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The Proper Care of Ritual Instruments

By Wulfran Netherworp

Former Lodge Codger for the whole East Saxon chapter

Editor’s note: Wulfran was too modest to boast of his participation in the famous Brigandage of Worp, named after his forebears in the Worp clan — especially the Netherworps, Rantworps, Cantworps, Bletherworps and Mumbleworps. It’s an honour to publish his reflections on his lifetime of commitment.

Ritual terms are capitalised and emboldened to assist the education of Initiates and the hard of hearing.

First may I thank the new and surprisingly energetic leadership team at the Cult of Ffynche for the opportunity to pass on my humble knowledge of our wonderful Challenging Rituals, as well as methods of care for the instruments we so treasure.

Many’s the time, perhaps during dull conversations with neighbours, or sipping tea with my charming wife Ethelreda and our idiot sons Yorrick and Hamnet, that I yearn to visit my shed and polish my equipment.

I love to take the instruments from their hanging hooks, or pull them from their protective casings, and gaze upon them, in their glory. They really are the crown jewels of my meagre possessions.

 

I’m sure you too will have delighted, or soon will, in the handling of your own tools and baubles as we journey on our mystic path. Ignore the hurtful remarks from loved ones as to their size, purpose, effectiveness or comeliness. (And fie on their secular curses during the Bloody Racket, in which our equipment is necessarily tested to its limits!)

But rather than gripe about the misunderstandings of others, you, like me, may find much solace in the lonely craft of instrument maintenance, care and veneration.

 

I confess I often talk to my own instruments, preparing them with comforting words for their next foray into the vibrant ceremonial landscape of our movement. Unhappily, these ritual opportunities are no longer so frequent as they were in my youth  — my back hurts during the Skulk, and Insertion is a distant memory.

Wulfran Netherworp

But for the youngsters now taking up their oaths with such enthusiasm, perhaps the following tips may come in handy.

 

The first factor is the elimination of extremes. Damp, moist environments can cause rust and mildew. Overly hot or dry conditions, contrary to common misapprehension, can actually lead to instrument shrinkage or the widening of cracks.

Think for a moment of our singularly exciting Carol on the Green annual ceremony, or regular Beaver Adorations. Instruments can often be exposed to inclement showers in summer or the hard frosts nights of winter. Sometimes even the frosts of May, that aren’t so hard, still leave us unable to perform.

 

In these conditions, our Truss Rods can become bent, and Nuts swollen in their slots. We become loose in the Saddle, and sprained in our wrists.

 

Few people dare tamper with their Truss Rod, even when twisting and bowing are clearly visible to the naked eye during ceremonial preparations. But with the correct hex or specialist spanner, a quarter-turn at a time, getting a bit of Action should become easier and subsequent Performance more fluid.

 

Sometimes you may suffer from the eye-wateringly poor gearing of Machine Head syndrome — where broken or worn teeth can lead to a sudden drop in tension, or when the monotony of attempted retunes deflates the spirit of Givers and Receivers alike.

 

Short of complete replacement of the Head itself, don’t forget the value of the Grub Screw. A little gentle adjustment can pop the gear back into place for many more years of enjoyment. There may be a little sloppiness or stickiness, but most of us can live with that.

 

Finally, I can’t stress the importance of Lubrication and Polish. Nature has given us oil and wax for a reason — for the slickness and protection of all our main steel and timber members, as well as for those Clever Trevors with Adjustable Saddles or Adjustable Nuts. You’ll find your fingers moving more freely and delicately — extending the duration of even the Melifluous Ritual -- and leaving fewer callouses.

 

My ritual equipment is never far from a tatty blue cloth, still marked with the oilings and polishings of bygone ceremonies, but always ready for immediate use if an opportunity arises.

 

Sadly Ethelreda rarely assists in the shed these days, but I still get pleasure from fondling my “crown jewels” alone, and occasionally summon up a complete Performance.

 

Good luck, and may Challenging Rituals bring you to the pinnacle of instrumental success!

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