I first met Philip in 2004. I had seen him before at lectures or festivals in the Netherlands, but we never spoke. So many people seemed to want his attention, and I understood why from the start. Philip has that special something some people have. You gravitate towards them. My personal opinion? Because they are good for your soul. They radiate light. He has it. In abundance, and people see and feel that.
Flashback to April 2004. The Elf Fantasy Fair is coming up and for the first time at Castle Keukenhof. Me and my friends are attending and Torc, my druid friend, is excited for me to meet the Order’s Chief, who will be there to give a lecture. My friend thinks the Order is just what I need to learn how to control my ‘abilities’ and privately I agreed with him, but I still wanted to know more, before I would make such an important decision. I wanted to read at least one book written by the Order’s Chosen Chief and as it was still early, I walked over to the stand where the OBOD was represented to browse the books spread out on the table. Druid Mysteries spoke to me the most and I decided to buy that one.
A curly haired man smiled at me and asked if I would like something written in the book.
I remember thinking; “That’s so sweet, these people must be really committed to their order.”
And replied in the affirmative . I never looked inside, just put the book in my bag and paid. He looked at me again and stared into my eyes. The hairs in my neck stood up as I felt my normal defence wall crumble. He handed me a folder of the Order. I thanked him and started to walk away when he spoke to me.
“It’s entirely up to you of course, but wicca might not be your only way.” He looked over to my group of friends and smiled at me. It was an open, friendly smile and he left me utterly confused. Who the hell was this man?
As I joined the others of my group, my druid friend looked pleased.
“I see you’ve met our Chief,” he said and I stared at him. A sense of dread slowly crawled into my stomach. Surely not? In my defence, I’d never even seen a picture of our Chosen Chief, I had no idea what the good man looked like. Of course he asked to write something in the book, he wrote the damn thing!
I asked the question I already knew the answer to.
“That’s Philip Carr Gomm?”
He looked confused. “Yes, of course. What, you didn’t realise you were talking to him?”
I told my friend about him asking to write something in my book and how I thought that was really nice of him. My friend practically doubled over from laughing. I think it became one of his favourite stories whenever someone asked how I came to join the Order, even years later. Now I can laugh myself, back then I thought it was utterly embarrassing. But join I did, and though it have been turbulent years, I never regretted that moment.
Philip has been many words to me these last 16 years and I know people who’ve known him the better part of their life. Mentor, inspirator, stimulator, aggravator, teacher, chief and last, but not least, friend.
This June a new wind will blow through the Order. Her name is Eimear Burke. The first woman to be Chief of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. Which I like. Can’t wait to see where she will lead us.
But I’ve never known anyone else. Philip will always be my chief. He was there at the beginning and there again when I officially became an OBOD alumni.
Thank you for all those years, your kind words, your peaceful silence and your advice (though perhaps I did not always appreciate it at that particular moment 😉). You’ve always inspired me to be a better version of myself.
I can’t tell you how sorry I am we won’t be able to be there and had to cancel our trip to the UK. But I’ll be there in spirit and definitely for everything that will be streamed online.
Wishing you loads of inspiration, love, laughter, magic and freedom.
Love & Light,