My friend S is a pagan. Whenever she can, she attends solstice ceremonies and Druid celebrations, in whatever part of the UK she can reach on her limited funds and with disabled access. She likes to come over to Edinburgh for Samhuinn, and sometimes I join her.
This year the procession fell on Halloween Friday night. For a city traditionally thick with Gothic atmosphere, Edinburgh is the perfect backdrop for urban paganism. The event drew incredible crowds, but we had arrived early enough to plant ourselves just near the start of the route on the High Street.
We then slipped down Jackson’s Close and followed along beside the procession in a crush of people, until we arrived at the relative oasis of the steps at Advocate’s Close. Here was our view of the crowd making its way to the Mound:
I must confess that this was enough for both me and S. We didn’t have the stamina to follow along for the remaining spectacle; tea and toast beckoned us home, where we settled ourselves and caught up with one another for a couple more hours.
Here’s what we missed:
Yes, people are returning to the ancient ways. The 21st century of iPhone camera shots and YouTube video clips is no match for the Green Man. Like weeds cracking through cement and pushing the pavement into rubble, the deep mystery of the natural world stirs around us and overtakes us. Who on earth do we think we are?