OBOD are in the process of putting together a book to celebrate our 50th Anniversary. It will be a collection of 50 articles and 50 pieces of art/craftwork that will share experiences of what it means to be an OBOD Druid. I include here a wonderful and moving submission for the book by Sue Lobo. If you would like to contribute to the book, please send submission in to Maria at email@example.com and Sharon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When I went through the journey of Bard to Druid a few years ago, it coincided with many milestones in my life: with children leaving home, my husband working overseas & away from home for months on end, death of friends, family members & pets & all merging with the menopause which is such a bridge to cross. I started studying with OBOD while going through all this because I felt I wanted to go home, back to myself & wow what a journey of emotions it was. I can honestly say that it saved me from deep depression & probably auto-destruction by turning to pills or some other crutch. (I think it’s helpful to others who struggle with such things to share that last sentence, but equally if it feels too self-revelatory for you, that last sentence could come out and it would still read well). When I finished studying the course, I came out of the tunnel a completely new person, reborn, & knew that although the course had ended, the real studying had just begun & by this time I was officially now a crone & knew how to celebrate this fact & embrace this new woman with such joy. I also started writing & have now published many poetry books & also my autobiography. Life has taken on a completely new meaning & although I am a solitary Druid, I enjoy every minute of it, rejoicing in my continuing path. To celebrate my Cronedom at the end of my course, I did a Skyclad ritual & wrote about it. I would like to share it with you, as I feel very much a part of the OBOD family & maybe it will give a spark of hope to other women who are going through the same feelings I went through at the time.
The passing of passage is marked by many calendar moons, birth dates, entering & exiting the teenage years, engagements, marriage, motherhood etc. I decided to celebrate my coming of age, my entering into crone-hood & it merited a ceremony, my own private getting-to-know-me-as-I am-today-ceremony:
I drew back the curtains of a new dawn; I lit my bees-wax candles, cast my magic circle & dropped my robe. I stood completely sky-clad/naked, feeling dawn´s billowing caress as I searched for the real me in the ancient mirror on the wall.
I looked down at my ageing body, starting at my feet, feet deformed by bunions, crooked toes bent & crippled like an old tree. My eyes moved up my legs which are knotted by thick blue ropes of veins, bulging & throbbing. In between these blue pathways, scattered in array over the bumps of flesh, criss-crossing, red spider veins, mapping the failing secrets of life beneath my skin.
My soft belly protruding south towards my sadness & flaccid transparent breasts following the rest in resigned silence. Sloping shoulders, not as upright as before; before what? Before life happened.
All that my shadowed eyes beheld was encased within a white creased sheet of skin, like that of a newly hatched moth that has never seen the light. My lank grey hair was as colourless as a blind man´s stare & I felt older than life itself:
I pushed away all the age-depressing images, closed my eyes against the woman in the candle-lit mirror & took a deep breath.
I gave myself over to the Goddess, the Gods & the Elements, feeling myself whirling into time´s spinning vortex & all around me & within me, the beautiful choral voices of the singing matriarchs of the ancient tribes of my ancestors, serenading my senses, my womanhood, & the path I was about to enter.
Entering into the realm of the Goddess, I opened my eyes & I felt younger, lighter, stronger & wiser. My eyes sought the flickering mirror once again, but now with the wiser eyes of ancient knowledge.
I now saw my feet as the beautiful gnarled roots of the ancient tree of knowledge & realized that these same feet had carried me through life & the five continents, safely & steadfastly, leading me to where I stood today. The thick knotted veins on my legs converted to the rivers flowing with my life-blood, as precious as the great rivers of this planet, of the African rivers where as a child I had swam deep & content. Those red criss-crossing spider veins vying for importance on my flesh now became the map of path-ways & routes, taking me through my many travels in this life upon earth, some leading to where I had to go, others misleading me, making me retrace my steps, simply so that I may learn a lesson. Dusty pathways through the African deserts I had walked in childhood, but all steps leading to where I stand now.
My round protruding belly, the cauldron that protected my sons, many, many moons ago. My tired breasts, a testimony to the nurturing & comfort bestowed upon babes & men in my long-ago youth of another era, now grateful to be left in slumbering peace. My sloping shoulders, those hills that have carried weighty problems of the past, now slipping & sloping down further into nothing, oblivion, leaving my now-shoulders free & weightless, yet marked by their duty in the past, of continuous support.
My skin, not bronzed by the sun of Greek Gods, nor burnt to cinders from summers past. I now see my skin as a silken mantle, kissed by the beams of many ancient moons, giving it the hue of an open creamy rose, old velvet petals, drooping, ready to fall with a beauty with which no bud can compare. My breeze-billowing hair is now the silver surf of oceans, caressed by millions of moon moths, softly illuminating the nights of life.
I have studied my being from toe to head, getting to know the woman I am today & I am content.
I turn around in my circle three times, feeling the power within. I dedicate my profound & eternal gratitude to the Goddess within me & within all women. I thank her for the beautiful maid I was all those eons, yet seconds ago. I thank her for the loving, nurturing mother I was but yesteryear. I thank her for the lover I was & the men I have loved. I now thank her for the wonderful, wise crone I am at this moment in my life. I don my robe & continue down the corridors of the rest of my life. SUE LOBO ©