Challenge of the Stag King

Challenge of the Stag King
Austin Lawrence, August 2013

A tradition at the Kaleidoscope Gathering is the Stag King ritual.  In this annual men’s mystery ritual the ritual participants undertake a number of grueling trials that test physical, mental and spiritual attributes of the contestants.  At the end of each ritual the ghosts of former Stag Kings select the next year’s King on behalf of the Kaleidoscope community.  The Young Stag then ceremonial ‘kills’ the Old Stag, to reign for a year until he too shall fall in battle to complete the cycle.  Each Stag King has discovered a charge or quest that the role awakens in his soul.

The Stag King for 2013, Greg Currie, here shares his challenge with the entire Pagan community:

Challenge Of The Stag King (by Greg Currie, Stag King 2013)
Thank you to Jean Sébastien Daunais our recently fallen Stag King for his year of service as our Stag King.  Thank you as well to all the men that competed in this year’s Stag King competition who competed with strength, honour, and tenacity; it was an honour to watch each of my brothers rise to the challenges set before them.  I look forward to next year’s competition to see the men of our community aspire to the best ideals of the Stag King and to finally face one of those men on the beach of the Bonnechere River where they will challenge me to become my successor.

What is the Stag King?  To me, the Stag King is a symbol and ideal within the community of strength, cunning, vitality, creativity, and wisdom.  Each year’s Stag King brings forth different virtues and strengths to inspire and strengthen our community.  I am an archer, a fencer, a leather crafter, a poet, a priest, a musician, a father, and loving companion to a wonderful woman with which I share my life.  Out of my strengths, I have thought deeply over what theme and focus I would like to inspire greatness within our community during my time as Stag King…

Heroes.  This year’s Kaleidoscope Gathering theme was heroes.  My hero from the last year is without question Malala Yousafzai.  Malala is a young Pakistani woman who, at the young age of 11, fought for and promoted the right of women to education despite the danger this caused to her life under Taliban rule.  In 2012, masked Taliban gunmen stopped and entered her school bus where they shot her in the head and left her for dead.  After her recovery, this incredibly brave young woman stood before the United Nations even more resolute in seeking education for all the children of the world.  These challenges and achievements would certainly have be monumental for a full-grown adult with a lifetime of experience and knowledge, but for such a young woman…the overcoming of her obstacles as a child makes her achievements all the more heroic.  Her nobleness and bravery are an icon of inspiration that we can all aspire to.

One of the most vulnerable parts of our community are our children.  The youth of their bodies and minds does not yet match the strength and resourcefulness possessed by our adults.  But that does not mean that they lack any of the potential to be noble or heroic.  In fact, the heroic nature of the achievements of our children may well surpass our own despite having accomplished the same goals as them.  How much higher is a hill to a small child and the strength needed to climb it compared to an adult?  How much more frightening is the threat of a danger or fear of the unknown to a child without the life experience of an adult?  How much more profound can the innocence and love of a child be in guiding their actions?  How much more tragic can their losses be compared to us who are older?  A hero is someone who rises above his or her limitations to overcome a great obstacle or make a great sacrifice.  In that sense, our community’s children hold the potential to be heroes just as much as you or I do.

Here is my challenge to you.
Inspire our children to be heroes.  Give them the support, opportunities, and tools to be heroes.

Recognize the heroic achievements of our children.  Take the time to watch and understand the achievements of our children, and speak to them in recognition of those achievements.  A kind word of recognition to a child is a wonderful reward that can encourage and inspire them to continue in being bigger and better people as they grow.

Be a heroic role model.  Aspire to be a heroic role model to our children and exemplify the best of humanity through compassion, strength, creativity, and wisdom.  Our children look to us to teach them through our actions and words, let us be mindful of that responsibility and inspire them in our daily lives.

As we grow old and pass on, we will leave this world and our descendants in the care of our children.  Our understanding and support can inspire our children to rise above their limitations to be heroes, just as our neglect or personal failings can drive them to become monsters.  Centuries from now, let people speak of us as a heroic and noble people who cared for our children, community, and land.

Hail to the folk!
Hail to the Stag King!

Greg Currie, Pagan bard