One of the rituals practised by the Regency was the widdershins or anti-clockwise dance. The next section of Prospero’s Book is headed ‘The Effects of the Widdershins Dance’:
One of the effects of an anti-clockwise motion if prolonged and particularly if assisted by humming or some rhythmic device or beat (preferably hypnotic, simple and repetitive) is to promote a sense of displacement. This is of supreme importance. One feels that one is outside oneself or at a little distance from oneself. This is invariably to the left side and somewhat above. We meet this phenomenon in the so-called Near Death Experience, and similar disassociated states. Sometimes it can be drug induced. The known effects of displacement also include the suspension of a linear time sense. (Margin: An effect produced by some poems.) The ability, however dimly, to divine and see a different world and a different order become Present. One of the effects of this state is to trigger small lights, mostly red, which appear and disappear if one is working in the dark. They are lattice nodal points; photons if you like; winking in and out of existence. They are a certain sign of contact between dimensions.
Continuing Prospero’s Book:
Magic is all about the utilisation of chance and change; of being aware of what is “Latent” in the Universe, and of going “with it”: opening doors to possibilities, “Casements unto faery seas forlorn”.
Here is the next section of Prospero’s Book:
In this context let it be noted the Circus figures are all magical in origin; and of course the Fool is of Prime importance. In fact, as we will further discover, the circus is the Universe in miniature. Its moving spirit the Ringmaster; its clown and Fairy Goddesses; the tumbling of acrobats and trapezes weaving a lattice in the big top; the fluxions of order and disorder; the passions of the horses corralled and controlled by the riding ladies; the recognisable, even today, affinities with the Cretan dances and bull dances in the honour of the Great Goddess. It’s all there in the circus tradition, a microcosm of the magic universe.
This photo of George Winter, taken during his later years, conveys something of his great charm and wicked sense of fun.
The typescripts of The New Pagans’ Handbook have a dedication page that reads
‘Dad’ was Chalky’s private nickname for George. At the time Chalky first began to plan and draft the Handbook, in autumn 1982, George was still alive. He died in March 1983.
George, like Chalky, was a member of the Royal Windsor Cuveen which was founded by Robert Cochrane (Roy Bowers). Chalky and George planned the Regency together, and though Chalky wrote the rituals, he consulted closely with George at every stage.
‘Winter’ was not George’s real surname, but it was the name he preferred to be known by in the Regency. I have been told that in his youth in Norfolk he was befriended by an old gypsy or traveller woman called Mrs Winter. She taught him traditional witchcraft lore, and he took the name ‘Winter’ in her memory.
Why did Chalky call George ‘Dad’? I don’t know. But ‘Dad’ was also George’s nickname for Chalky. The pair of them enjoyed bewildering bartenders with exchanges like this:
“Would you like a pint, Dad?”
“Don’t mind if I do, Dad,” and so on.
Photograph of George Winter © John of Monmouth
Continuing Prospero’s Book, Ron White’s essay on magic:
To a certain extent I must refer to Physics, which astonishingly is rediscovering the basis of magic on its own terms. Our present generation has gotten used to the improbabilities of present scientific speculation. One such is the “Uncertainty Principle”. We magicians call this the Fool Factor and it is represented in all magic, and has to be reckoned with. Generals who fight wars are well aware of it. “The Fog of War” they call it.
Mitchell’s Fold and Tintern Abbey
Stones stand, still in the sunlight,
Circles or cloisters; each holding
Hundreds of wishes
And plenitude of prayers.
The choked up orisons
The chants imprinted here
On ruined chancels of Millenia bygone.
Do they despair to heaven? Their hands up —
Surrendering through stone
The fierce beliefs, mad rituals,
The blood and the bone, and the body.
No one knows. A plainchant
On the one hand, and on the other?
At the Stiperstones.
At the end there is always the same end.
A God nailed to the altar
Of our wishes,
And the women weeping at his death.
© The Estate of Ronald M. White
More from Prospero’s Book:
Our waking time is mostly experienced as a linear progression of events with effects following causes. There are sufficient instances of this being only a simplification of experience for us to handle it with care.
Effects sometimes come first causes afterwards. Once more, “Verdict first: evidence after.”