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Monday, 29 December 2008

Panto Service

In an attempt to make our worship more "relevant" (whatever that means), to attract a family congregation, and to try and raise the attendance above Saturday's two people, we have decided we needed more innovation. We know that other religious movements have tried clowns, so given the time of year we thought - what better than the Panto Service?

Leading participants:
The Crone (the Druidical equivalent of a Dame - a man pretending to be a woman)
The Principal Druid (a woman dressed up as a man)
The Pantomime Unicorn (like a pantomime horse, and yet somehow more mystical)
The Baddie (Drayton Parslow, just acting normally)

Introit
During the entrance procession, the congregation may shout "He's Behind You!" to the Principal Druid. Upon the Principal Druid turning round, the Baddie should hide behind a couple of acolytes.

Dividing the Congregation
One half sings "Bind us together" together with the Principal Druid. The other half sings "Kum Ba Yah" with the Crone. Nobody wins.

Contentious neo-paganism
Archdruid: The hills and forests are filled with the divine. The brooks are the the flowing life-blood of Mother Gaia.
All: Oh no, they're not!
Archdruid: Oh yes, they are are.
All: Oh no, they're not....

The Amusing Chase Scene
In which the Baddie chases the Principal Druid round the Orchard. Involving much amusing hiding behind trees, suddenly coming face-to-face and both running away, and tripping over branches. All done in a strictly liturgical pattern.

The acrobatic interlude
In which Hnaef and his acrobatic team will break several bones and strain a number of muscles, while attempting to do headsprings over the altar.

The Flying Scene
The Principal Druid discovers that, simply by hooking herself up to the harness provided, she can pronounce the final blessing from a point 20 feet above the congregation. And then hang there for a while as Hnaef tries to work out how to lower her back down again.

Don't forget, everytime you say you don't believe in Beaker People, somewhere in the forest a dryad dies.

Attendance crash

I must say that the attendance at last night's Saluting the Moon was disappointing. Just Hnaef and I, and he spent all his time fiddling with a laptop to try and get a wireless connection.
There have been people blaming this lack of attendance on 'flu, on going away for Christmas, and on "pebble fatigue", whatever that may mean. However my suspicion is that it all comes down to Young Keith's new Wii Fit which he got for Christmas from his uncle, the police constable.
I don't care what Wii Age you have all obtained, you should still be making New Moon celebrations. And I'd be grateful if someone could remove the beard from my Mii. That's not funny.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Of the Ordering of Thin Places

Of recent times there has been some controversy regarding the identification and treatment of "thin places". These thin places are where heaven and earth seem to be particularly close together - we think of Jacob at Bethel, for instance, of Walsingham, or of the chippy in Woburn Sands. Therefore for the avoidance of controversy, and to put aside the superstition associated with thin places, we will be adopting the following rules.

1. It's not enough to make somewhere a thin place, just for you to feel particularly spiritual there and label it as a thin place yourself. This would be dangerously democratic and give everyone the idea that they had their own right to experience of the divine, unregulated by the necessary druidic power.

2. If you believe you have identified a thin place, you must fill in the "thin place potential identification form" (TPPIF). This should clearly indicate where the thin place is (OS reference + a short description); why you think it may be a thin place; and what kind of vouchers (MFI or Woolworth's) you wish to receive as your reward.

3. Upon receipt of a TPPIF, we will ensure that a triad of druids (the minimum number) will investigate within 3 days. Such investigation may include, but not necessarily be restricted to, pendulums; prayer; casting of lots; checking the guide book or whatever seems most appropriate.

4. If the thin place is confirmed, you will receive a "thin place confirmation form" (TPCF) which you should show at the Shop Yurt to receive your vouchers, or alternatively a very small beaker with the words "a present from Hunstanton".

5. Upon confirmation of a definite thin place, Hnaef will tape the area off with red and white (or, according to the liturgical time of year, yellow) emergency tape. We don't want just anyone blundering around on sacred ground.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Ritual Lake

That's a really inspiring, really worthy idea that Young Keith has had. By blocking-up one end of the brook, he's planning to create a Ritual Lake.

The idea of a Ritual Lake has all sorts of echoes in mythology and religion. We think of the Lady in the Lake, who handed a sword to Arthur. Of the lakes into which swords, coins and other precious items were thrown as offerings to the Guardians. Of the story of Hermaphroditus and Salmacis.

Young Keith's plan is that we are going to be able to create wooden pathways across the Ritual Lake - areas of liminality, neither water nor land. In other words, thin places. When the sun rises over the mist on the lake, says Young Keith, we will feel close to the earth, and also to heaven.

Some have pointed out that, if the lake reaches the depth that Young Keith is planning, it will flood most of Husborne Crawley. But I shouldn't worry too much. Given the local geology, the water's draining away into the Greensand as fast as it can flow in. In normal circumstances we'd point this out to him, but he's busy and happy so we'll tell him after Christmas.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Order of Solstice

Today we celebrate the end - and yet the beginning - of the Beaker year.
Sunset tonight is 15.54. Please be there sharp. This isn't one of those occasions when you can turn up late and wait for the worship to "warm up". Except given we'll be lighting the Solstice Fire that's exactly what the worship will be doing.

Winter Solstice Sunset

Hi-viz: Violet

The Gathering In Apprehension

Chorus:

"Raise your banners high
Don't die, Sun - don't die!" (repeat 12 times, in growing despair)

Looking to the East in Silence

All: "Is that the sun down there or is it just the floodlights from the Amazon warehouse?"

The Archdruid remembers that the sun sets in the west.

Looking to the West in Silence.

At the precise time of sunset, the Solstice Fire is lit from the eternal flame. An appropriate song (for example, "Eternal Flame" by the Bangles) may be played.*

Chorus:
"Let the flames burn high
Goodbye, Sun - Goodbye!" (repeat 12 times, growing gradually sadder)

As it grows darker, panic may spread among the congregation. The Gibbon Moon folk, generally of an excitable nature, lose it completely and run into the fields, howling with fear.

Archdruid: Darkness falls and the night is with us. The year is dead.

Young, keen and generally stupid Beaker Folk may leap over the Solstice Fire, in an age-old and traditional ritual. Those whose hi-viz vests catch fire are doused with water from the Safety
Beakers.

The lighting of the Bling

Archdruid: OK, Hnaef - flick the switch

The Orchard is illuminated with the light of a thousand suns, as Santas, Snowmen, Inflatable Alan Carrs, flashing lights, Singing Ringing Tree, dancing penguins, a sleigh and about a million blue LED icicles blaze into view. The congregation may go "Aaah".

The Dismissal

All: Great - can we go now? Arsenal-Liverpool just kicked off.

Archdruid: Fine by me. Got a busy week ahead. See you tomorrow at dawn?

All: Yeah. Let's hope the Sun rises...

Archruid: I'm sure it will. Let's face it, that's why we lit the fire.



Note - Can somebody please bring a lighter? It would appear the Eternal Flame has gone out.

* Not the Atomic Kitten version. We may be neo-pagans but we're not barbarians.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Solstice Eve

Tomorrow being the Solstice, I am drawn to write a few notes regarding the preparations we should make for this most holy day.

Note that all community bling must be switched off tonight. It won't do any harm for one night, and expresses sympathy with the sun. You can't prepare for the great act of Darkness Fear by illuminating the village with a 20-foot inflatable snowman. Likewise hi-viz colour tonight and tomorrow is violet. It's not much use as hi-viz, but I got them cheap because of a mistake at the factory. I've had them for years, and always thought they'd come in useful one day.

I'm pretty sure wassailing was heard somewhere down Aspley Road last night. Please do not wassail before the Solstice. I note how much you all itch to wassail, and it's one of the highlights of this Yuletide season. But still - it's like sneaking into the loft while your parents are watching telly to try and see what Santa's going to bring. Or at least try and keep it to a minimum. Oh all right, maybe a quick wassail....

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Testy Taize

Many comments about our Taize service, mostly not positive. It seems that people think it was inappropriate for us to use a form of worship that was not consistent with the Beaker tradition.

I feel I should point out the integrity of what we did here. We ripped a form of worship out of context, and used the repetitive singing of simple songs, in a language none of us understood, to give us a feeling of deep spirituality without any any ethical content or challenge. We generally went away feeling fulfilled and untroubled.
Seems completely consistent with our normal practice to me.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Going downhill in a wheelbarrow

Good news on Arfwit and Archie.
They wanted to mark the passing this year of both Brian Wilde and Kathy Staff by going downhill in a wheelbarrow. Why they chose Dunstable Downs is beyond us all. Pascomb Pit is one heck of a slope to try this stunt for the first time. They're still in the L&D but Arfwit's femur is at least not a compound fracture.

Pyramid Selling

I don't understand why everyone has got so upset over the Beaker pyramid selling scheme.

In a traditional pyramid selling scheme, you sell shares in your scheme and run away with the money, leaving your customers hoping that they will be able to do the same.
But our scheme is entirely legitimate. For a small donation of £100, you can buy an authentic Beaker pyramid, hand-crafted from traditional styrofoam in a lock-up garage in Elfield Park. So the Community gets £100 (less a small contribution towards administration, styrofoam and the rent of the garage) - and you get a pyramid. Where's the catch in that?
Frankly, if you think £100 is a reasonable price to pay for a triangular lump of plastic that may - or may not* - increase your spiritual awareness, indicate the presence of ley lines, channel the astral plane and sharpen razor blades, then that's your lookout.
The noise you heard in the background may well have sounded like "ker-ching", but that was just your pyramid-enhanced ethereal awareness. Honest.

* Our lawyers have asked us to say.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Programme In Memory of Kathy Staff

As a strong woman, capable of driving men wild with desire while simultaneously terrifying them through the threat of physical violence and an acid tongue, the character of Nora Batty is a great role model for any young woman contemplating a career as an archdruid.

8 am - Chasing an old man around with a yard brush

10 am - Gossipping and Bickering

12 noon - Wash Day

1 pm - Hanging out the Washing

2 pm - Cream cakes (unless Ivy gets there first)

3pm - Brushing t'yard

4pm - Sitting in a side car looking grumpy

6pm - Suspicion and aggression

8pm - Dragging Wally out of the Pigeon Coop

Dress Code - Wrinkled Stockings

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Is it too late to say I'm sorry?

Apologies all round. I understood that Rordrek was planning to hold a Ceilidh in the Old Cow Shed. Turns out he was planning to hold Kayleigh. Easy mistake to make, but not the same thing at all. Their nocturnal assignment was disturbed by the arrival of three violinists and a bunch of people carrying several cases of Guinness. Generally at this point most of us would apologise and leave. But not our Folk Band. Oh no. They were well into the third verse of "A Bunch of Thyme" before we could drag them out. Not a great night out for Kayleigh.

Full moon celebrations

Thanks to Rordrek who's organised a Ceilidh tonight in the Old Cow Shed. Nothing like a bit of traditional Irish folk singing, accompanied by a nice glass of Rioja.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Big Moon

So the moon was at its biggest for 15 years. So big deal.

Nice and drizzly in Husborne Crawley. Can anyone who sees the moon at any point this evening let me know? And ideally send me a photo?

On an unrelated note, now that the withies are up on the Moot Hall, can I expreess the thanks of the Druidical Team to the Folk who are so kindly making the trips down to the brook in freezing conditions and carrying the clay back up, as tradition dictates, in their bare hands. We really appreciate your efforts throughout the hours of daylight over the last three weeks. However...
The endless trips across the lawn of the Great House have worn a path across the lawn. This lawn has been in place for 497 years, ever since my many-times grandfather laid it out, at the cost of 52 under-gardeners. Clearly we cannot trample on tradition in this way.
Therefore, please can all daubers (as I believe the technical term is) please take the tour via Crow Lane. Yes, I know it's an additional mile or so. But believe me, it's worth it.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Buncefield (2005)

We felt we should mark this anniversary of the Buncefield explosion with a suitable act of worship.

Therefore......

The order of service for the 9 pm observation of "What the heck was that?"

Introit - "Fire" in A (Brown)

9.05 - Pouring out of Beakers (full of Kerosene)

9.10 - Lighting of the sacred flame

9.15 - Running around like headless chickens

9.20 - A moment of silence, as we reflect that whatever Buncefield did to Hemel Hempstead's house prices, it was nothing compared to what sub-prime trailer parks in the US managed

9.25 - Another, more profound, moment of silence as we remember we had mates who worked there - and give thanks it happened in the middle of the night.

9.30 - Discovery that the sacred flame and the kerosene have unexpectedly got too close together

9.31 - More headless-chicken behaviour, this time in earnest

9.32 - The Blessing - "Rejoice, it could have been much worse".

Advent Moon

As we prepare for this evening's Advent Moon celebration, can we try and do something about the light pollution the community's currently kicking out? Even with clear skies last night we could barely see the moon, let alone any stars.

For a start - the bling that's appeared on the Great House. The illuminated Gibbon Moon is probably acceptable. After all, it is a figure of reverence to the Gibbon Moon people. It's also one of the best-sellers in the Luton Airport outlet. Some of this is probably down to the fact that it's so large and brightly-lit, passengers in planes going into Luton can actually see it. The Santa, LED icicles, "Singing Ringing Tree" and the illuminated twenty-foot Alan Carr (why? why?) on the other hand, less so.

Then there's the new shopping outlet in the car park. I don't remember giving permission for "World of Wicker", and it's taking up a lot of space which would otherwise be used for parking 4x4s. But the thing that's really causing the trouble is that it appears to be a 24 hour traditional Beaker Christmas Tree Lights shop. Walking around it yesterday, I didn't even see any wicker. So it may be breaking the Trade Descriptions Act as well.

All in all, it appears that the approach to Yule this year is getting rather commercial.

Let us remember this time of Advent as a time for introspection. For self-examination. For considering what we will do when held to account at the end of time (by the Moon Gibbon, if that is in keeping with your beliefs). A time for lighting a candle in the darkness and considering the frailty of life. A time for donning our hi-viz in liturgical Advent orange, and heading out into the orchard to consider the beauty of the full moon. So it better be dark by full moon, or Hnaef's coming round with the wire-cutters.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

In memory of Oliver Postgate

Today's programme is dedicated to the memory of Oliver Postgate.

8am - Choosing of new names: three Folk are choosing their names today, and their options are strictly limited to names from Noggin the Nog.

10am - Berlioz's Requiem - played on the Mouse Organ

12 noon - Building the Iron Chicken

2 pm - Filling-up of Beakers and Pouring-out of Beakers to be conducted entirely in the Clanger language. Swanee whistles will be provided.

4pm - Reverencing of Bagpuss

6pm - Rides on the Ivor the Engine experience. Well, OK, we go down to Ridgmont and get the train to Bletchley and back. Welsh accents compulsory.

Please note that for today, Aspley Heath has been renamed "Pogle's Wood"

Sleep well, Oliver.

Archdruid Noggin.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Gibbon Moon


On the basis that if you can't beat them, join them - we are glad to announce a special new line for Christmas.


Moon Gibbon Merchandise


Moon Gibbon Keyrings - Keep your keys safe this Christmas with our lovely Moon Gibbon Keyring. If you can't find your keys, just whistle and it will sing "The Funky Gibbon". Only £75!


Cuddly Moon Gibbons - ideal for your favourite niece or nephew. Just £12.95.
Robot Moon Gibbon - comes when you call! Only £123.45.

12 foot inflatable illuminated Moon Gibbon - the fan makes it "snow" on the Moon Gibbon. Perfect for the street with more Christmas "bling". £275.99. NB - may blow away on windy days.



Saturday, 6 December 2008

Beaker Sale

Unsure what to buy for your loved ones this Christmas? Then let us help...

The Beaker Advent Sale!


Why not visit all our outlets this Advent?

50% off all woad-related products at the Woburn World of Woad


The Beaker Experience, Luton Airport

The Doily Clearance Extravaganza - up to 75% off some of the tackiest doilies you could possibly want to give to a hated relative this Christmas.

Traditional Beaker Cider (Duty Free sales only)

Traditional Beaker Beakers, handcrafted in an industrial unit in Bletchley

Traditional faux alpaca rayon/acrylic mix Beaker sweaters and pashminas

From the Book Yurt on-site in Husborne Crawley

The Beaker Common Prayer - written in authentic 16th century English and wrapped in an alpaca wool dust jacket covered in indecipherable runes that might just be mystical

The Beaker Worship Manual Vol I (Choruses in the Ancient Beaker Language)
The Beaker Worship Manual Vol II (1010 ways to use Tealights and Pebbles)
The Complete Beaker Worship Manual (Vols 1 & 2 combined)

The Beaker Worship Manual Vol III (Labyrinths and Standing Stones)
The Beaker Worship Manual Vol IV (Make Way for Beltane)

The Combined Beaker Worship Manual (Vols 1-4 combined)

The Beaker Worship Manual Vol V (Now That's What I call Beaker)

The "Honest, it's definitely complete this time" Beaker Manual Vol III (Incorporating all the above, plus, strangely, "Sounds of Living Water")

And now - a fine selection of Authentic Rustick Beaker Furniture which we knocked up out of bits of old wood in the shed, in an attempt to cash in on the collapse of MFI*

And don't forget - you can get up to 5 years' interest-free credit**

* It is not recommended that Traditional Beaker Furniture be sat on or indeed used in any way. We definitely wouldn't use it. We prefer sitting around on bean bags. Apart from Hnaef's throne.

** Absolutely not subject to any credit checks. Beaker Bank plc is happy to make enormous loans without any security, safe in the knowledge that the Government will bail us out without any financial impact on ourselves. All interest-free credit carries a 20% annual insurance charge in case you fail to make any payments. And we send the boys round to get the goods back.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

New Appointment

With the dismissal of the former Arch-Assistant to the Archdruid, I feel it is a favourable time for some fine-tuning of the leadership structure. Therefore I am delighted to announce the appointment of the new Executive Arch-deputy Archdruid.
This role will encompass the duties of the former Arch-Assistant to the Archdruid, but will also take in a supervisory role over the processes involved in maintaining discipline around the Community. With this in mind, I am pleased to annouce the appointment of Hnaef to this dynamic new role.
Hnaef has had many years' leadership experience within the Moot House, and a 25 metre river-swimming certificate. We think the river may have been sacred as it appeared mysteriously one night in the middle of the path... what more recommendation could you want for a senior leader?
I hope that you will join me in welcoming Hnaef in his new role. There have been some grumblings about his involvement in Drayton's recent experiences, in the cash-for-tealights affair, and for the allegedly suspicious inducements he received for nominating Argwit and Ludwig as Half-Druids. If anyone has any issues with Hnaef's new post, I am happy for them to discuss those issues with me directly. After all, I know where you live.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

The investigation reports back

I'm am pleased to announce that I have completed my investigation into the unfortunate incident in which Drayton was locked in the doily shed for two hours and investigated while Hnaef and his friends went through his personal belongings.
After a thorough and wide-ranging review, I have concluded that Hnaef was wholly responsible for this unfortunate, unwarranted and illegal intrusion into Drayton's affairs. Just because Drayton took an irresponsible and dangerously misguided interest in the affairs of the running of the Beaker Alpaca and Mushroom farm does not justify his mistreatment.
I have therefore regretfully had to sack Hnaef from his role as Arch-Assistant to the Arch-Druid with immediate effect. We cannot tolerate this kind of behaviour.
I hope we can now draw a line under the whole affair.

Monday, 1 December 2008

More on Drayton

More people have started to complain about the discussions that Drayton held with various members of the Beaker Folk authorities recently. I would like to set the record straight.
Although Hnaef and I spent several hours discussing how Drayton could be more constructive with respect to our employment of Kosovan and Congolese refugees, I would like to stress that I knew nothing about it in advance, and was totally unaware that it was happening at the time. I only found out about Drayton's incarceration after Hnaef told me about it. I should stress that Hnaef enjoys my complete confidence, and will continue to do so until it is necessary for me to sack him for unlawful imprisonment.