Cleansing of the Pudding

For the summer I’m going back to the series of pieces mythologizing my growing up in Cape Breton. Check the Village Stories page for links previous pieces in this series.

Cleansing of the Pudding

of all the celebrations in my village

the one I enjoyed the most

was the cleansing of the pudding

it fell on the first Monday

after the feast of St Bartholomew

only if there was a new moon on that Monday


as a result it didn’t happen very often

once every five or six years

unlike the other festivals in our county

that occurred with such regularity

I lost my sense of wonder and awe

bored by what was going to happen

when we wore red and silver to

the monotonous Memorial to Moose Gutting

or to the tedious

Shiver of Scale Shaving Market Days


the cleansing of the pudding

was unlike all the others

no costumes were called for

no one had to don a creaking moose hide

or dance

in the twirling tumble of cascading smelt

though here was the obligatory

casting of the moose bones

which I later found out

were not moose at all but

squirrel ribs

there were two songs to be sung

as the pudding was cleansed

the first was an homage to

she who danced the first pudding

and the other was to the law of light

that explained

why it was illegal to have lights on after dark

the words were in an obscure dialect

so I was never sure just what we were singing

but the whole village would to join hands

and sing in the town square

around the sacred poles

that were kept in the darkened strip joints

this was the only time

they were brought into the daylight

for all to see and wonder at

we would sing the songs

moving in and out around the poles

the poles would glisten with moose fat


once the bishop had taken

them back to the strip bars

we choir boys would sing

the first song again and again

till all the poles

had been reunited with their sacred dancers

and thus the pudding was cleansed

There was a fairly large Jewish population in my hometown, Sydney. All through school I envied the number of holidays that would get them a day off school. These special days were none of the inspirations for the many ceremonial events in Village Stories. My Dad was a Mason which has its own set of rituals and mysterious hand signals.


In Village Stories I wanted to develop my own set of idols – the moose – and ceremonies. The natural of light & dark is played with as I developed some of these seemingly random elements. Strip bars as places of worship easily led to the poles as representations of May poles. Logical to me anyway.


Past pieces explore the sacred strips bars – not that there were any at that time but there were places adults went that children we not allowed – that secrecy became tantalizing. Re-reading this piece & editing it some deepens the mystery of where these images came from within me.

In much of the specfic I have been reading lately there were/are many stories building new worlds that are ruled by various systems of magic & ritual – the sort of ceremonial things that go back to the Druids – our search for a way on connecting with the mystic. Cape Breton has deep Celtic roots and it’s clear to me that that also drew me to creating my systems of connecting to the mystic – though I am more a surrealist mystic than a realist.

What is the pudding?

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s – sweet,eh?

One thought on “Cleansing of the Pudding

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