Lunchtime, but no time for food, we need to get things ready for the Druid Ceremony. Off to the Pump Rooms where a schools project, with children drawing mistletoe, has been underway all morning – with impressive results (no pics, sorry) but which will be taken over by the Druids programme soon.
Lots of Druids already turning up, from all over – Yorkshire, Dorset, North Wales, Manchester, Norfolk and locally. The overall organising group is the Druidic Mistletoe Foundation, the group who’ve been here for the auctions over the last 2 years (see previous blogs…).
This year the plan is different – not so much a blessing of the crop, but more a celebration of Tenbury’s mistletoe traditions, and a healing ceremony, using mistletoe’s reputation as an all-heal to help Tenbury recover from the devastating floods of the summer. And because the plan is different there has to be an open discussion about what will be covered – these druid ceremonies are very democratic. So everyone sits in a circle in the pump rooms and debates the ceremony – which takes a little time.
I stand near the door to check for the arrival of spectators and am gradually overwhelmed by people appearing in 2s and 3s – asking where the ceremony will be, have I missed it yet etc etc. I explain, many times, that the event is being planned democratically inside the building, and that they can go and watch if they like – and so they do, eventually getting to a point where I can’t get in, so I don’t know what’s being planned, but I’ve got a fair idea.
When all’s done we all emerge, I set up a tripod (of French mistletoe harvesting tools) to hang the mistletoe from, and to form the centre of the circle, and we’re off. And The Sun Comes Out!! Lasting until the minute the ceremony ends. Very weird.
The ceremony itself involves calling the quarters Spirits of the North, south, east and west), symbolic blood-letting (with red wine from Spar) to represent the white bulls mentioned in Pliny’s account of druidic ceremonies, blessings for Tenbury and mistletoe, and individual contributions from all those present (who include Rod and Rue Chapman, mistletoe-enthusiasts from Norfolk).
Plus some sharing of bread – which, with passing the wine around too, is very reminiscent of Christian traditions too – which is, I think, what I said the first time i saw one of these ceremonies about 4 years ago. So much similarity exists across religions – and yet there is so much animosity between (most of) them. Crazy.
A longish do – lasting the best part of an hour, and attracting a lot of attention from passers by, and the spectators who’ve been here form the start. And then we all troop back indoors for a chat about druidic traditions, the work of the Mistletoe Foundation and a musical performance by Stefan and Paul, 2 of the key players in the MF.
Then back to the rest of the Mistletoe Festival… see next entry…