Everything on acid is nuts right? Jimi Hendrix is like Barack Obama… on acid; Thom Yorke's left eye is like Thom Yorke's right eye… on acid; rain is like a shower… on LOADS of acid! Etc. Well, we thought we’d do really scary things on acid, to see if that journalistic cliche had a point. This week: A druids' picnic!
You have no idea how many people pitch us articles about druids. Almost the same amount that pitch us articles about gypsies—that's how many. Fortunately, the …On Acid! series lends new drama to lazy journalism and turns bad ideas into brilliant ones.
This is our French friend Ben. Here he is taking acid at 11.30 AM.
And here he is again, after a short tube ride up to London's Primrose Hill, taking part in The Druid Order Autumn Equinox Ceremony. They were nice enough to let him hold that piece of rope, which really made his day. As we got on the tube, Ben was looking kind of nauseous and worried that everything was getting a bit weird. Fortunately, by the time we arrived in NW1, he said he felt much better, thanks to this ad, which he stared at for about 15 minutes.
When we arrived, a group of 30 or so men and women were standing in a circle, wearing white robes, holding hands, and chanting. Ben was immediately absorbed into the spectacle.
The sun was out and it was, frankly, almost exactly the same as being at Glastonbury, except instead of having Glasvegas droning on in the background, we had the king of the druids talking about "reconnection with the cycles of life," "the spirits of nature," and their ultimate goal of "unity with the infinite." This all struck a chord with Ben. "I'm so fucking high," he whispered in his French burr, "it's all starting to hum."
Look at him. He looks so evil compared to the pagans.
After half an hour or so of ceremonies, the druids descended Primrose Hill with Ben sauntering along behind. At this point he was certainly having fun, but I don't think he was feeling particularly spiritual.
Surprisingly, the druids were totally into having a surly Frenchman tripping balls in the middle of their important religious ceremony.
This woman thanked everyone (including Ben) for coming as we stood in the sacred circle, and she made a speech I couldn't really hear. At one point Ben turned around giggling and said, "That was such a boss trick." Later, when I asked him what he'd meant, he said he didn't even know what that meant. Now feeling initiated into their community, Ben felt confident enough to go and chat to the druid babes. You could tell they were making him really happy. Hippies make so much sense when you're high.
This is the guy Ben bonded most closely with. His face evidently gave off some great vibes. Apparently they just talked about smoking weed.
Things got a little weird when Ben asked to touch this guy's staff, but he eventually obliged. "That was the best part of the day," Ben said. "It was the pointiest thing I've ever felt!"
God, this was the worst. Everyone was milling about, being all somber and friendly when Ben pulled off this woman's wreath. It went down really badly, and he had to give it back. She looked at him sternly and said, "Are you from the press?"
"I have no fucking idea," he replied. It was really awkward.
Out of step with their message of pastoral oneness, there were several heavy swords left lying around. Yet it's testament to the calm and welcoming nature of the druids that they didn't mind a temporarily insane Frenchman who'd just stolen a wreath walking around with a blade that was bigger than he was. Druids are chill.
These, incidentally, are Ben's "drugs shoes," of which he said, "I am so glad I have these shoes on… they are so fucking cool." The Autumn Equinox is a late harvest festival, celebrated when day and night are of equal length. It is seen as a time of balance before the descent into the darkness of winter, a time to take stock of the fruits of the harvest and of things achieved in life. During the rituals, the harvest was scattered within the druid circle, the food considered a holy sacrifice to nature.
And here is Ben eating the druids' holy sacrifice.
Luckily, the fact that Ben had stolen the food off god's plate didn't kill the vibe as much as these guys did. What the fuck is it with steampunks? Why were they here? I'm pretty sure they weren't invited, because no one invites a steampunk to anything. Their dark clothes were unnerving Ben, and he started to prang out. But then we ran into this guy! I've never seen anyone as happy or relieved as Ben was at this point. He and the dog spent the next ten minutes pulling faces at each other. By then, the druids had begun to derobe, and Ben started to get scared as the druids transformed into normal people. We left them mid-picnic, wandering off to sit on the other side of Primrose Hill, because Ben had to go "piss some smoke." To be honest, it was a great day. It turns out spending time with friendly people wearing nice white robes in a nice park on a sunny day on acid is actually quite a pleasant experience.
WORDS: TOM WATSON
PHOTOS: JACOB PERLMUTTER