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.
This is a call out for MAYDAY an online record of the May rituals and customs during lock down. Artists Dorothy and Stella are looking for people who take part in the customs of May, to have their photo taken via zoom/skype with an accompanied soundbite describing the custom of choice.
We would love to talk to someone before tomorrow who likes to take part in the May Dew custom of washing themselves with the 1st May morning dew. We are also interested in talking to people who take part in customs throughout May.
Please contact us at email@example.com
Customs all over Britain celebrate May for ushering new life after the long winter, with rituals for good fortune and health. These powerful expressions of identity exist through repetition. What does this break in the calendar mean for communities?
As self-isolation continues through May 2020 MAYDAY asks how might people at home preserve an affinity with natural cycles and hold onto the customs that bind?
We look forward to hearing from you,
Dorothy and Stella
I would usually be telling you about all of the Jacks that will be waking and parading over the coming days, but as we all know things are a bit different this year. It is hoped that some Jacks will still be seeing in dawn on May morning and I will report on them and post pictures as soon as I can.
There are also some wonderful virtual events taking place which are detailed below.
My thanks to Rose Blakeley for the wonderful Jack in the Green picture above.
Hastings Virtual Traditional Jack in the Green
This year’s Jack in the Green will go ahead as a virtual event online. On Sunday 3 May, revellers are encouraged to dress up, decorate their houses with greenery, and join in the virtual parade via the Facebook page:
“We are very pleased to say that during these difficult times we are looking to bring the town online and together to celebrate our beloved festival, Hastings Traditional Jack in the Green. We are working with local community facebook channel Isolation Station Hastings to run a series of events streamed live on our Facebook page and theirs including a sunrise ceremony at dawn on 1st May and morris dancing, drumming and music on Saturday May 2nd with the main procession taking place on Sunday 3rd via Zoom and Facebook.
Dress up in green, decorate your homes and join us on Zoom!
For the main event on Sunday we are asking the whole town to get dressed up in green as they normally would and join us online on Zoom. Here we will all be able to celebrate together watching footage of previous years’ processions as well as live performances from across Hastings including Morris dancing, drum performances, a ceilidh, live music, the slaying of the Jack and all of the wonderful people and characters that make this event what it is. The exciting part is we will be able to see everyone dressed up and enjoying the virtual festival from their homes.
To apply for spaces for Sunday’s Main Procession on Zoom, details will be announced on www.hastingsjitg.co.uk in the coming days. It will be simultaneously broadcast on Facebook so nobody needs to miss out.
May Day ‘Bang your drum for the NHS at 3.30pm on Sunday 3rd May’
We will end the proceedings at 3.30pm by inviting the whole town to go to their doorsteps, windows and balconies and bang their drums in a special Hastings May Day applause for the NHS, before we conduct the famous ceremonial slaying of the Jack.
RAISING MONEY FOR OUR NHS
It’s no small undertaking – we estimate there will be over one hundred people working and performing at this event, which will include as much of the actual schedule as is technologically possible. We are a charity ourselves and are of course losing money this year, but we hope everyone will come together and we are inviting those who can to donate to two local charities providing PPE and other support for our NHS: ‘Hastings Supports Our NHS Staff’ and ‘Friends of the Conquest Hospital’. Normally tens of thousands attend our event, so if everybody donated a small amount we could make a big difference.
Donation link https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jack-in-the-green
Show us your decorations this week on social media
All details will be announced on our social media pages this week, but in the mean time we are asking everybody to start preparing their decorations and costumes and post photos & videos with the hashtag #hastingsvirtualjack2020
There will be a few hundred places available for the Zoom Procession, but it will be simultaneously broadcast to our own Facebook page and Isolation Station’s so nobody needs to miss out.
We believe this very special event belongs to our community, and we will work night and day to bring it online so that we can keep the spirit of Hastings alive during these difficult times.”
Whitstable Virtual Jack in the Green
This year’s Whitstable Jack in the Green will go ahead as a virtual event online on May the 1st – Go to the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Whitstable-Jack-in-the-Green-100375881612669 for a live stream from 12pm including a specially commissioned film compiling lots of lovely footage and photos of the procession over the years made by Dixie Lee’s grandson Josh, a live performance of the May Day Song by Cathy Lesurf and John Jones and an interview with Dixie, Cathy, John, Ian Telfer and Alan Prosser about the revival of this amazing tradition, the Whitstable Folk Club, music, morris and any questions you might have!
Evercreech Jack in the Green
Last year 🌿EVERCREECH JACK IN THE GREEN🌿 was dressed in his finery of flowers and foliage and although Jack cannot be processed by followers this year- to keep everyone safe- we are still honouring the turn of seasons this May with some exciting alternative plans that are afoot…
Evercreech Jack in the Green will be adorned in his greenery in a studio window display at The Old Stores Studio from this first weekend of May for people to enjoy as they go about their daily exercise past the studio and online. (If you have any spare flowers and foliage from your own gardens that you can offer to add to Jack please safely drop off outside the studio if you can. We can also arrange to collect safely from anyone locally if you can’t venture out- feel free to message us. All donations gratefully received! 🌿🌷)…
We are also really looking forward to teaming up with Garden Day UK and local florists, flower growers and community to celebrate Garden Day UK on Sunday 10 May and will be safely gifting 50 + beautiful free flower crowns to local people. If you know someone who deserves to be gifted a flower crown and relax in their garden (doesn’t everyone?!🌿💐👑) then please TAG them TO NOMINATE and tell us why they deserve to be crowned! 👑💐🌹🌼🌸🌺🌻🌷🌿(crowns will be safely delivered to doorsteps on Sunday 10 May).
STAY SAFE (stay home and enjoy your garden if you have one) AND SHARE THE LOVE! ❤️ 🌿
Another Life: Overview
Imagine: if we could combine dreams with reality in a world where we live forever.
Set in a secretive, hidden corner of Middle England, the novel combines folklore, legends and ancient beliefs with the contemporary issue of what it means to be human in an increasingly technological world.
Thirty years ago, Oliver Merryweather is intrigued by a woman who waves to him from the window of a house in a village he discovers by accident.
In the present day, Oliver believes his life to be a series of failures and regrets. When the same woman appears to him in a dream, Oliver embarks on an obsessive quest to find her. With the village inexplicably absent from all maps, all he has to go on is the unusual mark on her wrist.
Journeying back into his past, Oliver finds himself inextricably drawn into a decades-old mystery involving missing children, pagan beliefs and the Green Man of folklore, while coming face to face with the disappointments and tragedies of his own life. As the story draws towards its unexpected and uplifting conclusion, the line between reality, dreams and memory begins to blur and Oliver gains an insight into the true purpose of his existence.
About the Author: Owen W Knight
Owen W Knight’s books include The Invisible College Trilogy, an apocalyptic dystopian conspiracy tale for young adults and adults alike, described as ‘1984 Meets the Book of Revelation’.
Owen was born in Southend-on-Sea at a time when children spent their days outdoors, creating imaginary worlds that formed the basis of their adventures and social interaction. He has used this experience to create worlds based on documented myths, with elements of dystopia, mystery and science fiction, highlighting the use and abuse of power and the conflicts associated with maintaining ethical values.
You can purchase a copy of Owen’s book via his Amazon page: http://bit.ly/OwenWKnight
Almost all of the Jack in the Green and Green Man related events planned for May and the early summer have now been cancelled.
A few hardy souls have decided to go solo and will ensure that Jack in the Green will wake on May Morning on his own with appropriate social distancing and I hope to share pictures and details if they do.
There are also plans for some virtual processions (Whitstable and Hastings so far) and for other events to be postponed until later this year. Please do let me know of any virtual events I may have missed.
I would like to thank Justin Lycett for kindly giving me permission to post the above link to his wonderful video of the 2018 Hastings Traditional Jack in the Green to keep our spirits up in these unusual times.
As almost all of the events planned for May and the early summer have now been cancelled I thought it best to remove the events list for now. Although incredibly sad it is of course completely understandable. If things do change in the next month I will of course let you all know.
A few hardy souls have decided to go solo and will ensure that Jack in the Green will awake on May Morning on his own with appropriate social distancing. I hope to share pictures and details if they do.
There are also plans for some virtual processions (Whitstable and Hastings so far) and for other events to be postponed until later this year.
I will of course be doing my best to promote and support them this year and in the years to come.
For those self isolating (or bored) I have also opened up our online archive of 45 downloadable Company of the Green Man newsletters for everyone to access completely free of charge over the coming weeks you can access them HERE.
I am getting queries about changes or cancellations to other customs and events beyond my normal remit. I would advise checking with the organisers websites and would also highly recommend Calendar Customs a guide to British calendar customs and local traditions.
I wish all our members and followers all the very best at this time.