Around the Cauldron · Celebrating the Sabbats · For the Gods

Kings of Oak and Holly on Contract

It all began with an image a friend shared on Facebook.


I love the story of the Kings of Oak and Holly, of them battling for control of each half of the year. But this image got me thinking: does the story still “work”?

It’s something we seem to do a lot in the Southern Hemisphere – try to makes things work for us. It’s the trouble of honouring a faith structured with Northern Hemispheric history and traditions while living (and honouring) a land that is so different, with the opposite seasons. That’s right, Northerners, we have to flip everything around because the wheel doesn’t quite match our seasons.

Why I’m asking if the story “works” is because the image says, “The Oak King rules once again…”

Sorry love, but the Oak King does currently rule. He has several more days of his rule here in the Southern Hemisphere before the Holly King takes the Crown.

Does this mean the North and Southern hemispheres should have their own Oak and Holly Kings? Should Australia re-name them as neither Oak nor Holly is our dominant flora? How can it work if on the one day the Oak King gains his crown in the North AND dies in the South?

Easy. They’re “Consultants”, the best in their fields specialising in what they do, who work primarily on a 6-month term rotating contract.

As beautiful and powerful as the original tale goes, of these two Kings battling and fighting each other, one old and frail while the other new and strong, I really love the idea that these two Kings are Eternal. Rather than battling, they meet every six months for a middie at the pub and compare notes, letting the other know how the land has fared in their hemisphere while the other has been away ruling theirs.

Of course they bicker, they will never agree on everything. But rather than working against each other, they work with each other as they understand the balance, which extends further than the physical landscape.

At the Solstice they reflect on what has been done, how the land has changed in their ruling. For the Oak King, he lead us out of the Winter and brought new growth with him, and now heads to the Northern Hemisphere to do the same for them. While the Holly King watches as his charges sleep in hibernation, as he travels to the Southern Hemisphere he understands that there is work ahead of him to prepare this land for our Waning half of the year.

It’s a new spin on a traditional tale that (for me) brings balance.

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