Twelfth Night – Or To Put It Another Way, “As You Probably Won’t Like It”.
Last night was Twelfth Night. Which means that Christmas is officially over. Which means that it’s probably safe to tell you what I am about to tell you. Probably. At least until the next Advent season rolls around.
As I may have already mentioned, my 20 years in retail have hoovered pretty much every speck of joy out of my Christmas experience. This does not, however, that I cannot appreciate that Christmas is a magical time.
Christmas is the biggest and most powerful act of magic the world has. And when I say magic, I don’t mean the Derren Brown kind. I don’t mean the conjuring sort that is all misdirection and Neuro Linguistic Programming. I mean the Aleister Crowley kind. The magic that makes particular parts of the universe vibrate in a certain way in accordance to human will. Raw magic. Visceral magic. Real magic.
More than 2 billion people around the world celebrate Christmas. That’s more than 2 billion brains thinking about and focussing on the same thing. More than 2 billion powerful electro-chemical engines vibrating at the same frequency all across the globe.
In magical terms, it’s a wonder the world doesn’t shake apart. Which in a small way it almost does. Almost but not quite. Stuffy and staid as Christianity may appear, organised religions have a deep understanding of how magic works. This is why the Dutch celebrate Christmas on December the 5th and why, for the Russians, Christmas is January the 7th. It’s all about spreading the magical load.
The weight of all that seasonal thought and expectation synchronized together would weigh far too heavy on the thin crust that we call reality. Even with the precaution of staggering the date in question, the closer we get to December the 25th then the more little cracks we see in that fragile veneer on which our little world resides.
So, we have developed mechanisms to cope with the cracking this all causes on our plane of existence. The Winter festival is a psychological necessity. And it is just a Winter Festival. Let’s not pretend it actually has anything to do with Jesus. In fact we shouldn’t really pretend the Jesus is anything to do with Jesus. The entire New Testament Jesus story was stolen wholesale from the mythos of the Roman Sun God Mithras. Virgin birth, miracles, 12 followers, resurrection and the feast day of the 25th of December. Everything. Anyway, that’s another matter.
The point is that as the shortest day retreats away from us, human beings seem to need some sort of huge celebration of the fact that we have made it to that point in the year without dying en masse. But human beings walk a thin line to fulfil this psychological need. Our activity turns the world a bit weird, so we use all sorts of distractions to distract our attention from that fact.
Christmas decorations are the most obvious example of this kind of distraction. When you look out of the window on Christmas morning, the world looks just a little bit different, doesn’t it? Feels a little bit different too. Most people don’t give this a second thought, or if they do they put it down to a release of mental tension. After all that anticipation, the big day is finally here. It’s bound to make you look at the world a little differently. But the world is different and that’s what Christmas decorations are for. They’re a way of us metaphorically putting our fingers in our ears and going “La la, la la, la la”.
We need to metaphorically stick our fingers in our ears because the vibrations from the engine that is billions of minds all thinking the same thing kind of shakes the world a little bit out of phase. This allows the edges of our world to blur a little and merge with the edges of other, less hospitable realities. If you’re not careful, you can catch little glimpses of something nasty out of the corner of your eye. Hence all the little distractions. This is why people of otherwise impeccable taste will happily decorate their front rooms in a manner that even Liberace might have found a little bit gaudy.
Distraction from the magic is why we eat things we wouldn’t normally eat in quantities even the greediest of us wouldn’t normally consume. It’s why we drink alcoholic beverages that look like household cleaning products and taste like liquid hate. It’s why Christmas is bright and loud and nerve jangling. If we band together and make enough noise then maybe we’ll frighten away the things from the less hospitable realities.
Remember, Christmas is not just a magical time, it is a time of magic. So when it next rolls around, eat drink and be merry. Do it as loudly as you can and try not to look out of the corner of your eye. Especially not just before you go to bed.
© Copyright Michael Grimes 2014