DruidCon, Glasgow, 23rd August 2003
"As far as I know Caer Clud's DruidCon was the first Druid Conference to be held in Scotland in modern times. For that matter, it was probably the first large-scale gathering of Druids in this country since a certain Pictish King most unwisely gave credence to Colum the Dove, but let's not dwell on past mistakes. From the moment you walked into the rather impressive entrance hall of the Glasgow University Union and climbed the stairs to the Debates Chamber & the Bridie Library, it was obvious that the organisers, Pauline Kennedy Allan & Ann Rankin, had been hard at work for many months in preparation. Nothing was left to chance - even the tables were wearing white robes as befitted the Druidical theme!
DruidCon brought together an impressive array of speakers from a range of Druid groups and backgrounds - Geoff Boswell, Ceri Lee, Steve Wilson, Maddy Johnson, Louise Turner, David Morgan Brown and Geo Trevarthen. I didn't manage to hear all of them by any means but thought two particularly memorable. These were:
Geoff Boswell's impressive and impassioned plea for greater committment to "Community Druidry". Geoff argued that those who saw Druidry purely in terms of ritual observance and personal spiritual development were missing the point. There was a pressing need for Druids - and other Pagans – to engage in hands-on, practical work to benefit both the wider society and the environment.
Steve Wilson's typically iconoclastic "Dru-Vid:The Lore of the Trees", a wonderfully erudite, witty and occassionally barbed discourse on the connections between mythology, folklore, tree-lore, and Druidry, with many an entertaining digression along the way.
Later in the day there was a very thoughtful, inclusive and participative ritual, and the conference drew to a close with superb and very different gifts of music & song from Damh the Bard and Doug Peters. I'm not a Druid, never have been a Druid, and probably never will be a Druid, none of which mattered at all at DruidCon. It's always fascinating to attend a gathering of a Pagan tradition other than your own, because it reminds you - at many levels - of just how much we all have in common. Whether we're Druids, Shamans, Wiccans or other Pagan Witches, Heathens or what have you, the differences between us come into perspective across the vast area of common ground. Our differences matter - for it would be a dull tune played with only one note - but they mark us out merely as different clans within the broad tribe of Paganism.
So warmest thanks and congratulations to Caer Clud for making DruidCon such an inspiring and enjoyable gathering. Broad, heavy, pointed, and persistent hints are already being dropped, where Pauline & Ann cannot but trip over them, that this should be but the first of what would be a most welcome regular addition to the Scottish Pagan scene."
A Review of DruidCon 2003
"On the 23rd August, I went to DruidCon2003, a druid conference, organised and run by Caer Clud, a local druid group based in Glasgow, in association with the Pagan Federation (Scotland).
This event mainly consisted of a series of talks, given by several eminent and well respected speakers, as well as some stalls of some local (and some not-so-local) merchants in the pagan sector, a raffle and other such things, and in the evening, an eisteddfod.
The event was run and organised by Caer Clud, all resplendent in matching t-shirts, helpful for those of us who get easily lost, or who wish to know where the bar is! The conference was introduced in the morning by Pauline Kennedy Allan, who was polite, and jovial throughout. The first speaker was Geoff Boswell, a member of the BDO, and now of the Druid Network. His talk on Druidry in the Community was excellent, and gave all there something to think upon, as well as being witty, passionate and reminding of the fact that druidry is about service, and helping others, and not just about practising the eight yearly rituals and paying lip service to the Gods.
After a short recess, where there was again opportunity to peruse the dozen or so well-stocked stalls, containing all forms of paraphernalia from deep philosophical tomes, to some exceptionally cute clay figurines of little witches with their broomsticks, we adjourned to one of two talks, one in the secondary chamber, by Steve Wilson on the “Lore of the Trees” which I did not attend, in order that I could attend the other talk, an excellent presentation by Cerri Lee on walking the spiral path, in which she went into ancient artworks, as well as modern studies on sound waves and other things besides, as well as demonstrate her points with some highly amusing slide cartoons on a projector. She showed that, despite the propaganda writings of Caesar and his contempories, the Celts, in fact, were not a bunch of neanderthalic savages interested in human sacrifice and the drinking of blood, but were in fact, as many of us know, an enlightened civilization, with much artwork, poetry and music in evidence.
After lunch, there was a superb talk by Maddy Johnson, on “Walking with the Ancestors”, in which she delved into the past regarding accessing the spirits of the self, and of the land, using witty and informative anecdotes from her own experiences on working with the ancestors.
After a small afternoon break, more time in which to browse and buy raffle tickets for later on, we moved onto a second choice of two talks, one by David Morgan-Brown and Louise Turner, and other by Geo Treverthen, who also re-arranged the ritual chant used later on, whose talk was on “Totem Animals in Celtic Spirituality”. I chose to go and listen to David Morgan-Brown’s interesting talk on the future of druidry, tying in well with the first speaker’s talk on druidry in the community. According to all who did go to Geo’s talk on Celtic totem animals, it too was a very enlightening talk, particularly involving the bull, swan and snake.
After a short break from the events, the organisers held the raffle, all profits from which, like all profits from the event as a whole went to the Maggie’s Centre cancer charity. There were many prizes, and even yours truly managed to win something…a rare thing indeed. Following on from the raffle was the Closing Ritual, which was lead by Caer Clud. This was an excellent ritual, featuring a Trinity Chant, revised and translated back into old Irish from Scots Gaelic by Geo Treverthen, which raised hairs on the back of a lots of people’s necks, mine included, as the power it raised was quite immense, and had to be seen and experienced. Also featured was a charming gesture of all the speakers bringing water from their home area to be mixed and added to the water used in the ritual. Also of note was the lovely mead, which, in accordance with the wishes of Caer Clud, was handed around until it was all gone!
Later on in the evening, after we had all gone for our evening meal, was the eisteddfod, with two excellent bards, as well as impromptu poetry by Mad Mick, and anecdotes by several others. I really can recommend the music of Damh the Bard, whose stirring lines left the audience crying for more, and Doug Peters, whose music was well liked all round. After these two virtuoso’s were finished, Mad Mick, the notable pagan poet was prevailed upon to drop a line or two, much to the delight of all, and there were tears streaming down several faces as he launched into verse after verse of hilarious prose.
In summary then, I have to say that of all the conferences I have been to in the past few years, DruidCon was the most well organised, entertaining, informative and down right enjoyable conference I have been to so far, and I eagerly await in the hope that they put on another DruidCon next year. If they do, I most heartily recommend to all that they attend. "