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Page last updated at 08:40 GMT, Tuesday, 26 October 2010 09:40 UK
How to be a Druid in Derbyshire
Cat Treadwell
As a Druid priest, the outdoors is Cat Treadwell's second home

If you thought Druids were bearded men given to wearing long white robes and dreaming of glories past, then clearly you have yet to meet Cat Treadwell.

She has been a practising Druid for some ten years now, a member of her local Derbyshire Grove.

For her getting out into nature is the key: "representing the turning of the seasons" and measuring "how the world impacts on us, and we on it".

The priesting of the land is how she describes it: herself a Druid priest.

The Druid Network's recent formal recognition by the Charities Commission was seen by many as a landmark decision.

For Cat Treadwell the telling phrase was the Commission's assertion that Druidry was "of benefit to the community".

As a woman who works for the NHS Cat is keen to stress that people's welfare is at the heart of her beliefs.

She finds herself frequently asked for help with weddings, funerals and hospital visiting.

Growing numbers

We are not evangelising, she will tell you, but we are often approached by those who feel an attraction to spirituality but are not engaged by the big world faiths.

The next census will, she believes, allow boxes to be ticked and numbers counted for Druids nationwide.

Meeting when they can, her fellow Druids try to get together for the major festivals, like Halloween.

What does she think of the ghosts, the ghouls, the spooky costumes, the "trick or treat" approach: is it an exercise in hi-jacking?

All fine and fun, she says - as long as it all avoids a false connection with evil.

She is happy to be knee-deep in pumpkin pie as long as the memory persists of ancestral days when, with the harvest in and winter ahead, people lit the darkness, celebrated the dead and trusted that they would survive to see the spring.


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