What a start to the Order’s 50th anniversary year – We built one stone circle and planned another one! Tomorrow – Valentine’s Day – is the anniversary of when we started the Order again in its latest incarnation – February 14th 1988 – 26 years ago. But it was 50 years ago – in 1964 – that Ross Nichols founded the Order of Bards Ovates & Druids. I first met him the year before, in 1963, and little could any of us have imagined how things would turn out half a century later, with members now all over the world, and the training programme published in seven languages.
This Golden Anniversary began in the ‘Land of the First Light’ – New Zealand. As everyone in the northern hemisphere slept through the last night of the old year, 2014 had already begun in the South Pacific. We were there to celebrate with members and friends – first with some workshops at the amazing Prana New Year festival in the Coromandel, then on Waiheke Island, then at the Grove of the Summer Stars annual camp in Pukerua Bay, just outside Wellington.
On Waiheke island Fiona wanted help from the Auckland OBOD group – The Dragon Fire Grove – and everyone was soon on their knees, making calculations and heaving stones (well we did have the help of a digger). Although the stones weren’t gigantic what a change there was in the feel of the place once all the stones had been put into position! With an almost 360 degree panoramic view of the ocean from the circle, it radiated a fantastic atmosphere of peace and stability.
And then it was down to Wellington for the Annual camp – as ever, another great bunch of friends, old and new, and wonderful workshops and laughter. The novelist Juliet Marillier was with us and gave a fantastic workshop. Peta Joyce interviewed her for Druidcast – and you can hear that interview in the next show – due out in a week’s time. And we all planned a stone circle up on the ‘Tor’ at the Woolshed, with help from one of the founders of the ‘Stonehenge Aotearoa‘ project – astronomy professor Richard Hall. I’ll never forget standing outside looking up at the Southern stars with Richard’s powerful laser pen seeming to reach right up to the constellations as he told us the classical and Maori stories associated with them.
Stephanie and I were in New Zealand for a month and then we went to the Annual Assembly in Australia. The day after we got home we attended a Druids, Pagans & Christians conference in the West of England. Each of these events was so rich and inspiring. I’ll try to blog about them over the coming days and weeks (once I get back from Austria and the DruidCraft Tarot webinar – maybe see you there!)
In the meanwhile, here are two photos from Waiheke.