The OBOD Camp Experience – Gulf Coast 2018 Version – Day Three

IMG_0243…and thus ends the third day in OBOD Camp for Gulf Coast Gathering. And this day was jam packed with things to do, and events – and contains the most bitter-sweet moment for me in camp:  goodbyes.

On this day of camp – grade breakouts start the flow of the process. In the grade breakouts, the members of each grade work together to provide a gift for the main ritual – in this case, Alban Eilir. And these gifts provide some of the best fun of camp, with lots of creative work put into the creation of these gifts. For the Ovates, one of the members brought an oil made from the resin of a tree from the University of Nebraska. This was made into a solution that was placed into four decorated bowls which were dolled up to look like nests. The Druids provided a gift of a gift (a re-gift if you will) of a dream-catcher that had been made by the Oklahoma group Circle of the Six-Fold Path and presented to him by two of their members who were in attendance. But the most entertaining gift came from the Bards, which was a story of Spring – narrated line by line from each Bard. At one point, they mentioned the saga of the Screen Door Boar which seems to now be on its way to being some type of legend in camp. It took a touch of restraint on my part not to laugh too loudly. But I heard a lot of comments after the ritual from others about how creative and fun the Bardic gift had been. It truly was.

Shortly after the ritual, several folks went on the nearby Nature Walk. I had less than four hours of sleep last night, and stayed back in camp, where plenty of conversations were to be had. Some deeply intellectual, some deeply personal, and some just downright silly. As I have noted on several occasions, conversations – for me – are some of the most amazing highlights of the entire Gulf Coast Gathering. Many of these are typically had in the down-time regions of the camp schedule.

Eventually, most of the camp feel into the rhythm of an Eisteddfod out by the fire, while a group of us prepared for the initiation of individuals into the Ovate grade. Again, I will not share details of any of the initiations that happen within camp. If you are interested in experiencing an initiation within OBOD, please come on in and join up. We don’t bite. Well, some of us won’t bite you…unless you ask.

After the Ovate grade initiations, everyone gathered up around the same Eisteddfod fire for a talk on divination with Philip Carr-Gomm. Philip is quite the personable individual, and a real joy to listen to when he is talking. Conversations with Philip are some really incredible moments as well. More than one person commented on how down-to-earth he is to talk with. I find Philip to be a true treasure for the Order. His style of communicating with people is so much like talking with your best friend. I know that I will treasure the time I have had in camp listening to him.

Shortly after Philip’s talk wound down, the time of saying goodbyes had arrived. I don’t normally stay the last day, which holds the closing ceremony. This year is no exception. With a nine-hour drive tomorrow, it was definitely time to head back to the hotel, write this blog, and go to bed. I walked around camp, hugging folks and saying my goodbyes. but these are not truly goodbyes – for we still have the internet to connect us together. And having made some new friends with new folks in camp – I look forward to “talking” with folks a bit more via this wonderful communications medium that we have.

Prior to getting out of camp, I managed to talk a bit with folks about Kristoffer Hughes’ concept of the Pagan Square Mile, as well as his point on the Druid Transmitted Infection (DTI) concerning the usage of our own personal Awen to inspire not only others, but ourselves. I will use bits and pieces of those conversations for a not-so-far in the future blog post because I believe its a topic worth revisiting, especially in the times we find ourselves in today.

I will be up and packing the truck shortly after this post is scheduled to be published. But for all of us in camp, I ask that the Gods and Goddesses look out for all of us on our travels back to our respective homes. And that the feeling of belonging, togetherness, family and friendship that we embraced within camp for these few precious days, follows us home as well. So that we can find our joy, and infect the rest of the world with our Awen – our own DTI. I am humbled to have spent time with each and every one of you, and while I may not have had the chance to speak with all of you during camp this year – I hope we find the time to do so at Gulf Coast Gathering 2019.

And one final thought – OBOD Camp as an experience is what you make of it. Everything I have posted thus far, has been about what I have experienced. So your mileage may vary, but you will never truly know what an experience OBOD camp really is unless you decide to come to one. Just sayin’….

–T /|\

The OBOD Camp Experience – Gulf Coast Gathering 2018 Version – Getting There

I am in Covington, Louisiana (opposite side of the lake from New Orleans) for the OBOD Gulf Coast Gathering. This is the fourth year of this little gathering – and the fourth year I have attended. And I do not see myself missing any into the future, unless work or illness gets in the way.

IMG_1593Its a short drive here from home. About 600 miles, around 9-10 hours if I am not pulling the trailer with me – an additional three hours if I am. This year, well – I am not traveling with it. Thanks to my own fault, I don’t have a current registration on the trailer – and I am just not going to pull it without current paperwork on it. But its OK, its just one trip. I will take care of that when I get back. My truck gets a range of approximately 450 miles on a full tank of gas. But with the trip being mostly interstate driving, the truck’s transmission optimizes that rate to expand my range to nearly 600 miles. In other words, I can nearly make the trip one way on a single tank of gas. Nearly.

The drive, for the most part, is typically interstate fare. Not a lot to see out of the windshield, and a lot of time to think. Thanks to some downloaded “Down at the Crossroads” episodes, I get to listen to excellent conversations – and usually learn something while I am driving. And while I could take a flight to New Orleans, rent a car and drive across the bridge – I do enjoy the distance driving because I do get a chance to reflect on various things and allow my mind a time frame to wind down a bit from the stress of work. Plus, I’m not a fan of flying – if I were completely honest.

So what draws me down here for three days every year? Why do I always make the time to be here? Its not a really complicated answer. This gathering is home to me. I did my Bardic grade initiation here in the gathering’s first year. I am still in contact with most of the other initiates who also had their Bardic initiations during that gathering. Last year, I had my Ovate grade initiation here. The year previous to that one was the year that the “Screen Door Boar” incident took place. The people that come to this gathering are more than friends to me – they are family. And even if the gathering moved to another nearby location, it would still be home to me because it is not about the location – this is about these folks.

At this year’s gathering, I have asked to help out more with the initiations for both Bardic and Ovate grades. I intend to provide myself to help out more during the ceremonies, because I no longer want to just be a spectator. I want to help facilitate the experiences of others. I look forward to the conversations I will have over the next few days with the folks here – both those that I already know, and those that I have yet to meet. As an individual who is in a solo situation, the times where I have the chance to fellowship with other Pagans is generally few and far between, aside from online. Plus, I know how awesome, and intimidating my first moments at an OBOD camp were – and I want to be able to extend my welcoming hand to those newcomers as others had done so for me.

Now, others are drawn close to the land here. And its an interesting mix of bayou swamp and Louisiana woodlands around the camp. Me? Not so much. My last two years of high school were spent in the northwest corner of the state in Shreveport. And the woodlands there are quite similar to the woodlands here. And its just not a part of the land that really calls to my soul. Not like the northern tier of the Rocky Mountains do. For me, those mountains are the true calling of home. My trip to Glacier National Park (a three-day drive, but worth it to me) was an experience I will never forget at any point in my life. But the bayous of Louisiana just do not have the same call for me. The first year of the gathering, the weather was nice and nearly Spring-like. Every year since has been much cooler and far wetter. This year, the wet times have already happened. So there will likely be some mud. The weather is looking good, so maybe some things will dry out and some more walking can be had.

This year’s guest will be Philip Carr-Gomm, the current Chief of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. I have never had the pleasure of meeting Philip before or hearing him speak in person. I have had the chance to catch him in the recorded versions of “Tea With Philip” that he does on Facebook. However, the timing of the live broadcasts via Facebook Live tend to happen while I am at work, so I rarely get the chance to participate (though I would love to). I am looking forward to hearing Philip speak – particularly in a segment entitled “The Future of Druidry” which is something I have been wrestling with in thought for quite some time and have even blogged about a few times here on “Life With Trickster Gods“. It is quite likely that I will be blogging about this again in the very near future (‘natch!).

This will be the first of a few blogs that I will write while I am here. The point is to provide my own point of view of what you might experience when coming to this gathering. Like I said, I consider the folks who run this to be family, and for me this gathering is home. Thus I am quite biased in my perspective, and quite enthusiastic as to the experiences I have here. But hopefully, you – whoever is reading this – can glean an idea of what this is all about, and hopefully come to an OBOD camp – here in North America – or wherever else one may be held. And hopefully, in the future, I can find time (and money) to make an OBOD camp outside of North America – and expand my own personal experience of what OBOD offers in these camps. But as I said before…for me, the most important part of this is the fellowship with other Pagan folks…and family that I rarely get to see outside of the internet.

May your day be magickal and provide opportunities you did not realize existed.  –Tommy /|\