And the second day of East Coast Gathering comes to a close – at least for me. Pam’s back was not going to survive another night on those hard bunks located in the camp cabins. So, for the sake of not having a cranky wife on the way back to Dallas – we left the camp and went offsite to a motel. But that’s just a small setback for the day – and one I will gladly trade off, if it saves issues with her back.
The end of yesterday’s camp happened after yesterday’s blog post was finished – so I guess I will start there. Just across from the cabin, a huge fire had been built up – and nearly everyone in camp came for the lighting of it. Nearly everyone, because there was at least one person not there – me. I eschew large crowds, so I stayed back at the bench in front of the cabin and meditated as the light began to dim in the sky. There was ritual drumming for lighting the fire – so I grounded, centered, and let the sound of the drums and the crowd carry me along. And eventually, Damh the Bard came out with his guitar and played at the fire. From where I sat, I could hear him clearly — and marveled at his stage presence, even around a fire. Over the course of the last two days, I have wanted to approach him and say “hello” — and I’ll get back to that in a few moments.
Damh played several songs that I enjoy, but eventually he came to my favorite song: “Green and Grey”. As he sang the song, I found myself breaking into singing along with him as well. It was a moment that was as surreal as it gets for me. Sitting in the dark, watching Damh singing at a nearby fire, and singing the lyrics to my favorite song with him. Even with my supremely terrible singing voice, its a moment I will cherish in my memory of that particular moment.
The night was quite cool – cool enough that my extremely thin blanket was not enough to keep me warm. I woke up several times over the course of the night. Eventually, the light of day started to stream through the window – but I lay in bed, shivering and trying to get warm. The light grew even stronger, and I could soon see throughout the cabin without straining my eyes. And then I heard it.
Damnable crows. Found me again. Like a world-wide game of hide-and-seek. But the reality is that it was a refreshing, and very reassuring sound for my ears.
The first talk of the day I went to was that of Damh’s lovely wife Cerri Lee. Cerri’s talk was on “The Art of Ritual” and many of her salient points were spot on for me. As someone who enjoys ritual with a flair for the extemporaneous and spontaneous, I completely grokked what this lady was bringing across. Plus, her notation of how the flair for a touch of the dramatic can really add oomph to a ritual element – I found myself literally hanging on her every word. She apologized quite a bit about being a terrible speaker (she was not at all), and going off on a tangent constantly — but I found her talk to be charming, wonderful, and quite possibly one of the very best I have ever heard on the topic. I could seriously listen to this charming lady ramble all day about whatever topic she wanted to speak about.
The second “talk” was “The Bardic Voice” with Damh the Bard. And I could really describe this as a sing-along with Damh. Damh ran the entire group through several chants, while he beat the rhythm on a wonderful sounding drum and lead us through several rounds of each chant. Perhaps the best moment, at least for me, was when he divided the group into three and had us sound the Awen at three different notes to make a chord. That moment sent shivers down my spine. Not only was it an awesome sound – it had that magickal resonance that just cannot be described. You literally have to feel it to understand.
The third talk I went to was that of Kris Hughes. Kris spoke on The Ritual Legacy of Iolo Morganwg. He even had us speaking a simple Welsh phrase as part of his recreation of a ritual that Morganwg had done (and documented) from back in the 1700s. I didn’t have a pad and pen with me, so I am unsure of the dates. To be honest, a lot of this was hard to follow along, because it is part of the history of Druidry that I am not entirely familiar with. But Kris Hughes made it, not only informative, but a lot of fun as well. The man is a very engaging speaker.
It was shortly after this talk, that we decided to head out in search of a motel – which is apparently hard to find in these parts. Or at least, hard to find one that is not completely booked. It took an hour of internet searching, but we eventually found one. Which is where I am typing this particular blog post from.
So…for now, I head off to bed. Time to get some sleep. Tomorrow, I will orner Bran Cerddorion with my digital recorder in hand – as well as any other individual that I can get on microphone for the podcast. 🙂
Oh yeah….about not coming up to say “hi” to Damh….
I have been really reluctant to come up and just “fanboy” all over Damh. I am quite sure he gets enough of that from other people. Plus, I would rather come up to him, say “hello” – shake his hand, introduce myself, and chat with him like anyone else in camp. I really wish I had that kind of connection with him – just so I could treat him like any other bloke I happened to come across. Having run into my own moment of noteriety during this trip, I can only imagine the way that I felt being magnified an untold measure as I am sure has happened for Damh. I certainly don’t want to wind up being one of those people that just follow him around everywhere because he is “Damh the Bard” or “The Pendragon of the Order” – I’d rather be the guy that sits down with him and talks Iron Maiden albums or shoots the breeze with him over football or rugby matches back in the UK or discusses the nuances of the latest Dr. Who episodes. So, thus the reluctance to come by and just be the crazy fanboy…but then, I am reminded of how Lauren handled this same situation in February of this year, when she sat down next to John Beckett and myself at ADF Hearthstone’s Imbolc retreat. Perhaps, I need to take a few notes from her graceful approach….