DRUIDS VOW TO PROTECT ENGLAND’S FORESTS
AND THREATEN TO STRIP THE COALITION PARTIES OF THEIR LOGOS
The government announced today that it would consider greater protection for forest already scheduled for sale. But their announcement does not affect the vast majority of England’s publicly-owned forest whose fate still hangs in the balance, and now Britain’s small but vocal minority of Druids have added their voices to the campaign to stop the government’s plans to dispose of it.
The number of Druids has declined somewhat since the 1930’s when the Druids counted Winston Churchill amongst their members, and their fraternity was over a million strong across the British Empire. Today most Druids are tree-hugging Pagans, although fraternal groups still exist, and there are plenty of Christian Druids – the Archbishop of Canterbury is an Honorary Druid of the Welsh National Eisteddfod, as are members of the Royal family, including the Queen. Estimates put the number of practising Druids today at 50,000 and Philip Carr-Gomm, Chief Druid of the world’s largest teaching organization, The Order of Bards Ovates & Druids, today announced plans to help in the campaign to save England’s forests:
‘For every day the government threatens to dispose of our national forests it will lose friends in every corner of society: from people who thought they were Tories and that their party would protect their countryside at one end of the scale, to former road protesters ready to commit their lives to protecting the forests at the other: and, in the middle ground, the usually silent majority of intelligent citizens already showing their support, through petitioning and through their loyal membership of opposing groups such as the Woodland Trust and Friends of the Earth.
Now that the consultation process has begun it is vital that we show the government what we think and feel. The central belief of the Druids – that the land, the forests and trees, and the wildlife they support, are sacred – is not such a strange idea to most people any more. They know that our world is threatened by so much today, and they feel deeply upset that the government has chosen to endanger our public woodland. And it is ironic that is has decided to do this in a year that is designated by the UN as the International Year of Forests.
We agree with the wide range of people and organizations – including Lord Clark, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Jonathan Porritt and the Woodland Trust – who believe that the government’s proposals are ill-conceived and should be abandoned.
The Conservative Party uses the Oak tree as its symbol. The word Druid means ‘Oak Sage’ and the Druids have traditionally been considered guardians of these trees. In this capacity, we now ask the government to consider its responsibility to the environment and to future generations, and to withdraw its proposals.
We trust that the government will respond to the overwhelming opposition their plans have evoked, and welcome the announcement today that they will reconsider the conditions applying to forestry already approved for sale. We hope that the outcome of the consultation process will be a raised awareness of the need to protect our woodlands and conserve biodiversity, and that positive strategies will emerge.
However, if the result of the consultation period is a continued threat to the forests, we propose a symbolic public stripping of both the Conservative party and the Liberal Democrats of their symbols – a tree and a bird – both of which are likely to suffer if our woodlands are compromised.’
An image to replace the Conservative Party logo has already been created by the artist and socialist Druid Jamie Reid. Best known for his Punk Rock images, and work for the Sex Pistols, Reid’s work can now be found in the Tate Gallery. He has been involved in direct action campaigns against the poll tax, and the Criminal Justice Bill. John Marchant writes: ‘Jamie Reid’s unique vision articulates and gives form to some of the key issues of our times. He responds to the ever-increasing attacks on our civil liberties and shared common spaces with passionate anger and savage humour, and shows us ways in which we might re-organise our political and spiritual resources. This is the role of the shaman and Reid’s art acts like a lightning rod, returning us to the earth so that we might share the work of healing… After a ten year installation period with the Strongroom Studios in Shoreditch he is now immersed in discovering and revealing the Aspects of the Eightfold Year.’ John Marchant, Isis 2007. Reid’s site can be found here and his site that focuses on the Eightfold Year here.
The Order of Bards Ovates & Druids will be issuing a CD to raise awareness of this issue, and Jamie Reid has kindly agreed that we can use his artwork for the CD and that – in true anarchic style – we can graffiti it! Thank you Jamie! Here is Jamie’s original. Tomorrow I’ll post our graffiti version!