A harvest festival with a difference, the Hero makes the ultimate sacrifice, and offers Himself up to Fate,
hanging on the Tree, just as Llew — in the form of an eagle — took refuge in a tree after being speared by
Geronwy, the lover of Blodwedd. In our rite, the Sacred King is offered up as a sacrifice along with a scapegoat,
a loaf of bread. The working involves senior initiates literally hanging on the Bile Tree by their initiate cords,
and taking a journey with the Sacred King into the Underworld. The whole thing is presided over by the Millwife,
a form of the Dame, and upon the acceptance of the scapegoat loaf, the King returns to be crowned.
Although rare, it has happened that the Sacred King has been taken instead of the scapegoat (i.e., the person
representing the King dies at this time of year), in which case the coven immediately goes into Dark Time as if
it were Samhain. In one case, an initiate who knew he was dying took the role of sacred King in order to make
his passing more meaningful to himself and those he loved, and did indeed pass around this time of year. To
quote a phrase written about another Sacred King, “Greater love hath no man than this…” It is at Lammas that
the Mother becomes the Crone.
What can I say about hanging on the Tree? As Sacred King, I experienced a journey through the Underworld,
passing through three sets of great gates (one bronze, one silver, one gold), that took me to the Great Enclosure
at the centre of the Earth, where I came face to face with the Black Interior Sun, and embraced my Fate by
leaping into it and surrendering myself to the certainty that I was not going to return from this journey. It was
not until I acknowledged and fully accepted the fact that I was going to die that I was released from its grasp and
was allowed to ascend back up to where my body and the rest of the coven were. I’m told that when they all got
back up I was not breathing and there was a tense minute or two before I drew a breath and returned to them.
What I do know for sure is that although I returned, part of me stayed with the Interior Sun, and remains there to
this day. Because of that I can take myself back there in an instant, which is extremely useful for the crafting I
do, and this was the start of the journey that led to my discovery of the visceral nature of magick.