Remembering A Chief Druid

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On February 1st, during Imbolc, Tim Sebastion, chief of the Secular Order of Druids in the UK, passed away after a long illness. No papers that I can find have printed an obituary, but several friends and acquaintances have posted remembrances on the web, giving tribute to a singular force within Druidry in the UK.

Tim Sebastian, photo by Andy Letcher

“Tim Sebastion, Blakean Romantic, Priest of Albion and Chosen Chief of the Secular Order of Druids, died last thursday. Whether organising inter-faith cricket matches at Stonehenge, performing lewd cucumber dances at Beltaine, or reestablishing competitions for Bardic Chairs he brought a delightful element of chaos to an otherwise stuffy British Druidry. He once told me that during his formative hippy years in London he saw a line from Blake graffitied on a wall: ‘The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom’. It seems a fitting epitaph.”Andy Letcher, author of “Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom”

“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?”Graham Harvey, author of “Listening People, Speaking Earth: Contemporary Paganism.”

“What I remember about him most was his grumbling voice, his booming laugh, his ribald and unrestrained sense of humour, and his ability, almost stretching to genius, to knock over any ashtray, any pint, any table or any tent that he was even vaguely associated with…He was a tireless fighter for justice, an inspiration to us all, a model of courage and conviction, funny, generous, honest and a truly decent person to boot. Having Tim chant the Awen over you was to be transported to another, better world.”CJ Stone, author of “The Last of The Hippies”

“Tim Sebastion, chief of the Secular Order of Druids in the UK, died on February 1. He was always in the swirl of controversy around Stonehenge…His order was formed in 1975 and the acronym was chosen deliberately, or so I have been told. Based on my couple of meetings with Tim (the last in a Bath pub in 2004), it seemed that by appearing to not be totally serious, he was able to be very serious. He also held the Bardic Chair of Caer Badon (Bath) after founding a gorsedd (poetic competition) in 1995.”Chas Clifton, author of “Her Hidden Children”

“He was a bridge-builder, a peace-maker – adept at walking between the secular and sacred. With his gentle hand at the helm of many a circle, he made all feel welcome – making the Mysteries accessible and relevant to the present. A lover of ‘sacred cricket’ and ‘West-Country produce’, he was a Bonzo soul and a Druid through and through. With impeccable Druidic timing, he passed on from this world on Imbolc, 1 February, 2007, Southmead Hospital, Bristol, surrounded by close friends. His legacy lives on.”Kevan Manwaring, 3rd Bard of Bath & Scribe of the Gorsedd of the Bards of Caer Badon.

“Tim was a wonderful fellow. I first met him at a meeting he had convened in Mells in Somerset together with Ted Williams, a member of the Ancient Order of Druids. John Michell was there and I remember us all sitting in a lovely English country cottage garden in the summer holding the first meeting of COBDO. I particularly remember his deep rich voice with its West Country accent and his sense of humour. He was unique and I shall miss him greatly. May his journey to the Summerlands be swift and sure!”Philip Carr-Gomm, Chosen Chief, The Order of Bards Ovates & Druids

“I have rejected Christianity on all levels other than I think it’s a system that has as much a right to exist as we do. I believe in the Goddess; I’d rather live under a matriarchal system than a patriarchal system. I also think the time is long past where we need to have these stupid arguments about Christianity versus Paganism. It’s irrelevant in the modern world. The world is collapsing unless we all come together and love one another.”Tim Sebastion, from an interview in Keltria magazine

May he rest in the arms of his Goddess. My respect and sympathies go out to all who knew him.