Solstice `rant' by druids at trees protest

 

Eco-warriors camped at the Glen o' the Downs in Co Wicklow were joined by druids in a number of events to mark the winter solstice at the weekend. The eco-warriors, who have been camping in the trees since the summer in protest at Wicklow County Council's plans for an £18.5 million road-widening scheme through the glen, have now established a bigger, drier camp near the original site.

On Saturday night the druids and warriors celebrated the end of the reign of the Holly King, who rules from the summer solstice to the winter solstice, and the coming of the Oak King who reigns for the rest of the year. The ceremony involved the burning of the Holly King to "give the light back to the trees". Adge, The Fluid Druid, also placed a geis, "more of a taboo than a curse", on anyone who would harm the oak trees.

On Sunday the warriors and druids held a "solstice march" from Kilmacanogue to the glen along the proposed route of the road scheme. They also held an open day for supporters and visitors, with music, a "rant session" and face painting.

Explaining the geis, Adge told The Irish Times that the ceremony involved hanging objects like shrines out of the oak trees to indicate to "the men with the chainsaws that this is not any old tree; that it is in the care of somebody and is in fact sacred".

"It is not a curse or anything like that, I want to make that clear. But if we have to use magic to protect the trees then we shall. Many of the old warrior kings of old Ireland were bound by a geis of the druid". Adge said, however, that death could occur to anyone who broke the geis.

During the rant session, campers, druids and visitors were invited by a "king" to express their opinions. Keith, one of the campers, said "we are supposed to be living in an age of enlightenment, yet we have ritualised slaughter on the roads, killing thousands year by year. It is the worship of the car.

"The EIS [Environmental Impact Statement] for this road has publicly stated that this road will increase the danger to pedestrians and cyclists. Is this progress? It is an abomination." The environmental campaigner Veronica Heywood said a mantra was needed and suggested "hug a tree" would be a good idea.