The Great Grump Effigy
The sacred sacrifice for greater Earth healing
In our community, one of the most important things the Old Timers wanted to communicate and pass forward was, that although many of them lived extremely difficult and desperately dangerous lives underground and above ground serving the never-unionized mines at the north end of the Gunnison Valley, they were also courageous, fun-loving and rebellious.
In the old countries, including Slovenia and Croatia, folks created wild, sacrificial effigies, a send-up of a local bigwig, filled with grievances, often about the ruling class. The effigy was tried and sentenced, banished, hanged, and then for extra good measure, burned.
The Old Timers spoke of this as a practice conducted in the autumn, during a time called “Vinotok,” a word translated from Slovenian meaning “the celebration of the season when the grapes were turned into wine.” In Crested Butte, many of the European cultures competed to see who had laid down the best Zinfandel from the passing year.
This rowdy festival of feasting, generosity of spirit, polka and folk dancing, and drinking up all of the zinfandel led to the hanging and burning of the Boss Man effigy. It was one of the few revolutionary statements the working people, ruled by the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company, could make, hopefully without being fired. This celebration was also a seasonal reminder that this was the last time of abundance before the first snows and the coming of the long, hard winter. It was a time to remember the profound importance of community commitment to each other and the sharing of great generosity of spirit.
For us, today, the Grump symbolizes all we want to rid ourselves of for the coming year. In its creation are all the angers, resentments, frustrations and disappointments of the past ranging from the personal to the political. Indeed, it is full of the community’s “grumps”–slips of paper with an individual’s pains they want to get rid of–and put into the communal Grump Box. The Great Grump itself is then stuffed with these boxes. It is everything that does not serve us.
In the Trial of the Grump, as the battle between the primordial Earth Dragon and the technocratic Sir Hapless the Knight wages on, it is decided a sacrifice must be made in order that the Green Man and the Red Lady may live, and a luscious and abundant future may prevail. It is decided through a “trial” that the Grump will become that sacrifice and it is paraded to the Fire Circle to be burned, and all the community’s woes collectively transformed, to indeed make way for a brighter, and–as local legend has it–snowier year ahead.
Grump Activity: Grumps + Gratitudes
The Autumn Equinox is a time of True Balance, within and without. As we come to the season when the dark chases the light, we dedicate important consideration to offering Gratitude, or Blessings, as well as Banishing the grievances and difficulties of the passing year.
This does not mean that we expect something for nothing. Ours, and many other communities are filled with folks who share a determination to balance past ills, whether these are collective, personal, global or environmental.
Your Grumps may be banished or released in a number of ways. Beginning on September 16:
1. Visit the Fire Circle at the Crossroads (an ancient and traditional village center of the world) of the Four-Way Stop.
Place you grumps inside or on the Great Grump effigy, resting in-state at the Vinotok Fire Circle and Outdoor Harvest Temple.
Or, drop them in our Community Grump Box.
Grumps will be held safely and treated with reverence and great care. Be assured that all community Grumps will be committed safely to be banished and transformed.
2. Personally dispose of your Grumps in a safe manner—depending upon Fire Restrictions—by burning them at home in an approved outdoor cauldron or out camping. You can also identify a special place at your home and bury them in the ground; suspend them with natural twine from a special tree in your yard; or tear them into tiny pieces and scatter them in your garden.
This is our opportunity to offer thanks for all that has supported, grown, healed and protected us and our precious community and valley in the passing year. Write as many as you can think of on several Gratitude slips of paper. Any individual, couple, family, community may share these steps and offer forth the gifting celebration of gratitude.
Write your Self Gratitudes honoring your own personal commitment and participation in the past year. Give yourself some gifts of recognition and appreciation. It may seem difficult at first—but appreciation begins with ourselves.
Write Gratitudes for others: friends, family, neighbors, the folks you work with and who serve you. Honor those folks who are there for us every day, month-by-month, season-through-season.
Deliver these Gratitudes in person, if at all possible. We guarantee that in these challenging times—your offering will lift a heart and honor a spirit.
Clothespin these to your own personal Gratitude clothesline. See how many you can fill it with.
Carefully tie with biodegradable twine to a tree or bush to create a traditional Wish Tree in a special spot in your yard.
Pass them around everywhere. Gratitudes never stop giving!
Poem for the Great Grump
Effigy does not describe
your revolutionary statement
nor your wild sacrificial art.
Constructed afresh each year
to transport grievances.
Once upon a time in this very town the old timers told of tradition. Once a year the local
representative of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company would lock his door & head to bed
before sundown. For in the village where Croatian and Slovenian decedents lived
the common folk had built a figure of protest, a character
to be tried in place of the ruling class. One night a year they declared
independence from a system rooted in bias.
A message by bonfire from the working people to the boss,
that despite the darkness they endure
& the hardships they survive.
The people are still courageous,
exuberant & rebellious.
You are a seasonal reminder
united we hold power & we are untamable.
You are a seasonal reminder
times of abundance do not last & winter is long
Envoke the profound importance of community
Anna Claire, Wordsmythye