He said I ought to be outside with other lads of my age building a bonfire. I told him that I was too old for such paganistic rituals. He said he was forty-seven and still enjoyed a good burn-up. – The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾
Yesterday, amongst the glorious delights of the semi-rural splendour of my beloved’s land, we had a bonfire. This was partly practical – a lot of branches and leaves to burn before summer – and partly communal-spiritual. All in all, it was a jolly good time It was one of those events that despite just a few days notice took hold of people’s minds and souls and droves of them came with energy and verve to celebrate and commune.
There is no tradition of Bonfire Night in most of modern Australia. November is a bit warm and the bush fire risk too high for Australian’s to be parading around guys, begging for pennies and setting effigies alight on mounds of wood. However, the midwinter time around July in Perth is perfect for such an event. I did make a guy, to represent the generic evil nature, placed within it all sorts of talismans and methods of transformation, and took it around the traps to collect the communal negative energy. Come Sunday it was fairly reeking and I was a little uncomfortable driving for an hour with it in the back seat.
Because kids here are unfamiliar with such mock ritual sacrifice, we placed the guy within the fire not on top, to avoid reactions and dismay. I was still glad to see the thing burn though, transforming the negative energy it’d collected and distilled.
Out Tibetan Buddhist teacher, Ven. Thupten Lodey, came with plenty of home grown Juniper to consecrate and cleanse the fire. He ritually blessed it and people cast images and symbols of their own negativities into the pyre and watched them burn away. In the presence of fire the kids reverted to stock, turned primal and raced off into the bush to do what kids do. Later they returned from the dark for a feast of delicious homemade soups and breads in the best hearty-gourmet tradition, prepared by my beloved.
We continued to honour the British tradition and the ancestors of many of those present with simple no-nonsense rice pudding and Jam Roly Poly made with fresh suet from the local organic butchers. Suet is another jettisoned British tradition, and many folk had no idea what it was. I think some of them may have preferred it when they didn’t know
Such simple acts of communal activity and easy ritual are not only wonderful but essential for our lives and connections. It was a joyous event, one that was transformational without fuss and nurturing without pretence. After all, everyone loves a good burn-up