[[ Read ]] ➳ The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain Author Ronald Hutton – Buyprobolan50.co.uk

The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain Ronald Hutton Takes Us On A Fascinating Journey Through The Ritual Year In Britain His Comprehensive Study Covers All The British Isles And The Whole Sweep Of History From The Earliest Written Records To The Present Day


10 thoughts on “The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain

  1. says:

    As a dozen good reviews could not begin to provide a fair account of this book, I shall offer a few key points which caught my attention as introduction only.At the outset I had hoped for atraditionally pagan account of the ancient seasonal festivals, their origins and meanings.I was initially surprised and eventually delighted to find however that although this work isof an Academic compote of facts and dates and included ongoing assessment of earlier authors often unfounded but s As a dozen good reviews could not begin to provide a fair account of this book, I shall offer a few key points which caught my attention as introduction only.At the outset I had hoped for atraditionally pagan account of the ancient seasonal festivals, their origins and meanings.I was initially surprised and eventually delighted to find however that although this work isof an Academic compote of facts and dates and included ongoing assessment of earlier authors often unfounded but sometimes inspirational conjecture than I had anticipated of Sir James Frazer et al nevertheless this is a very enjoyable, remarkably researched and admirably objective book collection of essays.That much of this morass concerns the developments and impacts of constantly changing traditions due to Christian Reformation and Counter Reformation certainly comedic at this distance in time , the ongoing process a seminal crucible reminding me of both grail and cauldron proved revealing, as the general view of folk traditions and their origins seems to usually favor thearcane sources, this book by contrast documents only definite evidence, largely that of written records, of church, kirk and council across the land.With a nod to the Scandinavian Yuil, as well as the Roman Kalendae, we embark on an exploration of the traditions of Christmastide, the Twelve Days, the Rites of Celebration, Purification and of Charity which included the remarkable Clementing, Elementing and Souling, even Thomasing, Gooding, Mumping and Corning as well asregional begging customs, by which means the poor would recant rhymes for contribution of food for a feast of their own.Similar socially accepted appeals for reward included the Hocktide heaving or lifting at Easter, in which gangs of men assaulted women for favor and groups of women also pursue and caught men of their fancy for same, at its best a raising up on a lifted chair of a person as proxy Lord to commemorate the Holy ascent of Easter, the chosen surrogate released upon a reward of money or a kiss, at its worst a mere grasping by hands and throwing upwards as an occasion for assault and robbery.The ongoing exposition of numerous social customs of this kind, both dazzle the mind with its quantity, as well as provides a clear insight into how poverty was communally accepted, dealt with by innovative appeals to the community at large and that these were often sanctioned by inclusion of some short Christian phrase in the introductory verse or chant.The author traces the development of such customs and portrays their eventual descent intohigh spirited, reckless and even angry demands for assistance that could be met with threats and violence if not accepted.Once national schools were established and later acentralized protection for the poor was introduced, such earlier community traditions dissipated further, demonstrating the authors argument throughout this book of the movement from a community sharing seasonal rituals and traditions including those aspects of display that were geared to earn rewards, to the de socialization of such community into a society characterized by itsinsular and private approach to seasons and their festivals or traditions.The Christianization of earlier traditions also has its place in this book, as for example the feast marking the end of winter and start of the summer months ahead at February 1st, Imbolc the etymology of its name relating to ewes milk and thus new life initially dedicated to the Irish goddess Brigid, but who was later morphed into the Christian St Bride.This is an important theme of both this book and of the mythological psycho social developments of these Isles Most surprisingly the often claimed genesis or inception of many Christian traditions in the pre Christian, infact seems to have increasingly worked in reverse As religious conflicts in the land over changing orthodoxies developed, the Catholic tradition with its wealth of near magical rituals was vigorously being uprooted from the public and community sphere of practice by the ascent of the puritan Protestant, the ensuing personal spiritual void resulted in many cases in the earlier magical Catholic rituals being carried on privately at home and eventually d evolving into allegedly ancient survivalist folk traditions Conversely, some of the Christianized traditions do appear to have had earlier sources such as the Rogationtide and Pentecost processions, at which time the people marched en mass around the crop fields, singing hymns at chosen stop points as the church ministers blessed the crops.The book does feature ancient tradition where evidence has supported this, such as for example the affirmation of the Beltane as an accepted fire festival in certain regions of Northern Europe and the outlaying regions of the British Isles unlike the later Samhain, for which evidence of a major Celtic fire festival is less apparent With greater detail due to the weight of evidence available however, Hutton explores the cultural progress towards ourmodern current perspectives, for example plotting the development of the May which unsurprisingly did have ancient antecedents in the delight of Spring returned as people initially adorned self and home with garlands and greenery, which in time became a tradition of young women selling garlands, later children took over this role, and in their turn both to manage the unruly and the revenue these were eventually taken over by schools and local institutions By contrast, the Mummers Plays with their essentially Christian derived themes of battle, death and resurrection, wereofficially sanctioned groups from the outset and had less to do with earlier pre Christian traditions.Despite growing religious and institutional involvement in previously communal activities and traditions, the populace applied themselves with great enthusiasm to any occasion of social bonding, often at some cost to the societies they lived in other than merely of money or means such as the many community Maypoles stolen by rival villages and towns resulting in pitched battles between the two, the anarchic Saturnalia of Misrule as witnessed at the Shrovetide street foot ball games played across whole towns which could involve thousands of people and provided an occasion for licensed misrule resulting in damage to property and individual although less violent than the serious riot and rebellion which was reserved for the Summer games as a timesuited for battle on the streets or field The Church Ales or festivals also developed their Abbots of Unreason and a myriad practices of inversion and nonsense Samuel Butler now we know where your inspiration came from.Charting how an apparently arcane folk tradition once also considered a surviving pagan fertility rite had originated in high social circles of the Royal Courts and devolved into the rural communities, Hutton s research into the Morris dancers is fascinating for its explanation of how we may manufacture new ancient traditions out of nowhere.Perhaps my favorite exposition in this work is that of the origins and evolution of The Jack in the Green, identified as a survival of an ancient pagan fertility rite by the Frazerite Lady Raglan of the Folklore society in 1939, established on her view linking the dancing Green Man in May day processions with the foliage faces on church walls This was a lineage unresolved till 1979 Roy Judges study revealed the true origins to be somewhat less arcane, and linked them to atraditional social ritual evolved as so many traditional customs of display were, to celebrate the new season with a display deigned to garner reward To explain, during the17thC, London milkmaids danced the streets on May Day with their pails covered in flowers which symbolized the Springs new growth and so presented the promise of new grass for the cattle thus promising fresh milk, cream and butter These displays earned them money as reward and therefore can be seen to serve a double purpose, of advertising their wares, as well a gathering much needed financial support after a lengthy winter without much income They later left the pails for lighter wooden frames similarly covered in flowers and greenery, and later still were imitated in their greenery attired frames and street dancing display by the London Chimney sweeps whose claim for sympathy at this time was based on the end of winter cold meaning nofires or work for them till next fall.Hutton surmises this work with a number of provocative and insightful observations, for example that the notion of a distinctive Celtic ritual year with four festivals at the quarter days and an opening at Samhain, is a scholastic construction of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries which should now be considerably revised or even abandoned altogether Whilst the debt to a medieval, magical Catholicism seems to be growing apparent in my reading of serious studies of the origin of neo pagan traditions, Hutton s final words over the changing Christian influence upon the traditional festivals of the year are revelatory.He establishes that soon as the system of salvation through ritual was scrapped at the Reformation, the merry making began to be regarded as a liability by the social and religious elites.thus the evolution of a religious ideology had produced a society imbued with a general taste for ceremony and acted as a means to endorsement of secular festivity In other words, Merry England was inspired by the fires of hell Finally that the rhythms of the British year are timeless and impose certain patterns on the calendar customs , to celebrate spring, to make merry in summer and draw close at fall, despite government and mass media atomization of community, seems a fair conclusion Overall this book suggests to me that whilst certain traditions may not have an established ancient provenance, nevertheless because people are increasingly applying such meanings to the seasons cycles as an inherent pagan response to nature itself, we may now be seeing a further reversal of the community oriented neglect of seasonal festivals and a resurgence of anature based community oriented society at large.Not a book for the exclusively poetic or methodologically minded, but if read in the objective manner with which it is presented, this book provides a wealth of insight and understanding into the seasonal festivities as they have evolved in these British Isles and the influence they bear on modern pagan perspectives, Recommended


  2. says:

    The book is a scholarly survey of holidays in Britain, going in order from winter to spring This may sound incredibly dull, but it s not it s a fascinating study of customs we take for granted, exploding myths on practically every page There are some chapters where the exclamation of holy shit to paragraph ratio is dangerously close to 1 1, like the chapter on Christmas.Hutton, a professor of history at the University of Bristol in the UK who specializes in the English Civil War, has a s The book is a scholarly survey of holidays in Britain, going in order from winter to spring This may sound incredibly dull, but it s not it s a fascinating study of customs we take for granted, exploding myths on practically every page There are some chapters where the exclamation of holy shit to paragraph ratio is dangerously close to 1 1, like the chapter on Christmas.Hutton, a professor of history at the University of Bristol in the UK who specializes in the English Civil War, has a simple method, but one that s still having to fight for traction in the world of folklore he demands proof for assertions about history.This may seem elementary, and in the world of history it is, but in folk studies it s practically revolutionary, although less so now than 30 years ago.Hutton looks at the history of common holidays and customs and trashes the urban legends about pagan origins, pre Christian survivals, and even cynical businessmen forcing us to exchange presents on December 25 Instead, he looks at the documentary evidence for everything from Christmas carols to Valentine s cards to present a fascinating picture of how we ve come to celebrate holidays the way we do.Although the histories of most holidays vary considerably, Hutton does draw some broad conclusions First, most holiday customs are muchrecent than people think, dating mostly to the 19th century rather than some fanciful pagan past and Second, most of the fitting, pithy explanations for certain customs have no evidence to support them whatsoever.His lengthy history of Christmas is perhaps the highlight of the book so far, anyway I m only up to Shrove Tuesday Hutton demolishes so many myths about the celebration of Christmas that there s no way I m going to avoid feeling like a tool when putting a wreath on my door this year One of the best parts about his take on Christmas is tracing widespread laments over the death of a traditional Christmas Hutton finds evidence to show that people in England have been complaining that they don t celebrate Christmas like they used to since before the Reformation.In fact, most of the things we take for granted as part of an old fashioned Christmas turkey, greeting cards, presents, stockings, trees, carols, Santa Claus were all inventions of the 19th century British middle class, particularly journalists and writers like Charles Dickens assisted by American writers like Washington Irving, and the guy who invented Santa Claus In some cases, these were foreign imports, like Christmas trees, while in others, they were products of the new social realities of the 19th century Until then, it had been unheard of outside aristocratic circles for parents to give children presents But as the rise of the nursery and a professional child rearing class instituted a degree of formality between children and parents, it became conceivable to add the heretofore strictly adult pastime of gift giving to the family relationship.If all this sounds like a tremendous slog, it isn t Hutton demonstrates his contentions with evidence drawn from contemporary records, and manages to turn up countless rich anecdotes about the way British people have celebrated holidays over the centuries The book is bursting with great details, like how in Northern England it was common at Christmas time to decorate tree branches with the bodies of dead wrens, or how teams of boys with blackened faces and white shirts would travel through villages, performing a plough dance for money during February


  3. says:

    Marvellous A proper historical study of the age old folk traditions of Britain, most of which aren t actually all that old after all Useful ammunition for shutting up hippies and neo pagans who want to try and fool you into thinking that morris dancing goes all the way back to the stone age, or some other claptrap like what hippies and pagans tend to drone on about And if they still mither on make them read his book on wicca too.


  4. says:

    Even today, the idea that many folk traditions and festivals are the remnants of some pagan pre Christian Celtic religion, transmogrified and surviving furtively in the countryside, has a peculiar potency What few people realise is how recent a notion that is and how much it relies on a particular handful of archaeologists, folklorists and historians writing at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, influenced by the growing cult of the countryside that began in t Even today, the idea that many folk traditions and festivals are the remnants of some pagan pre Christian Celtic religion, transmogrified and surviving furtively in the countryside, has a peculiar potency What few people realise is how recent a notion that is and how much it relies on a particular handful of archaeologists, folklorists and historians writing at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, influenced by the growing cult of the countryside that began in the wake of the Industrial Revolution and grew apace asandof the population abandoned said countryside for urban life.Perhaps the most influential of these was Sir James Frazer in his massively important magnum opus The Golden Bough, in which he argued for the existence of the aforementioned pan European Celtic nature religion, using as evidence many of the surviving folk customs of the British Isles Frazer s approach was to attempt to reconstruct this religion from these remnants, but of course this entire approach rests on the fundamentally flawed basis that these customs and festivals were in fact of ancient origin, evolved through the years beyond recognition and now performed by a rural population utterly unaware of their original meaning or significance.In this book, called a history of the ritual year in Britain, Ronald Hutton sets out to investigate these assumptions, managing along the way to fairly successfully disprove any form of ancient origin for the vast majority of seasonal British festivals and celebrations He begins with the Twelve Days of Christmas, with New Year s gifts, Mummers Dances, Hobby Horses and Lords of Misrule, and moves through the year, taking in Valentine s Day, Shrovetide, Easter, Beltane, May Day, Midsummer and onwards through harvest festivals and Halloween What becomes obvious is how many of these seasonal celebrations actually had their origins in Christian church services and blessings, many aspects of which were deemed heretical in the wake of the Reformation and were moved outside of the church and mutated into customs centred on the community and the family instead of the traditional parish.What does become obvious by the close is, as Hutton argues, that the rhythms of the British year are timeless, and impose certain perpetual patterns upon calendar customs a yearning for light, greenery, warmth, and joy in midwinter, a propensity to celebrate the spring with symbols of rebirth, an impulse to make merry in the sunlight and open air during the summer, and a tendency for thoughts to turn towards death and the uncanny at the onset of winter But that does not mean that the expressions of those impulses are timeless or that they have come down to us through the years in some unbroken link to a mythical pre Christian unified pagan religion


  5. says:

    I really love this book I bought it in the hopes that it would cover pagan and pre Christian religious rituals, but was sadly disappointed However, what I found instead was a well written, excellently researched treasure trove of information about the social festivals of Britain mainly England, but there are some Scottish and Welsh celebrations too dating from around the thirteenth century right into the twentieth.Largely using parish records, Hutton does an excellent job of dating and locat I really love this book I bought it in the hopes that it would cover pagan and pre Christian religious rituals, but was sadly disappointed However, what I found instead was a well written, excellently researched treasure trove of information about the social festivals of Britain mainly England, but there are some Scottish and Welsh celebrations too dating from around the thirteenth century right into the twentieth.Largely using parish records, Hutton does an excellent job of dating and locating the many feasts and festivals that used to fill up the British year Starting with Christmas, the first eleven chapters alone deal with the many ways in which people celebrated over Christmas Week and into early January, from there the rest of the book moves through the year, taking a chapter for each major festival or manner of celebration, through Easter and May Day, on to Midsummer and the harvest, passing through Samhain to end with Bonfire Night in November, but stopping off along the way to explore lesser defined traditions such as mummer s plays, hobby horses, morris dancing and revels.At times it can become a bit dry with the straightforward recounting of which festivities were held in which parishes and when and where, but for the most part it s an enjoyable book For those looking for pre Christian rituals Hutton tries never to speculate without evidence, but he makes a good case for Beltane in particular, while casting doubt over the many fertility rites interpretations many twentieth century folklorists became slight obsessed with regarding traditional celebrations There s also an exploration of several revived traditions and whether or not they are truly authentic and also whether or not that really matters, when it succeeds in maintaining a sense of identity in rural communities His description of the hobby horse dances, particularly the surviving one in Padstow, Cornwall, is as fascinating as it is creepy.Filled with intriguing details about ritual life throughout the Middle Ages, and providing interesting evidence about the upheaval throughout the Tudor religious reformations and the puritan Protectorship in particular, this book is full of meticulous research and informed insight It can be read cover to cover, or dipped into as necessary, but it s perfect research material for anyone interested in this historical age It s definitely one to keep on the shelf and return to again and again


  6. says:

    Dim and ill remembered shades of blood soaked pagan fertility rites suppressed by the Church, sanitised and repackaged for a Christian age attenuated echoes of a timeless, agrarian traditionalism surviving into the urban and rapidly industrialising present This was the vision of the folk customs and festivals of the British Isles as refracted through the prism of late Victorian and early twentieth century folklore and anthropology, disseminated and popularised by writers such as J.G Frazer an Dim and ill remembered shades of blood soaked pagan fertility rites suppressed by the Church, sanitised and repackaged for a Christian age attenuated echoes of a timeless, agrarian traditionalism surviving into the urban and rapidly industrialising present This was the vision of the folk customs and festivals of the British Isles as refracted through the prism of late Victorian and early twentieth century folklore and anthropology, disseminated and popularised by writers such as J.G Frazer and Margaret Murray It reached its popular apogee in the 1960s and 1970s, finding its ultimate cinematic expression in The Wicker Man , a film which, rather appropriately, held that Lord Summerisle s Victorian grandfather an educated, enlightened, yet somewhat cynical man had reinstituted a reconstructed lost paganism amongst the islanders as a matter of expediency in encouraging them to grow cultivars of crops otherwise unsuited to the Scottish island He seems a character who would have been very much at home with the theories propounded by Frazer and Murray, but enough of this digression into pagan romanticism and cinematic trivia Professor Hutton s investigation into the traditions of the ritual year in Britain is carried out with commendable objectivity Claims of survivals from the pagan past are placed under rigorous scrutiny, and in almost every instance are found wanting, with the very notion of the Celtic year and its structure being called into question What emerges instead is not some dim survival of a lost paganism, but of the lost world of pre Reformation Britain it is mediaeval Catholicism, rather than paganism, that would appear to give form to much of our ritual year and its associated customs, although not to all of them Further, the evidence that he unearths suggests that a number of folk customs that were once taken to be traditions drawn from a timeless agrarian society prove to be nothing of the sort, with many such as some aspects of mumming being of a muchrecent provenance Some practices, it would seem, were spontaneous creations of popular culture in a largely pre literate age, in which a socially licensed breaking of social norms was accepted on the part of the younger members of the community Halloween and Mischief Night are the two notable contemporary manifestations of this tradition of youthful social transgression.The most detailed studies into the history of Morris dancing suggest that its first appearance was not in some Arcadian English setting, but in fifteenth century London This entertainment was popular at the early Tudor court, but by the mid 1520s Henry VIII had already grown tired of the dance, and had it dropped from his Christmas courtly revels From London and high society, it disseminated outwards geographically, and downwards socially, so that by the early seventeenth century it had spread to many regions of England as a popular pastime It is not the survival of a prehistoric pagan fertility dance.Hutton s book thus reveals as much about the preoccupations of late Victorian and early twentieth century British society an obsession with sex, fertility and paganism born, perhaps, of the disintegration of traditional Christian norms of sexual repression thanks to the challenges of Darwinism and the findings of anthropology in colonial cultures as it does about the origins of our ritual year and its associated customs Any reader interested in these themes will take much from this book, although dogmatic neopagans may not warm to it greatly The only minor gripe that I have with the publication is that its font size is rather small


  7. says:

    Subtitled A History of the Ritual Year in Britain , this is a rather long and rambling yet scholarly look at popular and religious seasonal folk traditions in Great Britain Christmas, mummers, morris dancing, Lords of Misrule, Whitsun ales, Beltane, maypoles, gathering rushes, Robin Hood, Guy Fawkes, and much, muchare examined as seen in all kinds of historical records from the late 1200 s to modern times It is an exhaustive and sometimes dry recital of weird customs full of sentences Subtitled A History of the Ritual Year in Britain , this is a rather long and rambling yet scholarly look at popular and religious seasonal folk traditions in Great Britain Christmas, mummers, morris dancing, Lords of Misrule, Whitsun ales, Beltane, maypoles, gathering rushes, Robin Hood, Guy Fawkes, and much, muchare examined as seen in all kinds of historical records from the late 1200 s to modern times It is an exhaustive and sometimes dry recital of weird customs full of sentences like Marching watches of armed men, torch bearers and musicians are also recorded during the early sixteenth century at Nottingham, Exeter, Bristol, Lioverpool, Barnstaple, and Totnes p 314 5 , yet strangely compelling to read, much like Frazier s Golden Bough , which Hutton thoroughly refutes This would be an invaluable resource for writers of historic fiction set in Great Britain


  8. says:

    This man makes me squee spastically How I would love to pick his brain over drinks one day I ve barely cracked the book, and know it will take me delightful ages to get through, but he s so thorough and he backs everything up with proper documentation Oh I so wish that other authors in the vein of religious Wicca, pagan, especially would learn the value of honest research and FOOTNOTES


  9. says:

    A pretty ripping account of holidays and their customs throughout Britain s history Hutton provides a lot of detail and he also takes the time to review many common misperceptions I sometimes wondered that it wouldn t bestraightforward to have moved along by time period but he also makes clear why he didn t and it s still incredibly readable as it is To the point, Hutton is a lively writer and makes interesting even what might be otherwise dull I had initially hoped to read another of A pretty ripping account of holidays and their customs throughout Britain s history Hutton provides a lot of detail and he also takes the time to review many common misperceptions I sometimes wondered that it wouldn t bestraightforward to have moved along by time period but he also makes clear why he didn t and it s still incredibly readable as it is To the point, Hutton is a lively writer and makes interesting even what might be otherwise dull I had initially hoped to read another of his books but if anyone is bothered to notice from my shelves, which I doubt my local library does not always have the best selection This was the only book of his that I could find in their catalogue At least I was not disappointed and now know it certainly wouldn t be a waste of money to buy one of Hutton s books


  10. says:

    A great book from an authority in his field, which explores the traditional rites and customs of the British year Although Professor Hutton is a controversial figure in neo pagan circles, and clearly possesses a passionate fascination for the history of paganism and Wicca, he doesn t let this cloud his objective judgement He takes issue with the long held view that many of these traditions have deep roots in pre Christian paganism and highlights the lack of evidence for such a position, for ex A great book from an authority in his field, which explores the traditional rites and customs of the British year Although Professor Hutton is a controversial figure in neo pagan circles, and clearly possesses a passionate fascination for the history of paganism and Wicca, he doesn t let this cloud his objective judgement He takes issue with the long held view that many of these traditions have deep roots in pre Christian paganism and highlights the lack of evidence for such a position, for example, with respect to Easter and its supposed association with the goddess Eostre, of whom there seems to be no mention in the historical record, other than a passing mention by Bede