Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Wake up, all of you zombies! Festival in the air!
The final full moon of the calendar year is/was upon us, shining vibrantly in the sky. What better time to put an old year to bed and start thinking about 2012, Apocalypse Now?
Ah, forget the Apocalypse. Some little species always survives ... and life goes on.
Do you ever have one of those days when there are two "must-not-miss" events on your calendar? Saturday was one of those days for me. At noon: my very first ever Mummers rehearsal. At dark: The fabulous Firebird Festival in Phoenixville, PA! And only 40 miles of busy freeway between the two!
I'm a ham at heart, and so I have always watched Philly's Mummers Parade from the comfort of my recliner with a little bit of yearning. The parade is eight hours long, held at the coldest season of the year. And yet, the people in it seem to be having so much fun! How long was I going to sit out on this spectacle? Well, I've done just that for 25 years. But now I'm off the recliner, shopping for Under-Armor and gold paint for my run-down walking shoes!
I joined a comic brigade. Our first of two rehearsals was Saturday. And I must say that everyone there made me feel right at home. Mumming is a very proud tradition in these parts, and it just happened that the closest brigade to my house is a big one that has finished in the top ten every year for a decade. The rehearsal was fun and well-run, the routine is a hoot, and the 20 little kids will send it over the top in cuteness. I can't say any more now, because I don't want to give our secrets away to the opposing brigades. I'll get you a YouTube on January 2.
After practice ended, I drove over to Phoenixville. Given the town's name, it's not surprising that they would have a Firebird Festival. But what is surprising about the thing is how they don't do much at all to minimize the Pagan undertones. It is held close to the Solstice, and the crowning event of the evening is the immolation of a huge wooden bird-shaped structure, with Native American drummers and fire-dancers creating the build-up atmosphere. Many of the children were carrying long wands with a fancy bird on the top.
The object of the Firebird Festival is to send the old year out in a blaze and to begin a new one with renewed intent. For a small donation, you can write a wish on a slip of paper that gets put into a box. Just before they light the firebird, they put the box inside. Your wish goes up into the sky on a bright tongue of flame, to your deity of choice! Since I have so many to choose from, the sky must have been cluttered with happy bored gods!
I don't know how many little towns would set a bonfire so big you can see it two miles away, with minimal firefighting presence and maximum crowds of people. All I know is that the phoenix must have had some big-time accelerant in it, because with one touch of the torch it started to flame in dramatic fashion. By that time the somber Native American drum circle had become a lively multi-cultural drum event of epic proportions.
You go, Phoenixville! This was a blast with a big ol' B.
Holiday preparations are under way, so it might be a light week here at "The Gods Are Bored." If you come here, and you've already read my drivel, check out the great bloggers in my sidebar! Not a dud among 'em.