Having had a couple of very cold, very dark wassails in previous years, we decided to move the wassail date from the traditional 12th night in January, to March, hoping it would be warmer and drier.
Well, we were very blessed with the weather this year, with broken cloud bringing some much needed sunshine, and little to no wind. It was warm and dry, and for that we are very thankful.
I will start by saying my thanks to:
- Everyone who came along and took part in the wassail, whether it was a new experience for you, or you’re a regular at these kind of things.
- Everyone who supported with transporting equipment, playing & singing music, firing the shotgun, and serving drinks and cake.
You make the Orchard and the village what it is – a wonderful place to celebrate life in all its fullness, even if you may not live directly in the village! Thank you everyone!!!
We began with some tea & coffee as the crowd gathered together, and by 4:15pm we had 30 people gathered together, 25 adults and 5 youngsters. Wassailing really is an all-age celebration.
We kicked off with some words from St Francis of Assisi, that great saint who inspires us to a deeper connection to our Maker through the natural world, and some words from Lauren Oliver which are appropriate given that we’ve moved to the time of the Spring Equinox:
The endlessly long winter has
at last turned to spring.
From life to death and back again to life.
It is indeed the greatest magic in the world.
We then shared peace and grace via what is commonly known in barn dance terminology as the Right and Left Hand Grand. Inevitably we mess this up, and that’s okay, it’s actually fun to make mistakes and try and get back on track again – laughter is a great medicine.
Thanks to Dylan for providing the music for The Pleasley Wassail song, heavily based on the traditional song “Here we come a’ wassailing”, but with the words altered for our context and change in date.
Some thoughts were shared about blessing land, trees, bees and how by doing the simple acts of kindness of putting toast in the branches and cider into the roots of the trees, uttering a blessing over them as we do it, we actually are blessed in return when the harvest comes, as well as enjoying the mental health benefits of the Orchard’s peaceful atmosphere.
We then shared the Wassail cup, a three handled cup filled with mulled cider, passing it around the circle and uttering a blessing to our neighbour as we handed it to them, “Drink. May you never thirst!”
After that, we collected our cider and toast to place into the roots and branches of the trees, uttering a blessing over them as we did so. This was much easier to do in the daylight than the pitch black of previous years, and it was easier to see which trees had been “done”. I have yet to check how much of the toast is left now, but when I returned to the car from packing up at the end, one bird had already eaten a large chunk from one of the slices.
Having done that, we gathered around the oldest apple tree in the Orchard, our very own “Apple Tree Man”, and wassailed it with the Carhampton Wassail song, making loads of noise at the end as we chanted Wassail!, culminating in Hannah firing a shotgun shell, loaded with birdseed (to redeem the image of the gun as something that can give life).
After some final readings and blessings, we headed up to the outdoor classroom for hot mulled cider, tea/coffee and squash, and to eat some lovely, fresh apple cakes and some amazing bread provided by Julie. Thanks to Jo and Dorothy for helping serve our wonderful wassailers.
Everyone who came along said how much they’d enjoyed it, and been able to engage with it, whatever beliefs or lack thereof. We all share this common land, and we all share a concern for the planet we live on. Reconnecting with the land in this way is a very healthy activity for minds, bodies and spirits.
Every year we’re getting better and better at doing this, and every year we’re getting bigger and bigger in attendance. It’s great to see people from all walks of life, all ages, all coming together in this incredibly blessed place, both to bless and to be blessed. Next year we’d love to have some Morris / Clog dancing, so if you’re aware of anyone who might be able to help out with this, given a large amount of time to organise it, please to contact us and we’ll make the next one even better!
Our next event in the Orchard is the Easter Egg Hunt, Friday 19th April, 11am – 1pm. Free entry and prize for every entry too! Bring the kids / grandkids and yourselves for another fun-filled gathering.
wassail ! Wassail !! WASSAIL !!!