by your leave we will sing Concerning our King:
the wren, the wren, king of birds who warbles his pleasing song winter long. tiny wren , cutty wren, the tiny druid trilling the future, saving the house from lightening, dying to bring forth the new year, the new crop, new life. king of the hedge. lord of the bush. basiliskos. le roitelet. the little king.
in welsh, the name for wren means both the bird known as wren and druid. in irish gaelic, the name for wren is "druid-bird".the latin scientific family to which the wren belongs is "cave dweller"(Troglodytidae).
back to before aristotle, the wren was king. the eagle was originally thought to be the king of birds for the feat of flying higher than all the others until the wren caught a ride on its head, flying even higher.
cunning, crafty wren. the eagle flees before the mighty wren! the owl, she serenades the moon. the wren sings to the sun conjuring its return after the darkest, longest night. " the champion of darkness is slain and the world brought back to life."
although it is not so apparent now, originally even the "christian" celebrations of christmas- revels and frolics- were so publicly outrageous, besotted, and given over to sin if not near criminality that the puritans of new england banned any festivities associated with the birth of christ aka the birth of mithra aka as the birth of sol invictus aka as saturnalia. meaning even more outrageous than putting a blow up reindeer in your front yard and a pair of felt antlers on your head (because of course you'd have the strength of your convictions set aright using real antlers in celebrating the real reason for the season).unlike many modern xians, in denial about the origins as their beliefs while gracelessly devolving into medieval hysterical hypocrisy, woman loathing and witch sniffing(along with their muslim brothers from another father), at least the puritans recognized unchecked, authentic heathenism and the concurrent slaughtering of their stultifying, repressive social order when they saw it. from 1659 to 1681 in massachusetts christmas as we sort of know it was illegal. christmas did not become popular holiday in the massachusetts bay tight ass colony until the 1800's.
the most objectionable bits of the holiday , which hark back to saturnalia, have been carefully hacked out by those who rather enjoy controlling major portions of the population through oppressive regulation,life denying morality, and restrictive, spiritually stunting group think. if that doesn't work, mind eroding, stupefying secular bread and circuses are offered up- in modern times being television and mass media, children's games played professionally by grown men, the ritual detachment known as social networking, drugs- legal and illegal, and mindless consumerism as reason for living and slaving away drone-like. it is not the over indulgence in intoxicants and food , pissing away of wealth, or other forms of physical self-indulgence but the upheaval of the social order that was the heart of the revels- and its most threatening aspect. we still drink and eat to excess often at painfully forced social events. we buy lots of crap we don't need and pine for the light, pray to be saved by something, any one, but all of the festivities are geared toward maintaining the economic and social inequities of our culture not toward revealing and perhaps upending them at least within our own psyches. joylessly we go a wassailing , alienated from its meaning, driven from the forests of the great mother. dionysus is torn apart and devoured by the maenads but no one liberated. no one is resurrected.
wassailing-going door to door demanding liquor- had it's own cup:
think of it as a pimp cup only it did not glorify the sexual enslavement of women. we haven't come a long way, baby, but it is curious how our past haunts us.
saturnalia recalled a mythical time when the earth was said to offer up her bounty sans labor, rendering class distinctions, exploitation of the weak, disadvantage, and slavery nonexistent. the ancients had the sense to know that utopia would never again be had on earth, wisely offering up an outlet for the anger and rage that foment under the yoke of the natural selfish injustice to which men are prone . communism will never work on earth. humans cannot be forced to be fair and just-the result of attempting to do so is invariably cruel, vicious,unjust, and fascist. this does not mean that a debt is not owed to the serf as to the king as to the wren. it is not, however, license to be a complete fuck.
role reversals, the wearing of drag, staggering drunkenness and resulting disordered senses, free speech with no consequences expressed by the lower classes toward their betters(a role once filled on a permanent basis by court jesters and harlequins)- the social order was upended for nearly a month , ending on 12th night when the Lord of Misrule was relieved of his throne and the status quo returned.
most of the traditional plays acted by roving bands of revelers such as mummers at christmas time at their core always involve the death and resurrection of one of the characters.
the wren hunt is neolithic in origin. the wren is most clearly viewed as a totem-regarded as having important spiritual powers- which is sacrificed in order to convey those powers to the tribe. the wren is hunted and killed with great ceremony, paraded through town on an elaborately decorated pole laid in a nest often made of holly and ivy. strawboys, wrenboys,mummers,and molly dancers, dressed in costumes or rags, their faces obscured, sing a variant of the numerous songs concerning the wren, demanding drink and money to bury the king with honors. those who contribute monies are rewarded with a feather, considered to convey good luck and blessings upon their home. the king is buried in the churchyard accompanied by more song and circular dances. this ceremonial death and display sometimes occurs on christmas eve, christmas, saint stephen's day(december 26th or boxing day. in greek the name stephanos means crown.), on the new year and in fact on just about any day in advent up to 12th night. the confusion over the correct day, the meaning of the ceremony and its songs, which are prone to exaggeration and dark humor, point to a people who have forgotten the meanings behind the things they hold dear, left with the shell of ritual. or perhaps they have rather had the meanings beat out of them on pain of death because that is what love and peace is under a patriarch- sadomasochistic sexualized religious cannibalism under a jackboot of faux morality instead of the fair rule of the wren who dwells in the cave of his mother.
and that is our king.
in america with it's perpetually infantile, self destructive dialogue about race , it is important to note that the "black face" in this video has nothing to do with africans,skin color,race,or vaudeville/minstrels. the celts were known to both whiten and darken their faces. because of the nature of revels- when the more well to do were basically accosted in their own homes and shook down for money, drink and food, while being insulted or mocked by inebriated ruffians- there was the need as in halloween to disguise oneself. ashes and soot were the most readily available medium.