Sunday 23 November 2008

The eye of the beholder: Gods, demons and fire

celtic god at heart of the fire demon in the fire

I took these two shots sitting by our open fire this afternoon. I was cosy, snug, warm and well sheltered from the arctic chill and snow-bound landscape outside. All I wanted to do was simply to capture the ever-changing chemical dance of the fire. Here's what I saw on the computer afterwards. On the left, the typically elongated face of a celtic pagan god stares implacably out of the intense heat. On the right, a demon smiles menacingly amidst the flames.


Well, no actually. These are just lumps of coal. My brain plus the camera angle have together superimposed a layer of meaning on the inanimate yet red-hot coal. Having once seen these familiar patterns I can't now 'unsee 'them. In the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries I would probably have been hauled off by the religious thought police for seeing these things and showing then to you. The flames would have been my reward. Searching for and seeing patterns and meanings in the world around us is a deeply human thing to do. Somewhere at the heart of both science and religion is this basic instinct. What a pity then, that either should see the other as a threat. What a tragedy that the zealots of both camps miss the common ground of beauty to be found in the fire of our human imagination.


  1. This was a good read. How did you manage to use 2 paragraphs to say what it would have taken me half a novel to write??? :)

  2. I really appreciate your praise Molly. Thanks for taking the time to leave such an afirming comment. I guess sometimes we just find ourselves in that special creative groove where less becomes more!