traditions are played out on the South Bank outside the Globe
Theatre on the nearest Sunday to the Twelfth Night. This was my second outing to the Revels and, this year, at least we enjoyed clear weather, cold but dry!
We arrived early to find a group of players in costume and immediately threw ourselves into the tudor dancing whilst waiting for the Revels to formally start. More and more people arrived and then more people in costume arrived until at last we were all huddled around a small part of the riverbank waiting for the Holly Man to be ferried up the river. I love this part of the revels, there is a truly Pagan sense of anticipation in waiting for the Holly Man to come back to London. Obviously returning far too early for the Wheel of the Year calender but as one of the Players remarked "People just really like seeing the Green Man" and of course they do - we are all looking for the hope of Summer at this time of year.
wishing for good cheers, safe passage and the tongues of poets to set
fire to the Globe. Because once the boat and an apple tree are
wassailed the company always wassails the Globe Theatre for a fine
year of Playing. I am not really much of a patriotic person but I was
proud to stand and wassail the globe for another fine year of creative endeavour.
The formal Revels end with a traditional Mumming play which was great fun, St. George battled the Cuts and stood as Protector of the Welfare State, the Doctor and assembled company healed St. George with magic wands when he fell in battle and all was well. The cakes were passed around and inside two a pea and bean led to the Crowning of King Bean and Queen Pea - in true 21st century style they were both, in fact, women busting those normative gender roles!
We didn’t go to the George pub afterwards for more stories, dancing
and the Kissing Wishing Tree but instead travelled our weary way home. But I feel like I have started the New Year off properly, seeing the Holly Man really does raise my spirit and wassailing everything in sight creates an amazing sense of community amongst strangers, however temporary.
Wassail. Drink Hail.