Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Next Chosen Chief

 The next Chosen Chief of my Druid Order, OBOD, or the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, is Eimear Burke. I am so happy, proud, and inspired by the peaceful, thoughtful transfer of responsibility. I am planning on going to her installation in 2020 in Glastonbury to show my full support and endorsement. This is good news, true news, hopeful news!

Chosen Chiefs of The Ancient Druid Order/Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids since 1717:

John Toland
William Stukely
Edward Finch Hatton
David Samway
William Blake
Geoffrey Higgins
William Carpenter
Edward Vaughn Kenealy
Gerald Massey
John Barry O'Callahan
G.W. MacGregor-Reid
Robert A.F. MacGregor-Reid
Ross Nuinn Nichols
Philip Carr-Gomm
and now
Eimear Burke

Here is an article I wrote back in 2015.

"The Question of Succession

I went to the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids last year in Glastonbury. The celebration marked so many highlights, successes, and accomplishments. In OBOD's spirit of truthfulness, one subject came up that resonated with me. I don 't know how many really heard it among the cheers and applause, but it struck a chord in me and, after seeing the video of the 50th, I'm ready to address it.

The ugly problem of succession.

Whether it is a family, a spiritual group, or a martial arts lineage, the history is not favorable to a smooth, agreed upon, transition. The battles today between Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims are from a dispute over succession 1500 years ago! Having seen first-hand three separate, what I would call, divisive and un-successful, transferals of authority, I would like to weigh in on the subject.

In martial arts, the title "grandmaster" is used so frequently that its original meaning seems lost. Being the grandmaster had nothing to do with how many years you have practiced or how many schools you own. There was only one grandmaster and they were the head of that style's lineage. The grandmaster set the standard for the style's curriculum and training. They were the final authority for changes and innovations.

A grandmaster was chosen either for their knowledge or ability. Not all grandmasters were champions and not all champions were grandmasters.Chinese martial arts always looks at the sum total of a style's history and lineage, and does not judge by one practitioner or master, but by generations of practitioners.

One of my teachers, who IS a world champion fighter, was chosen by his master to lead the style. My teacher has a calligraphy giving him leadership and an official photo to document the transition. As soon as the teacher died, killed tragically in a motorcycle accident in Hong Kong, the other students of the style said the succession is a fake and that they have similar calligraphies. My teacher said two things: produce your calligraphy, and call me a fake to my face!

Another example is the succession of my Sufi Order. While alive, the grandshaykh, who had a clear succession himself, taught and traveled and waited to designate the next grandshaykh. At the end of his life he choose his son, and it was filmed and distributed on you tube. Still, after he died, there was much dissent and people saying the grandshaykh had made a mistake, or that they were chosen, or that the previous grandshaykh made a mistake! The dispute is raging and the whole Sufi Order suffers.Ego raises its ugly head. It is really sad to me.

My own story, though not as grand, is filled with people claiming I never passed a formal ceremony with my teacher, or that my  calligraphy is fake. One of my classmates told the story that I forced my teacher to write a disciple calligraphy in the airport! Have you ever tried to do calligraphy? It's messy! Plus, how can I force my teacher, or anybody, to do anything. Not to mention his son witnessed the writing of my disciple calligraphy in Tampa FLA.

So now I come to OBOD. Let me say that the question of succession is clear when there is no power, glory, or prestige. When Philip Carr-Gomm was asked to lead the Order what was going on then? Very, very little compared to today. Lots of work, organizing, and the momentous task of creating the home study course that has changed thousands of lives, mine as well. No glamor being "Chosen Chief" back then. Who wants to lead when the leadership role is filled with work, worry, and stress? So many years of planting before the crop started to look good!

It's different today. The Order is up, running, and has amazing momentum. Philip, Stephanie, and Dave, may they have long life and good health, look good for decades to come. But, there is still the question of who leads after. How does the Order choose? What if there is dissension? Rivals for the leadership role? Challenges to choices? Can our Order survive?

Enough of that!

First let me say, I have full confidence in OBOD. The Order is so much bigger and magically empowered than humanly possible. When the time comes, I believe the Order will have a succession that works for all of us, just like the gwersu works for all of us, and the Office works for all of us. and the website works for all of us,and the...

Also, I would point to the leadership we now have, and say that we have been fairly "spiritual drama-less" for 50 years! We have the kind of leadership that brought us here. One that let's us be our own guide and conscience. One that encourages and teaches with a keen eye to are own wisdom and experience. A standard has been set and achieved.

“Leadership works when we get out of the way. I see my role as supporting the Order in where it wants to go, rather than telling it where to go. In other words, I see myself as ‘beneath’ the membership acting in this supporting role, rather than ‘above’ it in some way.”
-Philip Carr-Gomm, OBOD East Coast Gathering  2012

 If I were to suggest a way to make a smooth transition, I would say that the next chosen chief needs to be decided somehow and the current chief would work with the transition so there is no doubt that the next chief has the blessings and confidence of the present chief. And of course, with all the great  "Rites of Passage, Initiations, and Celebrations of Cycles, Renewal, and Change,"  I'm sure the Order will come up with a meaningful and powerful ritual of succession for a Chosen Chief!

 So, where to begin? Let's poll the Order!"

Well, I was pleasantly right! The Order is even more amazing than ever! A class act from start to finish, and succession. Peace and blessings to the Order, to Eimear, to Philip, and to the whole world!

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