Please color me unimpressed. That yesterday was the longest night of the year was the one fact in this woman’s ongoing spiel, and this fact is only true if you live in the Northern Hemisphere; if you live in Australia, it was the longest day of the year and probably a great day to go to the beach and enjoy yourself. In fact, with Christmas falling on a Saturday this year, your average Australian will probably spend many a long hour at the beach with the family, swimming and eating fried chicken and working on the tan while laughing at the poor Pommy bastards up to their backsides in snow in dear old Blighty, content in the knowledge that the horse great—great—great—great—granddad tried to snaffle in London way back in the day was the best thing that ever happened to the family; without Granddad to the fifth power getting caught and sentenced to transportation to the Antipodes, you’d be freezing your backside off now too.
I suppose this baying at the moon was the sort of thing that impressed the hell out of your average noble savage back in the days when being a noble savage was all the rage, but let me point something out here: my spiritual energy—always a low flame, I will admit—and the spiritual energy of everyone gathered together in that small park isn’t enough to light up a cigarette, assuming you could smoke one during the festivities, much less bring back the power of the sun to the Earth. The reason for this is simple: the Sun hasn’t gone anywhere. What occurred yesterday is that the Earth moved on its axis and from here on out the top part of the planet will be getting more sunlight than the bottom part of the planet. Please pardon me for pointing out that our collective spiritual energy didn’t have a damn thing to do with it; if none of us were in that park intoning New Age drivel, if ancient tribes of Hollywood extras did not sacrifice virginal platinum blondes to the all-knowing moon when the director barked, “Action,” if hordes of refugees from adult responsibility did not strip naked, smoke weed, and howl at the moon tonight, something I hear goes on a fairly regular basis in California’s state legislature, the Earth’s movement on its axis would still have happened. In short, Gaia doesn’t need our spiritual energy to do anything. I repeat, for those of you who are hard of reading, the winter solstice was going to happen anyway. Sir Isaac Newton, a strange little man with an odd predilection for drawing and quartering counterfeiters; a revolting hobby, to be sure, but we all need something to take our minds off our troubles, I suppose; explained how all of this worked in Principia Mathematica some three hundred years ago. He also explained how lunar eclipses happen too, and I hate to rain on anyone’s parade here, but the spiritual link between the winter solstice and the lunar eclipse isn’t a link at all; it’s just something that happens every so often. The last time it happened was 1638 and the next time it will happen is 2094, at which point the kids at yesterday’s get-together will be ancients and can bore their grandchildren to tears with stories of how dumb people were back in 2010. So all of that good spiritual energy you felt while chanting and moving around the big fire in a circle was probably the sugar rush you get when your body metabolizes the jelly doughnut you had for lunch instead of a ham sandwich. Doughnuts are a good thing, spiritually and gastronomically.
As for the standard denunciation of technology, let me point something out here. Christmas began life as a Roman holiday, the feast of Sol Invictus, the Invincible Sun, which came back to life every 25th day of the tenth month of the Roman year. Once Constantine Christianized the Roman Empire, he saw that he had a perfectly good holiday with nothing to holiday about anymore. Being a clever man, Constantine did what millions of other people have done in the years since then: he regifted. He put the celebration of Christ’s birth on the vacated holiday, despite the biblical evidence that Jesus was born in either the spring or summer; as I’ve mentioned in another context, in Judea shepherds do not tend their flocks by night in the middle of winter on the off-chance that a wandering heavenly host with nothing better to do with their time will come drifting by blasting out Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus in high definition stereo sound. But why was the 25th day of the tenth month the date of the holiday? Because when your most technologically advanced timekeeping device is a sundial, the 25th day of the tenth month is the day that clearly shows the days getting longer. Our Green Woman who despises technology so much only knows that the 21st day of the twelfth month of the Gregorian calendar is the longest day of the year because improved chronological technology can now tell her to the nanosecond when the big moment is going to happen. Without said technology, the Green Woman would be spewing her spiritual energy on the wrong day. On the other hand, I have to admit that watching the guy start a fire with a bow and a stick was pretty cool, but then I am easily entertained. Starting fires this way is a useful skill if you’re a Boy Scout or a Green Beret, but I think I will stick with the microwave oven, if it’s all the same to Gaia.