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  Orkney's Harvest Lore

The Ritual Bannock and Sacrifice

The motif of the "ritual bannock" is widespread across the British Isles.

In most cases it is often used as a means of selection, where one segment of the bannock was marked and a gathered crowd each chose a piece from a bag.

The "chosen" one was the man who received the marked piece of bannock - this theme is discussed fully by Anne Ross in her book "The Life and Death of a Druid Prince".

If we look again at the idea that the Orcadian "Last Man" was perhaps symbolically sacrificed, the consumption of the bannock made from the last sheaf - or first sheaf in some islands - could be seen to contain the essence of the crop spirit, and that the man who consumed it would acquire this vitality.

It is therefore easy to see that by sacrificing the "winner" of the bannock, the crop spirit was returned or restored "to the earth".

Offerings to Nature

Section Contents
Introduction
Casting the Heuks
The Last Sheaf
The Straw Dog - "The Bikko"
Straw Figures and "Last Man" Capers
The Harvest Bannock
The "Ritual Bannock" Connection
Offerings to Nature
Harvest Home and Muckle Supper

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