My research on the Celtic druids took me to interesting corners of the internet leading me to books, articles and theories that revealed astonishing insights about the Celts of yore and the close connections between ancient civilisations. It also took me more than seven times to explore the treasures of the British Museum, and to magical parts of England that appeared to be caught within a centrifuge of time that rotated between the present day to the days back when the druids walked there. Glastonbury was one such place. Just being in the town brought immense stillness to the mind.
The guided tour had a halt at the ruins of the Glastonbury Abbey. Wandering through the place, I found myself in the Abbot’s kitchen which was empty except for a British couple who were chanting loudly into the air, pausing to hear the echoes before they resumed the chant. They sounded like they were repeating the druid chant of the Awen. While I am even more reticent than the British to talk to strangers, I had gone all the way there to see if I could talk to some druids. I walked up to them hesitantly.
‘I’m very sorry to disturb you, but please may I know what you were chanting? Is it the Awen?’
‘It’s just an Om,’ the man said brightly while the lady gave me a friendly smile. ‘Listen how it echoes,’ he continued, ‘Ooooooommmmmmmmmmm…’ The vibrations filled the room, bouncing off the old stone walls.
I thanked them and walked onwards.
The Abbey museum staff in medieval dress were helpful, but unsure where I could find a druid. One of them remembered that one of their Saturday volunteers was a druid but she was off that day. They directed me to the information centre where the friendly ladies at the desk told me a little about the pagan events that happen in the town where I was likely to run into a druid, and gave me a few leaflets and email addresses. Taking a walk through the street outside the Abbey, I went into a souvenir shop which showcased pink plastic dolls and plates with pictures of twee kittens, and asked for directions to places where I could find druids. The woman at the counter asked me to walk a little farther, and I would see some shops to the right where they might know.
I stopped at a little cafe which had some delectable looking pastries on display. Sipping my hot chocolate, I wondered if I would ever get to see a druid, and how they would react to the questions I was bursting to ask. The ancient druids were long gone, and the neo-druids, from what I had read online, were trying to put together pieces of the past.
As I walked further, I saw a hoarding ‘The Cat and The Cauldron, Witchcraft shop’, the darkened interior of which had a display of feather quills, crystals, rings, charms, candles, stag-faced masks, curiously shaped figurines and a variety of similar artifacts that would have been in place in a shop in Diagon Alley. I stumbled as I walked inside, and a voice came from the right asking if I was alright. I turned to see a bespectacled lady in black working on her laptop. She smiled and asked me to look around the shop.
‘I was wondering if you would know where I could meet a druid around here?’ I asked her.
‘Well, I happen to be a druid,’ she said and I was so delighted to hear it that it felt as though the Goddess Brighid had just blessed me.
Postscript: The druid I met that day was Liz Williams, who holds a doctorate in the Philosophy of Science from Cambridge University and is the bestselling author of more than twenty books of fantasy and science fiction. She is a senior member and tutor of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids.
You can find more about Williams here https://wildhunt.org/about/liz-williams and her books here https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/34828.Liz_Williams