It is as always with a mixture of joy and sadness that I announce the slaying of The Hastings Traditional Jack in the Green at approximately 15:45 today. The Jack was ritually killed in a secret location somewhere in Hastings and by magical means his leaves were distributed virtually by his Bogie attendants. Jack gave up his life to release the spirit of summer as he does selflessly every year. Congratulations to Heather, Keith and everyone involved with the first Virtual Hastings Traditional Jack in the Green which despite the occasional technological wobble was a resounding success. I was lucky to get connected via Zoom this morning and took great pleasure in watching the whole event.
It has of course been a very unusual year so far for The Traditional Jacks in the Green. But due to the wonders of technology some fantastic events have taken place online. So far this year at least four Jacks have been sighted in the leaf:
The Hammersmith Jack in the Green
The Winchcome Jack in the Green
The Hastings Traditional Jack in the Green
The Deptford (Fowler’s Troop) Jack on the Green
The Cheltenham Jack in the Green sent his best wishes to everyone from isolation in the Hedgerow.
Many new mini Jacks in the Green also appeared around Hastings and all over the country.
And to remind us what it’s going to be like again next year when May 1st falls on a Saturday here’s Justin Lycett’s wonderful Hastings 2018 video again.
I would also like to take the opportunity to thank all those involved with Jack in the Green and Green Man events around the country and abroad this and every year. The organisers and participants put blood sweat and tears into keeping these wonderful traditions alive and The Company of the Green Man will always be here to support them. I will raise a pint of ale to you all and look forward to meeting up with you all again over the coming years. #jackwillbeback
The Hastings 2020 Traditional Jack in the Green is alive! This grainy picture taken via the wonders of technology shows Jack waking up in a secret location somewhere in the Hastings area mere minutes ago. He appeared out of a mysterious green fog to virtual cries of joy from his Bogies.
My thanks to Rose Blakeley for the wonderful and extremely poignant picture and poem below that remind us that #jackwillbeback
You can find more of Rose’s wonderful work at www.roseblakeley.moonfruit.com
May morning can always bring surprises but this year despite what’s going on around us May Day is already putting a big smile on my face.
If you had told my last year that I would not only finally get back to Hastings for May Dawn but would be experiencing it from Keith Leech’s front room I would have assumed that you had imbibed too much Walpurgis Night mead. But there I was along with all the other early risers watching the sun rise over the rooftops of Hastings via Facebook along with Keith and Heather, some wonderful Morris Dancers a drummer and viewers from around the world. Jacks are springing up all over Hastings and further afield and I shall post pictures of as many as I can on our blog.
Then just after 6am The Smiffs, The World Famous Hammersmith Morris Men posted this brilliant video on YouTube of them all separately dancing Bampton Sidestep along with The Hammersmith Jack in the Green
Then a text message came through with the wonderful photograph below of The Winchcombe Jack in the Green seeing in dawn on his own this morning.
This brilliant Jack saw dawn in from Usk in Wales and was brought to life by Marie Carter.
It’s a great start and I’ll post more pictures of any other Jacks as soon as I can.
It is 05:32 and the sun has just risen.
A Merry May Day to you all from The Company of the Green Man.
A Riddle – Phil Lister
I am born on May Morning by sticks, bells, and ribbons
I am the sap in the dark root
I am the dancer with his six fools
I am the tump behind the old church
I am the lost soul under the misericord
I am the oak against the stars
I am the face that peers through the leaves
I am the fear in a childs mind
I am the demon on the roof-boss
I am killed in October and laid on church altars
I am the guiser on the bright bonfire
I am the old grain sown with the seed
I am the flame in the pumpkins grin
I am the spirit in the kern-baby’s bosom
Green Man – William Anderson
Like antlers, like veins of the brain, the birches
Mark patterns of mind on the red winter sky;
‘I am thought of all plants’, says the Green Man,
‘I am thought of all plants’, says he.
The hungry birds harry the last berries of rowan
But white is her bark in the darkness of rain;
‘I rise with the sap’, says the Green Man,
‘I rise with the sap’, says he.
The ashes are clashing their bows like sword-dancers
Their black buds are tracing wild faces in the clouds;
‘I come with the wind’, says the Green Man.
‘I come with the wind’, says he.
The alders are rattling as though ready for battle
Guarding the grove where she waits for her lover;
‘I burn with desire’, says the Green Man,
‘I burn with desire’, says he.
In and out of the yellowing wands of the willow
The pollen-bright bees are plundering the catkins;
‘I am honey of love’, says the Green Man,
‘I am honey of love’, says he.
The hedges of quick are thick with May blossom
As the dancers advance on the leaf-covered King;
‘It’s off with my head’, says the Green Man,
‘It’s off with my head’, says he.
Green Man becomes grown man in flames of the oak
As its crown forms its mask and its leafage his features;
‘I speak through the oak’, says the Green Man,
‘I speak through the oak’, says he.
The holly is flowering as hay fields are rolling
Their gleaming long grasses like waves of the sea;
‘I shine with the sun’, says the Green Man,
‘I shine with the sun’, says he.
The hazels are rocking the cups of their nuts
As the harvesters shout when the last sheaf is cut;
‘I swim with the salmon’, says the Green Man,
‘I swim with the salmon’, says he.
The globes of the grapes are robing with bloom
Like the hazes of autumn, like the Milky Way’s stardust;
‘I am crushed for your drink’, says the Green Man,
‘I am crushed for your drink’, says he.
The aspen drops silver of leaves on earth’s salver
And the poplars shed gold on the young ivy flower heads;
‘I have paid for your pleasure’, says the Green Man,
‘I have paid for your pleasure’, says he.
The reedbeds are flanking in silence the islands
Where meditates Wisdom as she waits and waits;
‘I have kept her secret’, says the Green Man,
‘I have kept her secret’, says he.
The bark of the elder makes whistles for children
To call to the deer as they rove over the snow;
‘I am born in the dark’, says the Green Man,
‘I am born in the dark’, says he.