“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”
Despite the challenges this and every aRector year presents, now is not the time to dwell on hardships past, or to lament such present missed opportunities. After all the Mass of Martin, or as we know it, Martinmas, is a joyful time of celebration. A time for Reactor members past and present to gather together as a family (and now with all young’uns welcome). A time to collect our bobbin’ sticks and the purple fruits of the forest. A time to chase a gaggle er geese across the field from the hedgerow to dead-in-a-ditch. A time to move our family’s work indoors for the winter. A time to carve lanterns and ghoulish faces out of all the most well sized vegetables (hello Mr Beetroot you rascal you!)
In the agricultural calendar Martinmas highlights the beginning of the natural winter, whilst in the economic cycle it is the closing of autumn. As is now tradition we collectively retire to our familial country home in Parwich for annual bacchanal. A good ole knees up! Celebrations begin at the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of this eleventh day of the eleventh month (that is, at 11:11am on 11 November). Each member turns handler, stepping over the threshold with a large, large black sack upon their back. Each previously hollow receptacle stuffed to the brim, weighing heavy on our broad shoulders with all we’d need for the festivities: paper plates, straw coats, ravin’ hats, and masks, so many masks, strobes, spades, goblets, and lashings of the new season's wine.
Just as in the peasant communities of medieval England, not everyone could afford to gorge on the full fat of the goose and thus ate duck or hen. So it was for Reactor this year, with a breast shared between every two, pickles and the scolded rye symbolically sliced to share equally amongst the full troupe that surrounded the feastin’ table. And whilst the pickings were slim, the revelry was fulsome and round. Singing traditional "Séngmarténg" songs. Swinging our carved beetroot ogres, glowing eyes did hypnotise and send us into a’frenzy. Round‘n’round the table we did go, smashing freshly cut ashen branches into the boards, whipping the exposed legs of those that went before us, spinning in traditional selfie-mode and falling over the donkeys that lined the course.
Exuberant though the festivities may have seemed, Reactor’s Martinmas celebrations always contain an aspect of great and solemn seriousness.
In the 4th century AD, the Bishop St. Martin was walking to Rome on a pilgrimage. He encountered Satan and was mocked by him. As punishment St. Martin turned the devil into a donkey and rode the lazy beast for the remainder of his journey. The Donkey cursed him and spoke in palindromes.
Because of this significant encounter, Reactor chose this date as the most appropriate for the interviewing of applicants and for their initiation into the most honoured role of Secret Member – a role that is theirs for exactly one year, until the wheel turns once more to Martinmas.
We can now reveal that all new applicants who presented themselves for initiation on November 11th 2018, were roundly and loudly rejected as ill-suited to the opening that had appeared, and so the chair of the Secret Member has remained empty throughout 2018/19. Now, this year’s prospective initiates have stepped forward and decisions have been taken.
Reactor has re-opened the application portal for next year’s Interviews. We sincerely encourage those who feel ready to join the group and take on the role of Secret Member, to step forward urgently and present themselves for the Martinmas Interviews. Over the coming years Reactor intends to modify our main body. An opening at the heart of the group awaits the correct initiate, and we are ready to guide you through the preparations. For a copy of the Reactor Membership Handbook, and to apply click here.
If the geese at Martin’s Day stand on ice, they will walk in mud at Christmas.