This Beltane, I did my first OBOD Druid ritual for a long time, using the ritual booklet that came with the Bardic course materials, and to be honest, it felt…off.
There was a bit of language about “mothering” and “fathering” and “birth” that squicked me out a bit given my childfree life choices. This is something I’ve come across in OBOD a few times before, and while it is possible to interpret fertility metaphorically, or in terms of the fertility of the land (as I did in my ADF Virtues essay on the topic), when it’s presented in pretty blunt terms of male-female-child, it becomes harder to see it in this way.
So, I removed those references and re-worked the main rite a bit, but even so, something just didn’t quite work. The traditional format of the rite included circle casting, honouring the four cardinal directions etc which was a bit fiddly. Making sure that I was walking the right way around the central altar and facing the right way at different points took me out of the spirit of the ritual a bit and reminded me of the “sit, stand, kneel” motions of Catholic mass.
In the end, I went ahead and added an ADF-style toast and libation to the Three Kindreds, because the rite otherwise felt a bit empty, a bit too cerebral and didn’t have much in the way of practical action.
So, an underwhelming experience to be sure. Now, I’m not going to discount the entire OBOD course or tradition because of one bad ritual, and to be honest, Beltane has always been one of those festivals that’s a bit lost on me, with its usual associations with (heterosexual) sex and childbirth. But it was an interesting experience to find myself missing the ADF style of ritual, and way of “doing” Druidry.
Maybe there’s a way to combine the best of both worlds, and indeed the AODA rituals given in John Michael Greer’s Druidry Handbook seem to have elements of both OBOD and ADF style Druidry. I might try writing my own ritual for the next High Day at the Summer Solstice.
Other than that, I had a lovely Beltane! The weather was amazing and really felt like Summer is coming, and I had a great day out at a local food and drink fair, which was one of those community traditions that I always think of as “folk Pagan”.
Hope you had a great time this Beltane too!