tale weaver #31,the light: bonfire

into the night

the significance of bonfires 

Until our ancient ancestors discovered fire and created bonfires for cooking food, providing light, and safety from the animals of the night, moonscapes and starscapes represented the only light.

On the night of November 5th, 1605 Guy Fawkes was caught guarding the explosives, part of the gunpowder plot to blow up the House of Lords. The thwarted plot is still celebrated by lighting fires on November 5th. Newfoundland, a British colony until it joined Canada in 1949, celebrates Guy Fawkes Day, lighting huge bonfires, with some staying up to dawn.

Burning a witch (or people of the “wrong” religion who wouldn’t recant) started with the creation of a wood and straw base for the bonfire of death.

In the days before lighthouse shone their light into the night sky, bonfires were set both by honest folks to show the boat to the harbor, and by smugglers to wreck the ship and gain the “treasure.”

Other places, the dead are burned on a pyre out of respect and tradition.

Books have been burnt on bonfires; people’s possessions used to fan the flames. Bonfires can be symbols of dark as well as light.

I’ve been part of large bonfires by the sea, watching how each face is illuminated by the flames. I’ve sat around small bonfires, and talked philosophy, told stories, watched sparks rise up through the night sky to become stars.

Bonfires are for warmth, for celebration (not just on November 5th), respect.

Death, power, hatred, misunderstanding, punishment, demoralization.

The name bonfire comes from “the burning of bones.”

There are no bonfires in my life now.

I need a bonfire to light my way.

With no idea where.

 

This is a tale that touches on the themes of Tale Weaver’s 31st prompt: light. I chose to use bonfires as symbols of illumination; light; culture practices of (hands on) sacred rites; being drawn-home. As well as some of the evilness and darkness bonfires can represent. The information is personal knowledge and from Wikipedia

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10 thoughts on “tale weaver #31,the light: bonfire

  1. wendy October 25, 2014 / 7:02 pm

    We used to have bonfires in college a lot. And in high school we used to go down by the river and have a big bonfire just because there was nothing else to do…we lived in the country and it was boring…so we had to entertain ourselves…ha. College it was just tradition, we did it after games or again, just because.

    But most of the time we have big bonfires on Halloween! Our parties surrounded the fire…and it was the devil’s night. so much fun! Of course, way too many substances were imbibed in. (hope I used that word right.) But there was much fun…even for one who didn’t do a lot of debauchery.

    we didn’t ever burn any bones though. I don’t think.

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  2. summerstommy2 October 23, 2014 / 7:16 pm

    You never cease to surprise me with the angle you take on so many prompts. This one draws on history and told me things I didn’t know. When I was growing up we had bonfires the first weekend in June which we now call Queen’s birthday long weekend. We called it cracker night and in those days you could buy the fireworks over any counter anywhere.

    Liked by 1 person

    • phylor October 24, 2014 / 5:44 am

      In Canada, the first long weekend comes in May (I should remember, I’ve only been in the US for 10 years!), known as Victoria Day. In the past, there were parades, outdoor concerts, parties, etc. The date became fixed as a Monday, though I’m not sure that in the past, the celebrations were fixed to the Monday nearest her birthday, or on her birthday. Now it’s just a long weekend, and most folks don’t know why.

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      • phylor October 24, 2014 / 5:45 am

        OK, some places do celebrate, but you get the feeling it’s to relieve Canadian winters’ cabin fever.

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      • summerstommy2 October 24, 2014 / 5:49 am

        Pretty much the same here. I dont think its anywhere near her birthday, just as you say a long weekend.

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  3. georgeplace2013 October 23, 2014 / 4:20 pm

    That was really interesting, Jules. I didn’t realize that bonfire means “the burning of bones” though that makes sense. Thanks for this write – I enjoyed it.

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    • georgeplace2013 October 23, 2014 / 4:22 pm

      I’m sorry. I mean phylor (Jules is next up). I really did enjoy your bonfire write : )

      Like

    • phylor October 25, 2014 / 11:26 am

      Hi — I’m not Jules (that’s okay) name mistake!
      I too was intrigued by the origin of the name. Bonfires have quite and history, and I think a good choice by Kelly.

      Like

      • phylor October 25, 2014 / 11:32 am

        oops, I did a name mistake too! I meant tale weaver!

        Like

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