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Druid Celebration

Blake’s name was invoked in a somewhat perverse context on 22 September 1974 during the Druid celebration of the autumn equinox on Parliament Hill Fields in North London. The hyperborean revivalists in question belong to the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, a splinter group of the British Circle of the Universal Bond, which claims descent from a meeting of British Druids supposedly organized at Primrose Hill in 1717 by John Toland. More surprisingly, the Order accords Blake a place on the roll of honor for its departed chieftains, alongside John Aubrey, William Stukeley and Bulwer Lytton. A desire to appease conventional religious opinion has robbed the ceremony of much of its pagan flavor, to the point where even the four archangels are enlisted in the Druid cause. However, the fruits of the earth were duly presented to the Chief Druid, who then returned them to the soil (or rather to the hands of onlooking children who disliked the idea of waste); “Excalibur” was unsheathed for the pronouncement of peace on the four corners of the earth; two new postulants[e] were accepted into the Order; a poetry reading was given and, finally, after a comprehensive blessing, the Druid banner, bearing a trilithon surmounted by a wheatsheaf, made its way down the hill to the changing-rooms.

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