For Yule last year, I was invited to attend a meeting of a local Druidic Grove (a ‘grove’ is what Druids term their gatherings). I was told to bring ‘something that I best like to eat or drink’, and that I could, if I wanted to, prepare something for the Eisteddfod section of the meeting – which is a mini festival of sorts – and that this could be a poem, song, thought, or anything creative and in keeping with the season.
Other than this I had no idea what to expect, because apart from my time as part of the Earth Religions Society at my university during my undergraduate degree (many moons ago!), I have never been part of a group for my religious or spiritual practices. I have always been a ‘solitary’, and fairly happy to be so. However, it seemed that being part of a group of like-minded, supportive folk might be just the thing I needed to continue on my spiritual journey in a more structured, focussed, and applied way, as I am keen to do at the moment, so I decided that this might be just the ticket.
I went along, and really enjoyed the experience! It was a nurturing, democratic, peaceful, joyful, creative gathering. There was time and space for everyone to talk (and in fact a talking stick was passed around to formalise this democratising of the voice), and also for everyone to perform creatively if they wished to during the Eisteddfod. I sang a folk song, and was completely moved by the power of performing in front of others – something I haven’t done for a long time. There was also a ritual, which was beautiful, taking place around a fire, and involving the ancestors. Afterwards we all relaxed with the food and drinks that we had brought, and I started to get to know this lovely group of people.
I recently attended my third Grove with this group, for Midsummer. Until this point I had been slightly too shy to take any formal part in the rituals, but as fate would have it the parts were passed around on folded pieces of paper in a chalice, with all of us choosing one. I unfolded my paper and found that I had selected ‘Fire’ – one of the elemental parts. I whispered this to the Druid next to me, and she said she’d chosen ‘Water’. We both felt more of an affinity with the other part, so decided to swap – which was perfect, as I am definitely a water baby! Speaking for my beloved element of water at the ritual’s outset and blessing the circle with water was such an honour, and I found myself really feeling the power of my words, and the outpouring (pun intended!) of blessings from this element.
After the ritual I was delighted when the Grove asked both myself and another (now my ‘Bardic sister’!) if we would like to formally join the Grove as Bards. We both enthusiastically said ‘yes please!’ and went to wait elsewhere while the Grove discussed this. When we were called back, the smiling Bards gave a resounding cheer of ‘yes!’, and all proceeded to hug us, smile, pat us on the back and welcome us warmly. The best way to describe how this felt was being welcomed into a new family. It was a really powerful moment of belonging.
So now I have sent off for the OBOD (The Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids) correspondence course to formally begin my training as a Bard! This is the entry level, with Ovate and Druid following thereafter. One of the things that really appeals to me about the Bardic grade is its emphasis on linking creativity with spirituality. As the OBOD website states: ‘The aim of the Bardic course is to help your life flourish and blossom – to help your Soul express itself fully in the world. It does this by helping you discover the sources of your creative power, so that their gifts can flow fully in your life.’ (http://www.druidry.org/join/membership-orders-training-course) As someone who works with words, who often sings my praises to the Lord and Lady, and who is currently learning to play the guitar, the Bardic grade seems the perfect combination of my interests and spirituality.
I look forward to continuing on this journey, and sharing it with you!