21 June 2010

Happy Solstice

Today is the Winter Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. It is a
dislocated solstice. My ancestors, for hundreds of thousands of years,
huddled in the darkness of Winter and hoped that once again the Sun
would begin to travel higher in the sky, the days would get longer and
warmer, and humanity would avoid freezing to death on an icy plain in
the eternal blackness of some apocalyptical night. It was the time when
Sun gods and goddesses turned their chariots, the time for purification
and for sacrifice.
But that all happened in December - the 21st or 22nd to be exact. When
my (somewhat less distant) ancestors moved to Australia the time of cold
and darkness was suddenly inverted. Long days and sunshine baked the
midwinter festival of Christmas, and the already ailing midsummer
festivals sickened and died here in the antipodes. Modernity and
capitalism ground away these ancient festivals and rites. Where is my
anxiety over the return of the Sun today? Why aren't I rubbing butter on
my front fence and slaughtering a white animal in the backyard tonight?
Even Hallmark has failed me.
I hope the sun sets tonight and never comes up again. Science is left
witless. Civilisation collapses. Prophets and mad men will gather huge
crowds. We will burn everything in huge bonfires; throw virgins and
babies to the flames. And when everything and everyone is burnt and
frozen and dead we will not know why.

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