Why is Spring not yet on fire?

Spring is here.

At least I think it is. In late May it's not supposed to be in the low 50s (as it has been the last few days).

Anyway, the rhododendrons don't seem to mind the unseasonably low temperatures.

My front porch:


And a closeup:


And now for some plariarized photography. While touring downtown Philadelphia with my guests yesterday, I forgot to bring along my camera. Fortunately, these days almost everyone has a digital camera, so I didn't have to miss the "gargoyles" on the old Philadelphia Fire Department headquarters at 13th and Race.

This first one shows one of the little stone firemen in proportion to the doorway:


A closer shot of another one reveals a mischievous nature:


And this one seemed to be waving the photographer away:


They're so subtle that most people walk right past the building without seeing them.

I hope the gargolyes aren't responsible for this cooling trend, though. The traditionalist view of gargolyes is that they're supposed to be hot as hell! A more classical view is that they're another Pagan accomodation.

In any event, both Pagans and Christians associate religious rites of Spring with fire:

Scholars say the people of long ago worshipped the spirit behind the sun who sent shining life-giving rays over the fields of grain. The sun became the symbol of resurrection. Happy, joyful Spring festivals were held for their gods. The Druids and others, would gather around blazing bonfire, chant, sing, dance and leap through the flames.

These ancient Spring fire rites honoring the sun and performed by pagans, were banned by the Christian church until 752 A.D. It was then that St. Patrick, while performing his work as a missionary revivalist, saw that the early Irish Celts and Scandinavians held spring fire rites, and were not willing to give them up.

In order to replace their "old" pagan custom, St. Patrick created a "new" Christian fire rite. Borrowing on the old Druid customs, on Easter eve, he gave them huge bonfires just outside the churches. Europeans soon picked up the practice of annually blessing a new fire and it eventually became a part of Easter service.

I'm not saying this is a conspiracy, mind you.

But what if the Philadelphia gargoyles are more powerful than I thought?

Could these gremlins be putting out the fires of Spring?

UPDATE: There may be a Gremlinist Fifth Column at work in New York too. (Gargoyles are a subspecies of the gremlin race.)

posted by Eric on 05.23.05 at 11:54 AM


That's what I love about the Catholic church, i.e., that it didn't abolish the old Pagan rites, it embraced and enveloped them. This sounds like another reason why the Catholic church is referred to as "She". Today, if you wish to find the old Paganism, you must look inside the Catholic church. Also, certain fundamentalist Protestant sects are Pagan in the original sense. 'Tis a paradox, I know, but today it is the deepest Christians who are the real Pagans.

There's an old Wiccan saying, "Scratch a Catholic, you'll find a Pagan."

Eric Scheie   ·  May 24, 2005 3:45 PM

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