Author’s house, yesterday. Image rendering: Toni Bratincevic
I have often felt there is some magic in Christmas (what else could stop us hating each other for one day?) but now I know that it had nothing to do with a man who came from Nazareth 2000 years ago, where it doesn’t even get cold. There is a certain magic to a bleak northern winter that is not present at any other time of year, visible in the twinkle of a star or the passing of a night cloud by your window, and this is what the pagans knew who celebrated the midwinter even before the Nazarene was born.
At these times when the starry sky is clear, perhaps there is a little snow on the ground, and it’s cold, the barrier between worlds is thinnest. We slip closer to the sidereal world that John Keats saw, that William Blake perhaps caught a glimpse of as he drifted toward old age, the common thread being death – that one has to approach the departure from this world before one can discern that there is another world beyond this one, viewed like rocks in a river through fast running water, and it has little or nothing to do with the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. Rather it is the world of possibilities, the “Blazing World” of Margaret Cavendish (written 1666) in which one can escape in to a utopian kingdom in another world with different stars in the sky. Interestingly in the story it’s reached via the North Pole – that most wintery apochier of locations.
Perhaps this is what the “Christmas Magic” to which they glibly refer really means.
Now I am not saying that in warmer parts of the world they do not enjoy Christmas as we do, but perhaps they do not come so close in every grey winter to the thing, which is to say that cursed and endless cold that makes it possible to hallucinate that grey world where nothing is real (go out and walk in a cold field in England around Christmas Day or Boxing Day and tell me you do not feel it). That world, in which all things are possible to consider, one to which we may sometimes go to as children and which perhaps waits for us again outside the boundaries of this mortal existence.
It is called Imagination, that world.