APPENDIX IX from Ring Quest: The Continuing Story of the Ring
The Sacred King was the first fashion victim. Cassie made this discovery from what she learnt of the pagan cults particularly affected the king, its victim at the heart their hear. Again, she gained insight into the cult from reading Robert Grave’s The White Goddess, as well as The Golden Bough by James Frazer. But much added understanding came from the magazines, posters and customs in present-day society.
The Sacred King led the life of a virtual prisoner as he was bound by many taboos. He was believed to personify the sun itself and as the sun grew in strength as it rose in the sky towards midsummer, so power in the King’s body was perceived to build. Certain fashions began to catch Cassie’s attention, such as those which exposed just one arm or one shoulder. Other clothes had sleeves which deliberately covered the hands.
A moment of insight came suddenly one day when she was looking at a page of cut-off trousers. She realised that the original reason for the shortened trouser leg was gradually to reveal the sacred leg of the King. The reasoning behind this would have been connected with the perceived energy build-up in the leg which people then believed held miraculous powers. Logically, the big cover-up of the King would have occurred when the sun was at its height and people feared they might be harmed by the sun power emanating from his body. So just before midsummer, he would have been made to wear dark glasses – to protect the awesome power emanating from his eyes; his hair would have grown very long and even been lightened to mimic the sun’s rays, and a maxi coat and gloves used to conceal the sacred hands or hand. No part of his body or head or face would have been allowed to be exposed.
But as the sun’s strength began to wane after the midsummer sacrifice, the body of the new King would have gradually been revealed to a swooning community. The trouser legs became ever shorter culminating in what we call hot-pants, the thigh-high boot became a knee-high boot, then calf-high and finally ended up as an ankle boot. The maxi coat would have gradually become ever shorter until it became a cropped jacket with short sleeves such as we have seen in extreme fashions. It is this practice which might account for the sexual thrill in glimpsing an ankle or leg because the Sacred Sun King was if nothing but a potent sex symbol with super-human virility.
At each new phase of concealment or cover-up, he was made to parade along a raised platform so that the community might gasp in awe and wonder at the sight of this semi-divine being. Of course, when the Queen/Goddess was overthrown, it was she who became the fashion victim and it was she who was made to parade in front of everyone in clothes which variously revealed or concealed. Perhaps, originally, the Cat Walk was called the Cock Walk, the Stag Walk or Lion Walk as these are animals sacred to the King, whilst the cat is sacred to the Goddess.
She also noticed the huge, puffed up hairdos or eyes ringed with black make-up, all of which began seriously to arouse her suspicions. It soon became apparent that it was the King who first wore make-up. To enhance the wonder of his sun eyes, the lashes would have been extended or darkened to make it look as if the eyes were ringed by the rays of the sun. Colours round the eyes were worn to accord with the seasons, such as perhaps green for the greening of the world at springtime, red for the summer months and black at the death of the sun at midwinter. In order to protect the people from the power coming from the shining ‘sun’ face of the king, he would have had a paste (foundation) applied to prevent any rays (shine) escaping which might harm lesser mortals. In some cults, the King was made to wear a mask and in China, he wore a short beaded curtain which hung just in front of his eyes. So too, would the nails on the Sacred Hand of the King been enhanced because they were a part of the sacred hand. In some parts of the world the fingernails of the King were not permitted to be cut.
The well-known children’s fairytale, The Emperor’s New Clothes, took on a new significance. The Emperor or King is wholly preoccupied with his appearance. As a consequence, his vanity allows him to be duped by two con-men into wearing no clothes at all! As many people know, fairytales hark back to our remote history. The idea came that in the pagan cult it is highly likely that there was one day in the year when the Sacred King did indeed parade through the streets or on the ‘Stag Walk’ totally naked so that all might gasp in awe and wonder at the sight of his naked body which held the power of the sun itself with its life-giving and healing properties.
We see the King’s revenge for this ordeal in the story of Lady Godiva who was made to ride naked on a white horse (the horse is sacred to the Celtic Mare Goddess Epona) sacred to the Goddess) through the streets with only her long hair to cover her. In origin, she was none other than the Queen being publicly humiliated after her defeat.
There is evidence of elements of the Cult in the world of pop music. Rock groups in particular often resemble Celts with their coloured headbands, bare chests and long hair, not to mention tattoos and heavy jewellery of which the Celts were so fond. The focus of the Cult was the sexual prowess of the King because the cult was, above all, a fertility cult. We find just such a sexual focus in much pop music, particularly Rock and Roll.
Knowing of the godlike powers of the Sun King also explains the extraordinary hysterical reaction that pop stars like Elvis Presley, or groups such as The Beatles aroused in teenage girls with the advent of the new popular music which was in fact a re-surfacing of something from our forgotten past. Wwere witnessing the reaction that the Sacred Sun King received from the community when he was made to do just that, stand in front of an audience and sing and dance. The subconscious memory was triggered when such a man had been possessed of great power, beauty and sexual prowess. There was also the added frisson of the danger of being near such a man. Little wonder that women swooned in the presence of such a man.
The punk phase, for example, in particular Sid Vicious, who mutilated and finally killed himself in a moment of maddened self-annihilation, as well as certain heavy rock bands, were recreating what had evolved into the Death Cult of the Sacred King. It resulted from those devotees of the Cult who, unbalanced by drugs and alcohol, were so besotted by the Sun King and his sacrificial death that they wished to share it with him in acts of self-destruction. Doubtless, the King himself, with the day of his agonising sacrifice, was driven to indulge in such behaviour.
There is also a fashion in the pop world for a barbed wire tattoo around the upper arm. This marks the full extent of the sacred arm and where it would have been amputated. The barbed wire is the blackthorn which was sacred to the Goddess. A similar, thin black cord is worn around the neck to mark where the sacred head was struck off, as well as one around the wrist for the sacred hand.
More recently, with the emergence of Hip Hop, rap singers wear large baggy clothes which completely cover their bodies, including a woollen cap to cover the head. The trousers are very wide and long so as to completely cover the foot and the heavy gold jewellery also harks back to the Cult of the Sacred King. Most revealing of all are the hands of the rap singer, which you could say he uses in a most extraordinary way and which invites the question, from where does the idea come for these gesticulating hands and fingers thrust aggressively at an audience and with each finger heavily covered in rings? Why, also, do they show off the hand as if some of the fingers are missing? It is because this is how the Sacred King, as lead singer of the band, would have danced and the reason for the missing fingers is that some would have been cut off for ritual purposes. As Cassie was writing this, pop music was playing in the background and she heard the words “Don’t let the sun go down on me”, words that a Sacred King could very well have sung as the sun drew close to the midwinter solstice when he was put to death.
Is it any wonder that former Sacred Kings turned their backs on the natural world for, in the pagan cults, the seasons and its creatures were used to signal the day of his sacrifice drawing ever closer.
© Cassie Martin and Caroline Milton 2007
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