Solo Mumming, Maine, Yule 2022

This year I find myself in far different circumstances than in recent years – I moved from a medium size city on the west coast to rural Maine, where I do not have a crew of folks ready to go on a mumming procession (though who knows, in time I may recruit some).

Going solo isn’t really traditional in mumming, which is pretty solidly a group and community activity wherever it shows up. However, I think there can be a special magic to donning the fur and mask and horns and venturing out alone into the cold, dark stillness of a winter night.

Originally I had planned to take a short walk through nearby woods in my mumming costume, at the stroke of midnight on the solstice. However, this year Yule fell just days after a major storm which had drastically changed the landscape here, including downed trees and deep snow which made those plans too difficult and perhaps unsafe. I realized that it made more sense anyway to stay on my own property and use the power of the procession to bless and protect my new home.

So at midnight I dressed up as you see here, along with some tall fur-lined boots to get through the snow, and took with me a single bell (so as not to disturb my neighbors with too much clanging around at such a late hour) and a cedar smudge stick, and circumambulated my house clockwise, warding with smoke and sound as I went. It was beautiful and eerie.

While the form was greatly abbreviated from previous years, in some ways this one felt even more powerful, if for no other reason than being back in a climate of ice and snow and the dangers and hardships of winter. In fact, during the aforementioned snowstorm I had been without power for almost two days and spent one particularly cold night huddled under blankets and animal pelts in the dark, deeply feeling the spirit of this harsh season. Also, the sun sets at 4pm here for weeks leading up to the solstice and gives new fervor to the wish to Drive the Dark Away.

This is why people created these customs in the first place, after all. As Krampus becomes more of a hipster icon and laufs have begun to gain popularity in America but with a decidedly modern and often commercialized veneer, it was refreshing to return to the heart of the magic, even if I still missed the particular potency of a communal ruckus.

One monster making tracks across the white landscape under the bright, cold stars, with only the owls and spirits watching.


2 thoughts on “Solo Mumming, Maine, Yule 2022

  1. Ohhhh, how splendid! I LOVE that you followed through on the tradition, even in such a different place and space. I love that there are few of us, prowling our lands during the times most humans don’t, finding the numinous and the strange.
    But I worry about you and power outages.


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