Bonfire Night with all its excitement is here again. As the dark nights take hold it’s cheering to celebrate with flames and fireworks. Find out the true history of November 5th, and also the deeper significance. How can you light your inner fires and become energetic and passionate as winter approaches?
- Older meanings of the festival
- Making friends with darkness
HISTORY OF BONFIRE NIGHT
During the long reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st the Church of England was established, and Catholics were out of favour. However, in 1603 Good Queen Bess died, and the throne passed to James 1st. Catholics were now hopeful that their faith would again be respected, but they were disappointed. People began to scheme and plot. The Gunpowder Plot was hatched, and on November 5th 1605 a band of conspirators piled gunpowder under the Houses of Parliament, to blow up the MPs and along with them the king and his son.
However some were worried that innocent people would to be killed and an anonymous letter was sent to one of the MP’s, warning him to stay away. This letter was given to the king, who sent soldiers to investigate. One of the conspirators, Guy Fawkes, was captured red-handed and the plot foiled.
GUY FAWKES AND BONFIRE NIGHT
Guy Fawkes is the person most associated with the history of Bonfire Night. He was treated with extreme brutality, and executed. In the years following, people celebrated the saving of the king, on November 5th. The event became a focus for anti-Catholic feeling, and effigies of powerful Catholics, as well as the Pope, were often burnt on the fires. Puritans gave sermons about the dangers of ‘popery’ and everyone was happy because they believed their way of life was saved.
It was only gradually that the full details of the plot were revealed. That is when people started making effigies of Guy Fawkes, to burn on their bonfires. That idea caught on with children, who took great pleasure in making the best Guy they could and then showing it to adults, door-to-door or on street corners, saying ‘Penny for the Guy!’. The money they collected went towards fireworks. This custom is not practised as frequently now as it was in the 20th Century.
In latter years Bonfire Night has spread, merging with Halloween, at the end of October, to make an extended, creepy festival. There are many people who say Halloween has been imported from America, but it also links with the ancient Celtic festival called Samhain, (Pronounced ‘Sa-ween’), meaning ‘summer’s end.’ This festival celebrates the powers of darkness, as holding keys to fertility and creativity. This is symbolically represented by the dark November night, set alight with fireworks.
At Samhain, purifying bonfires were lit. Sacrifices were often made to pacify dark gods, for winter was coming in and people were afraid. Sometimes this sacrifice was actually the tribal king, who gave his life for the sake of his people. It’s interesting that nowadays we have a would-be king-slayer on top of the bonfire, not the king himself!
Some scholars deny that Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night have anything to do with old pagan customs, or Halloween. However, the link seems very obvious. It just ‘feels right’ to mark the start of winter with something dramatic and edgy, as a rite of passage.
MAKING FRIENDS WITH DARKNESS
Part of the pleasure of Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night is affirming your own ability to enjoy life – subconsciously increased by knowing that you are not any kind of sacrifice, and that the winter months will not hold terrors.
Think of all the good things about this time of year:
- The stars are out for longer
- The moon is often brighter and higher
- You can get cosy and enjoy your home
- It’s often easier to meditate in this more ‘private’ time
- Darkness increases hormones in the brain that boost your intuition making now the perfect time to practice telepathy, tarot-reading etc
- As the year ends you can reflect on what you need to let go of, and move on
- New starts are usually available in the shape of courses and workshops, so sign up
LIGHT YOUR INNER FIRES
The actual element of Fire may well be missing from your life. Most people have central heating or forms of warmth that don’t entail actual flames. This can have an effect on you, without you realising it.
To counteract this, bring flame into your dwelling by lighting candles. Sit in front of your candles, let yourself go into a dreamy state as you watch the flame dance, and see what inspirations come to mind. You can even ask questions if you like and see what ‘lights up’ in your consciousness.
Turn off all the lights and all but essential electricity and sit quietly for an evening, by candlelight. What comes to your mind?
Write a wish on a slip of paper and stick this to the stick of a rocket. Ignite the blue touch paper and watch your rocket shoot towards the stars. Know that your wish has been cast to the winds, bringing good luck your way.
Light up sparklers and write messages in the air with the tip. Ask the Powers of Life to grant you what you want this winter – the weather may be cold but everything you want is still out there for you.
On a health level, make sure you get fresh air each day, whatever the weather. Wrap up warm and stride out, even if this is only for ten minutes. This will be incredibly stimulating and will lift your mood. Make sure that when you get back in you have a warm drink, being especially aware of the heat that’s going in to the liquid, mirroring the fires within your body and spirit.
If you can, light up an actual fire in a grate, woodburner, chimenea or bonfire. Watch how the flames grow and spread from an initial spark to a powerful conflagration. Be aware that ideas are like that. From one small spark within you, great life-changing events can grow. Be aware of your power as a living flame, creating your decisions and brilliant future.
Invite friends round and share your winter dreams. You should each light a candle to your wish. Talk about your plans, your next step and what you hope to achieve. Promise to support each other by following up on progress – for instance if a friend is dieting, phone them up each day to encourage them, or better still, diet together. If another friend is looking for a job, keep pushing them to apply and take an interest in their achievements. Meet again next month, re-light your candles and see where you are. If you support and advise each other you are much more likely to succeed.
If you have enough like-minded friends, meet for an hour or two to share some food, light fires and candles and swap positive stories. No-one is allowed to complain or be sad. This isn’t to deny anyone’s losses or need for support – but empathy is for another time. On this occasion stick with what’s been great. This could be events from your own lives or people you know, or positive stories in the news. It’s very encouraging to dwell on what’s going right – that way you attract more of it!
HOW WE CAN HELP
We’ve looked at the history of Bonfire Night, Guy Fawkes, older meanings, making friends with darkness, lighting inner fires and sharing warmth. You now have some tools to cheer and motivate you this autumn. However, if you feel really down and/or need a personal approach, reach out without delay. Our encouraging Readers are just a call away so put in a call and blow away the shadows.
PUBLISHED: 4 November 2018