Tag Archives: OBOD Gulf Coast Gathering

Spending Time With My OBOD Family

The past five days have been a complete adventure for me. Wednesday and Sunday were thirteen-hour marathons of driving with my RV trailing behind my truck. The days in-between were filled with fun, awesome presentations, and some super excellent food. Somewhere in all of that, I wound up initiating into the Ovate grade, which I am still floored over. And there was my telling of the saga of the Screen Door Boar and the Bardic Initiates around the Saturday night fire. But the best part? That’s extremely simple. It is the people.

Every Gulf Coast Gathering has afforded me the opportunity to get to know several folks. I count many of these people as family. And they are far too numerous to name without me leaving off a name or two because I have an old man’s memory. Each of them has played a role, in one way or another, in my life. Whether they know it or not. And that goes just as well for the “friends of OBOD” folks who attend as well. I am deeply honored, and quite lucky to have these people in my life.

When people ask me about these OBOD retreats, I typically respond that I can only talk intelligently of two – the Gulf Coast Gathering and the East Coast Gathering. There are other camps elsewhere, and while I am quite confident that these camps are just as warm and welcoming as ECG and GCG, I have not attended those before. If you are an OBOD member and wondering if it is worth your time to travel to a camp, I would emphatically say “YES!” The people you meet there will be tied into your life in ways you could never imagine possible. All you need to do is open your heart.

For me, a huge part of what Druidry is about is connectivity. With the land around, with the Spirits of Place, with the Spirits of Ancestor, with the Gods and Goddesses….and with people. All of that connectivity helps to define the way we live, and the depth that we love at. And its not a one-time walk on a pathway either. Its a lifetime exploration. For me, that’s the easiest way to define life. Its not an all-encompassing way to see things, but it is a way to START to see things.

Let’s be realistic, Life is complicated in so many ways. With local, county, regional, state, national, and world politics, changing laws, and the ceaseless news cycle – its easy to get bogged down with things that can be crazy, bewildering, and sometimes downright depressing. But boil all of that away, and what you have left are the things that matter. And for me, that’s the people I know and cherish, the Spirits of Place, my Spirits of Ancestor and the Gods. My Druidry helps me to weave and strengthen those connections. And all of that culminates in these OBOD gatherings. And when members of my extended family are missing for whatever reason, there’s that feeling of an empty chair around the fire, and I can literally picture them in that spot – laughing and smiling along with everyone else.

So, while I did go to Gulf Coast Gathering to initiate into the Ovate grade, and was thrilled to do so, it was the people that made it memorable. To be able to hug people I look up to, people that I call friend, and people that I call family – that made all the difference between an initiation and a moment I will cherish forever in my life. Having friends and family there was all the icing on that cake-like moment that I needed. And being able to entertain my friends and family with the telling of the saga of the Screen Door Boar and the Bardic Initiates was the final cherry added to the mix. I did enjoy making my friends and family laugh at the silly antics of a moment from the previous year.

–Tommy /|\

Advertisements

Pinky-to-Talon Swear – Moments of Transition

This particular blog post is coming to you from Fountainbleu State Park campground in Louisiana. I made it here after twelve hours pulling my RV behind my truck from north central Texas. So why I did I drag my RV down here? For OBOD’s Gulf Coast Gathering, of course!

This is the last of my major trips for the front part of the year. I will be attending Many Gods West later this year, as well as CalderaFest (which I will again pull the RV along with me). As an introvert, coming out to Pagan gatherings, festivals and conferences its a tough experience for me – but there was a promise made. Pinky-to-talon swear. But the OBOD GCG is a different thing from those.

First off, this is family. These people are members of my extended family. Many of them have burrowed their way into my heart and life over the past few years. Some of them, I have known much longer – and our friendship has turned into something much deeper. For me, this is a yearly family reunion. Where we can hunt Screen-door-swinging-in-the=Breeze Boars, play London Bridge with the Bardic initiates, sit down to talk/laugh/carry-on – essentially build experiences and moments that will sustain us for another fifty-one weeks of the coming year.

Second, its a moment of transition for me. This year, I will be advancing from the Bardic grade to the Ovate grade. After seven years of working my way through the Bardic Gwers, my constant stopping and starting; I have made it through and am moving forward in my studies. All due to another pinky-to-talon swear. I am excited, anxious, and completely terrified at where things go from here. This is the moment where I step off well-worn Path and move into an area of the forest I am unsure of. Where the Path ceases to be a well-walked foot path, and becomes a slightly discernible deer trod.

Over the past few weeks, three themes have been recurring in nearly everything I do:  death, dreams, and freedom. And as I walk further along these new steps to my Path, I can see where these all intersect at varying points coming up. Or perhaps its a slight illusion where I think that the bridge I see in the distance is part of the Path I walk, but its actually not.

There’s only one way to find out, eh? Taking the step forward. And then putting another step forward. I have mentioned it before, its time for me to be the Priest I am supposed to be. It is long past time to pick myself up off the Path, dust off my hindquarters and get on with being the Druid I am. Its time for me to start digging deeper into stories, myths, and communication. Being stagnant on the Path is nice for a short rest, but I have rested enough. And as I said, I am excited, anxious and terrified about where those steps will take me. Onwards. /|\

Back From Another Gulf Coast Gathering….

Been gone for a few days, and I didn’t have any blog posts queued up for delayed release. So, shame on me for all of that. I will have to do a better job of writing going into the future. But I have a good reason…I was away at the annual OBOD Gulf Coast Gathering (2nd one so far), near Mandeville, Louisiana.

Last year, when I attended, a few life changing moments happened in my life. During the camp, I received news that my father had passed away in his home in Hot Spring Village, Arkansas. It was a moment that I handled semi-well during camp, but I have not forgotten (and never will) the outpouring of compassion and love I received from people I had not met until that retreat. A short while later, I regained my center, and underwent initiation for the Bardic Grade with a fine group of others. Since that night, those fellow initiates (and a few others from the ECG camp later in the year) have become some of my closest family members. They’re not just friends…they are far more and far deeper than that in my heart. Seeing many of these same initiates in camp again this year, literally made my heart sing with joy. And we all picked up right where we left off last year – laughing, cracking jokes, hugging on one another, and generally being the unruly children that we are. (grins) There were a few that could not make it for one reason or another…which was heart-breaking, but understandable. Life does get in the way…but they were always in our thoughts, every single moment we were there. We shall see them soon enough.

image

A walking trail near the GCG campsite

Many times, I have been asked what OBOD camps are like. The only adjective I have is that the camps are just flat out awesome. And that’s a weak description, because the camps are so much more than that. The panel discussions, the rituals, meals, campfires, walks in the woods, one-on-one conversations into the later hours of the night…all of that rolls together into something that cannot be described – only experienced. The contact high that I have from leaving camp and coming back to my daily routine at home is something I will carry with my in my heart through to the next year.

And there is so much to thank our hosts – Highland Oak Nemeton – for. They made our time there fun, informative, and it seemed as if nothing went awry. I have worked a few conventions in my time, and I know that it is never the case that everything goes flawlessly…but its a true testament to their dedication when stuff that does not go as planned is hardly noticed. I, for one, was truly impressed by the manner in which everything proceeded, and that those helping to host the event still had plenty of time to connect, talk, discuss, and enjoy our company as well.

Yes, for those asking, it did rain. A few times. But nothing that could extinguish the warmth of our time together there. I spent a lot of my time reconnecting my group of Bardic initiates from last year, and getting to know the equally fun and impressive group of Bardic initiates for this year’s camp. I see and feel a completely warm, and ever-growing family in the eyes and faces that I encountered in camp. And that warmth and love will remain with me until next year, when I make it back to the Gulf Coast Gathering.

So, again, I apologize for not putting out posts on a time-delayed fuse while I was gone. I have not gotten good enough in my writing to manage that just yet. But I am working towards it. I came away from camp with a lot of topics sloshing around in my usually empty head. And I am already in the process of outlining some of those into blog posts, which I am looking forward to sharing. In the meantime, you get my stream of consciousness post here. 🙂