Bob the Buck skull came to Gypsy and Juniper via a hunter acquaintance. When he arrived, he was a complete, if somewhat dried and desiccated, deer head. For WS 2014, the folk had the opportunity to not only learn about working with, and cleaning, bones but to get a little practice. By way of de-fleshing Bob.
As we worked on the skull, the people at WS 2014 shared their experience and knowledge of working with animal bones, fur, hide, feathers and more. Questions about spirit houses were answered. There was great discussion on the care and usage of such ritual tools as Bob. Respectfully trading ideas and opinions from many different traditions.
At WS, we hold the belief that if you give folks the chance to dig in, get their hands dirty and try something new (or very old), they will rise to the challenge. So, picture people from all walks of life rolling up their sleeves, putting on a pair of gloves, grabbing a knife and stripping flesh and fur from a buck skull. With reverence, care and a little laughter. Because that is exactly what happened.
Then Bob was given a simmering bath for a few hours. The smell wasn’t pleasant, especially during lunch time, but the folk were determined.
Totally cleaning a head from start to finish is more than can be done in an afternoon. So once Bob was mostly de-fleshed, he was tucked away and taken home to Juniper and Gypsy’s place. For the rest of the summer and the following winter, Bob was kept in such a way that flies could get to him but nothing else. Once the snow melted, Juniper brought him out in the sunlight once again, for his final cleaning and degreasing. Then he got to bask in the spring sunshine for a while.
For WS 2015, Bob returned triumphant, his skull gleaming whitely. The folks of WS were giddy with excitement to see him again and many called out “Hail Bob!” in joy. He was treated as an honoured guest that weekend, before receiving a very nice paint job.
Then, he was blessed to his new purpose, to crown the stang for 2015. He was carried reverently by one of the folk and hung upon the stang. He was feasted, toasted, hailed. We danced around him and he watched over us as we did our shapeshifting work.
Today, Bob still sits proudly upon his stang at Raven’s Knoll and receives frequent visitors and offerings during the festival season. He has become a focal point for working with animal spirits, familiars, and the primal self. The paint has washed off from rain and weather, and the adornments on his stang are a little worn. But the power still holds. Should you visit, you’ll feel it too.