Local Druidry

 

Hendy Woods Streambed

 

Druids are hard to find out here in California. We’re scattered as solitaries, or in small, close-knit groups. Are there really so few of us, or is it that we multi-task, participating in many traditions? I know that for me, Druidry is currently the  main focus of my spirituality, but it isn’t the only one and I don’t know where the path through the forest I’m following will take me. I’m eclectic and proud of it, and I seem to have a lot of company. It is perfectly possible to be serious about a path without swearing lifelong devotion to it and no other and I think that this is one of the things my home here on the shores of the Western Sea has to offer to the world.   We have a plethora of paths, people, and spiritual tools here. Every skill from Reiki to Shamanic journeying is taught by someone around the San Francisco Bay Area, where I live. I’m not trying to say that this is the spiritual center of everything–everyone knows that’s Glastonbury, after all–I’m just saying I live in a place that encourages and supports eclecticism. I also want to make clear that wherever you are is the center of the universe, and if I celebrate mine, you, too, hopefully celebrate yours and love it for what makes it unique. Every inch of the good green Earth we live on deserves no less from any of us.

My journey to Druidry started from a place of perceived scarcity. Everything was happening in Northern Europe or east of the Mississippi. The only Druids I’d ever met, tabling at a local Pagan event, didn’t have time to talk to me. I felt as if everything was happening around me, but there was no way in. Eventually, a friend told me about OBOD, and I ordered the introductory packet. A correspondence course was better than nothing. Then the House of Danu held a Gorsedd in the Santa Cruz mountains. I had no car and no way to get there, but I found one. That was nothing short of life-changing. It wasn’t the rituals or the other events, though those were wonderful. It was the community. I didn’t know a soul, but we talked for hours. These people weren’t afraid of getting dirty, or sitting on the ground. We were connected to each other and the beautiful place in the Santa Cruz mountains where we met.

That was my entry point into Druidry. It wasn’t enough, though, and I didn’t know where else to go. My feet were on the path but where did it lead? I started the OBOD course, but didn’t get very far. Then I decided I needed to go to Ireland. That is another story, for another day, but a couple of years later I found myself in a farmer’s field in Sussex, with the folk of Anderida. Once again I arrived, not knowing a soul, pulling my camping gear behind me. Once again, I’d come home, to a place I’d never been. The conversations went on for hours. Mead flowed around the fire at night, along with song and story. It was the same feeling I’d gotten in California, only taken to another level. My life truly did change that weekend, I left the camp not even knowing my own last name. The identity I’d worn since college was gently lifted from me and I became a Bard that weekend. I haven’t looked back since.

Seeing the number of Druids at Pantheacon, and being one of them, I wonder whether it was really necessary to take such a hard road in. I didn’t have the same problem finding my way into other forms of spirituality. There are public rituals in profusion for various forms of Wicca. The Nyingma Institute in Berkeley has a certificate course in Tibetan meditation. The Unitarian church I grew up in has all sorts of offerings. Why don’t we Druids do the same? Why do groups spring up, create a public space for Druidry for a limited time, and then fade from public view? Is Druidry really so interior to itself? Is the work of doing public events really so hard?

I don’t know, but we’re working on finding out. We’re Druids and interested folk in the East Bay and we’ve been gathering in Berkeley since around Beltane of 2015. Our next public Beltane ritual will be on April 23rd in Live Oak Park in Berkeley. While the ritual will be Druidic, all are welcome, of any spirituality or none whatsoever. We do two gatherings a year, around Beltane and Samhain, and if you want to get on our events mailing list just email us at eastbaydruids@mail.com.

We also gather once a month to do something Druidic, anything from learning a skill to talking about a topic to taking a walk in the woods. We all take it in turns to lead a meeting, and here are the next three scheduled offerings

Triskelion Ritual
Sunday, April 9th from 12-3PM
We are currently meeting in North Oakland, within walking distance of Ashby BART. Email eastbaydruids@mail.com for location.

This month’s offering is an introduction to the ADO Triskelion ritual in preparation for our Beltane ritual in Live Oak Park on April 23rd at noon. Erin Rose Conner will be presenting. Three of our members learned this ritual from Kristoffer Hughes. It was created by the Anglesey Druid Order and works with the Realms of Land, Sea, and Sky, rather than the four elements. We’re gauging interest in this form and also looking to train others so you aren’t always looking at the same folk taking the ritual roles, and so we have some people in the circle who know the call and response bits! (hint: a little basic Welsh is involved and easier to pick up than you might think–particularly if we’re all doing it together!) We don’t do anything without translation, and we were complete newbies not very long ago.

Druid Forest Walk
Meet in the Redwood Bowl Staging Area at Redwood Regional Park, East Bay Hills
May 14th 10:00 (note the time! Two hours earlier than our usual meeting time!)Google Maps directions from Skyline Blvd and Joaquin Miller Rd:
https://tinyurl.com/zpreyvr

Our possible destinations include the Fairy Ring, the Redwood Bowl, and the Blossom Rock Navigation Trees. There are bathrooms and water available at the Redwood Bowl, but water bottles, sunscreen, good walking shoes and clothing for a range of temperatures recommended. If you can offer a ride or are looking for one, email us at eastbaydruids@mail.com and we’ll try to match you up with someone.

Talking With Odin at the Hearth
June 11th from 12-3
We are currently meeting in North Oakland, within walking distance of Ashby BART. Email eastbaydruids@mail.com for location.

Dave Shultz will be reprising his Pantheacon offering Talking With Odin at the Hearth. The World Tree will be involved as well.

We’re always open to new folk, and new presenters. You need not attend every meeting, just the ones that interest you. All Druids of any order or none whatsoever welcome. Consider this a spiritual salon of sorts, on the topic of Druidry.

About the Author

I'm a city kid and proud of it. Likewise, I'm an OBOD Ovate. I'll be writing about my adventures in the wilds of the city, the forests beside the shores of the Western Sea, and wherever else I manage to find them. I've busked from the streets of the original Renaissance Faire in Black Point Forest to Temple Bar in Ireland, and the basket of strange that is my local BART station. There are stories to be had in all of those places, songs to be made from them, and lessons to be learned.

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2 Comments

  1. Hello from another branch of the Druid-tree, Ar nDraiocht Fein (ADF)! Since I didn’t see ADF mentioned here – not assuming you didn’t look or see the group before – I thought I might share information. It does appear the central Bay area is underserved, and perhaps the nearest groups aren’t advertising well enough, but there’s a solid Grove in Sacramento (Sierra Madrone) and a protogrove in Santa Clara (Valley Oak). I’ll leave the link to the California page below, for your reference as well as readers’. If you don’t mind, I’d also like to share this post to the ADF Facebook site, to cross-advertise the events you mention and encourage contact.

    https://www.adf.org/groups/groves/us/ca/index.html

    1. Thank you for the useful information! Actually one of our members is a member of ADF and went to the Santa Clara event last Saturday. Please, feel free to share this post wherever you like.

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