This year an unusual number of significant figures in the alternative and Druid worlds have been crossing the rainbow bridge to the Otherworld (a euphemistic phrase for dying I know, but rather beautiful nevertheless – and one that reinforces the idea that death is not an end but part of a journey). Already this year Celtic scholar Alexei Kondratiev and Druid leader Isaac Bonewits have passed on in the USA, while over here the legendary John Michell, the well-known dowser Hamish Miller, Douglas Lyne, a moving force in the Order and friend of the old Druid Chief Nuinn, and Gordon Strachan, author of ‘Jesus the Druid’, have all died within a few months of each other.
And now a leading figure in the alternative world, and friend of the Druids, Sid Rawle has crossed the threshold, dying of a heart attack at the age of 64 on the last day of his Rainbow summer camp. Sid was a leading figure on the Stonehenge festival scene and was famously given custody of Dorinish, an Irish island, by John Lennon to start a utopian community. Sid’s Rainbow camp has hosted the Druid Network Camps over the last years as well many other kinds of camp. To get a feel for the kind of character he was, here are notes by a friend of his, Jeremy Sandford introducing the prologue to Sid’s book ‘A Vision of Albion’ which does not seem to be published yet:
Like him or loathe him, it’s been hard to ignore Sid Rawle. He never claimed for himself the title or position of ‘King of the Hippies’. That name was coined by journalists. Nonetheless, he is now that rare thing, a middle aged hippy who is still a hippy. He was in at the start and still trucking. He has never gone ‘straight’. His ‘alternative history’ is hilarious, sometimes angry, sometimes tragic, always remarkably filled with action.
He is the squatter to end them all, having squatted flats, houses, commons, forests, a village, boats, an island, an army camp, Windsor Great Park.
Property owners have urgently attempted to put locks on their houses, land, and daughters, when Sid has been around. It is Sid’s claim that each of our young men and women who could be ordered to die for their country in time of war have a right to, at any rate, a few square yards of meadow or mountain.
Sid believes that access to the land for the underprivileged is becoming harder, and that many obstacles are placed in the way of festival and conviviality. He has fought hard for these things. He has involved hundreds, sometimes thousands, with him. Through his personal bravery, crowd gathering propensities, and frequent appearances on the media, he has become something of a folk hero.
Surrounded by beautiful women and grubby children, he lived for some years in a tipi, and more recently in a converted G.P.O. van for half the year at the summer long series of camps he organises, the other half being spent in a rural prefabricated bungalow crammed with women and children.
Jeremy Sandford See www.jeremysandford.org.uk
And here is the Prologue to The Vision of Albion by Sid Rawle
In the end it all gets back to land. Looking back, I see that a link that runs through my life concerns the right to land and property on it.
Shared out equally, there would be a couple of acres for every adult living in Britain. That would mean each family or group could have a reasonably sized small holding of ten or twenty acres and learn once again to become self sufficient.
The present day reality is the reverse, with some folk owning hundreds of thousands of acres and others owning none.
There’s talk of community in war time. We can be ordered to go and fight and die for Queen and country. In peace time is it too much to ask for just a few square yards of our green and pleasant land to rear our children on?
That’s all we want, myself and the squatters and travellers and other people in the many projects I’ve been involved with. Just a few square yards of this land that we can in wartime be asked to go out and die for.
And if we ever achieve that, what else? What else is what I call the Vision of Albion.
Albion, the most ancient name of this fair country. It was in Albion that the industrial revolution occurred. And I and many others now have a sneaking suspicion that in Albion will be forged the first post industrial society, a Green Community in this green land, living in equity and peace.
The Vision of Albion is a vision of one world united in love, a vision of unity in diversity. Not the same chant every day. Not everyone finding the same cure for the same ills. But a vision of all people uniting in love and respect for one another.
We have to find out how all us individuals in the world can have enough space to live in love and harmony, enough to be self-sufficient and be ourselves, and how to give everyone else this space. That is the vision of Albion, that is the Rainbow vision.
It is the Rainbow vision because the rainbow is the symbol of God’s promise. And it is the vision of Albion because there is a sneaking feeling amongst some of us that it is from these islands, the islands that make up Albion, that change will come. So many of the white man’s dreadful fuckups in the world originated here. It is from these islands that peace and harmony must also come.
Although we’ve given the world so many of its institutions and, for so much of the world, a common language to communicate to each other in, we’ve lost our own real ancient roots. We don’t know who built our stone circles, how they did it, how they loved, what their economic system was, what their religion was.
All over the world there are other peoples who do remember what their roots were, people who are still in touch with their tribal history. What lies deep in their systems must also lie deep within our system. We have to learn to find it again.
We have to reclaim or rediscover some of their ancient wisdom, the wisdom of ancient Albion. There’s no magic in this, no mystery. The mystery is that we keep ourselves in hell when we could be in heaven. That’s the mystery. Sid Rawle. See site.
And here’s a video of him being interviewed a few years ago: