearts, when we were children, long before it appealed to our heads, let alone our pockets… Acknowledging our love for the living world does something that a library full of papers on sustainable development and ecosystem services cannot: it engages the imagination as well as the intellect. It inspires belief; and this is essential to the lasting success of any movement.
Eight years ago, a member in Germany came up with an idea: a quilt made up of squares created by members of the Order from around the world. It took a while for the project to grow, but this summer a parcel arrived at the OBOD office with a beautiful gift inside: the finished quilt which we then hung in the Town Hall at Glastonbury for the Summer Gathering.
Imagine now that this review of what has happened in the Order and in the world of Druidry over the past year is like that quilt, with each of the following topics being specific and unique in themselves and yet connected to the greater whole – to the life of Druidry and the Order.
At the Winter Solstice 2015, the Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Druid Order in America, John Michael Greer, announced that he was handing on his role: “I’m staying a member of the order, of course, with the slightly less fanciful title of archdruid emeritus, but the big chair and the funny hat are going to my successor, Gordon Cooper.” Both Gordon and John Michael are also members of OBOD, and both are Mt Haemus Scholars too. John Michael is a prolific author, and his Archdruid Report presents cutting-edge thought on environmental, cultural and political issues. He continues in his role as leader of the other Druid group he started, the Druidical Order of the Golden Dawn.
In February, John Belham-Payne, a good friend of the Order, who led the Centre for Pagan Studies and the Doreen Valiente Foundation, died just before his dream of an exhibition to feature Doreen and Paganism was realised in Brighton.
In July, Honorary Bard of the Order Esme Vincent, died. Esme was an extraordinarily gifted calligrapher, artist, book maker, and Bardic mentor.
At the Autumn Equinox, Ivan McBeth, OBOD Druid and Founder of the Green Mountain Druid Order in Vermont died. Ivan was well-known and much loved in the Druid community and beyond, and a driving force in establishing OBOD camps. His wife Fearn Lickfield has taken on the mantle of leadership of the Green Mountain order.
Blessings on the journeys in the Otherworld of those who have left us (including, of course, other members and friends not mentioned). And blessings, too, for Gordon and Fearn in their new roles as leaders in the community.
This last year has seen a flurry of interest in Druidry and related subjects from museums and the art world. Mt Haemus scholar Dr Julia Farley co-curated the hugely successful The Celts – Art & Identity exhibition at the British Museum. Will Worthington’s artwork from the Druid Animal Oracle and DruidCraft Tarot was the final exhibit.
From October to March the Whitechapel Gallery in London ran an exhibition called Intellectual Barbarians: The Kibbo Kift Kindred , about an idealistic group formed by John Hargrave – a friend of Ross Nichols – and that Vera Chapman, the Order’s first Pendragon, enthusiastically promoted. I participated in a day event at the gallery in February, talking about the relationship of the Kibbo Kiftto OBOD.
In Brighton, at Preston Manor, the exhibition envisaged by John Belham-Payne was mounted. Entitled Folklore, Magic and Mysteries: Modern Witchcraft and Folk Culture in Britain, it has been running since April. Included in the displays are the magical possessions of Gerald Gardner and Doreen Valiente, and we have lent items for the case featuring Druidry, including our dord – the Order’s bronze ritual horn. The exhibition has been such a success, with record attendances, it has been extended into November.
In May the Slade School of Fine Art in London asked me to give a talk. I chose to speak about the often unrecognised influence of Druidry in Art, Music and Fashion, and called the presentation:From Stonehenge to the Catwalk.
In October, The Horniman Museum in London invited me to talk about Druid wands, for their evening event ‘Magic Late’. Earlier in the year Stephanie and I had been invited to view their extensive collection of charms at their storehouse in Greenwich, in preparation for their permanent exhibition at the museum next year.
Druids by nature seem to like books – reading them and writing them – and this year has seen another great crop of books by Order members and friends…To read the complete review click here.