A Modern Pagan Group Who Meet in London are described by R. M. White
In a wooded island of oakwood, holly and hazel, in, if you can believe it, the Greater London area, a solemn ritual is taking place. One by one the attenders step forward, kneel to the Deities and solemnly pour their libations. Each may say as little or as much in prayer as they wish: the dignity of the great oaks, the awesome presence of the Goddess and the God, the quietness of the moment, is often prayer enough.
Their libations poured, each reverently resumes his or her place in the circle. An owl hoots as the last libation is poured and the Goddess and the God step forward to place the spiced cake
and the blood-red wine in the mouths of the worshippers.
This is a meeting of the Regency – an organisation with no organisation – a group as its name suggests with no leader, for who can be so great as to presume the power of the Gods? True, the rite has its instigators, those who express and explain its simple significance: but there is no charisma, no autocracy, not even a compulsion to participate; the diffident can spectate.
The Regency will be eight years old come Hallowe’en, when once again it will meet to open the Roads and invite all ghosts and spectres to join in communion and dance.
Once upon a Hallowe’en ten members journeyed to the Rollright Stones. This is a popular spot at this time of the year, for many, though ignorant of the Lady, or for that matter the Crone, are called there by the powerful magic of the site.
Knowing what they were doing and why, The Regency organised the ceremonies, deterred vandals from uprooting trees, made and lit their own fire from materials which they had brought with them, and despite the nervous gibes of spectators, so impressed their sincere and spontaneous ceremony on the many bystanders, that when the circle was formed forty people took their place within and comment from the hundred others without was stilled; nearly all of these finally participating in the wine and the cake.
Alas! The site is no longer available. Its owner, frightened by the very vandals the Regency could control, has fenced off the ground and forbidden the fires of festival to all.
Yet the Regency continues its meetings in the London Woods. Its ceremonies are public, its attenders various, and many come long distances to be there. A sincere belief is all that is required, and a willingness to walk the woods at night. There is no oath, no membership fee, and no initiation. It requires, and perhaps this is a weakness politically, no further commitment from its attenders but their attention. It has always been small, never having more than thirty-six at any one meeting except the Rollright Hallows mentioned above.
Initially it met indoors, but lack of suitable premises edged it into the woods. Now the feel of the earth and the great brooding trees is a necessity, and even though a bonfire is not permissible, the candles of Yuletide round the holly tree and the one black candle at Hallows are the fireflies of our simple faith. For simplicity is at the heart of the Regency. There are no written instructions to confuse the literally minded. Every ceremony grows out of the ground as it were. The ambience decides its form, the words are spontaneous, the action unforced. It was not always so. Initially the rite was written in detail, but repetition died in the woods, the threat of a sterile rubric retreated and was gone forever.
‘Some who know of us have felt that the Regency was puritanical. So we are. There are no spells, no cackling crones. No devils and no voluptuous orgies. The Regency pretends to no quick release mechanism for the soul or for sex. The Regency exploits no one and expects nothing. There are no political affiliations. We are there to worship the Lady and Her Consort however we may individually conceive of Them. Thus we revere women and respect men. We take what is given, force no issues, but try to abide with and by the Gods.
We call it the Regency for we are all regents in our outer selves for that centre of our being where the Goddess and the Gods dwell. There is only to each one that self, and the possibility of realising that self. This is each person’s own disparate responsibility. It cannot be traded off by accepting the commands, peccadilloes and conceit of a leader.
There has been little written on the Regency for its philosophy does not take well to print, for too many confuse whatever is written with what really is. There is, therefore, little point in this article in attempting to discuss its ethos beyond the simplest statements, and even these must be confusing.
We meet on the seasonal festivals, seeing these festivals not only as markers of the year, but as a repeated allegory of our lives. The rites are simple, direct, childlike. The myth is told over and acted out. Each attender can read its significance for himself whether at a simple or more esoteric level.
Perhaps being aware of the many levels of the experience is a benefit; but it is in the clarity of a still and open mind that truth is most clearly reflected, and the simpler the understanding the deeper the truth. It is the moment of communication with oneself under the trees that counts. It is the atmosphere of sincere worship and solemn joy that sinks deep into the heart.
It is the expression beyond words of those who have put aside their anxieties and personal fears to become free and tranquil, being reminded that they are all children of the Great Mother.
Published in Spectrum, no. 2, Nov/Dec 1974
© The Estate of Ronald M. White
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