OBOD East Coast Gathering

I’m back from a wet but wonderful long weekend at the OBOD East Coast Gathering in Pennsylvania. We had rain, an Alban Elfed (Autumn Equinox) ritual, rain, Druid grade initiations, rain, Bardic grade initiations, rain, workshops by OBOD Modron Thea Worthington and Touchstone Editor Penny Billington, rain, workshops by various other participants (I led the Daily Spiritual Practice workshop), rain, good food, rain, mead, and rain.

Did I mention that it rained all day Friday? It’s been so dry in Texas I’ve forgotten what those days are like.

This is the second year for the East Coast Gathering. Those who were there last year say it was 90 degrees and sunny the whole time. Apparently Texas isn’t the only place with some fickle weather.

As with the House of Danu Gorsedds I attended in 2009 and 2010, this was a chance to spend a few days immersed in Druidry. The combination of rituals, workshops, fellowship and a beautiful natural setting were a great way to relax and see what Druidry can be.

I’ve explained Paganism enough times I’m pretty comfortable doing it as an “elevator speech,” but at times I’ve struggled to define Druidry. “The revival of ancient Celtic beliefs and practices, reimagined for the 21st century Western world” is accurate, but doesn’t really convey the depth and meaning Druidry has for me. Thea Worthington offered this definition that I really like: “Druidry is the art of wild wisdom.” It’s the spirituality Nature teaches us, if only we’ll slow down, go outside, and listen.

The rain stopped on Saturday and by Saturday night we were able to have a Gorsedd around a roaring fire. The children (and a few adults) presented a condensed version of The Tale of Gwion Bach, followed by music, storytelling, and firespinning. Arthur Billington was amazing on the guitar – his knowledge of and skill with American folk and blues is outstanding.

Special thanks to Lorraine Soria, who not only organized the event but also served as chief cook. She – and others – worked most of the weekend so the rest of us could go to workshops and socialize.  I said it there and I’ll say it again here:  thank you, Lorraine.

Thanks also to Lorraine and the other Druids for giving me a key part in the Druid grade initiations. If they had let me pick a part, that’s the one I would have wanted. It was a honor to help bring three people into the Druid grade. It was also an honor to help bring nine people into the Bardic grade. May their studies and practice bring them greater wisdom, and may that wisdom bring them to greater service.

The East Coast Druids are planning another gathering next year, from September 20 through 23. A lot can happen in a year, but it’s on my calendar and I hope to be there again.

Thea Worthington, a Druid from Texas, and Penny Billington

About John Beckett

I grew up in Tennessee with the woods right outside my back door. Wandering through them gave me a sense of connection to Nature and to a certain Forest God. I’m a Druid graduate of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, the Coordinating Officer of the Denton Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans and a former Vice President of CUUPS Continental. I’ve been writing, speaking, teaching, and leading public rituals for the past eleven years. I live in the Dallas – Fort Worth area and I earn my keep as an engineer.


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