The chapter on the Lammas ritual is divided into four sections. This is the second section:
The men and women assemble apart. If possible the ladies should carry or wear flowers, preferably poppies. A statuette of the Goddess, or simulacrum of Her presence, such as a mask, should be available to be carried in procession. As is suitable for a ‘dark’ ritual, evening is the time for the ceremony. The man who acts as the Lord of the Dead should wear a dark cloak, purple being excellent for the purpose, and a wreath of evergreen oak upon his head. Some meat and wine should be placed at the centre of the ritual site. The men are provided with candles or flaming torches. As they are still in mourning for Robin they should be so dressed.
There is already a photograph of this mask elsewhere on the site, but it was taken under very bad lighting conditions. This is a better one. It should really be on a red background (see the passage below) but a piece of black velvet was what came to hand.
We are now more than half way through the ritual year, and have arrived at the section in the Handbook that describes Lammas:
At present Lammas is one of the more obscure festivals, particularly in Southern England where its significance is lost and its memory obscured. There are two strands to its story. One commemorates the last of the Lord of the Waxing year, whose spirit is considered to linger in the land of Summer until Lammastide and the beginning of Autumn; and it is therefore a wake for His Midsummer death. We note that as at the Spring Equinox Robin was chosen but did not consummate his love till May Day; so though chosen at Midsummer, Arthur does not fully enter into His own till Lammas. The other strand is the story of the Goddess, who journeys to the Land of the Shades where the Lord of the Waning Year reigns. By Her journey, and, in a sense, Her own sacrifice She takes up Her own reign as Queen of Shades and Darkness.
Lammas is the end of Summer. The period between it and the Hallows marks the going to rest of the Earth and it is so typified in our story with the Goddess Herself going to the dark land, where She will rule below as She does above. Her colour is red, the colour of life, for as we shall see She takes with Her life into the land of death.
Eyed to a boy,
Sky through a bedtime window,
Bowled in surprise,
Taken by richness,
Running at nightfall,
Royal and happy,
Blue for their glory:
Sky eye to boy eye
© The Estate of Ronald M. White
The text of The New Pagans’ Handbook on this website has been put together by comparing two typescripts, which have a tiny number of variants from each other. Until now missing from both typescripts was the Preamble section of the chapter on Yule. In fact, we were wondering whether it had ever existed, though it seemed odd, since all the other ceremonies are introduced by preambles. But now the missing page has finally come to light at the bottom of a drawer:
This is very much a festival of the Northern Hemisphere where it makes seasonal sense. For us it is an occasion of enormous significance, for it is the feast of the Star Child, whose coming was foretold at the Reading of the Festivals.
Ronald White’s partner of many years died peacefully earlier this week. He addressed this poem to her in November 1972.
Well, I asked for it, the great gift:-
A year of miracles, being you mostly,
And me being found, and sharing at last
Identities of loneliness.
I don’t need the fool’s mask for pain
Anymore. Nor could I again take up
The steel mask you lifted from my face:
They are your trophies from my wars.
And though at basis I am bone, I stand
Fleshed on a land where chariots ride
To frequent festivals.
And at last there is no fear.
© The Estate of Ronald M. White
Chalks was a connoisseur of beer, and a convivial man besides. A friendly pub, a well-kept pint, and good company – these were things that made him happy. In his years of retirement, he was well known and much liked in a number of Shropshire pubs.
At some point in (I think) the mid eighties, he painted a sign for a pub called the Royal Oak. I remember his taking me to see it soon after. The sign has now vanished, but fortunately he took a photo of it, which has recently come to light.
Here is a more detailed image of the sign. My apologies for its imperfections: it has been scaled up and digitally enhanced from a tiny square in a faded and damaged photo.