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Done Fracking

by Paul Beer

Globally, on September 26th 2015, over 1,500 people lit fires at 8pm in their local time zone, to spread a wave of fire and ritual across the world to raise awareness and protection against fracking, which is a global issue. It was encouraged that as many events were made as possible in your own area – the only instructions given were to light a fire at 8pm, any ritual content was up to the individual or group concerned.



Here in Chester, in the heart of the largest fracking license in the UK, we held a public ritual on land that we have occupied since April 2014, stopping an exploratory drill from getting onto the field. 

At first I kind of expected it to attract more pagans to the camp – but this was not the case, as all the groups I contacted were doing their own event. What it attracted was more of the general public, curious about fracking, who had never engaged with paganism before.

This posed me a question about how much ritual content to include, but under guidance from my patron deity, I realised that the role of a druid is not simply to do ritual for fellow pagans who are equally as able to do ritual themselves, but to be that bridge for people who cannot do it. 
Rather than simplify the event, she led me to make this one the most intense and ritually 'full-on' events I have ever done for others.



I started off very nervous, but stepping into druid role, we beat the bounds on the camp. Walking towards the first quarter, I looked back and saw a whole stream of non-pagans behind me, I focused on one middle-aged gentleman from the village, in his M&S clothes following and banging a drum for all he was worth, and I knew things were going to go well!



We brought in Rhiannon, and told her story as it unfolds through the Mabinogion, how she becomes mortal and human, and linking it to the domestication of our ancient deities, of horse, the entrapment of a people and a land once free, gradually becoming enslaved and put to work and industrialised.

 For our ceremony we made an effigy of Mr fracking; we looked at the things that keep us tied into our mundane modern lives of work and TV, and these are often the same things that prop up this industry and give it power. Money, greed, materialism, fear were all things that our guests put forward. We wrote those things down on scraps of paper and stuffed them in his pockets - we don't need them any more. Then we drew the sigils onto paper along with a personal oath to ourselves, to defend the land from fracking.

In the ritual itself I was taken aback at how everyone took to saying the druids prayer and the oath – there was no holding back. Everyone had the words and threw themselves fully into it. We were given two prophesies of the future, one with a successful fracking industry, and one where it had been defeated, it was then given to everyone to make a choice as to which future they wanted to bring into being.
 Two aspects of the goddess of the River Dee then ritually cut out the heart and kidneys from the effigy of industry, everyone, now with the gods working alongside them, gave up their oaths to put on the fire which was lit, heart, kidneys and all.

The energy in the ritual was amazing – there was then a frenzy to rip the industry apart, our Mr Fracking was beheaded and literally torn apart by hand and thrown onto the fire, along with the chains we wanted to break, and his head stuck on a stake to witness his own destruction. That was one intense and very hot fire.

Then we shared mead and cake. 

Afterwards, I was swamped by people, all thirsty for knowledge, all wanting to know more about the spirits I had called, what different symbolisms were, what this and that meant. They had paid so much attention to all that had gone on, I was simply awed and shared as much love for this landscape as I could. The questions were really quite in depth - and I really had a sense that these people wanted to know more.

The one other practising pagan who was there observed this and later said to me that it was like how it used to be – people coming to the druids for knowledge.

 

What we achieved will have to be seen – there was lot of dragon energy about that night!
 What really interested me was the openings for druids to be in the general population – not just as teachers, nurses, lawyers, historians etc, not just as a celebrant, but as Druids.

This was not about love and light, nor was it about attack, it was about standing firm to defend your land and your family. Nothing was toned down to make it easily digestible, everything was turned up to 11, and the people who came - non pagans – really got it.