A REMINDER ABOUT THE FUNDRAISERS FOR THE TWO JOHNS’ JANUARY TRIP TO THE IBC IN MEMPHIS
Acoustic guitarist-singer Johnny Never and harmonica player John Colgan-Davis won the Central Delaware Blues Challenge for a spot at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis TN in January 2024. There will be two fundraisers to help send Johnny and John to Memphis. The first one is at Jamey's House of Music, 32 S. Landsdowne Ave; Lansdowne, PA on Sunday, December 10th, from noon until 3PM. The second fundraiser, put on by the Central Delaware Blues Society, is January 7th at “Delaware Veterans Post #2” 129 Pear Street, Dover, DE from noon until 5PM. Each will feature live music provided by some of the region's best blues artists including Roger Girke, Jimmy Pritchard, Harmonica Slim, and more. Info, dates, times, raffles and details about the fundraisers is here:
DECEMBER AND LIGHT:
If you have seen the night sky these last few nights, you have enjoyed wonderful bright moons standing among the clouds. Those sightings were clear reminders about how important light is to us, especially as we approach winter. We have mostly gotten used to the end of Daylight Savings Time, and we are getting up later without complaint. We are adjusting to the longer hours of darkness as we head into the final month of year and are getting ready to celebrate. For we are headed into December, and despite its longer hours of darkness, December is a time of constant and joyous celebration.
Almost no week in December is free of holy ritual and observance somewhere in the world. There is, of course, Christmas and the minor celebrations leading up to and associated with it: Advent, the 12 Days of Christmas, Yule, and others depending on your ethnicity and specific religious tradition. There is also Hanukkah, with its 8 days of oil-based food and dreidel playing. There is Kwanzaa, with its celebration of Pan-African culture and values. And if you are Buddhist, Hopi, Hindu, West African Dogon, traditional Persian, or Wiccan, there are celebrations for you this month as well. In fact, what many of us think of as parts of traditional Christmas celebrations- the Christmas tree and the story of the 3 Wise Men- actually have their roots in the pre- Christian Wiccan and Persian traditions. It is December, winter is coming, and we are on the threshold of a very “ritual-rich” time period.
What so many of all these winter observances have in common is the prominence of light. Candles, bonfires, logs, electric lights, tree lights-light is the common element, metaphor and symbol seen world-wide at this time of the year. And it makes perfect sense; this time of the year means noticeable changes in the amount of daylight and darkness surrounding us, and as humans, we have to account for that. Humans look to nature to try to figure out what is coming and what God or the gods have in store for us, and for most of our history that has meant looking to the sky. The sun, the moon and the stars have literally and figuratively been our guideposts. And we see that manifest in most of our December observances.
Humans have known for centuries that the length of the days was changing at this time of the year and what we call “the winter solstice” would be here again. So the days leading up to or after the solstice became a time of deep spiritual meaning for early humans. Ritual, symbol and myth are the ways humans respond to nature, and this became celebrated in many different ways around the planet depending upon geography and culture. Many of the stories, myths and traditions from different times and places associate this time of the year with miraculous births, enlightenment, miracles, and/or new beginnings. The Druid bonfires and the Germanic and Norse Yule logs, for example, were metaphoric symbols of cleansing, sacrifice, and the simultaneous death and rebirth of the earth-from the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, to days of more and more hours of sunlight. To the ancient Persians winter was the time of the Yalda festival, and Mithras, the symbol of truth, strength, goodness and light, emerged from a rock at this time of the year. His birth was celebrated with flame and holy fires. Sol Invictus, the all-powerful Roman sun god, was also celebrated in December with torches and bonfires. It is a timeless and universal process; we humans knew that we had to celebrate and meet this winter darkness with light. We had to link our doings and our fates with the universe’s. We had to acknowledge this darkness, so in our rituals fire-light-abounded.
New beginnings are also important in most religious traditions, and light is a strong metaphor for that as well. Our language reflects this. We speak of, “seeing the light,” or “coming into the light.” We look to the “inner light and we “let our light shine.” Light as transformation and rebirth is readily spoken of and alluded to in many of our religious rituals and ceremonies at this time of the year. Hanukkah is about rebirth and new beginnings as it celebrates the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem from its desecration when Antiochus made it into a Greek temple. The candles symbolize, in part, the rebirth of the religion. The candles in Kwanzaa symbolize a reawakened connection and awareness of African values and traditions for people of African descent. It is the rebirth of a lost connection. To Buddhists, Bodhi Day in December celebrates the Buddha becoming a Buddha-an enlightened one who suddenly could see beyond illusion. To Christians, the Star of Bethlehem led to a new beginning for humans, as it led the Wise Men to the birthplace of Jesus. Light was symbolically leading us forward.
And light is as powerful today to us humans as it was when we first
figured out the solstice and what it could mean. Tradition has it that
Martin Luther saw stars one night as he was composing a sermon and tried
to capture their beauty by adding lighted candles to the Christmas tree
inside his house. Whether that is true or not, by the time the Germanic
tradition of the Christmas tree reached the US the idea of lights on
the trees were a fixture. We
decorated the tree, and it took off from there. Now there are lighted
houses, yards, shops, malls and more. We are awash in lights; there are
even whole streets and neighborhoods that collaborate to plan what their
light scheme is going to be each holiday season. Many families now have
a tradition of driving to visit different neighborhoods just to see the light displays. We need that light.
So our ancient connection to the rhythms and structures of the natural world are still with us, even if we do not recognize them as such. As up to date and modern as we are in this digital age, we are still human, and that means we are still connected to our ancestors’ sense of the universe in some important and primal ways. As we celebrate our various religious rituals, traditions and personal rituals this season, I hope you can spend some time outside looking up at the night sky and taking some time to note, think about, and marvel at what is going on up there. It is quite miraculous, and it still influences so much of what we do down here. And its mystery and beauty link our present very directly to our past. That is a wonderful and beautiful thing.
Do have a safe, warm, happy, and joyous holiday season. I hope you find it a time full of good spirits, good company and good food. And of course, light.
1)Sunday December, 10 Jamey’s House of Music; 32 S Landsdowne Ave, Landsdowne, PA noon-3PM: MEMPHIS STOMP FUNDRAISER CONCERT TO RAISE MONEY FOR OUR TRIP TO THE IBC IN MEMPHIS; with The Johns - Johnny Never and John Colgan-Davis, ROGER GIRKE, Jimmy Pritchard, Slim of Slim and the Percolators, Fred Miller Band, Garry Gogdell
This is THREE Hours of great Blues Music, a 50/50 Raffle and raffles for one-of-a-kind T-shirts, signed geclee art prints by nationally recognized fine artists, J.R. Carleton Dorchester and more!
TICKETS: $20.00 Advance, $25.00 at the door!