Organistion and Events
Mrs. Sally Sugden was especially busy at this time of year. She was the Organiser, in charge of the programme of ritual events at the Avebury Midsummer Festival. The High level rituals were, of course, not open to the public. The Stewards patrolled the vicinity to ensure their privacy. There were other celebrations and rituals, such as the dancing along the two ‘snake’ arms to the central circle, and the marriage ceremonies and the torchlight processions, in which the public were welcome to participate. The secular festivities went on for at least a week, centred on the solstice. The Festival was always opened by a procession around the sacred temenos and speeches by Sir Peter Churchward, the local lord and magistrate, representing the secular power, unless King Harold himself graced the occasion, and the various leading priests and priestesses, including herself. She maintained order in relation to the sacred side of affairs, and Sir Peter upheld secular justice. The Circle was always popular and in demand for all sorts of rituals and activities. She saw that clashes of scheduling were avoided, and kept a discreet eye on all that happened. The Spirits of Place were accepting of a range of formulae, beliefs and pantheons, although they had a firm identity of their own. Sally was intimately acquainted with them as she was also the Convener of the Wardens of Avebury, the group responsible for the daily spiritual practices communing with the spirits, and for the spiritual and physical maintenance of the site. All the well known sites of Wessex and the other kingdoms were in the keeping of such groups. The spiritual links between them were strong, but their Guardians often found it useful as well as pleasant to visit each other’s sites for festivals, ceremonies and initiations.
Avebury was not only a single very large monument, but part of a whole ‘ritual landscape’. Not only were the other sites maintained and the location of their own ceremonies, their influences conjoined. Many of the visitors to the Avebury Festival took the opportunity to visit places like Silbury Hill, West Kennet Longbarrow, and Stonehenge, for both sightseeing and ritual purposes. These linkages were an important part of what held each of the kingdoms together and formed a growing unity between them underneath the formal political situation.
Colourful heraldry was becoming fashionable again, at least for ceremonial and festive occasions and for indications of property rights amongst the nobility and corporations, even if no longer so useful in combat, apart from incorporation into the badges and colours of military units. The Dragon Standard of Wessex flew proudly above a beautiful assemblage of flags, banners and heraldic emblems of the Guilds and Associations, Orders, Brotherhoods, Sororities, Companionships, county and municipal and less formal groupings which embodied the society of Wessex. When the King was present the Royal Standard of a golden wyvern or dragon on a scarlet background would fly over all the others. These emblems were more than decoration, they embodied the pride and love and loyalty and identity of the people, much as the standards of the Roman legions had done. Those who studied the public mood took note of any lack of respect for these symbols, and would begin to investigate. This year the public mood, like the weather, was cheerful.
Amongst the entertainments were masques and mummers, and stock figures such as the heroic King Arthur and St. George and Thor. Amongst their evil opponents were figures such as the Moor, and also the Bankster, the Israeli and Uncle Sam who were burnt in effigy, to the delight of the crowds. Talks and demonstrations were also popular. James Fisher’s grisly tales of the doings of larger than life characters in the Americas, or ‘beyond the line’, battling Mexican ghouls, seeking profit and adventure amongst corrupt Brazilians and haughty Americans, alternately chilling and stirring the blood of his listeners, were a great success. Whatever they lost in veracity was more than made up in drama.
Other travelers, returning merchants and officers on leave, spoke of life in the commercial colonies of Vandalia and trade in the Mediterranean, explorations in North Africa and investigation of the ancient monuments of Egypt, and the Middle East, now liberated from Moslem occupation, and prospering under German administration. Certain druids with the assistance of Irish colleagues were exploring the numerous megaliths and stone circles of the North African coastlands, including the great but little known stone circle, comparable to Stonehenge, situated at Mezorah, near Lixus in Morocco. There was a medieval legend that the stones of the ‘Giant’s Dance’ had been brought long before from North Africa to Ireland, and then transferred to Stonehenge by Merlin the fabled enchanter. Thus both the Irish and the men of Wessex were interested in finding out what they could, and seeking respectful contact with the spirits of that land.
Over the preceding centuries Irish druids had been helpful in opening contact with the spirits of ancestors and the gods of the land at West Kennet and other sites which had been similar in function to Newgrange, and in strengthening such contacts, selecting and training the able, developing the ancestral contacts and enlivening the land. This skill had first been developed to a notable level by the Irish, and they had then assisted their neighbors in developing similar skills.
A school of sorcery had developed that dealt with the dead. Not only could they encourage rebirth of appropriate souls and banish others, some could and did pursue enemies of their people beyond death, blasting and shriveling their souls to less than human status. They had also identified the links of Fate guiding the successive incarnations of the evil ones who had done so much to debase and destroy the Old People. They pursued them relentlessly, prevailing upon the Powers of Hell to deny them birth as humans, and to ensure that their souls spent billions of years of misery and degradation. These people were intense haters, disinclined to spend future lifetimes fighting the same foes revived. Less advanced levels had the ability to weaken the will of an enemy, spreading fear, confusion and despair. It took nothing from the skill and courage of the German forces to know, as did few, that their spectacular victories over Islam had been assisted by the secret help of Irish, Welsh and British mages demoralising and confusing the Moslem leadership.