A Covenstead need not be located in a rural area for the members of its coven to construct Old Jack. He can be made as any scarecrow is and placed in any part of an apartment, house or Circle Room. He can be as easily stuffed with old newspapers as old and dried leaves, and the project is fun. Making an effigy of Old Jack is sheer Wiccan-Pagan sport. May I say to the purists who may chance to read this: in no way is such an adventure insulting to our God. Being a God of death and rebirth does not diminish the fact that he is also a God of great joy, mirth and laughter. He may be fierce or he may strike Panic wherever he appears, but he also enjoys being acknowledged in happy ways. For us, All Hallows is not a somber time at all. It is a time to remember our ancestors and commemorate our beloved dead; a time to communicate with them and to let them know we are aware of their existence. It is a time to search into past lives and to gain knowledge from them . . . to learn from that which has gone before.
In order to construct Old Jack, one need only have on hand an ordinary broom, lots of leaves, newspaper or rags, an old pair of trousers with some sort of belt, an old shirt, a pair of gloves, and an old hat or cap (optional). There is no limit to the various ways in which an effigy of Old Jack may be constructed. Invert the broom, plunge it into the ground or prop it in the corner and take it from there. For the head, a pillow with a cover on it can be placed over the broom head with the pillow – in front of the broom bristles and tied at the “neck” to make a large and suitable head. A happy face can be drawn on Jack with washable colors, and he’s then ready for his hat or hair of straw. The shirt can be secured to the bottom of the pillow case or cover that forms his head until it is stuffed. No cross bar is needed since the stuffing will cause the arms to stretch out when fully complete. His pants may be attached to the bottom of the shirt with a belt and the stick may either go through one of the legs of the pants or stay behind as you will, for when these are also stuffed full they will be self-supportive. The gloves are pinned to the cuffs of the shirt after being stuffed as well. This makes them firm, and Old Jack can be holding whatever you wish in his hands . . . or nothing at all. We have placed a huge pumpkin at his feet to add a touch of color and additional support. He may be leaning on a corn stalk, standing at the edge of the garden patch or have his own special place in a room. He will create a friendly aura wherever you decide to place him, and if you have the space and the privacy–a dance around Old Jack can be very exhilarating and a cause for much merriment.
Old Jack can be given special vibratory Powers as he is constructed when this is done with song and rhyme. Such an effigy of 01 Jack may produce some interesting Hallows effects for you. If you wish him to guard your Circle then impart this fact to him. If you wish him to help you with the art of necromancy, then also impart this fact to him. The God has a limitless ability to expand himself. At any rate, let him know of your joy in his presence.
There need be no fear of placing Old Jack in your yard. Cowans are used to scarecrows, and particularly at the Hallows season. Hallows is certainly one time of the year that Witches and Pagans can be themselves without the hassles that usually accompany a gathering that might be held too close to Cowans. There is absolutely no reason why you cannot enjoy a bit of trick or treating yourself before Circle time. We’ve had the fun of going incognito with sheets over our heads (playing ghost), and getting some very good pics of the local Cowans. One year we snapped a picture of the Deaconess of a very narrow local Xian church. She was in full “Witch drag,” heavily made up, and wearing a long black wig. However, there was no doubt as to who she was. My, my. . . we certainly are not advocating blackmail.
Never gripe about the Hallows being “too commercial.” Thank the Great God for it! Without it we might have the burnings again. Although, we do agree that certain perverts are desperately trying to do away with the Hallows . . . even make it evil and dangerous . . . by the placing of nasties in such things as our sacred Apple, for instance. If I say that a typically Xian pervert did such things, all the Xians from here to the Vatican would raise a howl, but it certainly was not one of us, now, was it? These people obviously wish to suppress Hallows and to degrade it. They wish to cast an aura of evil, hatred, and the so-called “devil” about it. Thus far, they’ve done a pretty good job in their efforts, but it is up to Witches and Pagans to end it where it began. And that is discovering just who these guilty parties are and of what religious persuasion, if any, they are. Obviously they are killer fanatics who will do anything to promote their cause . . . the destruction of Hallows and anyone who observes it. We have a real problem here, and we ought to face up to it with some well-directed action. If we cannot physically deal with the perverts of Hallows, we can at least deal with them magically. Before it’s too late. We do not sacrifice little children by having them swallow razor blades and pins, in fact, we do not sacrifice anything but our own lives for the ideals we believe in.
Let Old Jack guard well your Hallows Circle and impart to him the magicks that you wish. He-will not fail you, and soon he will drawing snow and ice designs upon some windowpanes in his aspect as Jack Frost as he rides the mighty Northwinds.
* Once again, a byline of Green Egg’s creation. Lady Gwen did not consider herself “Wiccan” although she did use the term, as it was becoming the more socially accepted term for witchcraft at the time she was writing.
(©1975 “Gwen Thompson” (P. Adams) Originally published in Green Egg Vol VIII, #74, Samhain 1975)