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When the world was lit by Fyre...

August 12, 2015

 I was editing pictures from this past weekend taken at a Medieval Event we attended, in Brooks, AB, 2015, and was struck by the most profound thought: my favorite thing about going Medieval is the times I spend at camp fire. I remembered a few books I had read in the past, and was encouraged so much by our current activities, that I wanted to share these thoughts with you to help you understand some key elements of life that you may have previously missed because of the lifestyle we are being forced to live in these present days.



We live in a world that is lit 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by incandecent or LED or plasma lights. Man-made illumination, manufactured and powered by a machine that wants you to be the most productive entity you can be. This is great, isn't it? Isn't it wonderful that you get to do whatever you want to do, whenever you want to do it? Stay up as late as you want to, go wherever, whenever you wish...all because the world is now a lit playground, with no fear of the dark, or those things that go Bump in it! But would you be entirely...uh...bright in that assumption? Pardon the pun, but I believed this idea once in the past, until I started to research the effects of light on our bodies, and deprivation of rest and extended work hours. But even more than my research, I understood what I myself experienced. After almost ten years of Re-enactment, it has been my observation that fire...relaxes people, darkness brings people together and encourages people to rest. Really...rest. Fire draws people...I meet new people everytime I start a bonfire...like moths, people flock to it. And we fellowship. Food is prepared over the fire, and is cooked upon it's flames all day in preperation for feast later. It brings anticipation and encouragement warmth and comraderie. Fire is good. Everyone instinctively understands this. I think it would be fair to say everyone has fond memories of times around the fire. So...the question must be asked: why do we love it so much? Why should we do it more often? Are their health benefits to camping and getting around a fire? What are the effects of cooking with fire, as opposed to gas and electricity? Is it possible that candles, and fire, providing heat, light and comfort could be far more healthy than electricity and lightbulbs? Could fire lighting our lives extend them? Increase quality of life as well as bringing joy where there was much frustration and stress before? These are great questions and I am taking liberties in asking them, but I want to get you thinking...so let's explore a few of them right now. I will try and provide references where I can, and I want to precursor this article with a simple statement: I write this simply because I have seen the effect of fellowship around a fire...and it is phenominal. I have seen it's benefits first hand, and I want to 'shed some light' on what I believe, to be the worst invention man has ever produced: The lightbulb.



Hold on!!!! How can you say that, you may be asking. You must be crazy, Reverend! The lightbulb has enabled man to achieve such incredible advances in technology, and achievement since Edison and Telsa! It is almost inconceivable that the idea of the lightbulb...is bad for us...and could be a defining factor in declining health, broken relationships and the destruction of society at large. Inconceivable. No way! But I declare to you today; in this post: it is true. And I will do my utmost best to prove it to you. It's going to take awhile, so buckle in! Besides: You can't really argue with me...I'm a Bishop! I'm teasing...but I want you to think about it; yes we can live in a world with both...and we do...but I want you to be aware of the effects of illumnating our world against nature. Did you read that? Nature. Natural process. Light and dark was made for a reason. Spiritual reasons aside: our bodies were made for light and darkness.


Let's go back in time before the introduction of electricity...before the lightbulb. We do not need to go far. Siimply go back to the time of our own settlers...say early 19th century. I am going to paint for you a typical day in a farmer's life...or even that of a town dweller. 


A rooster crows...a baby cries...a bovine lows....whatever, wakes you to the dawning of a new day, and you open your eyes to a dimly lit room, with a low light coming through the window. You throw on some clothing and prepare to warm your dwelling, by stirring up the coals in a banked bed in the hearth. You also use some flint to throw sparks on a charred clothe to catch a few strays, and then blow it into some bird's nest, to make some flame. You then light a beeswax candle, set it on the table, and then throw the burning bundle into the hearth. After some sticks are added to the growing flames, you then go outside after donning some footware, and pump some clean water into a pot, which after coming back in, you place on a wrought iron hook above the hearth. Water on it's way to heating, you then don gloves and cloak, then leave the house again to take care of animals. Once the chores are done, you enter your home yet again, to find a cheerful sound; a bubbling pot of water which will be soon transformed into coffee. Or Tea. 


You throw a cast iron skillet onto a grate above the fire, and bacon starts sizzling....boy I can write about food preperation for a long time...I'd best stop! Once you conquer your fear of fire, and learn to manipulate it, it becomes your friend! Like Blacksmithing...anyway...


Breakfast done, heated water cleans dishes, your day is well on it's way. You then enter the world to begin your work day. It may be seeding, plowing, animal husbandry...it may even be accounting, policing, or merchanting. Whatever your trade, you begin it with gusto and know that when you return to hearth and home at day end, you will once again begin the process of warming your home, cooking and cleaning.


After supper is done, later that night, you look outside or sit in your bench/rocker/chair on the porch, and see the sun go down over your land. It is getting dark, barn doors closed tight against the night, and sighing you move your chair to the fireside. Whether or not you share this hearth with other family members or whether a friend pops over, or you are alone, the fire comforts you and warms you as you gaze into it's depths. You read in it's light, until your eyes start to droop, so you put your book down, bank the pulsating embers, for morning, and light another candle to lead you to your bed. Darkness tells you it's time for sleep, early morning will come as it always does. You fall asleep...until a rooster crows, a baby cries, or a bovine lows...


I've told this scenario many times before, and I've heard mixed results. 'My god, I couldn't imagine the work!' ome have said. Others have remarked, 'romantic', and yet still others, 'I could never do that'. My favourite one is this; 'by the grace of God, if only...'.

It isn't about laziness, or not wanting to work so hard for something that now comes at a flick of a switch, or lever or dial; It isn't about money, taxes, bills; I believe it is more serious than that. It's about motive. It's about spirituality. Independence. About quality of life. 



Let's persue that thought for a little while. Independence. If the power goes out, can you cook? Can you see? Are you heating your home, or are you cold? If the gas is cut off? What about water? Let's go deeper: How could you have ever allowed your entire life to revolve around the consumption of resources sold to you at inflated prices and still make yourself suseptible to the utility company's whim? What is your home but an empty box, without utilities hooked up to it?


Ok, let's look at it from another angle; when the world was lit by fire, it was a slower paced world. Family was infinitely tighter: survival depended on it. There was no divorce, as death would inevitably follow. Keeping together was the key. Work was done in the daytime, or by lamplight rarely. Night was for fellowship or study or sleep. People got their 9 hours sleep. What does the lightbulb have to do with any of this, you might ask? Well...quite a bit actually.


The lightbulb extended the day. It actually almost elliminated the night. Man could now leave the house at night, where he would normally stay when it got dark. Man could also work later. Work at night. Work two jobs. It meant you could stay up later and later...no need for a fire, or candle to light the home. Men began to sleep less and less, work longer and longer, and our bodies began to suffer, our families began to suffer.


Then an idea formed at Westinghouse; let's put a really large lightbulb into a wooden box: and call it television. I will not bore you with the results of that invention, but we can also put computers into that family, and now, iDevices. Fellowship dwindled, as did home life. Relationships still suffer greatly from these 'large collection' of lightbulbs.


But let's now look at the health effects of the lightbulb. T.S. Wiley writes in her fantastic book, 'Lights out', the following:


'As a nation we are dying because we do not sleep. We are fat, because we do not sleep. We are diabetic because we do not sleep. We are depressed because we do not sleep. We are aging because we do not sleep. We are dying of cancer and heart disease because we do not sleep. It's on record: These diseases became the Coroner's new reasons for deaths, since the invention of the lightbulb. We are all suffering from sleep death. Hormones become a serious problem when we lack sleep. When we do not allow the seasons to dictate our sleep cycle, we in turn start dying. Crazy, you might exclaim? Besides melatonin, there are ten other hormones that go sideways in your brain when you do not get enough sleep. While experts sought answers in our diet, they never even considered the reality: By artificially extending the day/night cycles with the invention and marketing of the lightbulb, we introduced a series of major health issues.


Even up to 1910, most people were sleeping 9-10 hours a day. Today most get 7 hours if they are lucky! Hey; That amounts to 500 more hours a year! That's great right? Especially if we work them! But then there's the Tax...another story....and maybe another reason...


Research these hormones and how they work together: melatonin, prolactin, Insulin, serotonin, and dopamine. How they work together, runs your brain, immune system and fat storage. What if I told you, if you just ate less meat and slept more, you would naturally lose weight? But you have to be consistent. When was the last time you were told to sleep more? After the Boss says to work longer, and the kids ask you to drive them to some extra curricular activity, and the TV blasts all night long...when the HELL are you going to get time to sleep? Get it? The lightbulb started the new epidemic. And to this day, most people are oblivious to it...including Doctors. Besides...even if we did know that it's killing us...no one is going to turn out the lights. Period. Not even my wife...


Besides...utility companies, your job and THE weight-loss clinics with gyms and movie theatres, restaurants and many many more sports arenas and clubs LOVE IT WHEN YOU ARE SPENDING YOUR MONEY, when you should be sleeping. But you are SPENDING more than money...you are paying with your health.




People argue with me, that the extension of the day has been good for progress and intellect: yes...it has. But is all progress good? What good is intellect if the most important things in life are being destroyed before our eyes? Music, family unit, marriage, health, food, fellowship, spirituality?


I just wanted to shed some light on a few issues, and perhaps suggest that maybe...just maybe, there is a real reason behind us playing with fire in medieval activities. Learning the Ancient Arts, and going back in time to understand, discover and illuminate the ancient practices of making things...and living. I had a lady come visit us at Brooks Medieval Faire, and ask me if i was a 'real' Bishop. I said I was, and she was flabbergasted. She at first couldn't understand why we are a medieval church, but then smiled as it hit her. She said that perhaps there was a bigger reason behind re-enactment. Perhaps it is to rebuild what we have lost...when the world was lit by Fyre...


Here ya go: If you have 20 minutes...it's worth it...enjoy this story I told around a fire to a little boy named Art...



Or if you only have a few minutes, grab a chair and have a seat in front of my fire...




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