The Annual Druid Weekend Retreat with the Circle of Coll Seed Group
– Evoking the Spirit of Coll
August 8 – 10, 2014
Tonight begins a guided meditation journey of the Spirit and Grove of the Circle of Coll.
As we stand amongst these trees, we invite you to close your eyes and let the silence enfold us, surround us, as we take a moment to feel the spirit of this place…
….the spirit of the trees…
….the spirit of the tree you are with….
….the pulse of the tree…
….and our spirit’s life force with the tree….
….let us pause for this sacredness. [i]
The intention of our retreat in 2014 was to evoke the Spirit of the Circle of Coll (the Spirit of Coll) by working to discover the true nature of our seed group and how we can recognize the Spirit of Coll in others. As a working seed group of OBOD in the Seattle area, we have accomplished much, from providing public education, rituals and space for healing, to a recently developed prison ministry, but we realized this year that we had not yet properly acknowledged the Spirit that looks over our small gatherings throughout the year and guides us through our venerated undertakings.
The venue that was selected as our weekend getaway was the Environmental Learning Center (ELC) at Sequim Bay State Park on the Washington State Peninsula. A two to three hour drive and ferry ride from Seattle, it was an idyllic refuge for anyone who sought a temporary escape from the business of the city and the craziness of the work week.
The ELC had everything that a modern Pacific Northwest Druid could want: Cedars and Douglas Firs dominated the area that hugged the shore of Sequim Bay with plenty of space for quiet contemplation in the trees and the frequent chattering of the Stellers Jay and the brown forest squirrel. There was a pit for a community fire and ample grounds for tent camping as well as a profusion of conveniences such as heated cabins, Adirondack shelters, a sleeping loft, showers, a community kitchen and a meeting room.
Our two and half day schedule was quite full and began Friday afternoon as attendees arrived to settle in and explore the grounds. We began with a ritual that we call ‘Beating the Bounds’ which brought all of us together in the North of the venue in the cool shade of the great ancestor Cedars. With drums and rattles, we solemnly processed sun-wise to the eastern most corner of the grounds where we thunderingly called for the Guardians of Air. Continuing on, marking the perimeter of our safe haven with our percussion and footsteps, we marched to the South to call upon the powers of Summer and the Midday Sun, then on to West and finally back to North, establishing a circular container and sacred space for the Elements and for us that was our home for the weekend. We would unwind the circle and release the Directions on the last day of the retreat.
That evening, West Latta presented a discourse about the Foundations of Celtic Druidism inspired by his recent experiences in Ireland. This talk included a discussion about the topic of indigenous wisdom of Pagan Ireland and connection to Nature as the Supreme Being and to the Ancestral Spirits. In this workshop West introduced the Three Realms, the Three Cauldrons, the Celtic Cross of Light, an overview of an Irish ceremony and the importance of archeoastronomy in Celtic studies.
We saluted the morning sun both Saturday and Sunday with a traditional Blessing of the Three Realms led by West, connecting to Sky, Sea, and Land followed by Gentle Druid Yoga generously provided by professional yoga instructor Katy Latta.
A second workshop was delivered by Moss Magill entitled The Art of Intention: Bedrock of all Magic and Desired Outcome. This was an interactive exploration of intention in the context of magical workings, our Circle of Coll rituals, and in personal transformation, demystifying the magical power of intention and the ability to bring about desired outcomes.
For the most part, our meals were improvisational with the exception of a grand potluck feast adeptly orchestrated by ‘Kitchen Druid’ Gary Sell. Where there are OBODies, there is usually a lot of exquisite food, and we definitely uphold the tradition here in Washington State!
A worthwhile retreat could not be executed without the efforts of a hard-working team and we had one of the most effective task forces this year. Rich Ater and Randy Benham handling payments and attendance, Stef Warren organizing initiations, and Laura Wilson wrangling Eisteddfod performers were instrumental in pulling all the strings to operate this event.
As usual, there was plenty of ritual at the retreat with Bardic and Ovate initiations, our Lughnasadh ceremony and a special rite developed and facilitated by Gail Colfax, Samantha Hudson, Michael Wurner, and Moss Magill designed to evoke the Spirit of Coll.
Tree Spirit Whisperer 1 – Welcome along the path.
Tree Spirit Whisperer 2 – Bring the sacred gifts with you, always.
Tree Spirit Whisperer 3 – Watch for signs.
Druid – As you walk along the path, consider what you see.
Tree Spirit Whisperer 1 – See the divine wisdom in all in yourself.
Tree Spirit Whisperer 2 – Feel the magic and creativeness through your being.
Tree Spirit Whisperer 3 – Be aware of knowledge and inspiration all around you.[ii]
The culminating moment from this exercise was a provision of space for each of us to declare what we found to be the true spirit of our seed group and how we can recognize the Spirit of Coll in others. By this time there was a palpable shift in the air and in our own regard for the Spirit of Coll and for ourselves that lingered on even after the Circle was opened and as we gradually plodded our way back into the apparent world.
Our 2014 Retreat had been successfully carried out, and for two and a half days, it was the preoccupation of 20 people with an enthusiasm for Druidry. We seemingly had fulfilled our thematic objective of evoking the Spirit of Coll in our work and in ourselves. This endeavor evolves and continues on as we grow together as a Seed Group in the light of our own individual spirits and creativity and under the sheltering limbs of our distinguished Order. Thank you OBOD, for giving us these opportunities to grow and go along the Path.
If you would like more information about the Circle of Coll, please visit our web site http://circleofcoll.org .
Please feel free visit the Circle of Coll Facebook group at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/circleofcoll/.
[i] Excerpt from Evoking the Spirit of Coll ritual written by Gail Colfax