At the most mystical of all woodcraft groups, Kibbo Kift’s practices – even at the most mudane level – were steeped in magic and ritual. The ceremonial method of organization 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 into 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 lend 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 of Kin costume and language, the effect was otherworldly, even religious. Hargrave and many other Kinsfolk sought and found spiritual nourishment in the Kindred. Like all Kibbo Kift’s operation, however, their belief system stood firmly apart from existing structures. A consequence of this rebellion against spiritual convention was that Kibbo Kift earned a reputation as something of a cult; certainly its embrace of no-Christian ritual practices was as controversial in the period as its non-segregated camping practices, its skimpy exercise costumes and its plainspoken ideas about sex education. Many ceremonial practices were concealed behind the public face of the Kindred for this reason, and further rites were only shared among selected, closed lodges within the larger membership. In more open-minded times, and with access to previously inaccessible documents, Kibbo Kift’s littleknow and little-understood myth, magic and mysticism can be repositioned as fundamentally important aspect of the organization.
[POLLE, 2015: 143]
Bibliographic referencePOLLEN, Annebella. The Kindred of the Kibbo Kift: Intellectual Barbarians. London: Donlon Books, 2015, pp. 222. ISBN 978-0-9576095-1-8