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Announcing a Gradual Transition to a new Chief of the Order

June 3rd, 2018

Today at the Summer Gathering of the Order of Bards Ovates & Druids in Glastonbury, I made the following announcement, which I’d like to share with you here:

In two years time – in 2020 – it will be fifty years since I was initiated on Glastonbury Tor, just over there. Eighteen years later, the Order was re-founded and I was asked to be Chief. That was thirty years ago, and these last three decades have been so magical and extraordinary, I could never have predicted them. We now have 25,000 members, gatherings all over the world, and more than 200 groves and seed-groups.

So now is a good time to take stock, to appreciate how far we have come, and to ask how we can ensure the stability and continuity of the Order well into the future.

I take a lot of vitamins. 
I have been involved in the Order for half a century, and I fully expect that in another fifty years time I’ll be standing here, telling you that I was initiated a century ago up on the Tor. But Stephanie and Damh tell me I’m fooling myself, and that we need to have a succession plan – a plan for how the Order will carry on in the future when the leadership has to change. The Order is so important, so precious to so many people, it would be irresponsible not to have a succession plan.

If you wait until the leader of a group dies, you create an unstable situation that has so often occurred in the history of spiritual groups. It can so easily initiate a ‘Moment of Peril’ that risks undermining much of the careful building work that has been done in previous decades. The responsible thing to do is to create a succession plan, and to let everyone know about it, so that the transition from one leader to the next is as smooth as possible. And so we have a plan, and I’m going to tell you about it now.

In consultation with the Pendragon and Scribe, I have already chosen the next Chief, and we have begun a process of training and apprenticeship, which will carry on for another two years, so that in June 2020 we will have – here in Glastonbury – a big party and an installation ceremony, when I will hand over the role to the new incumbent. By then I will have been Chief for 32 years. I will be handing on the leadership of an organization that is flourishing, that doesn’t need changing or fixing, but just needs a steady hand on the tiller while at the same time allowing the Order to grow and flourish in a new phase of its life.

You will probably want to know who has been chosen as the Chosen Chief – that’s what ‘Chosen’ refers to by the way, the next Chief is chosen by the previous one. So I’d like to introduce you now to the next Chief of the Order, who will be Eimear Burke.

Eimear has been a nurse, is a counselling psychologist, and has been a member of the Order for 15 years. I have chosen Eimear because I believe she is completely aligned with and respects the Order’s work and values, and – just as I have done – will continue to build on the legacy created by the Order’s founder Nuinn. Eimear lives in Ireland, but travels to Order events in Britain often. She loves travelling, and is looking forward to attending Order gatherings around the world. She has been running a grove for many years, and you can learn more about her and the grove at

I am really enjoying passing on all that I have learnt as Chief over the last thirty years and I will continue doing this for another two years. Having handed on the role I will continue to act in an advisory capacity, and the course distribution will continue to operate from the Lewes office for practical reasons. Our vision is that Eimear will hold the position from seven to nine years, and then chose a successor, so that she can then join me as a Past Chosen Chief who can advise the new title-holder.

So to finish, let me be absolutely clear. I am not going anywhere. I still remain committed to the Order, to being of as much help as I can, and I am going to carry on talking, writing and making a nuisance of myself at every possible occasion! The difference will be that we will have effected a hopefully smooth transition from one phase in the life of the Order to the next, supporting the membership in the best possible way.

‘A blessing on our bards, sweet-tongued, heads afire with Awen! A blessing on our Ovates, their hearts open to the cry of the wind on the Tor, the deep pulse of the Earth of Avalon, the flowing waters of the Red and White Springs. A blessing on our Druids, bright as flames, solid as stone, joyful as the day is long. A blessing on all our lives and a blessing on the land.’

You can watch an interview I recently conducted with Eimear here:

26 Responses to “Announcing a Gradual Transition to a new Chief of the Order”

  1. Philip, in the short time that I have know you, it was obvious from the start that Nuinn’s Vision was deeply embedded inside you. I have finally finished one of his books (We spoke briefly about it at GCG) and its fascinating to say the least. Druidry has been a part of my life since i was a baby, being born into the ways of the Druids and now as an adult i live and breathe its beauty. Thank you for sharing this with us all, you have been an inspiration for so many people and will continue to be in all of our hearts. We welcome the new chosen chief, and look forward to seeing her in person in the not to distant future… 2020 is on our Calendar and we shall do everything in our power to be at this monumental Gathering… Peace and Blessings from across the pond /|\

  2. Wise decision, but leaves me a little dizzy. The Order is so important, as you say, that succession must be planned, and I thank you, Eimear and all the rest who will make this seamless and delightful.

  3. Thank you, Philip, for telling us what is happening. It would have been such a jolt should the announcement have come as it happens. I wish you many blessings as you transition out of the current position and move into one of mentorship and guidance while filling your life with the many things you enjoy. Both Stephanie and yourself must be excited. Congratulations, Eimear! I look forward to seeing and hearing more from you in the next two years. I hope I will be able to make it to Glastonbury in 2020 for your installation and Philip’s semi-retiring. Peace to you all, Tracey

  4. Philip – thank you for writing this. Leadership changes can always be tough on a group, but it can also be tough on the individuals as well. I’m just a singular member of the Order, living on the Texas/Oklahoma border, far removed from everything that takes place in the United Kingdom. However, every medium of communication that you and other members send…allows me to be a part of the big network of folks that is OBOD. For that I thank you…and everyone else. And I look forward to being a part of this long into my future years with Eimear in the position of Chosen Chief. The Order is all of us. Together, it lives beyond the years that we all have…well into the memory of others. I’m so glad that you have poured all of what you are into the Order, just as Nuinn did throughout his years. I look forward to Eimear’s contributions as well. And the contributions of so many others that are a part of what this Order is. /|\

  5. What can I say Philip…your a men of deep wisdom!One of the wisest Ive had the pleasure to meet Of course it makes me sad that youll not lead after 2020 but Im looking forward to the spiritual work of the next chief….shes a woman and this is a perfect step to keep things in balance regarding to energeric perspectives.Hug and blessings Petra

  6. Change is so sad sometimes, but exciting also. Thank you for being such a wise and caring person. I am sure everyone will welcome Eimear as the new Chief! I have just begun my journey with OBOD and so looking forward to being a part of this beautiful family. Peace and Blessings from across the Pond.

  7. Philip as a new person to the order I am sorry to see you go. As a president of an organization myself, I completely understand. I look forward to the next two years of your transition and wish you well on the next stage of your life. I also congratulate Eimear and look forward to her leadership. That you for all you have done for OBOD

  8. Congratulations to Eimear and Philip thank you so much for all that you’ve done over so many years! Many blessings to you both.

  9. Dear Philip,

    I remember first seeing the Druid Animal Oracle in a metaphysical bookstore in Los Angeles when I was 13, and I was immediately drawn to it. The Oracle and it’s insights carried me further on my spiritual search beyond the boundaries of Catholicism, and it, along with The Druid Way, served to establish Druidism as the branch of paganism that my spirit fully embraced, that spoke to me in the deepest way. That was 26 years ago. I still use the Oracle on occasion, and The Druid Way is still on my bookshelf. Though I’ve never met you, your voice and your wisdom hold a special place in my heart. I am sad to hear that soon you will be be passing on your position as chief, but I wish to deeply thank you for your service and dedication, and I am immensely pleased that you plan on continuing to have an active role in the Order. Perhaps one day I’ll be fortunate enough to meet you and thank you in person.

    All the best,

  10. Dear Philip,

    I remember being drawn to the Druid Animal Oracle in a metaphysical bookstore in Los Angeles when I was 13. Shortly after, I picked up a copy of The Druid Way. 26 years later, I still have both, and through them, your voice and wisdom led me to embrace Druidism as the branch of paganism that spoke most to my spirit. I am immensely pleased that you still plan to be active in the Order. And though I have never met you, I want to give you the deepest thanks for having shaped my spiritual life. Hopefully one day I can thank you in person.


  11. Thank you philip for your love and care of us all. Welcome to the new Chief in training.

  12. Thank you for your wise and open heart and all you give. Welcome to Eimear. The spirit of the order is truly in your thoughts and deeds.

    Three things that make a good chief…seeing clearly with your inner eye, speaking openly to those you see and listening to a new song arising.

  13. Blessings on you both Philip and Eimear (and all in OBOD behind the scenes) and thank you for the wise and considered way the baton is being passed, honouring deep slow cycles.

  14. When I read the headline, I gasped. But as I read on, I could see the wisdom of your words and the very sound wisdom of your decision. I totally approve of your choice of successor. Elmer is a perfect choice. Thank you Phillip for all your amazing years of service. You have wisely established so much for the order in all your years. Nuinn chose so wisely as well. Thank you also to your beautiful wife in supporting and releasing you to do all you have done in your role. I know that your strength is a combination of effort from so many others who believe in you.

  15. Yet another wise decision by one of the wisest people I know…and OBOD goes from strength to strength – best wishes Philip and Eimear!

  16. Thank you Philip for all of your work with the Order. For me the Order represented an opening to another world which I always felt was there, but couldn’t find. I met some wonderful amazing people, and think back on that time was so much fondness. I feel that once you walk upon a pathway, especially one which inspires you so, it becomes entwined with your pathway through life. Thank you again Phillip, Stephanie, Chris, Bill and all the Northern Grove members who brought the teachings and the very wonder of life to me.

  17. Thank you Philip for your years of service and commitment to making Druidry a truly vital and growing spirituality around the world, and many congratulations to Eimear for taking the Order forward into the next decades!

  18. This is fantastic. Last week during “Tea with a Druid”, I kept thinking how much I like this lady and want to hear more from her. I also love the Irish mythology and wish for more of it in the bardic gwersi. My ancestry is from Ireland and most of my childhood tales were the Irish stories. I am excited, but we do still need to have Phillip around for another 50 years.

  19. Philip, thank you for all that you have done and for all that you will continue to do for OBOD. And congratulations to Eimear. Many blessings to you both!

  20. Thank you Philip for being there as cc for Obod. I been with Obod for more then ten years and had the opportunity to meet you on many occasions. You made a wise decision for your successor, Eimear. Am sure that Eimear will be a great cc. New inspiration will flow through the order from Ireland and looking forward to hearing the Irish stories. To a magical transition in two years. Namesté. Blessings.

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