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" Friendship is a sheltering tree "



February 11th, 2011



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!


  1. Yes yes yes, We swear by peace and love to stand . . . . .

    Just the end of a battle – the war still to come but we have made a wonderful start. For myself I just want to trust those elected powers to manage and protect that which is held to be sacred and non-negotiable. Our precious land. The spirit of sovereignty. I want to trust them – but I DO NOT. The spirit of the land cannot be bought and sold. She is sovereign, she is what makes us who we are, regardless of our colour, our origins or our religion. We are one with and upon this sacred land, this sacred isle, this land of ours.

    Their ignorance is what hurts the most, and causes the powerful rejection that has welled up from all corners. They need their Druid counsel, more than ever.



  2. I could not agree more Shaun, they do need the Druid council more than ever. I think that is why we are seeing an awakening of such proportions to call to arms so to speak, to save the forests.

  3. Why not embrace the sale and empower ourselves on a local level. Find out which woodlands are up for sale,in your area, form co-operatives and buy them for us. Not multi-nationals but local people who care. This could be an amazing opportunity!

    • Good perspective.
      It’s true, people are doing amazing things with land they own. The community gardens in Bristol are just brilliant (although all of them needed a cash boost to get going, and it takes some money to keep going.
      If we could buy it and be allowed to live there… Hardly.
      My problem is that they’ll get us to pay for what’s already ours, and then hammer us with legal restrictions and obligations that we may not agree with.

      • Seersha,

        There’s a good reason why people from The Woodland Trust through to Lord Clark oppose the plan. To buy all would cost £100 million for a start. Secondly forming coops sounds good but what if they fail. The whole point is, as David Bellamy, puts it so well, ‘The green heart of England is not for sale’. The idea that we should ‘buy’ what is already ‘ours’ is lunatic really!

  4. I’m so glad to hear that this forest sell-off might be avoided, and thank you for writing about it. I’m in the States but I share your love of natural spaces and hold it all to be sacred. I’ve also stumbled upon a fledgling OBOD group nearby, which I hope to get more involved with over the coming year. For what it’s worth, I’m so encouraged to see Druid groups speaking out publicly for our Earth. We’re not nearly as visible here in the States, but reading about your efforts does inspire me to rally my own courage and take a few more risks for the sake of this wonderful world.

  5. Come on Phil be fair. Selling off the forests is nothing to complain about. Once the forest floor is concreted over think of all the supermarkets we can build. I promise you it will look lovely. What is a tree anyway? I don’t think we had those at Eton old bean. Love Dave.

  6. The forest/woodland is not a business, they are our inheritance,, not just for us., but for future generations, our children, and our childrens children. It has unfortunately come to the point were the government, no matter what party is in, just cannot be trusted anymore, the government will wait a while for this out cry to die down, then they will strike, they are arrogant, underhand and simply corrupt, lets keep the pressure up, it is about time that the people took a stand, we have had enough.

    Blessings under the Yew, John( Rowan Duir)

  7. I heard of a young English guy who was visiting Africa, he made contact with an old African witch doctor, they were talking about the ancestor’s , The African witch Doctor, (sorry about the terminology, just saying how it was written) anyway, the African w/doctor said the Ancestors of the African peoples are the plains and mountains,
    then leaning forward with a stern look on his face, said, you peoples of the UK, your Ancestors are the tree’s, that is were you come from, they are your ancient
    grandmothers, and grandfathers……please don’t forget them….they feed your spirit, they are family. when I read this, quite some time ago, it bought tears to my eye’s. I think on a positive note, what the Government are doing, is unknowing bringing this recognition up in the the people, Blessings under the Yew, Rowan Duir.

  8. if you go down in the woods today you’re in for a big surprise,
    if you go down in the woods today you’d better go in disguise,
    for every tree that ever there was , has been cut down for certain because,
    today’s the day the Tories sold off our heritage!!!

  9. ISBN 978-3-8372-1033-0
    Story about Immigration and environment

    Linda und Luca im Wald
    Linda et Luca dans la forêt
    Linda e Luca nella foresta
    Linda and Luca in the forest

    Getting to know the forest
    loving the forest with all its animals
    and protecting the forest.
    Text in German, French, Italian and English.

    ThIS book finished recently
    Sophie- Marie Ruesch
    and my first book
    “ in Würde älter warden “
    written in German
    ISBN 978-3-940445-68-1

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