Symbols - What does heaven look like
The word mummer is sometimes explained to derive from Middle English mum ("silent") or Greek mommo ("mask"), and the Early New High German mummer and vermummen ("to disguise, to mask ones faces"). Thus it is about the mask.
Interestingly there was a game mum(en)schanz, which originally referring to a game or throw (schanz) of dice. But as Einstein said ‘God does not play dice with the world’.
There was a curious event in 1377, where 130 men on horseback went "mumming" to the Prince of Wales (later Richard II). They threw some dice, which appear to have been loaded dice, and so lost several gold rings. The rings were effectively presents for the prince. The event was on February 2, nine days before Ash Wednesday. In 1418 a law was passed forbidding "mumming, plays, interludes or any other disguisings with any feigned beards, painted visors, deformed or coloured visages in any wise, upon pain of imprisonment".
Mummers Plays are seasonal folk plays performed by troupes of actors known as mummers (or by local names such as rhymers), originally from the British Isles, but which is now a world-wide phenomenon. Mummers plays are plays about our Destiny and are essentially part of the Mysteries.
The origins of the Mummers plays is obscure and much of the original symbolism has been lost, today they are just entertaining plays, played in the street or in public houses, with no script. But their origin appears to be Celtic. In all Mystery religions, the first part of the Initiation process involved a symbolic ‘death’ achieved by shutting the initiate up in a coffin, barrow, tomb, pyramid or similar for several days – at least three- until it provoked a rebirth experience.
Although usually broadly comic performances, the Mummers plays seem to be based on much the same theme, one of ‘resurrection’ after a symbolic death. In mummers’ plays, the central incident is the killing and restoring to life of one of the characters.
Usually the plays feature a doctor who has a magic potion which is able to resuscitate a slain character. “It is interesting to note that even though the quack doctor performed witchcraft in a largely catholic country, he was still a widely accepted and beloved character”.
Traditional performances occurred at very specific times of the year and the link to the spiritual path was very clearly indicated.
Beltane is the last of the three spring fertility festivals, the others being Imbolc and Ostara in the Celtic religious calendar.
It is the second principal Celtic festival (the other being Samhain), celebrated approximately halfway between Vernal (spring) equinox and the midsummer (Summer Solstice)..
‘Mumming’ is a dramatic performance of exaggerated characters and at Beltane the characters include the Fool.
The Fool, and the Fool's journey, is enacted symbolically, with the Fool going symbolically from Autumn through Winter and into Spring – where Spring is symbolic of the Fool’s emergence into spiritual awakening.