Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | August 3, 2008

The Alchemy of Celebration

We have just returned from the Order’s summer camp and as always it was a fantastic transformative experience. The regular group meditations at 7am, 12 noon, 5pm and 8pm created points of stability for those who wanted to be still. Ronald Hutton, Caitlin Matthews and I gave talks through the week which provided food for thought and for deepening our experience, while all the while the spirit of ‘gathering’ – of this Lammas time of harvest – continued with old friends meeting and new friendships being made. We had a mammoth ‘Wide Game’ involving all the kids and many adults which lasted for hours and put on three of Chaucer’s Tales in a play which culminated in the ‘camp orchestra’ singing an extended version of ‘John Barleycorn’ complete with ‘Om’ chants intertwined.

It’s hard to convey the powerfully alchemical feeling of the experience that seems to occur on an OBOD camp. You know that a lot has changed and shifted – you feel transformed. But putting it into words is hard.

I was sent an essay on the phenomenon of ‘Fire Alchemy Dances or Circles’ which I suspect evoke similar feelings and you can find more information here. Also see Luc Sala’s detailed exploration of Fire, Alchemy and fire rituals here.

There’s also a film clip about it which conveys something of the feeling of an OBOD camp too, so here it is:

(Just to be clear – this is not a film of an OBOD camp, but of a Fire Alchemy circle as mentioned above)


  1. It all sounds beautiful and magical – I’ve really got into alchemy lately – both the material and spirtual sides of it and the more I read (about the material alchemy) the more I feel that the whole of life is an alchemic reaction – especially spirtual ‘quests’ (don’t like using the word quest but I can’t think of another one) i.e. the soul has to go through a breakthrough – a pain – a traumatic doorway to begin the process of transformation. Very interesting link on this post – thanks Philip 🙂 I am beginning to realise just how big and how important a part alchemy plays in life! (and it is mindblowing!!!)

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