This information is for Samhuinn 2014. When preparation starts for 2015’s festival, the page will be updated but until then, this is here to give you an idea of the kind of Court characters you’re likely to encounter at Samhuinn.
The Cailleach, the Crone aspect of the goddess is the bringer of the dark and cold of Winter. She is the storm hag whose journey across the land and to the seas brings the winds and the ice as she washes her white plaid in the waters and covers the mountains with her destructive gift. She brings death to cleanse the land; without the silent purge of winter there is no room for new life to grow. Carrying the seed of summer’s remains, she preserves that which must live on for the Maiden to grow when the Crone’s time is over.
She awakens from her stony form as the days grow shorter and the dying sun heralds Her time once more. Moving through the land, She watches. Weakness, sickness and frailty cannot survive Her cold. She marks those to receive her fatal gift when she finally dances winter across the land and skies. None escape her gaze, not even Kings.
The Summer King is the King: Lord of the land, and ruler of all those who live there. The king is a mortal, chosen by the Goddess, gifted with power and enthroned by her. The King will rule until Summer ends, and Summer will end when the King stops ruling. He knows the Goddess has three aspects (he was elevated by the Maiden/Mother aspect) and that appearance of the Crone signals that his worth, his strength, is being questioned.
For the King, this evening is a procession to give thanks for a bountiful growing season, for full larders, for plentiful store-rooms. The procession is for the court to give thanks to the Goddess, for the King to show himself to the populus, and for them to show their adoration of him.
For the King, the courtroom (the stage) is where there will be more celebrations, feasting, and the King will hold his Tribunal.
The Kings belief, his KNOWLEDGE, is that he is not ready to stop ruling, nor is there any reason for him to be usurped: This growing season may be over, and the Sun may be entering a period of slumber…. but Summer, that ethereal conceptual period as opposed to the few short months, has not run its course and there is no reason for it to end.
The Prince of Winter is the personification of the hard choices that mortals must make at wintertime. He is the son of the reigning Summer King and he sees his father as being too weak and too decadent to rule while the world grows cold. He is disciplined and stoic, a warrior born and bred, but before he can claim the throne he must face trial by Fire, Steel and Will. In the end, only the strong can triumph.