AN OPEN MYSTERY SCHOOL
|Brutus Crowned by Charles Newington from his Frieze of the Brutus Myth
Over the last 34 years John Matthews and myself have led a weekend course in December at Hawkwood College, Stroud, Glos.1Each year we have presented on a different topic, never repeating the weekend again, so it becomes a unique experience created with our co-teachers and participants. We do this every year to honour a trust that was passed to us by Gareth Knight2 who ran public magical courses at Hawkwood every year from the 1970s to the 1980s (long before anyone else dared do this). In 1985, Gareth handed over to us his December weekend to continue the work, and we have kept going ever since.
Our very first weekend in 1985 was on the myths of the Mabinogion, and every year since then we have explored the myths and mysteries of the land in a kind of open mystery school to which anyone is welcome to belong by just coming along. We explore the topic with our special guests who are experts in that field, we meditate to deepen our understanding, and we always create a special ritual for the occasion which, again, is never repeated.3
|Marion Green (far right), with John and Caitlín & friends at the Grail in the Green weekend, Hawkwood College, 1998
We have been very fortunate in our special guests who, over the years, have included Brian and Wendy Froud (creators of the Dark Crystal), Professor Ronald Hutton, Philip Carr-Gomm (Chosen Chief of OBOD), Marian Green (The Invisible College), actor Mark Ryan, Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki (Servants of the Light), artist Meinrad Craighead, folklorist Nigel Pennick, musicians Martin & Jessica Simpson, Geraldine Beskin (of Atlantis Bookshop), and Ian Rees (co-author of the Keys to the Kingdom).
BRUTUS & THE MYTH OF NEW TROY: GIANTS, CHALK HILL FIGURES & THE LEGENDARY FOUNDING OF BRITAIN
Our 34thannual open mystery school course in 2019 is Brutus and The Myth of New Troy: Giants, Chalk Hill Figures, & the Legendary Founding of Britain.
|Brutus Sailing to Britain by Charles Newington
The legend of Brutus, first told in detail by Geoffrey of Monmouth in his History of the Kings of Britain, relates how his great-grand father, Aeneas, escaped from the ruins of Troy to found a colony in Italy. A seer prophesied that Brutus would kill his mother and father: his mother died giving birth to him, but he later accidentally killed his father while out hunting, and was expelled from Italy. After many wanderings, and promoted by the good graces of the Goddess, Diana, Brutus finally arrived in Britain, where he found it inhabited by giants. After one of his men, Corineus, overcame the chief giant, GogMagog, Brutus was crowned, with the giants becoming the guardians of his city Troynovant or New Troy, the legendary name for London.
|Got & Magog: Guardians of London at the London Guildhall
Today these Gog and Magog (now two giant figures woven by the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers) are processed in the Lord Mayor’s Show every year as the traditional guardians of London. This giant tradition is found all over Western Europe. We will explore the mythic backgrounds for this legend, and together create masks for the group enactment of this year’s ritual, The Masque of Brutus,4in which the giants will feature. We will be making our own masks for this, in which we will delve into the legend of Brutus and the myth of our living land.
|Torchbearer of Oceania from a Masque by Inigo Jones
Our guest co-teacher - artist Charles Newington5– will show us the art of laying chalk hill figures, among other projects in which he is currently engaged.
|Corineus & Gog, proposed chalk hill figures for Plymouth Ho, Charles Newington
Charles Newington’s art is renowned worldwide for its mythic depths and quirky humour. He is the creator of the Folkstone White Horse6, a new chalk hill figure, as well as a projected plan to restore the Giant Gogmagog and Cornineus to Plymouth Ho7.
|Charles & his design for the Folkestone White Horse
John and Charles are currently working on a joint project for an exhibition, which is currently under wraps, but which will put the myth of Brutus firmly back on the map. Charles has created a wonderful frieze, showing the life of Brutus, his arrival in Britain, the fight with the Giant Gog Magog, and his establishment of a line of kings. Below you can see it unrolled down our garden path. Charles has made a canvas version so that it can be displayed about the walls of the hall at Hawkwood for the course, as a kind of Bayeux Tapestry of events.
The Frieze of Brutus, by Charles Newington
You are very welcome to join us for this most enjoyable of our weekends. Everyone who comes automatically becomes one of ‘the Company of Hawkwood,’ in the long tradition of this weekend gathering. On Saturday night we let down our hair to enjoy our annual ceilidh where everyone is invited to participate: we have heard songs, stories, poems, and witnessed silly sketches, dances and a number of other things. Many of our Company return every year to be part of this unique gathering, where hearts and minds are nourished for the descent into deep winter as we come home to the heart of our hearths. If you have never joined us before, you are assured of a warm welcome.
DETAILS OF THE COURSE
6-8 December 2019 BRUTUS & THE MYTH OF NEW TROY: Giants, Chalk Hill Figures & the Legendary Foundation of Britain, with John & Caitlín Matthews & special guest, artist, Charles Newington.
We explore the myth of Brutus, the founding of London as New Troy, discovering our native giants and the making chalk hill figures, as we delve into the myths of Britain’s founding at this critical time. No politics, just myth and ritual, so come and join us for our legendary 34th annual open mystery school where we reach beyond the Dark Ages to bring the visions of the land’s guardians into new focus. Our Open mystery school is open to anyone: come ready for a ritual Masque of Brutus and for our Saturday night ceilidh when we let down our hair!
BOOKING: Single £340, Shared £300, Non-Res £260. Please send your non-returnable deposit of £100 to Hawkwood College, Painswick Old Rd, Stroud, Glos GL6 7QW (01453 759034) firstname.lastname@example.org. Enclose SAE for map & confirmation.
1. Hawkwood College is a gracious and welcoming Cotswold house in the limestone hills above Stroud in Gloucestershire. It changed from being a family home in 1948, when it was acquired as an adult educational institute. With its own grounds, mature trees, and a spring, it has a wonderful atmosphere: the rooms are comfortable and the food very good. We always feel ‘on our contacts’ when we work here.
|Hawkwood College in the Wintertime
2. Gareth Knight is a senior ritualist and magician whose influential work, teaching and books have shaped generations of those who serve the Mysteries. For more information see: https://www.facebook.com/OfficialGarethKnight/ and http://www.angelfire.com/az/garethknight/index.html
3. Several of these rituals appear in our book Arthurian Magic, Llewellyn Press, 2018
4. Our Masque will be after the style of Inigo Jones and Ben Johnson.
5. Charles Newington’s art may be sampled at his website: http://www.charlesnewington.co.uk
6. The Folkstone White Horse project may be viewed here: http://www.charlesnewington.co.uk/folkestone-white-horse/
|The Folkestone White Horse by Charles Newington
7. The Plymouth Giant project can be seen here: