The Winter Fires

Mysterious Britain that explores the ancient European celebrations of Yule, from which we've derived many of our modern Christmas rites. Another essay explains how the ancients celebrated the winter solstice with bonfires. And a quick googling reveals that the practice of Solstice bonfires seems to be experiencing a bit of a comeback.



In their own deeply-demented way, the boys in Killing Joke pay tribute to this ancient Druidic practice with their single "Let's All Go (to the Fire Dances)." The toys and the dancing kids give the vid a seasonal zing. This was from their first difficult period ('82-'84), when they were trying to sound like a sci-fi/heathen/sociopathic version of Adam and the Ants. Their second difficult period ('86-'88) had something to do with them trying to sound like a blow-dried, goth version of Genesis. Happily, they resolved these identity crises about 20 years or so ago and have sounded like Killing Joke ever since.

It's actually the day after the Winter Solstice as I write, and it's a dark, stormy, miserable night, with a cold rain pouring down in sheets. Suffice it to say, it's not terribly festive. Happily, a full moon and clear skies are forecast for Christmas Eve. It makes me wish I was on outer Cape Cod, where the Milky Way can be seen on clear nights. I think everyone should make a pilgrimage to a place where you can truly see the night sky in all of its glory. One needs to experience the full majesty of Creation in order to appreciate the absolute improbability of our fragile, little lives. While you were out on the Cape, you could spend some time in the ocean, which will easily dispense with any lingering feelings of omnipotence you might have left over from your drug days.

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