Has it really just been little more than a week when the GOC had curry night? We invaded Red Chilli in Derby for a quite chilled out and relaxing evening with discussions on art, beer making (“Don’t even get me started on about yeast…” Danceswithweasels), fox hunting, badger baiting and fracking. I know it was a fairly quiet night for the restaurant, but did the waiters have to keep asking every ten minutes whether or not we were enjoying our food?
Sunday night (15th) saw the Grove go to the realms of Grantham (well, Caythorpe) to take up Strider’s offer of having our Alban Arthan ceremony in his (gorgeous) back garden. In fact on the way there, me and Briseilid had a run in with synchronicity… we saw a warning sign for deer (STAG) on the roads, then we saw The STAG pub on the way. It wasn’t until we caught up with Luch Dorcha, whom graced us with his presence and even gave me a bottle of Glenfiddich whisky… symbolised with a STAG head. Awesome!
After we had all greeted each other and became sure no one else was turning up, we decided it was time to go into the garden and begin…
We were blessed by all the usual elements: lots of wind in the air, the tall trees of earth swaying, the spattering of rain here and there and the fire that needed only a little encouragement before it threatened to roast Luch Dorcha’s balls… his words… Even the beautiful almost-but-not-quite-full moon made her appearances throughout the night. In light of me hogging the position of South and of the element fire, I actually got out of calling any quarters, hahahaaa! The atmosphere was indeed magical, peace was called, the quarters summoned and the circle cast and our audience of one had no idea the rest of us, in secret- no, no, no….. conspiracy had prepared a Mummers Play.
Oh yes! Tatterhood had the idea of us creating our very own Mummers Play to represent the light and dark of the Winter Solstice. She had taken influence from an official pagan Mummers Play, which I thought too serious, so I wrote my own version, but based my characters on that one. The jokes and format was more in line with a Mummers Play I do with my Morris Side. I suppose you could say I ripped them off… if you want to read it then you can visit our website on this link of the Grove of the Corieltauvi website: http://theintelligencer.webspace.virginmedia.com/Corieltauvi/page23.html
There is a reason I put my apologies to the two sources for this version of a Mummers Play, but at least they are credited. It is my hope that should we do this again (hopefully with rehearsals planned in advance… we did leave it kinda last minute) we can rewrite the script as we add to it, making it truly our own. Against the wind, it was a valiant attempt and the duel was the quickest I had ever seen- I should have announced the combat, but it would have been tricky with the fire and I didn’t want anyone getting burned. Regardless, Strider was very good at his dying and everyone gave it a go.
With the “Oak King defeated and the Holly King supreme…” Tatterhood then led the ceremony into a contemplation of the present. Her inspiration was that this year (what’s left of it) had seen a lot of ceremonies about either letting go of something in our past or for achieving something in the future, that rarely do we accept what she have and who we have to appreciate in the present. So we took in the moment right then and there… the six of us in a circle, the fire before us, the rolling clouds above revealing the moon, a finished performance and being with this group our friendship and family. And like all moments… it was done.
Back in doors, we were treated to home made Stollen:
We also enjoyed home made Cauliflower and coriander soup. Tatterhood brought her infamous mulled wine and Danceswithweasels brought her homemade ale (malty and reminded me of a Mild) which I enjoyed so much I even took a bottle home. We managed to catch up with LuchDorcha whom we haven’t seen for a while, Briseilid made a fantastic Wren and Cymro ap Arthan went to town on his Holly King outfit.
A big thank you to Strider and his household for making an excellent spread and putting us up (as well as putting up with us). And a big thank you for everyone involved in the Mummers Play, I know it was all last minute, but at least we can say we did it! Same again at Alban Heruin?
So, what’s a ‘Mummers Play’?
The term ‘mummer’ comes from the troupes of actors who, back in medieval times, would travel from house to house, castle, to castle and perform for the nobles and lords and ladies a play. Usually these would be plays about Christ, but with the Crusades came tales of a Knight (usually St.George) fighting against a Saracen warrior. The old plays of Robin Hood could even fall into this category. Nowadays, the Mummers Play tells of a white knight fighting a black knight. Black knight dies and his mother tells the white knight off. A quack doctor or apothecary arrives with a multitude of ‘remedies’ that all fail to work in reviving the black knight until the most secret and very last pill or potion is used to revive him. At the end, the Devil or Beelzebub appears to take money for the show so the Mummers can leave you in peace and buy beer. The pagan version of this is used to tell the story of the solstices with the Oak King being challenged and defeated at the Winter Solstice only for the same to happen to the Holly King at the Summer Solstice.