At this time of year, when the light fades early and the world shifts from green to gold, cinnamon and fiery red, our old human fears of the approaching period darkness return.
Trees have been a centre point of many world mythologies and religions throughout the ages. As a symbol of growth, death and rebirth, they are powerful reminders of the recurring cycles of life, with evergreen trees specifically representing fertility and immortality. The rituals and beliefs surrounding trees in general, and Christmas trees in particular, are rooted in something far more ancient than the birth of Christ two millennia ago.
The Auroras, as we know today, are dependent on the interactions of the sun and our upper atmosphere, and have thus appeared since before history began to be recorded. And it appears that each age of history has had their own ideas about what caused the Auroras, what they consisted of, and what they signified.
Relentlessly sunny and known for a love of trend over tradition, Los Angeles is an unlikely home to a new incarnation of the old Alpine devil. It helps, perhaps, that make-believe is serious business in my town, and that it’s filled with creative people prone to see in an old tradition of folk Catholicism a revolutionary way to shake up the holidays.
From midwinter feasting at Neolithic British sites like Durrington Walls, to the Haloa of Ancient Greece and the Norse Yule celebration, humans have always needed a reminder during the depths of winter of light, community and the promise of good things to come.