OBOD Winter Gathering 2023
I am still feeling the afterglow of meeting up with so many wonderful members at the recent OBOD Winter Gathering that took place on Saturday 2 December 2023. It is always such a delight to spend time with my fellow OBODies. Traditionally, we have held our Gatherings at the Town Hall in Glastonbury – this year we had a brand-new venue at the Strode Theatre, Street. The theatre is a very welcoming space with a cafe, bar and balcony, and close enough to Glastonbury for people to visit. Every year, the event tickets are snapped up immediately, leaving many to miss out, but the theatre – with its much larger capacity- has enabled us to provide many more members with the joyful experience of coming together as an Order.
Friday afternoon we held a Meet and Greet in the Avalon Hall, Glastonbury, hosted by Penny Billington and the Ash Grove. This was well attended and was such fun; we chanted, danced, had Druid speed dating, and enjoyed tea/coffee, cake and biscuits.
The official gathering began on the Saturday morning with the beautiful Mistletoe Ceremony held on stage and led by Adrian Rooke and JJ Middleway. There were 5 different languages spoken to honour the Mistletoe: Irish, Flams (Belgium), Cornish, Russian and English. The mistletoe came from the farm where it has been harvested for the last twenty years or so, and although most of the mistletoe is now gone (the farm is concentrating on its apple crop), when the new manager heard what the mistletoe was used for, he was very supportive. We were extremely fortunate to be able to harvest enough Mistletoe to continue with our tradition.
We were then treated to three fabulous speakers. The first was Gordon McLellen, who spoke of the importance of Animism in developing a passionate relationship with the world around us. Lucy Jones then presented some of the most fascinating and compelling science and stories illuminating the relationship between the human psyche and the more-than-human world. Finally, Graham Harvey spoke of how expressing gratitude to the other-than-human beings we share our world with, can act as a direct challenge to the damaging human-centric and separatist focus of modernity.
Later in the afternoon, as the light waned, we all walked the short distance to a field near to the Theatre for our Alban Arthan Winter Solstice Ceremony. There was a beautiful avenue of trees, mistletoe and a folly built like a Trilithon. We processed to the ritual site as the dusk fell and walked back in the dark – truly magical! Although Glastonbury Tor has provided a glorious sacred space for our rituals in previous years, what was special about this particular ceremony was its inclusivity. We have long held two ceremonies, a second for those who were unable to tackle the challenging terrain of the Tor. This year, everyone stood in fellowship with one another in the same circle – a true sense of togetherness.
In the evening we held our Eisteddfod. I am always struck by the talent we have in the Order and we were blessed with great sets from all the acts: Blanche Rowan & Mike Gulston; Willowolf; the extraordinary poetry of Liv Torc; Heidi McNie, who told a wonderful story about a Doula and Death; ZZ Birmingham, Ursula Billington and Co, and finally the wonderful Damh the Bard and Kieron Sibley. An inspiring night and joyful end to an Awen-filled Gathering!
The OBOD Gathering was a big, warm hug on a cold winter day. Thanks to everyone who came and made it so special.
Eimear Burke /|\