The Monarch Bear Institute is a daughter organization of the Manannan Mac Lir Grove of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD). OBOD is an organization that was established in 1717 in Britain. Its first chief druid was the famous poet, William Blake. Further Druid Orders became established in the 18th and 19th centuries in Britain Canada, the US and other English Speaking Lands. They have functioned as fraternal and spiritual organizations similar to the Masonic and Rosicrucian Orders. The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids is now the largest Druid organization worldwide, with over 24 thousand members internationally.
Originally in the 18th and 19th centuries, only male members populated OBOD, like almost all organizations during those times. OBOD has evolved in the twentieth century to include women and men without regard to race, religion, age or national origin. Its focus has become ecological, spiritual, and earth based. OBOD is inclusive of all religious and spiritual traditions without discrimination. A person may be a practicing, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jew or any other religious tradition, and practice Druidry at the same time. Druidry involves traditions, beliefs and behaviors aimed at connecting to, respecting and care taking of the earth and her myriad of living beings. Following is an excerpt from OBOD’s introductory brochure. It expresses their official history and philosophy:
The Druid Tradition
The ancient teachings of the Druids represent one of the wellsprings of inspiration of the Western Spiritual Tradition. Druids were magicians and poets, counselors and healers, shamans and philosophers. In the early days, as pre-Celts, they built stone circles and worshipped Nature with her many faces. Later the Celts blended the inspiring esoteric, mathematical and engineering skills of these megalithic peoples with their own flamboyant artistry and wisdom traditions to create the Druidry described by the Greeks and Romans.
Although partly suppressed with the coming of Christianity, Druidry continued to live through the work of the Bardic schools and the folk traditions and customs of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England and Brittany. The 18th century saw a revival of Druid practice that continues to this day. The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, which traces its origins to 1717, is dedicated to presenting the Druid Tradition in a way that is totally relevant to the needs of our time, and yet which is firmly rooted in its ancestry and heritage.
In Tune with the Spirit of our Times
More than at any other time in human history, the fate of the planet depends upon our thoughts and our actions. More than ever, we need a spirituality that is rooted in a love of nature, a love of the land.
Druidry and the teaching programme of the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids is based upon this love for the natural world, and offers a powerful way of working with, and understanding the Self and Nature – speaking to that level of our soul and of our being which is in tune with the elements and the stars, the sun and the stones. Through the work of the Druids we are able to unite our natural, earthly selves with our spiritual selves while working, in however small a way, for the safeguarding of our planet.
As our technological age seems increasingly unable to answer our spiritual needs, more and more people are turning to traditions such as Druidry to find a spiritual direction which recognizes the importance and wonder of the natural world, and which makes care for the planet one of its central concerns.
Manannan Mac Lir Grove is composed of OBOD members in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is an officially recognized grove (congregation) of OBOD. The leader of Manannan Mac Lir Grove is Dr. Rodney Karr. He has been a member of OBOD for over 12 years, and is an initiated Druid and recognized Chief Druid of Manannan Mac Lir Grove. He also is a licensed psychologist who has practiced for over 25 years in the San Francisco Bay Area. (see www.psychologist-sf-contracosta.org).
Manannan Mac Lir Grove has been meeting for over eight years in Walnut Creek, California. Physically, Manannan Mac Lir Grove’s temple is a 300-year-old Oak Grove, in which the eight festivals of the Celtic Wheel of the Year are celebrated in honor of the seasons of the year. Manannan Mac Lir grove, like it’s mother organization, OBOD, is dedicated to the love and preservation of the earth, her peoples and creatures. Dr Rodney Karr is also Director of the Monarch Bear Institute.
The members of the grove of Manannan Mac Lir have dedicated themselves to create the Monarch Bear Institute as an independent, though connected institution to facilitate the conservation and protection of the earth and it’s creatures, particularly in our state of California. The Monarch Bear Institute is also created to educate the people of California in ways to preserve and protect our State’s history, people, land, creatures and resources. We see the current ecological crisis also as a spiritual crisis and are dedicating our spiritual work to spiritualizing the ecological movement. More information on the Manannan Mac Lir Grove is available at www.druidry-sf.org.
Dr. Rodney Karr has also been an ordained minister with the Association for the Integration of the Whole Person since 1995. The Association for the Integration of the Whole Person (AIWP) is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization in California and the USA. It is certified as a Domestic Corporation in California, and classified as a Religious Corporation. The United States of America’s IRS has granted AIWP the non-profit number of #95-3455451. AIWP’s EIN is also this same number. Dr. Rodney Karr is ordained in AIWP as a minister of eco-nature spirituality.
sThe AIWP, similar to OBOD, is an interdenominational church with over 900 ministers and congregations, each practicing a variety of religious traditions including Buddhist, Hindu, Native American, Shamanistic, etc.
Manannan Mac Lir Grove is an official recognized congregation of AIWP and as such is a non-profit organization with full 501(C)3 designation and privileges. Manannan Mac Lir Grove is sponsoring and supporting Monarch Bear Institute’s formation as a separate educational institution, and supporting it to become an institution dedicated to land conservation and environmental protection in the state of California.
Dr Rodney Karr and the Monarch Bear Institute have identified 462 acres in Sierra County for conservancy. This land is known as Packer Saddle. With the help of California’s new Sierra Conservancy, Monarch Bear Institute looks forward to managing sustainable care of the ecology, natural and cultural resources; and also for maintaining the current usage of this land for educational and recreational purposes.
The packer saddle land conforms with all of the criteria for land identified by the Sierra Conservancy for land they are to conserve:
1. Packer Saddle is located in the lakes region of Sierra County. Tahoe National Forest Land surrounds it. It lies within the region of concern by the Sierra Conservancy.
2. It is between six and seven thousand feet elevation, and is important for preservation of snow pack. The headwaters of creeks and springs are located upon the property.
3. The property is currently very important to Sierra County for recreational purposes, specifically mountain biking. The Internationally famous Downieville run begins at Packer Saddle and goes twelve miles to Downieville.
4. San Francisco State University's Field Campus is located near by in Bassett Station. The field campus utilizes Packer Saddle as a base for astronomical field study.
5. Sierra County is currently in economic transition from dependency upon forestry and mining to becoming a place of recreation. Packer Saddle is a key property for Sierra County’s development of recreation and tourism.
6. It is our purpose to create a retreat center for courses in ecology, forestry, water management, earth management, and ecologically minded spirituality.
7. This land was logged five years ago, with careful regard to environment concerns. Its current owner has been dedicated to replanting the property. The land is currently zoned as “TPZ”. A Sierra County Elder who has managed this land for over fifty years wishes to continue being involved in it’s management and preservation. He will remain available for teaching students about Sierra County and Nature. He directs a sophisticated tree farm operation, which provides an economically sustainable plan for maintaining the property.
It is our purpose to create a research center to work with scientists, eco-spiritual teachers, ecologists and local sierra county residents to develop a sophisticated plan, which will enable the land to be used in a comprehensive manner. This plan will include the preservation of trees, wildlife and biological resources, while ensuring sustainable forest management. It is also our purpose to protect cultural and archaeological resources with respect for Native American values. At the same time, management of this land will include maintenance of it’s current uses for education and recreation with regard for the protectionl of all of the above mentioned concerns, including habitat for the numerous indigenous animals and plants native to this land.
Characteristic San Francisco Monarch Bear momento pin, 1910
Gift to the Monarch Bear Instistute from Goat, a member of the institute,
which belonged to his grandfather