Chosen Chief of the Secular Order of Druids
"I am a Druid and my name is ... Tim". Tim was playing with the wonderful moment in Monty Python's Quest for the Holy Grail in which a sorcerer performing awesome feats announces his name.* Tim and I were trying to recreate the feel, sound, look and experience of Stonehenge Festival in the Student Union of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne sometime in the late 1980s. It didn't work but it was fun trying. (How's that for an epitaph, Tim?)
Tim died on Thursday 1 February 2007 (Imbolc) after a long and exhausting illness. But he has not left us.
Tim was Chosen Chief of the Secular Order of Druids - and still is for a while longer. Unlike the heads of some Orders and religions, Tim's title says what it means. Tim was chosen to be the chief of the Secular Order. He was chosen by the Secular Order. He never claimed, as far as I know, to've been chosen by a deity, not even by an ancestor like Wally. He rarely asserted authority over others. Most often he provoked, suggested, seduced. There are people around who think they started something, and there are events which they claim to've founded. But some of us know better. Tim's vision thrives in the lives and projects of many people (whether they know it or not). While others identify Druidry with a noble priesthood disseminating wisdom to worthy followers, the truest expressions of the Secular Order are cucumber dancers, fools, jesters, picnics, punk protests, rave tree blessings and ceremonies on the road outside Stonehenge ... Tim got us all to do things. Some of them have improved the world in small or great ways. If anyone else had achieved some of what Tim achieved their name would be emblazoned across some sign of ownership. Tim just smiled. Told us things that we only ever half believed but often wondered ... what if?
I and others are now busy organising Tim's farewell (until we meet again) and other things I'll not say here. Tim is chuckling - I tell no lie, I can hear the old SOD. Its been a privilege to know you for twenty something years. You've inspired me, annoyed me, enchanted me, angered me. I have been the Conscience of the Secular Order and co-led its Northern Grove (both of these contain jokes that served mighty purposes and I've learnt enough from Tim not to tell you what they are, just to let you know that neither have anything much to do with what they seem ... maybe).
There are people who caused Tim pain and led him to doubt his ability and his vision. Because of them, he often sabotaged his own greatest ideas, preventing their full flowering. Nonetheless, Tim's legacy is great.
More than once he suggested I should write a sequel to my book about Paganisms (Listening People, Speaking Earth) and call it Drunken Druids talking Bollocks. In some respects, C.J. Stone's chapter about Tim heads in that direction. But in C.J.'s remembrance of Tim — A Picture of Tim (with links to the earlier chapter) — C.J. apologises for calling Tim “the most completely useless person I have ever met”, recognising something of Tim's genius. However, Tim came to like the title and told everyone about it. I believe it speaks volumes about Tim and the secularity of the Secular Order of Druids. And it will carry on.
In the last few years the Secular Order of Druids has been honoured by the participation of some Maori friends in celebrations of several solstices (winter and summer) at Stonehenge and Avebury, and in a "coming together" event at our grove near Bath. On hearing of Tim's departure for the Otherworld, one of our honoured guests, Che Wilson, sent these words:
So may it be.
One of Pete Glastonbury's photos of Tim with Doug Ezzy (Chosen Chief of the Secular Order of Druids in Tasmania - SOD-IT) and myself at Avebury one summer solstice sunrise. Doug writes, "We'll miss you Tim. You inspired us to enjoy secularity, Druidry, beer, and cucumbers. May you be honoured alongside other ancestors."
and there are more at http://www.aveburylodge.co.uk/News.html
For another great picture of Tim (and me, Rob and Miranda and others in our favourite place on the bank at Stonehenge, summer solstice 2001) go to the Sacred Sites Project website.
updated 18 January 2008