A STUDY OF SUMMERISLE
I would like to thank the Lord Summerisle for giving me permission to publish my academic findings of this island off the west coast of Scotland and its unique religious customs. This has been a most enlightening experience and I am more than ecstatic to share it with you all.
A BRIEF RELIGIOUS HISTORY
The religious history of Summerisle at first is quite similar to the religious history of other Scottish islands and the mainland. For millennia, the inhabitants of Summerisle were pagan, following the cycle of nature and the fire festivals throughout the year. However, in the 6th-7th century, Irish missionaries established Christianity as the dominant religion, and throughout the next millenium, the different version of the dominant Christianity varied. Following the 11th century, Celtic Christianity died out in favor of Roman Catholicism. Roman Catholicism would then die out in the 16th century in favor of Protestantism. The most obvious and interesting aspect of Summerisle's religious history is the conversion back to paganism, however.
In 1868, amid the apathy of the then Christian residents, the first Lord Summerisle, a skilled agronomist, experimented with new strains that were said to bode well in the cold climate of Scotland. With the fertile volcanic soil and the warm waters from the Gulf Stream, these new strains of fruit thrived in this seemingly barren island. After the initial experiments, the first Lord Summerisle brought the worship of the old gods back to the locals in order to garner support for the continuation of the growth of these fruits. This conversion effort proved to be highly popular, for the old gods were joyous, laughing and making love to each other. The Christian religious leaders were appalled by this new show of "sin and degeneracy," and with the encouragement of the first Lord Summerisle, the townsfolk drove their priests and pastors out, abandoning the churches to be reclaimed by nature and the old gods. Since then, what started out as a scientific experiment turned into a significant religious and cultural feature of the island. As a result, the second and third (and current) Lords Summerisle converted to Summerisle paganism, turning into respected and adored religious community leaders.
THE NATURE OF SUMMERISLE PAGANISM
It is important to note that Summerisle paganism is somewhat different to the paganism that was practiced by the pre-Christian Gaelic tribes. Summerisle paganism, because of the fact it was founded by a Victorian-era agronomist, bears some ideas of paganism that comes from Victorian academia (i.e. The Golden Bough although the book was published in 1890 in contrast to the first Lord Summerisle's arrival in 1868). With that in mind, the Summerisle conceptions of the old gods may appear to be different from current Celtic neopagan and reconstructionist conceptions.
As for holidays, the residents of the island celebrate the four fire festivals, with May Day being the most prominent. Provided here are clips from the film, The Wicker Man (1973), which give an exclusive look into Summerisle's May Day rituals.