The Mythology of Sir Hapless, The Knight

When I was writing our various Passion Plays and Mumming scripts, and drawing these spirit beings and archetypes into our mythology and sacred street theatre, I was determined to honor the oldest and most original version of the Battle between the Dragon and the Knight. 

In earliest myths and cosmologies, the Dragon is all that is pure, neutral, chthonic, undomesticated, original, uncivilized – the most organic symbol of untamed, or First Nature. The Old-Timers from various European cultures often saw the Butte as a sleeping dragon or griffin which might be awakened when injustice invades the valley.

S/he/they is the fierce Guard and Protector of the natural world, rising up to wreak vengeance on humanity as it misuses, abuses and plunders the Earth. S/he takes on all patriarchal and greedy, death-dealing characters, acting as champion for, not only the survival, but the thrival of Earth. 

In much later times the appropriation and demonization of this ancient myth created a character called St. George, “a holy knight,” who stalks, enslaves and vanquishes the savage, base, evil, uncontrolled Nature, the great undomesticated danger and all her creatures. In this mythology the dragon must be tortured, punished and brought to heel. She must be used for man’s sole purposes and benefit. 

St. George is most often pictured in iconography as having his foot on the neck of the Dragon, sword plunging into her back. 

I created Sir Hapless, the foolish, ignorant and wrong-minded Knight as the original perpetrator, and lackey of heedless technocracy – progress at any cost. A frightening fool and narcissistic fop of technological society. This has, in our Passion Play – the Trial of the Grump, continued to be a picture of the blind and headlong results of unsustainable practices and technologies. Interestingly this archetype was a prediction of, and now a version of someone currently very familiar, and those who blindly follow him/them in our contemporary political climate.  

However, the archetype in our Passion Play and Trial has the ability to change, and even to humbly kneel and become Lord High Protector. He is confronted by the Harvest Mother, Nature herself, and experiences a transformation as the Harvest Mother stops this age-old battle between technocracy and the ancient untamed Earth, demanding a balance of progress and preservation, commerce and careful stewardship – at least for the coming year.