Text and images from The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift by Annabella Pollen
Available at Donlon Books
As the most mystical of all woodcraft groups, Kibbo Kift’s practices - even at the most mundane level - were steeped in magic and ritual. The ceremonial method of organisation established new traditions that lent coherence and formality to kin activities, and provided a structure rooted in common custom rather than military drill or committee method.
The kindred drew on mythology and folklore sourced from geographically and historically diverse cultural and spiritual traditions; as with their design inspirations, these were characteristically adapted new forms, blended with the latest thinking in art, science and philosophy, and brought to earth in the english landscape.
Always original and sometimes secret Kibbo Kift’s elaborate and poetic rituals were devised to land a sacred quality to all areas of group life, from the making and breaking of camp, to the cooking of meals and the lighting of fires; hikes were reconfigured as pilgrimages and membership induction was recast as initiation. Combined with the newness and strangeness or kin costume and language, the effect was otherworldly, even religious. Hargreave and many other kinsfolk sought and found spiritual nourishment in the kindred. Like all Gibbo Kift’s operations, however their belief system stood firmly apart from existing structures.
A consequence of this rebellion against spiritual convention was that Gibbo Kift earned a reputation as something of a cult; certainly its embrace of non christian ritual practices was as controversial in the period as its non segregated camping practices, its skimpy exercise costumes and its plain spoken ideas about sex education.
Many ceremonial practices were concealed behind the public face of the Kindred for this reason, and further rights were only shared among select, closed lodges within the larger membership. In more open minded times, and without access to previously inaccessible documents, Kibbo Kift’s little - known and little - understood myth, magic and mysticism can be repositioned as a fundamentally important aspect of the organisation.