I mentioned a couple of days ago, that I was plotting something, and after some reflection, I’m going to blog the process, whatever it is, even if it doesn’t work out the way I hope it will. If things go to plan, there’s going to be study, and scope for some really productive service. I love studying, so am hoping for things to get my teeth into, and the direction I have in mind could bring some really good challenges.
Of course the flip side is that trying can mean failing. Which is why I’m going to talk about the whole thing.
I’m in the process of applying to become a tutor for OBOD.
I completed the three grades some years ago, and I enjoyed the process. It was challenging, sometimes pretty hard (the Ovate Grade I found emotionally very difficult.) Progression through the grades is not a given. Many people just don’t finish the Bard grade anyway. If you complete it then you can move on to studying the Ovate material. At the end of the Ovate grade, you can fail. It is possible for someone to say no to you carrying on.
I had several tutors on the way through. My Bardic tutor was totally awesome and really helped me. I’d been set back by some bad teaching, and needed help rebuilding my confidence. I’m not a passive receiver of other people’s truths, I need to test and challenge, and what my tutor for that grade gave me was a safe space in which I could do just that, and be accepted. I struggled more with my Ovate Tutor, he had things going on in his life, we weren’t on the same wavelength, and I discovered he was moving out of tutoring, so that was a very different experience, but I got through. In the Druid grade I didn’t have much contact at all. I’d found my feet.
Talking to other OBOD students, I’ve come to realise how critical the good tutor-student relationship is to the whole process. The tutor you get is one of your main experiences of the Order and that relationship can make or break your studies. Although, even the best tutor can’t fix a student who isn’t really interested enough to try, and the most determined and able students will do ok even if their tutors aren’t so good.
I think I have something to offer here, and I think I could make a meaningful contribution. I’d like to try. It means making the jump, risking the failure, or them not having any use for me after all.
It won’t be my first time volunteering for an organisation. I spent a few years doing things for The Pagan Federation, and for The Druid Network. I was so unhappy at the end of my first round of TDN time, that I didn’t think I’d volunteer again. I hated finding other people judging me over the rest of my life (it’s not like I was doing anything illegal). I don’t want to bring any organisation into disrepute, but its bloody hard hearing that people consider you a risk. Will OBOD consider me a risk? (I have this nasty habit of saying things in public, after all). Can I function inside an organisation? I went back to TDN to do book reviews, because I like reviewing books and because that’s useful to both readers and authors. Going back was really hard. I let because I was insulted, and going back felt a bit like letting the people responsible off the hook. I realised it wasn’t about them, it was about the readers and authors I could benefit by being a reviewer. Service matters to me. There are some very good people at TDN, who I am very glad to count as friends, but it only takes one or two hostile people to make a space deeply uncomfortable. As a consequence, TDN is never going to feel like home for me. Perhaps OBOD could be.
I’ve had my years in the wilderness, my hermitude, and I know, coming to the end of that, how much I do want to be part of a community. I want to feel that I belong, and that there is a place I can give service. I want to be somewhere that values what I do, that accepts I’m a bit chaotic and not keen on keeping silent about things that matter to me. It’s an interesting one, because OBOD seems pretty structured. I can cope with structure, I can work with it, and I think they could find a use for me. We shall see.
The other reason for going this way, goes like this. The back of book blurb for Druidry and Meditation mentions that I’m OBOD trained. As a consequence of this, Philip Carr Gomm got in touch with me, I’ve had some lovely reviews from OBOD, and been invited to contribute to the site. I admire Philip as an author, and he’s a lovely chap. At the time in my life when I felt I belonged nowhere, and that the wider Druid community had no place for me, he sought me out, and that meant a huge amount to me. If I could give something back… that would be good too.