Midsummer at Avebury
Stonehenge at midwinter had been bleak. Wet, windy, with empty bellies, full of discomfort. Discomfort, though, had been appropriate to the purpose and the season. In some years the snow fell early, and there were those who saw this as a favorable omen, silently merging the landscape into the Great White. It was certainly more cheerful whilst the snow was fresh. Last year there had been no snow, but there had been cold winds, driving and eddying downpours of rain, hissing and keening around the Stones. Not even the small fire which Tradition permitted at the centre had been possible, nor would it's warmth have availed even those closest to it, although that indeed was not it's purpose. In some years there was an atmosphere of peace, even of joy and exaltation as the sun slowly arose in a clear still morning, beginning to strengthen for a new round of days, and the noble spirits amongst the recently dead made their passage to join it, opening the way and so assisting those souls and spirits of lesser capacity who could follow but not initiate. Last year had not been like that. No Great One had died recently, or been present at the ceremony to bless it from either side of the Portals of Life and Death. The atmosphere had reflected unquiet earthbound spirits, who did "rage, rage against the passing of the light" because they lacked sufficient inner light to make a good Passage. For them a different ceremony had been required. All night the drums had muttered, thundered, howled and growled in concert with the weather. The pipes had shrieked and moaned like lost souls themselves. The storm intensified, lightning flickered in the murky clouds. The Old Priest had writhed and leapt, apparently in a trance of frenzy, spittle and gibberish spilling from his rain-lashed lips, until with a great scream his foot had stamped and his staff struck the earth at the same time as a mighty clap of thunder and a lightning bolt which singed the air and temporarily seared the eyeballs of the participants,signaled the acceptance of the Gods.
Midsummer at Avebury was quite different. The weather was excellent, the landscape was dotted with crowds of cheerful people, talking, walking, watching and taking part in the sporting events, picnicing, playing with children, chaffering with the hucksters and applauding the performers of tricks and plays. All the fun of the Fair.This was the most popular of the annual festivals, attracting the largest crowds, and transacting the most public business most publicly. Private and public, death and life, winter and summer, this world and the Otherworld, each has its place and it's business and the requirements of all must be met.
Alvin Wendover considered that Wessex was lucky. Through the favour of the Gods, and the work and wisdom of ancient men, long forgotten but still admired, Wessex and it's people had inherited the greatest and most famous and awe inspiring collection of megalithic monuments amongst the three kingdoms into which the Island of the Mighty was now divided, and he did not think there was a superior set in the rest of the world. Also, although not strictly megalithic, the exposed chalk of the Downs displayed the great hill figures and the eerie ramparts of the duns most impressively, shining white amidst the green, revealing the Great White of the Otherworld hinting of the accessibility of its allure and permanence within and underlying the mutability of the everyday world. Although not greatly talented or favoured, he himself had stood at the head of the White Horse and learned directly from the horse's mouth. He had entered the portal opened and guarded by the Long Man. In a minor capacity he helped to
restore and extend the great network of sacred places which mediated the Powers within the Land for the collective and individual benefit of those of the land. Much more recent than the very ancient times in which this relationship had been established and focused with sacred places had been the Evil Old Times when the sacred had been scorned, denied, derided, perverted and ignored. The Island of the Mighty had instead become a den of thieves, corpocrats and socialists, bureaucrats and parasitical invaders, avaricious, atheist or islamist, materialistic, canting, contemptuous, cruel and ultimately destructive first of others and finally of themselves. As in the old Grail story of the knights of an evil king who had raped and despoiled the fountain maidens whose bounty had at first been freely offered, so they had maltreated the land and it's inhabitants. Now, Alvin was one of those who worked at healing and correcting those imbalances and preventing a recurrence. He enjoyed the festival but he had more important business here.
There was a fat jolly man with shrewd eyes above his cheerful smile and ready greetings who seemed to take considerable interest and enjoyment in the proceedings, moving easily through the gathering, leaving a good impression behind him, facilitated by his memory for names, faces and the circumstances of previous meetings and details of the lives, families and concerns of the people he greeted and who were happy to greet him. This was not quite a politician in search of votes - such creatures were extinct, although obviously capable of revival. This was His Imperial Majesty's ambassador to the Kingdom of Wessex, His Excellency Dieter Schmitt. His Excellency, or 'Dieter' as he generally insisted in being called in the informal circumstances which he contrived and preferred, had a prodigious appetite for information, as well as for 'wine, women and song'. He made it his business as well as his pleasure to be as well informed as possible of the state of affairs in the kingdom. He certainly had a more complete and accurate picture of the numerical facts and physical capacities of the kingdom than had any of the
officials of the king, and he had a very good sense of the currents of ideas and feelings and of the relations among the powerful. This made him a very good advisor to both the Emperor and the King.
Himself a nominal Catholic, a follower of His Holiness Karl II who was happily ensconced in the Papal Palace of Koln and enjoying a cosily caesaropapal relationship with his Imperial Majesty Ludwig IV, Dieter had been surprised to find that Germanic paganism was now much more influential in Wessex than it was in Germany. Instead of shrilly demanding crusades and conversions, missionaries and an army of occupation and extirpation, Dieter had quietly proceeded to promote interest in German kultur and history. This was actually a lot cheaper and more effective in fostering good relations, Germanophilia and gradual assimilation to the Empire. It had helped that Ludwig was personally no more interested in religion or matters spiritual than was his ambassador, and his government were fully occupied with war against the Moslems, and the administration of conquered territories, in which they welcomed the co-operation of the remaining weak European states. Dieter and his government had been far more interested in encouraging technical and economic development, trade, education and the avoidance of distracting conflict between the three English kingdoms, Wessex, Mercia and Yorkshire. They had been pleased to secure the support of a British Division, consisting of brigades from each of the kingdoms. This had owed much to the knowledge and diplomacy of Dieter and his colleagues in the other kingdoms. Old Romans would have recognised a client kingdom. Old India hands of the British Raj would have recognised an effective Resident in a Princely State. Shocked natives might later come to recognise just how complete could be the ascendency exercised over their rulers and their succession by the imperial power.
His Excellency was acknowledged to be a good man to know. Not only was he affable and well informed, he was generous in entertaining and he dispensed scholarships and patronage. He helped mechanics to get training in Germany, engineers and businesses to find investors. He promoted the teaching of German to make these visits easier. The strict laws and prejudices against usury made it difficult to open the country to German banking, or even to promote local banks. Several times he received lectures on how Roman loans had enslaved the Britons, leading to Boudicca's rebellion, and obscure rants about the alleged role of German and American banks in causing the collapse of the Old Times. Some of the more traditionalist inclination regarded him with suspicion, and thought that his
influence tended to re-create the Old Times which they so despised and loathed. Most people were swayed by his charm and his generosity. Some were pleased to learn German and to take opportunities to study or travel or work in Germany and it's increasingly extensive domains, but not entirely for the obvious reasons. Just as in the Dark Ages missionaries from Britain and Ireland had spread Christianity through Germany, now to a lesser extent and in a much more discreet manner, certain English pagans took the opportunity to go to Germany, make the right contacts and strengthen paganism there.
Richard Brown enjoyed visiting the Avebury festival with his family when business permitted. His wife Mary particularly liked the torchlight processions and ceremonies along the 'snakes' of stones leading to the centre. He was pleased by the happy atmosphere of the festival and the chance to discuss news and possible business with old friends and new acquaintances. After a picnic lunch his wife and their maid had taken the children to see more of the games, entertainments and knick-knack stalls, whilst Richard had taken a stroll to one of the better inns in the district, where he had met several acquaintances and had fallen into friendly discussion over cups or mugs of wine, beer or mead. Richard and his cousins held interests in a Mauretanian iron mine and an iron foundry near Bristol, which increasingly depended on coal shipped from Mercia or Yorkshire. He was interested to hear news which could indicate a change in demand for iron.
James Fisher, a shipowner, was another member of the group. He owned several small ships which transported iron ore from Mauritania, recently seized by the forces of Wessex, and sugar, rum,
cotton and other tropical produce from the English and European plantations in the Windward and Leeward Islands. He was interested in possible expansion of trade routes.He had stories retailed from his captains and only a year or so out of date, about Brazil and it's war with the cannibalistic Mexicans, and the encounters of European and Brazilian traders in the Caribbean with the Republican Americans and fights with the ferocious Mexicans. Sometimes such gatherings would include businessmen from Mercia or Yorkshire taking the opportunity to combine the pleasure of visiting the famous Avebury Midsummer Festival with the chance of finding a little business or information.
The group was discussing the prices and relative quality of the wines of Wessex and those of France, Portugal and Vandalia when Dieter Schmitt arrived. He already knew Richard and was soon at home with the group, ordering another round, and loudly proclaiming the superiority of the Rhineland wines of Germany, which he promised to let them try for themselves when they visited his Residence or attended one of the dinners which he regularly hosted. Indeed, he would be delighted if they all joined him for dinner in this very inn the next night, along with their spouses, when he would introduce them to the contents of several cases of wine which he had brought along hoping for just such an occasion to share them!
The dinner was indeed a pleasant and relaxing event, a memorable addition to the pleasures of the Festival. Richard and his wife enjoyed the wines, and enjoyed the socialising even more. It was not only businessmen who were the guests of His Excellency. He was on good terms with prosperous farmers,landed gentry and officials, officers on leave, priests, poets, shamans, cousins of the King. Everyone who was anyone knew Dieter and drank deep of his hospitality. These meetings helped a lot of people who bore responsibility in different areas, economic, religious, administrative, military, political and cultural to meet and mingle more easily than would otherwise have been the case. Only a few of his many admiring guests saw this, admired the skill of his performance, contrasted it with that of the rather aloof and bookish King Harold V, whom most of his middle class subjects had only seen at a ceremonial
distance, and wondered who really ruled in Wessex or would do so in a few years time. There were others, less obvious but perhaps more influential, determined that whoever ruled Wessex, it would be neither Dieter Schmitt, nor His Imperial Majesty. The Germans were admired and respected, particularly for their leadership in freeing Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East from the curse of Islam, but there were forces at work within this land which the Germans did not comprehend, and which would not easily submit to foreign domination.
Organistion and Events
Mrs. Sally Sugden was especially busy at this time of year. She was the Organiser,in charge of the programme of ritual events at the Avebury Midsummer Festival. The High level rituals were, of course, not open to the public. The Stewards patrolled the vicinity to ensure their privacy. There were other celebrations and rituals, such as the dancing along the two 'snake' arms to the central circle, and the marriage ceremonies and the torchlight processions, in which the public were welcome to participate. The secular festivities went on for at least a week, centred on the solstice. The Festival was always opened by a procession around the sacred temenos and speeches by Sir Peter Churchward, the local lord and magistrate, representing the secular power, unless King Harold himself graced the occasion, and the various leading priests and priestesses, including herself. She maintained order in relation to the sacred side of affairs, and Sir Peter upheld secular justice. The Circle was always popular and in demand for all sorts of rituals and activities. She saw that clashes of scheduling were avoided, and kept a discreet eye on all that happened. The Spirits of Place were accepting of a range of formulae, beliefs and pantheons, although they had a firm identity of their own. Sally was intimately acquainted with them as she was also the Convener of the Wardens of Avebury, the group responsible for the daily spiritual practices communing with the spirits, and for the spiritual and physical maintenance of the site. All the well known sites of Wessex and the other kingdoms were in the keeping of such groups. The spiritual links between them were strong, but their Guardians often found it useful as well as pleasant to visit each other's sites for festivals, ceremonies and initiations.
Avebury was not only a single very large monument, but part of a whole 'ritual landscape'. Not only were the other sites maintained and the location of their own ceremonies, their influences conjoined. Many of the visitors to the Avebury Festival took the opportunity to visit places like Silbury Hill, West Kennet Longbarrow, and Stonehenge, for both sightseeing and ritual purposes. These linkages were an important part of what held each of the kingdoms together and formed a growing unity between them underneath the formal political situation.
Colourful heraldry was becoming fashionable again, at least for ceremonial and festive occasions and for indications of property rights amongst the nobility and corporations, even if no longer so useful in combat, apart from incorporation into the badges and colours of military units. The Dragon Standard of Wessex flew proudly above a beautiful assemblage of flags, banners and heraldic emblems of the Guilds and Associations, Orders, Brotherhoods, Sororities, Companionships, county and municipal and less formal groupings which embodied the society of Wessex. When the King was present the Royal Standard of a golden wyvern or dragon on a scarlet background would fly over all the others. These emblems were more than decoration, they embodied the pride and love and loyalty and identity of
the people, much as the standards of the Roman legions had done. Those who studied the public mood took note of any lack of respect for these symbols, and would begin to investigate. This year the public mood, like the weather, was cheerful.
Amongst the entertainments were masques and mummers, and stock figures such as the heroic King Arthur and St. George and Thor. Amongst their evil opponents were figures such as the Moor, and also the Bankster, the Israeli and Uncle Sam who were burnt in effigy, to the delight of the crowds. Talks and demonstrations were also popular. James Fisher's grisly tales of the doings of larger than life characters in the Americas, or 'beyond the line', battling Mexican ghouls, seeking profit and adventure amongst corrupt Brazilians and haughty Americans, alternately chilling and stirring the blood of his listeners, were a great success. Whatever they lost in veracity was more than made up in drama.
Other travelers, returning merchants and officers on leave, spoke of life in the commercial colonies of
Vandalia and trade in the Mediterranean, explorations in North Africa and investigation of the ancient monuments of Egypt, and the Middle East, now liberated from Moslem occupation, and prospering under German administration. Certain druids with the assistance of Irish colleagues were exploring the numerous megaliths and stone circles of the North African coastlands, including the great but little known stone circle, comparable to Stonehenge, situated at Mezorah, near Lixus in Morocco. There was a medieval legend that the stones of the 'Giant's Dance' had been brought long before from North Africa to Ireland, and then transferred to Stonehenge by Merlin the fabled enchanter. Thus both the Irish and the men of Wessex were interested in finding out what they could, and seeking respectful contact with the spirits of that land.
Over the preceding centuries Irish druids had been helpful in opening contact with the spirits of ancestors and the gods of the land at West Kennet and other sites which had been similar in function to Newgrange, and in strengthening such contacts, selecting and training the able, developing the ancestral contacts and enlivening the land. This skill had first been developed to a notable level by the Irish, and they had then assisted their neighbors in developing similar skills.
A school of sorcery had developed that dealt with the dead. Not only could they encourage rebirth of
appropriate souls and banish others, some could and did pursue enemies of their people beyond death, blasting and shriveling their souls to less than human status. They had also identified the links of Fate guiding the successive incarnations of the evil ones who had done so much to debase and destroy the Old People. They pursued them relentlessly, prevailing upon the Powers of Hel to deny them birth as humans, and to ensure that their souls spent billions of years of misery and degradation. These people were intense haters, disinclined to spend future lifetimes fighting the same foes revived. Less advanced levels had the ability to weaken the will of an enemy, spreading fear, confusion and despair. It took nothing from the skill and courage of the German forces to know, as did few, that their spectacular victories over Islam had been assisted by the secret help of Irish, Welsh and British mages demoralising and confusing the Moslem leadership.
King Harold was a tall, thin, balding man in early middle age. Although diffident and reserved, quite unlike His Excellency in appearance and manner, he was in fact a True King. He was not a ceremonial figurehead living a life of luxury encrusted boredom, a puppet moved and ventriloquised by crass and cunning politicians. He was the best sort of king - the mystic sort. He had completed the ordeals and rituals of kingship, not in any symbolic show, but in reality, so that the symbols he wielded had real effect. He had merged with the Land whilst still living, and the Powers of the Land had accepted him as Sovereign. The King and the Land were One. He experienced the timeless memory of the land and participated in the lives of the creatures that inhabited it. It was because he devoted so much effort to seeking further levels of insight and initiation that he had not attended the opening of the Avebury
Midsummer Festival this year. Seated around a table in a conference room in the Royal Palace at Winchester he had listened carefully to the reports of his ministers, and then listened to those of his advisers who had already attended the opening days of the Festival and heard their accounts of events, concerns and public mood. Now he murmured a quotation quietly and wryly to himself, "What should they know of England, who only England know?". "Tell Sally I'll be there for the Closing Ceremony and will speak. Liaise with her in organising some suitable meetings." He nodded to his private secretary and turned away. Should he honour Mrs Sugden by appointing her as the Lady of Avebury? Was she yet up to the initiatory level required? Perhaps in a year or so if she continued to develop her spiritual talents as well as supervising the Midsummer Festivals competently. Now there were other things he wished to discuss with his Archmage.
His Majesty was not naturally a socializer. Standing around making small talk with grasping merchants and false faced social climbers wearied and wilted him. He had more liking for many of the lower classes, but their narrowness, pettiness and coarseness were also trying. Nevertheless, he was their king and would seek to benefit them in whichever ways they could best understand. He had accepted his advisers' recommendation that he should meet his people more and become a better known focus for their loyalty and affection. He would attend a variety of meetings at the Festival, hobnob with many people, and at the closing ceremony he would make small awards and give public praise to many people for minor but worthy accomplishments, brought to his attention by his advisers, and the leaders of many of the associations, as well as by public request. This would be an occasion for him to wear a crown in ceremonial display, reminiscent of the medieval seasonal royal Courts where the King would meet and entertain his nobles and transact formal business. The crown, of course of gold often encrusted with jewels and sacred symbols, sparkled with light and was a visible symbol of the Royal Glory or 'body of light' only visible to psychics. The halos in depictions of saints had had a similar meaning. Kingship was both a sacred and a secular function. His Majesty would also attend with far less publicity, certain private meetings and initiations, for he had himself attained the degree of Stone King, who could mediate a deep sense of peace and cosmic consciousness to those who were appropriately prepared to receive it.
This year, after the opening days, mainly devoted to commerce, entertainment and socialising, King Harold was present and took an important part in the ritual and religious activities, which after all, were the main point of the Midsummer Festival. He was known to be there, but was only visible to the public at the grand procession and ritual in which all could participate on midsummer's day. Most of his time was spent in more intense and private rituals and initiations of the more advanced grades of groups of the druidic/shamanic/priestly classes. He became the centre of attention in the closing days as he presided over a public meeting of the Witan, consisting of such notables of the kingdom as happened to be present, and where discreetly vetted members of the public could present petitions. There was little actual business to be discussed, but those who took an interest could see their government in action, and feel able to participate in their degree, or feel satisfied that their King and their rulers spiritual and temporal were accessible to their concerns. Although there was nothing like the old 'democracy' and no whining about 'rights' or 'minorities', and people had to be respectful, they were able to speak with
considerable freedom to the king and his ministers. Nor was the King afraid to move among his people. Unlike the Presidents and Prime Ministers of old who had hidden behind bodyguards and body doubles and only been present to carefully selected and heavily guarded audiences, because their evil natures and evil deeds caused them to live in fear of assassination, the King would have scorned such measures. He and his people were of one birth and one Land. He was not afraid to lay down his life for his people; for unlike the rulers of old who had devoted their peoples lives to their personal interests, his life was devoted to the service of his people and his Land. No one who was not of the land was present, and the people were not corrupted by such evil influences that they failed to recognise their emotional and spiritual bond to each other and to their ancestors and the powers of the land through the person of the King or would wish to harm themselves by injuring him, so His Majesty could move among and
converse with relative strangers without more than honorific guards.
More popular by far than the ceremonies of government and the meetings with occasional petitioners or groups of notables and social climbers, was the huge Closing Day feast hosted by the King for all who wished to attend and eat and drink their fill at his expense. All did. There were far too many to fit in any one tent or inn, or even the mighty circle of the henge. The landscape was dotted with groups enjoying the hospitality. His Majesty and his leading ministers went from group to group, welcoming them, urging them to enjoy themselves. wishing them well for the coming year, and leaving discreetly before the proceedings became too boisterous. It was an event which added noticeably to the popularity of the King.
Many people enjoyed the Festival and the chance meetings they encountered. Some meetings were not by chance. There were many family and local groups and associations which regularly met at the Festival, and there were more specialised Guilds and groups which arranged to meet there. These were not necessarily religious, although some liked to think that they were under spiritual or religious patronage, and maintained appropriate rites. Usually these meetings were in at inns or houses or encampments in the vicinity but not actually in the Avebury henge. Amongst these was the Guild of St. George. This was a combination of farming and military interests, under the notional patronage of the military saint who had been the patron of England since the Middle Ages, and whose cross had been it's flag, even when subsumed into the Union Jack.This had actually begun in Yorkshire, which had inherited the main use of this symbol, but it had naturally had it's appeal in the other kingdoms also.It's members wore white
vestments bearing the upright red cross on ceremonial occasions.The military members wore it with a small red sword in the upper right quadrant (left to an observer in front of it), which was in imitation of the emblem of the long destroyed City of London and it's military tradition and they had taken it's motto, Domine Dirige Nos. The agricultural members wore it with a red spade in the same place. Not surprisingly this was popular with both farmers and Thanes. Some pondered the connection between sword and spade, and the derivation of the suit of spades from 'spada', which had been Spanish for 'sword'. At the lower level, many soldiers came from rural backgrounds. The Thanes who provided the officer class, and many of the civil administrators were usually also landowners. Some of the same men would also offer prayers and sacrifices to Frey and Freyja for fertility and prosperity of their farms
and their families, and saw no objection to appealing to Thor or Odin as well as to St. Michael or St. George for help in battle. These people were prominent in the farming displays and competitions, and in the military demonstrations which were also popular with the public. There was strong interest in maintaining and improving farming techniques and the fertility and happiness of the crops and animals and wild creatures as well as the human inhabitants of the Land. Farmers' groups organised talks, demonstrations and competitions, and nature druids sought to find means of obtaining the co-operation of the spirits of nature, particularly the followers of the Blessed Crombie of Findhorn, who encouraged helpful rites and practices. Devotions to Frey and Freyja were also popular for similar reasons. Brigit or St. Bride was increasingly popular in the north, where long before she had been the goddess of the Brigantes, and Bran again had devotees among the druids.
The John Barleycorns were a group with widespread affiliations. Superficially, devoted to convivial
drinking, and often amongst those attending the festivals and 'blots' of Saxon pagan groups - where many attendees got 'blotto' on the beer and mead and wine that were so copiously consumed; their inner membership was devoted to the very ancient belief and rituals of the dying and rising spirit. They produced food and beverages which they blessed and endeavored to assure embodied the helpful spirit of the Land and it's deities. These sacramental foods were thought to contribute to the physical and spiritual health of the 'wise' who ingested them. Naturally, they were not huckstered to the general public, but became available to those with the strongest spiritual and emotional connections to the Land. Travelers were thus able to maintain their vitality and vital connection to their land even when abroad and mainly dependent for their sustenance on the produce of other lands. Unwittingly, Dieter achieved something of a similar although weaker benefit through his consumption of the wines of his native
The Sons of Wayland were also amongst those groups whose members met regularly at the Festival, although their ceremonial centre was Wayland's Smithy, further to the east. In addition to enjoying the festivities and ceremonies members took the chance to discuss technical matters amongst themselves. Some of the members were druids or shamans who were able to contact nature spirits. This year one of the most intense discussions concerned better and cheaper means of smelting and working iron. Issac Hughes, a short dour man and one of the most skilled iron-workers was at the centre of this discussion, among with John Wilkins a nature druid. The pair of them had spent years in Mauritania trying to focus the sun's heat with lenses, to raise working temperatures and economise on coal and coke. Wilkins tried to conjure fire and air elementals and have them raise the temperature and provide a strong draft for the furnace. Hughes had learned German and gone to Germany under Dieter's sponsorship, to study and
replicate their industrial techniques, but no hint of his current concerns was permitted to reach Dieter's ears. The Archmage and Sir Henry Tipton, a courtier close to the King, who took an interest in matters of security, had made that very clear. Hughes, Wilkins and their ilk also took a keen interest in the products of Norse and Swedish metal-crafting. These had a legendary tradition of fine workmanship and there were ancient tales and modern hints that they had bound spirits to create famous weapons. The Norse weapon-smiths and mages seldom ventured to visit the Avebury Midsummer Festival, so Hughes and Wilkins were not disappointed by their absence. They enjoyed the discussions with their fellow Sons of Wayland, considered who else might be able to help them, and planned their next experiments.
Royal responsibilities of a True King
One of the private rituals in which the King participated was an initiation ceremony for the Order of the
Serpents, to which Alvin belonged. Alvin and a couple of other candidates who had also spent years performing spiritual exercises, had reached the point of attempting to arouse and make conscious contact with the living spirit within the land, and raise it to flow through their own bodies and perhaps raise their consciousness still further to a level of divinity. This was reminiscent of the old Egyptian Pharoahs' emblem of a cobra rising behind them and symbolised as a serpents head on their foreheads. These were the druid 'snakes' that St. Patrick was said to have driven from Ireland, thereby depriving it of it's heritage of wisdom. In India there had been similar depictions and the spiritual force had been known as kundalini. It was not incidental that a dragon or wyvern was the emblem of Wessex,flown over the heads of it's king and people. Amongst the Royal regalia was a copy of the Sutton Hoo helmet, which had a snake from the back of the head meeting a bird formed by the nose and eyebrows, face to face at about
the location of the 'third eye'. The original, along with much else as well as the British Museum, had of course been destroyed by the treacherous Israeli nuclear attack a millennium earlier. This ceremonial headgear appeared to be at least as much a numinous mask of power as a piece of battlegear. Not only did the King have the right to wear it as an emblem of Royalty, as a True King he actually had the ability which it portrayed and may have been intended to invoke. Hence, in the ritual of initiation within the sacred circles of Avebury, he was able to raise the power and induce it successfully in the candidates. After the ceremony the initiates processed around the circles and 'snakes' of stone, led by the King, introducing them to the spirits of the land and of their predecessors associated with each of the stones. This was a contact and communion which they could subsequently renew by themselves.
The King and his advisers were responsible, to the gods and to the people, for both the physical and
spiritual welfare of their country. They watched over the circumstances and moods of all it's groups and of nature, seeking balancing adjustments as they and the spirits of the Land considered necessary. At this time they were generally satisfied with the condition of the people and of their land. The bulk of the people were content, happy in their relation to each other and to the powers of spirit. They held to simple pragmatic faiths, confident that their rulers maintained deeper relationships on their behalf. The mercantile and technical classes were more materialistic, opportunistic and self interested, less securely rooted in the Land. They could be vulnerable to the blandishments of Dieter and his ilk, but they were not inherently disloyal. The fact that Money no longer ruled was a major check on materialistic tendencies. It would be necessary to see that technical and economic changes and greater opportunities to amass great wealth abroad did not cause any great disruption in their society. Strong indications that charity was a virtue expected of the rich would help. The gentry and nobility also had greater knowledge of the world than the peasantry, and some could be swayed by ambition and hopes of advancement under the rule of the German Empire, but honour, pride of ancestry and love of the Land were still strong in them. A class of
rootless atheistical, egotistical intellectuals, in the old manner, would have been a problem if their poison had been allowed to corrupt the minds, manners and morals of the people; but intellectual as well as spiritual functions were now the province of the sacerdotal class of druids/priests/philosophers/shamans, who were the staunchest upholders of the spirits of the Land, because they had the greatest capacity and responsibility for dealing with them and mediating their influence to the people.The King was the keystone of the arch, holding it all together at the level that concerned each of the classes, and overall. Wessex was fortunate that he was a True King.
On this occasion some of the Irish druids and 'birdmen', together with mages from Mercia and Yorkshire were present at private meetings of the psychically and spiritually gifted and with the king. Their 'birdmen' astral travelers had more up to date news of the Americas, and of the rest of the world.The Republican Americans were respected to a certain extent by those who knew more of them from the reports of the 'birdmen', than the caricature of evil that entertained the public. Their tenacity in protecting and re-establishing their identity and institutions in the face of almost overwhelming assaults from the savage Mexicans, who had performed much the same role as had the Moslems in Europe, was admired, as was their implacability in slaughtering any such savages or mutant degenerates or potential troublemakers from the Coasts of Death that they encountered. On the other hand, they were regarded as too old fashioned to be of much relevance in the 'new world', since on the whole they were still very
materialistic and were recreating their immediate past as best they could, rather than developing a more spiritual society. The spiritual and temporal leaders of these Islands wished the current Americans well, but had no desire for closer contact with them. The popular loathing of the old time Americans, although crude, was soundly based. They were hated and despised not so much for what they may have done to others, as for what they had done to themselves, and through their cultural dominance encouraged in others. Like the Biblical Esau, they had sold their birthright for a 'mess of pottage', to Jacob whose name meant supplanter or deceiver. Failing to be true to themselves they could not fail to be false to others.
Still, the Americans were not of immediate concern to the leaders of Wessex and the other British kingdoms. Eventually the mercantile interests of Britain, Europe, the German Empire and Brazil would reach an accommodation with the Americans. They had a much greater project on hand. They were engaged in awakening the Land, making it aware of itself as a living entity, and of the various sacred centres on the land as senses or organs within it's body. Already their more advanced members of the druid class could experience such a common consciousness, and the King could go further. Not for nothing had there been an old saying, 'let our leader be our (spiritual) bridge'. Indeed the Popes had taken over this very title of Pontifex Maximus, chief bridge builder, from the old Roman priesthood, and not because of any special interest or proficiency in civil engineering. They hoped to encourage the reciprocal relation between the people and their land, which was already very much stronger than it had been in the Old Times. Now the objective was to strengthen the sense of identity of the Land and it's people in each of the Kingdom, and to have each regional identity contribute to and participate in the overall identity of Britannia, and further, to extend the concept to link the strong separate identities of the peoples and Lands of Europe and even the whole world. This, they hoped, would be a better foundation for co-operative action on both physical and spiritual levels than the old empires based on force and fraud. They had no desire to repeat those mistakes or the greed driven 'globalisation' which had destroyed the identities and livelihoods of so many, including those who supposed that they were benefiting from it, in order to create a small class of evil parasites who sucked the lifeblood out of the
peoples and lands of most of the earth, reducing everyone to miserable ghosts of what they could have been, for the malicious enjoyment of the very few who expressed the evil of the Old Times in the most concentrated form.They scorned those who had worshiped 'The Economy' as a supreme deity to whose service all other considerations had been sacrificed. They knew that the economy should serve the needs of the Land and the People, not the other way round. A good servant had been allowed to become a bad master, consuming like a Moloch, the 'children' or future hope of the foolish people of the Old Times. Neither had they any time for the feeble old scientific conceit of an abstract Gaia, expressing the interrelation of physical quantities only. They had confidence that their successors, if not themselves, would be able to rise to participation on still higher spiritual levels through their communion with the
The day after the Closing Day ceremonies and festivities people began to depart, slowly gathering their
families and possessions. Many were moving slowly and nursing hangovers. The roads away from Avebury were filled by throngs resuming their normal lives and business. The King and his entourage had departed before dawn, riding briskly to Winchester well ahead of the awakening of most of the people, and leaving servants to pack his pavilion and other baggage into carts which would not leave until the next day so as not to impede the passage of the public on their way home.
At Avebury that midsummer, all those who had sought found something of value to them. At a popular level many people had enjoyed the festivities, the entertainment, the sporting competitions, the colourful displays, the public ceremonies, the chance to buy and sell, the social connections, the weather, the meetings gossip and news. Their identity and pride had been re-affirmed. At a ceremonial level, their participation in the seasonal cycle had been demonstrated and their loyalty to each other and the powers of earth and heaven had been renewed and strengthened via their attachment to their King. At a deeper level the rituals at this sacred place had invigorated the relationship with the Powers of heaven and earth, of those who could sustain it; and the initiations had introduced a few more worthy candidates into this relationship. The Land itself had been energised and brought closer to awakening as a unified consciousness, a consciousness in which at least some of the People could participate, and which provided an entry to more exalted states of cosmic consciousness for more advanced mystics such as the King.
Watching the departure of great and small, Mrs. Sugden was contented. She and her assistants had worked hard and she was pleased that the Festival had been a success at every level. She hoped that next year's Festival would be just as good. For the present she looked forward to a resumption of her slower and less crowded routine, in the happy and peaceful presence of the Stones.
As he left the festival Alvin Wendover was very happy. As far as he was concerned, Midsummer at Avebury had been a great success. The occasion had marked an important stage in His spiritual pilgrimage, and he now had wider vistas and responsibilities to survey and cultivate.
It was another beautiful day. The sun was warm but a breeze kept it from becoming too hot, as the grass and flowers and crops and trees nodded and sparkled and a few wisps of clouds drifted like dreaming sylphs in the shining sky. There was an abiding sense of peace and joy, and those who noticed such things noticed that the Land itself was smiling.