There are some travel experiences just begging to be dropped into conversation, like the times when you bump into famous people staying on your remote island (oh wait, that’s never happened, except on an episode of Poirot). Or how about the times when you get into hilarious situations involving animals on safari? (That has yet to happen to Poirot, correct me if I’m wrong, and it hasn’t happened to me either). Ok, so my anecdote isn’t going to cover any of those topics, but it’s hopefully good enough for someone to buy me a drink down the pub.
A few years ago, my friend spotted a call-out by NME Magazine, inviting readers to head down to Hyde Park and help some friendly druids conduct a sun dance ritual to banish rain for the upcoming Glastonbury Festival. As we were first year uni students with not much else to do, and we’d never had the privilege of meeting a druid, how could we possibly refuse?
We gathered in the park, where King Arthur Pendragon led an appeal to Lugh, the Celtic Sun God, with a group of druids wearing bright colours, gemstones and Celtic silver jewellery and elaborate velvet cloaks. However, when it came to actually reporting it, some journalists forgot to mention that a few of us present were just music lovers that came along for the ride, and not full members of the Druid Council. Ahem. Take a look at the video:
After the ceremony, the druids broke open a box full of Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream – I kid you not. We sat on the grass, tucking into Chocolate Fudge Brownie and chatting with the group. I’m not going to say something naff like ‘I soon realised there was a little bit of druid in all of us’, because that wouldn’t exactly be true, but I did admire their dedication and enthusiasm. Whereas the few of us non-believers and NME staff that turned up were undoubtedly there for the novelty value, everyone else seemed to genuinely believe the words that they were chanting.
In a world that’s obsessed with religious bandwagons like Scientology and Kabbalah, it was undeniably refreshing to see how this group could use religion* in a positive way, without trying to indoctrinate other people, but just welcoming them to join in with the spectacle and try and get the sun to bloody well stay visible for a few days. Only in Britain, eh?
*= Yep, it has been an official religion since 2010.