In two years time – in 2020 – it will be fifty years since I was initiated on Glastonbury Tor, just over there. Eighteen years later, the Order was re-founded and I was asked to be Chief. That was thirty years ago, and these last three decades have been so magical and extraordinary, I could never have predicted them. We now have 25,000 members, gatherings all over the world, and more than 200 groves and seed-groups.
So now is a good time to take stock, to appreciate how far we have come, and to ask how we can ensure the stability and continuity of the Order well into the future.
I take a lot of vitamins. I have been involved in the Order for half a century, and I fully expect that in another fifty years time I’ll be standing here, telling you that I was initiated a century ago up on the Tor. But Stephanie and Damh tell me I’m fooling myself, and that we need to have a succession plan – a plan for how the Order will carry on in the future when the leadership has to change. The Order is so important, so precious to so many people, it would be irresponsible not to have a succession plan.
If you wait until the leader of a group dies, you create an unstable situation that has so often occurred in the history of spiritual groups. It can so easily initiate a ‘Moment of Peril’ that risks undermining much of the careful building work that has been done in previous decades. The responsible thing to do is to create a succession plan, and to let everyone know about it, so that the transition from one leader to the next is as smooth as possible. And so we have a plan, and I’m going to tell you about it now.
In consultation with the Pendragon and Scribe, I have already chosen the next Chief, and we have begun a process of training and apprenticeship, which will carry on for another two years, so that in June 2020 we will have – here in Glastonbury – a big party and an installation ceremony, when I will hand over the role to the new incumbent. By then I will have been Chief for 32 years. I will be handing on the leadership of an organization that is flourishing, that doesn’t need changing or fixing, but just needs a steady hand on the tiller while at the same time allowing the Order to grow and flourish in a new phase of its life.
You will probably want to know who has been chosen as the Chosen Chief – that’s what ‘Chosen’ refers to by the way, the next Chief is chosen by the previous one. So I’d like to introduce you now to the next Chief of the Order, who will be Eimear Burke.
Eimear has been a nurse, is a counselling psychologist, and has been a member of the Order for 15 years. I have chosen Eimear because I believe she is completely aligned with and respects the Order’s work and values, and – just as I have done – will continue to build on the legacy created by the Order’s founder Nuinn. Eimear lives in Ireland, but travels to Order events in Britain often. She loves travelling, and is looking forward to attending Order gatherings around the world. She has been running a grove for many years, and you can learn more about her and the grove at www.kilkennydruidry.com
I am really enjoying passing on all that I have learnt as Chief over the last thirty years and I will continue doing this for another two years. Having handed on the role I will continue to act in an advisory capacity, and the course distribution will continue to operate from the Lewes office for practical reasons. Our vision is that Eimear will hold the position from seven to nine years, and then chose a successor, so that she can then join me as a Past Chosen Chief who can advise the new title-holder.
So to finish, let me be absolutely clear. I am not going anywhere. I still remain committed to the Order, to being of as much help as I can, and I am going to carry on talking, writing and making a nuisance of myself at every possible occasion! The difference will be that we will have effected a hopefully smooth transition from one phase in the life of the Order to the next, supporting the membership in the best possible way.
‘A blessing on our bards, sweet-tongued, heads afire with Awen! A blessing on our Ovates, their hearts open to the cry of the wind on the Tor, the deep pulse of the Earth of Avalon, the flowing waters of the Red and White Springs. A blessing on our Druids, bright as flames, solid as stone, joyful as the day is long. A blessing on all our lives and a blessing on the land.’
You can watch an interview I recently conducted with Eimear here: https://youtu.be/7YDIXhSET8A