This autumn children's game, a variant of "tag," comes from the old Hwicce tribal territories in England's southwest Midlands. Like many traditional children's games, it is circular, self-replicating, and orally transmitted. The game's ritual structure and deeply mythic resonances will hardly be lost on anyone likely to be reading this post.
Players gather in a circle, hand-in-hand, around a mound of leaves. (In some versions, they circle.) They chant:
Leaf Man Rise Up Leaf Man Rise Up Leaf Man Rise Up
Selene, the Moon Goddess, on a Roman sarcophagus. About 210 CE. Getty Villa. Photo by Harita Meenee.
To a Greek person, the word “August” brings two things to mind. One is the August moon. Captivating and erotic, we observe it with awe as it spreads its glow on the dark sea waters. It keeps on striking a chord. Strange? Not at all since the moon is a powerful archetypal symbol. Myths, which speak the language of the soul, adore it. Almost all peoples and cultures have created traditions and beliefs related to it.
In Greece the liturgies of lent and especially of the week before Easter are known as the “divine drama,” in Greek theodrama. This may refer to the “drama” of the capture, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus and to the suffering of God the Father and Mary.
However, it is important to recall that the drama in ancient Greece referred to both the tragedies and comedies, most specifically, those that were performed in the theater of Dionysios in Athens. While we have been taught that the Greek tragedies celebrated “downfall of the hero” due to his “tragic flaw,” it is important to remember that Dionysios was the original protagonist of the Greek tragedy: it was his death and rebirth that was first celebrated.
Some have argued that the Greek tragedies should never be “read” alone, for they were always “performed” in tandem with the comedies, which were followed by the bawdy phallic humor of the satyr plays. The tragedies end in death and irreparable loss. But if the comedies and satyr plays are considered an integral part of the cycle, death is followed by the resurgence of life.