Lammas Flush –
Druid Camp 2013
I hadn’t been to the Druid Camp, at the Rainbow 2000 site, for five years – but when the organiser, Mark Graham, invited me earlier this year, I thought, what the heck. It would be a chance to catch up with some nice people, if nothing else. I knew of a few good friends going – Anthony Nanson and David Metcalfe (Fire Springs); Dr Graham Harvey and Professor Ronald Hutton; plus Nimue and Tom Brown – with whom I had corresponded extensively, but never met. These drew me to the camp – the performers (Carolyn Hillyer and Nigel Shaw; Seize the Day) and speakers were a fringe benefit. I knew there would be workshops and ceremonies galore – but I could take or leave those. Yet the weather boded well, on the whole, and I had a good feeling about it, as I pulled onto the site in the sun, to be greeted by Mark (lean and sun-tanned as usual) with his daughter (‘a future Emily Eavis’ I called her).
I arrived midday Wednesday – the camp officially opened at 5pm with its customary ceremony – and pitched my tent at the bottom of the main camping field, not knowing where any of my other friends were camped. As it turned out, they had not arrived yet – so I left my bike by my tent to act as a landmark. Sure enough, my friend Anthony found me there. It was good to have a fellow Fire Spring there.
I went to the facilitators’ meeting (‘Silly Taters’, to me) and failed to recognise Druidic bigwigs like Penny and Arthur Billington. Whileas such luminaries might be familiar faces in such circles, they mean little to me – remember my five year absence; and also a lack of respect for pecking orders and puffed up egos. Still, everyone was friendly enough. I introduced myself and my offering – ‘Dreaming the Land’, in which I guide people to the temple of Nodens at Lydney on a shamanic journey.
The opening ceremony was nicely balanced I thought – not too long, not too fluffy. The vibes were good, going by the grins and laughter, and the warmth generated by not only the awen.
That night I enjoyed some music in the ‘canteen’ marquee and settled into Camp life, chatting to folk. A bloke I got chatting to offered me some of his cider – despite an intention not to drink, I thought it would be rude to refuse, so I cracked open a can, sat back, and got wurzeled.
Personal Highlights of the Camp:
- The ‘Beating of the Bounds’, in which organiser/ecologist Mark Graham led us on a nature walk around the site.
- Meeting Nimue and Tom Brown at last, and hanging out with them.
- Bumping into old friends, like Adrian Beckingham – the Man from Story Mountain.
- Making new friends.
- ‘Bird Spirit Land’ – the workshop led by Carolyn Hillyer and Nigel Shaw. Sublime, inspiring and deeply moving.
- Seeing Tallis Kimberley, Simon and Chantelle Smith perform for the first time.
- My ‘Dreaming the Land’ workshop.
- Ronald Hutton’s edifying talk on ‘pagan heritage’, which really challenged the status quo, and lazy preconceptions in his usual scintillating style – ‘intellectual viagra’ I called it.
- Appreciating the Awen flowing in the many other performers and speakers, and general level of conversation/interaction around the site.
- The wonderful weather (for the first three days).
I was deeply inspired by Carolyn and Nigel’s workshop in particular, and I felt a renewed connection and commitment to honouring the land, its genius loci, ancestors, and narratives.
Although I had to leave late Friday night (to catch a train to London the following morning) I felt replete – in those three days I had ‘got’ what I needed from the Camp. I am sure there were many other fabulous items in the programme, and it would have been nice to tell a story round the fire, but it sometimes better to quit when you’re ahead, eager to return, than feeling worn out by it all. Three days is quite enough for me at a festival. After saying my goodbyes in the middle of Hillyer and Shaw’s sublime concert, with many a fraternal hug, I walked back to my bike – just as a shooting star rocketed overhead, a fiery arrow in the sky seemingly ‘just for me’, which I took as a good sign. Like the eternal souls in Cloud Atlas, connected by the comet-shaped tattoo mark, I felt I had (re)connected with kindred spirits with whom there is much magic to conjure.
Five years ago I had ‘lost my faith’ when my father died. I feel as though I have experienced re-enchantment thanks to this lovely gathering. Mark mentioned the ‘Lammas Flush’, when oak trees put out a second growth of leaves (due to their first canopy being too damaged by parasites, etc, to photo-synthesize sufficiently). I feel this camp has prompted my own – as I leave it inspired to follow-up several conversations and ideas. Thank you, oak-priests! May we all keep the Awen flowing.