Just back from the OBOD Summer Gathering at Glastonbury. Despite the seemingly endless rainfall we were blessed with a sunny afternoon to ascend the Tor. And there we were, members from all over the world – Italy, Germany, France, Belgium, America, Spain, Ireland, Britain – united with a crystal clear panorama of the Somerset landscape all around us.
As ever the ceremony offered that particular speciality of OBOD: a combination of high magic, high weirdness and sometimes very silly humour that cracks us all up. At one minute I’m thinking ‘What are we doing here?!’ The next, I’m laughing, and the next moment something very touching is said or enacted that goes straight to the heart.
On Sunday we were treated to a performance by three New Zealand friends: a piece of theatre that lasted over an hour and which explored issues of racial and gender identity, language, culture and the power of place and home.
It was powerful stuff. And the audience was particularly receptive: partly, perhaps, because we were at the culmination of our pilgrimage weekend, with half of us having participated in a ceremony at Avebury, leaving Glastonbury at 4.15am that morning, and all of us having meditated together before the performance. But mainly, I believe, because the actors and the production were finely honed and the stories they wove together were totally authentic. Each told the story of their lives and how it had changed their sense of identity.
Everyone in the Order is working on this theme, to ‘Know Thyself’, and in the Bardic grade we discover the way in which we uncover deep reserves of creativity by taking this journey.
This weaving of creativity, autobiography and story-telling resulted in an experience which moved everyone tremendously. We experienced the uniqueness of each actor’s story – they were their stories not ours – but at the same time they were our stories too. The universal was portrayed in the particular. They struck through to our hearts and souls, they spoke about what it means to be human.
In the standing ovation which followed I turned around to look at the audience. Many people had tears flowing down their cheeks. Thank you Moira, Tony and Ralph: Baggage Co-Op of Aotearoa!