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The Green Road into the Trees – Launch

July 18th, 2012 No comments

The book is now out – see the reviews in the Spectator and Independent  

To celebrate the launch and what is supposed to be summer, despite constant rain, a small extract on meeting a leading Druid at the summer solstice celebrations at Avebury: 

 

A few people have gathered by the big stones that were once, when upright, set as a triptych and may have been orientated towards the rising sun.  Loud snores are coming from a sleeping-bagged bundle at the bottom of the largest stone, where it looks as if someone is  going to sleep  through this year’s dawn solstice. 

I talk to a tall man in a grey cloak with a staff, who lives in Malmesbury.  He has the languid, tired manners of an Anglican vicar. 

‘Are you a Pagan?’ he asks, as if it were the most natural question in the world.  

I mumble the sort of non-committal generalities I usually do if someone asks if I’m a Christian.  My hesitancy is reinforced when he then asks if I’m a Christian and I have to give a similar response. 

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‘Paganism,’ he explains patiently, ‘is tied to a sense of place, of being rooted in a landscape.  If you’re drawn to a place like Avebury, then you’re probably a Pagan.’ 

I nod politely. 

‘Not that it’s easy being a Pagan,’ he sighs, and leans on his staff to peer moodily at the ground. ‘The problem about Paganism is that because it’s all local, and about local places, we don’t organise ourselves on a national basis very well.’  For a moment he sounds like a Liberal Democrat.  ‘What matters to a Pagan in Malmesbury is completely different to what matters to a Pagan in’ – and he casts around for an exotic example – ‘to a Pagan in, say, Devizes.’  He pauses.   ‘Or for that matter in Aylesbury.  There are a surprising amount of Pagans in Aylesbury.’ 

‘Trying to organise Pagans is like trying to herd cats,’ he says, with bitterness. ‘It’s solstice day, the most sacred day of the year, and most of them have gone to the wrong part of the circle to celebrate!’

 

From The Green Road into the Trees:  An Exploration of England by Hugh Thomson (Preface 18.99), with illustrations by Adam Burton