These events are pagan-based and pagan-inspired. The Oak King and Holly King cycle come to us from Celtic mythology. In rough overview, the Oak King and Holly King are brothers (or twins) who are responsible for, or evidence of, the changing of the seasons from Summer to Winter and back again. In some views the Oak King and Holly King battle each other every six months and one dies while the other now reigns. In other views they are always present but with one ascendent while the other dwindles.
Their rising and falling coincide with the solar calendar, with the equinoxes and solstices. These events began because a few of us wanted to spend some time exploring this cycle. Here is how we are exploring at.
At Yule (winter solstice), when darkness is thickest and when the Holly King rules supreme over his Winter Court, we invoke and light the spark of light and life: the Oak Prince. Traditionally this has been a private event as it has a heavier and more intense ritual component. If you are interested in this event, please contact the Abysmal Witch privately at email@example.com.
At Ostara (spring equinox) we gather for the ending of the Winter Court and the opening of the Summer Court. It is the time for the Oak Prince to step forward, to prove himself worthy of caring for the people, the creatures and the land for the coming months. The quality of his responses will determine the quality of the Summer Court. Having faced the challenges, his brother the Holly King declares him fit and the Oak King is crowned by the Queen of the Changing Seasons. We explore the ritual and celebrate the event with a Faery Ball.
At Litha (summer solstice) we are at the height of the Oak King’s power and of the Summer Court. We celebrate by enjoying the fruits of summer and of the sun. And we remember and re-awaken the darkness that lies within all of us and within all of nature, no matter how powerful the sun becomes. And thus the Holly Prince is re-awakened. Our Holly Prince is the Oak King of the previous year, now moved to become the Holly Prince and so fulfill the full cycle of the King’s experience and existence. We explore and celebrate this with a Garden Party.
At Mabon (fall equinox) it is time for the Oak King to step down and the Holly King to rise up. We do not challenge the Holly Prince to his rule but rather welcome in his reign and connect together to know that we are never along in the darkness of winter. The Summer Court ends and the Winter Court begins. We explore and celebrate this with a Feast and a Wild Hunt.
Then, of course, the cycle continues as we return to Yule and the rebirth of light into a new soul, a new Oak Prince.
The rituals are the events are relatively simple. At the equinoxes, everyone attending is part of the Court, the necessary and powerful witnesses to the changing of the Kings and the changing of the seasons. At the solstices it is a more general celebratory time and a chance for personal reflection and experience (and in the case of the summer solstice, fun games!).
These are pagan inspired rituals, yet we hope to make them accessible to anyone who enjoys mythology, nature, or any personal faith that resonates with the cycles above. We welcome all who are respectful.