Druidic ritual piques curiosity of Colney Heath villagers

Chiltern Nemeton Grove hung a biodegradeable offering on a tree in Colney Heath as part of its Sprin

Chiltern Nemeton Grove hung a biodegradeable offering on a tree in Colney Heath as part of its Spring Equinox ceremony. Picture: Paul Sandford - Credit: Archant

Druids piqued the curiosity of passersby by performing a seasonal ritual in Colney Heath.

Villages spotted the druid group, called Chiltern Nemeton Grove, conducting their annual Spring Equinox ceremony in Colney Heath on March 24.

Chiltern Nemeton Grove had come to welcome in the new season by leading a meditative walk, holding hands in a circle, reading poems, singing, and playing instruments.

They also hung a biodegradeable offering on a tree - this year’s gift was made from woven daffodils.

Normally based in The Chilterns, the grove came to Colney Heath because a member of the group used to be a resident.

The group’s oath reads: “We swear by peace and love to stand, heart to heart and hand in hand. Mark o’ spirits and hear us now confirming this our sacred vow.”

Druid priest Paul Sandford, who founded the grove in 2000, said: “In the walking meditation, each time we put our feet on the earth we become mindful of the flora, fauna and animals, and of their spiritual life forces.

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“We try to connect with them in our feet and honour the life forces of everything at that particular locality.”

Onlookers noticed that participants were wearing ceremonial cloaks - Paul said that is not obligatory and many people don their usual 21st century attire.

He said that being a druid meant sharing an interest in Celtic spirituality and is not connected with any particular theology - there are Christians, atheists, and pagans in the group.

Paul himself became a qualified interfaith minister before spending three years training with the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids when he was 22.

He first got involved with druidic practices though his Cornish and Irish ancestry.

“In druidry, magic is in nature itself. When the sun and the moon rise and we see the seasons change, to us, the magic is natural. We are not witches in that way.

“We revere the magical forces in nature and even evolution to us is sacred because it is part of nature and it inspires us.”

Although the Spring Equinox was on March 20, Chiltern Nemeton Grove met up the following Sunday for practical reasons.