Mythology of the Mummers

“Here we are to play you a Play.
Let us pluck your dreams,
And dance you away!”

The street theatre of Mumming is ancient indeed. In Europe there are a number of ways that mumming took place around the village and town square. These are best identified during the medieval period where the mummers’ play was a great treat for the humble people of the town.

Mumming also appears to derive from a play on the word “mum” or to hush, to keep one’s mouth shut, to go silent with a secret. During Vinotok, as in British villages, the working-class Mummers are anything BUT silent! During special celebrations and times of year the poor would rise up and take over the village, dancing, singing and playing for folks in hostelries, pubs and mead houses. And, most often the plays they performed had some very direct commentary about the ruling class, the injustices of life and humorous roasts, toasts and jabs at the Powers that Be.

Here in our village during Vinotok the Mummers dress in the traditional “motleys”, or colorful regalia sewed together of bright fabrics, furs, leather, bells wild greens and more. You will not see princesses or lords in the streets during Vinotok. Instead, the common folk proudly display their jester’s regalia, animal natures and the symbols of the sacred fool’s place being “outside the class system.” This tradition is also the source of the phrase “motley crew” an anarchic, joyous ragtag troupe who create spontaneous theatre, plays and commentary for the working-class folk.

The Mummers process down our main street and through the neighborhoods, calling out the good folks, entering pubs to entertain, beg a drink and a bite of food and playfully entice all and sundry to “Follow the Heartbeat out into the street!”

As the Vinotok parade pauses to perform and draw others into the wild and wonderful celebration theatre, the Passion Play–or healing mythology of our community–is performed by torchlight and drum. The Embodied Archetypal characters are introduced, one by one and the entire village resounds with lusty laughter, high-jinks and mirth.

“So bring your lovers and deepest desire,
Dance through the streets and around the Bonfire.”

By Vinotok Godmother and Founder, Marcie Telander

Mummers Activity: Heal the Wasteland Journal Activity

About the Wastelands: The Wastelands appear as a concept in ancient Celtic mythology as a consequence from lack of respect and relationship for and with the Earth and her gifts. We must seek balance and reciprocity with our natural world, where what we give back to the Earth, is as equal to or greater than, what we take. Part of regaining balance and practicing reciprocity with our natural world, is healing and nourishing the wounded places we have created in the land – these Wastelands. Globally and nationally we are living in an age of the Wastelands. From climate change to the pandemic, from racial injustice to political ineptitude, this social and environmental barrenness rises from a culture of neglect and imbalance. We are here to change this paradigm. 

Make a Difference: Make some physical calls to organizations and causes that could use your particular talents or who are engaged in repairing and restoring Wastelands in your home place. Contribute to their cause or find out how you can become actively involved. 

Make Room: You can’t welcome the new if you’re all cluttered up with the old. Your talent can’t soar if it’s anchored by muck. Take the turn to the Autumn Equinox as a time to rid your life of what might be weighing you down. Start with a ritual clean of your house. Sweeping deep into the corners, getting all the muck and residue not only of dust and dirt but of old resentments, angers and wounds can be energetically freeing. Rid yourself of the grunge of yesterday, to make space for new, more positive, more enlivening energy to live in your house. Burn some sage, open the windows, let the wind carry the rest away.