Today was one of the most important events in the Druid calendar. I headed off for Parliament Hill, passing firemen who had heard we were going to burn something, and arrived panting at the Stone of Free Speech, five minutes late for rehearsal. This wasn't a problem, since the Order hosting this year's London ritual hadn't arrived yet. Gradually GODs, CODs and SODs trickled in, but there was no sign of the Insular Order of Druids. This was annoying as GODs had made it from Glastonbury, the CODs from the Cotswolds and the SODs from, err, Secular. Eventually the IODs arrived and we performed a ceremony dating back to the early 1790s. There was the ritual fight between the Oak king and Holly king. The Holly won, as he has to - otherwise we wouldn't get a winter. Four hours later, the ritual was over, and the Archdruid of the IOD opened the Eistedfodd. I repaired to the pub with the redoubtable Arthur Uther Pendragon. At last year's Stonehenge, Pendragon fell foul of the police ban on processions. He was there with 35 others, and the Trespassing Act allows the police to disperse groups of more than 30. But as Pendragon pointed out, of the 36, more than 30 were from the Press. Still, each year he's paid out pounds 1,000 for false arrest which he's been living off for the past three years.
When I'm not attending Pagan ceremonies I spend my weekdays working as an accountant at a major publishing house. I can't identify it as it's American owned, and non too happy at having its name linked to Pagan rituals. In England, Druids are lauded as part of the eccentric tradition, but in America we're linked to Death Metal and Satanism. Today I was called by The Big Breakfast who said they'd like me on the programme on Wednesday, and assured me that they'd be totally serious. I spent the afternoon wondering if they planned for Zig and Zag to carve me up on a rough-hewn altar, but later the researcher called to cancel. I felt relief but also a twinge of regret.
A researcher asked me again to appear on The Big Breakfast, swearing total seriousness. I realised with horror that I yearned to do it. Maybe the midsummer sun has begun to feed my ego. In the evening I relaxed in front of the telly, taping The X Files for friends who don't have cable TV.
This afternoon writer / editor Philip Carr-Gomm phoned to tell me that he loved my chapter for forthcoming tome The Druid Renaissance, but told me that the book's publication won't be until August. I thanked Philip, who is head of Britain's largest esoteric Druid Order (OBOD), but later realised that this means that payment won't be until August either.
My spouse and some friends departed for the Emerald Isle this morning for a long weekend, which leaves me to sort out the financial year end, and run a Pagan discussion group in the evening. Tonight's subject was "Can Paganism become Respectable?". I argued that the whole concept of respectability was invented to keep people like us away from "respectable" society. I also said that the only reason Christians are eager to have "Interfaith" discussions with Pagans these days is to find out why we're so popular.
Spent sunrise at Plumstead Common Burial mound, then processed with a few friends to a promontory overlooking the Thames. The sun rose. We watched, then returned to find five police cars waiting for us. Four disappeared and the other did nothing. I decided that this lack of action was due to the fact that I had borrowed a Royal Arch Freemason's robe for our ceremony, and so may have been mistaken for a Chief Inspector. Last year, 50 Druids turned up at Primrose Hill a week late, so I have promised the Council of British Druid Orders that I will perform a quick blessing there if it happens again tomorrow. It will have to be a picnic rather than a ceremony, though, as we don't have permission to be there. Basically, Solstice is over now; tomorrow it's time to return to Atlantis.