A look at the origins and ways to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day.

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

What is Bonfire Night?

Every year we celebrate Guy Fawkes or Bonfire night, as it’s more commonly known, to acknowledge the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, the failed attempt the destruction of British parliament and assassination of King James I. The celebrations came about when parliament passed the Observance of 5th November Act 1605, during the first sitting of parliament since the incident. The act remained in place until 1859, but the tradition of marking the date with bonfires and fireworks has carried on, and still remains today. However, many people believe that the traditions started long before the Gunpowder Plot, and historians have suggested that the Protestant faith used Guy Fawkes Night to replace the ancient Celtic and Pagan festivals of Samhain.

When you do something, you should burn yourself up completely,
like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself.
Shunryu Suzuki

The word ‘bonfire’ comes from the old Celtic word ‘bone-fire’, relating to the tradition of burning the bones of animals on Samhain to scare away evil spirits. Britons also used to hold bonfires in graveyards for the same reason. Fire, one of the classical elements, plays an important role in many different cultures and religions, and is particularly important in Pagan traditions. Fire has a variety of uses in different ceremonies and rituals, and although bonfires are usually reserved for Midsummer Night or Summer Solstice rituals, you can take advantage of tonight’s many festivities by performing your own personal rituals.

Celebrate Bonfire Night

  • Create an effigy of something that you would like to get rid of if you could, and burn it on the fire. This could be something personal, or something in the wider world.
  • Use this time to reflect on your life, and the past. Write down all of your fears, regrets, anything you want to leave behind, and let the fire consume them. This will give you the feeling of being cleansed, and will help you move on and face the future.
  • If you are a member of a group who is celebrating, create your own ritual. Cast a circle, create music with the instruments associated with the element of fire (guitar, drums), and use it as a chance to celebrate, send out positive energy, and give thanks to the universe.

How are you celebrating this evening? Let us know in the comments below! 

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