Posts Tagged ‘seeds’

Vedanta, Tampons, Roma, Monsanto & Mental Health

Saturday, May 21st, 2022

Vedanta, Tampons, Roma, Monsanto & Mental Health – there was a varied array of protests in London on Saturday 21st May 2016, and I was kept busy photographing them. Fortunately most were within walking distance of each other in central London, but I ended the day with a rally and march in Stratford.

Foil Vedanta at Jaipur Literary Festival – Royal Festival Hall, Southbank

I rushed from Waterloo station to the nearby Royal Festival Hall where I found campaigners from Foil Vedanta protesting against Vedanta’s sponsorship of the Jaipur Literature Festival. They say Vedanta, the most hated company on Earth, causing pollution, illness, displacement, poverty and deaths by its mining operations, sometimes criminal, in India, Zambia, South Africa and Australia, is attempting to whitewash its image by sponsorship of the festival.

They briefly interrupted a presentation in the main space of the Clore Ballroom to make their case. Earlier Foil Vedanta and Round Table India had sent an open letter to authors who had agreed to appear, signed by around 50 mainly Indian writers, poets, academics and activists, informing them of Vedanta’s criminal operations, and calling on them to withdraw, and some had done so, with others expected to criticize Vedanta in their presentations.

After the interruption the campaigners withdrew to the rear of the area where they continued to hand out leaflets and brief journalists, watched closely by security who insisted they keep the entrance clear but did not otherwise intervene.

More at Foil Vedanta at Jaipur Literary Festival.

Tampon tax now Osbourne! – Parliament Square

Campaigners met in Parliament Square and then marched to present a letter to Downing St calling on the government to fulfil their pledge to axe the tax on tampons. A massive campaign and lobby resulted in the removal of regulations preventing the removal of tax but it is still being levied.

Prominent in the protest were those from the 50:50 Parliament campaign for equal representation of women and men in Parliament who say that if there were more women in Parliament there would not be taxes like this – and much less of the public-school bickering that often dominates the House of Commons.

More at Tampon tax now Osbourne!

‘Dosta, Grinta, Enough!’ Parliament Square

As the Tampon Tax campaigners left on their march to Downing St, four horse drawn vehicles arrived for the protest by Roma, Gypsies and Travellers against the hardening attacks against their way of life.

Heritage wardens and police told them it was was against bylaws to bring horses on to the square and after a short rally on the grass they led protesters in repeated circuits of the roadway around the square before leaving as the main rally on the corner of the square started.

Changes in the laws have allowed local authorities to stop providing traveller sites, and laws against fly-grazing have made finding places to stay and moving around the country much harder. Alterations in local planning guidance have meant that local planning laws have been used in a discriminatory fashion to prevent them using land even when they own it – as at Dale Farm. The ‘Dosta, Grinta, Enough!’ protest called attention to these attacks by the government on their ethnicity and demanded an end to 500 years of persecution.

More at ‘Dosta, Grinta, Enough!’

March Against Monsanto Rally – Downing St

It was a day of several hundred world-wide protests against Monsanto, but there had been little publicity for the London protest and attendance for disappointing, and although there were good speeches these were to a small group of dedicated activists.

Among the listeners were a couple of bees and this cow

Monsanto dominates the worlds markets for seeds and agrochemicals at the expense of small scale farmers and communities around the world and is forcing harmful pesticides and genetically modified seeds on farmers in their corporate control of the world’s food system. The company has sued thousands of small farmers in the US and elsewhere to protect its patents which cover a wide range of crops and other products.

More at March Against Monsanto Rally.

Housing is a Mental Health Issue – Stratford

From Westminster the Jubilee Line takes a little over 20 minutes to get to Stratford Station, outside which I met Focus E15 housing campaigners who were holding a rally and march. It was Mental Health Awareness Week and they were protesting against Newham council’s policy of social cleansing, highlighting the mental health issues that arise from housing problems.

There is a huge boom in building around Stratford given great impetus by the 2012 Olympics, but as speakers made clear when the march paused in front of some of the the high-rise housing, this is being built largely for the rich – while those unable to afford sky-high market rents are being forced out. They say Newham is causing mental health problems for vulnerable people through evictions and placements with insecure tenancies away from families, friends and support systems in cities and towns across the UK.

Good homes on the Carpenters Estate have been kept empty by Newham for over 10 years

The new tall blocks also produce a hostile micro-climate at ground level, and when the march approached one of the most recent, gusts of wind tore one of the banners in two. The march ended on the pavement outside Wilco’s in Stratford Broadway, where Focus E15 hold their regular Saturday morning street stall.

More at Housing is a Mental Health Issue.

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Druids Celebrate the Spring Equinox

Sunday, March 20th, 2022

The Spring Equinox in 2022 is apparently at 15:33 today, Sunday, 20 March. While I think we all look forward to Spring, Druids in the UK will be celebrating it with ceremonies in the open air, as they have done for some years. Here are some pictures from the annual celebration by the Druid Order at noon on Tower Hill in 2014.

Druids Celebrate the Spring Equinox

I’ve photographed this ceremony several times over the years, as well as their similar Autumn Equinox ceremony on Primrose Hill, and you can find pictures from other years also on My London Diary. Here is what I wrote about it in 2014, with just a few of the pictures.

Druids celebrate the Spring Equinox

Tower Hill, London. Thu 20 Mar 2014

The Druid Order celebrated the Spring Equinox at noon with a sacred ceremony at Tower Hill, forming a circle in their white robes and celebrating the cycle of nature. They have carried out similar ceremonies for just over a 100 years.

The Druids robed in a hall next to Tower Hill and then processed in single file to the open space, where they formed a circle, with the Head Druid and the banners at the east.

The procession reaches Tower Hill
The long horn is sounded to the east
Is it Peace?

A long horn was carried to the middle of the circle sounded to the four corners of the world and then the sword was held aloft to North South, East and West in turn, pulled loose from its scabbard with the call “Is it Peace?” and on receiving the reply “Peace”, pushed back.

The lady, representing the Earth Goddess Ceridwen then requested permission to enter the circle with her two attendants, and it was granted. They brought a horn containing cider and a plate of seed to the chief druid. The cider was tasted, then carried around the circle with libations being poured onto the earth. The seeds were received and were then distributed around the circle.

The names of companions of the ancient order no longer with us were read out, including that of the artist William Blake and other well-known historical figures. We all observed a minute or two of silence and their was a fairly long address, a message of peace and human understanding.

Druids hold hands and renew their vows

The Druid Order are peace loving and free-thinking and their main aim appears to be to develop themselves through being rather than through intellectual learning. Near to the close of the event, the druids joined hands around the circle and renewed their druid vows. In a final act of the ceremony, four druids came to the centre of the circle and raised the hands in turn to the four points of the compass to proclaim peace.

Peace to the four points of the compass

Everyone present was thanked for coming and an invitation issued to those who want to find out more about the order to attend their regular public meetings. The druids then left the circle in order through a gate made by two of their number and filed away.

You can see many more pictures of the 2014 celebration on My London Diary at Druids celebrate the Spring Equinox.

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Autumn Equinox on Primrose Hill

Thursday, September 23rd, 2021


I’ve photographed the ceremonies performed by Druid Order on the the Spring and Autumn Equinox on several occasions, and feel that interesting though these events are there is little more I can say about either of them. Probably I won’t attend them again, or at least I don’t feel any need to.


The Spring Ceremony takes place at Tower Hill and the Autumn at the top of Primrose Hill, which is a rather more atmospheric location with its extensive view of London. Tower Hill does have the Tower of London in the background, but not a great view of it, and the actual yard in which the ceremony takes place has all the appeal of any urban car park. In some earlier years there was something of a procession through city streets, but more recently the preparation has taken place in a hall of the adjacent church.


The Druids get ready for the Autumn ceremony under some splendid trees on the edge of the park and process to the top of the hill for the ceremony. My pictures in 2007 concentrated on describing the various stages of the event and I think do so well. Here I’ll post just a few of them but you can see the rest online – link below.


In 2014 I also showed the various stages of the ceremony, but managed to also show more of the druids and their getting ready for the event. I also took a monopod with me (as I had also in 2013) and was able to use it to hold a camera around 10 ft above ground to get a better picture showing the druid circle with the view of London in the distance.


I also talked more to some of those taking part before and after the event, and wrote a longer than usual introduction to the pictures describing the ceremony and giving some of the history of Druidism and the Druid Order.

Autumn Equinox on Primrose Hill


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

Spring Equinox

Saturday, March 20th, 2021

I’m not sure how Druids will be celebrating this year’s Spring Equinox on today, March 20th, but for several years I went to photograph the annual celebration at noon at Tower Hill. But after I’d photographed the event several times I decided there seemed to be very little more I could say about it and it was no longer something I felt a need to cover.

Spring comes every year, and we celebrate it in different ways, and I think that other festivals around this time of year, including St Patrick’s Day and Easter all owe something to this Druidic festival of new life. Before Julius Caesar updated the Roman calendar a date around the Equinox was often chosen to celebrate the New Year, and this lives on in our names for the months of September and October, the seventh and eight months of a year starting in March. In London we can join with the Kurds in celebrating their New Year, Newroz, at the Equinox.

Druids claim to have a long history but we know very little about how the ancient inhabitants of our country actually celebrated, though clearly they did mark the solstices and equinoxes as sites such as Stonehenge attest. But there is no record of exactly what they did and what they believed, and traditional Druidic ceremonies are a relatively modern creation.

Wikipedia has a lengthy article on modern Druidry, which includes the following:

Many forms of modern Druidry are modern Pagan religions, although most of the earliest modern Druids identified as Christians. Originating in Britain during the 18th century, Druidry was originally a cultural movement, and only gained religious or spiritual connotations later in the 19th century.

Druidry (modern)

The oldest remaining of these modern druidic groups is the Ancient Order of Druids founded in 1781. The public ceremonies at Tower Hill and for the Autum equinox at Primrose Hill are by The Druid Order, founded in1909 by George Watson MacGregor Reid but claiming lineage from earlier Druids. They have apparently also been known as The Ancient Druid Order, An Druidh Uileach Braithreachas, and The British Circle of the Universal Bond. Their public rituals have now been carried on for over a century.

On My London Diary you can see the pictures I took in the various years and in each report I’ve posted the images in chronological order and I try to give my interpretation of the various aspects of the ceremony. But mine is an outsider’s view and you can also find out more from their web site.

The Druids process away to a nearby hall at the end of the ceremony. Most years they have used the church next door, but one year this was not available and they had to go a short distance through the city, crossing the road through an underpass.

You can see my pictures and text from the Spring Equinox ceremonies in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2014 on My London Diary – and if you look on some of the October pages – or use the search on the site – there are also pictures from the Autumn Equinox at Primrose Hill.