It was 19 years ago today, a complete Metonic cycle ago, that about forty of us stood together in the South Circle at Avebury and swore "by peace and love to stand, heart to heart and hand in hand," creating as we did so the Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Abiri. All these years later, the Gorsedd still gathers at Avebury to celebrate the turning of the Wheel of the Year.
That first ceremony (left) was part of a multi-faith gathering organised by the late Tim Sebastion, founder of the Secular Order of Druids. Tim asked me to create a ceremony with a Druidic framework but suitable for people of all faiths, since the weekend was attended by Christian ministers from three different denominations, Wiccans, Druids, Heathens, Earth Mysteries folk, Reichian therapists, UFOlogists and others. The rite that I came up with provided the template for the Gorsedd, not only at Avebury but elsewhere, as far afield as the Seattle-based Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Pugetia, who are also meeting today.
Our ceremony in 1993 was attended by, among others, Philip Carr-Gomm, Emma Restall Orr, Shan Jayran, Gordon Strachan (author of 'Jesus the Master Builder'), Graham Harvey, Ronald Hutton, John Michell and many other notable folk. One of my fondest memories of the day is of asking those who wished to be initiated as bards of the Gorsedd to step forward. I had included a short initiation because two members of the BDO, Gary and Debbie, had asked to be initiated as bards shortly before and this seemed like a perfect opportunity. I was only expecting the two of them to step forward. In the event, about 30 of the 40 present did so, at which point Philip Carr-Gomm, who was standing next to me, leaned closer and said quietly, "Erm, what do we do now?" Thus was a legend born, amongst humour and goodwill. Little did we know that, only two years later, the Avebury Gorsedd would be attracting upwards of 500 people and that Ronald Hutton would be referring to it as "the central event of the new Druidry."
Many blessings to all the thousands of bards around the world who have been initiated at BDO Gorseddau and others inspired by them in the 19 years since that memorable day,