The Order as a Five Dimensional Network

FlowerDiana, Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids.

In response to a question about how the Order works:

“When I was in the Order in the seventies with Ross Nichols, although we had a Constitution, the Order was really so small you could say that it was run almost wholly by him, with some assistance from the Pendragon and Scribe. The Order then was tiny, with under a dozen active members. In the first few years of the re-formation of the Order, say from 1988 to 1990, Stephanie and I really ran the Order (ie took all the decisions and did all the work!) But then as the work expanded, people volunteered to help, or we asked them, until now we have about 90 people involved in taking decisions about the work of the Order – and that includes tutors and group leaders (NB By 2012 this figure will have at least doubled). Perhaps the best way to describe how the Order works is to see its structure like a five dimensional web or network: five dimensional because as well as existing in the three dimensions of space, and the fourth dimension of time, it also exists in the Inner World – the fifth dimension. That other dimension allows for the fact that much of the impulses, initiatives and perhaps even decisions are being made by members of the Order who don’t even have bodies, let alone the ability to write voting slips.

It is important to understand that the Order is a Mystery School, an Initiatic School, and if we instituted voting for decision-making the work of the Order would grind to a halt. Every day I, Stephanie, Damh, Susan (now Steve Hounsome), the mentors, people running groups, take decisions – lots and lots of them – and the Order grows and flourishes. Nobody is waiting for the next committee meeting, nobody is waiting for a vote. When there is voting, the atmosphere created by this way working becomes competitive and political.

There is another way of working – it’s harder to understand and harder to articulate, but I believe it’s the way the Order has been working. It’s more feminine, less logical and linear: the chains of command, of decision-making, and of communication, are more varied, but the potential they represent is far greater than any conventional, old-fashioned way of working.

So if you have an idea, or want to help, there are no committees to contact, no rules to follow. Just communicate your ideas to your mentor, to Touchstone, to the office, to me, or to your grove or seed-group. Anyone, any member at whatever grade is welcome to make proposals, offer their time or skills or energy in whatever way they wish. This is in fact the way it has always happened. Members often suggest things to fellow members, or in their grove, or to their mentor or mentor coordinator, or in Touchstone. Members’ suggestions are welcomed. They are rarely turned down and if they are, members shouldn’t be upset. For example, offers of service as mentors are sometimes declined. The job of mentoring is such a responsible one, it would be irresponsible of us to simply accept all comers. Potential mentors are selected from the Druid Grade, based on our experience of their letters over their years of training and on if and where there are vacancies.

So the reality, I believe, is that we are participating in a growing, creative, living, dynamic structure that is allowing all sorts of creative things to happen in serendipitous and synchronistic ways precisely because there’s some dark soil there – precisely because we don’t quite understand it, precisely because all its processes can’t be quantified and analysed.

Jung, fascinated as he was by creativity, the spiritual life and synchronicity, when he was told that a C.G.Jung Institute was being organised in Los Angeles, said “Oh no! I hope it’s as disorganised as possible.” Romain Roland said “Organisation is the death of an idea”. I think we have managed to balance the organisation needed to run the Order reasonably efficiently, with the disorganisation necessary to let it breathe and grow, and I think we’ve found a formula which works, which is why it is flourishing. If we look at the network or web model, we can see that the dynamic working through it is one of communication, consultation, connection – and these things are happening all the time within it. The poet Jay Ramsay said to me the other day “OBOD is maintaining a frequency” and I think that’s a good way of seeing what we’re all doing. It’s as if we are broadcasting ideas, energies, initiatives.

To summarise, we could say that the Order works in a way that resembles a network or web that ultimately includes all the membership but which is upheld by many active decision-makers who can be seen as nodes in this five-dimensional network. And what we must always remember is the impact that this network has beyond its own confines. The last thing we want to do is become obsessed with our own system. The Order has had, and is having, a positive impact on many people’s lives, and not just people who are in the Order. It is helping to articulate the ideas of Druidry, which reach a far bigger audience than the Order’s membership, so it is important when we consider the Order and its work that we see the wider picture – the world beyond the Order that it lives in and affects.

I’m sure there are plenty of things we could have done better, but despite this, I think we can all be justifiably proud of the way the Order has grown and developed, and this has been largely the result of many exceptional people with exceptional skills coming together and working together, through their love of Druidry and the ideas and ideals it represents.”

Philip Carr-Gomm, 1998