At short notice, the Druids around Birmingham some years ago found that the source of open druid ritual was leaving the area. A few of us got together, started an egroup, and started talking. Rapidly, we established a shared belief that open ritual is important and that we wanted to carry on. We hashed out the plan that was to become Bards of the Lost Forest, and at Imbolc that year, started running rituals. We did the usual seasonal 8, non-seasonal rituals, bardic picnics, workshops and kept the egroup going.
The Lost Forest, is the forest of Arden which once covered the Midlands. It’s also the inspiration for Tolkien’s Mirkwood. In honouring the lost forests, not just the immediate, geographical one, we embraced a hope of their returning. We honoured the extinct creatures, squared up as best we could to humanity’s impact, shared philosophy and worked towards greener living. Seeking and sharing inspiration was at the heart of everything we did.
What I want to do today is just share the underpinning ideas. Bards of the Lost Forest was a big part of my life for a number of years, and I was involved in the running, alongside several others.
We had no fixed membership. People joined the egroup if they wanted to be more involved, some only ever came once, plenty were fair weather attendants. Those who tuned up more often, offered to do more and gave more of their energy were the ones with the most influence, but part of the ethos was to include anyone who came. Including the police, on one memorable occasion! (They were lovely). We were druid led, druid inspired but welcomed people of all paths and no path. We welcomed families and there were often children rampaging about, which was never a problem. We shared music, story, inspiration, cake and the elements.
It was a space in which I had the joy of watching a lot of people grow and develop. We never used scripts, we’d have a loose plan and people improvised, which made it easier to include unexpected arrivals and respond to conditions on the day. It was always a relaxed circle, with a lot of laughter and playfulness alongside real spiritual intent and depth. People found their own voices, their own words and vision, made commitments, grew more confident on their paths, headed off to start other things, came back with new ideas… it was a thriving community and everything I could ever want a druid grove to be.
There was no exclusivity, no dress code, no pressure and very little by way of formal rules or requirements. It flowed beautifully.
When I left the Midlands I did so at short notice. It was just before Lugnasadh, and I had to email the group and explain, and apologise. I would not be there. In the weeks that followed I came to realise that I would never be there again in the same way. It was a heartbreaking experience. Messages from the egroup itself made me cry, such that I had to step back from that as well. It looked, at that point, as though the Lost Bards would carry on without me.
I’ve been to have a look. It looks like the egroup still exists, but there’s not much to indicate life – although it’s always hard to tell from the outside and with just a few minutes of googling. I do notice that events have returned to Martineau Gardens in Birmingham – someone is doing open gatherings, and that’s the most important bit.
The Lost Bards shaped me in so many good ways. I miss all of them.
September 18th, 2016 at 11:33 pm
Hello nimue, russ here, remember me?! Well I remember you and the bards, very fondly! I happened by this post and wanted to take the time to thank you, and the other people who gathered and shared in that grove, I was very much lost and frantically looking for answers st when I initially met you, with perspective I now know I was looking in all the wrong places, through your patience, your care and your selfless sharing of knowledge, you ultimately guided me to see, the answers were in me. Not outside of me, which I feel is the spirit of druidry and paganism at large. I am very grateful for what we shared and hope that should you ever need spiritual nourishment or support, you’ll always find it. Thank you brynn. Merry meet, merry part. X
September 19th, 2016 at 9:58 am
I am deeply touched by you saying this, thank you.