Ceremonies and Regalia
The Open Gorsedh
The largest ceremony performed by Gorsedh Kernow is the annual "Open Gorsedh" when new bards are admitted and competition prizes and major awards are presented.
It is performed, weather permitting, in the open, at various points across Cornwall, and the public is encouraged to attend.
The Gorsedh relies heavily on the support and co-operation of the local communities and Old Cornwall Societies to organise these ceremonies.
Bards, following robing, process to the Gorsedh site and form a large circle, at the North-eastern point of which is a platform (The Rock) on which stand the Grand Bard, the Deputy Grand Bard, the Gorsedh Secretary and delegates from the Welsh and Breton Gorsedds.
The proceedings open with a welcome from the Town Mayor or Local Dignitary, which is received and returned by the Grand Bard.
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The Gorsedh ceremony itself starts with a symbolic call to the four corners of the Nation, this being made by the Horner on the instructions of the Herald Bard.
This is followed immediately by the Gorsedh Prayer.
The ceremony of peace is then performed by the Grand Bard, who thrice asks, "Is there peace?" On the assembled Bards replying "Peace", the Gorsedh is declared open.
The "Joining of the Sword" follows now.
The Grand Bard joins the two parts together and gives the sword to the representative from Wales. This is to show the unity between Cornwall,Wales and Brittany.
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A dance by the children precedes the "Lady of Cornwall", who is escorted by the Sword Bearer across the circle, presenting a sheaf of flowers and corn to the Grand Bard, symbolising God's gifts to Mankind. Then follows the song "He Will Come Again". "He" is Arthur in this setting, representing the Celtic Spirit.
Now the Deputy Grand Bard offers a prayer for those Bards who have passed on during the past year. Their names are read and a commemoration hymn is sung.
Initiate Bards are then escorted to the Grand Bard who gives them their Bardic names and welcomes them into the College of Bards. The delegates from Wales and Brittany give short addresses to the Gorsedh. Then, after any announcements, the song "Hail to the Homeland" is sung.
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The ceremony of the Sword follows. The partly-unsheathed sword is held aloft by the sword-bearer and is grasped by the Grand Bard.
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A shorter version of this ceremony is held every year as well as the Open Gorsedh to announce the next Open Gorsedh. This is called a " Gorsedh Proclamation".
Symbolism and Regalia
It is also known as Y Nod Cyfrin, The Mystic Mark, or Y Nod Pelydr Goleuni, The Mark of the Shaft of Light, where it is derived from the rays of the rising sun.
In the Bardic Gorseth however, it represents the attributes of Love, Justice and Truth.
It is also a continuing symbol of the Celtic imagination which tends to express concepts in threefold form.
Tan Dyvarow had a workshop for beaten copper between Hayle and Lelant.
The motif is Oak Leaves which have had a similar use in Wales, and probably date back to the Bronze Age.
GRAND BARD’S PLASTRON
GRAND BARD’S ROBES
Robes were first designed for bards in Wales by Professor Sir Hubert von Herkomer about 1896. Herkomer was born in Bavaria in 1849, but left Germany at age 2. Morton Nance/Mordon was a student at Herkomers Art College in Bushey, near London. In “The Cornish Review” in 1951 Nance stated he watched Herkomer making a crown, copying the bronze oak leaves from a branch of oak.
DEPUTY GRAND BARD
PAST GRAND BARDS
This seems to date back to 1966, and also from then the immediate Past GB has worn Mordon’s original plastron.
Other Past GBs plastrons are made to a 1970 design.
They show a sword, 15 bezants and the Awen.
SECRETARY’S PLASTRON or BREAST-PLATE
Appropriately it includes a quill pen (nowadays a computer is used), the Awen and Celtic knot-work.
LADY OF CORNWALL ROBES (AT OPEN GORSEDH)
LADY OF FLOWERS (at Proclamations)
Morgarer remembers using them in 1968 at St Just when he was deputy to Den Delynyans.
In 1994, with Gorsedh Council approval, three small copper plaques (1¼ inches by 1 inch) were attached to the Marshall’s Staff to commemorate previous Marshals.
The plaques were engraved as follows:-
INSTRUMENTS: THE HARP
INSTRUMENTS: THE HORN
THE BARDIC CHAIR
THE HALF SWORD
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