Many thanks to Alex, Sarah and Ryan for these great photos of our January adventures!
TMG began in the spring of 1998, when three members of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (OBOD) met and decided to form a Seed Group for its Melbourne membership. We agreed to meet eight times a year to celebrate the solar points, marked by the solstices and equinoxes, and the lunar gateways in between. We conducted our first ceremony at Beltane of that year with some of our friends, and gradually we established a small harmonious group of people who enjoyed each other’s company. A circle of trees was planted to contain the energy and this would grow and become our Mother Grove.
It wasn’t long before we began the task of adapting the traditional Northern Hemisphere ceremonies to their Southern Hemisphere correspondences. Intrinsic to the process, we adopted a policy of each person working with one particular role for ‘a year and a day’, before moving on to another.
Between each ceremony we held a planning meeting to discuss the celebration that was coming up next. These evolved into a time to do practical work and share our personal development.
In August 1999, we conducted our first Vision Quest, and in December of the same year, a group of women who had been working together spiritually for several years, decided to unite as an ‘Elder Grove’ and provide support for TMG.
In January 2000 we formally adopted the name ‘The Melbourne Grove’. The name ‘Melbourne’ can be literally be translated as ‘mill-stream’, but also contains the mysticism of being ‘born by the mill’. In the year 2000 we also conducted our first Naming Rite and commenced Bardic Groves.
In 2001 one of our members created a business called Ancient Sacred Sites Tours for people interested in visiting the ceremonial sites of our ancestors in the British Isles, and continued to do so until 2013
In 2002 the Guardians of the Mountain began revealing to us some very ancient, very sacred places, and in response, we began to align our ceremonies with these sites. By so doing we discovered the sacred geometry that has always existed around Mount Dandenong.
The Grove highlight of 2003 was the presence of two young Wurundjeri people at our Beltane Ceremony. One of them, of his own volition, planted a tree to mark the occasion.
TMG conducted its first Marriage Ceremony at the beginning of 2004, and a lovely Joining of Hands Rite at Beltane. We also inaugurated a Stone Temple at Flinders, thus linking Mountain and Sea. Some significant connections between other spiritual groups in our locality also began in 2004 & 2005 and many strong and beautiful friendships so began.
In 2005 we created a 7-tier labyrinth at Naomh. This was also the year that four of our members created our Grove Banner. Made in May, it would arrive in Glastonbury for the Summer OBOD Gathering and hang proudly alongside the banners of other OBOD Groves from around the world in the Glastonbury Town Hall. A special copy of our beautiful Grove Book (Volume I) accompanied our banner to Britain. It records our earliest southern hemisphere rituals, enriched with artwork and Eisteddfod by various members.
In 2006 Elkie decided to take time away from TMG and undertake an extensive study of the Ogam. Then during the winter months of 2007, The Melbourne Grove lay dormant and re-visioned itself. In September of that year, her preparatory work on the Ogam complete, Elkie recalled the Grove and its active life began once more, but changed by the experience.
No longer restricted to one part of Melbourne, our rituals were conducted in or around this great city. The most significant of these were in Flinders, Kyneton, and Williamstown.
As before, Grove members invited their friends to these rituals but now with a clearer understanding that they are responsible for their friends, and that they understand the ceremony, their role in it, and that they have everything they need.
For ten years we also offered a Course in Druid Mysticism that supplemented the OBOD course but was available to all applicants. It no longer operates as such but we still hold sacred those places and their trees that supported us during that time.
Samhuin 2009 was special because it was conducted in the Ogam Spiral at Heartswood in the Strathbogie Ranges. It was also TMG’s first weekend retreat and it gave us time to not only conduct the ceremony but also to review the document you are reading. Another highlight of that weekend was that during the Samhuin Eisteddfod, Jowen presented each of us with a booklet entitled The Melbourne Grove: Songs for Ceremony. In it are all the songs that Jowen and others have created over the past two and a half years. These beautiful songs remind us of our intimate connection with the elements, the seasons, the land, and those that guide us. We also discussed our plans for an Assembly in April 2010.
Throughout all of this time TMG has supported ‘assemblies’ for all OBOD members living in the Southern Hemisphere. Between 2007 and 2016 we had a ‘Central Pool’ of TMG members to keep things running smoothly. Members of the CP were members of OBOD who had shown an ongoing commitment to TMG. This was the team that steered us to, and through, the 10th Southern Hemisphere OBOD Assembly conducted in Cockatoo. Previously these assemblies had been conducted in New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia and the Red Centre; this was a first for Victoria and it was a huge success.
In 2012 one of our members offered to host a website for us. We enjoyed creating it together but by 2016 it had run its course. The website was eclipsed by a private face book page, which was easier for everyone to operate.
Bardic Groves resumed in 2012 after a long hiatus. Instead of the emphasis being on the gwersi as it was for the initial gatherings, it was now on Eisteddfod. This time they only ran for a year but as before, they were well worth it, and hopefully will start up again sometime.