The Cult of Pagan Ritual in The Wicker Man (1973) Part One

*contains spoilers

“We’ve been dealt their doomwatch/Doomwatch,” says a local villager on the Hebridean island of Summerisle off the coast of Scotland in The Wicker Man (1973) … On the surface there seems to be an unhappy conspiracy on this island (Earth!) as actor Edward Woodward (1930-2009 in Truro, Cornwall) is an incorruptible puritan virgin Christian cop nearing forty years of age or so it would seem as he is unaware of the double-edged hypocrisy and meaning of ‘the words’ he reads at this local church on the mainland during the opening credit sequence… Steve Carell’s The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005) being the comedic antithesis.

Woodward may not be one to gossip and bitch about others in the congregation on the steps outside after the sermon but he has no humour in his pursuit of spirituality and is thus over-zealous… in the most boring way. He recites the words “he took the bread” and “he took the cup” (was that the world cup?) … and it suggests that Christ was possibly crucified for being a thief among other things. I guess nobody’s perfect in that bestseller of all time!

Stonehenge and the pagan druids formed their stone circles
The Wicker Man (1973) featured Queenslander Diane Cilento
The Wicker Tree (2011) poster
You mean he actually took it?
Well he would end up in Australia and face rum sodomy and the lash…

Recently I was dealt a ‘read between the lines’ quote from the Bible about using ‘his hand’ to heal yourself by a well-meaning Seventh Day Adventist minister as some cryptic hint to say: “It’s okay.” If only bible study classes could loosen up a bit more rather than slipping me a piece of paper like the black spot in Treasure Island! What wonderful interpretations they could discuss about sex and masturbation as it relates to the Bible. It would help cure the mentally ill within their ranks no end.

Despite Woodward’s over-zealousness within himself about his own religion, something he is not aware of, when he says that the graffiti/writing on a wall in the town which reads: “Jesus Saves” should be removed immediately… as if this self-appointed mainland non-circumcidere really controlled the community! This is mainland Scotland after all and not ‘Summerisle’ …. And, sadly, poor Edward Woodward is a bit of a fool when it comes to nature and women as well as he asks if anything has happened on his beat while he’s been away… Well, apart from “rape and sodomy” which seems to happen behind closed doors as well as in lane-ways despite Woodward’s dream of finally losing it on his honeymoon… he possibly doesn’t even think of that either. He is ‘incorruptible’ after all as a police officer and a human being or so it would seem. Once again nobody’s perfect.

“It’s odd isn’t it, all that ‘fruit’?,” says a worried fellow officer about the abundance of apples amid the cornucopia which grows on that island free of licensing laws and which is a also a law unto itself in other ways and where there is also far too much dancing! And Woodward’s still frowning.

“I mean this is still a Christian society,” he says about the populace of this island which is free to think as they please as he acts like a local State Premier enforcing lockdown. And yet he must investigate a crime on Summerisle which is the possible murder of a teenage girl in this movie which turns your average Agatha Christie novel on its head…

Pi (1998) trailer
Planet abuse can have serious consequences…
Doomwatch tv show cast with John Paul in the centre
The thanksgiving horn of plenty or cornucopia and the rites of spring and passage…

Speaking of being dealt their Doomwatch in terms of both the planet’s current climate woes and there was a movie and a tv series made by the BBC in the early 1970s entitled Doomwatch. The movie version of Doomwatch (1972) was possibly made the same time as The Wicker Man but was released the previous year. The Doomwatch series was cutting edge sci-fi created like Dr. Who and like that series many of the episodes were wiped from their masters as usual at the time by the BBC. Only about half of the Doomwatch episodes survive as it tells of an organisation watching the deterioration of the planet from a scientific perspective… and man’s apparent attempts to destroy the planet in terms of it being in exploitive and neglectful and uncaring private hands…. One of my favourite episodes of the series is one where there is a ‘virus’ that eats plastic and there is a climax on a plane where the plane starts to melt from within in mid-air due to all plastic being affected by this virus… All relevant to our fear of flying in such films as the AC/DC or schizophrenically titled Flying High/Airplane (1980) – ‘surely/Shirley you can’t be serious!’ – along with the climax on a plane with that biblical fear of fungus and ‘let’s burn the house down’ since it’s covered in mould/mold Regal Pictures movie Spacemaster X-7 (1958). Let alone burning down the entire village…

Doomwatch starred John Paul (1921-95) as Dr. Spencer Quist who told a fellow scientist reassuringly and firmly in one episode: “I am circumcidere” even if it was perhaps only in terms of the symbolic Pythagorian sect or club of intelligence along with being a hardened campaigner who understands the motives of those out to destroy the world and himself as if without a care in the world. The collective doomwatch is watching…

“There’s nothing like the part that lies between the left leg and the right leg,” this crowd at the local Summerisle pub sings in unison about the sea/cee. that lies between peninsulas – but it doesn’t matter as they are all happy to be drunk together… Seriously the girl that has possibly been murdered is named Rohan/Rowan/Roan Morrison … Not a friendly ‘Jim’ Morrison whose close friends knew him to be a bit of a shy nerd. But this singing is interrupted by the sober Woodward who instead strikes fear into the happy revellers.

The curse of mould and fungus around the house…
Pythagoras in Ancient Greece
Strange Love: Britt and the troubled Peter Sellers

Woodward insults the locals further by turning down a home-cooked meal with local fresh produce as he instead wants one of their local apples… talk about garden of Eden and his own Adam’s apple on the brain… Especially when he doesn’t notice its Swedish actress Britt Ekland (1942-) serving the meal… She who was married to Jewish Peter Sellers and produced a daughter and romanced singer and Lothario Rod Stewart (1945-) who is also a big Celtic fan.

Poor hapless Woodward then goes into the night garden of Allah/God/no God (depending on your point of view at a certain moment) – ‘I don’t feel like God tonight, I have a headache!’ – and he sees heterosexual couples gather on the grass making out. It reminded me a little of the love-making in the sand dunes in Zabriskie Point (1970) – one of its screenwriters Clare Peploe (1921-2021) died in Rome a couple of weeks ago – and Zabriskie Point is the movie which introduced the song The Changeling from memory… Thinking back and I remember there used to be sand dunes, which is now a retirement village where I lived as a teenager and me and the poetess went there drunkenly to make love and there were all these other young people gathered there like Zabriskie Point making out like it was Lover’s Lane/Lois Lane/Lower’s Lane in the desert… Like me, they were all unable to do their business at their parent’s home through respect and possible self-consciousness and fear of retribution… but I wanted to go all the way and we ended up going to the oval next door at 1a.m. where I literally ‘scored’ between the Aussie rules goal posts. I still love you poetess! …

Date Rape: Jason Lively in Night of the Creeps (1986) trailer
Love in the sand dunes in Zabriskie Point (1970)
Screenwriter Clare Peploe
Audrey was dealt a local and then a lesbian…

Anyway, it’s a problem young kids today also face in a world of puritanism and convention… When I think about it, I probably could have taken the poetess home since my younger sister didn’t mind doing it with her – as it turned out nasty – South African boyfriend in my s-s-s-single bed only for her to be sprung when I found her broken necklace under my ruffled linen and pillow… She beat me in terms of losing our virginity that Jezebel! That penis-obsessed Audrey in National Lampoon’s European Vacation to my Jason Lively (1968-) … Yes, you’ll go blind!! Especially if you shoot yourself straight in the eye while you’re watching your dick too over-zealously … Accidents can happen around the home as we know from Portnoy’s Complaint and through skeleton key entrants that visit in the night.

Woodward as he wanders into the classroom on the Isle the next day finds out about “phallic symbols” and “the image of the penis” as a “degenerative force in nature” being taught in the classroom when the symbol of the maypole is discussed… It beats taking bread or a cup from someone and then drive away in your white/Mont blanc 4WD ute. Oh, I’m so AC/DC!

David Bowie’s Tin Machine performs Under the God
Wisdom from Ralph Waldo Emerson
A Cornish tin mine

I guess it’s all in how you look at a penis and the symbolism of it all in terms of nature as Woodward lets rip/RIP at these “corrupt” pagans and their possible affect/effect on the morals of the young. Respect the maypole or have fun dancing instead of running circles around it and other people … Whatever. Was it Emerson who wrote an essay entitled Circles? It appears the only crime of the pagans was to embrace nature as well as their own nature and saw it all as a wholesome attitude of oneness brought to life and to bring up their children with self-censorship built within until their own eventual sexual awakening. We are watching a movie after all… about love and holistic community.

My parents visited their country home town of the copper mining village of Moonta recently which has been dubbed little Cornwall for its free settling Cornish miners and where my grandfather eventually headed the local Masonic Lodge. They had dancing round maypoles and all sorts of pagan celebrations just before lockdown hit. The druids and their solstices and all that if you know what I mean… really was celebrated. Meanwhile poor devils in rural towns are addicted to ice as it is a reportedly unseen scourge…

Edward Woodward looking superior in The Wicker Man (1973)
Stellan Skarsgard may be watching you in Ronin (1998)
Ma and Pa Kettle were trapped…
Just as much genius as Albert Einstein…

My sister and I remember my well-hung maternal grandfather walking naked down the hallway as kids and you could tell that fact between his legs from behind. Innocence. Some are blessed as ‘they’ say but I wasn’t brought up by blessed virgins. I understand the Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard (1951-) walks naked around his home. There’s such a stigma attached otherwise. And my youngest sister won’t remember the entire family naked in the bathroom, three of us in the bathtub and mum and dad in the shower cubicle with me remarking: “You’re rude” to them. Such was the genesis of Ma and Pa Kettle in suburbia… before they became consumed by work having had their litter… The party over. “I’m being f*cked dry” he said to the family about his boss amid interest rates of fifteen percent.

“The trees, the air, the fire, the water… It is what we believe,” says the teacher who has heard about the comparative religion called Christianity which she says is a “rotting stumbling block” along with the human body once it has perished on this Earth. I’d donate my body to science like Walter Pidgeon of Forbidden Planet did but I already feel embarrassed about looking like the fat corpse who ate too much spaghetti bolognaise in the Brad Pitt movie Se7en (1995). But I was dealt that body with the addictive anti-psychotics all over the word ‘malingerer’ and some shots of aquavit one Christmas… A long tortuous story I would rather forget.

Politician Jacque Lambie (1971-) I love you for surviving and transcending the ‘malingerer’ label you were dealt – may the Apple Isle as opposed to Summerisle re-elect her! An honest woman… We need more politicians like her. Anyway, death should be prepared for and be celebrated – especially for the children – if they must be present at all.

“Protected by the ejaculation of serpents,” reads one of the more ‘outlandish’ gravestones in the Summerisle cemetery, as Woodward notes while a babe is suckled by a pendulous breast in front of him and he is offered an egg. The theory of the chicken or the egg is not pondered in the amazing stories contained within the Bible. Not knocking its basic morals and sometimes epic storytelling but the Druids existed sometime before that bestseller was written and published.

A book of Chinese Whispers and invented legends continues to sell… to the fool
Turkeys!
My paternal grandmother gave me this badge for Christmas when I was twelve
Come over and Meet the Fockers!

Woodward is fooled by his own nature and I can relate to this happening to me at one point in my life where I divined my way into the mental hospital by listening to the ‘voices’, or the ‘good’ advice of others… “You’ve got a car… drive it!” Fortunately, I’m a defensive driver… “You’ve been dealt your Matt/mat now lie on it” and all that gaslighting sh*t in the wake of being dealt some GALAH… The power of suggestion will kill those tossers/lads like me who don’t wake up to our/themselves… since we obviously don’t belong to those creatures of the wheel… So get behind the wheel. I hope times have changed.

Woodward’s puritanism and spirit is superior in his eyes through God, something of a trap, especially for those who aren’t pagans disguising themselves as Christians or as the old joke goes Israeli spies with clip on foreskins! He is not a free thinker.

The grave which has a tree upon it, along with the fresh umbilical cord of a baby, fools Woodward’s logical skills of deduction as the cord is relatively fresh while the grave is meant to contain the body of the murdered girl and the cord supposedly belongs to her. He turns to digging the grave up himself… The umbilical cord reminds me of the scene out of one of ‘the Fockers’ movies where Barbra Streisand (1942-) keeps Ben Stiller’s (1967-) foreskin in a photo album cum scrapbook. The Brolin couple have a couple of diverse sons in Jason Gould (1966-) and Josh Brolin (1968-). One is gay and the other a skinhead. I was born and remain in between. And all that Me-a-Door stuff to again be enigmatic about The Island … and men being groomed in the day by being told by teenage girls they will have a son called Josh! Followed by daughters and a divorce…

“You’re all raving mad,” says Woodward to another blonde/blond who he threatens to put in a police cell. This time it is Polish actress and Holocaust survivor Ingrid Pitt (1937-2010 congestive heart failure) whose life was summed up in the short film Beyond the Forest (2011) and who appeared in the Hammer Carmilla-oriented vampire movie The Vampire Lovers (1970).

Polish Holocaust survivor Ingrid Pitt in The Vampire Lovers (1970)
‘What do you think of your Jesus now?!’ said Pilate
Genevieve Bujold in …

Are you the photographer?” asks Woodward of the chemist who may work on the island as the local Bris/Briz merchant – possibly optional – as Woodward sees a large jar marked ‘foreskins’ pickled on the front counter. Yes, this is an island off Scotland, those dirty old Druids! Let’s start World War Two!! Perhaps Three!! I know what they were thinking…

“It’s a living,” says the chemist/photographer or something like that. And yet we haven’t really begun to explain what The Wicker Man is all about… as ‘children’ dance naked within the confines of Summerisles very own stone circle of a Stonehenge.

“Christ is reproduction without sexual humor/humour,” says the head of the island Lord Summerisle to Woodward, who is played by another Hammer regular and child of London society, as well as the army, the keen golfer Christopher Lee (1922-2015 heart failure). He could sing, too, just watch the Aussie movie The Return of Captain invincible (1983) where he sings Name your Poison written by New Zealander/Brit and Rocky Horror creator Richard O’Brien (1942-).

“He’s dead…” says Lee about ‘that’ Christ who took bread and cups: “He had his chance.”

Christopher Lee sings Name Your Poison
Skinhead Josh Brolin (left) poses after an arrest
The wise old pig dies aged fourteen… in Animal Farm (1954)
And then….? Dude, Where’s My Car? (2000)

The world and nature is God and the hypnotic happiness of eternal wonder and innocence of the young as it “gives fruit in eternal abundance” … In the present day, it beats all the gloom and doom and end of days of the Bible which has been peddled around towns and cities about the globe till it is done to death. Are they still selling that dream?

“A heathen,” Woodward accuses Lee of his failure to recognise the prophets contained within the bestseller known as … Anyway, Lee tells Woodward he maybe ‘one’ but not an “unenlightened one” which maybe the bridge between a Christian who doesn’t take everything in the Bible as undeniable ‘truth’ and instead reads between the lines … Woodward is an ‘unenlightened Christian’ despite his limited intellectual ability.

George Orwell’s Animal Farm was quoted or paraphrased to me by some rich locals out of lockdown as they had their early morning Sunday coffee last weekend, possibly after church, as I walked past to grab a paper and one woman said like a ventriloquist doll: “All you win is a pig!” Nice type of people you find in your neighbourhood and so observant!!! I mean, yes, I was dealt a pig and her name was Rasputia Latimore… thank you very much but people forget this is the present as they judge those who don’t have superannuation and revel in their riches like ZaSu Pitts (1894-1963) in Greed (1924) … You insult most of the world population with that remark little lady. Talk about some being more equal than others! At least in China, from a recent ‘happy’ news report that I saw, they showed how a pig lived to the age of fourteen and was looked after and not slaughtered like some sort of sacred Chinese cow kept at their equivalent of Animal Farm or Australia Zoo. If it’s propaganda which dispels Orwell, it also shows that children are just as sacred in communist China and the poor revere their leader for keeping them fed and remembering there was once a pig who grew wise and died after a long life. The insult of Animal Farm led to me clearing my throat inaudibly for being relatively poor but honest… However, the Garden of Eden/Allah on Summerisle… is a place where insults to hospitality and sexual naivete are collectively dealt with and where posers and their expensive café society don’t exist.

Midsommar (2019) trailer
There is nothing like a dame… Lee celebrates in The Wicker Man (1973)
Shirley, you can’t be serious: The parade before the final reveal in The Wicker Man (1973)
Bible thumpers nemesis in The Mosquito Coast (1986)

The question of whether Rowan/Rohan/Roan Morrison really exists or is even dead or alive is a part of the mystery as Woodward finds himself a part of a conspiracy surrounding the island…. The Wicker Man is a Christian horror movie and a catharsis for those with ‘delusions of organised religion’ who saw it originally and were terrified by it. I was one of those frightened and alone in the dark like Woodward. Now I look and find some joy and laughter amid the hindsight of the certain ‘unenlightened’ ignorance with which I had previously viewed this film. The recent horror Midsommar (2019) didn’t scare me. Talk about an episode of Midsomer Murders being about not being baptised coming back to haunt you!

Its will soon be May Day again and it is celebrated on Summerisle not as a union holiday but as a chance to give thanks or symbolic sacrifice for the bounty of the year past… Like an exhibition/Ekka where a certain innocence of ‘us’ as the children of the Isle celebrate the importance of sacrifice in terms of the community and the happiness found in terms of that sacrifice… it’s a physical ‘Christian’ element understood by those who actually volunteer and sacrifice their time for the community… Otherwise it might sound like a xenophobic Communist plot but it is a communal/socialist dream on one island…

The night before May Day we have the microcosm of Woodward retiring to his room above the bar to sleep only to be focussed/focused upon by the entire building as Ekland in the next room bounces around topless and knocks on the wall saying: “Please come” as if it were the antithesis of Christmas Eve. Otherwise, every day is Xmas/Christmas Day (AC/DC again) on Summerilse for the adults as the promise of youth and happiness as opposed to the emptiness of celebrity, is celebrated even by those alone at midnight. Young ‘roddys’ or deep-sea fishermen understand while Woodward refuses to ‘come’ despite the promise of having a good neighbour next door in terms of Britt being preferable to other gas-lighter male and female types in reality… giving you a bad deal!

A local May Day parade…
What do you have on your corn flakes?
David Pinner’s book Ritual from 1967 was the basis for The Wicker Man (1973)
Teenagers dance around a maypole in Little Cornwall

“It does tend to shrink a little each year,” says one vendor about the Pagan crowds at the local May Day festival without as much as a wink at his double entendre at the gathering throng that is the festival.

David Pinner’s novel Ritual from 1967 was the basis of The Wicker Man and he wrote a sequel in 2007 entitled The Wicker Woman or so I read somewhere. They might be worth reading but I prefer the movies to fiction these days.

“You never understand the nature of self-sacrifice” Woodward is told at every turn as he is also told by the queer barman that “it’s at the top of the stair on the right” as he finds his philosophy rejected everywhere. He got dealt Mont Blanc as they say … No plane crash or expensive pens intended! Advertise that one…

In celebration of May Day, bakers bake “the life of the fields” in coffin shaped molds/moulds as fishermen provide the Sum/Salmon of Knowledge … Take your fish oil for your blood and your brain as their celebration is not “taking/stealing” bread but giving back to a community and celebrating nature… It is the Horn of Plenty and abundance which is a legend going back to Zeus and became to be known as the Cornucopia… “What’s that?” I asked my maternal grandparents about this toy horn they gave me which I thought I had out-grown when I was twelve years old and fertile: “Why it’s the horn of plenty…” said Nana which is so symbolic in terms of their Celtic origins and possible paganism within suburbia and a child’s burgeoning sexuality. Whatever it may be.

My horn still hangs in my guest toilet along with an Alien (1979) poster… even if ‘they’ stole it tomorrow, they cannot take the memory of my grandparents telling me that and my inability to understand and comprehend the meaning of this gift until much later. Such are the seeds which are planted by thoughtful and wise grandparents and the need for a child to keep reminders and keepsakes of their own personal history, if you are so inclined.

He’s got a cold finger… Goldfinger by Shirley Bassey
Where has all your hair gone?
Thanks John Cronin for making me a Hoyts Gold Member … legend!
The Scanners nightmare and a war finally ended: We’ve one/won!

If you’re lucky, they’ll produce a loving genius who is not an evil mastermind like the guy in Goldmember/Goldfinger (2002/1964) – “His heart is cold/ he loves only gold!” as I heard the song go in Woolworths the other day… Incidentally, Britt Ekland was dealt the role of a Bond girl in the year following The Wicker Man. It was The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) with Christopher Lee as the villain.

The local photographer is only needed at the May Day celebrations for a photo of the cutting of the ribbon/cord as the festival comes to a close each year… and a girl bursts forth from a basket like the guys with a machine gun from a birthday cake in Some Like It Hot (1959). And we celebrate the Sum of all knowledge if not The Sum of Us (1994) and The Sum of All Fears (2002) which was released worldwide following 9/11 and the horror of a holy war and that so-called evil w*nker Osama Bin Laden… The Sum of All Fears starred recovering addict Ben Affleck (1971-) from Argo (2012) and the Electric Company’s Morgan Freeman… Take that for what they did said Donald Rumsfeld (1932-2021 multiple myeloma) as he sent America to war in the Middle East over undetermined weapons of mass destruction and the quote: “There are things we know we know. We know there are known unknowns… but there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” Sounds almost like Groucho Marx and a good way to spread gossip Chinese whispers style in terms of fear! To sum it Up! Sadly, the poor boys in the army died alongside innocent Muslim families… but let’s hope peace prevails in Afghanistan and people are being spirited away as we speak to safety. Say no more and good riddance to a ‘patriot’. Sounds like a ‘malingerer’ and a ‘fool’ was dealt poorly… You’ll get over it. I guess it’s all about something the Jews perform more intimately.

The interesting development and perversion of paganism is shown in The Wicker Tree in PART TWO.

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