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The Celtic Art Coracle Volume 1 Issue 7
The Lytchett Heath Game - John Bartlett ( continued)

Here the incantation has undergone a transformation of its own, each new transformation being challenged by the "chorus". Robert Graves, in The White Goddess, arrives at the same end; he notes that Anne Baites of Norpeth, testifying in 1673, transformed herself into cat, hare, greyhound, and bee, and presumes a seasonal sequence: hare and greyhound, trout and otter, bee and swallow, and mouse and cat. By using the static definition of Elizabeth Gowdie and the dynamic definition of "The Twa Magicians", (here called "The Coal Black Smith") he reconstructs the original form of what he suggests is a "dramatic dance". The version he gives (p.447) is astonishingly close to the variant collected here by Paddy Graber. Two further points should be made. The stick which each child carries between its legs was the origin of the "broomstick". Murray states "the riding on a broom seems to be merely a variant of riding on some kind of stick. It appears to have been performed by the members of a coven, and only for going to a Sabbath or for use in the processional dance." (The God of the Witches, p. 87).   She does not describe the use of the stick in the dance. The children moved counter clockwise, that is "widdershins" (against the sun), and they moved around four stones set at the cardinal points. Murray tells us that "the dates of these ceremonies are the four great quarterly festivals" (p. 106). This is suggested by the four couplets: "a wren in spring", "a mouse in May", "an autumn hare", and "a winter trout". Another parallel would be the "snaking" over the field, strongly reminiscent of the "follow- my- leader" type of processional dance used by the members of a coven.

 

Art Copyright John Bartlett 1983
 

The Celtic Art Coracle Vol 1
Contents Coracle Press 1983
ISSN 0828-8321 
All Rights Reserved
10.02.01edition
coracle@thecoracle.tripod.com

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